Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday #8: Winter's Shadow - M.J. Hearle

This is a weekly book meme, hosted by
which features future releases that we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!

My pick for this week is Winter's Shadow,
by M.J. Hearle.

Trade Paperback, 432 pages
Published by Pan Macmillan, Australia
June 1, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

From the Goodreads Synopsis

He's all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim's Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes.
Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn't all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly.
Something dangerous...

This certainly sounds like an intriguing story!
When I read the synopsis,
I became totally fascinated!
You can see just how much of an impression
this novel has made
by reading the Goodreads reviews,
and going to  
the fan page on Facebook,
which you can access

I'm sure the cover of the book is part of its appeal,
since it's obviously gorgeous!

Although the book has already been released, it's
by no means easy to obtain,
at least not for those of us who live in the U.S.
I've already checked Amazon, eBay,
Half.com, Abebooks, Alibris,
and Powells...

Of course, I can always order it 
directly from Australian book sellers.

Except that the shipping alone is
at least $25.00!

So I'm currently signed up to be notified
by The Book Depository
as soon as they have it in stock again...

Meanwhile, I will just have to finish
reading the books I've already started,
so I can post the reviews!

So what books are all of you 
waiting on this Wednesday?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: Magister Ludi, by Hermann Hesse

Magister Ludi
Author: Hermann Hesse
(tr. by Richard & Clara Winston)
Mass Market Paperback, 520 pages
Published by Bantam, October, 1970
(Originally published as Das Glasperlenspiel,
1943, by Fretz & Warmuth Verlag AG,
Zurich, Switzerland)
Genre: Literary Fiction, Science Fantasy,
Utopian Literature

AWARDS: Nobel Prize in Literature, 1946

The great German-born writer Hermann Hesse had a profound impact on me during my college years.  I am now trying to re-read the books that so fascinated me back then, although I don't expect I'll ever really be able to plumb their depths.  Hesse was much influenced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, so his novels are full of symbolism and the hidden workings of the human psyche.  They also portray the workings of the archetypes -- those universal denizens of Jung's collective unconscious, which is shared by the entire human race.  Adding to this is Hesse's luminous, lyrical prose, which extends itself into long, descriptive passages of great literary beauty.

In other words, this is not an easy read.  It is, however, a rewarding one, if one is willing to invest the time necessary to savor the book, since it obviously does not lend itself to fast reading.  This is by no means the type of book that one "can't put down".  In fact, one must indeed put it down, and often, so as to ponder the things Hesse is saying.  Then one is inevitably drawn back to it.  At least, this is what happened with me. 

I would call this a rather unique hybrid of novel and philosophical treatise.  In that respect, it reminds me of the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig, a book that, among others, was very influential in the development of the American counter-culture several years ago, and which I also intend to re-read.   Another book that comes to mind is Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy, by Jostein Gaarder, which I have yet to read. 

These are books that use the format of a novel to present philosophical ideas.  Therefore, the plot, if any, is driven by such ideas.  Obviously, this is not the typical novel that contains the basic elements of fiction writing as we have come to expect them.   There's no heart-pounding suspense, no fast action, little to no character conflict.  At the risk of sounding repetitious, I must again state that we are instead presented with a banquet of intellectual concepts to be pondered and enjoyed for the sheer enjoyment of doing so.   So this is literary pleasure of quite a different order. 

Through the fictional character named Joseph Knecht (whose last name in German means "servant"), Hesse presents the theme that dominates all of his books -- the intellectual life as contrasted with the active life.  Knecht undergoes an evolution in this novel, coming to the point of accepting that the intellectual life alone cannot satisfy completely, if entirely divorced from life in the sensory world.   In the process, the reader is given an intimate look into Knecht's -- and therefore, Hesse's -- inner world.  

The novel's predominant metaphor is the Glass Bead Game, invented by Hesse.  He never provides a clear picture of it, however, although he does say that, in its beginnings, the game was, indeed, played with glass beads.  Eventually, it evolved into a complex interrelationship of ideas, taken from certain fields of human knowledge, such as music, mathematics, languages, and science.   The purpose of each game is to find ways to link core concepts in these fields into one grand, symphonic whole.

There are at least two important sources of conflict in the novel, although said conflict is on a strictly intellectual level.  It's not of the action-oriented variety.  Instead, it's a clash of ideologies.  Knecht has two opponents here -- Plinio Designori, a guest student in the fictional province of Castalia, where the Glass Bead Game was developed, and Father Jacobus, a member of the Benedictine Order, whom Knecht meets when he is assigned to tutor monks in the basics of the Game.   Designori, who eventually returns to the outside world, represents the active life; he later becomes involved in politics.  Jacobus, on the other hand, represents the life of the spirit.  He is concerned about the fact that Castalia has no religion or belief in a Supreme Power.  Both of these men have a great influence on Knecht, who will eventually make the decision to fully integrate his intellectual life with that of the senses, of action.  This is despite the fact that he had been chosen to be the Magister Ludi -- the Master of the Glass Bead Game, at the age of 40.  As Magister Ludi, one of his duties includes leading the annual celebration of the game, an occasion of great ceremony in Castalia, attended by heads of state and other influential people in Hesse's futuristic world.

The novel also includes several poems "written" by Knecht in his student years, as well as three fictional lives he was required to complete as part of his studies.  These further demonstrate Hesse's power as a lyrical writer.  I only wish I knew German, so I could read this book in the original, thus getting the true "feel" of the work!

The perfect culmination to Hesse's literary work, this novel will repay the reader with some very interesting, profound concepts that will indelibly imprint themselves in his/her mind.  I would especially recommend it for those times when one does crave something to really engage the intellect.  Not that there's anything wrong with reading less challenging works, however.  It all depends on what the mind and the emotions are open to at any given point in time.  At least, this has been my experience, although I'm sure I'm not unique in this respect.


My "Favorite Authors" post about Hermann Hesse is HERE.

Here's a list of links related to the Glass Bead Game:

The Glass Bead Game - Alexander Sidorkin

The Glass Bead Game - Wikipedia

Webmagister Ludi and the Glass Bead Game - Willard van de Bogart

The Glass Bead Game: Cosmic Play in a Symbolic Universe

The Waldzell Glass Bead Game: Overview

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On My Wishlist #4

This is a fun weekly event hosted by
Carolyn at  Book Chick City,
 and runs every Saturday.
Each participating blogger features books 
s/he hasn't actually bought yet, but desperately wants to read,
because the stories sound so very fascinating!

These books can be either newly-published,
to be released in the near future,
or they might have been in print for several years.

In my particular case, any books I place
on my wish list are strictly the print versions,
since I do not read ebooks. 

Here are my choices for this week!

Hardcover, 341 pages
Published by Knopf Books
March 8, 2011
(first published February 28, 2011)
Genre: YA Fantasy

(By the way, I love the gorgeous cover!!)

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she's outgrown that kind of fantasy.

Until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. And hears a unicorn calling to her. And slips and falls—into that other world.

(translated by Nick Caistor)
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published by Atria
Expected Release Date: June 28, 2011
(first published, in Spanish, Oct 15, 2008)
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction

(This cover reminds me of the one
for Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare.
I love the style of both!
Maybe they're by the same artist.)

From the Fantastic Fiction Website Synopsis

Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time is a page-turner that boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H. G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence. What happens if we change history? Félix J. Palma explores this question in The Map of Time, weaving a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting...

Felix J. Palma
Trade Paperback, 628 pages
Published by Algaida Editores
November 2, 2010
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction

Special Note

Since this book was originally published in Spanish,
I intend to get that edition as well!
For some reason, Amazon gives a different
publication date for the Spanish edition.

(Yes, I am that much of a book addict...)

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published by Point
June 1, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

From the Goodreads Synopsis

What if the characters in a vampire novel left their world--and came into yours?

Amy is in love with someone who doesn't exist: Alexander Banks, the dashing hero in a popular series of vampire novels. Then one night, Amy meets a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to Alexander. In fact, he is Alexander, who has escaped from the pages of the book and is in hot pursuit of a wicked vampire named Vigo.

Hardcover, 496 pages
Pubhlished by HarperTeen
May 31, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

(I think this cover is sooo beautiful!)

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. 

Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. . .  and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

Hardcover, 481 pages
Published by Ignatius Pres
March 1, 2011
Genre: Fantasy

(I love this cover as well!)

Special Note

This book is being recommended to Tolkien fans!
That puts the seal of approval on it, as far as I'm concerned,
since I absolutely love the works of that author!!
There's also a giveaway of this book
on Goodreads!

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Between the two world wars, on a hike in the English countryside, Professor John Hill takes refuge from a violent storm in a cave. There he nearly loses his life, but he also makes an astonishing discovery — an ancient manuscript housed in a cunningly crafted metal box. Though a philologist by profession, Hill cannot identify the language used in the manuscript and the time period in which it is was made, but he knows enough to make an educated guess — that the book and its case are the fruits of a long-lost, but advanced civilization.

So what books are on your wishlist this week?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #7: Heaven's Shadow

This is a weekly book meme, hosted 
by Jill @ Breaking the Spine,
which features future releases that 
we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!

My pick for this week is Heaven's Shadow,
by David S. Goyer and Michael Casutt

David S. Goyer & Michael Casutt
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published by Ace
Expected Release Date: July 5, 2011
Genre: Science Fiction

From the Amazon Synopsis

Three years ago, an object one hundred miles across was spotted on a trajectory for Earth's sun. Now, its journey is almost over. As it approaches, two competing manned vehicles race through almost half a million kilometers of space to reach it first. But when they both arrive on the entity, they learn that it has been sent toward Earth for a reason. An intelligent race is desperately attempting to communicate with our primitive species. And the message is: Help us.

This certainly sounds intriguing!
I also think it has a definite Star Trek influence,
and that's enough to get me interested,
since I love the series (the original one, that is)
as much as I love The Twilight Saga!!

Besides, I haven't read any terrific SF
in quite a while.
I've been too busy with YA paranormal romance!

So, this would be a nice change of pace.
Now, just when I'll be able to read it is
another matter entirely...
But it will look nice at the top of
my astronomical TBR pile!

So what book are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Sunday, June 19, 2011


To all the GREAT dads out there,
(including my own)
may you have a wonderful day,
surrounded by your family's love!!

God bless you all!!

Here's an adorable book recommendation
for this special day!

Maureen Child
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Published by Silhouette
September 9, 2008
(first published August 29, 2007)

This is the delightful, feel-good type of novel
that I need to read from time to time.
I know I'm not alone in this,
so I'm recommending it!

Tycoon Nick Falco hadn't been ready to
settle down just yet,
but when he found out that his
fling with Jenna Baker had resulted in
"a twin surprise", he became adamant
about giving his cute boys
his last name.
What he hadn't counted on was their mother's
insistence on hearing...
those all-important three little words.

Sounds like loads of fun!!

Hope you all enjoy the book and the day!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Situation #1: The Rainbow at the End of the Bridge, Chapter 1 (fan fiction)

Here's a wonderful meme hosted by Lori at Pure Imagination,
and Candace at Candace's Book Blog!

There are two Mr. Linky's,
one for Giveaways that you want to promote,
and the other for Posts that you want to promote.

The posts can be reviews, discussions, rants,
events you are planning,
anything that you want people to read!
There are so many great posts out there that often go unread.
Here's your chance to tell the world!
Feel free to link up to other bloggers' posts as well!
As Lori says, "Let's spread the love!"

To read my fan fiction story,
"The Rainbow at the End of the Bridge",
Chapter 1,
just go HERE.

Hope you all enjoy!

On My Wishlist #3

This is a fun weekly event hosted by
Carolyn at  Book Chick City,
 and runs every Saturday.
Each participating blogger features books 
s/he hasn't actually bought yet, but desperately wants to read,
because the stories sound so very fascinating!

These books can be either newly-published,
to be released in the near future,
or they might have been in print for several years.

In my particular case, any books I place
on my wish list are strictly the print versions,
since I do not read ebooks. 

Here are my choices for this week!

Heather Dixon
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published by Greenwillow Books
March 29, 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away.
All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries.

Aimee Friedman
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published by Point
June 1, 2009
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.

She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.

Dori Jones Yang
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published by Delacorte Books
January 11, 2011
(first published Dec. 22, 2010)

From the Goodreads Synopsis

Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin's determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu.

Besides the absolutely beautiful covers,
the plots of these books
promise very fascinating reads!!
I simply can't wait to make them mine!!

So what books are on your own wishlist this week?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Favorite Author: Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer
( Born December 24, 1973)

Some time back in 2006, I was doing my customary browsing on Amazon, in search of something new to read.  This is a compulsive ritual I engage in every single day.  Most of the time, I buy a book.  Other times, I merely torture myself with all the books I'd like to add to my collection, and know I won't be able to.  On that fateful day, I first came across Twilight.

As I've done on so many other occasions, I opened the site's reader, and sampled an excerpt.  As I read, my interest fascination increased to the point that I knew I needed to own this novel!  So I hurriedly closed the reader, and ordered the book .  I had never heard of Stephenie Meyer at the time, but I knew I had found something incredibly good!!

When I received it in the mail, I began at once to read it, falling headlong into Meyer's fascinating, utterly compelling world.  I felt that I was part of that world, somehow.  I lived the novel.  So, of course, I devoured the book in a very short time.  Then I ordered the next one, New Moon, only to have the same experience. 

Five years later, I have read Twilight three times, and the entire Saga twice.  I will never grow tired of the timeless romance of Edward and Bella, nor will I ever grow tired of a certain werewolf named Jacob Black, whom I love almost as fiercely as the vampire Edward Cullen.

The four books in the series are Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.  They tell the enthralling story of the love between a vampire boy and a human girl, who is also loved by a shapeshifter/werewolf. 

We are introduced to all three of them in the first book, in which Bella also has a chilling, nearly fatal encounter with a ruthless vampire who doesn't share the Cullen family's firm ethical code of not harming humans. 

In the second book, Edward leaves Bella, and she seeks solace in her deepening friendship with Jacob, the werewolf, who ends up falling hopelessly in love with her.  Later in the novel, she must rescue her despairing beloved from the clutches of the Volturi, a coven of ruthless vampires who have no qualms about killing humans for their blood. 

In the third book, the two groups -- the Cullen family and the werewolf members of the Quileute tribe -- have to form an uneasy alliance in order to deal with the Volturi, and a renewed threat to Bella's life. 

The fourth book portrays the wedding of Bella and Edward, as well as the birth of their very gifted, very unusual daughter.  Things come to a head with the Volturi as well, and the series reaches a satisfactory resolution, leaving its devoted fans happy, and yet wanting more...

Some of us -- myself included -- have even written Twilight-inspired fan fiction, so as to savor our beloved characters as many times as we wish...  We simply can't get enough of them!

Meyer hails from Hartford, Connecticut, USA, but grew up in Phoenix, Arizona.  She graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, with a major in English.  She and her husband, Christian Meyer, whom she married in 1994, have three sons -- Gabe, Seth, and Eli.

In addition to The Twilight Saga, she has written Midnight Sun , which tells the story of The Saga from Edward Cullen's perspective.   The book needs more work, but Meyer has put the project on hold because several chapters were leaked and appeared on the Internet.  It is available, however, on the author's official website, which you can access HERE

Other books include The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, a novella set in the Twilight universe,  The Host: A Novel, a science fiction novel for adults, and The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, released in April, 2011.

A graphic novel adaptation of the first book has also been released --- Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1, as well as The Twilight Journals, which are blank diaries adorned with quotes from The Saga. 

There are several critical analyses of the series, most of them favorable.  The one I consider best so far is Spotlight: A Close-Up Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga.  The book, written by John Granger, who has also authored an analysis of the Harry Potter series, presents a penetrating look at The Saga, discussing it as serious literature. 

I was delighted when I discovered, about a year ago, that the story had started with a dream that Meyer had one night -- a dream in which she clearly saw Edward and Bella, standing in a meadow, discussing their unusual relationship.  Edward was sparkling in the brilliant sunlight...

This dream refused to drift back into the recesses of her mind.  Instead, it blossomed and grew.  As she went about her daily duties at home with her children, it stayed with her.  So she sat down one day and began to write...and the dream flowed...

The magic of literature always begins with a dream, whether the dreamer is asleep, fully awake, or in some kind of in-between state more receptive to images from the unconscious.  In this case, Meyer's unconscious proved especially fertile!

This is the beautiful white edition of The Twilight Saga,
released only in the UK.
Of course, I own one of them!
(As well as the original one, with the black covers!)

Stephenie Meyer has profoundly touched the hearts and souls of millions of girls and women.  There are those who will disagree, criticizing the books as "cheesy", poorly written, and of no literary value whatsoever.  Stephen King, for instance, whose work I enjoy detesting with every fiber of my being, has stated that Stephenie Meyer, in contrast to J.K. Rowling, "...can't write worth a darn."  These are very unfair words indeed.  Those of us who love The Twilight Saga pay such critics no mind, however.  We have been indelibly marked by the beauty and magic of these four books, and will always treasure them!

The first three books have been made into movies, and the fourth is being filmed in two parts, the first of which will be released in November of this year. 

Many of us fans would be thrilled, of course, if Meyer published more books.  However, I would venture to say that for us, there will never be anything to equal The Twilight Saga.  It will firmly retain a place in our hearts as a testament to the power of true, unconditional love!