I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Suspense Sundays (14)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,


Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.







"The Man Without a Body"
Air date: June 22, 1943
Starring 
>>Episodes here<<

The show host starts off by saying this story isn't related to the H.G. Wells novel The Invisible Man.  But it features an invisible man.  Actually it isn't like the Wells novel, but it did start off suspiciously similar which I thought was funny.  No wonder they had a disclaimer.

In a sleepy English village, people are talking about an invisible man a man without a body.  Though a couple of the more rational headed people in the village chalk the rumors up to imagination, on a walk they see through a window disembodied gloves crank up a phonograph and play music.  Yup.  There is a suspicious American doctor in town who everyone thinks must have created this monster, and when the bell in the bell tower starts to ring one night on its own, two men rush to investigate, determined to catch the man and stop the madness.  One man is pushed off the tower with nothing around him, and it is then that the American doctor decides to reveal who is really behind the strange man without a body.

First of all Nazis are involved.  Again.  Next few episodes, I'm going to try and steer away from these war propaganda episodes.  The resolution of the plot is a little silly and convoluted - it all was basically a trap - but the explanations of how the trick was done was the most interesting part.  I have always been interested in magic and illusion, but since it was explained in the episode, I'm going to ruin the illusion right now.  It's quite simple though- the disembodied gloves were done through mirrors and black curtain, and the ringing of the bell was compressed air released in bursts.  The man fell off the tower because the burst of air hit him.

Book Excerpt: My Trickster

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Please enjoy this book excerpt from My Trickster by Serafima Bogomolova.  It is FREE today for Amazon Kindle!

Plot Summary:

When enigmatic Angela Moreaux, a woman he thought he had exorcised from his brain, calls and asks for his help, reluctant, but unable to resist, a hedge fund owner and an expert in stock market manipulation, Juan MacBride flies out to Moscow. On his arrival a bitter disappointment awaits him as he finds out that Angela fails to show up for their meeting in the Ritz. Instead, Juan is greeted by an elderly Swiss gentleman, who passes a mysterious note to him embarking Juan on a journey of discoveries that he wishes he never made...

Book Excerpt: Episode 84 (Howl)



It’s early February. The rain drizzles softly onto the red tiled roofs of faded Venetian palazzos. Lost in the endless twists and turns of the dark, narrow lanes and dead-end passageways, a seventeenth century noble residence protrudes. Entering its courtyard, a stunning brunette with the pair of luminous blue eyes walks up the stairs of the house, her shiny high-heeled boots beating a sensuous rhythm on its ancient limestone steps.

***

Past the caged candles and potted blood-red cyclamens, a well-groomed young man briskly walks up the stairs of the Palazzo Paruta Hotel. He picks up his keys and proceeds to his exclusive Royal Suite. In the Venetian Rococo style interior of his room, he sinks into an elegantly upholstered sofa and bewitched, stares at the golden flames hungrily eating away crusty logs in the fireplace.

***

It’s been a week since Dmitry’s arrival to Venice, yet his flesh inspired quest for Angela Moreaux has been painfully slow. To be exact, it has not moved an inch since Jaques’s call informing him about her likely whereabouts. To the utter disappointment of them both, none of the hospitality residences given by Mr. Moreaux had her name on their guest lists.

Despite this obvious fact, something told Dmitry that she was here, within his reach, just a grasp away. Absent yet strangely present… As predators sense their prey, so he could feel her radiating presence in this mysterious city of masks and dark shadows... at least in the form of short, matter of fact emails regularly sent by Peter Knaus, updating Dmitry on the progress of their ‘witch hunt’ on Kazimir Stankevich…

Feeling drowsy, Dmitry stretches out on the sofa. With eyes closed, he momentarily pictures the curvy lines of Angela’s voluptuously seductive body lingering to him, her hand running through his hair… He sees her bright crimson lips dangerously close, barely touching his mouth… Suddenly fueled by the vivid imagery of his imagination, a dark longing stirs deep within him. He feels the burning heat of her breath. Inhaling her diabolically alluring scent, he stares into her cabalistic eyes as her hand slowly slides down between his legs.

Opening his mouth he utters a lingering howl and wakes up. Sweat on his forehead, breathing heavily, he places himself in a seated position and comes to his senses.

“Fuck it all!!!” He swears, grabs his coat and walks out into the rain-drizzling night.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Feature & Follow (5)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet  people and gain more  followers in the book blogging community.

Q: What is the BIGGEST word you’ve seen used in a book lately – that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition & book too.



Ooh too bad I look up big words and then promptly forget them!  Umm... Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  Okay, seriously, I can't remember - the trouble with being able to look up words on kindle, is that the motions of looking up the word in a dictionary or even typing it out on a website makes the word stay in my head.  I hold my finger over the word on my kindle and the meaning is right there!  (kinda awesome though)  

I will edit this post if I come across a word soon though!

EDIT:
I got one! From The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: Vetiver

"...grateful to feel Miles beside her, big and paunchy, smelling of vetiver and old sweat."

Definition: 
vetiver: a perennial grass of the Poaceae family, native to India.  It has a gregarious habit and grows in bunches.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Down a Dark Hall

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Down a Dark Hall
by Lois Duncan

Plot Summary:

Kit Gordy sees Blackwood Hall towering over black iron gates, and she can't help thinking, This place is evil. The imposing mansion sends a shiver of fear through her. But Kit settles into a routine, trying to ignore the rumors that the highly exclusive boarding school is haunted.

Then her classmates begin to show extraordinary and unknown talents. The strange dreams, the voices, the lost letters to family and friends, all become overshadowed by the magic around them. When Kit and her friends realize that Blackwood isn't what it claims to be, it might be too late.

Expectations:

When I was in high school, I loved reading Lois Duncan novels. They are fun suspenseful mysterious thriller type stories with high school students. Much more interesting than my mundane school days. I picked up this book because Stephenie Meyer is planning to produce a film version of it, and I really was not sure if I had already read it.

Review:

Dark, mysterious house. Dark, mysterious secrets. The scene of ghosts and horrible deaths. Isolated. Perfect for a boarding school! This story starts off with alot of suggestive occurrences. Weird happenings, strange dreams, under the veneer of normality everything is vaguely sinister and suspect. It’s curious that Kit’s mother and new step-father has to go on a honeymoon trip that will last her entire first term in school, but it conveniently leaves her stranded and vulnerable to whatever sinister plan the head of the school has in mind. I’m going to have to be equally vague as to what exactly is going on with the school and the four students, but I was impressed by the suspense and the gradual escalation in the horror of what was happening. As usual for Lois Duncan, I found the whole novel to be a very entertaining and light read, and while the story is not so very unpredictable, it is interesting to see how the author handles the story and the characters.

For a fun tid bit, Emily Bronte has an interesting and important role to play in this story.

Awesome Adaptations (5) - The Ruby in the Smoke

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a mystery story
Title: Ruby in the Smoke
Adapted from The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

I really enjoyed the Sally Lockhart mysteries (though there was that one surprise in the book series that I found really heart-breaking.  I haven't really forgiven Philip Pullman for that!) And the adaptation of this first novel is equally as enjoyable to me - especially for three people: Billie Piper, JJ Feild, and Matt Smith.  Talk about stellar casting!

Billie Piper as Sally is so perfectly intelligent and down-to-earth: she's an unconventional Victorian woman who knows how to shoot a gun and balance account books - and is also wrapped up in a puzzling mystery with more than one person determined to make sure she never tells of what she knows. Unfortunately, she has no idea what that is. There are two threads of intrigue in this story making the mystery intriguingly complex and inscrutable.

JJ Feild brings that charming, teasing personality to Frederick Garland that makes him such a wonderful match for Sally Lockhart's steadfast seriousness.  In this adaptation he doesn't have too much to do, except save the day a couple of times and steal the show in every scene he is in.  Definitely he and his sister make for much needed humor in this TV movie.

The role of Jim Taylor was enlarged in this series if I remember correctly, and aged to fit Matt Smith who is perfectly cast as he is gregarious and plucky and extremely likable.  Jim Taylor helps solve the mystery and interestingly provides the narration over Sally's story.  (I can't help but think that if the Doctor was in this story, Adelaide wouldn't have been abducted!)

Really the whole cast makes this an awesome adaptation of a story filled with dark mystery, murder, opium, and ruin - all surrounding a ruby.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Highlight Poetry (11)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
highlight poetry
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.

"Loving in truth"
by Sir Philip Sidney

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That the dear she might take some pleasure of my pain,
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe:
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain,
Oft turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Invention's stay;
Invention, Nature's child, fled stepdame Study's blows;
And others' feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:
"Fool," said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart, and write."

Sometimes when I have a review to write up for this blog, and I am having trouble starting, I just think of the last line in this poem.  And then I start with how the book made me feel while I was reading it and go from there.  It helps sometimes.  I first came across this poem through a quote of the last two lines, and had to look up the whole sonnet.  I love the idea that the words that you need are all inside your head and I think the imagery is fun - especially comparing your pent-up thoughts to pregnancy.  
Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The Flight of the Griffin

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Flight of the Griffin
by C. M. Gray

Plot Summary:

Living in their old boat ‘The Griffin’ four young characters and their guide become the unlikely heroes at the end of time when a burglary sets them on the path to finish the ‘Last great Spell’ - a spell to stop the balance of the World tipping into Chaos...

They become the Magician, Thief, Priest and Fighter when a magical book guides them upon a quest that pits them against magic, demons and ‘The Hawk,’ an evil hunter of men.

Join a race against time to find three crystal skulls that must be brought together, while all the forces of Chaos try everything to stop them!

Expectations:

The summary made this story seem like an interesting and fun fantasy adventure story, and I was eager to read how and why the characters must fight the forces of Chaos.

Review:

I found this novel to be a well-written and engaging quest adventure with five strong hero and heroine characters and pretty despicable bad guys who definitely lived up to their villain status.  The story aimed to be more epic than it actually felt sometimes, as this is a more intimate character-driven story then a sweeping fantasy of ultimate good vs. evil.  The boys and their guide were able to defeat and evade and defeat the demons and The Hawk a little too easily and I felt like the stakes were not raised high enough or delineated well enough to really give me a good idea of the danger the main characters were in.

The world-building and mythology of the demons and the history felt realistic and varied - there were different islands with their own unique features and an interesting new race called the Hidden.  The ending did seem wrapped up a bit quickly, and it is not explained exactly how or why the spell really helped tip the balance against the Chaos.  This novel isn't very detailed but is an absorbing fast-paced adventure story and I did find it an enjoyable read.

review copy kindly provided by the author


Click on the Goodreads link to enter a giveaway for this novel!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Suspense Sundays (13)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,


Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.







"The Most Dangerous Game"
Air date: September 23, 1943 (69 years ago today!)
Starring Orson Welles
>>Episodes here<<

Renowned hunter Sanger Rainsford unluckily has a yacht mishap and winds up on a deserted island.  Or so he thought - it is actually inhabited by eccentric hunter General Zaroff.  Zaroff is a big-game hunter who has recently become bored by hunting, leading him to try hunting an animal who would provide a bigger challenge - one who can reason.  Man.  Zaroff usually hunts "the scum of the Earth" - sailors and scoundrels (and Japs!!?) but hunting Sanger would provide a much bigger pleasure.  Sanger sets off with a knife and some food and hunting clothes and if he survives after 3 days Zaroff will let him go.  Zaroff sets off with a pistol and a hound three hours later. (Not very sporting to have a pistol and hound!) And Sanger manages to evade Zaroff by setting traps and using all the tricks he can think of.  But Zaroff is still very near to catching him, so he jumps off a cliff into the sea.  Zaroff goes home thinking it is over, but Sanger swam to Zaroff's house and is waiting for him.  They have a duel and Sanger wins.

I read the short story this radio play is based on when I was a freshman in high school and really loved it.  I think this adaptation does it justice.  I knew how it would end, but Orson Welles as Zaroff played this sinister character so well, that the listener is pulled into Sanger's efforts to best him.  I was also struck by how calm and rational Zaroff tries to be, but he is really just a crazy piece of work.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
I've been nominated!

Rules are:
1. Include the blog award logo in your post
2. Thank the person you nominated
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know about it...
4. Seven random facts about yourself

Thank you PG Shriver for the nomination!

7 Random Facts

These blog awards always seem to ask for random facts, and I find it hard to think of them and not repeat so I'm going to go with a theme here and have all my facts relate to the one fact that I went to the Disneyland resort yesterday (and had a fab time!)  

1. I have a Disney Resort annual pass that expires next August (sad face)

2. At the moment my favorite ride is the Tower of Terror in Disney's California Adventure.  

3. I came across the Mary Poppins and Bert characters and took a picture with them - they had me link arms with them and made it look like we were taking a casual stroll through the park.  Love it!

4. I went to the Animation Academy class for the first time and drew Pluto (they have a "class" every hour for different characters.)

5. I waited in the hot sun for more than an hour to see the Endeavor space shuttle fly over Disneyland but it was worth it!

6. I like to collect Little Mermaid memorabilia and can never leave the resort without looking for new items to spend more money on!

7. I bought this cute Ariel mini-hat yesterday.  I'll probably only wear it around the resort though. WORTH IT.




15 Blog Nominations
1. Gigi Reads
2. Lace and Lavender Hints
3. Musings on Fantasia
4. The Book Critic
5. Mother Daughter Book Reviews
... and now I have to look for more later...

Highlight Poetry (10)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

highlight poetry
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.

Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Some poems (and songs) I hear or read one quote randomly and then I have to go back and read the whole original.  And then I end up loving the poem.  It started with the last stanza of this poem for me - I heard it recited in a movie and loved that:
A) it begins "Ah, love" - a soft request made with a sigh to love - Brilliant
B) The way that the first sentence is broken into two lines - "let us be true" seems in itself a complete thought, but it is too simple as the second part reveals that it is more imperative to be true to your other half than:
C) all the the ideals that are set up and then dashed by the last three lines.  Wow, devastating.
D) "Where ignorant armies clash by night"  Kind of a completely appropriate line in general when thinking of armies.

Just an all around beautiful, thoughtful poem.  And although I like the whole poem, I still really just love the last stanza!
Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: The House on Blackstone Moor

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
The House on Blackstone Moor
by Carole Gill

Plot Summary:

The House on Blackstone Moor is a tale of vampirism, madness, obsession and devil worship as Rose Baines, only survivor of her family’s carnage, tells her story. Fragile, damaged by the tragedy, fate sends her to a desolate house on the haunted moors where demons dwell. The house and the moors have hideous secrets, yet there is love too; deep, abiding, eternal, but it comes with a price.

Expectations: 

The author mentioned on twitter and various blog interviews that there was a Jane Eyre connection in this story, so I picked it up.  That plus the promise of a Gothic tale was enough to hook me!

Review:

This book is pretty crazy. Like take all Gothic elements - mysterious manor, gloom, blood, madness, depravities and mix them all together in a prose maelstrom of evil run amok. Because it's so crazy, it kind of reminded me of The Monk, a novel that I have always found to be one of the more outlandish Gothic novels, and quite enjoyable because of it. The House on Blackstone Moor lacks some of the depth of The Monk though, and a clear message that there is some reason to all the madness. But this novel is still so very entertaining. Jane Eyre may have provided a basic backbone to the structure of this novel - in addition to the characters named Grace Poole and Helen (now both members of Marsh Asylum) - but I didn’t feel there was a strong narrative connection between Jane Eyre and this novel. The main character Rose, has had a terrible childhood and has had to witness the aftermath of the murder-suicide her father committed on her mother and siblings. It’s no wonder she has ended up in an asylum, with fragile tender nerves. She finds a position as governess at Blackstone House where there are many sinister secrets. Followed by horrific occurrences. And yet more sinister secrets. And horror. And then some demons. It’s kind of relentless, and definitely makes for an engaging page turner.

The romance between Rose and Louis is a tad underdeveloped - innocent beauty and masculine melancholy seem to mean instant love and very little modesty, but the romance is more of a vehicle to facilitate Rose’s struggles against the evil forces that have become a part of her life. This novel is a highly entertaining dark tale with an endless procession of surprising revelations, ghosts, demons and vampires.

Fifth book of ten in the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight
by D. M. Fife

Plot Summary:

Danny Firoth is an average thirteen-year-old who finds himself at the beginning of his eighth-grade year, struggling with some of the more common concerns that plague a boy of his age: bullies, homework, and his mother. Sabrina Drake is the new girl. She is beautiful and spellbinding, but carries a fantastic secret. Together, they begin an epic journey to become Knights of the Light.

Expecations:

I was interested in this fantasy story with elements of dragons and knights and I was looking forward to the exploration of a new mythology

Review:

The author starts with the interesting idea that a card game, called Knights, is in fact true and that you can pick your alliance -whether with the Light, Dark or Grey and these factions are fighting in real life. When Danny unlocks a hidden talent within himself, and then comes across a dragon, he is ushered into the realities of the card game he loves to play. With these discoveries, he finds that four of his friends also (and mysteriously) have some of the same abilities as he does. During the summer they all are admitted into a school that teaches children or squires of their ability to use their talent and fight against the Dark.

I found the mythology of the story was really well done. There are realistic details about the rules and boundaries of the Light and Dark and interesting ideas in having a “Bonded” weapon that you can communicate with. The writing in this book didn’t feel very realistic for the age of the characters however, and there were alot of overly described passages and repetitive phrases and some homophone errors (waste instead of waist for example). All this took me out of the story many times, but there are some great, exciting scenes, and Danny as the hero was a strong character. The other boys, although they had distinct personalities, seemed to clutter up the pace of the story as they all shared in many scenes and had many ideas and comments to add to the narrative. The romance between Danny and Sabrina has much room for development and it would be interesting to see how the author develops that in the next books in the series.

Overall, though I thought this story could have used more editing and more focused writing, I thought this was a great idea for a story, with some fantastic scenes.

review copy kindly provided by the author
(Edit: As of early September, the author has done some editing to correct grammar issues)



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (4) - Mary Poppins

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a children's book
Title: Mary Poppins
Adapted from Mary Poppins series by P.L. Travers

I've recently re-watched this film (imperative after seeing the stage musical a month ago) and where the stage musical is probably more accurate to the original book series, I much prefer the film with it's lighter, sweeter story line.  I have never read the book series but it seems that Mary Poppins in the book is much more satirical and impatient with the children.  And from the stage musical I think there were also darker elements in the books that was entirely done away with in the Disney movie.

Watching the movie, there is such a life-affirming joy in the way Mary Poppins transforms the lives of the Banks and in the character of Bert, the lovable transient, with an enviably carefree lifestyle.  I love the fantasy-type scenes in the drawing, and the tea party on the ceiling - they are filled with memorable characters and celebrate wonder and ... just complete joy.  I find this movie so uplifitng, with a beautiful message for children and adults.  Let's go fly a kite!

This awesome adaptation is rounded out by flawless Julie Andrews (I mean, she is practically perfect in real life right?  Unfair.) and the wonderfully melodic soundtrack that never intrudes on the story and just adds to the magic of the film.  That's it in a nutshell really.  This film is completely magical!
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Blog Design!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
 The wonderful Jenny at Inside the Kaleidoscope has just redesigned and prettified my blog!!  I'm so in love with this design and I highly recommend Jenny if you are at all interested in sprucing up the look of your blog!  Jenny was so great to work with and very quickly whipped up this amazing design!  Literally over the weekend!

The prices are so affordable, and Jenny was entirely helpful and responsive to my ideas. She took the measure of my old blog and what I had envisioned for the new one, and turned it into something I wouldn't have even thought of, but loved immediately. Check out Inside the Kaleidoscope for more of Jenny's blog designs and pricing!

And if you are kind enough to have my blog button on your blog, I would really appreciate it if you would switch it out for this new one - the html is in the sidebar.  Thanks!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Blood Eye

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Blood Eye (Book 1 in the Raven series)
by Giles Kristian

Plot Summary:

In a thrilling adventure of brotherhood, warfare, and treachery, Giles Kristian takes us into ninth-century England, a world of darkness, epic conflict, and an unforgiving God served by powerful priests. On ships shaped like dragons, bristling with oars and armor, Jarl Sigurd and his fierce Norsemen have come in search of riches. And riches they are promised, by an English ruler who sends Sigurd and his wolves to steal a holy manuscript from another kingdom. Osric, an orphan boy, sees beyond the terror of these warriors, and somehow knows the heathens’ tongue. Renamed Raven, rechristened in blood, he will join them. They are his people. And they will be his fate.

Expectations:

I’ve not read much Viking fiction, though perhaps because of a certain tall, blonde vampire from Bon Temps, I’ve been more recently interested in reading more about them. I love mythology but I’m not very familiar with Norse mythology so I was interested in seeing how those beliefs tie into the story.

Review:

This story felt very well researched and accurate so that the Vikings and the English of the 9th century were very vividly portrayed, down to the muck and filth that must have been prevalent in that time. While the realistic details certainly put off any attempt to romanticize that time period for me (no woman should want to live during that time anyways!) it was interesting to see how much the equally vividly portrayed characters made me almost envy the simple, honorable lifestyle of the Norsemen brotherhood. Osric, the English, but perhaps really Norse, captive of Sigurd and his men, is our narrator of what it means to come to belong to such a brotherhood, and their acceptance of him brings a lot of heart into this novel full of detailed violent fighting scenes, and less detailed (thankfully) rape and pillaging.

Although the novel started off slowly in the beginning, it picks up pretty quickly and I really enjoyed how Osric, or Raven as he is now called, develops from a cowardly boy to an honorable fighter committed to his Jarl; becoming instrumental when the Norsemen are forced by the English to steal the valuable Gospel of St. Jerome from another English county. The English as characters are generally not very sympathetic and their motivations and actions are somewhat unpredictable, adding suspense to the story as the poor Norsemen, who just want to go home, are forced to complete one task after another. Not all the Norsemen are trustworthy though, and in-group dissension increases the drama. I found myself rooting for certain people to die horrible deaths and for love to bloom between two deserving characters in this harsh, unforgiving time. It was also funny to read the constant jibes the Norse warriors made at each other - usually involving comparing their brothers to animals, women, and cowards. There are some inventive insults!

The attitudes of the Norse towards the Christian “gods” made me think of how much religion is a product of culture. It’s thought-provoking to read the Norse and English clash on their beliefs in this novel and this added another layer of historical realism to the story that I really appreciated. This is a well-written, vivid and richly detailed historical drama with gory violence, but also sharply realized characters who make up the heart of the drama.

review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with TLC Book Tours.  Click the image below to visit the book on its other tour stops.
Click on the Goodreads link for an opportunity to win a copy of this book!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Suspense Sundays (12)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.







"Death Flies Blind"
Air date: May 4, 1943
Starring Richard Dix and Gail Paige
>>Episodes here<<

Spies on a plane.  Starts off with a rich entrepreneur Mr. Nailor and his posse aboard a plane made private for his benefit - with the exception of Naval officer Lt Commander Fred Onslow and his girlfriend, Monica who have Very Important Business and must take that flight.  Something is amiss and the Colonel figures out that the plane is not headed towards Philadelphia as planned but over the Atlantic Ocean.  The pilots are gone - it looks like they parachuted out, and the air hostess is dead.  No one can fly the plane, whose navigation has been pre-programmed.  It looks like it was meant to crash so that Mr. Nailor who is willing to fund and build underwater freighters which would do away with the "submarine menace" of WWII, would die.  Those crafty Germans!  But Fred figures that there is actually a spy on the plane who will land it at the last moment in Germany.  But although Fred can't fly a plane, he knows how to set the navigations...

This episode is a bit heavy-handed in it's propaganda against the Nazis.  Not that there is anything wrong with that I guess, but the suspense in this episode was over by the time it was revealed that Mr. Nailor had some power to turn the war against the Nazis.  Then with the information that Fred knew aerial navigation, it seemed obvious that he would reset the coordinates so they could all land safely in England.  I thought it was funny that no one would just try to fly the plane anyways though.  It seemed like they were all resigned to crash and die.  I mean, in that case if you try to land the plane what's the worse that could happen??

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Skeleton Women

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Skeleton Women
by Mingmei Yip

Plot Summary:

Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as “skeleton women”—the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom…

When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her “rescue” was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang’s scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion—all to attract the attention of Wang’s enemy, the ruthless Master Lung.

Forced to become Master Lung’s mistress, Camilla meets two other intriguing women. Shadow is a magician and rival for Master Lung’s affections, while Rainbow Chang dresses like a man and wields power through her incendiary gossip column. Both pose risks to Camilla’s safety and status. But an even greater danger comes in the form of Master Lung’s eldest son, Jinying, who despises his father’s violent lifestyle—but loves Camilla. Only by plotting to eliminate Lung can she make her escape, but at what cost?


Expectations:

From the plot summary this looked like an interesting character-driven suspense story, and I was looking forward to reading some historical fiction.

Review:

Intrigue, suspense, cloaked motives, and an interesting insight to Chinese culture during the 1930s. This story pulled me in from the first page. Camilla, the ultimate skeleton woman, navigates the tricky path of performing her job as a spy of the Flying Dragons gang headed by Master Lung, vigilantly watching two other skeleton women who may cause her downfall, and dealing with two men who have fallen in love with her - one of which she might love back. It’s a plot full of complications, and Camilla’s smooth manipulations and careful navigation of volatile personalities is delightful to read. Characters who are so good at deception are fun! But Camilla only begins with such a cold heart, eventually her relationship with Master Lung’s son, Jinying and her interactions especially with Shadow start to thaw her out and cause her to reconsider her mission. The author has created a wonderfully smart, complex and flawed character in Camilla and it is Camilla that really carries the story.

The insight into Chinese culture during the 1930s - specifically Shanghai (it seems like it was a pretty wild town!) is very eye-opening and intriguing. I found the superstitions, the formalities, and the attitudes of Easterners towards Western influence to be very interesting and though I am not an expert, the author seems to have done a lot of research as all the details seemed historically accurate and vivid, making it easy to immerse myself into the story.

I really loved this book, although I had a few things that bothered me about it. The romance between Camilla and Jinying felt a little shallow sometimes, and there are a couple plot threads left hanging in the end, with the actual ending a little anti-climactic. But the journey with Camilla and the flowing style of the writing made this a wonderful escapist read.

review copy kindly provided by the publisher in connection with TLC Book Tours.  Click on the image below to visit the other stops on this book's tour.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (3) - Jane Eyre 2011

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a great romance
Title: Jane Eyre
Adapted from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Just so you know, I did consider not blogging about Jane Eyre for this one since I talk about it so much, but when it comes to adaptations and great romances, I've seen so many adaptations of Jane Eyre that I just kept coming back to it.  My dilemma though is in picking one since there have been so many. Granted not all have been awesome...

Though I dearly love the 1973 miniseries with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, I think I'm going to go with the recent 2011 film for this post, which I also dearly love for different reasons.  The main reason being how it creatively interprets the source material to complement the aesthetic of a film but also maintains the spirit of the original novel.  So as an adaptation from a book to a film, I think it is extremely successful.

The first thing I really appreciate about this film is in the cohesion - there is a unified vision to the storytelling.  Although each part shines individually, no part outshines the other, as it all contributes to the whole.  I feel that the cinematography, the music, the directing, the acting, the script, and the lighting even, all come across as restrained but simmering, muted but emotional. There is such a vibrancy and realism to the storytelling. The look and feel of this film just brings the whole world of the novel to life for me.

Obviously I think the novel has a great romance - a romance built on thoughtful conversations and witty repartee, on character personalities that complement each other, and on the fact that Jane and Rochester just need each other on every level.  To get EVERYTHING across in a two hour film is impossible. Previous adaptations with those important (abridged) scenes where Jane and Rochester get to know each other come across as rushed or perfunctory sometimes, but the 2011 film has the tone of the scene in the dialogue and the actor's expressions and the atmosphere.  I watch and listen to the actors and I feel the emotion of the piece come across almost as I feel it from the novel.  And Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender are fantastic at having their inner feelings subtly betrayed through their acting when they are not actually saying what they feel.  I find all the romances I really enjoy have that element of the main twosome not being able to reveal their feelings for each other for some time.  I just love that restraint and tension and I feel like that is wonderfully teased out in this film.  And to cap all that off, there is the farewell scene - (my favorite scene in the novel, where Jane and Rochester talk after the failed wedding) and this scene is accurately, beautifully, heart-breakingly portrayed in this film - definitely better done in this version than all the other film versions of Jane Eyre!  (And most miniseries!)

For a short trip through the great romance of Jane and Rochester this gorgeously rendered, nuanced, sensitive, and awesome adaptation of Jane Eyre is the one to watch! 
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Highlight Poetry (9)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
highlight poetry
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.

Annabel Lee
by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me--
Yes!--that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we--
Of many far wiser than we--
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Oh the cadence of this poem - probably the thing that strikes me the most - how fun it is to recite this poem aloud.  This has been a favorite of mine ever since I was young.  It is very melancholy and depressing isn't it?  I am sure I was not unhappy when I was a child (and she was a child).  I think the love that endures after death is haunting and beautiful and that might have appealed to me then.  I find the idea of angels being jealous of humans very interesting now - the very idea that angels can be jealous of humans at all - and romantic love as such a potent and desirable thing that all crave it.  
Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: A Death Displaced

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
A Death Displaced
by Andrew Butcher

Plot Summary:

When Nicolas Crystan has a daydream of a woman falling to her death, he brushes it off as just that: a daydream. Later, signs occur that are too exact to deny; it was a vision of the future. Nicolas acts fast to save the lady's life... not thinking of the consequences.

Juliet Maystone, saved from death, becomes displaced in this world, giving her an unexpected ability. After seeking the help of a famous medium, it turns out there's more to life than Juliet ever could have imagined. But how ready is she to face up to this?

Set on Lansin Island, an island with a macabre story of its own, Nicolas and Juliet must work together, using their abilities to unravel the mystery surrounding an unsolved death and a secluded manor: rumoured to be haunted.

Expectations:

Paranormal mystery - with such an interesting premise! I love the idea of escaping death giving you extrasensory perception.

Review:

This novel had an unexpected depth with the narrative especially in Nicolas as the perfect example of the every-man, with insecurities and family issues that ground him in reality even as he realizes the extent of his newfound abilities.  Workaholic Juliet Maystone equally is sensible and grounded as she deals with her own family issues and a near-death experience.  I felt like the beginning chapters sets up the intriguing premise well, and from the plot summary I was expecting a sort of straight-forward mystery, but as it turns out the mystery has fantasy elements.  The setting of A Death Displaced does set up these fantastical elements - Lansin Island was the scene of witch burnings,  rampant superstition and pagan beliefs, some of which persist today, though Nicholas and Juliet were much more skeptical in the beginning.

The pacing of the story slows down a bit in between the first meeting of Nicholas and Juliet and the occurrence that forces Juliet to seek out Nicholas again.  Then the story takes that fantastical turn where supernatural abilities extend to a new, more sinister character.  The second half of the book - though more interesting - didn't flow as well as the first for me, and I felt some of the actions of certain characters were made just to create a certain situation without sufficiently setting it up in the character's nature.  There is a very sweetly set-up romance with Nicolas and Juliet - these characters have such painful past histories that it was so perfect they would find each other.  Overall I really enjoyed this story - it is an interesting blend of contemporary, fantasy and mystery and has many surprises.

review copy kindly provided by the author

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Suspense Sundays (11)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.






"Nothing Up My Sleeve"
Air date: January 5, 1943
Starring George Coulouris
>>Episodes here<<

Dorothy Dale visits her boyfriend at the bank where he works.  A few minutes later the bank is held up and the bank robbers assure Dorothy's boyfriend, Jerry, that he will get his cut of the money later.  But  Jerry protests that he has nothing to do with it.  Later the police catch up to the robbers and there is a shootout.  All the robbers are killed. The money is not found and it is assumed the robbers passed the money on to an accomplice. The police pick up Jerry for questioning and Dorothy has a suspicion that the nephew (Derek) of the woman she works for is involved somehow....because he used to go to school with Jerry and he has a grudge against him for some reason, and Derek is a lawyer and she seems to remember one of the bank robbers was a client of Derek's at one time.  The reasoning is kind of tenuous.  Derek is at home playing billiards when Dorothy confronts him.  He denies everything and Dorothy steps outside the room to call the police.  The police come and Derek has been in the billiards room the whole time.  Dorothy thought she saw the $80,000 dollars in Derek's suitcase but it's not there now.  Derek never left the room and there are no windows so it has to be somewhere hidden in that room.  But where?

The whole back story for this Suspense story is a bit silly.  Why does Derek hold such a grudge?  I'm not even sure there was a good reason for him to want to rob the bank. Dorothy jumps to a lot of conclusions without much evidence.  It's all really to showcase the cleverness (I guess) of how do you hide that much money in a room without preparation.  The idea is that you hide it in "invisible furniture".  Something that you see but you don't really see.  Something you would dismiss very easily.  In this case, since it is the Forties, it was hidden in a false radiator.  Okay.  I tried to guess it before they revealed it but I certainly couldn't have come up with that, so... the writer is right I guess?  


Friday, September 7, 2012

Review: The Wishing Spell

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
by Chris Colfer

Plot Summary:

Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairytales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

Expectations:

So I'm a Gleek, and Kurt played by Chris Colfer is one of my favorite characters on the show.  I really admire Chris' acting and singing ability, so the fact that he is also a writer does not surprise me as he is obviously ridiculously talented.  And even though this book is more geared towards middle school readers, I love the premise and was really looking forward to reading this!

Review:

This book does what I have wanted to see in a fairy tale redone story for a long time - it mixes up many different fairy tales and makes their characters interact - the stories have become real histories. Chris Colfer creates a world that has a believable government system and meshes the various characters and creatures from well known fairy tales so that they live side by side and gives them detailed backstories. The twins who fall into the Land of Stories, Alex and Conner, are fantastic guides for us on our journey through this world. Alex is the smart one, and a real fan of the fairy tale characters, while Conner is more down to earth, and wryly funny as he usually saves the day when the twins get into a scrape.

The beginning of the novel sets up the main conflicts - one concerning Snow White and the real motivations behind the Evil Queen's actions, and Alex and Conner's family life which has been recently disrupted by the death of their father.  There are character arcs and revelations that are obvious almost from the beginning (of course Alex and Conner will come to grips with their lives back home after sojourning through the Land of Stories, and of course the Evil Queen was not always evil) but the real charm in this novel comes in the way the many different fairy tales are reimagined and recreated.  I probably appreciated this book all the more because I am such a fan of fairy tales myself, and Alex's feelings towards them almost mirror my own.  For that, I think this novel is exceptional and a beautifully written tribute to the magic of fairy tales.

As a side note, there is a map in the endpaper of the book, and lovely illustrations that head each chapter (it kind of reminded me of Harry Potter) and weirdly enough, I just loved the feel of the pages! This book looks and feels nice. Sorry, I just needed to gush on a well-made book.
Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: Phantom

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,

Phantom
by Gabriel Common

Plot Summary:

Rarely, if any, are science and celestial creatures mixed in a work of fiction. Phantom shows that such fusion of seemingly incompatible subjects can blend together very harmoniously to tell an interesting story. The book is about a young Nephilim who is caught in the middle of an interplanetary battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. It tells the readers that, like the Nephilim, we humans can tap into our angel side, which is a source of so much power, so that we can overcome our challenges, conquer our personal demons, reach the goals we have set for ourselves, and fight for what is right and good. This story not only entertains the readers but inspires them opening the door to new creative possibilities and showing that nothing is impossible no matter how big the goal is. It is the first in its series of four original books.


Expectations:

Science fiction and fantasy are awesome genres on their own, so I was looking forward to a book that combined the two.

Review:

This novel starts the action very quickly, so much so, that I had to go back to the beginning, wondering if I missed something.  There are a lot of ideas, plot points, and characters thrown at the reader with a minimum of exposition, and I felt like this characterized the whole novel.  There is a minimum of character development, and many characters are introduced with little actual impact on the plot.  The young angel/human hybrid, Traiven, is similarly quickly thrown into his new role as defender against the evil forces of the demons who want to build a gateway into this world.  Traiven is unfamiliar with his angel powers, and struggles to learn to control it for most of the book.  Since this is the first book of a series of four, I understood that Traiven still had to develop, but he made very aggravatingly senseless decisions, including one major one near the end that did not endear his character to me.  There are many fight sequences in this novel that might appeal to readers, and some suspense as the forces of good struggle against the forces of evil.  Overall, I thought this story could have used more development all the way around - including more depth to the world-building - but it is a very quick read.

review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with Crossroads Book Tours

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (2) - The Little Mermaid

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week I will be writing about an adaptation of a book that I think is worth seeing and I have challenged myself to come up with suggestions to match a category. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let us know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a classic fairy tale

Title: The Little Mermaid
Adapted from: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson

This is my favorite Disney movie, which is funny because The Little Mermaid isn't my favorite fairy tale.  And that's because the changes Disney made to the story are so awesome.  Also I really love the songs.  These are the changes that I think make this fairy tale better.  (To me!)

- The movie creates a relationship with Ariel's father - in the fairy tale the mermaid has more of a relationship with her sisters and her grandmother, and for me, having Ariel reacting to the stringent rules of her father and her father's prejudices creates a stronger catalyst for her to decide to see the Sea Witch.  And the fact that King Triton really loves his daughter but is having a hard time understanding her is a very relatable family issue, and it is so touching when they understand and know each other better in the end.

- Every good story needs a great villain, and in the movie the writers enhanced the Sea Witch character, Ursula, by giving her a grudge to hold against King Triton.  And for more dramatic effect, Ursula transforms herself into Veronica so she can marry the Prince to Ariel's ruin, just in an attempt to best King Triton and take his crown.  Ursula is ruthless and unfeeling and deliciously evil.

- And the biggest change - the ending.  The fairy tale is depressing!  The mermaid dies and becomes a daughter of the air.  Maybe gets a soul in 300 years.  If children are good.  Huh?  Ariel on the other hand, fights Ursula for her father and Eric's sake, and Eric fights for Ariel because he loves her.  Ursula gets what she deserved.  And what always makes me tear up a little, King Triton proves his love for Ariel by letting her go.  Happily ever after!  Much more emotionally satisfying.

The movie adaptation of The Little Mermaid gives alot more heart to the story and makes the mermaid's longing more intense and emotional.  And in both versions of the story the mermaid takes her own life into her hands, no matter fear or danger, to achieve what she wants, and I find that very admirable.  Although the movie version does away with any discussions about having a soul and what that means, movie Ariel's efforts pay off in a romantic, touching, and happy finale.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Highlight Poetry (8)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
highlight poetry
Highlight Poetry is a meme created by Lace & Lavender Hints to celebrate a poem once a week.


No Coward Soul is Mine
by Emily Brontë

No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven's glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear

O God within my breast
Almighty ever-present Deity
Life, that in me hast rest,
As I Undying Life, have power in Thee

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

Thought-provoking poem once more! God is with us so we should have no fear.  It's difficult to not get into some sort of religious/philosophical conversation over this poem, because when I read it, that is exactly what is going on in my head. But I also feel like the interpretation of it can mean many things for different people because it is so deep.  It's such a beautifully crafted poem.




Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: The Enchanted Truth

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Enchanted Truth
by Kym Petrie

Plot Summary:

In this humorous and insightful tale, a modern day princess finds herself single and asking for magical intervention to change her sorry love life. Rather than casting a spell to bring Prince Charming to her rescue, a savvy fairy godmother gives the tenderhearted damsel an unexpected gift. By entrusting her true thoughts and desires to an unlikely confidant, the young royal soon discovers that the person who could make her life everything she dreamed it would be has been with her all along.

As author Kym Petrie herself realized, every woman needs a froggy friend and a secret journal—and enough adventures with the girls to keep her heart pounding and her mind racing. Life is meant to be about happy beginnings . . . you can never have enough of them.

Expectations:

I love fairy tales! So anything that reinvents them is something I would like to read!  And I was curious to see what a fairy tale in a modern world looks like.

Review: 

This is a fun and thoughtful take on what it means to be a princess in a fairy tale. Always longing for something that maybe you can just find inside of yourself. The author uses a setting that invokes the medieval time of fairy tales but uses modern speech and modern items like potato chips and chocolate to relate the princess to the modern woman. The moral in this short tale is something all women of today can take to heart and it is given in a way that is entertaining and sweet.

review copy kindly provided by Netgalley



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Suspense Sundays (10)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,


Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.







"Three Skeleton Key"
Air date: November 11, 1956
Starring Vincent Price

For my tenth post, I re-listened to this classic episode of Suspense. It was actually performed twice for the show and three times for another OTR series called "Escape".  Three Skeleton Key is the address of a lighthouse where the three occupants see an unmanned ship heading their way, heedless of the rocks it is about to crash upon.  The men take up binoculars and see that the ship is absolutely covered in rats.  And when the ship crashes on the shore, there is a "carpet" of rats heading towards the lighthouse.  The men barricade themselves in, as the rats cover the lighthouse, trying to get at them.  The men can't get any light from the outside, because the rats cover the windows.  Crazy, right?  And while one man is losing his mind, taunting the rats, asking if they want to come in, the other men realize the rats are chewing through the wood.  And then of course, they break through.

All throughout the scenes where there are rats, there is a ceaseless "rat noise" that is quite insidious.  This story is claustrophobic, and although I don't have any fear of rats or rodents, the idea that there are animals that are just waiting to eat you alive is frightening, and after this I think it is better to have one large animal trying to eat you than a swarm of little ones.  This story does the atmosphere of the horrific situation so well, and when you are using your imagination to see the drama, the horror of it is especially vivid.  I can understand why this episode is a classic because it is a unique kind of suspense story.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (1) - Woman of Fire

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week I will be writing about an adaptation of a book that I think is worth seeing and I have challenged myself to come up with suggestions to match a category. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let us know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome modernization of a classic story

Joan Hackett as Margarita and Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
Well, as I mentioned on Alisa's blog, I had been thinking of writing a post about this episode of one of my very favorite TV shows, Bonanza.  It's a 1960s western and I grew up watching it on reruns.  Wrangling it into this category is a bit of a stretch, as it's not very modern (although modern compared to the source material?) and not a film, but I really love this episode and really wanted to blog about it!

Episode Title: Woman of Fire
Adapted from Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

The Cartwrights are hosting some guests from Mexico - Don Miguel and his two daughters Margarita and Elena.  Elena, the second born, has two suitors already vying for her hand.  Margarita is going to meet a possible suitor, sheep rancher Don Luis.  But Margarita has a violent temper.  And no one can silence her, until Adam Cartwright, in a pique when she punches him in the gut, spanks her.  Okay. Kinda weird.  Acceptable for 1960s television I guess.  So her family beg him to try and make her more reasonable before Don Luis comes, so that she can be married off.  Adam doesn't want to, until she breaks his guitar (sent all the way from New York!) so guess what?  It's on!!  And Adam does everything he can to aggravate her.  Pretending to be helpful he "fixes" her bed so that it collapses, makes her a terrible breakfast, "accidentally" pours cold hot chocolate on her and then tries to clean it up by pouring water on it.  Eventually he gets her to admit that being polite and pleasant is not such a bad thing, and that because she doesn't want to live alone, she can bank the fire.  

Now you would think that's the last of it.  Nope.  Don Luis arrives and is disappointed that Margarita is not exhibiting the famous temper he's heard about.  He says to Adam that he is a sheep rancher and he does not want a sheep for a wife.  So now Adam has to undo his teaching and when they have a picnic the next day he does his best to make her lose her temper.  He does the sun is a moon bit from the book, escalating into pushing her into the lake.  And still, through clenched teeth, she maintains her temper.  Until Adam pushes Don Luis into the lake, and she finally loses it.  

What I like so much about this episode - well aside from how funny it is - is the twist that Don Luis wants Margarita the way she is.  Such a nice touch, and an improvement on the message we get from Taming of the Shrew.  There are a couple scenes that show the vulnerability of Margarita and they play so well in this; it makes me cheer for Margarita, that even with her prickly personality, she just wants a suitor to accept her for who she is.