Friday, March 16, 2007

Lots of Copies Printed for Final Potter Book

Scholastic Corp announced yesterday that it would release a record-breaking 12 million copies for the first US printing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which will be released on July 21, 2007.

The release of the seventh and final book in the popular series by British author JK ROWLING will be backed by a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign and is expected to be one of the biggest publishing events in recent years.

Harry Potter books are available in 64 different languages and have sold 325 million copies. There are four feature films based on the series - and the fifth film, based on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will be opening in theaters a week before the new book's arrival.

The first printing of Deathly Hallows breaks a record of 10.8 million copies of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in 2005. That book sold 6.9 million in the first 24 hours.

Review - The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess another novel by Philippa Gregory. This one focuses on the life of Katerine of Aragon, Henry the VIII's first wife. The book starts with Katerine's childhood and then progresses to her first marage to Arthur, Henry's older brother. Katherine's passion turns her marriage with Arthur beautiful, but the beauty is diminished when Arthur suddenly dies of consumption. They plan how they will make England a prosperous country. Arthur, on his death bed makes Katherine promise that she will become Queen of England, marry Arthur's brother, and deny that their marriage was consummated, a lie. Unfortunately, it's not that easy Katherine struggles to become Queen, and eventually falls from power.

I enjoyed this novel very much. It is interesting in that unlike some of her other novels she actually tells the story through a main charicter - I find it more interesting when the story is told through a secondary character like in The Other Boleyn Girl

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Review - The Queen's Fool

The Queen's Fool is another novel by Phillipa Gregory. It was very good read. I enjoy very much Phillipa's style of writing - however I found The Queen's Fool a bit less compelling then some of her other work. The reason for this is that the story's focus was a litle blurred at times and parts of the plot were a bit contrived in my opinion. I still would recommend this novel as a good read.

"A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love.
It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee.

Her gift of "Sight," the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward's protector, who brings her to court as a "holy fool" for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires. Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen's Fool is another rich and emotionally resonant gem from this wonderful storyteller."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

LibriVox - Public Domain Audio Books

Some time ago I found a site that provides public domain audio books either in mp3 or oog format LibriVox. I know that not everyone has the time to read, a few years ago I was commuting by car 90 minutes (one way!) so I got very into books on tape/CD. It's a great resource - and if you have time, they are always looking for volunteers to do reading as well. Another great place to find books on tape/CD is the library of course.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Review - Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

This is another Book Club read - An amazing story. I didn't know if I would enjoy the book when I first started it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is the true story (compiled from the surviving diaries and interviews of crew members) of Ernest Shackleton. He made a number of expeditions to the south pole. Endurance (1914 -1916) is probably his most well known voyage. Mostly because the trip was planned to be an attempt to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea south of the Atlantic, to the Ross Sea south of the Pacific, by way of the Pole.

The Voyage set out from London in August of 1914, and reached the Weddell Sea in January of the following year, where the pack ice closed in on the Endurance. The ship was broken by the ice on October 27, 1915. The 28 crew members managed to flee to Elephant Island, bringing three small boats with them.
All of them survived after Shackleton and five other men managed to reach the southern coast of South Georgia in one of the small boats, from where Shackleton organized a rescue operation to bring home the remaining men. (more)

Also amazing is the beautiful and striking black and white photos from the expedition. The pictures could stand all by themselves. The book is a reasonably easy read with a wonderful personal tone and feel. It makes you feel like you were there, right beside the amazing men who rescued themselves.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Review - The Other Boleyn Girl

I have an interest in historic fiction to begin with and Elizabethan history in particular so I've been looking at reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory for some time. I finally borrowed a copy from the Library in mid December.

The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of the second of Henry VIII's wives Anne Boleyn. Her rise to becoming Queen and her fall from grace. What is unique about this story is that it is told from the point of view from her sister, Mary Boleyn. Mary was a woman who is not often mentioned by history, although she was mistress to the King.

"Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands.

A rich and compelling tale of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her own heart.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a wonderful read. I found it engaging and enjoyable. Although it is not completely historically accurate, it is still a beautiful look into the world of the court of Henry VIII. I can highly recommend this to fans of historic fiction.

Review - Running with Scissors: A Memoir

The first book I read for the book club I joined was Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs.

"Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances."
I thought the book was well written and an interesting read. It had the effect of making me laugh at moments with the unusual and downright bizarre situations but it was also very graphic at times and deeply disturbing. What a childhood to have. It is certainly easy to have empathy for any child going through these situations. This is not a book for everyone - and in my opinion not a great choice for children, as it deals with sex bordering on rape, psychological abuse and many other difficult issues.