Sunday, February 28, 2010

Book Week Nine - when Irish eyes are smiling....


When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

There's a tear in your eye,
And I'm wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such pow'r in your smile,
Sure a stone you'd beguile,
So there's never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter's
Like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;
You should laugh all the while
And all other times smile,
And now, smile a smile for me.


When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

For your smile is a part
Of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet's sweet song,
Crooning all the day long,
Comes your laughter and light.
For the springtime of life
Is the sweetest of all
There is ne'er a real care or regret;
And while springtime is ours
Throughout all of youth's hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

Céad Míle Fáilte!
"One hundred thousand welcomes!"

Yes, we're starting our St. Patrick's day celebration a couple weeks early here on the blog. Thanks to Carrie of Books and Movies,  I have discovered some great books and wanted to share them with you. She started an Ireland Reading Challenge and  I was the winner of An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor.   The challenge sparked my interest, since after all I am part Irish and my father's parent's parent's came from the county of Cork.   I started looking up some of the authors and fell in instant like with Frank Delaney and his book "Ireland:  A Novel."    The luck of the Irish was with me, because when I decided to read "Ireland", I was offered the chance to be a stop on one of his book blog tours for his latest novel "Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show."   

Another coincidence - I had been thinking of reading Dracula and while I was looking up information on Bram Stoker, I discovered he was Irish.  The first novel he wrote is called "Snake's Pass" and is set in Ireland. It about a traveler who arrives in a village that is haunted by the legend based on St. Patrick's battling the king of the snakes.   Sounds too good to pass up.    I joined in the challenge with a commitment to the Kiss The Blarney Stone level which is 6 books.  The challenge includes any books written by Irish authors, set in Ireland, has Irish characters or involves Irish history and can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or children's books and runs through the end of November. 

My challenge to you for the month of March is to read a book by an Irish author.   Here is a list of some interesting authors who are Irish which include a variety of classics and fiction authors such as Samuel Becket, Maeve Binchy, John Connolly, Frank Delaney, Tana French, C.S. Lewis,  Patrick Taylor and Oscar Wilde to name a few. 


Link to your most current read:   Please include the name of the book in parenthesis after your name. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Book Week seven -- G is for Grace, Gratitude, and Giving


Happy Valentine's Day 

Monday is Clean Monday for the Eastern Church and Wednesday is Ash Wednesday for the Western Church.   The beginning of Lent.  For those who don't celebrate Lent, it is a period of 40 days (not including sundays) symbolic of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert.   Lent is a period of prayer, reflection and abstinence in preparation for Easter.  It is a period of giving - whether it's giving up something, taking up something or giving to others. 

Some folks give up blogging or using the internet all together so if you notice it's a bit quiet around here, and not as many people are posting links to reviews, you'll know why.  I debated about it, but the internet is an outlet that keeps me sane, plus I could hardly skip out on you guys, could I.   Twitter and Face book however, I can live without for 40 days.  I've been limiting my book purchases until I get through the books on my huge, teetering to be read pile.   So I will continue with my book buying ban for the next 40 days.  However my wish list will continue to grow from all the interesting books you all have introduced me too.

I'll be reading some interesting books however.   Whether you are Catholic or not, Pope Benedict is an excellent writer and theologian.   Last year I read "Jesus of Nazareth" (review) which just blew me away and just made me want to read more of his books.  This year I will be reading "The Apostles"  and "Lent and Easter Wisdom" by Thomas Merton.   I read "Seven Storey Mountain" (review) last year which actually turned out to be quite interesting.  Also in store is "Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions" by James Beverely which I received through Thomas Nelson's Book Blogger review program.   It's a comprehensive guide to over 200 religions, sects and cults from a christian perspective.  I've been meaning to read it for quite a while, but it is one of those books I know will take time.  

What do you think of when you hear the word Grace.   Besides Grace Kelly that is.  Theology wise, it is the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them. (thank you  Which for some reason reminds me of Pilgrims Progress written by John Bunyan.  He also wrote "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners" a personal biography.  Pilgrim's Progress is an allegorical tale about a young man named Christian on a journey from his hometown, City of Destruction to Celestial City.  His journey is filled with interesting people - Pliable and Obstinate, Help, Worldly Wiseman, Mercy, Mr. Legality as he travels through and past the Slough of Despond, Wicket Gate, Hill Difficulty and the Valley of Humiliation to name a few.   I read it years ago and thinking it would interesting to read it again.

And on the lighter side - have you heard of "The Guinea Pig Diaries" by A.J. Jacobs.  He also wrote "The Year of Living Biblically" which is a very interesting, educational, fun read. It's all about what  happens when an agnostic Jewish man decides to follow the bible literally for a full year.  Now, with Guinea Pig Diaries, he becomes a human guinea pig.  I haven't read it yet, but plan to. 

Author Birthday's this week are

George Shannon (2/14),  children's author of picture books such as

Norman Bridwell, (2/15)  the brilliant creative of Clifford the Big Red Dog,


And the late author Andre Norton (2/17) who wrote over 100 books including many science fiction and fantasy books such as  the Witch World Saga.  Norton was the first woman to be awarded the Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy and the Nebula Grand Master Awards.    

"As for courage and will - we cannot measure how much of each lies within us, we can only trust there will be sufficient to carry through trials which may lie ahead." - Andre Norton


Link to your current read where ever you are in the cycle. In order that everyone may know what book you are reviewing this week, please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Week Six - F is for fantasy

Josephine Wall's Periwinkle 

My first book love was Fantasy.   Fantasy books entertained my mind as I traveled to far away places, introduced me to mythical creatures, took me on fanciful quests and experienced battles with  knights, dragons, elves, ogres, warriors, heroes,  apprentices and the fight between Good and Evil.   I cut my teeth on Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom Series,  Margaret Weis's Dragonlance, Charles DeLint's Newford, Mercedes Lackey Valdemar Books,  Christopher Stasheff's Warlock, Piers Anthony's Xanth  and Incarnations of Immortality,  and of course, Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy and J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

The Fantasy Genre has grown over the past twenty - thirty years with many, many sub genres including 

Romance Fantasy
Fairy Tales
Alternative History
Arthurian Fantasy
Comic Fantasy
Dark Fantasy
Epic Fantasy
Fairy Tales and Mythology
Heroic Fantasy
High Fantasy
Mystery Fantasy
Magic Realism
Modern Fantasy
Sword and Sorcery

I sort of fell away from the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres for a decade or more and recently rediscovered some old authors whom I actually skipped reading for one reason or another way back when.  I just finished reading The Mists of Avalon by Marian Zimmer Bradley and the very first book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series The Eye of the World.   I thoroughly enjoyed both and maybe because of age or maybe wisdom appreciated the stories more than I would have at the age of 20.    There are many authors who have stood the test and time and new authors that time is now testing.     There's an interesting list from who they consider the top 20 Fantasy writers of all time.

1.  J.R.R. Tolkein
2.  Robert E. Howard
3.  Terry Pratchett
4.  Piers Anthony
5.  Michael Moorcock
6.  Fritz Leiber
7.  Roger Zelazny
8.  Raymond Feist
9.  Terry Brooks
10.  Neil Gaiman
11.  George R.R. Martin
12.  Tanith Lee
13.  Lord Dunsany
14.  Robert Jordan
15.  Marian Zimmer Bradley
16.  Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
17.  David Eddings
18.  J.K. Rowling
19.  R.A. Salvatore
20.  Katherine Kurtz

I have read at least one book from everyone on the list or have one of their books on my TBR pile waiting to be read.  All except for  Lord Dunsany, whom supposedly influenced Tolkien, Eddings, Moorcock and Gaiman. His Fifty One Tales are on Project Gutenberg so I will be checking him out.

Do you agree with the list and if you don't, who do you think should be considered a top fantasy writer?

What fantasy books do you have on your wishlist?  

In order that everyone may know what book you are reviewing this week, please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link.

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