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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Extra Credit

"Extra Credit": A Nameless Witch by A Lee Martinez

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (May 1, 2007)
SBN-10: 0765315483

From BooklistThe nameless witch is the victim of a family curse that was supposed to make her hideous and undead. The undead part took, but she is otherwise quite lovely. A witch she calls Ghastly Edna buys her from her parents and trains her in all the witchy arts, including how to dress so that people see the hideous hag they expect a witch to be. When inhuman agents of a mysterious force attack Ghastly Edna, before she expires she tells the nameless witch she has two choices: live a long, peaceful life, or pursue revenge and possible doom, though happiness might instead be the outcome. Of course, the nameless witch chooses revenge. With her demonic duck familiar and a troll met en route, she travels to a town where she provides useful services until a gobling [sic] army attacks. She resumes her quest, with White Knight Wyst of the West added to her company. Thanks to a healthy dose of Martinez's signature humor (see his Alex Award winner, Gil's All Fright Diner, 2005), entertainingly witchy. Regina Schroeder

Martinez has a sense of humor and has a way of giving it to many ofhis characters. This is the third book of his that I've read. I will admit the first was and still is my favorite, Gil's All Fright Diner, but I enjoyed his other book, In the Company of Ogres too.

In this book he's made a beautiful hag of a witch (with no name), a demon duck named Newt, a troll named Gwurm and a dark White Knight, who's full title is: Wyst of the West, Defender of the Weak, Destroyer of the Four, Sworn Champion of Decency, Avowed Foe of Evil.
She is on a quest of vengeance for the person who had her mentor Ghastly Edna killed.

Once the entourage was formed the witch informs Newt... My vision was making more sense with every passing hour. I shared what I knew, well aware it wouldn't satisfy him. "Four trials. Trial by peril. Trial by strength. Trial by combat. And trial by magic." "Trials? Didn't the vision mention perhaps something along the lines of miles or days?" I merely smiled.

This book, like his others stays true to form showing Martinez's sense of humor.. be it as it may. But the story itself was not as good as the other books. Or I should say, it wasn't to my liking as much as the other books. I felt a bit like he was running out of material to write about.

However, I will always suggest that anyone who wants humor mixed with the likes of vampires to read his first book of Gil's All Fright Diner.. and I've seen where he has a new book out, which at some other time I may give a go at.

But for now I am off to reread Cornelia Funke's books of Inkheart and Inkspell because the last book is about to be mailed to me from amazon of Inkdeath!

Paul Newman

Paul Newman: January 1925 - September 26 2008

Oh so briefly I will say that Mr Newman was nominated 10 times for the Academy Award, including eight times as Best Actor, once as Best Supporting Actor, and once for Best Picture.

A movie that always stayed with me because he starred with the great Jessica Tandy was: Nobody's Fool (1994) .... Sully Sullivan with Jessica Tandy

And I believe, that among his final award nominations were the awards he won for HBO's Empire Falls (2005) (TV) .... Max Roby

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.

I am not even going to attempt a tribute to this great actor.. but rather I will tell you if you want to read a really good tribute click this link to read one at Naomi's blog of Here In The Hills. She's done a super job... as she always does.

A legend in his own lifetime.. Paul Newman, you, your talent and your giving nature will be missed greatly.

Monday, September 29, 2008

This 'n' That

As I write this it's Sunday...

On Sunday I almost always watch TCM channel on tv at least part of the day. This morning when I turned it on I was totally surprised to see that the movie playing was Rebecca!

What are the chances of that happening? I mean, I just finished the book less than a week ago and here it is on television! This was the old black and white version directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

So fresh in my mind from the book I watched carefully, waiting to see what little things had to be dropped out of the movie to keep it short. I notice very small things deleted for the sake of "time".. but more than that I found myself smiling at how much it did stay with the book.

After that I couldn't help but remember and be amazed once again at how Hitchcock played with shadows and creepy music for the scenes being played. Wonderful, wonderful! And then of course there was Dame Judith Anderson (quite young) being so sinister and evil as Danver's the maid.

Who would have ever thought that Judith Anderson would go from (1940) evil and sinister...

To (1984) T'Lar in Star Trek saving Spock's Katra!

.... you came a long way baby!

Oh, well... I never expected to be talking about Rebecca again, at least not this soon!.. must be fate.

I little item I've wanted to mention and for whatever reasons (mostly brain farts I'm sure) I've neglected ...

A while ago Becky was nice enough to leave a link.. here... where anyone who like the old tv series of Beauty and the Beast can see some of the entire episodes. Thank you Becky!!

We've had 3 days of rain and I'm more than ready for the spout to be shut off! But our Fall has arrived. The temps dropped down into the 70 and even 60's at times and the leaves have the beginnings of changing color.

October is in a few days.. that means Chiller Theater Show will be back the weekend before Halloween. If my brothers health holds up I will take a break and go to it.

Besides my artist buddies of Roger Kastel and Ken Kelly there are a few folks who's autograph I really REALLY want. I don't know if I can afford them all because I don't know what they will charge but here's who I want:

First and foremost.. if I can only get ONE.. it would be: yep, Richard Dreyfuss!! Ask me how much I love Close Encounters... ask me how much I love Mr Holland's Opus... ask me how much I love Jaws... then ask me if I love Richard Dreyfuss!.. duh!

Second up, if I can afford two autographs is: Lou Gossett Jr.! If you haven't seen the movie Enemy Mine... well you haven't seen a great movie. The only bad part is you won't recognize Lou Gossett.. but he did a magnificent acting job just the same!

Third choice for an autograph would be: Sean Astin's mother lol.. Patty Duke ! I am hoping she will have a photo from The Miracle Worker!

Fourth up is: Burt Reynolds. I can't tell you how many times I saw Smokey and the Bandit!! I won't lie here though.. I was in love with Jerry Reed! lol.. but Burt has given me many smiles (though Deliverance wasn't one of them) and I'd love his signature in my collection.

And lastly (though there are more I would want these are the top five and will be happy with any of these...

Fifth: Linda Hamilton. It's true I loved her in Terminator, but she will always be "Beauty" of Beauty and the Beast to me!

Guess that catches me up with all the news going on.... I hope ya'll had a great weekend... and a fantastic week ahead.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


A note of thanks..........

Though my brother will never really get well, each time he has to go to the hospital and rehab he comes home worse off than before... but.... this time his heart stopped several times and so we are most grateful that he is still alive!!

He is now out of ICU (again) and will be shipped to rehab probably tomorrow and the real work begins again. He has to be able to stand on his own before he can come home so that he can get to the potty. Not a big order for many but he is paralyzed on his right side and now after two months in the hospital his "good leg" is weak and he now has a big fear of falling... so even if things go well without any more setbacks this could take a while. We've got our fingers crossed, but we know we can't really relax totally and think there won't be more setbacks .. or worse.

One day at a time.

Thanks again for all your concerns. I try not to mention it all the time, more for me than everyone else lol..I try to make my time on the computer "free my mind time" though anyone who has been thru stuff like this knows that's not a reality.. but I try !!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I thought I would give a little update on my brother..

It all began July 24th when we took him to the doctor and she put him in the hospital to treat cellulitis. Things have gone downhill since then.

About 2 1/2 or 3 weeks ago he finally left the hospital after treatment to breath consisting of being on a respirator for 10 days and then a defibrillator put in his chest. (all of that was due to the fact that he stopped breathing several times and had to zap his heart) He went to Stratford Manor which is a rehab place.

He was there not quite 2 weeks. Things were not progressing as they had other times. Then one Saturday we were there and he was noticeably worse trying to breath and he had a hard time staying awake. Every few minutes he'd fall asleep and wake again and do it all over again. We went back Sunday and it was worse.. we were trying to help feed him and he'd fall asleep while chewing food. We talked to the nurse there who in turn called his doctor and he was sent back to the hospital.

Immediately we saw a breathing and his awareness improve.. this was because they put him back on a steroid stating his one lung lobe showed pneumonia... but he looked and acted much improved... we were hopeful again. Yet not so. My brother (among his many health problems) is diabetic... when on steroids it sends his sugar count sky high. (not good).. but .. no choice.

We went last night to see him, as we have been every night since July 24th and we were told he was back in ICU. My heart started pounding. Once there, we found him asleep. David touched his arm a few times to waken him but he didn't waken (he was on monitors and they read ok) We called a nurse who had a hard time waking him but he finally woke (this was after not waking even when one nurse stuck needles him and took blood).

Finally, a nurse talked to us and told us why he wound up in ICU.. we thought it was his breathing again and it was.. sorta.. but what happened was his catheter wasn't working and his kidneys were backed up and it affected his breathing.. it took them a bit to figure it all out but once they changed the catheter his breathing got somewhat better right a way. He probably will be sent back to a normal room today... and then it's back to rehab.

That's all the latest from here...

Friday, September 26, 2008

RIP III Conclusion

So... my RIP Challenge is about as official as it can get..

I did Perils the First: Read 4 books.....

1- The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (not as good as expected)

2- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (re-read) (Excellent again!)

3- Dracula by Braum Stoker (disappointed.. boring)

4- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (very enjoyable)

....Then I did Perils the Second: Read 2 books...

1- The Ghost Writer by John Harwood (enjoyable)

2- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (excellent)

... Then I did Perils the Third: Read 1 book...

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books (May 13, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0375851763

Jacet art by: Jonathan Barkat (I must say, the cover art had much to do with the selection of this book!)

Product Description
THE SECRETS OF the past meet the shocks of the present.
Aslaug is an unusual young woman. Her mother has brought her up in near isolation, teaching her about plants and nature and language—but not about life. Especially not how she came to have her own life, and who her father might be.

When Aslaugs mother dies unexpectedly, everything changes. For Aslaug is a suspect in her mother’s death. And the more her story unravels, the more questions unfold. About the nature of Aslaug’s birth. About what she should do next.

About whether divine miracles have truly happened. And whether, when all other explanations are impossible, they might still happen this very day.

Addictive, thought-provoking, and shocking, Madapple is a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention—and of the darkest corners of the human soul.

When I began this book I wasn't sure I'd like it. Here was a mother with her 15 yr old daughter searching in the fields for plants for eating, and for medical reasons.. it seemed strange. But it did have the one thing that will have me keep reading "just a little more" to see if it gets better... it had very short chapters!

I was slightly confused at first, every other chapter had our protagonist, Aslaug, on trial. First it was because it was thought she might have had something to do with her mothers death, and then, because she was a lone survivor of a fire in which relatives died, she was thought to have poisoned them and set the fire.

The book alternates chapters between Aslaugh's story and the trial. The trial generally was only 2 pages or so but continued to set the stage for the next chapter.

It was different.. and it was captivating because you wanted to understand what this child had been through and you want to see how the trial turns out, and those very short chapters makes it possible to read, "just one more chapter" every time.

This book would not be for everyone. Much of the book is surrounded in religion and religious beliefs (and non religious beliefs) and may put some people off to reading it.

I did found it quite a strange book. It held my interest enough to read the entire book, but it will not be one that I will want to read again one day. I don't use the star system to say how much I like or dislike a book but in this case I guess I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.

This concludes all Three Perils that Carl has set for the RIP III Challenge for this year!! I was never one to read aboutvampires and werewolves and such (and I'm still not) but thanks to Carl's Challenge I have discovered that I do enjoy Gothic Mystery's (is there such a thing??) Books like The Thirteenth Tale and even some light comedy books like Gil's All Fright Diner. This year found me enjoying The Historian and Rebecca... sometimes I surprise even myself!!

Thanks again Carl for putting together a great challenge!! (I may even sneak one more book in!.. maybe.. )

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Those are the famous opening words to both the book of Rebecca and the movie of the same name...

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (November 1, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0380730405

From Library Journal
Surely no audio book collection should be without some version of this timeless classic, arguably the most famous and well-loved gothic novel of the 20th century, and this production would be an excellent choice. Read in wonderfully British cadences by Anna Massey, all the mysterious and oppressive nuances are made immediate and chilling. We even feel some sympathy for the absurdly timid and cowering heroine; it is, after all, easy to imagine feeling woefully inferior to the predecessor and desperately eager to please. Of course the story requires great leaps of credulity... Forget the movie; it makes mincemeat of the actual tale. A wise seven-year-old once told me, "The book is always betterDit goes right into your head." This is a prime example Dlisten again; it gets even better. Highly recommended. DHarriet Edwards, East Meadow P.L., NY

Most recently, if I read a book that was once a movie that I had seen, more than likely , a number of times, I seem not to enjoy the book so much. This is NOT the case with Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

At certain parts in the book I did find that I got a mental picture from the movie, which was an enjoyable addition to reading the book.

This was a great book for the RIP challenge. It surely had that Gothic feel to it, and if the maid, Mrs Danvers, doesn't creep you out.. well then you don't know creepy!

Excerpt: Then I heard a step behind me and turning round I saw Mrs Danvers. I shall never forget the expression on her face. Triumphant, gloating, excited in a strange unhealthy way. I felt very frightened.

(a bit later:speaking of mrs Danvers) She took hold of my arm, and walked me towards the bed. I could not resist her, I was like a dumb thing. The touch of her hand made me shudder. And her voice was low and intimate, a voice I hated and feared.

Trust me.. it's creepy!

(more from the book:) Mrs Danvers came close to me, she put her face near to mine. "It's no use, is it?" she said, "You'll never get the better of her. She's still mistress here, even if she is dead. She's the real Mrs de Winter, no you. It's you that's the shadow and the ghost. It's you that's forgotten and not wanted and pushed aside. Well, why don't you leave Manderley to her? Why don't you go?"

She pushed me towards the open window. I could see the terrace below me grey and indistinct in the white wall of fog. "Look down there," she said. "It's easy, isn't it? Why don't you jump? It wouldn't hurt, not to break your neck.. It's a quick kind way. It's not like drowning. Why don't you try it? Why don't you go?"

... Manderley...

I don't think one can say enough about this book. There's love, there's deception, there's mystery...and then there's Mrs Danvers, making sure Rebecca remains in every room on every chair in the house..... it just has it all, and I believe you will find that once you begin to read this book, that you will not want to put it down.

I would recommend both the book and the movie for a good read and a good movie to watch .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Am Honored

oh wow! Ladytink has taken it upon herself to gift me with yet another award!

Ladytink and I do share a love of the old movies. I find myself amazed (but joyed) that such a young lady can have such a love for the old, OLD movies! I think it's pretty unusual, unless one has a desire to do some sort of work that deals with the movie industry... But if you read her blog you will see that she truly enjoys the movies and the stars of days gone by.

Thanks again Tink !

May we never run out of movies to enjoy!

Tink has awarded this to a number of her favorite blogs so check out her blog to see who else got this great award!!

I am to pass it on but I have so many blogs/ journals I read on a daily basis that it would be just wrong of me to try to pick a few as favorites. If you know I read your blog/ journal.. then you know I would vote you in for this award!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Day After

So... did everyone feel the change in the weather yesterday when Fall arrived?? It's been quite cool here in New Jersey, so I can say we felt it (and are feeling it) right now!

I do love the temps in the 70's so there are no complaints here! I'm sure there will be many when Winter arrives, but for now it's a welcome relief.

Ok, now tell me... how many people missed seeing 82 year old Cloris Leachman dance on Dancing With The Stars?

Not only can she still dance in high heels at this age, but she hasn't lost one wit of her sense of humor! If you think she doesn't know she can't win you'd be wrong.. but she sure is having fun trying!! She's already outdone me and she has nearly 20 years on me!

I've always enjoyed Cloris.. among her achievements are: an Oscar for The Last Picture Show 1971 (a Peter Bogdanovich movie) also 9 Emmy's and a Golden Globe.. not too shabby!

She has a Filmography list of 226 movies/ tv.. just saying that exhausts me! Among which you will find two hysterically funny television shows she did:

"Mary Tyler Moore" .... Phyllis Lindstrom (34 episodes, 1970-1977)
"Phyllis" .... Phyllis Lindstrom (48 episodes, 1975-1977)

..and one of my favorite comedy movies: Young Frankenstein (1974) .... Frau Blücher (if you haven't seen this movie .. it's a must see!)

All in all Dancing With the Stars was a good show.. sorry if ya'll missed it..

I hope you have a Happy First Full Day of Fall !

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stage Door Canteen

Every so often, movie studios would make a movie to show off their "stable of stars". This was back when the studio's owned their actors and actresses. Sometimes a simple movie was made just to show off the stars.. Stage Door Canteen filled that bill, and kept in mind we were still at war at the same time.

Stage Door Canteen... 1943

"Dakota," a young soldier on a pass in New York City, visits the famed Stage Door Canteen, where famous stars of the theatre and films appear and host a recreational center for servicemen during the war. Dakota meets a pretty young hostess, Eileen, and they enjoy the many entertainers and a growing romance

There were so many stars in this movie I gave the though to finding a photo of each of them and I would put it next to their names... then after I found a number of photo's I realized what a huge post this would be.. so, I decided not to get photo's of everyone.

Once again.. this is one of those old movies that not everyone watches (but should). Most of this cast just did cameo appearances but the fact that they put so many of them in is amazing.

Many of you will scroll down and maybe recognize a name or two here and there but if not an avid old movie watcher will not know many of them.

Here is the list of the Cast (in credits order) verified as complete

Judith Anderson ... Herself ( Dame Judith Anderson)
Kenny Baker ... Himself
Tallulah Bankhead ... Herself
Ralph Bellamy ... Himself
Edgar Bergen ... Himself
Charlie McCarthy ... Himself

Ray Bolger ... Himself
Ina Claire ... Herself
Katharine Cornell ... Herself
Gracie Fields ... Herself
Lynn Fontanne ... Herself
Helen Hayes ... Herself

Katharine Hepburn ... Herself

Hugh Herbert ... Himself
Jean Hersholt ... Himself

George Jessel ... Himself
Gypsy Rose Lee ... Herself
Alfred Lunt ... Himself

Harpo Marx ... Himself
Elsa Maxwell ... Herself
Yehudi Menuhin ... Himself
Ethel Merman ... Herself

Paul Muni ... Himself

Merle Oberon ... Herself

George Raft ... Himself
Lanny Ross ... Himself
Martha Scott ... Herself
Ethel Waters ... Herself

Johnny Weissmuller ... Himself

Ed Wynn ... Himself
Henry Armetta ... Himself
Benny Baker ... Himself
Helen Broderick ... Herself
Lloyd Corrigan ... Himself
Jane Darwell ... Herself
William Demarest ... Himself
Virginia Field ... Herself
Vinton Freedley ... Himself
Ann Gillis ... Herself
Lucile Gleason ... Herself (as Lucille Gleason)
Vera Gordon ... Herself
Virginia Grey ... Herself
Sam Jaffe ... Himself
Allen Jenkins ... Himself
Roscoe Karns ... Himself
Tom Kennedy ... Himself

Otto Kruger ... Himself
June Lang ... Herself
Betty Lawford ... Herself
Bert Lytell ... Himself - Canteen Master of Ceremonies
Aline MacMahon ... Herself
Horace McMahon ... Himself (as Horace MacMahon)
Helen Menken ... Herself
Peggy Moran ... Herself
Ralph Morgan ... Himself
Alan Mowbray ... Himself
Elliott Nugent ... Himself
Patrick O'Moore ... Australian
Franklin Pangborn ... Himself
Helen Parrish ... Herself
Brock Pemberton ... Himself
Selena Royle ... Herself
Marion Shockley ... Lillian
Cornelia Otis Skinner ... Herself
Ned Sparks ... Himself
Bill Stern ... Himself
Arleen Whelan ... Herself
Dame May Whitty ... Herself
Count Basie ... Himself - as Conductor of the Count Basie Orchestra
Xavier Cugat... Himself - as Conductor of the Xavier Cugat Orchestra
Benny Goodman ... Himself - as Conductor of the Benny Goodman Orchestra
Kay Kyser ... Himself - as Conductor of the Kay Kyser Band
Guy Lombardo ... Himself - Conductor of the Guy Lombardo Orchestra
Freddy Martin ... Himself - as Conductor of the Freddy Martin Orchestra (as Freddie Martin)
Cheryl Walker ... Eileen Burke
William Terry ... Dakota Smith
Marjorie Riordan ... Jean
Lon McCallister ... California Jack Gilman
Margaret Early ... Ella Sue
Sunset Carson ... Tex (as Michael Harrison)
Dorothea Kent ... Mamie - Jersey's Girl
Fred Brady ... Jersey Wallace
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kay Kyser Band ... Themselves
Benny Goodman Orchestra ... Themselves
Guy Lombardo Orchestra ... Themselves
Count Basie Orchestra ... Themselves
Freddy Martin Orchestra ... Themselves
Xavier Cugat Orchestra ... Themselves
Harry Babbitt ... Kay Kyser Band Singer (uncredited)
Dave Barbour ... Himself (uncredited)
Julie Conway ... Kay Kyser Band Singer (uncredited)
Jane Cowl ... Herself (uncredited)
Helen Dumas ... (uncredited)
Trudy Erwin ... Kay Kyser Band Singer (uncredited)
Dorothy Fields ... Herself (uncredited)

Pat Flaherty ... Dubious Army Sergeant (uncredited)

Arlene Francis ... Herself (uncredited)

Mack Gray ... Waiter (uncredited)
George E. Green ... Himself - Freddy Martin Orchestra Member (uncredited)

Eddie Hall ... Soldier on Train (uncredited)
Louis Jean Heydt ... Captain Robinson (uncredited)
John James ... Don Brandt - Marine with Virginia Grey (uncredited)
Virginia Kaye ... Herself (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp ... Marine (uncredited)
Jack Lambert ... Sailor Cutting In withIna Claire (uncredited)
Gertrude Lawrence ... Herself (uncredited)

Peggy Lee ... Herself - Benny Goodman Orchestra Singer (uncredited)
Jack Martin ... Kay Kyser Band Singer (uncredited)
Sully Mason ... Kay Kyser Band Singer (uncredited)
George Mathews ... Marine Sergeant with Ray Bolger (uncredited)
Marian Moore ... (uncredited)
Elizabeth Morgan ... (uncredited)
Caleb Peterson ... Johnny Jones (uncredited)
Francis Pierlot ... Minister at Jersey's Wedding (uncredited)
Ruth Roman ... Girl (uncredited)
Lina Romay ... Xavier Cugat Orchestra Singer (uncredited)
Johnny Roventini ... Johnny - Bellhop 'Living Tradmark' for Philip Morris Cigarettes (uncredited)
Mortimer Snerd ... Himself (uncredited)
Arthur Walsh ... Jitterbugging Soldier (uncredited)
Max Williams ... Kay Kyser Band Singer (uncredited)
Matt Willis ... Sergeant on Train (uncredited)

Have you ever seen such a list of names in one movie?!?

It's one of those movies worth watching just to see who's in it!...

I laugh at the thought of a studio trying to make a movie with this many stars in it today! Heh... never gunna happen! To bad, it would be neat seeing a movie that had scads and scads of today's stars doing cameo's in it, just to have them all in one movie!

Oh well... it's just one of those dreamy thoughts, ya know?!...

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Little Extra..

.... did you know that Amazon gives away a free catbed with every purchase?!

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Peril the Second: Read 2 books.. (one of two)

The Ghost Writer by John Harwood

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harvest Books (June 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0156032325

From Publishers Weekly
Sly nods to spooky literary spinsters—Henry James's Miss Jessel and Dickens's Miss Havisham—set the tone for this confident debut, a gothic suspense novel with a metatextual spin. Gerard Freeman grows up on the windswept southern coast of Australia in the late 20th century with a controlling mother strangely silent about the details of her childhood in England. His only solace is steadfast English pen friend, Alice, to whom he confides everything. What was Gerard's mother, Phyllis, hoping to escape when she left England? The protagonist slowly pieces together his mother's past with the aid of short stories written by his great-grandmother, Viola. These cunning tales, filled with supernatural occurrences and séances, are seamlessly embedded in the main narrative, offering Gerard—and readers—enticing clues into his troubled family's history. After Phyllis's death, her newly liberated son travels to England, hoping to learn more and to pursue elusive Alice. As he searches through the country house his mother inhabited long ago, Gerard finds past and present fusing in horrifying fashion. In the hands of a lesser novelist, sustaining several plot lines might have been difficult. But the novel links textual investigation and sublimated passion, building to a satisfying, unexpected ending.

Ok, so.. remember who is writing this.. me! This is "me outside of my comfort zone".. this whole RIP challenge is outside my comfort zone.. but each year I have enjoyed, at least, some of the books I have read.

So far this year I reread The Thirteenth Tale (and loved it a second time), read The House at Riverton (that was ok but still a bit of a disappointment), read Braum Stoker's Dracula (liked the writing and the style but found it a bit boring) and lastly read, The Historian (this one may have had a touch "too much history" for my liking, but I did enjoy the book very much)

Which brings me to the new Peril to read 2 more books..

The Ghost Writer, by John Harwood... ok so... overall, I liked it. I very much enjoyed the story of Gerard and his finding out about his family history. Yes, that part I enjoyed very much.

I was not thrilled with the "stories" in between though... it bothered me to be deep into discovering something about Gerard and his family only to be torn away to read a story written by "grandma"..

I know it's me.. you have to lead me into something gently and unknowingly, if you tear me away from something I am enjoying into something that (at the time) has nothing to do with the initial story.. well.. it makes me want to skip over it! And I will not lie.. I did a bit of skipping! The funny thing is.. it didn't seem to hurt the initial story at all ! And that initial story.. well.. it's a good one! I think many will like this book more than I did. I think John Harwood put the "spook" in "spookey" when it comes to ghost stories!

I am not saying I didn't enjoy the book.. just that there were parts I wasn't thrilled with.. (remember this is not in my comfort zone!) but as for the rest of it, I had a hard time putting it down.

Bottom line is: Carl suggested a good read, I was very caught up in Gerards story... and Alice. (insert Twilight Zone music here !)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yet Another Peril...

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (book 4 of 4)

Hardcover: 656 pages
ISBN-10: 0316011770
If your pulse flutters at the thought of castle ruins and descents into crypts by moonlight, you will savor every creepy page of Elizabeth Kostova's long but beautifully structured thriller The Historian. The story opens in Amsterdam in 1972, when a teenage girl discovers a medieval book and a cache of yellowed letters in her diplomat father's library. The pages of the book are empty except for a woodcut of a dragon. The letters are addressed to: "My dear and unfortunate successor." When the girl confronts her father, he reluctantly confesses an unsettling story: his involvement, twenty years earlier, in a search for his graduate school mentor, who disappeared from his office only moments after confiding to Paul his certainty that Dracula--Vlad the Impaler, an inventively cruel ruler of Wallachia in the mid-15th century--was still alive. The story turns out to concern our narrator directly because Paul's collaborator in the search was a fellow studentnamed Helen Rossi (the unacknowledged daughter of his mentor) and our narrator's long-dead mother, about whom she knows almost nothing. And then her father, leaving just a note, disappears also.
As well as numerous settings, both in and out of the East Bloc, Kostova has three basic story lines to keep straight--one from 1930, when Professor Bartolomew Rossi begins his dangerous research into Dracula, one from 1950, when Professor Rossi's student Paul takes up the scent, and the main narrative from 1972. The criss-crossing story lines mirror the political advances, retreats, triumphs, and losses that shaped Dracula's beleaguered homeland--sometimes with the Byzantines on top, sometimes the Ottomans, sometimes the rag-tag local tribes, or the Orthodox church, and sometimes a fresh conqueror like the Soviet Union.

Although the book is appropriately suspenseful and a delight to read--even the minor characters are distinctive and vividly seen--its most powerful moments are those that describe real horrors. Our narrator recalls that after reading descriptions of Vlad burning young boys or impaling "a large family," she tried to forget the words: "For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history's terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could never have told me. Only history itself can convince you of such a truth." The reader, although given a satisfying ending, gets a strong enough dose of European history to temper the usual comforts of the closing words. --Regina Marler

In part one of the book, we follow a father and daughter as they discuss the fact that it is believed that Dracula is still alive. As the daughter digs for information, both from her father, and from libraries, and from letters left by Mr. Rossi, her father seems to be coming weaker until one day he simply disappears. We are in search of: Dracula!

I was 1/3 of the way thru the book and it was turning out to be pretty good...I continued to read.. on.. and on... and on... and....on.

By part 2, I gave myself some atmosphere while I read Rossi's letters of his search for Vlad Dracula, while his daughter Helen and Paul searched for him.

By now it is believed that Rossi, who mysteriously disappeared, would be found at Dracula's tomb... I read on.

Here is a snippet of one of Rossi's letters:

I remembered Bram Stoker's hero setting off into the Transylvanian forests... a fictional version , in any case... by stagecoach, and almost wished we'd departed at evening, so that I too might have glimpses of mysterious fires in the woods, and hear wolves howling. It was a shame, I thought, that Georgescu had never read the book, and I resolved to try to send him a copy from England, if I ever got back to such a humdrum place. Then I remembered my encounter in Istanbul and it sobered me.

This very large book was more interesting than I thought it would be. I was surprised at how quickly I was reading the chapters.

To keep things interesting we were also reading a love story. I can't say I expected a love story in the middle of a story in which Historians were searching to Dracula!

Snippit : upon reaching what they believed was Dracula's tomb: Helen drew back, white lipped in the candlelight, and I fought the urge to take her arm and run up the steps. "Helen", I began softly, but there was nothing else to say. I picked up the dagger and Helen slipped a hand into some part of her clothing... I never did see where... and drew out the tiny pistol, which she put an arm's-length away, near the wall. Then we reached under the edge of the gravestone and lifted. The stone slid halfway off, a marvelous construction. We were both shaking visibly, so that the stone all but slipped out of our grasp. When it was off we looked down at the body inside, the heavily closed eyes, the sallow skin, the unnaturally red lips, the shallow, soundless breathing. It was Professor Rossi.

Not only were we searching for Dracula's tomb, in hope that he was dead not alive.. but things kept popping up to make me believe Dracula was very much alive. *groan*

I found that I began to wonder...

Did I now believe in Dracula?

..a blood-sucking vampire???


No way!

that's just ridiculous..

there are no vampires!

Despite the fact I seem to be sleeping more than normal.. This book was an enjoyable read, and I think you'd enjoy it too!

This completes my RIP Challenge Peril the First, to read 4 books... but since it's not even October yet I decided to "continue" and try now for Peril the Second, to read Two books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose... at least I will try... I mean.. well.. if I can shake off being so sleepy!