Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monday Musings: The Legend of Santa Owl, a review

The Legend of Santa Owl, by Dvora Swickle, is a cute holiday children's book. I will be honest, children's books are not the normal genre that I read. I haven't had small children for a number of years. However, I do have four and five year old grandchildren.

 The story follows a squirrel, named Norman, as he discovers the holiday celebrated by humans, known as Christmas, with the help of his friend Ollie the Owl.

The story would appeal to younger children in the toddler age to Kindergartenish group vs. young readers. What I like about the book is the author leaves opportunity for discussion about friends, animals, Santa Claus, and Christmas in general.

From a child's point of view, the book is cute, and doesn't require deep thought to understand the basic theme. In my opinion, the book is written for the pure entertainment of children.

It does seem to have some technical flaws, but I don't think children will notice them. That's the point anyway; entertainment of children. Overall, if I were to rate the book, I would give it four stars, based on layout, and difficulty in reading. I expected more of a poetic read based on the layout of the words, but I'm not a children's book reader, so I wouldn't read too much into that statement.

I read this book to my grandchildren and they enjoyed it very much. I can't tell you their favorite parts because I don't believe in spoilers. However, my granddaughter really liked the little squirrel, and my grandson thoroughly enjoyed the owl. They both liked Santa Claus and the reindeer. We had a great time together laughing and talking about each page. I would recommend this children's book for young children.


Note to readers: As I have said before, I don't do book reviews often, because I am a slow analytical reader. Also, I can be highly critical at times with expectations far greater than are necessary in today's world. As I read a book, I will post my thoughts here. I am not by any means a professional reviewer, nor am I book review blogger. No need to send inquiries.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Simply Saturday: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Today, I am simply sharing the cover of 'The Butterfly Fields," book one in "The Chrysalis Series,"designed by Emily Shilling. Thank you for your work, and I look forward to what you come up with for books two and three.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings: The Great Library of Alnae ~ The Butterfly Fields

The Great Library at the College of Alnae is everything I have dreamed and more. From a distance, the library is a magnificent building opulently decorated with all that is the world, and perhaps not of the world. Upon first sight, I shrank away from the grotesque carvings which beheld the visages of those that haunt the dreams of small children. Great winged creatures ascend the outer walls as though they have found their way out of the Land of Eternal Flames and seek to devour all that lies in their path. Crouched in an eternal vigil on the stone ledges are seated small creatures that seem to elude to a warning that forewarns of danger. My heart nearly leapt from chest to throat at the thought the one who rules over all the Land of Eternal Flames should dwell in this place of beauty and fright. Yet atop the dome of the building at the four directions stand enormous men in long robes of alabaster. They reach to the sky as though they have descended there from and alighted upon this glorious structure. Great trumpets extend in each direction at the lips of these winged men as though the clarion call shall sound at a moment’s notice. It is the most wonderful and frightening place I have ever laid eyes upon.

It has been weeks since my arrival in Alnae and I have yet to see the inside of the library. As I compose my message to Annalicia, my heart can barely be contained within the walls of my flesh as I shall have my first encounter at the library this very day. Oh what a glorious day it is! To my surprise and dismay, Richard has insisted upon accompanying me to the library. How dare he interlope upon one of the most treasured moments of my entire life? However, he is a Lord and I a commoner. I cannot refuse. At the doors of the library I must pause to catch my breath. The doors stand between great marble columns. My fingers taste the coolness of the column as I ascend the stairs to my greatest dream. Brilliant prisms cascade into the main room of the library under the dome of thick quartz crystal. I turn about in the midst of the rainbow speckles as though they were the butterflies in the meadow of The Butterfly Fields. In each of the corners of the room are grand staircases carved of dark wood with such intricate detail it could only be the work of a master woodcrafter. Where? Where do these grand staircases lead, and what wonders do they hide in the rooms above?
Great tapestries hang upon the walls intermingled with the portraits of Kings and Queens of old, accented by the armor of their men at arms who seem to stand sentry at the ready to defend still. Unlike the library of Johnsport, which is naught more than a single room of the Library of Alnae, the tables are constructed of polished stone, some inlaid with precious jewels. Whether it is I stand in a library or museum, I cannot decide. Despite my initial fear of the exterior, I know well many a precious hour shall be spent within these walls. There is naught in all the world that could possibly hold the source of all things as the Great Library. I shall begin my quest with the book of which Richard has chosen for me, it is the book from the people of the Great Pyramids. I cannot say the title of the book entices me so, but Richard insists it holds all the secrets of the world and so I shall begin with The Book of the Dead.
I hope you have enjoyed another sneak peak into The Butterfly Fields. The Great Library of the College of Alnae is based on a conglomeration of interesting buidlings throughout the world. Pictured above is 1.) Town Hall in Munich Germany, and 2.) a staircase in Pele Castle in Romania. Click here for more pictures of interesting buildings in the world.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Monday Musings: She Comes by it Honestly

It was in the fall of 1984 when I wrote my first full-length novel. I was sixteen at the time. The story was written in a red wire spiral bound notebook. I don’t remember the title, or even most of the story line. I simply remember that I carried around this notebook and added to the story every day. As we go through life it’s what most people do – add to the story every day. My Grandmother kept detailed diaries from the time she could write. Every significant event in the family, precious thought she had, or perhaps thoughts she hadn’t intended on sharing with the world were neatly penned on the lines between the covers. Yet, when all was said and done and the diaries cracked open by the prying eyes of those she had left behind, a whole world opened up to us. In those numerous diaries, that covered some eighty years, were the additions to her story that she had faithfully recorded every day.

I often wonder if Grandma had spent time re-reading her diaries. Had they served a purpose for her, or were they merely recordings of a woman who once was as if to say, “I had lived, and in these pages are all days of my life.” Grandma was a writer by nature and as the saying goes comes by it honestly. Her grandmother was Mary Jane (Jennie) Strawn, a most amazing poet and writer, who was originally from Ohio and moved with her husband James Parker to Minnesota in the 1800s. Her grandfather's brother was her Uncle Samuel Parker who wrote for a small magazine, The Call, in the 1800s. Grandma also wrote for the Mountrail County Record for a number of years. She was a columnist writing about the society of our small home town.

Grandma passed the writing gene on to her son, who was a reporter for the Minot Daily News in the 1960s. After Grandma’s passing, stacks of articles he had written were found yellowed with age, neatly stored in the crawl space in the eaves of the house where she had lived with Grandpa. He had reported on some of the historical moments in North Dakota history, to include the building of the Garrison Dam and creation of the Sakajwea Reservoir. He is still living and is an avid reader. I suspect he has always been an avid reader.

There are some mighty big shoes to fill in the family when it comes to writing. I will always be grateful for Grandma’s insistence on perfection when it comes to reading and writing. When I was in upper elementary and junior high, I would send letters to Grandma in Arizona over the winter months, and with her reply she would send back the ‘edited’ version of my letter to her. As the years went on, the amount of red on the paper diminished. Grandma was a different sort of person. In all her years, sometimes she had been cold, hard and unyielding, especially when it came to the children, but I choose to believe that her heart and intentions were always in the right place. Anything less would be a travesty.

Sometimes we come by our talents naturally, but most often I think we come by them honestly through the time honored traditions in our families. For me, it is writing at the unwitting instruction of my Grandmother. For others, it may be the arts, or science, or some other vocation. No matter your vocation. No matter the tasks required if you come by it naturally or honestly then it is good.

Monday Musings: Are you naturally talented; or do you come by it honestly? 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Simply Saturday: The Hinterlands of Georgeskeep

The nefarious reputation of the hinterlands lives in the heart and soul of every inhabitant of the tiny town of Georgeskeep. Callieach the nightmare, with her fiery hooves races along the hill and dales, breathing fear into the air. Under the golden glow of the full moon, the trouping fairies dance in their parade through the sleeping petals of the meadow. Ne’er be caught upon a moonlit night when the fae are about their business, lest you find yourself in a fairy ring ne’er to return to the land of the living.

Trickery is afoot in the hinterlands with the coming of the Púca. Be it a fine November 1st eve, then all is well within the hinterlands, as this is the day of the Púca. Kindness he will afford you, if kindness in return is found. Beware to leave the Púca’s share or suffer you all the more. When on the berries lies the frost, the Púca has there spit. Be well to tell the child, lest they eat of Púca berries and find their self at the bottom of the grave’s lonely pit.
Along the trail of dust and dirt that leads into the forest dark, wherein lives a wicked witch tending to her herbs and pot. Dare you not to keep a house too clean for the resident guest of a Bean Tighe shall surely be accused, and you a charmer’s muse. Let there be dust upon the window ledge and at the hearth’s edge too, then no accusation shall come upon one such as you.
When the bitter fingers of the winter shall come upon the land, beware to hear the howling wind. The Bansidhe’s clarion call can be heard above the wind and all. She calls forth the Coiste Bodhar and beckons you therein. “There is naught to be done about it now. Your time has come,”says the Sidhe. And off you go to the netherworlds, nevermore to be seen.
The inhabitants of Georgeskeep, they know these stories well and more. The light that shines upon the window ledge, in the dark of night, bids fond hellos to the benevolent, and bids bane to those of dark. Take care upon your visit to our fair Georgeskeep. If you shall wander in under the shadows of the eve, knock loud upon the door, your voice through the cracks to be heard, or you may find yourself at the mercy of those who live within the hinterlands until the morning sun.
I hope you enjoyed this little venture into the hinterlands of old.  Have a simply wonderful Saturday one and all.