Monday, January 16, 2012

Yet Another Unpopular Opinion

I know this is going to be unpopular, and may even rate some hateful comments, but at this point I really don't care.

First, let me say that I agree MLK Jr. was a wonderful man who did a lot of good toward creating equality in this country. He's someone that we should all teach our children to look up to, respect, and strive to be like as they become adults.

That said, I am not a fan of today being a national/federal holiday. He was not the only person, minority or not, who worked toward racial or gender equality, yet he's the one singled out for a day of remembrance. Just my own simple opinion, but I believe it was a political move, pure and simple.

I would be much happier with a general "Civil Equality Day" where we remember and celebrate EVERYONE who contributed to making this country as great as it is today. I know it will never happen, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Books I've Read In January 2012

1) Eragon (Inheritance Cycle, Book 1), by Christopher Paolini

Eragon, a young farm boy, finds a marvelous blue stone in a mystical mountain place. Before he can trade it for food to get his family through the hard winter, it hatches a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon, a race thought to be extinct. Eragon bonds with the dragon, and when his family is killed by the marauding Ra'zac, he discovers that he is the last of the Dragon Riders, fated to play a decisive part in the coming war between the human but hidden Varden, dwarves, elves, the diabolical Shades and their neanderthal Urgalls, all pitted against and allied with each other and the evil King Galbatorix. Eragon and his dragon Saphira set out to find their role, growing in magic power and understanding of the complex political situation as they endure perilous travels and sudden battles, dire wounds, capture and escape.

In spite of the engrossing action, this is not a book for the casual fantasy reader. There are 65 names of people, horses, and dragons to be remembered and lots of pseudo-Celtic places, magic words, and phrases in the Ancient Language as well as the speech of the dwarfs and the Urgalls. But the maps and glossaries help, and by the end, readers will be utterly dedicated and eager for the next book, Eldest.

2) Diary Of A Player:How My Musical Heroes Made A Guitar Man Out Of Me, by Brad Paisley

This book is the very personal story of how Brad Paisley came of age as a musician and a man. Focusing on what it means to play the guitar and how he found his voice through a series of guitars, the book will also share what he has learned about life along the way. Beginning with his own very personal love letter to the guitar and what the instrument has meant in his life as a way to find his voice in the world, the book then moves into a musical, but personal, diary. Brad tells the story of his own musical passion, while writing loving salutes and sharing memorable tales about all the great players in country, blues, and rock & roll who have inspired him over the years.

As he wrote in liner notes of his instrumental guitar album, Play, his first guitar was a gift from his grandpa when Brad was only eight. Brad quickly learned that no matter how he changed and evolved, the guitar was his only real constant. When life gets intense, he says, “there are some people who drink, who seek counseling, eat, or watch TV, cry, sleep, and so on. I play.”

Included in the book will be sidebars from a wide array of musical stars who know and love Brad. In these sidebars, this host of guitar and musical gods will share their take on Brad or stories of their favorite memories about him.

3) Eldest (Inheritance Cycle, Book 2), by Christopher Paolini

Surpassing its popular prequel Eragon, this second volume in the Inheritance trilogy shows growing maturity and skill on the part of its very young author, who was only seventeen when the first volume was published in 2003. The story is solidly in the tradition (some might say derivative) of the classic heroic quest fantasy, with the predictable cast of dwarves, elves, and dragons--but also including some imaginatively creepy creatures of evil.

The land of Alagaesia is suffering under the Empire of the wicked Galbatorix, and Eragon and his dragon Saphira, last of the Riders, are the only hope. But Eragon is young and has much to learn, and so he is sent off to the elven forest city of Ellesmera, where he and Saphira are tutored in magic, battle skills, and the ancient language by the wise former Rider Oromis and his elderly dragon Glaedr. Meanwhile, back at Carvahall, Eragon's home, his cousin Roran is the target of a siege by the hideous Ra'zac, and he must lead the villagers on a desperate escape over the mountains. The two narratives move toward a massive battle with the forces of Galbatorix, where Eragon learns a shocking secret about his parentage and commits himself to saving his people.

The sheer size of the novel, as well as its many characters, places with difficult names, and its use of imaginary languages make this a challenging read, even for experienced fantasy readers. It is essential to have the plot threads of the first volume well in mind before beginning--the publisher has provided not only a map, but a helpful synopsis of the first book and a much-needed Language Guide. But no obstacles will deter the many fans of Eragon from diving headfirst into this highly-awaited fantasy.

Goal for 2012: 60 Year to date: 3
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