Wednesday Poem: The Jumblies ~ Edward Lear

jumblies
The Jumblies

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, `You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, `Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
`O won’t they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it’s extremely wrong
In a Sieve to sail so fast!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, `How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
`O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a Sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
In the shade of the mountains brown!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

And in twenty years they all came back,
In twenty years or more,
And every one said, `How tall they’ve grown!
For they’ve been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore!’
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, `If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,—
To the hills of the Chankly Bore!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

divider

Review: The Art of Blizzard Entertainment ~ Blizzard Entertainment

art of blizzardISBN ~ 9781608870271
Publisher ~ Insight Editions
No. Of Pages ~ 376 pages
Links ~ Insight Editions, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Over the past two decades, Blizzard Entertainment has had a tremendous impact on the world of games and global pop culture. From its humble beginnings as a three-person console-game development studio in 1991 to the creation of the blockbuster Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® series, Blizzard has a history of crafting stunning worlds of science fiction and fantasy. The company’s distinctive gameplay and storytelling styles have captivated an international audience numbering in the tens of millions whose passion cannot be quelled.

Twenty years after Blizzard opened its doors, the company’s World of Warcraft® boasts the title of the world’s most popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and the studio is widely recognized as one of the leaders in creatively driven game development.

An epic volume of art and behind-the-scenes insights, The Art of Blizzard® celebrates the studio’s genesis by examining the creative forces behind these games and showcasing their artistry through more than 700 pieces of concept art, paintings, and sketches. Commentary on the art is provided by Blizzard Entertainment’s own Nick Carpenter, Sam Didier, and Chris Metzen, who’ve each played important roles in shaping Blizzard’s game universes over the years.

5 Thumbs-UpWeighing in at 8lbs, this is a coffee table book in the true meaning of the word; my knees went numb as I was reading it on my couch.  Although, if you use the links above, it is hard to find a copy of this book for under $50, I found mine in the bargain priced section at Barnes & Noble, and if you want to splash out more money Insight Editions are selling a specially bound version.  However, if you already own all of the Collector’s Editions of Blizzard artwork books, this is probably not a purchase you will want to make, as many of the illustrations featured in it are in the previously mentioned books.

With over 700 illustrations this book covers the artwork from such iconic Blizzard games as Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft, with accompanying commentaries by the artists themselves.  It gives the reader a fascinating insight into the creative talents of the company as well as providing a visual history of Blizzard games.  What I found particularly interesting about this book was how clearly apparent the evolution and refinement of the artists techniques became as time passed, it was almost as if I were seeing physical proof of their confidence in what they were doing growing before my eyes.  Another aspect of the book I liked was the fan art submissions and how some of them were actually recruited into the Blizzard team.  This book covers everything from the early sketches right up to the completed box artwork; one of my favourite in the Diablo section was the Mistress of Pain.

Full of magnificent scenes and characters, what little text there is in this book has been thoughtfully placed so as not to intrude on the main stars of its pages, in fact in some places the writing is rather quite difficult to find and read.  This didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book in any way, but for anyone who has a visual impairment and wants to read the text for the back story to the images it may prove to be a challenge.

However, this book does not just focus on the well know side of the company, in this book there is also a section with conceptual art for games that never were as well as a spoof chapter containing holiday themes using the more well-known characters.  In reading this book you actually get a sense that you are in the same room with the creators, listening to them discuss, accept or reject ideas for the next project whilst also sharing with them a trip down memory lane.

I would highly recommend this book whether you are a fan of Blizzard games or just a lover of fantasy art; this book touches all the bases..

divider

Review: Poems of Christina Rossetti ~ Christina Rossetti, Florence Harrison (Illustrator), Kathryn W. Plosica (Designed by), Gail Harvey (Introduction)

Poems of Christina rosettiISBN ~ 978-0517118511
Publisher ~ Gramercy
No. Of Pages ~ 120 pages
Links ~ Project Gutenberg,

In poems ranging from fantasy and verses for the young to ballads, love lyrics sonnets and religious poetry, Rossetti was regarded was by many of her contemporaries as Britain’s finest living poet.

3 Thumbs-UpChristina Rossetti was first published at the age of 17 and from there went on to publish hundreds of poems; the majority religious and this may dissuade those who don’t hold with religion from reading her work, all I can say is please don’t let it.

One of my favourite pieces of her writing is ‘Goblin Market’, the tale of two sisters Lizzie and Laura, and their almost fatal encounter with the goblin men.  On first read I found it to be quite confusing, but the more I read this poem the more I came to realise that it was a morality tale, and that the broken rhythm in which it was written was as compelling and tempting as sin itself.  It is full of a sexual innuendo that makes it hard to ignore, even more so when these innuendo lay next to implied religious imagery.  However, like most poems the interpretation and intent of the poetry is dependent on the reader, and another may read this poem and come away from it with a totally different picture and meaning in their mind.

Another of my favourite pieces of Ms. Rossetti is ‘Remember’.  It is beautifully written and covers the subject of death and grieving.  I first read this poem shortly after I had lost my Father, and it struck such a chord in me that I immediately started devouring all and any works by this poet.  Even though years have passed since I picked up any of her writings, reading this collection has reminded me why I enjoy poetry as much as literature.

Trying to review a collection of poems is difficult under any circumstances, but to give the poetry in this collection the reviews they truly deserve I would have to write about each one individually, and that would result in there been no need for anyone to pick it up and read them.  The Project Gutenberg edition (see link above) is considerably longer than the edition I have listed the ISBN for, and contains a larger selection of Ms. Rossetti’s poetry.  In my opinion, the ‘Gutenberg’ collection gives a better reading experience than the short collection I’ve based my review on here, and is worth the time to download.  It is also broken down into easy to reference sections including devotional pieces, so if the reader wishes to skip these particular works, they may.

I would recommend this short collection to any who may have heard of Christina Rossetti but have not yet read her work, but for a more extensive collection would highly recommend downloading the version from Project Gutenberg.   Yes, some of the poems are a little difficult to understand; yes, there is a religious theme in most of her work and yes they can be highly emotional to read, however, what they are not is a waste of time.

divider

Wednesday Poem: A Trenta-Sei of Mixed Feelings at the Early Onset of Winter~ Maryann Corbett

mid-evil-front-m
A Trenta-Sei of Mixed Feelings at the Early Onset of Winter

with apologies to the shade of John Ciardi

As the first flakes are caught in streetlight-glimmer,
you gasp: Lovely! Your gasping throat still raw,
the truth grips like catarrh: a Midwest winter
beautiful? Like a left hook to the jaw,
the knuckled, scraping wait for spring’s mud-brown.
You bend your mind to months of hunkering down.

You gasp. Lovely? Your gasping throat still raw,
outward you bound to boisterous winter sports!
Thrill to the wind chill! (When will the fingers thaw?)
Joy! when the frozen stiffs stagger indoors!
(And what in this routine vaguely recalls
old saws that feature banging, and heads, and walls?)

The truth grips like catarrh: a Midwest winter
makes short work of its fairy tale. Snow-white
soils itself on plows. Ice-daggers splinter,
murder-minding the pavement. Ice-dams blight
cold attics. Traffic slogs and spins awry.
The bus slings up a wad of slush at an eye.

Unbeautiful. Like a left hook to the jaw—
except those fugitive seconds of pure peace:
Silence of evening shoveling, when you saw
that famous moonlight. Snow sculpting the trees.
Benches, fences slathered like wedding cakes.
Streetlights. Indigo dark, and the clean flakes.

The knuckled, scraping wait for spring’s mud-brown
craves every beauty bagged in the tangled mind
for cold-comfort. Sucks the marrowbone
of song. Tongues at old poems jarred and brined
like olives. Hears the orchard, shiver-thinned,
keen to itself: the sweep of easy wind….

You bend your mind to months of hunkering down:
You load the chafing dish. You light the sterno.
You heat the buttered rum. You cannot drown
your memory of those stanzas from the Inferno
at the tale-end of the terza rima spell
where Hell is cold. Where cold is the heart of Hell.

Maryann Corbett

Mid Evil
The University of Evansville Press

Review: His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) ~ Naomi Novik

his majesty's dragonISBN ~ 978-0345481283
Publisher ~ Del Rey
No. Of Pages ~ 356 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors’ ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.

Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

5 Thumbs-UpI have to admit I wasn’t expecting much from this book, after all I found it lying around on the floor at the recent Emerald City Comicon so it that didn’t bode well for it.  Once again I was proved very wrong and was pulled into this novel from the very first page; how can I have not known of this series before now? It definitely falls into the category of one of those great little secrets that not enough people know about.

The characters in this first book in the series are well-developed, but not to the point where there is no room for growth, and there is no romance which is very rare in this genre of book.  The relationship covered in this first book is that between a man and his dragon; the Temeraire (the main dragon protagonist) and Laurence (the main human protagonist) bond is a deeply emotional connection. There is palpable love between man and dragon, and their relationship is the emotional thread that weaves through the novel.   Temeraire is intelligent, logical and witty with a childlike wonder for the new world in which he finds himself.  Laurence is the battle proven Naval Captain that patiently guides him through the world in the best way he knows.  Neither of these characters have experience with the world of the other, but the Author brings those two worlds together via these characters in a realistic and caring manner.  The Author captures the warmness and sincerity of their bond, enough to give balance to all the colder, plot-driven elements of the story.   This novel is primarily an adventure, a story in wartime, an exploration of dragons in this fascinating alternate history society, but in its writing the Author doesn’t neglect the warmer, more ‘human’ side of things. There are moments of extreme emotion and emotional distress, mostly due to the closeness that aviators develop with their dragons, and each moment played out realistically. When it comes to moments of high emotion I feel that each one has to be earned in character, in story, in meaning, and I feel cheated when I think the Author  is trying to manipulate me to respond;  this Author used no manipulative techniques at all as the reader is right there feeling everything with the characters.

The world-building is handled with startling grace, given that this is the Author’s first novel.   This was one of the main pleasures of this book for me; the authentic feel of the world that was built.   It is apparent that extensive amounts of research went into correctly portraying 19th century English society, from the realities of the Navy to the manners of the drawing-room.   And best, none of it is done in a lecturing way; it is all of it presented as naturally as possible. The Author hasn’t  let research intrude  at all upon telling the story, and better yet, her addition of dragons into this world is so well thought-out (from their feeding, breeds, natural inclinations, personalities, levels of intelligence, size and temperament, mode of fighting and the innovative invention of aerial fighting) that it adds to the depiction of the historical period. In a seamless manner the Author grafts on her inventions to the known historical realities, and comes up with a beautifully realised fictional world that’s meticulously detailed and worked out. I particularly liked the fact that there is so much thought given to how the dragons would fit into this society, and she succeeds in a way that few Authors in this genre succeed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes dragons, alternate realities or fantasy; actually I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good, well written story and feel that even readers of the Master and Commander and Dragonriders series of books would enjoy this as well.   I will definitely be reading the remaining books in this series.

divider

Wednesday Poem: Maybe I’m just not in the mood… ~ Auburn Rose

As April is National Poetry Month and I have been reading a lot of poetry recently, I decided that starting today every Wednesday will be given over to poetry; sometimes well established poets and sometimes, as with today’s poem, a new name on the poetry scene.  I hope you will enjoy reading these poems as much I am enjoying finding them.

Power of Words

Maybe I’m just not in the mood…

I can feel the golden warmth awakening my paper.
Everything is so right,
it’s a cool spring night,
the city is so alive,
my poetic mind should awaken and come to life,
then why don’t I want to write?

Perhaps what makes us put our ink pens to our lined papers,
is when we know,
we must give it love, anger, sadness, assurance, care.

When our minds and bodies are touched,
so tremendously with feeling,
that we must rejoice without beloved;
as we make it feel what we feel,
inking our thoughts permanently,
scratching the surface until we are content.

But if we only feel neutrality,
it is alright to stare at the white blankly.
We will rejoice another day perhaps,
tomorrow, a month, who knows?
Only time will show.

Auburn Rose

divider

Books or Gift Cards ~ Shopping for Booklovers

cufflinks

Shopping for the bibliophile in your life can often be daunting enough when you are an avid reader, but non-readers are often left trying to find their way through the wilderness without a map when it comes to this task. The most obvious answer is, of course, books however, I love receiving reading or book accessories especially if they are unusual and/or fun. Below is a list of seven sites that I have personally used, not only to buy gifts for myself but for my book loving friends, and I have never been disappointed.

Audible.com 
aud_logo._CB383473417_Yes, it is part of Amazon, but for those of us who enjoy audio books, this site is excellent. They carry more than 40,000 titles in all genres that you simply download. They have two plans, each one available on a monthly or annual basis. And if you want to, you can easily cancel. The folks on Audible are extremely accommodating when it comes to cancelling and restarting membership, as I’ve done this several times over the course of my membership I can vouch for the ease of which both be done.

Big Cozy Books 
Giant upholstered furniture for kids who love to read. They focus on commercial and public places, but if your child’s room is big enough these pieces would be wonderful. Although aimed at the library or a school, these items would be ideal to give interest to a reading room/study in your own home.  We will be renovating an attic soon, and ‘The Hobbit’ book bench would be ideal for the window alcove there.

Bodleian Library Shop
The Bodleian Library, the chief among all Oxford University’s libraries,  offers a fantastic array of gifts for the book-minded including home accessories, stationery, bookplates, journals, jewellery and more.  I love this store and, although some of the items can lean towards the higher price range, you always know that you are going to receive a top-notch quality item for the price paid.  Shipping is pretty speedy too.

Hookmarks
I have a thing about bookmarks, and although I possess an irrational number of them, I have you add one of these to my collection.  Metal bookmarks that hook over the spine of a book have been named hookmarks by this company who makes a wide range of wonderful designs. I absolutely adore the treble clef hookmark, but if music isn’t your thing then they also feature ones with holiday, wedding, animals, nature, hobbies, spiritual, coin and other themes. Very nice, and not too expensive.

Library of Congress Gift Shop
Like the Bodleian Library Store mentioned above, this site has  high quality bookish gifts, and the Library of Congress is definitely worth checking out. Again, they can lean towards the pricey end of the market, but as I said for the Bodleian you will be receiving a product that reflects the price paid for it.

The Literary Gift Company
Despite this being a UK site, they do have a nifty flag that will convert all their prices into dollars. Their philosophy “We aim to be a one-stop-shop for all book lovers. We produce our own range of literary products, as well as offering a unique combination of gorgeous products from new designers, along with the best of quality brands from our partners. We are particularly interested in promoting products which recycle, or ‘upcycle’ abandoned or out-of-date books.”

Nakfactorium 
nakfactorium_banner2_01This website is an “emporium of handcrafted art objects from the hand of Pasternak.” That’s Robert Pasternak, a Canadian artist whose work is wonderfully original. Among the crafts that booklovers will find of interest are a set of Chicklet-sized books, a miniature book the shape of a stick of chewing gum, and a bacon bookmark. This bookmark is the real thing—or at least as near as you want bacon to get to your books. It’s die-cut and looks so real you may be tempted to eat it. Don’t. It’s the perfect gift since it also opens up into a greeting card.

If you don’t find anything in this small, tried and tested selection then head on over to Bibliobuffet, where they have a more extensive list which includes some of the above sites and many more.

divider