A Blessing to be Spoken at Night ~ Art Durkee

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A Blessing to be Spoken at Night

Earth shelter you
Fire be inside you
Water cool you
Air gentle you always.

By starlight, sunlight,
moonlight, candlelight and firelight,
Who created us all at the beginning,
receive us all at the end.

Art Durkee

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To Pumpkins at Pumpkin Time~ Grace Cornell Tall

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To Pumpkins at Pumpkin Time

Back into your garden-beds!
Here come the holidays!
And woe to the golden pumpkin-heads
Attracting too much praise.

Hide behind the hoe, the plow,
Cling fast to the vine!
Those who come to praise you now
Will soon sit down to dine.

Keep your lovely heads, my dears,
If you know what I mean…
Unless you want to be in pie,
Stay hidden or stay green!!

Grace Cornell Tall

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Song of the Witches ~ William Shakespeare

The end of this week is Samhain, or Halloween, and this week will be poetry week here on the site.  To get the ball, or should I say pumpkin, rolling here is the first of the three poems I will be featuring this week.

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Song of the Witches

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and bling-worms sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

William Shakespeare – from Macbeth

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Review: Audacious Escapades in the Fabulous Columbia River Gorge ~ Marc E. Paulsen

Columbia River GorgeISBN ~ 978-0977473717
Publisher ~ Marc Paulsen Press
No. Of Pages ~ 124 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books

Marc Paulsen has had a lifelong infatuation with the marvelous Gorge of the Columbia River, partly from many unique experiences on and near the old highway and also from his belief that the Columbia Gorge ranks among the world’s natural wonders. After countless trips through the Gorge covering 6 decades, he is still awestruck each repeat trip. May you enjoy Marc’s tales of youthful exuberance and humorous escapades…and allow a bit of charity in your judgments.

The book details some of Marc’s wilder adventures on the old road which will have to be chalked up to youthful exuberance and the reader must understand that he is a reformed man!

From its opening on July 6, 1915, first-time tourists unfailingly found the remarkable old Columbia River Highway awe-inspiring. To Marc at age eleven, the highway’s magnificence in beauty and construction struck indelible memories.

This book’s frontispiece is a reproduction of designer Lancaster’s lovingly created inscription to a friend. A supremely elegant execution of hand-calligraphy, he placed it in a 1916 edition of his detailed book telling his Columbia River Highway story. His superb hand lettering and the majestic highway he designed are one and the same in supremacy–masterpieces of artistic design and engineering. Even now, it is impossible to drive the few existing old highway sections without a warm feeling that one is rolling along cradled in the arms of this eminent design master. The highway and his brilliant plan for an artful Crown Point rest station enroute were so grandiose that it was as if Lancaster had borrowed concepts from the art world’s old masters. They were that good!

4 Thumbs-UpI first visited the Gorge last year, intending to be there for only two days we were snowed in, that is when I discovered this book in the hotel library.  If you live in Washington State or Oregon, this book is something you really need to pick up, even if you don’t live in these two states it is worth the time it takes to open the cover and dive in.

This is a little book full of history and anecdotes, and revisits a way of a life that children are not able to enjoy in this day and age; although humourous in parts this realisation of what children are missing out on today also makes it very poignant and a reflection on the world we now inhabit.  What really drew me into this book was the way in which the history of the Columbia River Gorge was laid out; it wasn’t stuffy or preachy but told in a way that encourages readers to want to get out there and experience the place for themselves, whether it be by car, bicycle or hiking on many of the trails mentioned.  To support the escapade and history telling the Author has included some wonderful pictures which just made this book all the more interesting.

I would have liked to maybe see some actual trail recommendations in the back of the book, for those who were inspired to experience the beauty of the Gorge for themselves, but unfortunately there were none which makes a visit here something that needs to be planned precisely; this was reason for the 4 thumbs review.  Apart from that I will be getting my hands on a copy for my bookshelves, and would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a travel book, that really isn’t a travel book.

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Review: World War I: The Definitive Visual History from Sarajevo to Versailles ~ R.G. Grant

WWIISBN ~ 978-1465419385
Publisher ~ DK Publishing
No. Of Pages ~ 360 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository,

2014 marks the centennial of the start of World War I — DK will mark the occasion with the publication of “World War I: The Definitive Visual Guide,” a vividly illustrated, in-depth account of the Great War.

Written by historian R. G. Grant, and created by DK’s award-winning editorial and design team, “World War I” charts the developments of the war from a global perspective. Using illustrated timelines, detailed maps, and personal accounts, readers will see the oft-studied war in a new light. Key episodes are set clearly in the wider context of the conflict, in-depth profiles look at the key generals and political leaders, and full-color photo galleries showcase the weapons, inventions, and new technologies that altered the course of history.

A vivid portrait of the confrontation on land, sea, and sky, “World War I: The Definitive Visual Guide” offers readers a bold and thoughtful new look at this complex and explosive moment in history.

4 Thumbs-UpWhat is not to love about a book that has been put together by The Smithsonian and DK?  Sometimes they don’t always hit the right note and produce a piece of work that appeals to all audiences, but with this book they hit all markets and made this period of our world history accessible to everyone.

Full of pictures, maps and excerpts from people who were actually there, this book provides an interesting collection of information about the World War One.  I originally picked this book up as I am having to write a paper on trench warfare, and found facts in here that I had not come across anywhere else; the detailed maps were also a plus in my research, and would help in understanding this form of warfare to those not familiar with it.

For those who might be concerned that this book may be too much for younger readers, there is no need; although the pictures used are mainly ‘war’ photographs and paintings, there is nothing too graphic or disturbing about them, rather the opposite they exude a sense of sadness when viewed from this point in our history.  The start of the book provides a timeline up to the outbreak of war, and then in a somewhat chronological order follows it through to the Armistice and then the aftermath and how the end of the war didn’t just stop with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The way in which this book has been put together gives the reader the museum experience without leaving the comfort of their own homes, and the heavy pages and striking cover add to this feeling of being in another place.

My reasoning for giving this lovely book only a four thumbs rating was the size of the text, I did find it rather small and densely packed in places, and would have been happier with more pages in the book if the text were larger. Overall though this a great book to use as an introduction to the era, and as a supplement to more serious studies; as a plus it also looks great on the coffee table too.

I would highly recommend this book to all who are interested in this era, or just want to expand their knowledge about, what was supposed to be, the ‘war to end all wars’.  It will make the reader think considering that some of the places mentioned in the book are still fighting today, which will bring up the question of why?

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Literal Literary Halloween Costumes ~Jessica Woodbury

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It’s that time of the year again, people are throwing Halloween parties, and you’re expected to dress up. But what if you’re OK with dressing up, just not with the ghoulies, ghosties and long-legged beasties costumes. Jessica Woodbury has some suggestions that you may find helpful:

“Literature loves metaphors. But a great costume takes the metaphorical and interprets it without much thought for subtlety. Here are some suggestions for literary costumes from not-so-symbolic novel title interpretations.

The Grapes of Wrath
Supplies: clothes of your choice, but preferably green. 10 or more balloons; either all green or all purple. A marker.
Directions: Blow up the balloons. Draw angry faces on them. Secure them to your clothes.

Lord of the Flies
Supplies: fly costume (you can DIY it with black clothes, wings, and a couple extra stuffed legs), crown.
Directions: Wear fly costume. Put on crown.

The Catcher in the Rye
Supplies: baseball mitt, stalks of wheat or corn.
Directions: Put on mitt. Fasten grain to clothes.

Catch-22
Supplies: baseball mitt, paper, scissors
Directions: Cut out two numeral 2’s from the paper. Fasten to the inside of the baseball mitt.

A Clockwork Orange
Supplies: Orange shirt, marker.
Directions: Draw a clock on the shirt. Put on shirt. Bonus points for drawing in gears and clockworks.

The Portrait of a Lady
Supplies: Picture Frame or just cut a frame shape out of a cardboard box and decorate it to look like a picture frame.
Directions: Arrange frame so it goes around face and secure.
Note: Must be a lady to pull this off.

Fahrenheit 451
Supplies: White shirt, black marker, red marker.
Directions: Draw a thermometer on the shirt that goes from 0 degrees to 500 degrees with the black marker. Color it up to 451 with the red marker. Bonus points for making one side in Fahrenheit and the other in Celsius.”

Jessica Woodbury

Jessica Woodbury is a lapsed lawyer who now works in digital media. She chronically overshares at dontmindthemess.com. Follow her on Twitter:@jessicaesquire. This article first appeared on Bookriot.com

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In our house it’s called chocolate season…

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With Halloween fast approaching, for many this marks the beginning of the Holiday season so I thought I would take the time to let everyone know of the posting schedule between now and the New Year.

The real changes are aimed more at November and December as there are no Family commitments that need to be fulfilled in October; with that said here are the posting schedules for those two months.

November:
There will be no, or at the very least only one posting during the week of 24th to the 30th of this month, as it is Thanksgiving and I know you would all rather be preparing for the feast, and out tackling Black Friday than sat reading a blog.

December:
Between the 22nd of this month and the 1st of January there will be only two posts made; one on Christmas Eve and the other on New Year’s Eve.  Again this is to enable us all to enjoy our Holidays with our Families if they are near, or just relaxing and doing our own thing if, as in my case, they are thousands of miles away.

I ask one thing of you all over the Holidays, and all it requires is a few moments; as you are enjoying your festivities please spare a thought for those who are not as blessed as we all are and who, for whatever reason, cannot participate in things we tend to take for granted.

Thank you all for your continued support and, as usual if you have any constructive criticism or suggestions for the blog, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Love Poem for Wednesday ~ Sandra Beasley

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Love Poem for Wednesday

You’re the day after Tuesday, before eternity.
You’re the day we ran out of tomatoes
and used tiny packets of ketchup instead.

You are salt, no salt, too much salt, a hangover.
You hold the breath of an abandoned cave.
Sometimes you surprise me with your

aurora borealis and I’ll pull over to watch you;
I’ll wait in the dark shivering fields of you.
But mostly, not. My students don’t care for you

or your lessons from the life of a minor god.
Can you hit the high C in our anthem?
Can you bench press a national disaster?

I fear for you, Wednesday. Your papers
are never in order. Your boots track in mud.
You’re the day I realized I didn’t even like him,

and the day I still said yes, yes, yes.
Sometimes I think you and I should elope,
and leave this house of cards to shuffle itself.

You are love, no love, too much love, a cuckold.
You are the loneliest of the three bears, hoping
to come home and find someone in your bed.

Sandra Beasley

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Review: The Nameless Day (The Crucible #1) ~ Sara Douglass

The Nameless DayISBN ~ 978-0765303622
Publisher ~Tor Books
No. Of Pages ~448 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble (unfortunately this Trilogy seems hard to come by in its entirety)

The Black Plague. The Pestilence. Disease and death haunt every town and village across 14th century Europe and none are immune from its evil. Some see the devastation of their world as a sign from God for Man’s wickedness.

But Brother Thomas Neville sees this swath of death as something much more. Neville is a man beset by demons. Or is it angels? He has had a visitation from none other than the Archangel Michael, who commands Thomas to a mission. This mission will take Neville across the length and breadth of the continent in a desperate bid to find the means to stop the minions of Satan who have found a doorway out of Hell and are preparing to venture forth, to try and seize this world in preparation for an assault on Heaven itself.

As Thomas Neville encounters angels and demons, saints and witches, he comes to realize that the armies of God and Satan are arraying themselves for the final battle…and that his soul is to be the battleground.

The question is has Neville picked the truly good side?

4 Thumbs-UpThe Nameless Day is the first volume in Sara Douglass’s trilogy, The Crucible, and what a trilogy it is.   Although it may not appeal to all readers, The Crucible is probably the best historical fantasy series I have read in a long time, and unlike other series in this genre you don’t have to plough through double-digit numbers of novels to get to the end.  However, if you or a member of your family is fainthearted or devoutly Catholic this may not be the book for you considering the shenanigans the religious characters get up to.
The main protagonist is a self-righteous, small-minded, hypocritical man, and although this may make him seem the type of character some readers are unable to relate to it also makes him a more realistic character given the period of time in which the novel is set.  Finding someone with his modern liberal views would have been fairly uncommon for this era, but in writing this character the Author manages to make them believable but also one that readers would be drawn to.  In their writing of this character the Author has managed to ensure that there is room for development and one that readers will want to see change as they progress through, not only this book but the remaining two in the trilogy.  Taking place in an alternate version of fourteenth century Europe, readers will recognise many actual historical figures and, although it could so easily have turned into a book with too many characters to keep track of, the Author weaves historical fact and fiction about them together in a seamless manner giving each their own distinct personality and not leaving the reader the task of having to back track to see where they fit into the plot overall.

Taking the ultimate time long battle of Angels and Demons the Author places this a period of history that was fraught with upheaval.  The author incorporates well researched historical elements in their novel and adds enough fantasy to keep the reader from feeling this is just another dry historical work of fiction.  Some dates that certain historical figures appear have been slightly adjusted for the sake of the storyline, but this does not take away from the purpose of the book in any way, and that purpose is to give a great experience to its readers.  This book also manages incorporate a little bit of everything that would draw readers to it that may not otherwise pick up a novel in this genre.  As I have mentioned there is the history portion, but there are also elements of romance and fantasy, and I was glad to see that the romance was not the kind that would have me laying this book aside in disgust.  Added to this there are sections which are definitely dark and sinister which hint back to earlier work in the gothic genre, and the moments of gore and brutality are worthy of even the most celebrated of horror novelists.

The reason for my 4 thumbs review, as opposed to a 5 thumbs that it sounds as if I should have awarded to it is this; by the end of the book there are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of things remain unsolved.  This makes it the kind of book that would not function well as a stand-alone, so if you are going to read it, be prepared to have the remainder of the trilogy on standby.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good all round read, and a series that they can get their teeth into without having to expend vast amounts of time and money to complete it.  I will definitely be revisiting the trilogy again and probably on numerous occasions.

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Rory Gilmore ~ The First Thirty

rory gilmoreWhile browsing the internet with my coffee this morning I happened to come across a website bookreviews.me.uk, and was intrigued by a reading challenge the writer of the site was undertaking, The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, which encompasses some 339 books.  After doing some more searching, I also found out that this is rather a popular challenge so I thought I would put it out there and see how many books on the following list people have read.

I have to admit that I have never seen an episode of The Gilmore Girls; I have no clue who Rory Gilmore is, but I can say it’s a pleasure to hear of such a bookish person being featured in, what I can only assume, is a popular programme.  Going through the list I have marked those books I have read, whether or not they are reviewed on this site, and am going to try and get through some more of them as there appears to be some very interesting books on the list.  Because there are so many books, I’m only going feature the first thirty in this post, and will add the remainder over the coming weeks.  The list is composed of some of the best traditional and modern classics out there in my opinion, so hopefully everyone can find a few they would enjoy reading to fill the upcoming winter months.

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1984 ~ George Orwell (read)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ~ Mark Twain (read)
Alice in Wonderland ~ Lewis Carroll (read)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay ~ Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy ~ Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes ~ Frank McCourt (read)
Anna Karenina ~ Leo Tolstoy
The Diary of a Young Girl ~ Anne Frank (read)
The Archidamian War ~ Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction ~ Henry James
The Art of War ~ Sun Tzu (read)
As I Lay Dying ~ William Faulkner
Atonement ~ Ian McEwan (read)
Autobiography of a Face ~ Lucy Grealy
The Awakening ~ Kate Chopin
Babe ~ Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War against American Women ~ Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress ~ Dai Sijie
Bel Canto ~ Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar ~ Sylvia Plath (read)
Beloved ~ Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation ~ Seamus Heaney (read)
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews ~ Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays ~ Mary McCarthy
Brave New World ~ Aldous Huxley (read)
Brick Lane ~ Monica Ali
Bridgadoon ~ Alan Jay Lerner
Candide ~ Voltaire

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