Fun for Halloween week

halloween

Starting on 26th October, I would like to open my blog up to you the readers.  If you have a poem or short story you wouldn’t mind sharing on the digital highways (it doesn’t matter whether you write full-time or just dabble), I would like to hear from you. I will feature five of them that week to add a little fun and something new to the blog.

To submit your hard work just email them to me at catesbooknuthut@gmail.com and I will get my Husband to read them through.  He will then pick the ones he enjoyed the most to feature on the site that week.

I think this will be fun, and also give an opportunity to those who may be a bit hesitant to reveal their talents a chance to shine.

I look forward to reading your submissions.

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Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) ~ Brandon Sanderson

mistbornISBN ~ 978-0765311788
Publisher ~ Tor Books
No. Of Pages ~ 537 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Macmillan

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

4 Thumbs-UpIf you have a need to be anti-social for a while, and don’t we all at some time or another, this is the book for you and despite its title it is the first in the Mistborn series.  After featuring it in an article of what people might like to read while game of Thrones was off the air, I decided I would give this a try to see if it really was a worthy substitute.

I was immediately pulled into this book from the first line, and soon felt comfortable with characters that I came to regard as the mains in this epic.  There is a strong female who, despite all odds, manages to survive and then actually thrive in this bizarre environment the Author places her in.  Add to this a loveable rogue who teaches her everything she needs to know about using her newly found powers, and this all adds to up characters that readers can connect to and want to follow on their travels. However, not all the characterizations in this book are as well done as these two I have mentioned, some of them were lacking in descriptiveness and I found myself at some points hard pushed to remember their role in the plot.

It is often hard for an Author in this genre to come up with something new and different, but it appears in this book.  The ‘magic’ used in its pages was unique and used items that I had not come across before in other books.  From the way the magic is described and explained it is obvious that a lot of thought went into this system as the Author wrote this book, and it works well as it plays a major part in the action of which there is definitely plenty.  When writing about the battles waged using this magic, the Author was very careful to stick to the rules he had created and applied to it, and there was not a point where I found myself having a ‘hang on, didn’t you say….’ moment.  World building was not skimped on either in this novel, it is not just a strange environment that happens to be there, but has a history behind how it came to being, and this is just as interesting as the plotline itself.

The downside for me whilst reading this was the dialogue, it had a tendency to take the safe road, and use dialogue that can be found in most books of this genre which made some of the conversations a little unbelievable and also, in some cases, as if the book itself were intended for a much younger audience.  However, this was just a minor peeve and didn’t pull away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an epic fantasy read that will keep them engrossed with every turn of the page.  I will definitely be reading more in this series.

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Review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) ~ Rick Riordan

lightning-thiefPercy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

5 Thumbs-UpFirstly let me explain that this is going to be quite a long review as I’ve included information for the interested readers near the bottom of the review.  It’s not something I usually do but change is always good when it helps others.

I have to admit I went into reading this book with the expectation it would be just another shallow copy of the Harry Potter series with names and places changed enough so as not to infringe on the original copyright.  I also wasn’t expecting to enjoy it at all, as I found myself becoming rather bored with Hogwarts after a couple of books.  You can imagine my relief and surprise to find that this book and the following instalments are nothing like the aforementioned wizardry titles and this title, along with the others had me glued to the pages long after I should have gone back to real life.  Yes there are some similarities between the two series, but you really have to look hard and want to find them, but as with most forms of art, and writing is an art, there are very few if any original ideas left out there.

The book is narrated by Percy himself, and at times he sounded more like an aged pessimist than the 16-year-old boy he was supposed to be.  Considering what he had been through in his life, and also knowing some people his age that are like this, I found it to be a great tool the Author used to pull the reader into his story and travel on the journey to find himself with him; and what a journey it is, it is so personal and full of emotion at points that the reader can’t help but become emotionally invested in the character and root for him every step of the way.  It is easy for most readers to connect with this character for a different reason too, whatever he turns his hand, however good his intentions, he just can’t seem to get things right.  The Author is equally generous with all other characters encountered in this book; you love the ‘heroes’ and feel the need to boo and hiss at the villains when they appear on the page.

All Greek mythology should be approached in the way the Author does in this book.  Whilst staying true to the nature of the Gods, they inject humour and irreverence in to the way they have re-imaged and reinterpreted the whole Greek Pantheon.  In a totally off the wall manner everything surrounding the Gods is explained to an audience who may never have come across them before and who, after reading this book will probably be motivated to find out more about them.  The existence of these beings is written in a believable and well explained manner and does great credit to the Author, as research into this topic must have been extensive to enable them to portray mythology in this manner.

As I said at the beginning of this review, it is a little different from others I have written, and a lot longer, and here is the reason why.  The Author is now about to release the last instalment of their Percy Jackson series, and to mark the event they have scheduled a book tour itinerary that I thought might interest those who are fans of the books:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014: Boston/Cambridge-Brookline, MA

Event hosted by:
Porter Square Books
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-2220

Location of event:
Temple Ohabei Shalom
1187 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446
617-277-6610

Showtime:
7:00 PM ET

Wednesday, October 8, 2014: Toronto, ONT, Canada

Event hosted by:
Indigo Exclusive

Location of event:
Bloor Street United Church
300 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M55 1W3
416-924-7439

Showtime:
7:00 PM ET

Thursday, October 9, 2014: Atlanta/Decatur, GA

Event hosted by:
Little Shop of Stories
133A East Court Square
Decatur, GA 30030
404-373-6300

Location of event:
Glenn Auditorium at Emory
1652 North Decatur Road
Atlanta, GA 30302

Showtime:
7:00 PM ET

Friday, October 10, 2014: New York, NY

Event hosted by:
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
212-989-3270

Location of event:
New York Public Library
Main Branch
Celeste Bartos Forum
5th Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018

*Note: 25 branch libraries across the city will also be participating.

Showtime:
4:00 PM ET

Saturday, October 11, 2014: Chicago/Downers Grove, IL

Event hosted by:
Anderson’s Bookshop
5112 Main Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-963-2665

Location of event:
Tivoli Theatre
5021 Highland Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-968-0219

Showtime:
4:00 PM CT

Sunday, October 12, 2014: Boulder, CO

Event hosted by:
Boulder Book Store
1107 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
303-447-2074

Location of event:
Boulder Theatre
2032 14th Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Showtime:
1:30 PM MT

Monday, October 13, 2014: Austin, TX

Event hosted by:
Book People
603 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703
512-472-5050

Location of event:
Westlake Community Performing Arts Center
4100 Westbank Drive
Austin, TX 78746

Showtime:
6:00 PM CT

Tuesday, October 14, 2014: Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA

Event hosted by:
Barnes & Noble Ventura #2054
4820 Telephone Road
Ventura, CA 93003
805-339-0990

Location of event:
Buena High School Auditorium (with Ventura Educational Partnership)
5670 Telegraph Road
Ventura, CA 93003

Showtime:
6:00 PM PT

Wednesday, October 15, 2014: San Francisco/Menlo Park, CA

Event hosted by:
Kepler’s
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-861-7810

Location of event:
Fox Theatre
2215 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

Showtime:
7:00 PM PT

Percy Jackson

I’m a little sad that the readers of so many states will not get a chance to attend one of these events, but if you are interested in the world of Percy Jackson you can always head over to the website and go on an adventure of your own.

I would highly recommend this book and the rest of the series to readers of all ages that are looking to go on an adventure and learn a little at the same time.  These are definitely on my ‘read again’ list.  This is a great book that, if you are not in the target audience of a middle grade reader, will have you feeling like a child just returned from an epic adventure in their blanket fort; and we all need to feed that inner child on a regular basis.

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Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1) ~ Tom Angleberger

Origami YodaIT TAKES THE WISDOM OF YODA TO SURVIVE THE SIXTH GRADE

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him “Captain Dwight.” This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that’s when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It’s crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda’s advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy’s case file of his investigation into “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.

5 Thumbs-UpI love reading books aimed at children, well sometimes I do and others I just want to throw my hands up in the air and wonder about the wisdom of the Authors.  With this book this was not the case, this is a great read, and I don’t care that I’m old and crusty with grandchildren, this is a book series I will keep on my shelves and re-read as a pick me up.

If you are a reader that loves Star Wars, or even if you come from the other camp of Trekkers, this book will have you chuckling and making you wonder how you ever made it through 6th grade yourself without the wisdom of Yoda.  If you have no clue who any of the above are, read it just for the sheer enjoyment of being able to be a kid again.  This little piece of fun is also a great way to get middle school children invested in reading, as the whole series pulls on characters they most likely recognise from the movies, and what could be easier than that.

Like most children’s books there are no complex characters to wade through, no diabolical plot lines, this book is just kids being kids and brooding over the major concern of their time; does an origami Yoda really give sound advice that can be followed?  For example: “How do you get out of a potentially embarrassing situation when you’re in the bathroom and you spill water on your pants so that it looks like you peed yourself? Origami Yoda says: “All of pants, you must wet.”   Just based on this I must have an origami Yoda as my advice counselor.  But for all the fun stuff in this book,  the little drawings and side notes as different classmates weigh in on the Origami Yoda conundrum, this book discusses a serious topic in an easy to understand way for children; tolerance.  Just because one person thinks another is strange doesn’t mean we are all going to think that way, and this book is able to covey the wonderfulness of difference and tolerance in a world that is becoming more uniform and intolerant. Don’t over analyse this book (hence the short review) just enjoy it, and when you’re done with it use the diagram at the end to create your very own origami Yoda, I know I am going to make a whole army of them.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone really, and if you’re thinking of reading this in the dark don’t forget to have your trusty lightsaber on hand to help see the pages young Padawan.

“Much to learn you still have.” … “This is just the beginning!” ~Yoda

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

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It’s Finally Friday ~ Paul Orshoski

friday

It’s Finally Friday

It’s finally Friday—I’m so glad.
It’s been a crazy week.
I got chewed out on Monday, 
and since then it’s all been bleak.

I lost my lunch on Tuesday,
and a parent went insane,
which shocked me so completely
that I almost popped a vein.

I poked my eye on Wednesday,
and the nurse gave me a shot.
She sent me to the doctor
when I fainted on the spot.

On Thursday I was tardy
’cause I kinda overslept.
And the snack that I was craving 
came up missing in a theft.

And so it’s finally Friday.
No more pencils, no more books.
No more sitting in detention, 
no more teachers’ dirty looks.

By Friday I’m exhausted, 
out of energy and breath.
But that’s the day you’ll hear me shout,
“Rejoice, TGIF!”

And twice a month on Friday,
I remember why I stay:
You see, I am the principal—
that’s when I get my pay.

 

© Paul Orshoski, reprinted from My Teacher’s in Detention

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‘Loss’ ~ Wendy Cope

3108-Antique-Corkscrew-Coasters

Loss

The day he moved out was terrible –
That evening she went through hell.
His absence wasn’t a problem
But the corkscrew had gone as well.

Wendy Cope

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10 Book sequels you probably didn’t, or wished you didn’t, know existed.

We bookish folk are a strange breed; we think nothing of eagerly looking forward to the next instalment or sequel from our favourite Authors, but moan and mutter when Hollywood brings out Mission Impossible XVI (I know we haven’t got that far yet, but it’s coming).  I’ve put together a compilation of several classic stories have strange follow-ups you’ve never heard of, or if you’ve read them may wish you hadn’t.

 

The Starlight barkingTitle ~ The Starlight Barking
Author ~ Dodie Smith
ISBN ~ 9780434964017
Publisher ~ Heinemann (October 1967)

Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians, later adapted by Disney, was declared a classic when first published in 1956. The Starlight Barking, Dodie’s own long-forgotten sequel, is a thrilling new adventure for Pongo and his family. As the story opens, every living creature except dogs is gripped by an enchanted sleep. One of the original Dalmatian puppies, all grown up since the first novel, is now the Prime Minister’s mascot. Relying on her spotted parents for guidance, she assumes emergency leadership for the canine population of England. Awaiting advice from Sirius, the Dog Star, dogs of every breed crowd Trafalgar Square to watch the evening skies. The message they receive is a disturbing proposition, one that might forever destroy their status as “man’s best friend.”

Comment ~ I have to say I love this book.  The Hundred and One Dalmatians never captured my imagination as a child as much as this one; I read it so many times the cover eventually gave out, while its prequel sat untouched after on e read on my shelf.

 

MessengerTitle ~ Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3)
Author ~ Lois Lowry
ISBN ~ 9780618404414
Publisher ~ HMH Books for Young Readers (April 26th, 2004)

Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before its too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

An extremely popular book for middle school students, Lois Lowry’s The Giver has become an instant classic in the 20 years since its publication. Countless children have been assigned essays about how they interpreted the book’s ambiguous ending, but they could have saved some time and just read the book’s two (with a third on the way) sequels instead.

The first sequel, Gathering Blue, is only tangentially related to The Giver by being set in the same universe. However, the following book, Messenger, ties the two together.

 

Jos BoysTitle ~ Jo’s Boys
Author ~ Louisa May Alcott
ISBN ~ 9780448060132
Publisher ~ Grosset & Dunlap (October 1st, 1949: First published 1880)

Better known for her novels Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott continued the story of her feisty protagonist Jo in this final novel chronicling the adventures and misadventures of the March family. Entertaining, surprising, and overall a joy to read, Jo’s Boys is nevertheless shaded by a bittersweet tone, for with it Alcott brought her wonderful series to an end.

Beginning ten years after Little Men, Jo’s Boys revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo’s boys — including rebellious Dan, sailor Emil, and promising musician Nat — are grown; Jo herself remains at the center of this tale, holding her boys fast through shipwreck and storm, disappointment… and even murder.

Popular for more than a century, the series that began with Little Women continues to hold universal appeal with its powerful and affectionate depiction of family — the safe haven where the prodigal can always return, adversity is never met alone, and our dreams of being cherished, no matter what our flaws, come true.

Comment ~ This series was another well loved set of books on my childhood bookcase, and I remember crying almost to the point of hysterics when I came to the end of Jo’s Boys knowing there would be no more.

 

Closing timeTitle ~ Closing Time
Author ~ Joseph Heller
ISBN ~ 9780671746049
Publisher ~ Simon & Schuster (October 1st, 1994)

Thirty-three years and over ten million copies later…the classic story continues.

Yossarian returns — older, if not wiser — to face a new foe.

An instant classic when published in 1961, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 still ranks among the funniest — and most serious — novels ever written about war. Now Heller has dared to write the sequel to his 10-million copy bestseller, using many of Catch-22’s characters to deftly satirize the realities and the myths of America in the half century since they fought World War II.

In Closing Time, a comic masterpiece in its own right, Heller spears the inflated balloons of our national consciousness — the absurdity of our politics, the decline of society and our great cities, the greed and hypocrisy of our business and culture — with the same ferocious humor that he used against the conventional view of warfare. Back again are characters familiar from Catch-22, including Yossarian and Milo Minderbinder, the chaplain, and little Sammy Singer, as they come to the end of their lives and the end of the century — all linked, this time, in uneasy peace and old age…fighting not the Germans, but The End.

Outrageously funny and totally serious, and as brilliant and successful as Catch-22 itself, Closing Time is a fun-house mirror that captures, at once grotesquely and accurately, the truth about ourselves

 

Paradise RegainedTitle ~ Paradise Regained
Author ~ John Milton
ISBN ~ 9781598181678
Publisher ~ Aegypan (December 1st, 2006)

In purely poetic value, “Paradise Regained” is little inferior to its predecessor. There may be nothing in the poem that can quite touch the first two books of “Paradise Lost” for magnificence; but there are several things that may fairly be set beside almost anything in the last ten. The splendid “stand at bay” of the discovered tempter — “‘Tis true I am that spirit unfortunate” — in the first book; his rebuke of Belial in the second, and the picture of the magic banquet (it must be remembered that, though it is customary to extol Milton’s asceticism, the story of his remark to his third wife, and the Lawrence and Skinner sonnets, go the other way); above all, the panoramas from the mountaintop in the third and fourth; the terrors of the night of storm; the crisis on the pinnacle of the temple — are quite of the best Milton, which is equivalent to saying that they are of the best of one kind of poetry. — The Cambridge History of English and American Literature.

Comment ~ I have to admit I’ve not read either of these; maybe I need to rectify this.

 

Tom SawyerTitle ~ Tom Sawyer, Detective
Author ~ Mark Twain
ISBN ~ 9781598184891
Publisher ~ Aegypan (August 1st, 2006: first published 1896)

“Well, it was the next spring after me and Tom Sawyer set our old nigger Jim free, the time he was chained up for a runaway slave down there on Tom’s uncle Silas’s farm in Arkansaw. The frost was working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be marble time, and next mumblety-peg, and next tops and hoops, and next kites, and then right away it would be summer and going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to look ahead like that and see how far off summer is. . . .” Huck Finn tells the tale in “Tom Sawyer, Detective” almost playing the role of a reporter, as he relates what he’s witnessed of a strangely peculiar murder, and tells us of Tom Sawyer’s scene-stealing exploits in the trial that follows. . . . Many of the characters “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” return in this tale, with delightful results

Comment ~ I was not aware there was a series, and enjoyed the Huckleberry Finn and first Tom Sawyer books.  These will now be on my to read list.

 

The winds of taraTitle ~ The Winds of Tara
Author ~ Katherine Pinotti
ISBN ~ 9781401063573
Publisher ~

The Unauthorised Sequel.

The most infamous love affair of all times continues on with The Winds of Tara.

Scarlett O’Hara, headstrong and beautiful, contrives to win back the love of her estranged husband and children. Broken hearted, she returns home to Tara, only to find the plantation in jeopardy by a greedy overseer and her sister’s reputation threatened. Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, she spins a web of lies and deceit that force her to choose between the man she loves, and breaking a solemn promise that would expose a secret that could destroy her family’s honor forever.

Margaret Mitchell’s beloved Southern romance was not only one of the most famous books of the last century, but also spawned one of the most popular films to boot. The book has four sequels, with varying levels of authenticity. The first, Scarlett, was an authorized sequel by Alexandra Ripley and was widely panned. A second that ignores Scarlett, Rhett Butler’s People, is a re-telling of the original novel from Butler’s point of view by author Donald McCraig.

Then there are the unauthorized sequels: The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall is a satirical re-telling from the perspective of an O’Hara family slave. Finally, The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti is a direct sequel to the original that the Mitchell family legally blocked from publication in America.

 

The second jungle bookTitle ~ The Second Jungle Book
Author ~ Rudyard Kipling
ISBN ~ 9781853261350
Publisher ~ Wordsworth Classics (1994: first published 1895)

Mowgli, the man-cub who is raised by a wolf-pack, is the main character in The Second Jungle Book which contains some of the most thrilling of the Mowgli stories. It includes “Red Dog”, in which Mowgli and the python Kaa form an unlikely alliance, “How Fear Came” and “Letting in the Jungle” as well as “The Spring Running”, which brings Mowgli to manhood and the realisation that he must leave Bagheera, Baloo, and his other friends for the world of man.

Between each of these marvellously powerful stories Kipling includes some of his most stirring ballads and songs, notably “Mowgli’s Song Against People” and “The Law of the Jungle”

A year after The Jungle Book’s release, Kipling wrote a follow-up book called The Second Jungle Book, featuring five further adventures of Mowgli and his friends. Although Disney made an animated Jungle Book 2 and a live-action film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, neither actually follows the plot of The Second Jungle Book.

 

The last ring bearerTitle ~ The Last Ring-Bearer
Author ~ Kirill Yeskov, Yisroel Markov (translator)
ISBN ~
Publisher ~ (2010: first published 1990)

The premise of The Last Ring-Bearer is the proverb “history is written by the victors”, and that the Tolkien account is just that – the history as dictated by the victorious side. In Eskov’s version of the story, Mordor is described as a peaceful country on the verge of an industrial revolution that is a threat to the war-mongering and imperialistic faction represented by Gandalf (whose attitude has been described by Saruman as “crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem”) and the elves.

The story of The Last Ring-Bearer begins at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as survivors of the defeated Mordor are organizing resistance and trying to save what they can of their civilization. Their story is mixed with another one, set hundreds of years in the future, as archaeologists in a “modern day Middle-earth” are rediscovering their true history, and finding artefacts that shine doubt on the established history known to us from The Lord of the Rings

Comment ~ To be reviewed in 2014

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