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Darwin8u

Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States Member Since 2011

A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

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15
  • "An adventurous hagiography, you kno..."

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    Finished reading this with my kids, but I probably enjoyed it the most. It was a fun introduction to Lawrence of Arabia written by Alstair MacLean in 1962. It focuses on the role that T.E. Lawrence played in the Arab Revolt during WWI. There is just enough wind-up with his early life, character, etc., and the history/geography of Arabia to insure the thrust of MacLean's small biography doesn't lose nonserious readers in a desert of Arab ignorance. But the book's real brilliance is in MacLean's depiction of the Capture of Aqaba, Battle of Tafileh and the Fall of Damascus. At the end, MacLean also ties the book off with a summary of the post-War years and some of the political results of T.E. Lawrence's work with Winston Churchill and the Colonial Office.

    Again, as a biography this is probably not where I would start for T.E. Lawrence. This is more literary hagiography than biography. Alistar MacLean is better known for his war novels like 'The Guns of Navarone' and 'Where Eagles Dare'. MacLean's book came out the same year as Lawrence of Arabia the academy award winning movie (which suggests this was one of those books intended to surf the wave of interest generated by a popular film). But still, if you are going to read one biography to your kids designed around a legend, saint, or mythmaker ... you could certainly feed the kids worse.

    More

    Sterling Point Books: Lawrence of Arabia

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Alistair Maclean
    • Narrated By Peter Ganim
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (12)

    Best-selling author and screenwriter Alistair MacLean follows Lawrence as he breaks with tradition to live with Arabs and, using modern-day guerrilla tactics, helps them defeat the Turks and gain an independent state. In addition to the enthralling details of the campaign, MacLean provides valuable insight into the origins of the Middle East we know today.

    Darwin8u says: "An adventurous hagiography, you know, for kids!"
  • "An Ode to Youth and the Books of Youth"

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    Just finished this with the kids. I remember reading this with my mother when I was 10. It is a nice generational conveyance. When I was young, the STORIES of Tom and Huck affected me the most. Now, however, it is Twain's language that touches me. I love how Tom's life and play is impacted by the adventure books he reads. One day Tom is animated by a bounty of pirates, the next day by a shadow of robbers, and everyday Tom's vocabulary and actions are endowed with the books of his youth. 'Tom Sawyer' is just as much an ode to his youth as it is a poesy to the adventure books of a more tender age.

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    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Norman Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    The name "Tom Sawyer" is synonymous with the adventures of boyhood. Bold and clever, Tom gets into and out of trouble with an ease many listeners will envy. A story beloved by children, it also has relevance for adults. Twain's beloved classic of growing up in Midwest America is as popular today as when it was first published in 1876.

    Tad Davis says: "Nostalgic fairy tale, but at times quite dark"
  • "One of the Greatest Fantasy Novels ..."

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    *** First a preamble:

    Just so you know, this audiobook contains Books 1 -4 of The Once and Future King AND Book #5 (The Book of Merlin). I didn't know #5 was included, but was thrilled to discover it came with the rest.

    *** OK, preambulations are done, on with the real review:

    I loved it and my two brats (11 & 13) absolutely enjoyed it, even if many of the jokes, the funky anachronistic blending of the Medieval with the Modern, might have floated a bit over their tiny wee heads.

    Anyway, I think White perfectly captured the magic, power, fears and the joy of both youth and myth with this retelling of early Arthurian legend. White's theme of power and justice ("Might Makes Right") seem to perfectly capture the political Zeitgiest of now. Perhaps, White like Merlin was just writing through time backwards and wanted to capture the queer contradictions of Imperial Democracy in the global 21st century, but wanted to write it in the 1930s so Disney would be around to animate it (ugh) in the 60s and thus make his point resonate better in the early 21st century.

    You might think a novel that basically focuses on a love-triangle (a quadrilateral if you include God), several affairs, a man's struggle between his love for a woman, love for God, love for his best friend, would not hold the interest of a 13 and an 11-year old for long, but this is T.H. White. The characters are so human, so filled with frailties, heroics, and insecurities that White could have written about cooking for 300 pages and my kids would have been rapt from page 1 to the end.

    The story turns, about half-way through, solidly to Lancelot. It is impossible to understand Lancelot without looking at Arthur, Guinevere, Elaine & Galahad. And White digresses throughout TO&FK to capture these stories. The middle of the book pivots as Camelot, under Arthur's leadership, undergoes a change from physical quests (Round Table v. Might makes Right) to spiritual ones (Round Table > Grail quest). This change captures/mirrors the dynamic of Lancelot's own story (the vacillation between the physical and spiritual).

    Finally, the weight of the conspiracies, the betrayals, the killings, and the expulsions are all there pushing against the King (I love when T.H. White calls Arthur - England) and his faith in man and justice. It just isn't to be. Do I need to hide the ending? Am I going to spoil the book for you? Come now, we are all mostly adults here. Camelot fails, but T.H. White explores the failure almost as beautifully as he does the magic of Camelot. He captures the magic of Camelot by focusing on the humanity of the people. He isn't satisfied with making (or keeping rather) Lancelot, King A, Guinevere, and even Mordred locked up in the stale symbols they often become. The trite shadows of type is not T.H. White's jam. He wants to humanize everybody. He wants to show the motives, the nuances of character that makes the reader LOVE these figures not because they symbolize things like bravery, chivalry, or justice ... but because they remind the reader of elements, times, moods and flaws found buried within. T.H. White started with a fantasy novel, but ended with an exploration of war, humanity, love, and hope.

    Look, I'm skeptical of fantasy novels. They aren't my thing. I want literature. I want something that pushes you against the wall of your own head and dares you to think bigger. I think T.H. White was aiming for that -- and holy anachronisms - he nailed it.

    More

    The Once and Future King

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By T. H. White
    • Narrated By Neville Jason
    Overall
    (1319)
    Performance
    (1103)
    Story
    (1100)

    The complete "box set" of T. H. White's epic fantasy novel of the Arthurian legend. The novel is made up of five parts: "The Sword in the Stone", "The Witch in the Wood", "The Ill-Made Knight", "The Candle in the Wind", and "The Book of Merlyn".

    Bookoholics Anon says: "Fabulous reading, epic story and a new chapter!"
  1. Sterling Point Books: Law...
  2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  3. The Once and Future King
  4. .

A Peek at melrailey's Bookshelf

Helpful
Votes
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Georgia, United States 103 REVIEWS / 265 ratings Member Since 2007 11 Followers / Following 0
 
melrailey's greatest hits:
  • How to Train Your Dragon

    "Terrific Fun!"

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    Performance
    Story

    The only reason I downloaded this book is because it is narrated by David Tennant. I couldn't help myself I just had to listen to Tennant read. I expected the book to resemble the movie - which I loved. But I was wrong. This story was very different than the movie and way fun. Tennant is an amazing narrator and he brought the story to life. And since the story was so different from the movie, it was all new to me. I highly recommend this audiobook if you have young kids or if you're a Tennant fan.

  • Nim's Island

    "Delightful"

    Overall

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was funny and entertaining. It was also nice to see a strong, girl heroine.

  • Darke: Septimus Heap, Book Six

    "Can't Wait For More!"

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    Performance
    Story

    I look forward to every single Septimus Heap book. I love listening to them. I think that Angie Sage is a master wordsmith and I get giggles over her use of language. I highly recommend these books. Every time I listen to them, I find myself driving very slow on the way home wanting to get more of the book listened to before I have to turn it off. In addition, Gerard Doyle is an excellent narrator. (Of course, I'm sure it helps with my narration that I am seeing Gerard Butler in my head when I listen to these books).

    I'm just really glad that Angie Sage hasn't decided to stop these books at seven - I know that I'll have Septimus around for a while.

  • Fyre: Septimus Heap, Book Seven

    "Magical Ending to a Great Series"

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    It feels like so many of my favorite series are ending :( I was so excited to get this audiobook because I love the world of Septimus Heap. I think Angie Sage has created an unique and creative magical world and her use of language is just terrific. She has some of the most intelligent humor I've ever seen in a book intended for this age of child. Sage assumes that the person reading her books is intelligent and never talks down to her audience. I love that. This is one of my top audiobooks so far this year. Gerard Doyle does a fantastic job narrating. I loved seeing Septimus and Jenna grow and take charge of their lives (even though they're just 15). At the end of the day, I was pleased where Sage ended the series (even though I still want more).

    If you haven't started these books, I highly recommend them.

Katherine

Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 12-03-13 Member Since 2009

I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

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  • "Charming children’s fantasy"

    5 of 5 helpful votes

    Originally posted at Fantasy Literature

    Five Children and It combines eleven stories that Edith Nesbit wrote about five siblings who discovered a wish-granting fairy called The Psammead in the sandlot of the house they recently moved into. The stories were originally serialized in shorter form in Strand Magazine in 1900. The first story (the first chapter of the novel) tells how the children moved from London to Kent, explored their new house and yard, and found the Psammead. He grumpily agrees to grant the children a daily wish that will end at sundown.

    Each chapter tells the story of a single day, how the children wish for something, and how it goes wrong. Usually they wish for something obvious like beauty or money, but sometimes they accidentally wish for something they didn’t really want granted, such as when Cyril carelessly wishes that his baby brother would grow up. The consequences are always unexpected and usually quite awful, and the children have to get themselves out of the situation they got themselves into, often at a cost that leaves them poorer than they were before they made the wish. It’s all rather funny and there are many lessons learned. The take away message is to be careful what you wish for!

    I love Edith Nesbit’s stories — they’re still as humorous and wonderful as they were over 100 years ago. They’re delightfully old-fashioned. For example, the little boys play outside in coats and ties and have to roll down their stockings to show off their bruises. Nesbit is an intrusive narrator, often offering commentary and amusing insights about the characters or their predicaments and sometimes making polite suggestions for the reader’s own behavior. I thought the book was charming and I think it will appeal to any modern reader, child or adult.

    Five Children and It has been adapted into anime, comics, a BBC TV series and movies, and several children’s authors have expanded upon the concept in their own novels. Nesbit also wrote some later stories which included the Psammead.

    Five Children and It is easily found for free online since it’s now in the public domain. I listened to the audio version read by Johanna Ward who is absolutely wonderful. I got this book for $3 by “purchasing” this free Kindle version and then using the Whispersync feature to purchase the audio version. If you do likewise, make sure you’re getting Johanna Ward’s narration. There are others, but I doubt they could be better.

    More

    Five Children and It

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By E. Nesbit
    • Narrated By Johanna Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    Curious to see if people on the other side of the globe walk upside down, Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane, and their baby brother start digging a hole to Australia. They don’t get too far, however, before they dig up a furry brown creature with bat’s ears. It is a Psammead, an ancient sand-fairy. The Sammyadd, as the children call it, grumpily tells them that he is obliged to grant their wishes, because making people’s wishes come true is what Sandfairies do. However, there is one catch: The wishes come undone at sunset.

    Katherine says: "Charming children’s fantasy"

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    December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man, the man called only the Giver, he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

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    Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn't have is a horse - until he meets Maybelline, that is, and then it's love at first sight. Maybelline loves spaghetti and sweet nothings, and she loves Leroy, too. But when Leroy forgets the third and final rule of caring for Maybelline, disaster ensues. Can Leroy wrestle fate to the ground, rescue the horse of his heart, and lasso loneliness for good?

  • The Disappearing Friend Mystery: The Boxcar Children Mysteries, Book 30 (






UNABRIDGED) by Gertrude Chandler Warner Narrated by Aimee Lilly

    The Disappearing Friend Mystery: The Boxcar Children Mysteries, Book 30

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 35 mins)
    • By Gertrude Chandler Warner
    • Narrated By Aimee Lilly
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    The Boxcar Children decide to raise money to help the Greenfield hospital. At Beth’s suggestion, they form a service called The Boxcar Helpers - to babysit, wash cars, mow lawns, and care for pets. But Beth keeps disappearing. And then other things start to go wrong. Is someone trying to put them out of business?

  • Amelia Bedelia Chalks One Up (






UNABRIDGED) by Herman Parish Narrated by Christine Ebersole

    Amelia Bedelia Chalks One Up

    • UNABRIDGED (6 mins)
    • By Herman Parish
    • Narrated By Christine Ebersole
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    Amelia Bedelia's mother is feeling blue, so she decides to head to town for lunch and a little shopping. Amelia Bedelia is having a playdate of her own, and she decides to make her mom feel better. How? By covering the driveway, house, and garage with colorful chalk pictures. Amelia Bedelia and her friends draw everything her mom loves best, including flowers, shops, and a happy portrait. The result? Well, chalk one up for Amelia Bedelia!

  • Kell, the Alien: Aliens, Inc Series, Volume 1 (






UNABRIDGED) by Darcy Pattison Narrated by Josiah John Bildner

    Kell, the Alien: Aliens, Inc Series, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 24 mins)
    • By Darcy Pattison
    • Narrated By Josiah John Bildner
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    Shipwrecked on Earth and desperate to make money, an alien family decides to make a living by opening Aliens, Inc., an intergalactic event-planning business master-minded by nine-year-old alien boy, Kell Smith. Kell discovers that his neighbor, Bree Hendricks, turns nine years old next month and she wants a party with an alien theme. That should be simple as flying from star to star. But things aren't that easy: Earthlings' ideas about aliens are totally wrong.