BTT- The Cold, an Award and a Giveaway!

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The northern hemisphere, at least, is socked in by winter right now… So, on a cold, wintry day, when you want nothing more than to curl up with a good book on the couch … what kind of reading do you want to do?

When it’s really cold, I like get into my bed, snuggle up under my warm covers, and then read.  I’m not particular about the type of book, though I don’t think I’d read anything that required me to think.  The problem I have, however, is that I always fall asleep!

read other Booking Through Thursday answers here 🙂

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I’d like to say thank you to Reagan at Miss Remmers’ Reviews for my first award for 2010.  It’s quite a lovely award, don’t you think?

Prolific Blogger Award

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

There are a couple of rules for this award:

  1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
  2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
  3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
  4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

Miss Remmers’ Reviews is one of the blogs that I first visited during Bloggiesta as part of the comment mini-challenge, and I enjoy Reagan’s posts, especially the Thesis Statement Video, which has the Thesis Statement Rap in it.  LOL! Had to put it in there 🙂

Now for my magnificent seven nominees:

Care’s Online Book Club – While Care is currently UNPLUGGED, I enjoy reading her posts, particularly the Virginia Wolf ones (I argue I don’t like stream of conscious, and yet I loved Push.  Maybe I should give Ms. Wolf a shot, since it really was the movie The Hours that made me run from her.)  Looking forward to your return, Blogging Buddy 🙂

Wrighty Reads – Debbie has great reviews and I enjoy her “So I was just wondering…” posts.  AND she’s a fellow left-hander 😉  Lefties RULE!

Unfinished Rambler – Poor Unfinished.  He’s lost his favorite blog home, Humor-Blogs.com, and he’s been going through the various stages of grief about it.  I think he might be at acceptance now, but I’m not quite sure… He’s definitely still snarky about it, but he’s usually snarky anyway, which is one of the things I enjoy about his blogs.  Did you know Elvis is the janitor at his library?  He’s probably too cool for this award, but here it is all the same 🙂

Lady Gwyn’s Kingdom – This is a fairly new-to-me blog, but quite enjoyable.  I found it through my Google Alerts.  She had “Reading Challenge” and Welsh on the same page, so Google thought it was the same as “Welsh Reading Challenge”… erm, not quite, but I’m glad for GA’s loose extrapolation, because I would have missed this one.  It’s a lovely blog, playing chamber music while you read reviews of books about Tudors and other royal members behaving badly (and some not so bad, too;-) ), books by Sharon Kay Penman, and you can read about what happened on this day in history, as well.

Reading In Color – Ari is probably another one who is too cool for this award (really, she is, go check her blog out 🙂 ), but it’s what I’ve got to show my appreciation for what she’s doing, so here ya go.  She’s working with Doret and Laura on a project to find the most diverse YA/MG publishing company, so if you have any ideas, pass it along!

Debbie’s World of Books – This is another great blog I first visited during the Bloggiesta mini-challenge, and I’ve enjoyed ever since.  Great reviews, fun memes, and I love the blog theme (purple’s my favorite color 😉 )

In Spring is the Dawn – Also a Bloggiesta find, Tanabata focuses a lot on All Things Japanese, whether that be in book or movie form, or the traditional music of Japan.  It’s fascinating to learn about translations, and her blog’s layout is fun and beautiful.

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Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway!  I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire, and the more people sign up, the more prizes!  If 50 or more people enter to win, I’ll add $10 to spend on Amazon.com for the grand prize!

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How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki

Title:  How to Be  a Villain:  Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!!

Author:  Neil Zawacki

Illustrator:  James Dignan

Hardback:  160 pages

Date Published:  2003

PublisherChronicle Books

ISBN:  9780811846660

Being evil is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle.  By embracing the dark forces, otherwise ordinary men, women, and even children and pets can gain power and wealth beyond their wildest dreams.  Perhaps the single greatest benefit of a career in evil is equal access to executive level positions.  Black, white, or green; male, female, or alien life form; spikes, scales, or brain in a jar – nothing prevents a devotee of darkness from rising to the top of the quagmire of destruction.

– “The Benefits of Being Evil” from How to Be a Villain by Neil Zawacki, page 10

In these troubling times, jobless rates on the rise, paychecks dwindling into microscopic amounts, and a general malaise about the economy, you might be considering a career change.  If so, might I suggest a career in EVIL?

The field of Evil-Doer is wide open, and you have a delicious variety of career paths that include:

  • Becoming a criminal mastermind!  Whether you choose to rob banks or send out emails asking for help to move your multi-million dollar wealth out of your impoverished, third-world country, crime is the tried-and-true classic medium for a villain to flex his wicked muscles.
  • Try your hand as a necromancer!  If graveyards and funeral parlors are your favorite places to hang out, and you can get your mitts on ancient books of the  occult, why not take possession of your true purpose and give Ol’ Scratch a run for the “Most Evil” award this year.
  • Take that corner office with the wall of windows and become a corporate bastard!  You can even mix career advancement and the pleasure of revenge by taking over and destroying the very company that let you go.  Make sure to funnel off all the executive pension fund before it’s demise, though, or you’ll be back to square one, JOBLESS and BROKE.
  • Have a knack for mixing ingredients?  Give mad scientista try!  Build up your army of mutant eight-legged simians, actual spider-monkeys, and take over the world.  Then you can set about re-create MAN in your OWN image.
  • If you like horseback riding and wearing metal clothing, black knight might be the path for you!  You will derive endless pleasure from making peasants your neighbors bow before you, quaking in terror, wondering if today will finally be the day you make good on your threat to “gut them like the pigs they are.”
  • If you own a lonely motel on a lonely stretch of never-used highway AND  have conversations with your long-since deceased mother, horror-movie villain may have your name written all over it!  Rub elbows with A-list actors and slay sexy starlets, not to mention peeping on the co-eds getting busy in the next room, are all in a days work!
  • Take dominion of the spirit world as an avatar for a god/demon/supernatural creature beyond all comprehension!  While allowing the forces of evil to use your body, you’ll be enjoying all the perks of your new-found godhood.
  • Not quite up to all-out evil?  Try a career as a marketing executive!  Shape the way future generations think by creating advertisements that mesh their favorite, beloved underwater hero and a sexually-depraved rapper.
  • You may even try your hand at an evil-lite career as a villain and become a telemarketer!  Endless pleasure can be derived from interrupting dinners, sleep, and the recipients physical fun with their significant other.  This career as an evil-doer, however, has been in a steady decline since the invention of caller ID.

How to Be a Villainby Neil Zawacki is a fun, light read full of tongue-in-cheek, dead-pan humor that feels like an actual tutorial how-to guide.  The quirky and fun illustrations, however, let assure you the book does not take itself seriously.  Get in touch with your inner villain by picking up a copy today 😀  I give this book 3 1/2  out of 5 black hats.

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This video is cheesy (on purpose)  and is an example of the information found in How to Be a Villain by Neil Zawacki.   They do not credit the book, so I don’t know if it’s where they got their ideas, but it’s great 😀  (seriously, though, cheese factor is off the charts!)

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Title:  The Last Battle

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  2001

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  The copy I have read is in a complete book.  There aren’t 767 pages in The Last Battle alone.

 

 

 

“Look!  What’s that?”

 “What’s what?” said Puzzle.

 “That yellow thing that’s just come down the waterfall.  Look!  There it is again, it’s floating.  We must find out what it is.”

 “Must we?” said Puzzle.

 “Of course we must,” said Shift.  “It may be something useful.  Just hop into the Pool like a good fellow and fish it out.  Then we can have a proper look at it.”

 … He flung it down in front of Shift and stood dripping and shivering and trying to get his breath back.  But the Ape never looked at him or asked him how he felt.  The Ape was too busy going round and round the thing and spreading it out and patting it and smelling it.  Then a wicked gleam came into his eye and he said:  “It is a lion’s skin…. We’ll make this skin into a fine warm winter coat for you.”

 …As soon as he was alone Shift went… into his little house.  He found needle and thread and a big pair of scissors… Then he came down the tree and shambled across to the lion-skin.  He squatted down and got to work…

 Late in the afternoon Puzzle came back.  He was not trotting but only plodding patiently along, the way donkeys do…  “Come and try on your beautiful new lion-skin coat,” said Shift.

 … The skin was very heavy for him to lift, but in the end… he got it on to the donkey… No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment.  But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lion-skin he just might mistake him for a lion…  “If anyone saw you now, they’d think you were Aslan, the Great Lion, himself.”

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, pages 671-673

 

Thus begins the great deception and the beginning of the end of Narnia.  Shift the Ape manipulates and bullies Puzzle the Donkey into believing that Aslan himself wants them to go to the people of Narnia and claim Puzzle is really the Great Lion, and to rule the land through this pretense.  Puzzle has been used by Shift for so long (under the guise of “friendship,” though “servitude” might better describe the Donkey’s side of the relationship), that he is unable to stand up to the damn, dirty Ape (nod to Heston and “Planet of the Apes” hehe).

It is through this false-Aslan that Shift enslaves the land of Narnia, using the Animals as slaves and threatening anyone who dares to question his authority with the Wrath of Aslan.  “He is not a tame lion” is repeated over and over to fill their minds with terror, and, even when they know this new “Aslan” is the opposite of everything they’ve always been taught is the nature of the true Aslan, the Narnians are unable to throw off the Ape’s bonds and fight back.

Even when Shift brings in Calormene soldiers and announces that the Narnian Animals are to be sent to work, and all their wages are to be paid to “Aslan’s” treasury, for only “Aslan” can care for their true needs.  Compounding a lie with a lie, the Calormene Captain and Shift tell the Animals that Tash, the Calormene god to whom men are sacrificed, and Aslan are one in the same; two different names for the same person.  This new god is called “Tashlan,” the meshing of the two names.

When Tirian, the last King of Narnia, calls on Aslan to rescue his country, the Great Lion is silent, so Tirian, remembering how children from another world had saved Narnia in it’s darkest periods of history, calls on the friends of Narnia to come and save his land.  And, after a vision-dream of the seven legendary Friends sitting down to dinner and seeing the phantom of Tirian among them, he is surprised by the appearance of Jill and Eustace.  Along with Jewel the Unicorn, who is Tirian’s best friend, the two children and a Dwarf named Poggin, the stage is set for the last battle of Narnia.

 

In the shadow of the trees on the far side of the clearing something was moving.  It was gliding very slowly Northward.  At a first glance you might have mistaken it for smoke, for it was grey and you could see things through it.  But the deathly smell was not the smell of smoke.  Also, this thing kept its shape instead of billowing and curling as smoke would have done.  It was roughly the shape of a man but it had the head of a bird; some bird of prey with a cruel, curved beak.  It had four arms which it held high above its head, stretching them out Northward as if it wanted to snatch all Narnia in its grip; and its fingers – all twenty of them – were curved like its beak and had long, pointed, bird-like claws instead of nails.  It floated on the grass instead of walking, and the grass seemed to wither beneath it…. [They] watched it… until it streamed away… and disappeared.  Then the sun came out again, and the birds once more began to sing….

“I have seen it once before,” said Tirian. “But that time it was carved in stone and overlaid with gold and had solid diamonds for eyes…. [It was in] the great temple of Tash… carved above the altar.”

“What was it?” said Eustace in a whisper.

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 712

 

 The entrance of the Calormene god Tash takes this final fight into the realm of the supernatural, as it becomes the epic battle of the ultimate good, Aslan, and his antithesis Tash:  Life versus Death.

 The message of The Last Battle, I believe, is this:  We are not always meant to win the good fight, only to FIGHT the good fight.  Early on in the book we know this is a lost cause, the side of evil will prevail, and the heroes’ lives  will be forfeit.  But, even then, Aslan will have the final say.

 In The Last Battle, Lewis also addresses two major questions of Christianity.  First, how can a person who has known the goodness and greatness of Christ turn his or her back on Him, choosing, instead, their own will.  Second, what of those people who have never heard the Gospel and therefore had no chance to believe?  Will He condemn them to Hell?

 Missing for the Friends of Narnia is Susan, and somehow I knew this immediate when I counted eight helpers of Narnia, but only seven Friends of Narnia.  Somehow I knew the missing person was Susan.

 

“Sire,” said Tirian… “there should be another… Where is Queen Susan?”

“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”

“Yes,” said Eustace, “and whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says ‘What wonderful memories you have!  Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.”

“Oh, Susan!”  said Jill.  “She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations.  She always was a jolly sight to keen on being grown-up.”

“Grown-up indeed,” said the Lady Polly.  “I wish she would grow up.  She wasted all her shool time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age.  Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 741

 

Susan turned away from Narnia and Aslan and, instead, made vanity and things of the world her focus.  BUT, Lewis did not say she could not become a Friend of Narnia again.  Further, someone had to survive to tell The Chronicles of Narnia.

 As the Seven plus Tirian go “further up, further in,” they meet a Calormene who tells them of his meeting Aslan:

 

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him.  Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.  Both the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my fourehead with his tongue and said, ‘Son, thou art welcome.’  But I said, ‘Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.’  He answered, ‘Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service to me.’ Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, ‘Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?’  The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, “It is false.  Not because4 he and I are one, but because we are opposites – I take to me the service which thou hast done to him.  For I and he are such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.  Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.  And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.  Dost thou understand, Child?’  I said, ‘Lord, thou knowest how much I understand.’   But I said also (for the truth constrained me), ‘Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.’  ‘Beloved,’ said the Glorious One, ‘unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly.  For all find what they truly seek.’

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 757

 

 Honestly, it was impossible to review this book without incorporating the religious aspects of it.  That is not to say it can’t be enjoyed without being religious.  It stands alone as the heart-wrenching finale of a much loved and favorite literary classic series.  I couldn’t help but cry at the end; for the beauty, for the Friends, for all who had been were together again… and for Susan, who, by her folly, missed the train (if you’ve read this, or when you do read this, book you’ll get that reference).

 The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis is beyond words, and I sigh with a bittersweet happiness, as I have come to the end of my journey through Narnia.  I leave you with the last paragraph of the last book of Narnia:

 

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page:  now at last they were beginning Chaper One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on for ever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 767

 

5 out of 5 stars.

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