The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis


Title:  The Horse and His Boy

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  1998

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  This edition is part of a complete collection in one book copy.   It was chronologically published fifth but is meant to be read third in the series.

He was just going to run for it when suddenly, between him and the desert, a huge animal bounded into view.  As the moon was behind it, it looked quite black, and Shasta did not know what it was, except that it had a very big, shaggy head and went on four legs.  It did not seem to have noticed Shasta, for it suddenly stopped, turned its head towards the desert and let out a roar which re-echoed through the Tombs and seemed to shake the sand under Shasta’s feet.  The cries of the other creatures suddenly stopped and he thought he could hear feet scampering away.  Then the great beast turned to examine Shasta.

“It’s a lion, I know it’s a lion,” thought Shasta.  “I’m done.  I wonder, will it hurt much?  I wish it was over.  I wonder, does anything happen to people after they’re dead?  O-o-oh!  Here it comes!”  And he shut his eyes and his teeth tight.

But instead of teeth and claws he only felt something warm lying down at his feet.  And when he opened his eyes he said, “Why, it’s not nearly as big as I thought!  It’s only half the size.  No, it isn’t even quarter the size.  I do declare it’s only the cat!!  I must have dreamed all that about it being as big as a horse.”

And whether he really had been dreaming or not, what was now lying at his feet, and staring him out of countenance with its big, green, unwinking eyes, was the cat; though certainly one of the largest cats he had ever seen.

-The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis, page 246

The Horse and His Boy, though published fifth, is meant to be read third in the series.  It is an interim book telling a story that takes place within the time of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and features the adults Kings Peter and Edmund and Queens Susan and Lucy.

The book begins, “This is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and his two sisters were King and Queens under him.”  And then opens on a poor fisherman’s hut where a cruel middle-aged bachelor and his foundling son, Shasta,  live.  When a Tarkaan (something like a lord or baron) stops at the house and offers to buy Shasta, the boy is relieved to be leaving the man he’d always thought was his father but had never loved.

However, his relief is short-lived when the Tarkaan’s horse turns out to be one of the talking Horses of Narnia who tells him that he’d be better off lying dead on the roadside than as the slave of the Tarkaan.  Bree, the Horse, tells Shasta he was kidnapped as a Foal and is really a Freeperson of Narnia.  He further tells the boy that he himself is not a Caloremenian, but is a Narnian (or Archenlander) as well.

The two devise a plan of escape, and when the men are sleeping in the house, the Horse and the boy set off for Narnia and the North.  Along the way, they meet up with another Narnian Horse, a mare named Hwin, and a young girl named Aravis, who is a Tarkeena running away from an arranged marriage to a horribly wicked and hideous old man.

As they set out to pass through the capital city, though, the four are stopped by a procession of the Narnian Royals and Shasta is snatched out of crowd by Edmund who mistakes him for the missing Archenland Prince in their company.  This turns out to be a blessing, as Shasta learns of a hidden path that greatly shortens the trek through the desert that lies between Calormen and the lands of the North.

Throughout this book, there is a force leading, guiding, and protecting the four.  Of course, anyone who’s read the previous Narnia book knows this is Aslan, who has been working behind the scenes for the past 10-15 years (Shasta’s age is never given) to ensure that Archenland and Narnia will be safe from the attack of the Calormenian Prince Rabadash.

The Horse and His Boyis also Christian allegory, this time expressing the steadfastness and ever-present nature of Christ, even when we don’t realize he’s there (as Shasta was unaware of the true identity of the cat that protected and comforted him in the Tombs), and even before we know Him or follow Him (as neither Shasta nor Aravis new of Aslan, and in fact served other gods).  You cannot help but love Aslan as he reveals himself, and how he has been watching after them throughout their lives.  It’s very comforting to know He is always with us and caring for us, even when we’re stubbornly going our own way and resisting His hand.

Though I can’t say I liked The Horse and His Boy more that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I definitely liked it more than The Magician’s Nephew (though I still love the Creation of Narnia), and thoroughly loved and enjoyed it.  I absolutely give this book 5 out of 5 stars :-D

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TSS -Mad Dash for the Finish Line!

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday! and Merry (almost) Christmas :-)

I have been a readin’ fool this week; I’m trying to reach my goal of 75 books by December 31st. I’ve really made progress this past week, but I’ve also been busy on Second Life, as well. I could probablyget more read if I stayed off SL, but I need balance between the two loves. At any rate, the following books were read and reviewed on Mt. TBR this week:

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil GaimanI am blown away by Gaiman’s ability to weave magic throughout his writing. A master at creating art, the pages of a book are his canvas and words his medium. I will definitely be reading more Gaiman in the new year!

Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon A very cute and touching graphic novel that tells a story of Dog and Robot without words. Great for a family of all ages to share, Robot Dreams shows the fragile and organic nature of friendships and relationships.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Unionby Michael Chabon  In this murder mystery, Chabon uses an alternate timeline to mix Jewish culture with the Arctic setting of Sitka, Alaska. Landsman is a maverick detective with personality failings and quirks, i.e. an alcoholic afraid of the dark. Yiddish Policemen’s is a story of the love children have for their fathers, and how age never dims their desire for their fathers’ acceptance and love.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis  Last of the Narnias to be written, Lewis intended The Magician’s Nephew to be read first. It gives the background of the events to take place in the most widely known Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, I think I enjoyed reading it better having read the latter first.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis  The most widely known and read of all the Narnia tales, this book is one of my all-time favorites. This is the fourth time I’ve read it, not to mention having watched both the BBC TV production and the Disney movie version several times. Written as a Christian allegory of the work of Salvation, this story is still enjoyable without that as a reader’s focus.

Besides reading these books, I’ve also launched a second BookBucks Giveaway. After receiving a disconcerting email from Joshua Henkin about the potential narrowing of new book selection due to the decline in publishing profits, I wondered what I could do to bring this concern to more people. And what brings more people in than free money? Don’t forget to sign up for your chance to win a $25, $15, $10, and $5 gift card to your choice of Borders, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles!

In the coming week my plans for reading are: The remaining five Narnia books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, Brisingr(the third book in The Inheritance cycle) by Christopher Paolini, The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak, and Visions of Sugar Plums(Stephanie Plum Christmas novel) by Janet Evanovich. I also plan on finishing the books I’ve started but not completed this year: A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeline l’Engle, Bed, Bath and Beyond by J. D. Warren, and How to Be a Villianby Neil Zawacki. Okay, even without the kids here, this may be an ambitious list… lol.

As to Second Life, my vampire clan has split again and this time I’ve gone with the new family. Chosen Immortal is everything Treasured Vamps was suppose to be but has lost their way and become more about numbers, titles and politics. I’ve also moved from my old apartment to a floor in a friend’s castle. I’ve gained more space at about a tenth of the cost. I’m also going to be selling pictures and other things at a friend’s store, C&C’s Designs.

AND… due to an accidental purchase of a pregnancy pack, my avatar is now expecting. A $1500L mistake, I figured I’d just go ahead and use it… hate to spend the money and then throw it away. Currently, the little one’s name is “Mommy’s li’l Oops!”. It’s a boy (I have three girls in real life, by golly I’m having a boy this time ;-) ), and I’m not sure what to name him. Since BF is a werewolf, I had a half a thought to name him “Wolf”… lol… last name “Blitzstein”… That’s funny, because, unthinking, I made a comment the name “Wolf” worked well for the newsman Wolf Blitzer. Hahaha!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Title: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Author: C. S. Lewis

Paperback: 767 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publish Date: 1998

ISBN: 0066238501

Miscellaneous: This copy is included in a complete collection of The Chronicles of Narnia.

“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.

“Well,” said Aslan. “His offence was not against you.”

“Have you forgotten the Deep Magic?” asked the Witch.

“Let us say I have forgotten it,” answered Aslan gravely. “Tell us of this Deep Magic.”

“Tell you?” said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. “Tell you what is written on the very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the fire-stones on the Secret Hill? Tell you what is engraved on the sceptre of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill… And so,” continued the Witch, “that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property.”

“Come and take it then,” said the Bull with the man’s head, in a great bellowing voice.

“Fool,” said the Witch with a savage smile that was almost a snarl, “do you really think your master can rob me of my rights by mere force? He knows the Deep Magic better than that. He knows that unless I have blood as the Law says, all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.”

“It is very true,” said Aslan. “I do not deny it…. Fall back, all of you… and I will talk to the Witch alone….”

At last they heard Aslan’s voice. “You can all come back,” he said. “I have settled the matter. She has renounced the claim on your brother’s blood…”

The Witch was just turning away with a look of fierce joy on her face when she stopped and said, “But how do I know this promise will be kept?”

“Haa-a-arrh!” roared Aslan, half rising from his throne; and his great mouth opened wider and wider and the roar grew louder and louder, and the Witch, after staring for a moment with her lips wide apart, picked up her skirts and fairly ran for her life.

-The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, pages 175-176

 

At the very heart of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe lies the message of redemption of the guilty by the substitution of an innocent and willing sacrifice. In all honesty, it is impossible for me to read this book without seeing the parallels to Christianity. As much as I tried to stay away from it in The Magician’s Nephew, I find I am unable to see this book in any other light.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is by far my favorite Narnia book. This has been my fourth time reading it, as well as watching the BBC production and the Disney version of it (also, multiple times each). It was read to me by my mother when I was still in elementary, I’ve read it to my children, and I’ve read it for my own pleasure, and each time the Salvation story: The redemption of the lost and those who have chosen to follow evil, even as they know in their hearts that it IS evil they follow, by Jesus’ offering Himself as payment for the sin of all mankind.

The story itself is a beautiful and emotionally touching story of forgiveness and redemption and the power of love to overcome evil. As Susan and Lucy watch Aslan lay down his life to satisfy the Witch’s claim for Edmund’s blood, their hearts break as they witness his utter humiliation; his main is shorn off and he is trussed up in ropes and muzzled. Even as the battle rages on not far from them, they are compelled to sit with the lifeless body of the mighty lion, the Creator and Protector of Narnia, the true King.

It is the Deeper Magic that goes back before the Witch’s knowledge, “when a willing victim who had committed no trachery was killed in a traitor’s stead,” that breaks the claim of the Law and “Death itself would start working backwards.” The one concept the Witch could never comprehend is that a person without blame would take the place of the guilty, without machinations, but purely out of LOVE.

Obviously, I love this book… I wouldn’t have read it so many times if I didn’t ;-) . As it was the first of the Narnias written, it can stand alone, and is often the only Narnia book people have read. I could read this book once a month… possibly even once a week… and always get something new out of it. For all these reasons, and more, I give The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis 5 out of 5 stars. Even if you’re not a Christian, this book is beyond worth reading. You will be a better person for it :-D .

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Friday Fill-In –

1. Said the night wind to the little lamb, “How far to the nearest 7-Eleven?”
2. The first Noel, the angel did say, was a sweet, little pastel calico that my middle daughter still misses terribly (we found the kitty at our town’s Christmas parade and named her “Noel”).
3. Pigeons fly and poo, Over the hills and everywhere.
4. It came upon the midnight clear, from the murky depths to challenge Santa’s hold as Lord of the Chimney and Master of the Sleigh.
5. A six inch incision and rib spread will, Let your heart be light.
6. And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing on the tv shows “In the Heat of the Night” and “All in the Family” (the actor’s name is Carol O’Connor).
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing and reviewing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, tomorrow my plans include finishing and reviewing as many of the rest of the Narnia books as possible and Sunday, I want to have all the Narnias done, my Sunday Salon posted, and start in on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Title: The Magician’s Nephew

Author: C. S. Lewis

Paperback: 767 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publish Date: 1998

ISBN: 0066238501

Miscellaneous: The Magician’s Nephew was first published by The Bodley Head in 1955. The copy I’ve read is in a complete collection.

They put on their green rings and came back to the pool. But before they tried another jump Digory gave a long “O-o-oh!”

“What’s the matter?” said Polly.

“I’ve just had a really wonderful idea,” said Digory. “What are all the other pools?”

“How do you mean?”

“Why, if we can get back to our own world by jumping into this pool, mightn’t we get somewhere else by jumping into one of the others? Supposing there was a world at the bottom of every pool.”

-The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, page 28

While The Magician’s Nephew was chronologically the last Narnia book written by Lewis, it is a prequel to the series and is meant to be read first. It sets up and gives the reader the history behind actual first, and best known of the series, book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

In The Magician’s Nephew, we learn where Jadis, also known as The White Witch, came from and what happened to her world. Jadis herself had been responsible for the death of her home world, Charn, and when Digory’s curiosity (we all know what that did to the cat) gets the better of him, how she was awoke.

Now, of course there are parallels in all Narnia books to Christianity, Lewis had intended the books to be both entertaining and an inspiration to Christians (as well as an invitation to non-believers). I could pick several out and write in here what they meant to me as a Christian. However, that would make this a theological blog post instead of a book review, so I will abstain (as much as a person with a B.A. in Christian Ministry CAN abstain) from focusing on the allegories and, instead, focus on the merits of the book itself.

As a book, I really enjoyed The Magician’s Nephew, particularly since I have had previous experience with Narnia books. My mother assures me I have read them all, however I only remember reading the first three (not counting this book as the first) and part of The Horse and His Boy. There were several times when I went, “Oh! the professor!” or “Aslan….” and “ugh! The White Witch”, and the ending of The Magician’s Nephew tells where the wardrobe came from, and why it was magical and able to take the children to Narnia.

On its own, I don’t think The Magician’s Nephew could fully be appreciated as a book, it takes the next book to really understand what this book is pointing to and, in that, I don’t know if it really should be the first book to read. However, it is a very worthwhile book to read.

There is the concepts of good and evil, all children seek these poles in their own worlds, and how our own misdeeds, even when they’re not intended, can bring pain and misery on those we may never even know. Later, much later, generations of Narnians will come to suffer for Digory’s one moment of impulsive actions, even as Polly is begging him not to do it. Also, Lewis makes the point of who and where we are in life affects the way we may perceive the good things in our life: an evil, selfish person sees the people around him/her for their usefulness and not as companions and comrades, whereas a good and open person sees the possibilities and wonder around him/her.

As a story, it can be appreciated by all ages, and has action, suspense, love, and comedy… all things that go into a great story. But, I can’t really say it can be fully understood without the others, so I am giving The Magician’s Nephew 4 out of 5 stars. (okay, the creation story in it still pulls at my Christian heart… come on now, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to experience the creation of the world firsthand?)

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Viral Video Wednesday – It’s Spoof-a-licious!

Okay, so last week’s VVW seemed to be terribly depressing and invoked pity, so I thought I’d spoof it up this week. Who needs to be depressed this close to Christmas? Isn’t it hard enough already?

So I went a-huntin’ for some spoofs and parodies of popular movies…

First off, in honor of my finishing the Twilight series, I found a funny… stupid, yes… corny and goofy, definately… spoof using scenes from Twilight. As it is a parody, it has it’s own story line… include WHAT exactly the Cullens eat and why James was really after Bella. Hair ya go!

Now, if you’ve seen the movie “Bolt,” I’m sure you picked up on the fact that the Pigeons were reminiscent of television gangsters… particularly Goodfellas. The following parody brings the two movies EVEN closer.

One of my all-time favorite movies as a teenager, and one of the defining movies of the 80s, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was an inspiration and an example to all slackers and ditchers everywhere. And now it’s been taken and folded into the 21st century concious. The following is a spoofed trailer for Dawn of the Bueller.

Star Wars meets organic foods in: The Grocery Store Wars!

We’ve just watched the newest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight,” my favorite parts were the Joker parts. The following is a mash-up of The Night Before Christmas and Batman… unfortunately, no Joker parts…

And I think that video is a perfect one to end on. Merry Christmas!

So, what’s your favorite spoofs and parodies? Post them in your comment, or… EVEN BETTER… blog yours and link back in the comments :-D

and don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a $25, $15. $10, and $5 gift card to your choice of Borders, Amazon, or Barnes & Nobles. Click the link in the “Wanna Be a Winner?” widget in the sidebar for details!

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Title:  The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

Author:  Michael Chabon

Soft Cover:  411 pages

Publisher:  Harper Perennial

Publish Date:  2007

ISBN:  9780007149834

Miscellaneous:  This is a P.S. edition

Nine months Landsman’s been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered.  Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.

-The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, page 1.

This first paragraph of Michael Chabon’s book about Jews living in the Federal District of Sitka as an interim homeland after Israel failed after three months of Statehood in the alternate timeline of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  Now, as the Sitka District is two months from reverting back to the control of the state of Alaska, homicide detective Meyer Landsman, occupant of room 505 of the Zamenhof, a hotel that’s only half a step up from a flea bag flop house, is called on by the night manager to investigate the murder of a man in room 208.  It is apparent from the start that the man is not who he claims to be, and the only clues Landsman has is the bullet hole in the man’s head, a chessboard in mid game, a book of 300 chess moves and the evidence of heroin abuse.

Throughout the book, the reader is able to see and feel the inside world of a Jewish community.  With it’s humor and sprinkling of Yiddish words and phrases, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union begins as a murder mystery but spreads to include the prejudices not only from the outside world, but those within the sects and families within the Jews of the Sitka District and outlying areas, and the political manipulations going on from Washington, D.C. and the Sitka bosses.

As a murder mystery, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is good, but what I really loved about the book was its use of the game of chess as a metaphor and to foreshadow the events in the story.  The use of strategies and tactics to reveal the nature of the characters.  And it is the game that was forever stop mid-play in the dead man’s room that ultimately leads to the capture and confession of the killer.

Besides chess, murder, and Jewish culture, the book deals with the universal nature of a child’s desire for the approval and acceptance from his or her parents, even when that child is a burly man in his thirties and a father himself.  Homosexuality, drug use, alcoholism, and the supernatural all make appearances in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

While I did enjoy this book, I have to say I had hoped it would be more compelling.  I reached the end of the book with the sadness often felt at the departure from the world and people within the covers.  The book didn’t really impress me much, and it will probably be forgotten in six months.  I give The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon 3 out of 5 stars.  It was good but not great, interesting but not a page-turner.

 

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Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Title:  Robot Dreams

Author:  Sara Varon

Illustrator:  Sara Varnon

Softcover:  206 pages

Publisher:  :01 First Second

Publish Date:  September 2007

ISBN:  9781596431089

Richly endearing and full of surprises, Robot Dreams follows an ill-fated friendship between a dog and robot.  After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves Robot rusty and immobilized in the sand, Dog, unsure what to do, abandons him.  As the seasons pass, Dog tries to replace his friend, making and losing a series of new ones, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters.  Meanwhile, Robot passes his time daydreaming, escaping to better places …  Through interwoven journeys, the two characters long to recover from their day at the beach.

Although its adorable characters and playful charm will win over young readers, Robot Dreams speaks universally to the fragile nature of friendship, loss, and redemption.

-taken from the front flap of Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon is a fun and touching graphic novel written completely without words (except for the “buzz”es, “bump”s and “scratch”es written into the panels).

The story begins with Dog receiving a package in the mail containing the “build your own robot” kit he’d ordered. Once put together, Robot and Dog go everywhere together, watch videos together, and then the duo take a trip to the beach where Robot goes for a swim.

 excerpt from Robot Dreams by Sara Varnon, page 15 excerpt from Robot Dreams by Sara Varnon, page 16

 Unfortunately, as you may guess, sea water and moving metal parts do not mix, and Robot is rusted stiff. Dog doesn’t know what to do to help his friend, and ends up leaving Robot alone on the beach.

The two take diverging courses for the next few months: Dog, lonely and friendless, tries to fill the void left in his life by Robot’s absence, and Robot is left, immobile, on the beach to dream of other places and reuniting with Dog. However, the friends Dog finds are never quite the right fit, either melting or flying south for the winter, or sharing a meal of live ants that later makes Dog sick. Meanwhile, Robot finds the people who come across him on the beach aren’t as considerate and nice as Dog. When the weather is warm again, Dog goes to beach as soon as it opens to find Robot, but is only able to locate his leg. Robot has been removed by a junk man and sold as scrap metal to a junkyard.

While the pictures are sweet and adorable, the story it tells carries the emotions of friendships, both shared and lost, and how we grieved… and eventually recover and move on… when these connections come to an end. Sometimes they end because of a move, sometimes by death, and other times because of a disagreement. But we always live through it, and find a way to manage after the loss.

Because this book is completely without text, it’s a great story for younger readers who may struggle with reading. Also, I found it to be received with joy by Gwen, whose learning disability makes reading dificult for her. She took delight in “writing” her own story to go with the pictures.

AND, because of the nature of truth, the story is endearing and emotionally palpable for adults, as well. The book is shelved in the young adult section of my library, and I think that’s a good fit.

For its ability to convey a story without the use of words, while never losing any of the truth and emotions, I give Robot Dreams by Sara Narnon four out of five stars. The artwork is cleverly cute and would be a great book for a family of all ages to share.

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Buy Books for Christmas! (and Chanukah… Kwanza… New Year’s… Tet… Valentines… Just because…)

I recently received an email from author Josh Henkin, whose book Matrimony I will be reviewing and will be giving away in January, about the troubling future of the publishing industry. AND, with the decline of publishing, the loss of the voices of new authors and authors whose ideas may not be of the mainstream flavor. Though I very rarely do this, I want to pass along his email.

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, the book industry is in serious trouble. It was in trouble when economic times were good, and now that times are bad, things have gotten really precarious. Book sales across the industry are down as much as 40 percent, publishing houses are laying off people and cutting imprints, one big publishing house announced that it was no longer reading new manuscripts, and a major chain bookstore is on the brink of bankruptcy. Many of these problems have been a long time coming (the decline of newspapers and especially of book review sections has been a big blow, as has the closing down of many independent bookstores), but in recent months the problem has become especially acute. I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but these are alarming times. What’s at stake is the future of books, and of reading culture. Although books will continue to be published (Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling will publish their next books), for everyone except a handful of bestselling authors, the future is far more uncertain. What’s at stake is the wealth and diversity of book culture. Many classics (books we read in our English classes in high school and college, books our children read or will read), simply wouldn’t be published by today’s standards and, if they were published and didn’t sell well immediately, they would be removed from the bookstore shelves. This is why it’s so important that you buy books for the holidays. There’s a website dedicated to this enterprise, Buy Books for the Holidays,which you might want to check out, and publishing houses are running ad campaigns focused on holiday book-giving. You really can make a difference. A typical paperback novel costs less than fifteen dollars, far cheaper than a necklace or a sweater or dinner at a nice restaurant. Thanks for reading this, and have a happy and healthy holiday.

Best,

Josh

http://www.joshuahenkin.com

Of course, I use BookMooch and PaperBackSwap, both being swap-sites of sorts for books, but I do buy new books as well. Books that never pop up on my wishlist, books I want to read now and don’t want to wait, and books from the bargain bins and twofer sales. Thanks to the swap sites and LibraryThing, I actually purchase more books new than ever before. Go figure.

So, to support the publishing industry and starving authors everywhere, I will be hosting a second Book Bucks Giveaway! :-D
From now until December 31st you can throw your name into the hat for a $25, $15, $10 and $5 gift card to your choice: Borders, Amazon or Barnes & Noble bookstores. The cards can be used either at the brick-and-morters or online shopping.

The rules are as follows:

No biting, scratching, or holding… erm, wait… wrong list… :-))

1. Post a comment to this post for your official entry and specify which store you would like your gift card from. Without your comment here, you won’t qualify for the bonus entries.   If no preference is stated, then you’ll receive one for Borders… I’m lazy and we have a Waldenbooks right here in town.

2. Post a link to this contest on your blog, then post the link here in the comments for a bonus of 5 entries.

3. Comment on any blog entry between now and December 31st for an additional entry per comment. There is a limit of 5 comment-bonus entries per day, so make sure to stop by every day to get your bonus entries! There are over 100 posts on this blog and I’m very busy trying to reach my goal of 75 books by December 31st. I have 17 more to go, which means there will be a post a day, as well, so you won’t run out of chances for your daily bonuses ;-)

4. If the winner(s) is outside the US, instead of the gift card, I will mail the new book(s) of his/her/their choice. The postage will be on me and won’t come out of the gifted amount ;-)

5. If you go to the Buy Books for the Holidays site, you can pick up the code for a widget button. Include the button in your sidebar for another 5 bonus entries.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

The Sunday Salon.com

Well, I missed last week’s Salon, and finishing Breaking Dawntook a bit longer than I had anticipated… like 10 days longer; it was an exercise in self-torture and perseverance. I wanted to finish before my boyfriend, but I think we both finished the same night, and I’m not sure who read “THE END” first. You can read my review here.

One of the things disappearing in Second Life for a few months has done is rob me of the time to comfortably achieve my reading goal of 75 books for the year by December 31st. After Breaking Dawn, I had 19 books to go… it’s a seemingly impossible goal to achieve; it works out to one book every day and a half. So I’ve been piling headlong into this insurmountable quota. It’s my goal, set by me, and if I miss it I’ve only got myself to answer to. But still, it chafes a bit that I might NOT make it. I have every intention to meeting this goal if I go blind in the process.

For that reason, my next book was Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr. A short 125 pages with a lot of illustrations, this cute little book took a little over 2 hours to finish. Maggie looked it up at her school to see if it’s an Accelerated Reader book, which it is, so I’ll be reading it a second time with her next week ;-) . You can read my review for Nim’s Island here.

I finally returned to my Viral Video Wednesday post, this week posting music videos. The concept was “If there was a soundtrack to your life, what songs would be on it?” I listed mine, along with my reasons for them in a brief history of my life, which included songs like “Crawling” by Linkin Park, “The Unforgiven” by Metallica, “Wonderful, Merciful Saviour” by Selah, Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten” as sung by Team Lachey, and Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”, among others. Personally, I thought it is a story of triumph and resilience, but it would seem that it was more depressing than joyous, inspiring pity. I apologize to those of you who found it more of a downer than a sharing of my life and recovery. You can check out this week’s Viral Video Wednesday here, if you dare.

I tried hard to finish Fragile Thingsby Neil Gaiman by Thursday to hit that one book per each day and a half quota, but didn’t quite make it. So I finished a book Maggie and I had been slowly working on for the last month or so. Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives, vol 2 by Ellen Schreiber was my first experience in Manga. It’s an interesting and by no means a small genre of reading material. Manga covers any subject matter and age group that books of text cover, only they do it with graphic art panels and thought and speech bubbles. You can read <my review of Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives, vol 2 here.

I did finish Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wonders by Neil Gaiman today. I really loved this book, and read the two poems I posted in the review, plus the short story “Other People”… making that my fourth time reading it… to my boyfriend. I remembered another short entry (not written in verse form, but feels like poetry nonetheless) that I liked in it a while ago. It’s called “In the End”:

IN THE END

In the end, the Lord gave Mankind the world. All the world was Man’s, save for one garden. This is my garden, said the Lord, and here you shall not enter.

There was a man and woman who came to the garden, and their names were Earth and Breath.

They had with them a small fruit which the Man carried, and when they arrived at the gate to the garden, the Man gave the fruit to the Woman, and the Woman gave the fruit to the Serpent with the flaming sword who guarded the Eastern Gate.

And the Serpent took the fruit and placed it upon a tree in the center of the garden.

Then Earth and Breath knew their clothedness, and removed their garments, one by one, until they were naked; and when the Lord walked through the garden he saw the man and the woman, who no longer knew good from evil, but were satisfied, and He saw it was good.

Then the Lord opened the gates and gave Mankind the garden, and the Serpent raised up, and it walked away proudly on four strong legs; and where it went none but the Lord can say.

And after that there was nothing but silence in the Garden, save for the occasional sound of the man taking away its name from another animal.

-Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wondersby Neil Gaiman, “The End” page 233.

You can read my review of Fragile Things here.

I started reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon today, and hope to finish and post the review tomorrow. I’m about 70 pages in and am enjoying it so far. It’s an alternate timeline in which Sitka, Alaska became the interim Jewish homeland after the fall of the State of Israel after three months of independence. The book opens with a murder, a messed up homicide detective, and the stress of the reversion of the Federal District of Sitka to the state of Alaska.

Unfortunately, though, I may not be able to finish it tomorrow… Second Life has made a claim to my time tomorrow, as a SL friend is getting married there and I’m a bridesmaid. Busy, busy, busy!

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