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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book: Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Becca has grown up on the tale of Briar Rose that her grandmother Gemma has told her and her sisters over and over again. It is only at the end of Gemma's life that Becca comes to find there is more to the story than just a fairytale to entertain children. A box is found in her grandmother's possessions that no one in the family had ever seen before, with keepsakes that are a mystery to them all. Determined to unravel the secrets of her beloved Gemma's past, Becca undertakes the search to learn the truth behind the story of Briar Rose, and who her grandmother really was. She follows the clues to Poland, where she finally finds someone who can tell her the whole story.

Briar Rose is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with the Holocaust as a backdrop, and at first I was a little fearful of revisiting this time period in my "entertainment" reading. Yolen's storytelling quickly drew me in however, and with Becca, I wanted to know what happened, how had Gemma gotten to America, and what was her real name, her past?

This is my first Jane Yolen novel to read, though I have several others on Mount TBR. I'll definitely be reading more, and recommend Briar Rose as an interesting and sobering twist on the Sleeping Beauty story.

For more information on this award winning author, visit Jane Yolen's Official Website

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

HQ/Sil Challenge #4: Puritan Bride by Anne O'Brien

Title: Puritan Bride
Author: Anne O'Brien
Copyright Year: 2004
Imprint: Harlequin Historical

It is 1663 and King Charles has returned, bestowing his favorites with lands. One such was Winteringham Priory, formerly the home of the Harley's, now in possession of the Oxendens, chiefly Marcus, Viscount Marlebrooke. Marcus has proposed marriage to Katherine Harley, to solidify his claim to Winteringham by wedding the heir to the land. Marcus doesn't expect much from this match, hoping that they will be able to tolerate each other and Katherine herself is opposed to it, preferring her cousin Richard, but her uncle soon makes her see the decision is out of her hands. Or is it?

There is suspicion of a will left by her father, and if Kate can just find it, she may not have to wed him at all, instead being free to marry as she wants. She had not counted on actually falling in love with the Viscount however, which complicates matters considerably for her!

There's even a resident ghost!

I enjoyed this historical romance, a little break from all the paranormals I've read lately. Now I'm ready to pass it on for someone else to enjoy! As always, this is a gently used copy with a bookcrossing label inside. If you would like to be the next to read this book, just leave me a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite historical time period is. I'm partial to Ancient Egypt, Aztec, Mayan, Celtic on up through Medieval, and occasionally even up to the American Civil War time frame, all over the map I guess you could say! I will choose a winner randomly from all the posts on December 6th!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winner: Knights of the Round Table: Lancelot by Gwen Rowley

And the winner of this romance staring Lancelot is...


Who likes Lancelot, Merlin, and Morganna and is a fan of my favorite Arthurian Novel, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley!

Congratulations Susan I hope you enjoy it!

Check out the side bar for my next giveaway to come, my 4th Harlequin/Silhouette Challenge Read, Puritan Bride by Anne O'brien. If I can get enough reading time away from work to finish it up that is! After that I'll have a Holiday themed read to offer up that I'll be giving away in December!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Musical: The Lion King

The Lion King is by far and away my favorite Disney movie. The colors, the animals, the music, all of it combined to make an awesome whole that just really reached in and grabbed my heart and didn't let go. In fact, it is the only cartoon that has ever made me cry, and it did that the very first time I saw the preview for it at another movie, way back when! So when I found out there was a Broadway musical for it, I have always wanted to go. Finally it came here, and you can bet the first time I saw the commercial on TV, I was determined to go!

All the expected favorite songs were there, plus some from the follow up sound track Rhythm of the Pridelands, He lives in you is also one of my favorites next to Circle of Life, the one that I can't ever seem to listen to without crying *blush*. The costumes are technical marvels and so different from any musical I've ever seen. It was a real challenge for them to retain the feel of the movie live on stage, but it was truly amazing.

This video is from the Tony Awards and gives you just a taste of the costumes and the majesty of the show, but really can't do them justice.

It was interesting to me the mix of characters that were kept very true to the cartoon movie image (Zazu, Timon, Pumbaa and the hyenas), versus those that were more stylized but full body puppet type costumes (all the other lesser non-main character animals), and then all the lions, who each had a head mask and often a tail, but then were dressed in African patterned flowing pants and wraps. The lionesses were very beautiful and stately, Mufasa very majestic.

I can't say enough how much I enjoyed it, it was just beautiful and so interesting. If you get the opportunity to go, take it! you won't be disappointed!

Take a look a the Official Disney Lion King Website for more information and a photo gallery!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Book: Poison Sleep by T. A. Pratt

Marla Mason is back in her own city of Felport in this second novel of the series. Our story opens with the attempted breakout of a patient of the Blackwing Institute for criminally insane. While the patient trying to escape fails, another of the patients disappears, this one just as dangerous in her own damaged way. Genevieve is a reweaver, someone who can make reality over into what she wants, but her psyche has been injured by events in her past, giving her nightmares power over her reality, and everyone else's that she touches. She was safe locked away in Blackwing, but now that she's no longer confined there, her dreamworld is entering into the real world, and as the chief sorcerer of Felport, it's up to Marla and crew to get Genevieve back under control. As if things weren't busy enough with that, someone's trying to kill Marla, no big surprise in itself, but a little annoying when you have so much else on your plate, and you're not sure who you can trust!

A great second effort in the Marla Mason series! My husband read this before me and he liked it better than the first one, Blood Engines, feeling that the writing had improved. I think I still like the first one better as it seemed more colorful to me, though I agree that I think Poison Sleep was a tighter story. We see a lot more of Marla in Poison Sleep and a lot less of Rondeau it seemed. I'm definitely a Rondeau fan, so I was sad that he didn't feature as prominently, but there were other interesting characters to get to know, as we meet the other resident sorcerers of Felport that we'd only heard about briefly before.

The next in the series, and currently out right now, is Dead Reign, with a fourth, Spell Games on the way in April of next year. I'm looking forward to following Marla's continuing adventures!

T. A. Pratt's website, check it out for more info and links!

Get your Marla Mason fix Here!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Book Giveaway: Knights of the Round Table: Lancelot by Gwen Rowley

Just as I am a sucker for all things Egyptian, I'm also a sucker for all things Arthurian, and so of course I had to pick up a romance based on Lancelot! Now, I've read some truly bad (read cheesy and silly) tales with Arthur, his knights and Merlin as the basis. I admit, I expected this one might fall into this category. I was pleasantly surprised however to find what I felt was a well crafted romance that spent a lot of time developing Lancelot as a person rather than just using his preceding reputation and skipping over that development. We get to see a man that while certain of his warrior prowess, is very much tormented by his past and future, torn between his King and Queen, becoming very frayed at the edges and beginning to unravel.

Lancelot's relation to Guinevere here is treated a little differently than I've seen before, outwardly, there is still the suspicion that the two are involved romantically. The truth as presented here is a lot different, but no less stressful to them, as Lancelot feels it's Guinevere's secret to tell. She has never been my favorite character of the tale, and that doesn't change with this novel. This story is centered around Lancelot and Elaine, who together have a son, Galahad.

Elaine is very practical, and very involved in running her father's failing estate, ever since he's withdrawn in his search for the Holy Grail. Her brother Torre was injured during a joust, by Lancelot as it turns out, and has become a drunk, taking no interest in the welfare of the lands.

Lancelot arrives at Elaine's home, Corbenic, after losing his way in the woods on the way to a tournament. He had been traveling to the tournament to compete disguised, by Guinevere's order, and so he does not enlighten the family as to who he really is, asking to borrow a shield as his own is to easily identified. Before he leaves for the tournament, Lancelot and Elaine spend some time alone together, where he finds out her esteem for the knight Gawain, and her contempt for the arrogant Lancelot. Being anonymous lets him show her the real person, not just the self-important and arrogant hero she believes he is.

There are two more in this series so far, Gawain and Geraint, and I enjoyed Lancelot enough that I will look for the other two. Especially Gawain, since we get to know him a little bit here. I really have not yet found much information on this author, I will have to keep looking. She does not appear to have a website up, or any other information that I found on any other sites past the list of these three books. I hope she does more!

Now for the giveaway! As always, my giveaway copy is gently used, and Bookcrossing labeled. If you are interested in winning this to read for yourself, please comment here, and tell me what your favorite Arthurian character, and/or dramatization, novelization, etc. of any of the legends is. There are so many to choose from now! I will randomly choose a winner for all comments on November 15th!

I would have to say Excalibur was my first favorite movie, and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is my favorite novel, the book, not the movie. The movie was okay, but it really didn't/couldn't do justice to that huge novel in my opinion! Lancelot and Galahad were always my favorite characters, though Arthur is probably right up there as well, and Guinevere has always been my least favorite.
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