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  • gilwilson 6:06 PM on August 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: baking, , magic, recipes   

    Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler  

    34687372Baker’s Magic
    by Diane Zahler
    Narrated by:Elisabeth Rodgers, Stina Nielsen, Robin Miles, Kenneth Cavett, Stephen DeRosa, Tavia Gilbert, Michael Crouch, &  L.J. Ganser
    Approx 7 hours
    Publishedby Live Oak Media; Unabridged edition (September 30, 2016)

    I have to start out that this is the youngest target audience book I’ve reviewed.  The intended age group for this book is 9-12 years old.  I had received the book from the SYNC YA summer downloads, and they rarely let me down, so I figured what the heck, let’s see what happens.  There are times where the prose could target kids up to about 15 years, but for the most part let’s keep it 9-12.

    The story is about what it means to be family.  In this book family doesn’t necessarily mean the family you were born into, but that family is equally important.  Being able to pull off defining family from both and how both are equally important is not an easy task.  This book does and does so in an entertaining and charming way.

    Bee is an orphan (we later find the cause of the loss of her parents and it becomes vital to everyone else in the book) and has escaped her foster parents to explore the lands.  She gets caught trying to steal bed from a baker and instead of punishing her, the baker sees she’s in need of food and helps her out.  He takes her on to be his apprentice to help pay for room and board.  Through her learning to bake it is discovered she has a magical ability to bake emotions into the foods she bake and the person eating the baked good feels what she felt while baking.

    Soon the exquisite baked goods come to the attention of the Mage, who is ruling the land by growing tulips in the absence of the King.  The tulips are the main source of income for the Mage and in making more room to grow more tulips, the Mage has removed all trees from the country.  The Mage is also in charge of the Princess who will gain rule of the kingdom when she comes of age.

    The reader/listener soon learns that the Mage is a very evil man and must be removed.  It comes to Bee and her new found friends to become the Princesses’ rescuers, but not without a fight.

    A fun charming story to share with your kids, and at the end of the book a recipe for buns that you and your children can make together.

     

    Publisher’s Summary
    Bee is an orphan, alone in a poor, crumbling kingdom. In desperation, she steals a bun from a bakery, and to her surprise, the baker offers her a place at his shop. As she learns to bake, Bee discovers that she has a magical power. When a new friend desperately needs her help against an evil mage, Bee wonders what an orphan girl with only a small bit of magic can do. Bee’s journey to help her friend becomes a journey to save the kingdom, and a discovery of the meaning of family.

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  • gilwilson 3:34 PM on January 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: andrew scott, , magic, , , , , , ,   

    Audiobook Review: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More” 

    henry sugar

    Audiobook Review: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More”
    by Roald Dahl
    read by Andrew Scott
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 7 hours

    Penguin Audio has recently released the works of Roald Dahl, the man who brought us “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and I have the pleasure of getting all these audiobooks for review. I immediately jumped in with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” and really didn’t know which book to listen to next. It was great reliving my childhood and being entertained as an adult with these fantastically funny and whimsical stories.

    I decided to just randomly choose my next Roald Dahl audio choice and this is the one I came up with. This audiobook came as a complete surprise. The stories in this collection are much different from the Roald Dahl stories I was used to. This collection is a combination of fiction and non-fiction stories each one was unique and while most were poignant they each revealed a little bit of humanity as the story progressed and unfolded. Not knowing any of the stories beforehand made for a very pleasant surprise as the end of each story was reached. Sometimes there was that bit of tear in my eye and sometimes there was a hopefulness for all of humanity.

    This is definitely a collection to grab for the older fans of Roald Dahl. A couple of the stories are autobiographical in nature and as the listener you will discover a little more about the man that told such great children’s stories. The narrator in this collection did a superb job in presenting each story and giving each story their own unique ambiance through his vocal presentation.

     

    Next, I will briefly summarize each story to give you a hint as to what you can expect.

     

    “The Boy Who Talked with Animals”

    This story is told from the point of view of someone on vacation in Jamaica. One night a huge sea turtle is being brought on the shore by some fishermen. All the people on the beach are enthralled by the massive beast and many talk about the ways the turtle could bring in money, some of the enterprising vacationers offer money for the turtle. All offers are turned down because the hotel owner has already paid for the turtle to make turtle soup. The vacationers are then talking about how great dinner will be. A young boy steps in and calls everyone horrible and cruel. The boy loves animals and even talks with them according to his parents. The boy’s father pays off the fishermen and the hotel manager and the turtle is set free. But that is not the end of the story. The next day the boy is missing and only when the fishermen return from sea can the story find a very heartwarming ending.

     

    “The Hitch-hiker”

    I found this story very intriguing. The beginning is not clear where the story will go but by the end it is quite humorous. The story is told from the point of view of a man who has a brand new BMW 3.3 LI. He is enjoying a drive down the highway and stops to pick up a “rat-like” hitch-hiker with long fingers. They begin talking and eventually talk about the car and the hitch-hiker talks the man into pushing the car to it’s limits. They get the speed up faster and faster until a police officer on a motorcycle comes up from behind. The driver is given a ticket and even threatens the driver with prison time. After receiving the ticket the driver becomes quiet. The hitch-hiker then tries to cheer him up by making him guess his profession. Once the driver starts to guess the story becomes funny and even with a little twist to the end of the tale.

     

    “The Mildenhall Treasure”

    This story is the first non-fiction in the collection and tells of a plowman who is plowing a field in England during WWII for a local farmer. The plowman, Gordon Butcher, hits a hard spot in the field and the plow becomes disconnected from the tractor. Wanting to get the field plowed before the snow hits he rushes back to try and clear the plow. What he discovers is a large metal plate. The area is well known for it’s buried Roman Treasures. When he tells the farmer, the farmer proceeds to uncover the treasure which is a collection of silver dinnerware, later discovered to be worth millions. The farmer moves all of the treasure to his home where he cleans the silver and keeps it for himself. The catch is that the United Kingdom has a law that buried treasures must be reported and become property of the country, (compensating the discoverer, of course). The farmer hides the treasure and keeps it to himself until a visiting historian sees one of the silver spoons accidentally left out. This may be a bit of a spoiler but the treasure now sits in the national museum, but the events that lead to getting the treasure in the proper hands make this story intriguing.

     

    “The Swan”

    Break out the tissue for this one. Peter Watson loves nature and birds, when bullies Ernie and Raymond set off to kill some rabbits with the new gun Ernie received for his birthday, they run into Peter. Peter has always been the target of the two bullies and this day just became his worse day ever. Holding Peter at gunpoint the bullies tie him to the middle of a railroad track. They tie him down between the rails so that he narrowly escapes death as the train rolls by and Peter barely fits under the passing train. They then march Peter to a nature sanctuary and shoot a swan. This brings Peter to tears to see such a beautiful creature shut down. The bullies send him over to retrieve the swan. This is when Peter discovers the unhatched eggs. To further Peter’s humiliation, Ernie says he can bring the swan to life and cuts off the wings and straps them to Peter. The events that follow present a little hope to anyone being bullied.

     

    “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

    Henry Sugar is an extremely wealthy man who loves gambling. While visiting with a doctor friend he discovers a medical report about a man who could see without using his eyes. This man studied with a Yogi until he developed the ability. Henry Sugar sees this as a way to guarantee winning at numerous casinos. The catch is the process of learning this ability requires strict mind and body training. The training, while successful, changes Henry in many ways and soon he looks at life from a different viewpoint.

     

    “Lucky Break”

    This is a non-fictional account which discusses the events in his life that led to Roald Dahl becoming a writer, including a meeting with a famous writer, who helped to launch his career. The story is about Dahl’s school and all the teachers, up until after the publication of his first story.

     

    “A Piece of Cake”

    This final story is another non-fiction story which is autobiographical in nature. This one covers Dahl’s time as a fighter pilot in World War II, and details how Dahl was injured and eventually forced to leave the Mediterranean arena. The original version of the story was written for C. S. Forester so that he could get the gist of Dahl’s story and rewrite it in his own words. However, Forester was so impressed by the story (Dahl at the time did not believe himself to be anything approaching an accomplished writer) that he sent it straight off to his agent who had it published (as “Shot Down Over Libya”) in the Saturday Evening Post, thereby kick-starting Dahl’s writing career.

     

    A great collection of some of Roald Dahl’s lesser known works, that will give you a little more insight of the famous children’s author.

     

     
  • gilwilson 10:48 PM on December 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: amulet of samarkand, , , bartimaeus, , djinn, jonathon stroud, , magic, simon jones, ,   

    Audiobook Review: “The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1” by Jonathan Stroud 

    amulet-of-samarkand

    Audiobook Review: “The Amulet of Samarkand: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1”

    by Jonathan Stroud

    read by Simon Jones

    Published by  Listening Library

    13 hours and 30 minutes

     

    Once again I find myself seeking an audiobook adventure in the world of young adult fiction.  It seems that  YA fiction is filled with many stories of the supernatural, especially wizards.  This is one of those books, or rather series.

     

    Every coming of age story deals with the confusing times of life when it seems the world just won’t listen when because you are too young and yet you know everything.  This time around eleven year-old Nathanial, a magician’s apprentice, knows there is going to be an attack on London’s magical community, but proving that without giving away that he has been studying more than his mentor has allowed is a tricky situation.

     

    This story takes place in an alternate timeline in which Great Britain’s Parliament is run by wizards or Magicians.  Nathaniel is adopted through an agency by Arthur Underwood.  The parents are paid large sums of money while the children adopted are made to forget their birth names.  Any being from the nether can use a magician’s real name to take control of the magician.

     

    Underwood is, at best, a mediocre magician, and does not realize the full potential of his young apprentice.   Nathaniel teaches himself the advance magicks since Underwood will not.  The main reason Underwood does not teach the advance magicks is because he thinks they are too far advanced for the young apprentice.  There is also a bit of a hint through the book that Underwood may not have that strong of a grasp of the magicks to teach them anyway.

     

    Nathaniel’s troubles all begin when an arrogant, high on the social ladder, magician, Simon Lovelace embarasses him publicly.  Nathaniel retaliates by releasing some mites but when Lovelace beats the mites without breaking a sweat Nathaniel is punished by Underwood.  That’s when Nathaniel  takes it upon himself and go beyond his magical training and summon a demon, or rather a Djinn, demon is pretty much like a racial slur to the Djinn.  The Djinn he summons is the sarcastic Bartimaeus.   Nathaniel tasks Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace because it seems to be his most prized possession.

     

    Soon the secret of the Amulet is revealed and the mystery of why Lovelace has it is revealed when Bartimaeus and Nathaniel learn how it was acquired.  The fun and adventures begin as the two race across London to stop the impending doom that is destined to fall on the magic community.

     

    Not sure yet about the rest of the books in the series, but this coming of age story definitely weaves in the fun with some great sarcasm from Bartimaeus and some really cool magic theories.  I will definitely be looking for the next three books. (Yes, I know it says trilogy but it seems the author has added a fourth book into the mix.)

     

    Simon Jones does an outstanding job bringing out the voice of Bartimaeus making him a true-to-life character.  Jones does an excellent job throughout the book but he made me really become a fan of Bartimaeus.

     
    • Audiobook Jungle 2:28 AM on December 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      It’s really good, isn’t it! Actually that was one of the first audiobooks I’ve ever listened to and I loved every minute of it. It’s a very fun story and indeed, the narration is very well done. You should absolutely listen to the next books in the series! 🙂

      Like

  • gilwilson 3:52 PM on July 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , brendan craddock, , faerie, , , , legends, magic, , new author, peter schmit, quadrivium books, sir lancelot, summerhawk   

    “Summerhawk” By Peter Schmit 

    peternew

    “Summerhawk”

    By Peter Schmit

    Published by Quadrivium Books

    312 pages

    I love reading books that are a part of a series.  Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files,” are a couple of my favorites.  With a series you have a good stable cast of characters that create a whole new world that provide a collection of readings that will last several installations.  There are some books that introduce characters and you just have to know what happened next.  These series’ provide that answer.  This book, “Summerhawk,” is one that I hope and am pretty sure will be a series providing the further adventures of Brendan Craddock.

    This book introduces Brendan Craddock a mild mannered former school teacher who has a secret.  That secret is soon revealed and it sends Brendan into a tailspin into a world of myth, magic and mayhem.  Brendan is the reincarnation of Sir Lancelot Du Lac, The Summerhawk, and with that brings eternal powers, a really cool sword and a bunch of people that want him to serve them.

    Brendan is recently divorced and his ex-wife is about to get married to the perfect man. He is so perfect that, no matter how hard he tries, Brendan can’t bring himself to even dislike the guy.  He’s even invited to their wedding, probably just for his daughter’s sake.  All Brendan wants is to find a nice quiet bar and get good and drunk.  When a barfly and her mate decide to start a fight with Brendan, he finds himself battling with supernatural powers that he has never experienced before.  As the battle ensues the other parties involved also develop a bit of the supernatural and become half human and half animal.

    Brendan soon goes to his aunt for questions, which only lead to other questions and mysteries.  When Brendan’s daughter, Genevieve, is taken away on a dark, stormy night, Brendan picks up his sword and goes through hell to the world of Faerie and Fae to recover the only stable part of his life.

    Peter Schmit has created a glimpse into another world and a cast of characters that will leave you wanting more.  I have it on good authority that this will be a series that I will be enjoying for a while.  Schmit has written such depth to these characters that as the reader I felt I already knew who they were and was ready to jump in to the adventure knowing I was in safe hands.   The world of legends borrows from the Arthurian legends but Schmit has added in his flair to make this world even more magical and full of surprises.

    Trust me on this one, this freshman work from new author Peter Schmit is worth jumping into.  Make this your next new author read.

     
  • gilwilson 10:52 PM on June 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dark tower, , gunslinger, magic, path of the beam, randall flagg, roland, , , the dark man, the dark tower, the wind through the keyhole   

    “The Wind Through the Keyhole” by Stephen King 

    “The Wind Through the Keyhole”
    Written and Read by Stephen King
    Published by Simon and Schuster
    Approx 10.5 hours

    I thought I heard a few years ago that Stephen King was retiring. I also heard he wrote his last “Dark Tower” novel. I’m so glad he didn’t really retire, or maybe he just found that he had more stories to tell, either way, I love me some Stephen King. I’ve been a fan since way back and made it a point to read every published book by him and so far so good. Now all I have to do is keep up with his retirement.

    This latest book from the master storyteller runs in the “Dark Tower” series. For those of you who know and probably love this series, as I do, and are curious about the continuity of this installment, it fits in between “The Wizard and Glass” and “Wolves of the Calla” books, or books four and five. The neat thing about this book is that it is a story within a story within a story, let me explain; basically Roland, Eddie, Susanna, Jake and Oy have just left the Emerald City and are on their way on the path of the beam to the Dark Tower. They come to a river and as they are crossing on a ferry, the ferryman and the Billy Bumbler, Oy, alert the Ka-tet (in the Dark Tower world a Ka-tet is a group travelling with common goals, usually of spiritual nature) of an oncoming Starkblast is coming. A Starkblast is a severe storm that not only brings with it high winds but freezing temperatures that can kill any living creature not in shelter. The ferryman tells the Ka-tet they can seek shelter in the common house of an abandoned town but they have to hurry.

    They arrive in the town and are in the middle of securing the common house when the Starkblast hits. While holed up in the building, Roland tells a story of his past at the request of Jake and the others when they discover they cannot sleep. Roland’s story is one when he was just a beginning gunslinger and when his father sends Roland and another young gunslinger, Jamie, to a town that is being terrorized by a “Skin-man,” an apparent shape shifter who transforms into various animals at night and embarking on murderous rampages. As they spend the night in the town the Skin-man strikes, this time there is a survivor, a young boy named Bill, who witnessed the Skin-man viciously attacking and killing all the residents of a local farm, including his own father. Roland hypnotizes Bill to find some evidence that the frightened boy may have witnessed but is to terror-struck to remember. A clue is found and the deputies along with Jamie, the gunslinger go to round up a group of suspects that will be used as a line-up for Bill to identify. As they are waiting on the suspects Roland tells the young boy a story to help ease his fears.

    The story Roland tells is the Legend of Tim Trueheart from Roland’s childhood. A story Roland’s mother used to tell him. This story is a mix of a morality tale with a typical Stephen King Dark Tower story. 11-year-old Tim’s father was what could be called a lumberjack, his specialty was the ironwood which grew in the area and was a strong wood. Tim’s father is said to have been killed by a dragon, and after his father’s death, his father’s friend Bern Kells tricks Tim’s mother into marrying him. Bern has had a problem with the drink, but swears he no longer drinks. After the wedding it is discovered his sobriety is a lie and when he drinks he beats on Tim’s mom. When the covenant man comes to collect taxes, the mysterious man in black gives Tim a key that opens Bern’s trunk. In the trunk Tim discover’s his dad’s lucky coin which was said to have been burned by the dragon. Tim runs into the woods and meets with the dark man to find out more. Once there the man in black shows through magic Bern beating Tim’s mom after discovering the trunk has been opened. His mother is blinded by the beating and Tim now must travel along the path of the beam to find a cure for his mom. The cure is held by Maerlin.

    Each of the stories come to a close and once complete it is as though the reader/listener has gone through three separate novels. The story-telling ability of Stephen King hits an all-time high with this story that visits the strange world of the Dark Tower stories. The one thing I love about the Dark Tower stories is that they mix up olden times, times of magic, today and future times all in one smooth blending of worlds. King’s imagination is kicked into high gear with this book as he is able to blend all these worlds and deliver a story that you can’t stop reading or listening to until the very end.

    Combining, dragons, gunslingers, magic, legends, fairies, shapeshifters and strange creatures Stephen King tells a fantasy story that could only fit in his Dark Tower world.

    As an added bonus this audiobook is read by Stephen King, himself. At first I was a bit wary of the author doing the audio version. I’ve heard some author read audiobooks, and while the author may know the material to be read, and can add some insight through the vocalizations, they are rarely actors and able to portray the audiobook in a lively fashion. I am such a die-hard Stephen King fan that I was determined not to let this bother me. After listening for only a few seconds, I knew this was going to be fun. Stephen King not only acted out vocally the parts but he was even able to change-up his voice giving some very nice vocal characterizations that usually only able to be performed by the best audiobook readers. I guess I should have remembered that he did do cameos in all of the films made of his books and he did play Jordy Verrill in “Creepshow.” So yeah, King not only pulls it off, but he puts himself up there with all the professional audiobook readers.

     
  • gilwilson 9:49 PM on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alan goldsher, , , , beatles, , , , , , , , magic, , paul is undead, , , , , ,   

    “Paul is Undead” by Alan Goldsher 

    “Paul is Undead”
    by Alan Goldsher
    read by Simon Vance
    published by Blackstone Audio (2010)
    Approx 8 hours

    As the kids say, “OMG,” I am still giggling thinking about this book and I finished it 2 days ago.  “Paul is Undead” has got to be one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.  This book is written in the format of the many biographies of rock stars in that it is a series of interviews that tell the story.  This time though the story is not the story we all know as the rise of The Beatles to the “Toppermost of the Poppermost,” a phrase used by John Lennon throughout the book and the definition is not fully understood until the very end.

    In the tradition of all the horror mashups that have been released recently, (e. g. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and “Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters,” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) Alan Goldsher gives it a go, mashing up the supernatural and the Beatles.  The entire history of The Beatles is retold with The Beatles now being Zombies and wanting to take over the world.   Okay, really only 3 of the Beatles are zombies, Ringo is a 7th level Ninja, of course.

    When you rush out to get this book, I would HIGHLY recommend getting the audiobook version.  Simon Vance does a superb job of not just reading the book but performing it as well.  Vance does his best impression of all celebrities mentioned in the book including the Fab 4, but with more, he does the voice of the Chicago reporter who is writing the book, Mick Jagger, Ed Sullivan, Elvis, Rod Argent, Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Satan and more.  At times I felt as though I were listening to an audio biography produced by Ken Burns (but without the long drawn out scenes.)  Vance had me laughing out loud with my headphones on with his presentation of this already hilarious book.

    The book opens with Howard Cosell breaking in and announcing the attempted beheading of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman.  Lennon’s head is reattached and Chapman is arrested.  From there we go back to the birth of John Lennon when as he came out of the womb he was zombified via the “Liverpool Process.”  The “Liverpool Process” of creating zombies is different from many other zombie creations known around the world.  The “Liverpool Process” produces a super human zombie that can think, has supernatural powers, great speed, can hypnotize anyone, and can tear off and reattach any limb and more.  Oh they still hunger for the gray matter but they can also eat , drink and experiment with drugs, the brain eating is saved for special occasions.

    John then recruits/turns Paul and the duo are unstoppable, George Harrison is turned by Paul because John thinks he is too young.  Stu Sutcliffe doesn’t get turned to a zombie instead after quitting the Beatles he becomes a vampire.  After the three play a few gigs they realize they need to replace Pete Best because they need a drummer who can protect the band.  Enter Ringo Starr, a 7th level ninja, who can turn himself invisible (great subtle joke there).

    Sure they have their problems, after all the world doesn’t quite know what to do with zombies, but they make great music.  Even worse, world renowned zombie hunter, Mick Jagger, is always trying to destroy them.  Rod Argent is accused of riding the Beatles’ coattails by naming his band The Zombies, even though they aren’t undead.  Roy Orbison is a deity of unknown proportion who doesn’t allow Paul to steal his glasses.   Smoking marijuana creates zombie flatulence which creates a purple haze of a more potent material that takes Bob Dylan by surprise.  The Mahareshi Yogi gets dismembered, and finally Yoko Ono a 9th level ninja, has it out for Ringo.

    All the stories are there, from their first Ed Sullivan appearance, the Shea Stadium troubles, and the band playing a concert on the rooftop of Abbey Road Studios, but with the hilarious zombie twist.  For any Beatles fan this book is a must, it will have you laughing throughout.
    Lots of gory laughs to be had.

     
  • gilwilson 8:55 PM on April 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , magic, , ,   

    “The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle” Graphic Novel by Jim Butcher 

    “The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle”
    Graphic Novel
    by Jim Butcher
    Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
    Published by Del Rey (2008)

    Jim Butcher confesses in the preface to this collected edition, that when he writes a Harry Dresden story he pictures the action in comic book form and I found it interesting that as I read each new novel my mind immediately interprets into a comic book /animation format.  Jim says it’s because he collected Marvel comics for a large part of his life, maybe that’s my reason also.  I find it amazing that he and I shared the same passion, if only I had turned that passion into great writing like he did.

    Anyway, these stories were originally published in comic book form in four issues.  This edition collects those comics into one graphic novel and includes a section with extra artwork representing the covers and character development sketches.  Reading this story in comic book form allows the reader to enjoy the action with some great artwork.

    This story is a prequel to the Dresden files taking place just before the first book , “Storm Front.”  A side note here “Storm Front” has since been adapted to graphic novel form.

    After a security guard at the Lincoln Park Zoo is found dead at the zoo, the police immediately think that a gorilla named Moe is to blame.  Special Investigations Lt. Karrin Murphy, doesn’t think it fits that the gorilla escaped, killed the guard and locked himself back in the cage.  So she calls in the only guy capable of handling the world of the weird, Chicago’s own wizard, Harry Dresden.  Harry has to find what actually happened and present it to Murphy so the officials can somewhat swallow the story.  Harry is soon attacked by  several jungle cats, a black dog and a hag.   With some help from Bob the skull, Harry finds out what is killing but now he has to figure out how to stop them or more than just the zoo will be in trouble.

    With excellent Jim Butcher storytelling and beautiful artwork “Welcome to the Jungle” is a great introduction to the Dresden files series.

     
  • gilwilson 10:24 PM on January 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , centaurs, , , , , , , , magic, ,   

    “Immortalis – Part 3 of 3” Book 7(of 7) of “The Demon Wars Saga” by R.A. Salvatore 

    “Immortalis – Part 3 of 3”
    Book 7(of 7) of “The Demon Wars Saga”
    by R.A. Salvatore
    Multicast Performance
    Produced by GraphicAudio
    Approx 6 hours.

    It is a bittersweet thing to come to an end of any good saga; When I finished the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien I was happy to come to an ending of an adventure but saddened that I was no longer hanging out with my hobbit friends.  When Jim Butcher finished his “Codex Alera” series It was cool to see how it all ended but again, sad that I was no longer hanging out with the fury masters.  The same goes for “The Demon Wars Saga,” by R.A. Salvatore.  Through seven books in the series, the adventures in the land of Corona, between the countries of Honce-the-Bear and Behren and all the surrounding areas, The Demon Dactyl, Bestesbulzibar, awoke, tainted the land of the elves, was destroyed, possessed the leader of the Abellican church, was defeated, and then possessed the body of a baby that became king.  It took 7 books to get through the adventure but was it ever worth it.

    I was introduced to this adventure through the excellent production of audiobooks from GraphicAudio.  GraphicAudio’s slogan is “A Movie in Your Mind” and do they ever deliver.  Every audiobook I’ve heard from GraphicAudio is phenomenal with excellent voice acting, super realistic sound effects and incidental music that moves you through the story while reflecting the emotion or action of the moment.

    The cast of actors not only bring the story to life through their craft of acting, but when an interesting accent is needed they deliver.  For example, what accent would you use for an Alpinadoran mountain man?  an elf from the Touel’alfar or  Doc’alfar? an Abellican Monk were-tiger?  There’s not really any manual for this but the cast in GraphicAudio’s production of this series may have created one.

    The special effects also push this story along with superb fluency.  The effects are just as difficult to create here, after all what is the sound of an elven arrow piercing the eye of a giant? what does a centaur sound like while running.  None of the effects were stock, or at least were produced to be original to the story.  Once again the movie in your mind is a reality through all these production elements.  When it comes to audiobooks GraphicAudio will put you in the story and you’ll never want to leave.

    One final aspect of the GraphicAudio production of this saga, is that they split up the seven books  to where they averaged three 6 hour parts per book.  This made the saga easier to digest in smaller lumps, although I’m looking at purchasing the entire series as a boxed set package for a gift for a friend

    Here’s how the final book plays out:

    Self-proclaimed King of Honce-the-Bear, Adryan, son of Elbryan the Ranger and Jilseponie the warrior/ranger/former Queen, has been sweeping the land conquering those that oppose his rule.  Adryan’s expertise at the magick of the gemstones of the Abellican church also puts him on to the path to destroying the church and placing the evil Marcalo De’Unnaro as leader of the church.  De’Unnaro is the one responsible for killing Adryan’s father.

    To the South of Honce-the-Bear, in the land of Behren, another Ranger has just won freedom for her people, the To’gai from years of slavery by the Behrenese.  The Behrenese church was destroyed in the process.  Adryan decides to use that turmoil to conquer Behren.  When his plans include conquering To’Gai, the ranger Brin Dahryelle, decides to join the battle defeating Adryan.

    So now the peoples up against Adryan include, his mother, another expert of the gemstone magicks, Brin and her Dragon, Agradeleus, the elves of the Touel’alfar and Doc’alfar, the mountain men of Alpinador and their ranger, and Prince Midalis, the rightful heir to the throne of Honce-the-Bear and his army.

    The battles all lead to the Abellican Church at the center of it all St. Mere Abell.  The battle ensues and Adryan ressurects his father to join with him against his mother.  The dragon, Agradeleus, recognizes the Demon Dactyl possessing Adryan’s body and alerts the others.  This could either mean the way to defeat Adryan or the hopelesness of the battle.  How the warriors look at it will change the outcome.

    The final battle and the epilogue to the story bring about a great close to the series with a bit of an opening in which R.A. Salvatore could write some more stories with some of the main characters.  A great adventure comes to a close but in a way that leaves the reader/listener wanting more yet happy if that is the end.

     
  • gilwilson 1:49 AM on February 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , magic, , saphira   

    “Eldest” Inheritance, Book Two by Christopher Paolini 

    “Eldest”
    Inheritance, Book Two
    by Christopher Paolini
    Published 2005 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

    Christopher Paolini continues to amaze me.  After reading “Eragon,” the first book in what is book one of the Inheritance series (three books have been written and it is rumored there is a fourth book on the way.), I was totally sucked in to the fantasy world where dragons, elves, dwarves and magicians exist and an evil king has tried to destroy all Dragon Riders.  Now with book two I just couldn’t hardly put the book down.  When finishing the first book I looked up information on the author and found out the book was written when he was only 15 years old. An amazing feat in and of itself, but to be able to create this fantasy world with many depths that’s a serious job for any author,no matter what the age.  This second book was published when the author was in his early 20s so now that he’s got his style and his world created the books can only get better, as this one does.

    In book one, “Eragon,” the reader was taken on a quest in which Eragon and his Dragon, Saphira, learned of the reason behind their bonding and the development of their skills as Eragon sought revenge on the Ra’zac for the killing of his uncle.  He eventually was taken to the Varden, both to save Arya (the elf that sent the dragon’s egg to Eragon,  and to escape King Galbatorix’s wrath. Along the way Eragon learns his travelling companion, Brom, is a former rider.  They also are rescued at one point by Murtagh who joins them on their trip to the Varden, although he says he cannot complet they journey to Farthen Dûr, the home of the Varden. When they arrive in Farthen Dûr, Eragon is led to the leader of the Varden, Ajihad. Ajihad imprisons Murtagh after finding out that he is the son of Morzan, Galbatorix’s right hand man.

    “Eldest”  begins three days after the events of the preceding novel, “Eragon,” in the dwarf city of Tronjheim, inside of a hollowed mountain of Farthen Dûr. Farthen Dûr is in the southeastern part of Alagaësia, the continent in Paolini’s world where all this action takes place.  Eragon must complete his mission and be trained as a dragon rider, to do so he must journey to Ellesméra, the elven capital city located in the forest Du Weldenvarden, on the northern portion of Alagaësia. Before he leaves,Eragon must attend the funeral for the fallen leader of the Varden,  Ajihad. Ajihad is ambushed and killed, with Murtagh while Ajihad’s other guards are assumed dead. At his funeral, Ajihad’s daughter Nasuada is elected to command the Varden. Eragon travels to Ellesméra where he meets Oromis and his dragon Glaedr, the only dragon and Rider secretly alive besides the Eragon and Saphira and Galbatorix. Oromis and Glaedr, however, are both crippled, and so cannot fight Galbatorix and must hide instead to avoid Galbatorix hunting them down. Eragon and Saphira are taught the use of logic, magic theory, scholarship, and combat, among other things.

    Back in Farthen Dûr, Nasuada chooses to move the Varden from Tronjheim to Surda, to mount an attack on the Empire. The Varden suffers financial troubles, so Nasuada decides to fund the Varden and the war with Lace.  The lace is magically produced and they can sell it cheap. One night when Nasuada is in her room, Elva saves her from an assassination attempt. Elva is the child which Eragon and Saphira blessed, the problem is that this was before Eragon was adept at the ancient language used in magic and accidentally curses her to BE a shield rather than TO BE shielded. Elva locates the assailant, who is killed after unwillingly surrendering information to Varden magicians about a subversive group based in Surda called the Black Hand, who is plotting to kill Nasuada. Nasuada later attends a meeting with key figures in Surda’s government to discuss a potential upcoming battle against the Empire. They learn that the conflict is coming sooner than they initially suspected, and mobilize forces to attack, as well as sending for help from the dwarves.

    Eragon continues his training, but is discouraged when the scar on his back, caused by the Shade he killed, causes him to have seizures. At the ancient elven ceremony, the Agaetí Blödhren, Eragon is altered by a spectral dragon. The changes alter his senses, and enhance his abilities, as well as healing all of his wounds. Reinvigorated, Eragon continues training until he learns that the Empire will soon attack the Varden in Surda. He leaves without completing his training, to aid the Varden in battle, much like Luke Skywalker left Yoda before his training was finished.  I just found this a very neat similarity.

    Meanwhile, Roran, Eragon’s cousin, is hunted by the Ra’zac in Carvahall. He eventually persuades the entire village to attack the Ra’zac in the night, and succeeds in driving them off. After more conflicts with the village, the Ra’zac manage to kidnap Katrina, Roran’s fiancée. Roran then stirs the village to mobilize, departing on a journey to join the Varden in Surda. He leads them to Narda, and then by sea to Teirm. In Teirm, they meet Jeod, who helps them pirate a new vessel from Teirm. Pursued by sloops from the Empire, the vessel manages to escape through a whirlpool, and eventually makes it to Surda, arriving just as the Battle of the Burning Plains is about to begin between Surda and its allies, and the Empire.

    When conflict begins, Eragon is able to repel the opposing army using magic. Eventually, a Dragon Rider appears in favor of the Empire. The hostile Dragon Rider kills the dwarf king Hrothgar, and soon begins to fight with Eragon. The Dragon Rider is soon unmasked by Eragon and is revealed to be Murtagh. Murtagh tells Eragon that he was kidnapped and forced into loyalty by Galbatorix after a dragon hatched for him. Murtagh outmatches Eragon, but shows mercy due to their old friendship. Before leaving, Murtagh reveals that Eragon is his brother, and takes Eragon’s sword as well. Ultimately, Galbatorix’s army is forced to retreat after the arrival of the dwarves and the departure of Murtagh and Thorn. In the end, Eragon and Roran decide that they will seek out Katrina together.

    Lots of adventure, lots of excitement all very well portrayed and with some magical storytelling that will suck you into this alternate world.

     
    • theothergardener 2:01 AM on February 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      “Eragon” still sits on my “waiting to be read” pile. The movie impressed me, although fans seemed upset with it. I liked the simplicity, the clean lines, so to speak, of the story.
      TOG

      Like

    • Spring 3:50 AM on February 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      The Eragon books are amazing. In Brisingr Eragon gets his own sword and names it [Brisingr] and Brisingr catches fire every time he says it although he didn’t cast magic.

      Like

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