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Jan. 7th, 2011

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Book Review: Pegasus, by Robin McKinley

Pegasus book cover My rating:

This book is slow going at first, but also one of the most amazing novels I have ever read. It is very hard to describe what reading it was like for me — I think Robin McKinley herself says it best:

It was like -- what was it like? It wasn't like anything. It was like flying when you have no wings;...it was like hearing the colour red; it was like being someone else.

Pegasus p. 240

How do you describe a people so strange, so foreign, that human beings cannot possibly communicate with them, except by magic, and only then with great difficulty? How can you postulate that an alliance between these people and humans lasts, strong and unbroken, for a thousand years — until suddenly, two young people meet who can speak to each other?
Robin McKinley seems to do the impossible in this book. She works real magic, and also creates two of the most appealing teen characters to appear in print this year in her heroes, Syvianel and Ebon.

I would have rated this book with five stars instead of four, despite the slow start, except that it is really only half a novel. The ending is, hands down, the worst cliff-hanger I have ever read. Robin McKinley herself says that she was remembering the ending of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers: "Frodo was alive, but taken by the enemy."

Yes. It is that bad, if not worse! The second half of the story will be published in 2012. If you want to save yourself some frustration, you could wait 'til then and read the whole story at once. But, if you follow my example and read Pegasus now, you will have a unique and lovely reading experience.


Sep. 2nd, 2010

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New video for the "Invocation to Hephestia"

 Hi, everybody!

You may remember that a while ago I wrote a melody for "The Invocation to Hephestia" in Megan Whalen Turner's wonderful Queen's Thief books. Well, since I made a video for my new "Mockingjay" song, I thought I'd try to make a video for the Invocation, too. I hope you like it!

Aug. 27th, 2010

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Book Review: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

I’ll tell the truth; at first, I couldn’t read this book. I got my reserved copy, dove into it right away, and became so immersed in Katniss Everdean’s life, and the problems facing her, that I just couldn’t go on. The battles, the struggles, the heartbreak in the book merged with current news reports in my mind, and the whole world seemed to go grey and hopeless. I had to stop, and go outside to breathe.

But that was yesterday. Today I finished the book, and I can tell you that it is brilliant! Yes, it’s hard to read -- even horrific -- in places. But Suzanne Collins has done amazing things in this novel.

I’d like to keep this review spoiler free, so I won’t go into huge amounts of detail. Instead, I’m going to list, as briefly as I can, what I think makes this book so awesome. Here goes!
  1. A Fantastic Plot. And by fantastic I don’t mean far-fetched or unbelievable. A ton happens, but it’s logical -- even inexorable. I particularly loved two things.
    1. The echo of the beginning of the book at the end.
    2. The echoes of the beginning of the trilogy at the end.
      I don’t think I can say too much more without giving a lot away. But the whole trilogy is a meditation on the cycle of violence, revenge, more violence, etc. And when foreign elements, like selfless love and sacrifice, enter into this mix, what effect do they have? (Hint: it’s pretty amazing, but it might not be what you expect. But maybe you’re smarter than I am )
  2. Great Characters. I love Katniss, I love her family -- I’ve been team Peeta for ages, I’ve seen lots to admire in Gale, and I’ve even enjoyed Haymitch and the other subsidiary characters. They all seem complex and believable. In this book, I got new insights, not just into Katniss, but into almost all of the characters. Several people ended up really surprising me -- but, on reflection, everything that every character did was “true to form.”
  3. Oh! Speaking of characters....“They call him Buttercup, poor little Buttercup, though he will never know why....” (sing along, if you want to ;-D). YAY Buttercup! You Rock!!
  4. Linguistics! OK, this is just a small thing, but it's cool. The origin of the name “Panem,” is spelled out -- as part of the plot.
  5. After those two minor delights, here’s another major one. The book is tragic in many ways, but it works like a classical tragedy. It provides catharsis, and ultimately, hope. Love is not in vain, and no life well-lived is wasted.

In sum: I was caught by the book, and then I had to fight my way into it, but finally, I loved it! Go out and read it, everyone! Read the whole trilogy, it will be well worth your while.

Since I love music, I’ll also say that I loved the music in this book. I know that some of my friends and relatives also make up melodies for the songs they read about. I made one up for a song in this book. If you’d like to listen, it’s here:

Apr. 29th, 2010

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Triumph! The Invocation to Hephaestia is downloadable now!

OK everybody, I hope this works! I've made a couple of the songs on our Reverbnation Page downloadable, including The Invocation to Hephaestia!  The page is here, if the remarkable widget I have made doesn't work properly --  so you can go and grab the song, if you like it! www.reverbnation.com/artist/artist_songs/703426

Enjoy, everyone!

I am going to write and record my alternate tune soon -- I will keep you posted!

Update: Oh, well -- it doesn't seem to be working. But you can still go to our page and grab the song, if you like it!

Mar. 11th, 2010

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Invocation to Hephestia


Mar. 2nd, 2010

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A Conversation with Neesha Meminger

Hi everyone, I posted a new episode to my podcast, The Mount Kisco Library Podcast. Please click the link below to view it. http://mountkiscolibrary.podOmatic.com/entry/2010-03-01T15_36_23-08_00 See you there! - Mount

Mar. 1st, 2010

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New Podcast Episode!

Feb. 18th, 2010

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Great New ARC Giveaway Contest! LINGER, by Maggie Stiefvater!

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Jan. 22nd, 2010

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Love and Zombies

Hi everyone, I posted a new episode to my podcast, The Mount Kisco Library Podcast. Please click the link below to view it. http://mountkiscolibrary.podOmatic.com/entry/2010-01-21T23_15_01-08_00 See you there! - Mount

Dec. 30th, 2009

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I Come Bearing Yet Another Gift!

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