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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review: His Prairie Sweetheart

His Prairie Sweetheart His Prairie Sweetheart by Erica Vetsch
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

A very lovely story that had me hooked. As a Love Inspired Historical it's an Inspirational Historical Romance. But other than saying they were praying now and then, or attending church, it wasn't overtly religious and was quietly in the background.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: To Love and Protect: Shadow Chasing\For All My Tomorrows

To Love and Protect: Shadow Chasing\For All My Tomorrows To Love and Protect: Shadow Chasing\For All My Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read "Shadow Chasing", the first of the two novella's. It was good. A bit of an odd start, but it went okay. Found the heroine a bit too flaky with her fears. (Downgraded star rating due to this.) Second story didn't sound interesting enough so for now, I'm skipping it.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Review: The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Populist Parable: When I opened my old used copy of this book, an aged newspaper clipping fell out of the back of it. As best as I can tell its from an old Sarpy County (Omaha World Herald?) Nebraska newspaper, and it was written by Peter Dreier. Here's what he said:

Whether they are fans of Judy Garland and "Over the Rainbow" or prefer the current $20million black film with Diana Ross and "No Bad News," almost all Americans know the characters from "The Wizard of Oz." But few are aware that the story was originally written as a political allegory.
It may seem harder to believe than the Emerald City, but the Tin Woodsman is the industrial worker, the Scarecrow the struggling farmer, and the Wizard is the president, who is powerful only as long as he succeeds in deceiving the people.
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was written by L. Frank Baum in 1900, during the collapse of the Populist movement. Through the Populist Party, Midwestern farmers, in alliance with some urban workers, had challenged the banks, railroads and other economic interests that squeezed interests that squeezed farmers through low prices, high freight rates and continued indebtedness.
In the 1894 congressional elections, the Populist Party got almost 40 percent of the vote. It looked forward to winning the presidency, and the silver standard, in 1896.
But in that election, which revolved around the issue of gold vs. silver, Populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan lost to Republican William McKinley by 95 electoral votes. Bryan, a congressman from Nebraska and a gifted orator, ran again in 1900, but the Populist strength was gone.
Baun viewed these events in both rural South Dakota, where he edited a local weekly, and urban Chicago, where he wrote Oz. He mourned the destruction of the fragile alliance between the Midwestern Farmers (the Scarecrow) and the urban industrial workers (the Tin Man).
Along with Bryan (the Cowardly Lion with a roar but little else), they had been taken down the Yellow Brick Road (the gold standard) that led nowhere. Each journeyed to Emerald City seeking favors from the Wizard of Oz (the president). Dorothy, the symbol of Everyman, went along with them, innocent enough to see the truth before the others.
Along the way they meet the Wicked Witch of teh West who, Baum tells us, had kept the little Munchkin people "in bondage for years, making them slave for her night and day."
She had also put a spell on the Tin Woodsman, once an independent and hard working man, so that each time he swung his ax, it chopped off a different part of his body. Lacking another trade, he "worked harder than ever," becoming like a machine, incapable of love, yearning for a heart.
The Wicked Witch clearly symbolizes the large industrial corporations.
Like Coxey's Army marching on Washington, the small group heads toward Emerald City, where the Wizard rules from behind a papier-mache facade. Ox, by the way, is the abbreviation for ounce, the standard mesaure for gold.
Like all good politicians, the Wizard can be all things to all people. Dorothy sees him as an enormous head. The Scarecrow sees a gossamer fairy. The Woodsman sees an awful beast, the Cowardly Lion "a ball of fire, so fierce and glowing he could scarcely bear to gaze upon it."
Later, however, when they confront the Wizard directly, they see he is nothing more than "a little man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face."
"I have been making believe," the Wizard confesses. "I'm just a common man." But the Scarecrow adds, "You're more than're a humbug."
"It was a great mistake my ever letting you into the Throne Room," admits the Wizard, a former ventriloquist and circus ballonist from Omaha.
This was Baum's ultimate Populist message. The powers that be survive by deception. Only people's ignorance allows the powerful to manipulate and control them.
Dorothy returns to Kansas with the magical help of her Silver Shoes (the silver issue), but when she gets to Kansas she realizes her shoes "had fallen off in her flight through the air, and were lost forever in the desert." Still, she is safe at home with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, simple farmers.
Baum realized perhaps that the silver issue had been lost, but that silver was not the crucial issue anyway. The Populists had been led astray; the real question was that of power.
With the Wizard of Oz dethroned, the Scarecrow (farmers) rules Emerald City, the Tin Woodsman (industrial workers) rules in the West, and the Lion (Bryan) protects smaller beasts in "a small old forest." In Baum's vision, farm interests gain political power, industry moves west, and Bryan, perhaps, returns to Congress.
Baum's characters resonated with American popular culture at the turn of the century. He even displayed an early sympathy for native Americans of the plains, symbolized in the story by the Winged Monkeys in the West, whose leader tells Dorothy, "Once... we were a free people, living happily in the great forest...This was many years ago, long before Oz came out of the clouds to rule over this land."
The story remains intact in both film versions, but the message has disappeared. Ironically, the first film was made in 1939, during the Depression, when business was once again challenged by farmers, industrial workers and progressive politicians.
In 1977, ALjean Hermetz detailed the history of the 1939 film in a book, "The Making of the 'Wizard of Oz'." He credited Baum but did not mention the story was a political parable. The first full explanation of the book as a parable appeared in an essay by Henry M. Littlefield in the 1964 American Quarterly.

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Review: Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse

Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I put off reading this because it was edited but not written by Charlaine Harris. After re-reading the entire Sookie Stackhouse series, again, and watching the series slowly go downhill after the Fairy war... (I personally believe the book series seriously suffered after the True Blood tv series came out), I finally realized that the different authors certainly couldn't do any worse that Ms Harris had already done. Not a good thing. Eric's story was last and was seriously disappointing. Some were just odd. Surprisingly, I liked quite a few, mostly about obscure characters.

In the end, I don't recommend this, but I wouldn't warn you away either. As long as you are aware Ms Harris didn't have anything to do with this, read at your own risk. (By this point, many of Ms Harris's last novels were worthless, like After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse.) If nothing else, this was entertaining, both good and bad.

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Review: The Sookie Stackhouse Companion

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unfortunately, I can already tell I'm gonna hate this book and I've just opened it up. For starters, this is SUPPOSE to be the companion to the books, but she includes a section about True Blood, an interview with Alan Ball. Then I looked at the map of Bon Temps. I don't care if Charlaine Harris drew it herself, as is alleged, because it's WRONG!!!! If you read the books, you get a feel for certain things. The fact that Sookie lives out at the end of a long dead-end drive, that ends at the cemetery, and Bill lives across the street from her. Her road isn't a dead end on the map! And the mall with Tara Togs is at the end of her road, closer than Merlotte's? It shouldn't be. If it's this disappointing and I just opened it up, I'm almost afraid to finish the bloody book! It starts with the novella "Small-Town Wedding" where Sookie is to accompany Sam to his brother's wedding in Texas. However, it's suppose to be a story starring Quinn, so it isn't looking good so far. I think I wasted alot of $ on a crappy book and my year long anticipation for it went down the sewer. Ms. Harris's books have gone down the drain ever since the TV show was created. Either it went to her head or she's burned out and should have quit writing it long before now. For a series I've dearly loved to go to the toilet is severely upsetting. It's like watching a traffic accident, it's disturbing but you want to know how it ends.

To make this even more annoying... it may be the most recently released book, but the novella falls before the last full novel published. So it's out-of-order in the chronology. That would be due the fact that they kept pushing back the release date of this book, which was suppose to come out in Feb, before the last novel came out in May. However, when reading it, it's so obviously before the last novel, it ruins it a bit. If this book gets any more annoying, I'm tempted to toss the bloody thing across the room!!! ***gggrrr****

The novella wasn't bad, but it's odd that none of what happened was mentioned in the last novel, that takes place after it.

By the way, another thing I found seriously annoying about this Sookie Companion book is that other than the novella, the map, and a short few pages here or there, Charlaine Harris is only credited as editing this book. In other words, the good majority of it, (almost everything other than the novella) was NOT WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR!!!! I didn't buy a book to ask my trivia questions from fans, or even recipes fans sent in. I bought the book to learn more behind the scenes from the author, tidbits that didn't make it into the books to flesh out some characters backgrounds and personalities more. I don't care if the author did edit the book, I'm not gonna take the word of anyone but the author when it comes to the characters. I can get all the gossip I want off discussion boards or here at Goodreads. This was suppose to be more information about the series, by the author of the series AND IT'S NOT! This author is really pissing me off! I love how the series started which is why I passionately fell for it, but it's ticking me off so much watching it go downhill. The more this author is putting out, the more it stinks and taints what came before it. She needs to put an end to it quickly before we really start to hate her. (Supposedly 2 more books are planned for the series.) I'm almost afraid to keep reading this companion... :(

Okay, finished as much as I'm gonna read, so let me tell you exactly what it includes. Opening page lists is as "The Sookie Stackhouse Companion" Edited by Charlaine Harris.

Table of contents:

Preface: The World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris Page ix
Bon Temps and It's Environs Page xii

"Small-Town Wedding" by Charlaine Harris Page 1
Life in Bon Temps by Victoria Koski Page 81
The Sookie Short Stories and Related Material by Charlaine Harris Page 211
Vampires, Two-Natured, and Fairie, Oh My!: Sookie Discusses the Creatures She's Met by Charlaine Harris Page 217
Sookie's Family Tree Page 226
Sookie Stackhouse Trivia: How Much of a Sookie Fan Are You? by Beverly Battillo and Victoria Koski Page 227
What's Cooking in Bon Temps: A Selection of Down-Home Southern Recipes (Submitted by various people, including CH) Page 245
Inside True Blood: Alan Ball Answers Questions from the Fans Page 281
From Mystery to Mayhem: The Works of Charlaine Harris by Beverly Battillo Page 289
Recollections Around the Duckpond: The Fans of Charlaine Harris by Beverly Battillo Page 295
Charlaine Harris Answers Questions from Her Fans Page 301
A Guide to the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Victoria Koski Page 313
About the Editor Page 463

So... out of 463 pages.... Charlaine Harris only wrote 100 of them. 79 in her novella, a few pages of Sookie explaining about the creatures she's met, a few recipes CH contributed (that I didn't count), a family tree chart, a two page map (that is inaccurate!) and 12 pages of a Q&A. CH is credited as editor.

I'll break it down...

- Map of Bon Temps drawn by CH. Pointless since it's inaccurate. CH has mentioned numerous times that Sookie lives at the end of a dead-end parish lane with only a cemetery, her house and Bill's house at the end. On this map, she has her lane continue on and meet up with another road. Once I found that, and that she has to drive past Tara Tog's mall (supposedly across town) to drive between Merlotte's Bar and home, I quite looking at the map because obviously it's full or errors. The author must have no memory for what she's written.
- Small-Town Wedding. Decent novella worth reading. (Only redeeming feature of this book!)
- Life in Bon Temps. NOT written by CH. Breaks each book down but what happens on every day, and gives each a calendar date and year. Only interesting part is after each book summary are the private conversations between Eric and Bill. However, bear in mind CH DIDN'T WRITE THEM!!!!!!!!
- Sookie Short Stories and Related Material. If you've read the short stories themselves (which she summaries and explains in what order they fall) then you'll learn nothing new here.
- Sookie discusses the creatures she's met. If you've paid attention while reading the books, then this is absolutely pointless as you've read it all before. However, I guess you could use it for reference at some point. Told from Sookie's point of view by CH.
- Sookie's family tree. One page diagram of her family tree. All information came from the books, but it might be helpful for some to see it drawn out, or so they don't have to look up names of long lost fae ancestors.
- Sookie Trivia. I found this chapter completely pointless. I mean, do we really care what color the Rattray's car was?
- What's cooking in Bon Temps. As a foodie and a good cook, you'd think I'd like this chapter. However, I didn't find a single recipe I would bother copying down and cooking. CH herself submitted the most boring meatloaf recipe on the planet: ground beef, egg, Italian bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. That's it!
- Inside True Blood, interview with Alan Ball. Really? This is suppose to be a companion book to the book series, not the TV series. Totally ignored this crap.
- Works of CH. 3 or 4 pages describing her other series. This is suppose to be a companion book to the Sookie series, not about everything else she's written. Blatant promotional insert.
- Recollections around the duckpond: The fans of CH. What can I say other than I DON'T CARE!!!!!! Again, this is suppose to be a companion book about the series... I don't care what her fans are up to.
- CH answers questions from her fans. A few interesting questions and answers, but most weren't worth the effort to read them. For example, a fan asked if Sookie would ever have a HEA. CH explained HEA work for others but not for her and that she couldn't make all fans happy and all characters are good and bad and not all can be made happy. In other words, she wrote a paragraph full of bullshit and refused to directly answer the question asked of her. She did flat out say at one point, Sookie would never be a vampire, if that wasn't already a well-known quote from CH.
- Guide to the World of Sookie Stackhouse. I didn't bother reading. This is an alphabetical list of literally ever person whom Sookie has ever met or spoken with, with a description of said person, and a reference to what book(s) s/he appeared in. Good for reference I suppose, but I found the entire section (of 150 pages!) worthless. Unless you're trying to win a bet against someone and are forced to look something up... I don't see the point.

In other words... I wasted my money. The only redeeming feature of the entire companion was a novella. I'd rather have purchased an anthology and gotten other stories included as the rest of the Sookie companion is A PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!!

Gave it 2 stars instead of 1 because the novella was good.

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Review: Night Study

Night Study Night Study by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Sadly, the three books in this trilogy are like one really big book sliced into 3 pieces. You have to remember what happened in the first book (written two years ago) and where it left off, as it picks right up. And, of course, a lot is left hanging in the wind to be finalized in the final book, not out until 2017. Another year to wait. *groans*

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Review: Remembrance

Remembrance Remembrance by Meg Cabot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this very much. A very much worth waiting for continuation to the Mediator series.

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