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Friday, August 31, 2007

Meet the Authors Event - September 12th

Meet the Authors at Daneland Park, 1199 N. Terry Street in Eugene, Oregon. On September 12th from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, nine local authors will be discussing their books and signing copies. Some authors will read from their works.

The authors include Dan Armstrong, author of "Prairie Fire" and "Taming the Dragon"; Tom Arnold, author of "Checkpoint Charlie"; Diane Bentley Baker, author of "Child of Light"; Jo Brew, Creswell Chronicle columnist and author of "What Next, Ms. Elliott?"; Marva Dasef, author of "Tales of a Texas Boy"; Elbert DeMoss, author of "Sweet Oregon"; Peter Jensen, author of "Secrets of the Sonnets"; and Sandy Jensen, author of "I Saw Us in a Painting"; and Linda Kuhlmann, author of "Koenig’s Wonder."

There’s a bit of something for everyone’s interest: historical, thriller, biography, memoirs, poetry, non-fiction, and fantasy. The event will take place in the clubhouse. Come spend a pleasant September afternoon at Daneland to talk with the authors, munch a cookie or two and drink a little fruit juice.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review - Archelaus Hosken's Dilemma

Archelaus Hosken's Dilemma
by F J Warren
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Exposure Publishing (June 18, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846858194
ISBN-13: 978-1846858192

Archelaus Hosken's Dilemma is a quick read. It's also sweet, lovable, readable, and fun. It didn't take too long for me to feel I was reading Dickens, but a more entertaining Dickens. Sure don't want to put you off on that. F J Warren has a knack for the 19th Century style. Set in 1808, the story follows the intrepid Archie when he is both saved (from the noose) and condemned (to marriage) all within days. His Dilemma is how to handle a firebrand wife who controls his every move and (of course) the money. Leave her and he faces gaol if not hanging. Stay and he faces a harridan the rest of his life. As it turns out, his dilemma is solved but in a surprising way. No, I won't tell you because I'm sure you'll enjoy reading the book and finding out for yourself. I'm making it my reviewing policy to not award five stars to any books, so Warren's book gets my top rating of four stars. I'll knock off the one star for some typos, okay? There's certainly nothing wrong with the plot (darling), writing (workmanlike), or typography (nice wide gutter so you don't have to break the book's spine).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Review - Tonia of Trelawney

Tonia of Trelawney by Jacqueline C. Grant
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (December 20, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0595394175 ISBN-13: 978-0595394173
About the Book:
In the charming novel Tonia of Trelawney, two young girls set sail upon treacherous and pirate-infested seas to escape the tyranny of an angry slave master. Author Jacqueline C. Grant paints a vivid picture of life on a sugar plantation in seventeenth-century Jamaica.

In 1670, Tonia, a young slave girl, lives at the Trelawney Sugar Estate on the island of Jamaica. She thinks this is the only life she will ever lead until she forms an unlikely friendship with an English girl named Maggie, whose family recently moved to Jamaica.

For reasons unknown to Tonia, Master William, the plantation owner's nephew, hates her. She longs for nothing more than to buy her and her mother's freedom so they can flee from William's cruel authority. Tonia and Maggie devise a daring plan to leave Trelawney by disguising themselves as boys. By hiding in hogshead barrels being sent to the port for shipping, Tonia and Maggie escape from the plantation and set off on their journey to find the great pirate Henry Morgan and hire on as part of his crew.

Tonia of Trelawney tells the adventurous tale of two brave girls who become the most unlikely of buccaneers. Come along on their turbulent voyage as they learn the ways of the ocean and reach beyond the limits of their strength and courage.

About the Author:
Jamaican-born Jacqueline C. Grant holds a master’s degree in Latin American history and gender studies and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Caribbean history at the University of Miami. She called Trelawney Sugar Estate home for several years and now lives with her two children in Miami, Florida.
I just finished Tonia of Trelawney and my main complaint is that I wished the book was longer. Ms. Grant tempts us with a story about a time and place that most of us only know from Pirates of the Caribbean. What I read, I liked...a lot.

What I wanted was more. We get a glimpse into plantation life in Jamaica and the buccaneers inhabiting the area in the 17th Century. Darn it! More! I learned that the name 'buccaneer' comes from 'boucon' for the smoked meat the pirates took on their voyages. I learned some about sugar cane plantations.

I think Ms. Grant has a wealth of knowledge about the location and era and she could have doubled the size of this book giving us more details.

I was entertained and my interest piqued with the story of two girls adventuring with pirates to earn Tonia's life out of slavery. This is exciting stuff and very readable for girls and boys.

Add to it, Jacqueline! How about a sequel, following Tonia's and Maggie's lives after this adventure?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Reviews

My latest review comes from Prof. Stephen Holder, past Chair of English Language and Literature at Central Michigan University:

"I enjoyed reading Marva's book. American local color writing has always been a favorite genre, and she handles this very well. She creates characters colorfully and effectively. She was smart, I think, to avoid having the boy make any thematic conclusions on his own, and leave them for the reader to think about. The book is a very nice snapshot of one kind of life. I tell students that the chief reason for reading literature is to gain insight into the possibilities of the human experience, and that certainly would be true in this case. Overall, my compliments!"

My husband happens to be an old friend of Steve's and he wrote telling him I was pleased to get the kind words. Professor Holder responded:

"Glad I could make Marva's day, but it wasn't just polite praise: I really liked the book. I think in genre it is somewhere between what we call Regional Realism (e.g., Garland, Jewett, Harte, Kirkland, et al.) and Creative Nonfiction (e.g., E.B.White, Roger Angell, et al.)."

To be compared to Bret Harte is fabulous. Now, I'll have to look up the rest of those people and see who the heck they are. It's amazing how much I've forgotten about American literature since college. As you might know, I attended Bedrock U. with Fred Flintstone so most American Lit of the time was limited to some wall decor created by the Anasazi. I graduated Magma cum Lava, of course.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Something to keep you entertained

Here's one of those fun quizzes. What book are you?




You're Cat's Cradle!

by Kurt Vonnegut

You believe quite firmly that free will deserted you long ago and far away. As a result, it's hard to take responsibility for anything. Even though you show great potential as a leader of a small 3rd world country, the choices are all made ahead of time. You're rather fond of games involving string. Your fear of nuclear weaponry is trumped only by your fear of ice.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Review: Taming of the Shrew






Today, I'm reviewing "The Taming of the Shrew" by Will Shakespeare.

Mr. Shakespeare has taken an old story and given it some twists to delight the audience standing in the pit. Loaded with double entendres and sly turns of phrase, the play whizzes by despite its three-hour running time. I commend the Bard of Avon on this comedy, except for an unfortunate sexist theme. Should Kate think of Petruchio as her Lord and Master? Not in this day and age, buddy. Oh, well, the ending did show Kate dragging Petruchio off to bed. I'd say that despite Kate's references to Petruchio as her Lord, the reality back then is much like today. The men think they're in charge of things, but maybe that's just what the women let them believe. I'd give Will Shakespeare four stars out of five. As for the actors who presented this bit of Shakespearean fluff, five out of five for a lively and fun performance at the Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, Oregon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Interconnections

I dropped by Kimber An’s blog and joined in a discussion about the new Flash Gordon series on the Sci Fi channel. That set me off looking at connections between various science fiction movies and series and the actors who play in them.

It seems that many of these actors get around and stay within the genre. For example, the lovely, kick-ass Karen Cliche (pronounced Kleesh) showed up on Flash Gordon. I exclaimed to spouse: Spouse! That’s the same actress who played in that show we liked that got cancelled. What was it? Oh, yeah. Adventure, Inc. So, I looked up Karen on the IMDB movie database and found she had also showed up in a few other series I enjoyed. Namely, The Dresden Files and Mutant X. I recall seeing her in both. I like her. She seriously looks both stunningly gorgeous and like she’d kick your ass and take no names. She’s typecast, but does she care? She’s getting steady work in various TV series all having a science fiction theme.

That led me to think about Stargate. I’ve enjoyed that series a lot. When Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, of course) moved on, then Ben Browder of Farscape came in to lead the intrepid SG-1 team.

Claudia Black of Farscape also joined in the fun on SG-1. Typecast? Again, I don’t think they care as long as they get work. Too bad they decided to end SG-1. Sigh. Why do they keep doing that to series I like. My hubby and I truly believe we’re the kiss-of-death to any series if we like it. We have a ritual now. We turn on the ol’ TV to watch one of those series we like and immediately start saying how much we hate it. We’re hoping the Perverse Imp is fooled and will not realize we actually like the show – a lot.

What are your favorite short-lived series? Go look it up on IMDB, search for the series name, and find the actors. Check the actors’ filmographies. Amazing, isn’t it? The shows you like keep hiring the actors you like. May they keep on with those series forever.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Book Review: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti: A Novel by Michelle Moran

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (July 10, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307381463
ISBN-13: 978-0307381460


What if your sister was called "The Beautiful One" and was married to a Prince while you can’t even go on a date because your father insists that you wait on her hand and foot? You’d probably be a little more than ticked off and looking for an opportunity to throttle the selfish bitch.

On the other hand, you know that your sister was cashiered into service to the realm and her job was to keep her nutcase husband in line. Maybe you’d put up with her for duty and country.

This is the situation faced by Mutnodjmet, the sister to the Queen of Egypt, Nefertiti.

Michelle Moran has combined a lot of careful research on the Eighteenth Dynasty of the Egyptian Pharaohs with some insight into sisterly duty and love. Told from the point of view of Mutnodjmet (Mutny), Moran weaves a tale of power, love, intrigue, murder, and religious turmoil.

I like historical novels that pay more than lip service to events and settings. Moran has satisfied my desire not to say "oh puhleeze" when an author wanders off into a fantasy world leaving facts dying by the wayside. Historical romances tend to do that (don’t hit me!) because their purpose is to take the reader on a journey away from their own lives and to bask in the great loves and passions, which just happen to be set in some historic time and place.

Moran has found a balance to satisfy we avid watchers of the History Channel with those who dote on Oxygen (a romance-oriented cable channel if you hadn’t heard). About half-way through the book, I googled Nefertiti, Akhenaten, Amunhotep, and others to see how well archeological reports jibed with Moran’s retelling. Pretty darned close, I’m pleased to say. I’d think "what about such and such" and the next few pages answered my questions.

On the other hand, getting into the head of historical figures is nearly impossible with not much more to go on than some statues and bas reliefs found in excavations. This is why Nefertiti is a novel and not an historical treatise. Moran brings the people to life by imbuing them with personality, desire, hate, prejudice, love, and ambition. This is where the novelist shines: making the reader feel for the characters.

Okay, as for Moran’s writing, I found her style flowing and descriptive. I could see the temples, statues, and the Nile barges. I learned a lot about herbal medicines of the period, since Mutny was a healer. Was she really? There is no historical evidence of this, but it fits the persona of Mutny Moran has chosen. So, too, with Nefertiti. Was the most powerful woman in the world really such a petulant and insecure girl? Moran presents a compelling argument given the context of what we do know for historical fact.

I liked this book a lot. I’m glad I found Michelle Moran in my wanderings through the blogosphere. Her site, the History Buff, is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in history. I’d recommend this book highly to any reader and especially to those who have a fondness for watching the History Channel.

If I gave out stars or thumbs-ups, this book would get 4-1/2 out of 5. Why not 5? Well, I’ve got to hold back something, don’t I?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Amazon Search Inside


How fun is this? My book's Search Inside feature is now up and running on Amazon. Also, it's up and running on every Amazon in the world. Now, the French, German, and Japanese can all be puzzled by West Texas dialect. I think the Canadians shouldn't have any problems, eh?

Tales on Amazon

Tales - Large Print on Amazon

Or if you prefer to read product pages in foreign languages, try these links:

Tales on Amazon Germany

Tales on Amazon France

Tales on Amazon Japan

China doesn't seem to be interested. Go figure.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tales Now on Presale

Tales of a Texas Boy finally has a page for presale on Cantarabooks, the publisher producing the ebook version. The ebook is a shorter version of the magnificent, wonderful, funny, touching print edition.

Cantarabooks

Look for the title in the left-hand column. The ebook is in 8-1/2x11 PDF format and sells for $4.95.