Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tik-Tok of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Tucked away in a far, small, corner of Oz lies the land of Oogaboo. It's a very small valley, with few people, but they do have a Queen. In fact, Queen Ann gets it into her head that she is going to go conquer Ozma of Oz. It's a rather silly idea, but once she has it in her head there is no stopping her!

Our old friend the Shaggy Man is also traveling through Oz. His brother is in trouble, most likely held captive by the Nome King, and Shaggy is searching for him to see if he can free him. Ozma has given him the love magnet that usually rests over the gates leading into the Emerald City. With this he can change the minds of almost anyone so that they suddenly want to be his friend, instead of enemy. Wouldn't that be nice to have in real life?

Shaggy is accompanied on his journey by a girl named Betsy, who was shipwrecked. They, of course, gather other companions along their trip as well. People as strange and interesting as they are! Betsy, in her childhood innocence might remind you some of Dorothy, but she is a different girl and a character in her own right.

Before this book is over there will be battle, a trip to the other side of the world, and even dragons!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Merlin: The Dragon’s Call

I first heard about this book from a friend of mine who also does book reviews. I thought it might be interesting because I also enjoy the tv show that the book is based on. Next thing I knew she was offering a giveaway - and I actually won!

The book (and tv show) is about Merlin and Author as young men. Merlin is the main character, but Author plays a big part in the story as well. Merlin arrives in Camelot eager to take it all in, and just a little bit overwhelmed by it all. One of the very first things he sees is an execution. King Uther ruled that all magic is evil twenty years ago, and now all caught practicing magic are immediately put to death. It's a somber warning for Merlin, who was born with an incredible ability to use magic.

Merlin doesn't heed the warning very well though. He's a hot blooded young man with a keen sense of justice, and when he should be keeping a low profile and going about his work for Gaius, he finds himself in trouble time and time again. Usually from a run in with Author, who as a young man is brash, arrogant, and a bully. Merlin always finds a way to get out of trouble, but sometimes it's a rather close thing! By the end of the book he finds himself the unwitting savior of Author, and as a reward, Author's servant.

During all this Merlin is hearing a mysterious mental summons. It's obviously magical in origin, but how could that be? Eventually the call pulls him below the foundations of the city where he meets the only remaining dragon. What the dragon has to say is fantastic to say the least, and Merlin doesn't really know how to handle it.

I've enjoyed watching the series because I've always loved the Arthurian myth. I'm enjoying seeing it from the perspective of Merlin, and with both of them as young men. At times I have to shake my head at some of the things the authors choose to put in, but it's a good bit of fun. The book follows closely with what I remember of the first episode from the series adding insight into the different things people were thinking.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Award Time!

I just got this award from my roomie when I was up at Central! Make sure you go and check out her blog! Now I'm supposed to pass this on to people - but I'm bad about reading blogs. Then again, I have such a small readership on this blog, that I can easily say if you read this that YOU win the award!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Very Harry Potter Week

Note: There are a couple of spoilers about Harry Potter 7 – however they are at the very end of this post and there is plenty of warning so you have the option to read or not read.

I am not the most rabid of Harry Potter fans. I suspect this guy, and others like him, carry that title! I'm no where near that level, it's not even comparable. Of course, if I actually had money, I'd be a much more qualified to at least be an enthusiastic fan. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I don't own any t-shirts, only 4 of the books, and no movies. I am thinking of making myself some jewelry though… If I had more money, one of the things I would get (other than the rest of the books and the movies) is this shirt. And yes, I also like the Twilight books, but it's never made any sense to me that the vampires sparkle in the sun!

Moving on…

Like I said, I'm not a rabid fan, but my brother and I decided to spend this week been crazy fans. We spent the week re-watching all the movies! Of course, we had to borrow the movies from my dear evil twin, but we still watched them! That's a LOT of movie watching so we spread it out over three days. It's 15 hrs of movies. Granted, we possibly could have done it in one day if I had the health, or two days even, but it was nice and fun to watch them over three days. Two movies a day was perfect.
One thing that really amused us was how obvious it was that the movie producers got a budget after the first two movies! We spent most of the third movie pointing out fun things they put in and commenting, "Their enjoying having a budget!" Yes. We're weird.

The fourth day of our movie marathon was going to see the new movie! Now, we didn't see the opening show, because being up that late just isn't smart for me, but we did go and see it on Friday! I probably shouldn't have gone though. My cold got a lot worse on Thursday, and I thought I had it under control with meds when we went to the theater, but the amount of sneezing I did proved otherwise. I feel guilty for going out in public. If we hadn't pre-purchased the tickets I probably wouldn't have done it, and in retrospect, I still shouldn't have! Oh well. At least it was a relatively empty theater (yay for middle of the day movie showings!).

I really enjoyed the movie. I hear rumors that there is a scene where you can catch Hermoine whispering Harry's lines too him, but I didn't see it. Of course I could have been sneezing… Anyway, I think they did a really good job at portraying the book.

Now, and this isn't a spoiler, the book is really intense, so the movie is as well. I can see why they cut the book into two movies, but it means that you leave the first movie just feeling intense and left hanging. If you've read the book, then that's not too much of a problem, but it does feel a little odd.

The following does contain a partial spoiler – included for the information of any parents reading this post.




The movie is really intense. If you're questioning whether to let your child see this movie you'll want to be aware that there are fights and murders in the movie. There is also a partial nudity scene included. You can't really see anything, but it is obvious that the two involved are supposed to be naked.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I'm sick and going crazy. I have so much I want to do writing-wise and for my jewelry store but I'm really not up to either. Can't think straight and spending WAY to much time either asleep or blowing my nose. Hopefully i'll be back soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman

"Feast of Souls" is the first book in the "Magister Trilogy" by C.S. Friedman. On the front of the book it poses an important question, "What price would you pay for power?" and, in many ways, that's the central question of the book. In this world each person has what's known as their "soul fire." A witch is a person who has the ability to draw on their own soul fire to perform magic. The only problem is that there is a limit to the amount of soul fire each person has, and every act of magic takes away precious minutes from that person's life span.

The Magisters are set apart from the witches in that they are virtually immortal. No one outside their order knows how they've achieved this, and they keep it that way because the secret is a dark and terrible one. The Magisters have learned how to feed off of the soul fires of other people, thus protecting their own life spans, and allowing them to use magic without any personal cost.

Magisters are known for being ruthless, and they are all without exception male. No one knows why this is, it simply is. Until a young woman named Kamala challenges that which is known, and manages to become the first woman Magister. As such she faces many unique challenges, especially because she knows it's not wise to announce her existence to the rest of the Magisters before she's comfortable with her power.

Then Kamala finds herself in yet another unique and difficult position. Normally the Magisters never know who's soul it is that they feed of off, they merely know when it expires and they must fasten onto another. Kamala not only meets the man whose soul fire she is stealing, she falls in love with him.

While Kamala is going through her own drama, the land itself is facing great turmoil. Hundreds of years ago an ancient evil was banished. Imprisoned in the north where there were always those guarding to insure it never returned, but other than those special few, many no longer believed that this evil even existed. Until one day it breaks through to ravage the land.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

In "Fairest" Gail Carson Levine returns to the wonderful world she created in "Ella Enchanted." While the flavor of the story is very similar, this story does take place in a different kingdom, so there are many fascinating differences. Ayortha is a land of singers. Everything is expressed through song, and nothing of importance happens without song being involved.

Aza is a young woman who avoids all mirrors, because while the people of the land value song above all else, they also value beauty, and that is the last word that will ever be applied to Aza. Her one comfort is that she has the ability to sing magnificently. She lives with her family in the inn that they run, and she mostly tries to stay out of everyone else’s way. There is one guest, a Duchess, who takes a fancy to her though, and when the Duchess's companion falls ill, the Duchess decides to take Aza with her to the palace!

It's a special time at the palace, for the King is bringing back his beloved, a fair beauty from another land, and they are to be wed.

Unfortunately, right after the wedding a terrible accident occurs, and the King is involved in a tragic accident that leaves him comatose, and leaves his young bride to rule the Kingdom. Unfortunately Queen Ivi isn't all that she seems. She is steeped in treacherous magic, and will do anything to guard her secret. Also, she can't sing a note. Not a tragedy where she comes from, but horrific in the land of Ayortha. She soon discovers that Aza can not only sing, she can imitate anyone, and throw her voice to make it seem like that song is coming from wherever she wishes!

Queen Ivi makes Aza her lady in waiting, and poor Aza, who has already suffered much, enters one of the most miserable periods of her life. Ivi is manipulative and cares little for the feelings of those around her. Aza is forced to lie on behalf of the Queen and it tears her apart inside. She is also constantly comparing herself, and her own looks, to the beauty of Ivi.

Until, that is, something happens that forces Ivi to have Aza killed, or so she thinks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

"Damnation Alley" is a fast paced, but interesting, read by Roger Zelazny. It takes place in a world that has under gone nuclear war, and the result is a devastated landscape. As far as the people in Los Angeles know, they and the group of people on the East Coast are the only ones left alive in the world. It's possible that there are other places that still have life, but no one can contact them.

Now a deadly plaque has broken out in Boston, and the only hope to keep that population alive is to somehow get the stock pile of cure to them from Los Angeles. In order to do that someone is going to have to traverse Damnation Alley, a monster and hazard filled area that lies between the two. Few people would be insane enough to try, but Hell Tanner is one of them. Of course the fact that it gets him out of prison is a good motivator...

I couldn't help but think of my brother John as I read this book, it's very much his style of story! Lots of high adrenaline action, blood and guts, and even romance! You'll laugh along the way, and you'll cling to the edge of your seat. It's well worth the read.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Heaven Cent by Piers Anthony

"Heaven Cent" continues the Xanth series in yet another fun filled, pun filled, book! Prince Dolph, son of King Dor and Queen Irene, and brother to Princess Ivy, is a shape-shifter. He can change into anything you can imagine, which is quite useful, and often hilarious! Dolph is determined to find the missing Good Magician Humfrey, but of course since he's still young his parents have a few objections to that.


Dolph and his parents come to a compromise. He can go on his quest as long as he takes an adult along. Dolph doesn't particularly like this idea (adults tend to squash fun ideas) so he determines to suggest a bunch of truly horrible adults so that when he suggests the one he wants, they'll agree out of relief! Unfortunately (or fortunately) his first suggestion is actual one they agree with! So Dolph finds himself semi-reluctantly the traveling companion of Marrow, an enchanted skeleton from the Hypno-guards.


Marrow turns out to be the best companion Dolph could have hoped for. They both have the ability to change forms. Marrow can rearrange the order his bones are in, and Dolph's power is more liquid. It makes them kindred spirits in a way, and both of their talents come in handy more than once!


Of course, this wouldn't be Xanth if they didn't face a number of unique trials along the way. Women keep trying to ensnare the Prince (what better match can a woman find?), Dolph is frustrated by the "adult conspiracy" (just how DO adults signal the storks to bring babies?), and the group even finds themselves guarding a dragon's nest for him!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg" by Gail Carson Levine

"Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg" is the first of two books by Gail Carson Levine that are sanctioned by Disney. Well, at least I only know of two books and I didn't see anything on-line about a third, it's always a possibility! I actually read the second book, "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Wand," first and you can see my review of it here.


In "Fairy Dust" you will see some characters that are very likely familiar, and many more that are brand new. It takes place in the beloved Never land, that place where children never grow old, and one of the fairies we get to watch is Tinkerbell herself! She's not the main character in this story though, no, that distinction goes to a fairy named Prilla.


Prilla is a brand new fairy. Fairies are born when children laugh their first laugh, and after baby Sarah laughs, Prilla finds herself in Neverland. Now traditionally when a new fairy arrives they immediately discover what their talent is. All fairies have a talent. Some with animals, some with baking bread, some with healing, and the list goes on and on. The only problem is that Prilla doesn't know her talent, and despite everyone's best efforts, can't seem to discover it!


Then tragedy strikes Neverland. The first hurricane in memory strikes the Island, hurting Mother Dove and damaging her egg. Mother's Dove magic, imbued in the Egg, is what makes Neverland what it is. As soon as the egg shatters people begin to grow older, and the land begins to change.


Fortunately there is hope. There is a dragon locked up in Neverland who's fire-breath should be able to restore the egg. In order to get him to cooperate they are going to need to bribe him, so three fairies are chosen to go get the items, and then try and get the dragon to restore the egg. Prilla is one of those fairies and all along the way she keeps wondering "maybe my talent is this..." Don't worry though my friends! By the end of the book you'll discover what her talent is!


This would be a great book to read chapter by chapter to your children at bed time. I enjoyed it as an adult, and it's full of beautiful imagery that your children will love.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Women's Retreat

My Mom and I went on a Women's Retreat with her Church this weekend. It was full of ups and downs for me. I think I'm still processing! 

I should back up by explaining that Mom's Church is the Church I grew up in. I went there for years and years, and was really involved for most of that time. Life changes though.

There were a couple of reasons I stopped going there. It wasn't that I had anything against God, Church, or that Church in particular really... Well, at least, not as far as the people or the beliefs went. I struggled with attending once they built the new Sanctuary. I don't know what it was, but something in there tended to set off my asthma. So I spent several years attending church services from the lobby. Yah, not exactly my favorite. I stuck with it though cuz I never really had a good reason to go somewhere else. Health problems and work go in the way of attending at times too. Then I got married and started going to a small Church with my hubby, so it's been several years since I've been there.

I was excited about going to the retreat and getting away from my day to day life, but I was a little nervous about seeing people I hadn't seen in years. You see, I've changed a lot since "back in the day." I've been sick and between just general lack of energy because of that and the meds, I've gained a lot of weight! 

So guess what? I was right, there were a lot of people who didn't recognize me. Even one or two who completely didn't remember me at all :(

On the plus side there were some people that were really nice to talk to, and it was good to spend the time with my Mom! I also walked away from the retreat with lots to think about. Some really good suggestions from friends new and old, and with old connections reformed. I'm very thankful for that.

I learned that I'm really going to have to work at being comfortable in a crowd again. I used to be Miss Personality, and this weekend I was Miss Hide Outside because I got claustrophobic. 

I also learned that taking lots of turns on the freeway with a migraine is bad. Puking on the side of the road is also not fun. Don't worry, Mom was driving.

And lastly, I was reminded that I'm not alone is this fight, unless I hide from everyone else.