Links and Posts to Ponder while I'm at Scout Expo

Norman Rockwell Painting 1944

This weekend we will be mingling with 6000 other scouts at the Scout Expo.   It will be my first time camping out in eons so I don't expect to get much sleep.  I have the princess and the pea syndrome and can feel the pebble even through a dozen mattresses. So, you can imagine how I'll do with a sleeping bag and one of those thin sleeping pads.  Tylenol is my friend.  Since the expo is being held on an Air Force Base, I've been reading all the rules and regulations that go along with that, as well as what is expected of the boys.   Interestingly enough, no electronics.  The boys have to leave all their gizmo's at home for the weekend.   James is still trying to talk me into letting him bring his nintendo DS with him so he can play it before he goes to bed.   I imagine after a day of walking, lots of activities and noise, he's going to curl up and pass out rather quickly.   I had been considering taking my Nook but maybe not.  

So while we are whooping it up with the boys scouts, here are a few links and post to ponder. 

Congratulations to Summer of And This Time, Concentrate for making it through the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  She had stuck it out and posted every single day for the month of April.

Check out Staci's post from Life in the Thumb:  I'll read what I want, When I want and Without Labels, thank you.    A Florida mom decided that the government needs to do her job and label all library books so kids know whether they are appropriate or not.  Irksome to say the least. 

Sandra started the writer's blog chain this go round with the question:

Have you ever created a character different from yourself in some significant way, such as (but not limited to) different gender, race, ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation? If so, what, if any, research did you do to portray these differences? Was this character a main character, secondary character, or walk-on? Did these differences have an impact on the story?

Jody Hedlund's been discussing Self Editing - What is it and why we do it, plus the 3 simple stages to self edit.   Very, very helpful.   She's so wise - I like how her brain works.

Jonathan at Worlds Without End has an interesting, but mind boggling quote from James Cameron (yes, the one who directed Titanic) about science fiction literature and movies

On April 30th, 1789 George Washington was inaugurated as our first president of the United States.   "It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible."

I'll leave you with this question to ponder:  If you were forced to give up one of your five senses, which one would you choose? Why?  

Author Spotlight and birthday wishes for 2010 Hugo Best Novel Nominee - Robert J. Sawyer

 Happy 50th Birthday to Robert J. Sawyer

Today Robert J. Sawyer has the honor of joining me in the "50's club".   What a great birthday present - He has been selected as one of the six nominees for the 2010 Hugo Award in the Best Novel category for his book "Wake." 

Excerpt from Chapter one:  

Not darkness, for that implies an understanding of light.
      Not silence, for that suggests a familiarity with sound.
      Not loneliness, for that requires a knowledge of others
But still, faintly, so tenuous, that if it were any less it wouldn't exist at all: awareness
     Nothing more than that.   Just awareness - a vague, ethereal sense of being.

Being...but not becoming.  No marking of time, no past or future --- only an endless, featureless now, and, just barely there in that boundless moment, inchoate and raw, the dawning of perception...

Makes me want to go out and buy "Wake" right now.  Wake is book one in the WWW trilogy: Wake, Watch, and Wonder.  The first two are available now and you can read first chapter excerpts on the www trilogy web site. 

Sawyer, born April 29, 2010 in Ottawa Canada, sold his first short science fiction story in 1979 to the Strasenburgh Planetarium which they produced as part of a dramatic starshow trilogy called "Futurescapes" in 1980.   While attending Ryerson University and working on his Bachelor of Applied Arts in Radio and Television Arts, he had his first story published in  Ryerson's 1980 Literary Annual - White Wall Review.  

The story "The Contest" was included in the anthology 100 Great Fantasy Short Stories released in 1984.  After graduating from Ryerson, he spent the next six years writing mainly non fiction freelance articles for various American and Canadian magazines.   His true love however was writing science fiction and he decided to concentrate on writing novels full time.   

His debut novel was Golden Fleece published in 1999

The story is unique in that is it told from the viewpoint of the Starcology Argo's ship's computer, Jason. One of the ship's crew is murdered and the finger points straight at the artificially intelligent computer.  

After that he wrote Farseer, the first book in the Quintaglio Ascension series which revolved around the world of a group of intelligent dinosaurs.

His next book, End of an Era continued with the dinosaur theme but took us back through time travel to the beginning of the world to find out what really happened to the dinosaurs.  

Sawyer explored many interesting themes in his books including SETI, artificial intelligence, time travel, dinosaurs, psychology, murder and the nature of consciousness to name a few.  

In his Neanderthal Parallax series, he explored the question:  what would have happened if there was another world in which the neanderthals have survived and became the dominant species.   How would their world differ from ours?  He won the 2003 Hugo award for Hominids.

In his next standalone book, he went on to explore in Mindscan what would happen if in order to avoid suffering an inherited  debilitation disease that would turn you into a vegetable, if you could have your mind scanned and assume an android body while your body is shipped off to the moon.   Would the people you know accept you?  If a cure was discovered, could you be scanned back into your body?   

Which brings us to his WWW trilogy.  WWW.Watch was just released on April 6th and continues Caitlin's story from WWW.Wake.    He is currently working on Wonder and I'm not sure when it will be released.  

Sawyer has also written a number of short stories which are available to read online.  He has won many awards and accolades for his work over the years.   According to the Ottawa Citizen he is the "Dean of Science Fiction."   If you'd like to know more about Robert J. Sawyer, check out his autobiography on

I have a mini challenge for you all - read all six hugo nominees this year.   I'm looking forward to reading WWW.Wake as *gasp* I haven't read any of his books yet.   

Join me in wishing Robert J. Sawyer a wonderful and joyous Happy 50th Birthday!

2006 Hugo Award Winner: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson



Robert Charles Wilson

Back cover:  "The time is the day after tomorrow, and three adolescents---Diane and Jason Lawton, twins, and their best friend, Tyler Dupree--are out stargazing.  Thus they witness the erection of a planet-spanning shield around the globe, blocking out the universe.  Spin chronicles the next 30-odd years in the lives of the trio, during which 300 billion years will pass outside the shield, thanks to an engineered time discontinuity.  Jason, a genius, will invest his celibate life in unraveling cosmological mysteries.  Tyler will become a doctor and act as our narrator and as Jason's confidante, while nursing his unrequited love for Diane, who in turn plunges into religious fanaticism.  Along the way, human-descended Martians will appear, bringing a drug that can elevate humans to the Fourth State, 'an adulthood beyond adulthood.'  But will even this miracle be enough to save Earth?... "
"Spin" is the 2006 Hugo award winner for Best Novel.   Father bought it for me for Christmas because it was on my wish list to read for Mind Voyages Challenge. 

Have you ever feel ambivalent about a story and couldn't make up your mind whether you liked it or not?  I was left with that feeling after reading Spin.   The premise is certainly interesting.    An unknown life form suddenly places a shield around earth.  Supposedly it is to protect the earth from a sudden acceleration in the world's time continuum.  The characters don't know that until they fire a rocket at the shield and when it crashes back to earth  a few moments later, weeks of data is recovered.  The government and scientists figure out through firing test rockets through the shield that for every earth second, 12 years passes on the outside of the shield. They figure out a way to use the difference in time to seed mars and start a colony, so that when and if the shield around earth collapses, life will be preserved.   However, they didn't count on the aliens eventually putting a shield around Mars to protect it as well.  

Mixed in with the technological aspects is the story of Jason, Diane and Tyler and how their lives are affected.   I really didn't feel any emotional connection to any of the characters.  They weren't really likable in any sense.  Perhaps because each in his own way was emotionally flawed which affected their story.  I never did get any sense of why the aliens were protecting earth or who they were and it seemed parts of the story was rather ambiguous.  I admit Spin is well written and interesting enough to keep you reading because you want to find out what is going to happen. The reviews are mixed so you'll have to decide for yourself.  

Pages:  464
Publisher: Tor
Released:  February 7,2005
Genre:  Science Fiction

Other thoughts:
"Spin is a rich and rewarding novel that proves idea fiction need not lack for warmth, and that humanist fiction need not pander to easy emotional button mashing that insults the intellect. There's as much here in the way of good hard SF speculation as there is emotional truth about how we look at life and death, at those we love, and at ourselves. That's why Robert Charles Wilson is such a powerful SF writer. He imagines startling futures, and he understands people. When it comes to the truth, he doesn't spin."

"All along the reader is wondering: this book has been spectacular, but will there be an explanation of the Spin and will it live up to what's come before? Clearly, whoever made the Spin wants the people of Earth to wait for something -- this is mentioned several times in the book and the conclusion of the story (which I will not reveal) backs that up, at least partially." 

"Spin succeeds on what Wilson set out to do, telling both a good Science Fiction take and a good coming-of-age tale. The problem, however, is that neither ever manages to grasp onto that greatness that seems just out of reach."

FTC:  The book was a gift and I have not been compensated for the review.  Link to amazon for informational purposes only.

Wannabe Writers # 13 - What do you give up in order to write?

Wannabe Writers is  hosted by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published and is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process: I'm working on the first draft of Eyes in the Ashes and the story is progressing nicely, unfolding as I write. I deviated from the outline quite a while ago as the story evolved and went off in a direction I didn't expect.   My hero and heroine are currently trapped in some caves with the killer after he set off an explosion and he thinks they're dead.  Bwaahaahaa!!!

My Current Problem:  There are simply not enough hours in the day to write which ties in nicely with this week's question.  And realistically even if there were more hours in the day, it still wouldn't be enough.  Just the way life goes. 

Sarah's question this weekWhat do you give up in order to write?  Not a whole lot - I try to do it all and write as well.   Writing has to fit into our life, otherwise I wouldn't be able to do it.  I guess I could say television, yard work and a spotless house.   I don't watch much TV since it's such a vast wasteland these days.  I DVR  movies and shows but never seem to get around to watching them.  We have gardeners which saves me from having to weed and maintain the yard.   My slightly less than clean, cluttered house speaks for itself.  What would I give up if I had to -- sleep or  internet browsing time.  I can't give up reading otherwise I get grouchy.

If you had to give up one thing in order to write, what would it be?

Mind Voyages Flight Status - Landing to refuel!

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Challenge.

Time for a flight status check and how I'm progressing with my Mind Voyages challenge. I didn't have enough fuel to get beyond earth's atmosphere and have been orbiting earth for a while. I'm coming back in to refuel and make sure I have enough fuel this time to get beyond earth's atmosphere. Plus ground control has been monitoring my activities, telling me I've missed a few in flight procedural and checklist reports and I need to improve my job performance as commander.

So far I have finished:

The Demolished Man (review) by Alfred Bester
Dune by Frank Herbert (review) (1966 Hugo winner)
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (2006 Hugo Winner) Review will be forthcoming
Under the Dome (review) by Stephen King (side trip)
Eye of the World (review) by Robert Jordan (side trip)

Now that I've refueled, will be taking off and shooting for the moon again. The following books are waiting for me onboard.

Moon Voyage:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury(1954 Hugo)
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (1960 Hugo)
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller (1961 Hugo)
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (1967 Hugo)
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Phillip Jose Farmer (1972 Hugo)
The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold (1991 Hugo)

Shoot to Mercury to complete the Robert Heinlein Quest and read:

On to Uranus and Side Trip through the 70's

A Choice of Gods by Clifford Simak

Unclassified side trips

Bearing an Hourglass by Piers Anthony
Death Dream by Ben Bova
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

There are so many other books I want to read on my wishlist including the 2010 Hugo nominees along with Philip Dick's The Man in the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I have the your eyes are bigger than my stomach syndrome when it comes to books. The plan is to get through the books on my nightstand before buying anything else. Easier said than done, but I will be strong. I hear the whisper Resistance is futile being whispered in my ear.

I promised ground control I would check in on a regular basis so will be reporting in at least once a week. Ground control told me to take advantage of my flight crew, fellow mind voyagers and passengers in order to remain on schedule. I would appreciate any suggestions you have and let me know if there are any specific authors or books you like to see spotlighted.  I am also broadcasting on all radio channels for in flight guest posters.  So, if you would take over the controls for a day and be a guest poster on Mind Voyages, let me know.   

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! ~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!"
How are you progressing with your challenges?  

The Mayo Clinic Diet

When Anna from FSB Associates asked me if I wanted to review The Mayo Clinic Diet I jumped at the opportunity, mainly because it is written by the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic.  The folks at the Mayo Clinic are the #1 experts in health as far as I'm concerned and various family members have relied on their expertise over the years. Along with the book,  the Mayo Clinic Diet Journal is available to record your daily progress.  

The book has three sections. Part one is Lose It!.  The section  details a two week quick start way to lose those first 6 to 10 pounds and gets you ready to go, suggests 5 habits to add, 5 to break and 5 bonus habits to adopt.   Part two is Live It!   5 chapters composed of setting goals, eating to the pyramid, practicing portion control, burning calories and review.   Part three is All The Extra Stuff!  8 chapters about finding your healthy weight, nutrition, the Mayo clinic pyramid, how to change, easy meals and sticking to your diet when eat out, plus what do you do when you slip up.  Even a few delicious recipes.

I received the book around the beginning of the year and Father happened to see the book on the counter, picked it up, started reading it and liked all the ideas suggested.  We both decided to follow their suggestions.  The book is chock full of great suggestions.  In part one, two of the 5 habit to break - sugar and snacks.   My sugar habit - soda's, especially Pepsi and Canada Dry.   I was up to 3 pepsi's a day.  Plus a Canada dry in the evening along with a snack of sour cream dip and Doritos.  Father's sugar habit - A couple bowls of Cocoa Puffs or Fruit Loops as an evening snack.   Real Healthy!  My blood pressure seemed to be steadily creeping up too.  Plus, I had issues with my esophagus narrowing and ended up have an endoscopy to widen it.  The doctor had mentioned it could be related to allergies, but he didn't find anything in the test, so couldn't explain why it had happened.

Well, when I was a child, I was allergic to wheat, corn and eggs, but grew out of it.  Or so I  thought.  Last year, we had switched to the healthy whole wheat breads, organic corn chips, brown rice.  All the stuff that's supposed to be good for you - and what the Mayo Clinic recommends.   And it is good for you - unless you are allergic to the stuff.   So we both took the plunge and I gave up my beloved soda's and chips, he gave up the sugar cereals. At the same time, I gave up the pepsi and chips, I decided to eliminate the corn and wheat.  Anything with corn - corn syrup, corn chips, corn tortilla's, etc.  And eliminated all fast food.    We started watching our serving sizes as suggested and found we were getting full eating smaller portions.  We both have been feeling healthier and more energetic due to all the changes. Occasionally I have some chips and the resulting heartburn makes me remember why I gave them up.  I rarely weigh myself and so was shocked when I stepped on the scale the other day and found I had dropped 12 pounds.  

So if you are looking to make some changes, maybe lose a few pounds, exercise more, check out the Mayo Clinic Diet.  It will put you on the path to eating sensibly and improve your health.  I highly recommend it.  Thank you Anna for providing me with a copy of the book.  

What to read an excerpt: Action guide to Weight Loss Barriers

Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine and a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. He is also an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. A specialist in nutrition and weight management, Dr. Hensrud advises individuals on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. He conducts research in weight management, and he writes and lectures widely on nutrition-related topics. He helped publish two award-winning Mayo Clinic cookbooks.

Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy that the needs of the patient come first. Over 3,600 physicians and scientists and 50,000 allied staff work at Mayo, which has sites in Rochester, Minn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, Mayo Clinic treats more than 500,000 patients a year.

For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people.
For more information, please visit

Other thoughts:  
"So, I was very happy to see that The Mayo Clinic Diet is not like other diets out there. The weight experts at the Mayo Clinic have put together a book which is not only colorful and easy to read, but makes losing weight more about lifestyle changes than about hard and fast dieting."

"This book has motivated me to do what I need to do to get back on track. Using the journal as a guide and the book to help me with those pitfalls I am looking forward to and expecting success."

"The book is very cool, it is extremely visual and easy to read, and it includes everything from recipes to visual clues on serving sizes (page 88, you were my favorite, as you were filled with beautiful images of steak) to many strategies for all of the behavior obstacles every emotional eater and junk food junkie faces. "


Sunday Ramble - Scouts, writing, reading and winning!

This is how we are all feeling today!  

Yesterday our cub scout pack joined in on Creek Week which is an annual event doing an area wide creek clean up for the county.  Fortunately our designated park and creek clean up was close to the house.  After wards,  the sponsors hosted a barbecue, entertainment by Radio Disney along with some games and contests.   We had time enough to head home, shower and rest before heading off to the celebration.  We each received a t-shirt and hot dog lunch for our efforts, along with the thanks of many people.

The night before was the monthly pack meeting in which James den did a skit performing the itsy bitsy spider.   They tried doing it like the Bingo is my namo song, leaving out bits for each round.  James had a case of stage fright but managed to get through it.

Last week I unplugged and managed to write almost every day for about an hour. The story is progressing and I've come to the realization that I really don't have the time to write every single day.  As long as I make the time and manage to write 4 or 5 days out of the week, I'm happy with that.   I haven't typed up what I wrote yet for the past couple weeks, so have no idea of my word count, but averaging 2 to 4 pages a day which comes out to about 250 to 500 words a day.  

The week was pretty full with finishing taxes, lessons, scout stuff, and my class on Nobel Literature.   For my class, I wrote a critical essay on an 1989 article "Ernest Hemingway:  The Life as Fiction and the Fiction as Life" in the American Literature Journal. The article is all about how readers and critics have confused Hemingway with his characters, think they represent him and how people need to learn to separate the author from the characters in the story.    I submitted the paper and for the first time in the history of taking classes through Excelsior, My Nobel Literature professor actually sent the paper back to me with sections highlighted and requested I rewrite portions of it.   I'll admit it was a bit a surprise but after all, it is a learning experience so I'll be diving back in and reworking it.    I suddenly realized how much it relates to the craft of writing, editing and rewriting your story until the novel is considered ready to be published.    My midterm is also this week which involves writing a couple essays as well. 

Reading wise, in the last couple weeks I finished "Burn" by Ted Dekker, "Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart" by  Beth Pattillo and "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks.   I shelved "Across the Endless River" by Thad Carhart. I just can't get into it, so many another time.   I'm currently reading "The Lumby Lines" by Gail Fraser which is actually pretty good.    I broke my book buying ban and picked up "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldan, "The Reincarnationist" by M.J. Rose, and one of my guilty pleasure books  - Lora Leigh's Lion's Heat (part of the breed series). 

Last but not least, the winner of Frank Delaney's Venetia Kelly's Traveling show is Bailey the book worm of The Reading Corner.   Congratulations to Bailey and I'll be emailing you shortly.    

Herbie lying across Father's record album on his desk.  He has the right idea.  Have a restful, relaxing Sunday!

Links and Posts to Ponder while I'm Unplugged

I'm feeling the need to unplug and concentrate on my writing this week.  So while I'm off chasing my muse, day dreaming and following my characters where ever they may lead, I have a few links to some posts to ponder.

We all want to travel and explore the world, but sometimes we just can't afford it.   An interesting list of an array of 100 books that will let you travel the world without leaving home. 

Do you like Book Trib with all the amazing links to book bloggers.  Well,  I found one similar that links all the crime writers blogs: Crime Spot.   Through Crime spot, I found out about this wonderful book

David Morrell of  The International Thrill Writers Association and critic and interviewer Hank Wagner's  Thrillers: 100 Must Reads. It is coming out in July and I've already pre-ordered mine.

I just have to share this with you because it is written by a friend who was my roommate once upon a time and I simply loved it:  The Sparkle Dick Diaries: The Problem with Jail Bite in Twilight and other Teen Romances by Maria Alexander.  Sort of pg/r rated so just be prepared. 

K.M. Weiland of Wordplay has a great post which actually helped me make the final decision to unplug this week:  Daydream or Die

And I've been following the latest blog chain started by Michelle McClean and the topic this time:  Who do you write for - yourself or the market.   There's been some interesting responses from everyone so far and providing food for thought.

Suzette had a great advice post on query tracker about building the framework for authorial success.  I found I'm google-able as Robin of My Two Blessings and that name comes up everywhere, but can hardly be found using my last name.   I jokingly told father I should take the pen name of Robin Blessings since that is how everybody knows me right now.  He actually thought it was a good idea.

Speaking of writing, I just joined this wonderful new forum called Inkwell.  It is the creation of Buffy Andrews, S.A. Larsen and Jessica Milar to provide aspiring writers and artists a place to learn more about the craft of writing.  Plus a place for established writers and authors to promote their work and lend a helping hand, provide feedback as well as continue to learn themselves.  Sort of like book ning -  this is all about writing.

And since this is national Poetry month - check out 52 books in 52 weeks.  This week O is for Ozymandias. 

Did you know there is a Science Fiction Poetry Association.  Yep, science fiction authors who write poetry.  Check out some of their poetry on Mind Voyages.

Henry David Thoreau, from whom the roots of positive thinking are found once said "As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."    

I was giving myself a pep talk the other day and asked myself, "do I really want to be a writer?"  And I realized the answer is "Well yes, of course.   Everything I do involves writing. I love to write.  It's not a question of do I want to be a writer.  I am a writer!"  

Sometimes I have to remind myself of that fact.   Then I asked myself "Do I want to get published?"  I'd be lying if I said no, that I'm just writing for fun.  Somewhere in the back of my mind is the desire to see my name on the cover of my book.  

In that case, I told myself, do it.  Think it. Write it.   Do it. Own it!  The power of positive  thinking.   Write, and write, then write some more. Just keep writing and living the dream and make it happen. 

Think it. Write it.  Do it. Own it!

My new mantra!  I'm off to think and dream and write.  And own it proudly!

I dare you challenge wrap up and vlog debut!

Once upon a time, I came across this challenge and thought it was interesting.   Then Heather J asked if any of her readers were brave enough to accept a dare.  I took her up on the dare and she dared me to do the following and gave me 10 months to do it in and finish by April 10, 2010.   And, yes this is my vlog debut - my 15 minutes of fame.

Watch The Princess Bride
Watch Willow
Watch The Last Unicorn 
Watch Labyrinth
Watch at least 3 episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess
Read Dune by Frank Herbert 

Read The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley 

Read Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey 

Do a video blog about at least one of these items 

I managed to read all the books and watch the movies.  However, I didn't have the time to find or watch Xena.   I watched Xena, Warrior Princess back when it came out in 1995 and it was pretty hooky back then.   

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey: (review)  Amazing how these books stand the test of time and even more amazing is I felt like I was reading it for the first time which is to be expected when the last time I read it was back in the 70's when it first came out.

Dune by Frank Herbert (review)  I first read Dune back in 1984 and actually still have the whole series of books.  However, when I pulled it out to read  the print was so small I couldn't read it.  Tells me how much my eye site has changed in the past 25 years.    Fortunately, I had my brand new Nook and christened by reading Dune.  Wonderful having a feature that lets you change the font size.

 The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (review)  I thought I had read this one,  but must have been confusing it with another book.   It was interesting and I may just continued reading the series.  Jordan died while writing the last book in the series and Brandon Sanderson was chosen to complete the series.  The last book has been turned into 3 and Book 12 "The Gathering Storm" came out in October.  Book 13 "Towers of Midnight" will be released in the fall and the final book #14 "Memory of Light" in fall of 2011.   It will take me quite a while to read the series.  So with 14 book in the series, it will keep me busy for a few years to come.  Perhaps one book a year.  

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (review) turned out to be my favorite of the four books.  The story is a very interesting retelling of the Arthurian Legend from a female point of view and well worth the read. However there are times in the story, you just get so totally frustrated with the character's actions that you want to shake them and say get a clue.  Yes, I discovered you can get emotionally involved with a character.   There are two more books to the series, prequels "The Forest House" and "Lady of Avalon" which I want to read now. 

The Last Unicorn is a sweet, sometimes intense and emotional animated movie based on Peter Beagle's novel by the same name "The Last Unicorn"    James and I sat down to watch this one together and he loved it so much we ended up watching it several times.   It's interesting watching a movie with him - he picks up on something different each time to analyze.

Labyrinth with David Bowie and a very young Jennifer Connolly.   Father isn't a big fan of fantasy movies and said he wasn't interested in watching it.   After a few minutes of hearing it from the other room, he couldn't stand it any longer and joined in watching it. Yes he enjoyed it despite the singing.   It's about a young teenage girl who is totally into fantasy and fairy tales.   She has to babysit her step baby brother and being mad at her parents and very self centered wishes the goblins would take him away.  Imagine her surprise when he disappears and she immediately changes her mind and wants him back.  The Goblin King played by David Bowie gives her a few hours to negotiate the labyrinth to reach his city and find her brother.   Father enjoyed it and we ended up watching the bonus features as well.

The Princess Bride - thoroughly enjoyed this one and didn't remember much of it from when first watched it back in 1987.   The character who had stuck with me the longest - Mandy Patinkin's spanish sword fighting character and his famous saying:  "My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!"   

Willow, directed by Ron Howard and George Lucas is an excellent movie. I remember watching this one when it came out back in 1988. It was a big deal at that time, because reviewers kept saying a movie with a little person as the lead character would never fly.  They were wrong. Willow Ufgood played by Warwick Davis  finds an abandoned baby, he is suddenly thrust unto an adventure filled with magic and danger. The baby is adorable and has a very expressive face.   Ufgood has to save the baby from the evil queen.  Willow is a great fantasy story with some very intense moments.  Father and I watched this one together and we both could see where James wouldn't be able to handle because of the danger to the baby.  It would bother him too much.   He's a sensitive soul.

Okay - are you ready for the debut of my very first and perhaps my very last vlog?  Only for you, heather. 

TLC Tour: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

Frank Delaney

Front Flap:  "She sprang from the womb and waved to the crowd. Then she smiled and took a bow."  And so we first meet Venetia Kelly, the beguiling actress at the center of this new, spellbinding, and epic novel by Frank Delaney, the bestselling author of Ireland and Shannon.

January 1932:  While Ireland roils in the fun-up to the most important national election in the Republic's short history, Ben MacCarthy and his father watch a vagabond variety revue making a stop in the Irish countryside.  After a two hour kaleidoscope of low comedy, Shakespearean recitations, juggling, tumbling and other entertainments, Ben's father, mesmerized by Venetia Kelly, the troupe's magnetic headliner, makes a fateful decision: to abandon his family and set off on the road with Miss Kelly and her caravan.  Ben's mother, shattered by the desertion exhorts, "find him and bring him back," thereby sending the boy on a Homeric voyage into manhood, a quest that traverses the churning currents of Ireland's fractious society and splinters the MacCarthy Family.   

Interweaving historical figures including W.B. Yeats and a host of unforgettable creations - "King" Kelly, Venetia's violent, Mephistophelan grandfather; Sarah Kelly, Venetia's mysterious amoral mother; and even a truth-telling ventriloquist's dummy named Blarney--Frank Delaney unfurls a splendid narrative that spans half the world and a tumultuous, eventful decade." 

I've just been introduced to Irish author Frank Delaney's writing via his historical fiction novel "Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show" and  it totally captured my attention.  The story is narrated by Ben MacCarthy, older and wiser now, relating his experiences starting when he was 18 and Ireland was in the middle of political upheaval.   His personal life was about to be shaken up as well and would affect him for the rest of his life.    Imagine being an 18 year old boy in the 1930's and your father suddenly announces he won't be going home because he's decided to join the traveling show.   He is smitten with Venetia Kelly and is willing to drop everything to be with her.  

Ben is put in the position of going home and telling his mother.  She seems to know about her husband's abandonment before he even says one word and orders him to go back and bring him home.   He tries, fails, comes back home and his mother keeps sending him back to bring his father home.  Through it all, Ben is forced into being an adult and leave the innocence of boyhood behind, albeit not willingly.    As Ben narrates the story, he digresses and takes a few side trips which add to his story, not detracts.  And the ending - gave me goose bumps.  

I loved Frank Delaney's writing style and Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show is unique, well written and full of humor, politics, interesting characters and drama.  Delaney is a new to me author read and I've discovered he has written many things including radio and theater productions, screenplays, nonfiction to short stories to fiction.   I am looking forward to exploring more of his books including "Ireland" and "Shannon."

Thank you to Lisa for inviting me to be a stop on the TLC Book tours.  Please visit the other hosts and see what those before me and after have to say about Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. 

Tuesday, March 16th: The Literate Housewife Review
Wednesday, March 17th: Luxury Reading
Thursday, March 18th: Tales of a Capricious Reader
Thursday, March 25th: Trish’s Reading Nook
Wednesday, April 7th: ME
Wednesday, April 14th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Thursday, April 15th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, April 19th: Fizzy Thoughts
Tuesday, April 20th: Rundpinne
Wednesday, April 21st: Worducopia

Thank you to Random House for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book and the publisher is generously offering one of my readers a beautiful hard bound, autograph copy of their very own.  The giveaway is available to readers in U.S/Canada only. Please leave your name and email address in the comments. The giveaway is open until 11:59  p.m. on April 15th.    The winner will be picked via 

Pages:  448
Publisher: Random House 
Released:  February 23, 2010
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Setting:  Ireland 

Other thoughts: 

"Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show is like my Grandma and her nurse shoes.  It’s not a pushover.  It requires you to pay attention at all times.  Even still, I found that the story snuck up on me, catching me completely off guard."

"There is so much woven into the novel - Irish political history, mythology and complex characters- that I feel it is a book that can be read on many levels and you may see different things upon reread."

"You want to know what I love about Frank Delaney?  He’s Irish.  And like a lot of the Irish, he’s a born storyteller.  And he’s a good storyteller.  No, a great one."

FTC:  book received free from the publisher and I did not receive any compensation for this review. All links are for informational purposes only and not associated with amazon affiliates. 


Dorling Kindersley Books and The future of Publishing

DK books - We love their books and use them all the time for lessons.   I recently came across this video and wanted to share it with you.  Be sure to watch it all the way through or you'll miss the surprise!

The story behind it. The video originally was created for a DK sales conference and as in all things made it into the blogosphere. As my son would say "How cool is that!"