Book Review: The Watchtower by Lee Carroll

Hi all…

About a year ago I entered the world of Garet James, a jewelry designer living in New York City, in the book Black Swan Rising. Garet’s artistic abilities and a family history she knew nothing about collide violently when she meets and is given a beautiful silver box by a strange shopkeeper. From the moment she opens that box, her life is never the same.

Black Swan Rising kicked off Garet’s story by writers Carol Goodman (Arcadia Falls, The Night Villa) and her husband – poet and hedge fund manager Lee Slonimsky – writing under the pseudonym of Lee Carroll. And with its Shakespearean faeries, evil sorcerer, and mysterious vampire, I was hooked. The book was well written and sucked me in immediately. (You can read my review here.)

Unfortunately, I found their follow-up The Watchtower to be extremely difficult to get into and a struggle to read.

Once again, we’re thrust into the world of Garet James, but this time we find her in Paris chasing after the potential love of her life Will Hughes the vampire. Hughes is trying to find a way to become mortal again after 400 years of immortality so he can be with Garet. When he journeys to Paris in search of the hidden path to the Summer Country, the magical realm of the faeries, Garet follows after him.

From the beginning of the book, the reader is set upon two separate roads. The first follows Garet as she navigates the obstacles in the modern world between her and finding Will. The second follows Will in the past as as young poet who fell in love with Marguerite, Garet’s ancestor. And quite honestly, though I enjoyed Garet’s journey as she meets several new faeries and mortals touched in lasting ways by their magic, I really didn’t care to follow young Will Hughes at all. He was a spoiled brat with no patience who is selfishly seeking to spend time with an immortal lover. The alternating chapters between Garet and Will made me dread any time I ended a chapter with Garet…

However, even as I struggled to get through the book to the end, the amazing back story mixing faerie lore and alchemy was fascinating. The alchemist/sorcerer John Dee is a right evil bastard and I knew any time he was in the picture something bad would occur. Learning how Will Hughes became a vampire in a double-cross by the malicious Dee was fun to discover. And meeting the various fae Garet (and Will) encountered along the journey was intriguing – from the 17th century botanist transformed into a tree by the fae to the octopus librarian, each had a history that gracefully weaved past and present together while educating the reader on a bit of faerie history.

Ultimately I didn’t enjoy The Watchtower as much as Black Swan Rising, but I look forward to seeing where the writing duo takes Will and Garet next. No spoilers here, but there was nice twist at the end that should make the next book quite entertaining if done well. Hopefully we’ll stay in a single timeline and not alternate between the characters next time. You can check out both Black Swan Rising and The Watchtower on bookstore shelves today!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Book Review: Bardisms: Shakespeare for All Occasions by Barry Edelstein

Hey all…

Some days I find it entertaining to think that William Shakespeare‘s influence on the English language was so profound, he has been credited for contributing between 1,500 and 8,000 words to the language. These may not have been new words, but his are often the earliest cited examples of those words appearing in written works.

So let’s compare that against the backdrop of today, in a culture of Tweets, texts, instant messages, and e-mails, we use a fraction of the English language. I don’t even want to consider how butchered and mangled Shakespeare’s plays would be after going through the wringer that is our technologically limited writing today.

As such, when Barry Edelstein‘s book Bardisms: Shakespeare for All Occasions was released way back in April 2009, I definitely wanted to check it out and see how the Bard might provide inspiration for any number of occasions for which I am out of wit. I was not disappointed. And somehow I bet Shakespeare would be pleased with how his works would be quoted and reused for a huge variety of topics and events.

Edelstein was the perfect person to undertake pulling such a resource together, as he has directed more than half the plays of the Bard at theaters all around New York City and the U.S. He’s also taught Shakespeare at the Juliard School, the Graduate Acting Program at NYU, the Public Theater‘s Shakespeare Lab, and in lectures and master classes around the U.S. and beyond. He definitely knows the Bard more intimately than most of those living today.

Pick a topic, any topic, and Edelstein most likely will have a suggestion for a quote or passage and how you might use it.

For example, are you ever at a loss for words when dealing with a loved one? Choose your desired effect… Othello would say “I Really Love You” as “If it were now to die / ‘Twere now to be most happy, for I fear / My soul hath her content so absolute / That not another comfort like to this / Succeeds in unknown fate.” – Othello, 2.1.186-89. Basically this boils down to those few magical moments when the stars align and everything is perfect.

Or perhaps you mean so say “I Love You”, but, as Edelstein says, it’s a bit twisted – “You superb little devil! I’ll be damned, but I love you. And when I don’t, it will be the end of the world.” In Othello’s words again, it becomes “Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul / But I do love thee, and when I love thee not, / Chaos is come again.” – Othello, 3.3.91-93.

Another great section is on apologies… I’m always saying “I’m sorry” for something or another, but rarely say it as graciously as Hamlet… “Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong; / But pardon’t as you are a gentleman.” – Hamlet, 5.2.163-64

Everything from family and childhood, lovers and war, mid-life, old-age, and death… It’s all here. Even if you don’t use the suggestions, it’s a learning experience to simply read these quotes and put them into a different perspective.

If you ever have to give toasts or speeches, or are simply at a loss for words, pick up a copy of Barry Edelstein’s Bardisms: Shakespeare for All Occasions. It will sit beautifully next to a thesaurus and dictionary as an indispensable reference. Look for it at your favorite bookstore!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this book and many others at Amazon below!

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Preview: Iron Sky – Internet Independent Filmmaking

Hi all…

Like most bloggers, I’m addicted to reading other blogs. 🙂 Every morning I read a number of them, including Slashdot.

Well, on Slashdot today, I saw an interesting article about a new Internet distributed movie project called Iron Sky. You can see the Slashdot article here.

The idea for the film is that the Nazis went to the moon during World War II. In 2018, they come back to conquer the world.

See the trailer for it after the break… Continue reading “Preview: Iron Sky – Internet Independent Filmmaking”