Restless in life and seeking no end in death
For breath of the ages in the face of the air
Still ghosts to the vitality
Of our most early and unwritten forebears
Whose wizardry still makes a like of history
Who somehow reared and loosed an impossible beauty
Among the green islands of the grey North Sea
And I will not forget.
Excerpted from Robin Williamson's Five Denials
on Merlin's Grave
Cold weather is upon us 'ere at Green Man which makes it a perfect time to introduce you to the Victorian-era conservatory we have.
After you tour, turn your attention to a bonnie bunch of reviews including a Grinch Award winning look at a Dubliners DVD which was not terribly good 'tall, a not so new Young Adult series worth checking out, and a look at a Zelazny SF short story collection. Now put on your gardeners' gloves and watch what you touch, as the plants in our conservatory are not your typical hothouse creatures!
We've gone and lost the Cheshire Cat again. Silly little bugger will wander into the conservatory. It's quite a nasty place, you know. Started out very pretty -- glass dome, fountains, marble cupids--all the Victorian doodads. But then the second baronet, Sir Malis Grimmantle, started doing his experiments there. Drawing pentagrams on the floor with chalk, animating the artwork (I never liked cupids, but the ones with fangs—they really give me the willies!).
No, you really don't want to go in there. What? You want me to guide you? It's really not a good idea. I've been a gardener here these past 160 years and nothing but trouble ever came out of that conservatory.
Now hold on! Don't call the management down on me. I'll show you 'round, but don't say I didn't warn you.
You'll need to carry a few things with you for protection. Let's see: torch, sharpened stake, sprig of rowan, salt, iron, red thread, 7 garlic cloves, 3 horseshoes and a pair of earplugs for them damn noisy sirens that live in Jenny Greenteeth's fountain. All right, if you insist, here we go.
Observe the alchemical designs on our hand-forged, wrought iron gates. They depict the marriage of Heaven and Hell and were crafted by the great Samuel Yellin.
Be sure and notice the mosaics we're walking on. They're very recent, done by Philadelphia's Isaiah Zagar. Be careful how you look at them. Stare at them too long and you'll be hypnotized. You really want to keep your wits about you here what with the carnivorous plants and all.
Do watch where you step. It's unnerving when the puddles scream back at you. Oh, yes, they all have faces. It got that nice Prof. Tolkien a bit upset…Cattails with heads? Yes, Sir Malis did have some unusual notions about horticulture. I always bring a bit of fish with me when I come here, saves me from getting scratched up.
Mind the harpies, now! They do like to throw that muck about.
We're on the Rose Walk now, heading toward the Fountain Court. The body on the bench? Professor Plum. Miss Scarlett got life, but as you can see, other forces were at work here. Once you sit in one of those benches, they just won't let go.
You can just kick the pods out of the way; they're dormant this time of year.
To your right, just inside our fernery, there is a very unusual statue of The Green Man sent to us by an admirer from Innsmouth, MA. Very odd features, almost fishlike. A family resemblance? Me? Surely you jest.
If you look up at the ceiling right here, you'll see some remarkable murals. They represent our galaxy as seen from Betelgeuse. The ceiling actually cranks open so that you can compare our sky with theirs.
The vines wrapping themselves around your legs? A special super kudzu developed by Sir Malis. Once it gets a hold of you, there's no way to detach. It's less painful if you don't fight it. The Transformation happens very quickly. Soon you will be one of us. I must say you look very fine with that ivy growing out of your ears and the wild roses in your teeth.
Welcome to the fold!
Gypsies, or Roma, have been held in high regard with some of the reviewers here at GMR for their beautiful music. So when Gary Whitehouse decided to review Little Money Street, it wasn't surprising what What really drew me in to the book was Eberstadt's love of the Perpignan Gypsies' music: 'What I had discovered was that this small city, thanks to its Gypsies, has long been a musical mecca: home to a brand of music called Gypsy rumba that, in the hands of its keenest practitioners, gives you goose bumps,' she says in Chapter 3.'' Find out if this book is more than just love of good music in Gary's Excellence in Writing Award-winning featured book review.
Our featured live review finds Mike Wilson in North Yorkshire for the biennial Wetherby Festival, and in particular a gig by Scottish six-piece, Dòchas. 'Right from the outset, Dòchas cut a fine sound with a set of lively jigs, and were warmly welcomed by an eagerly receptive audience. It was immediately obvious that tonight was going to be a memorable occasion, and Dòchas didn't put a foot wrong all night... Dòchas are a mighty force to be reckoned with in Scottish music, and you will rarely hear better than their fervent live performance.' You can read Mike's full review here!
Mike also provides our featured film review, a re-release of a mid-1990s film following The Dubliners on one of their tours of Germany, but didn't find this quite so endearing. 'The overwhelming feeling is one of disappointment, however. You're just getting into the swing of a particular song, when the sound fades out and the film switches to a shot of the outside of another venue, or another audience arriving, or the band tuning up, or the band taking lunch, or the band walking along a German street… you get the picture. There's just no consistency; it just doesn't hang together well. Basically, it just doesn't work! It has neither the thrill nor emotions that would be captured in a live performance, nor is it in any way informative to be stand alone as a documentary.' Oh dear! You can read more about why this proved so disappointing over here! Mike picks up a Grinch Award for this review!
Donna Bird starts things off with a look at two by James R. Benn, Billy Boyle and The First Wave. 'I chanced upon a copy of The First Wave on the new book table at Borders sometime during the summer and was immediately attracted by the cover art. When I looked it up on line, I discovered that it was the second book in a series. We requested and received review copies of both books from the publisher... Now that I've read them both, I think I would qualify their genre placement in two respects. Yes, they offer elements of murder mystery-but I found them to have quite a lot in common with the action adventures I also like to read... ' Want more? Check out her review!
Ah, Paris in the Spring. Or any time at all, if you've got a book -- or two -- about the subject to leaf through? Donna reviews two books about Paris and takes a historical tour via the printed page. 'Although I somehow doubt that I will ever visit the city of Paris in this lifetime, my literary travels often take me there. Many of my favorite novelists are French, and in coming to understand them better I have read more than a few historical works about France in general and Paris in particular. So it's small wonder that, when we received a review copy of Andrew Hussey's book from Bloomsbury, I offered to review it. While I was reading it, I spent some time poking around in our home library and found a very similar work by Colin Jones. I thought I'd compare and contrast these histories and let you be the judge.' Read her Excellence In Writing Award-winning review and judge for yourself!
Faith J. Cormier dug in to Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine 30th Anniversary Anthology for the first of her reviews this edition. 'Anthologies can be focused (all the winners of a particular prize from 1904 to 1971, for instance) or highly subjective (such as the best vampire stories of the last 3,000 years -- who defines 'best'?). This is one of the latter -- a walk down memory lane by Sheila Williams, in which she picked stories she had enjoyed or been impressed by over the years.' Will you find something enjoyable among these pages? Faith gets to the heart of the matter in her review.
What better way to sum up the review of The Traveler than by stealing this tidbit from it? 'Don't forget: it isn't paranoia if they really are out to get you.' Oh sure, there's more to Faith's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review than that. But if they're really out to get you, you'd probably be better served heading straight to her review...
Faith points those of you at a loss for a new Young Adult series after Harry Potter in a new direction. 'Let's get something clear right at the outset: The Worst Witch Saves the Day is not a Harry Potter clone or rip-off. The first book in the series, The Worst Witch, was published in 1974, long before Harry Potter was a gleam in J.K. Rowling's eye. On the other hand, Harry Potter is no riff on Mildred Hubble, the heroine in the series, either.' Interested? Read her review.
A post-All-Hallows Eve edition can't go by without a little shiver. Craig Clarke 's review of Dead Earth: The Green Dawn just may provide it. 'Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks were fairly new to the horror scene
when they wrote Dead Earth: The Green Dawn, their first published
novella. In between the time they wrote it and when it was accepted for
publication, however, Justice began the Pod of Horror podcast and brought Wilbanks on as
his co-host.' Read on to see if they work as well on the printed page as they do on their podcast.
What's Denise Dutton got her hands on over there? She hasn't come out of her hidey-hole near the kitchen in days, not even for hot cider and cinnamon scones. . .that's not like her one bit. Not to fear, she's just nose-deep into two books she's had her eye on for quite some time; Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone and the screenplay for Beowulf, written by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. She tears herself away from her stash briefly to apologize for not having anything this go-round, but check back soon for reviews of these two tasty new offerings!
Speaking of, who doesn't love Neil Gaiman? No, that's not a challenge, it's just that the man has written some great stuff (a good deal of it reviewed here at GMR). But sometimes the method of publication leaves a lot to be desired, coloring the enjoyment of otherwise fine stuff. Just ask Cat Eldridge; his look at one of Neil Gaiman's newer offerings, Absolute Sandman -- Volume Two is all-out honest. 'I must admit I wasn't at all impressed with the Sandman series when I read but a few of the trade paper editions -- the printing technology of that time sucked royally and it showed on those reproduced pages -- shitty paper, lousy inks, and truly poor colors when printed made for a lousy reading experience for me as it did when I recently read the first trade volume of John Constantine, but Absolute Sandman -- Volume Two is quite another experience altogether as was the first volume when I read it just about a year ago!' Read Cat's review for further for details!
Michael M. Jones review of Iron Kissed sounds like just the thing for folks who are yearning for a little more fantasy after All Hallows Eve. 'If there's one thing Mercy Thompson, mechanic and skinwalker, knows, it's that when you deal with the Fae, there's always a price to be paid. Some time ago, she borrowed several of their artifacts in order to take care of a problem, and exceeded the terms by which they could be used. Now the Fae have come to collect their payment.' Skinwalkers and the Fae? Sounds tempting...
Mindy Klasky may end up in the romance section in some bookstores, but that doesn't mean her stories aren't witchy. Michael takes a look at her latest effort, Sorcery and the Single Girl. 'When Jane Madison, a librarian working at the historic Peabridge Library in Georgetown, Washington D.C., discovered a secret cache of magical books, crystals and other paraphernalia, she was catapulted into a world of witchcraft and magic. Now she has a cat familiar, Neko, who chooses to appear as a rather flamboyantly gay human, and a sexy warder named David, whose job it is to teach her about her powers. Because, it turns out, if she can't convince the local Coven that she's responsible enough to control her abilities, they'll take it all back: familiar, warder, books, crystals and magic.' Sounds like a pretty solid foundation for a supernatural story; can she pull off straddling the genres? Michael gives you the details.
'In the city of Ethshar by the Rocks, the best supplier of materials for wizard spells is Gresh, whose worldwide network of contacts, friends, and trade secrets, has give him the reputation as a man who can find anything a wizard might need. So when Tobas, a young wizard whose miscast spell went horribly awry some years ago is ordered by the Wizard's Guild to rectify the matter, he goes to Gresh. The job? Find the enchanted mirror which is the origin of all spriggans in the World... The problem? The spriggans are indestructible, immortal, mischievous creatures, who stole the mirror years ago to protect themselves from people who'd try to destroy them all.' And that's just the beginning of The Spriggan Mirror, according to Michael. Find out if the latest in the Ethshar series is as entertaining as Michael's description in his review.
Michael also reviews Succubus On Top, for a paranormal romance twofer. 'Life is starting to look up for Georgina Kincaid, part-time bookseller and full-time succubus. After all, she's got a job where she can score as many white chocolate mochas as she wants, a boyfriend who also happens to be her favorite author of all time, and she's been given an award for exceeding and surpassing her succubus quotas for the quarter. Of course, for every plus, there's a minus.'
Left handed? Ever been given a hard time about it, or had a hard time because of the Vast Right-Hand Conspiracy? David Kidney knows how you feel. But with the release of Uncommon Sound: the left-handed guitar players that changed music, lefties can rejoice. And so can anyone who's into music, according to David; 'At over 900 pages and 2500 pictures, it's the perfect gift for the local southpaw pickers and strummers in your neighborhood. But you don't have to be left-handed to enjoy it. There's such a treasure trove of information and image that anyone with a heart for guitar will be thrilled to find this under the tree.' Well, now that All Hallows Eve is done, guess the yuletide is swinging in, so check out his Excellence in Writing Award-winning review, no matter what hand you favor!
David also looks at Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine. 'Shortcomings is one of those new style of graphic novels which is really like a little movie. You can picture it happening before your eyes because . . . well . . . the pictures are there.' Is it a good movie, or a dud? Read his review for the details.
Robert M. Tilendis
reviews a collection of Robert Zelazny's Science Fiction short stories, The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories. 'This early collection includes fifteen stories from 1963 to 1968, what I think is a key group of works from what is arguably Zelazny's most creative period. 'The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth' is one of science fiction's all-time greats.'
Two new releases from Midsummer's Night Press get a once-over by Robert, who finds them a bit outside of their old comfortable poetry. 'Lawrence Schimel's Fairy Tales for Writers is a short collection of traditional tales transplanted into the world of writing and publishing... Charles Ardai's The Good-Neighbor Policy is something different. One wants it to be a murder mystery, but it's not, except on the surface.' How they fare can be found in his review.
Robert's review of 9Tail Fox whittles down the general genre label and gets to the heart of the story. 'The book cover claims that Jon Courtenay Grimwood's 9Tail Fox is 'A novel of science fiction.' Considering what science fiction has become over the past generation, that could well be valid -- with some qualifications. I'm going to call it 'slipstream' in honor of its genre-bending tendencies and let it go at that.' Ahh, but is it any good? Robert's review lets you know.
A final note before we leave you this edition.
One Longfellow Square is hosting a CD release party for Composer and fiddler Hope Hoffman, and her band Kittlish, present original New England-style fiddle tunes and the stories which inspired their creation. Hope's collection of fiddle tunes, 'Infinite Winter Squash,' is influenced by Maine dance music (which draws on Scots-Irish, French & Scandinavian traditions), and her imaginative and narrative approach to composing. The often-humorous stories behind the tunes highlight the everyday adventures of farmers and neighbors, enjoying, grappling with or musing over farm foods and extreme weather. Larry Burkett, on guitar, accompanies many traditional fiddle players including the Don Roy Trio. Hugh McGinness plays cittern, crosstuned guitar and, if we're lucky, jaw harp. You can hear them thisaway!
Join us later in the Courtyard as Chasing Fireflies, a wonderful contradance band which has Reynard on concertina, a lovely piper-lass named Finch, and Mackenzie on fiddle, will be playing a midnight dance with Merry calling. We're expecting a cold evening with light snow so dress accordingly and take use of the mulled wine and bonfire as need be!