Saturday, January 30, 2010

Book Week Five -- E is for eclectic


E is for eclectic.  Yep, that's right - eclectic.   A couple days ago I started thinking about the post for this week and continuing with the ABC theme, something that starts with E.   For some odd reason I couldn't think of anything. I tried thinking of books or authors that started with E and started perusing my bookshelves.  No help.  Dictionary - uh uh.   Last night however, after being woken up in the middle of the night by the cats to be let out, the e words starting flowing.    That's generally when I do my best brainstorming. In fact, a wide range of things popped into my head.  Edwardian, ethereal, earnest, educational, entertaining, endangered, experiment, echo.   The diversity of subjects reminded me of my reading lately which has been very eclectic - moving from reading a historical fiction to a romance to a murder mystery to fantasy.

What ideas came to mind from these words?  

Edwardian - great idea for reading books from the Edwardian era which are the early 1900's from 1901 to 1910.  Authors I found from that era are H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence and Sir Author Conan Doyle. 

Ethereal - angels which of course lead to thinking about some interesting books about the supernatural such Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick or Fallen by Lauren Kate.

Earnest - the one and only Ernest "papa" Hemingway.

Educational - on my mind since I've been looking at 5th grade curriculum, plus trying to decide if going to take Nobel Literature or Short Stories for my next class. 

Entertaining - Books about entertainment or books that are entertaining.   You choose.  Amazon has an interesting list of the top 10 of the 100 most entertaining books of 2009.  I've recently discovered China Meiville and his The City and The City.  Speculative fiction. Now that's a whole other subject in itself. 

Endangered - endangered species, words or minds.  See where that leads you.

Experiment - science experiments with kids - so much fun which leads us to one of our faithful followers Kids Who Think.  Check them out.

Echo - I think the only reason this one popped up was because we were reading "The Story of Echo the Bat" from Nasa.  Very cute story. 

Interestingly enough, the book I will be reading this week starts with e.  This week I'm starting Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, book 1 in his Wheel of Time series.  Back in the 90's when the series started, I read the first three and then moved on to something else.  I was reminded of the series when Robert Jordan died and then again when The Gathering Storm, the 12 book in the series was released.  His wife and publisher chose Brandon Sanderson to finish the series Jordan had started.   Then Heather challenged me in a Dare Challenge to read Eye of the World among other things.    Will I read the whole series?  Don't know - will make up my mind once finish reading Eye of the World.

So, my challenge for you this week. Find something that starts with E -  a book, an author, an idea, a theory, read about it and then tell us all about it. 


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.

Your Name field:   Your name (name of the book)

Your URL field:    Link to your specific post.

Please note: keep in mind that we have all ages involved in the challenge, so please keep your reviews clean.   If I come across any link that is not appropriate (vulgar language, x-rated, that type of thing) it will be deleted.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Week Four - The Drama of it all!

Oh...The Drama of it all!

When you think of drama, do you think it is "Much Ado About Nothing" or perhaps "The Comedy of Errors."  Does Drama create "the Tempest" or a long "Winter's Tale?"    Are you thinking "The Taming of the Shrew" or "Love's Labour's Lost" while the drama continues without fail.   Or perhaps you meet the drama "Measure for Measure" or wait it out and when the drama is over "All's Well that Ends Well"  In your mind Is all the drama a tragedy or a comedy.  

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. 

From As You Like It by William Shakespeare
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word drama?  A woman swooning, sword play, a tragedy, masks, soliloquies,  a comedy, descending into the depths or flying to the heights, court rooms, death or life.    Do you think of Shakespeare of Aristophanes; Jean Paul Sartre or Tennessee Williams?

We have a book - The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works.    I bought it years ago for my husband's mother who was English and as a teenager acted in plays.  She knew all of Shakespeare's work by heart.   We inherited the book when she passed away.   Even now, I can mention a play and hubby will be able to give me a line or two from the play.  

It's huge and cumbersome, but easy to read and the illustrations are beautiful

We introduced our son to Shakespeare this year with the children's book The Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema. The book wet his appetite for more, so we will be picking out stories from The Globe.  And if it is too difficult for us to follow, we will back it up with Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare which fortunately we can read online thanks to The Baldwin Project.  There is a wonderful post "What is so Great about Shakespeare" by Lindafay of Higher Up and Further In about why we should read Shakespeare not only for ourselves but to our children and how to make it child friendly.  Plus she has a list of Shakespeare movies that are family friendly.  

Sink your teeth into a Drama this year.  You just may discover "All's Well That Ends Well."

Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post.  Please note:  keep in mind  that we have all ages involved in the challenge, so please keep your reviews clean.  If I come across any link that is not appropriate (vulgar language, x-rated, that type of thing)  it will be deleted.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe

January 19, 1809 to October 7, 1849 

The Raven


Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or devil!-
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting-
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Did you know Edgar Allan Poe also dabbled in writing science fiction.  Me neither. The things you discover when researching authors.   He wrote a short story called The Masque of Red Death which is considered the precursor to apocalyptic stories found in science fiction today.  Click over to Mind Voyages to read the short story.

Do you have a favorite Edgar Allan Poe poem or short story?  Please share.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Book Week Three - C is for Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke

When you think of Arthur C. Clarke, generally the first thing to come to mind is 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not only did he write the book, but also helped create the film and went on to write 2010: Odyssey Two, 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey. I recently found 2061 and it is on my list to read this year.

Clarke loved science and built his very first telescope when he was 13 years old. In 1945 he wrote a technical paper "Extra Terrestrial Relays" in which he wrote the principles for satellite communications which led to the global satellites systems we use today. In 1949 he became Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society. According to the Clark Foundation:

Clarke's work, which led to the global satellite systems in use today, brought him numerous honors including the 1982 Marconi International Fellowship, a gold medal of the Franklin Institute, the Vikram Sarabhai Professorship of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, the Lindbergh Award and a Fellowship of King's College, London. Today, the geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometers above the equator is named The Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union.

Clarke wrote a number of interesting non fiction books about exploring space and the sea.

Interplanetary Flight (1950) about rockets, orbital mechanics and space

Exploration of Space (1951) About the possibilities of space exploration

Exploration of the Moon (1954) and the possibilities of future space travel

Young travelers in Space (1954) History of rocket development and satellite launches

He also spent years exploring the great barrier reef and wrote several books about underwater exploration:

The Coast of Coral (1956) about his adventures and mishaps which exploring the great barrier reef.

Boy beneath the sea (1958)

The Challenge of the Sea (1960) about deep sea exploration and the future

Arthur Clarke was not only a prolific writer and wrote many great science fiction books. He's made many predictions over the years which can be found here.

He also came up with the "Three Laws" of prediction:

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90 in 2008.    Whether you agree with his predictions or not, he was an excellent writer and many of his fiction books have found a home in my bookshelves.  I've never read any of his non fiction books and look forward to discovering what he had to say.


    Book Review Links for Week # 3

    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Book Week Two - B is for Biography

    This month my mind seems to be on non fiction so will continue the theme for the rest of January.   I seldom read biographies and autobiographies, thinking they would be dry and boring.  However, once started home schooling discovered many interesting ones, not only for kids but for me as well.   From the presidents and their wives, to saints to philosophers to monks to civil rights leaders, there are many choices.  And surprisingly, they aren't all dry as dust.   

    Mount Rushmore

    Last year I stumbled upon the U.S. Presidents Reading Project and liked the idea so decided to join in and start reading about the lives of the presidents. I am going to read through the list consecutively from beginning to end.  The project is perpetual so my goal this year is to read about George Washington and John Adams.    I picked up His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis and John Adams by David McCullough.  So while my son and I reading George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster together,  I'll be reading His Excellency. 

    Autobiographies I currently have sitting on the shelves waiting to be read are St. Augustine's Confessions and Teresa of Avila which are also classics, so perhaps I should add them to my list of classics to read this year.

    Who would you like to read an autobiography or biography about?  

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    bloggiesta Party - ch ch ch changes

    hosted by Natasha of Maw's Books
    January 8th, 9th and 10th, 2010
    It's time for the 2nd annual Bloggiesta - get out your party hats, whip up some mexican food, mix up a few margarita's and join in the blogging marathon.   Bloggiesta is the brain child of Natasha and the purpose - to clean up and improve and make ch ch ch changes to your blog.   You know, those little things that have been nagging at the back of your mind.  Like changing your header, updating your links, improving your labels, etc. 

    There are multiple things to do as suggested by Natasha:
    • Write reviews.
    • Write backup posts for a rainy day.
    • Write that great post idea from three months back.
    • Work on series posts.
    • Write guest posts.
    • Put out invitations for guest posts.
    • Conduct and edit author interviews.
    • Create template posts for your future reads (ie: title, images, linking, tags, etc,) so you can open up, write review and post without being bogged down with technicalities
    • Clean up your tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc.
    • Create a text file (or Google Doc) of cheat sheets (html codes, post url’s, etc)
    • Improve your blog template, clean up sidebars, add a favicon, install those plugins that you’ve been meaning to do.
    • Add or edit your about me page, review policy, disclosure policy, privacy policy, create landing pages (for example – an about me for Twitter readers page) or any other pages you might have.
    • Any bloggy type housekeeping that you’ve been neglecting.
    • Clean up and update your challenge lists.  Link up your posts with hosts.
    • Make sure all of your social network profiles are up to date.  Brand yourself through those profiles with color scheme, images, etc.
    • Go get a gravatar.
    • Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve your blog.
    • Work on any specialized projects that you may have going.
    • Clean out and organize your feed reader and blog subscriptions.
    • Create an elevator pitch.
    • Make business cards.
    • Find a blogging buddy.
    • The sky’s the limit!

    I now have three blogs so you can imagine what goes into keeping them up to date and writing posts.  My Two Blessings had a mini make over recently when I accidentally blew it up.   There are some things I still need to work on such as a new header, update the linkbar and a few other things.   I want to arrange for some Author and blogger guest posts for 52 Books in 52 Weeks,  add the disclosure policy and find  ways to encourage all my new participants.  I've decided on the A B C  theme for 52 Books which is working for me creatively, so going to do the same thing with Mind Voyages.   I'm a little bit intimidated by all the wonderful sci fi blogs with all their cool information.    I don't just want to do a reg urge of everything else out there, so will give some thought to the posts will be doing weekly.  I also want to arrange for some guest posts there as well.   Even though I've been blogging for three years now, I'm a novice when it comes to having guest posts and doing interviews.   So I'll be joining in with the 100 plus other bloggers this weekend and come monday, we'll all have nice, shiny, clean blogs. 

    Come join in the fun.  Lots of you have started new blogs to keep track of your reviews.  There will be tons of information and ideas to help you with your blog.  There will be mini challenges and all kinds of interesting things going on this weekend. Click on over the Natasha's, sign up and get to work.  I think I'll go make some Enchilada's now.

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Book Week One - A is for Aristotle

    Happy New Year and Welcome to Book Week One.  I'm looking forward to a whole new year of reading - discovering new and new to me authors and many different genres.  My choices in books has been pretty eclectic in the past couple years expanding to include almost all of the different genres.  And within the different genres are many subcategories.   Over the new year, I'll be exploring and discussing the the different genres and one genre that I find myself leaning toward right now is literary classics.

    What is it about the classics?  I've noticed a resurgence of interest around the blogosphere. Perhaps it's me.  I didn't appreciate the classics when I was younger - perhaps because I didn't understand them or didn't want to take the time too.  When I was younger  I read only for entertainment - an escape.  Now I read not only for entertainment purposes, but to learn.  Which means slowing down and taking the time to think and ponder over the meaning, the symbolism.  A couple years back I read  a Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer which lead me to dip my toe into the water and read Don Quixote.

    Included in the book are her suggestions of great books to read from 5 genres: Fiction, Autobiography, History/Politics, Drama and Poetry. The books are listed chronologically and she suggests reading them in order. The genres are broken down into 5 chapters with an detail explanation how to read them and a synopsis is included on each title with the best edition to read.

    For example the first 5 books in Fiction are:

    Don Quixote
    Pilgrims Progress
    Gulliver's Travels
    Price and Prejudice
    Oliver Twist

    The first 5 books in Autobiography are:

    Augustine 'The Confessions'
    Margery Kemp - "The book of Margery Kemp"
    Michael De Montaigne - 'Essays'
    Teresa of Avila - 'Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself'
    Rene Descartes - 'Meditations'

    The first five books in History:

    Herodotus: 'The Histories'
    Thucydides: 'The Peloponnesian War'
    Plate:'The Republic'
    Plutarch: 'Lives'
    Augustine: 'The City of God'

    The first five books in Drama:

    Aeschylus: 'Agamemmon'
    Sophocles: 'Oedipus the King'
    Euripides: 'Medea'
    Aristophanes: 'The Birds'
    Aristotle: 'Poetics'

    The First Five books in Poetry

    The Epic of Gilgamesh
    Homer 'The Iliad and the Odyssey'
    'Greek Lyrics'
    Horace 'Odes'

    A couple years ago, I set my own personal challenge to read at least one book from each area and dipped in my foot and started reading  Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.  Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the stories, the writing. So I decided to jump in with both feet and read more classics.  Well Educated Mind is a great resource, but isn't definitive.  There are many "great books" lists to be found on the internet. 

    We have quite a few classics in our home library, that we've inherited over the years.  I've read very few of them.  Then 5minutes for Books introduced their revamped Classic Book Club for 2010 in which you get to pick which books you want to read and how many.   I perused our shelves and came up with 12 books I want to read.

    1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    2. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
    3. Emma by Jane Austen
    4. Metaphysics (John Henry MacMahon translation) by Aristotle
    5. Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
    6. Nicomachean Ethics (James E.C. Welldon translation) by Aristotle 
    7. Phaedo by Plato 
    8. Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    9. Poetics (Samuel Henry Butcher translation) by Aristotle
    10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    11. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
    12. The Stargazer: A novel of the life of Galileo by Zsolt De Haranyi
    Think it is possible?  a challenge?  Are you up for a challenge within the challenge.   I challenge you to read a classic.   You can dip your toe in with one book or jump in wholeheartedly and read 12 classics in 12 months.    I'll be starting with Aristotle's Poetics.

    Which classic will you be reading first?

    Week one and two book Review Posts

     Book Reviews

    Link for Week one and Week Two

    Note:  Since we have 70+ participants, will start a weekly Mr. Linky for book reviews with the Weekly Book post.  Otherwise this one post will be humongous after a bit. So no matter what book you are reading during the week, you'll link to it on the most current post.  For now, continue to link to your reviews on this post for week one and week two. 

    I'll be putting the link for book review posts in the sidebar under Challenge Links so it may be found easily.

    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link.  In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis.  In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post.