Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Tragedy at my Alma Mater, The Martian Goes into Space, My Christmas Book Wish List, and The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

 This seems somewhat counter to what Christmas is about, but I couldn't help but gasp in dismay when I saw this posted on Shelf Awareness this week. Clarke College, now Clarke University, is my Alma Mater, and I love her dearly. It sickens me that this jerk James Spaulding took advantage of a bunch of nuns and kind Iowans to line his pockets, especially when Clarke is not a wealthy university with money to spare. I hope that he spends a lot of time in jail, where I hope that his fellow inmates open up a can of whup-arse on him every day.

James Spaulding, former manager of the Clarke University bookstore in
Dubuque, Iowa, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $300,000
from the school by creating a fake book wholesaling. The Des Moines
Register reported that, as part of a deal with prosecutors, Spaulding
"agreed to waive a formal indictment and plead guilty to the charges in
front of a United States magistrate judge."

In July 2011, Spaulding and a friend created a company called RVP
Wholesale Books in New Hampshire, listing the apartment where
Spaulding's friend lived as the company's corporate office. In April
2013, the university reported the $302,177 theft to Dubuque police,
telling "reporters that the suspect in the theft was a former employee
who'd been fired in the summer of 2012," the Register wrote.

My son Nick and I read the Martian, and we both loved it, so we were excited to see that the script has already been in space!

When NASA's Orion spacecraft, which was designed to shuttle astronauts
to Mars eventually, made its first successful test flight December 5
from Cape Canaveral, the capsule completed "two orbits of Earth while
carrying the front page of the script for The Martian
Ridley Scott's film adaptation of Andy Weir's novel, Entertainment
Weekly reported.

"NASA has been really involved and incredibly generous in the process of
making this movie," said producer Simon Kinberg. EW also noted that the
doodles and commentary on the title page "are the handiwork of Scott
(who's currently shooting the movie in Hungary)."

So this year's Christmas Book Wish List is pretty pared down (only 19 books on it!) due to the fact that the other 15 books on my wish list do not debut until 2015, most in either January, February or March. Fortunately, I have ordered 10 books from the list already with Barnes and Nobel gift cards given to me as birthday and Christmas gifts. Without further ado, here's the list:

Lock In
The Tygrine Cat
Fish Tales
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells
Under the Wide and Starry Sky
A Thousand Pieces of You
The Royal Harlot
The Paris Winter
A Burnable Book
Frances and Bernard
The Observations
The Luminaries
All the Light We Cannot See
The Paying Guests
I'll Give You the Sun

I would list the 15 books that I want next year, but that would only upset me because I have to wait to read them, and I am an impatient bibliophile! 

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was a book recommended to me because it was supposed to be for fans of Harry Potter and the Mortal Instruments series. Yet, though I adored both series, I was still skeptical when I picked up this book, because I was afraid it was going to be another cheap YA knockoff.
Boy, was I wrong, (and happily so!) This series hits the ground running and never looks back. Callum Hunt, called Call by his family and friends, is a boy who just wants to be normal and stay at home with his dad. When he is forced to go to the magical tryouts, he is instructed by his father on how to fail, and he tries hard to do so, but his magical talent keeps backfiring and getting in the way of complete failure. When the most prestigious instructor chooses Call, his father freaks out and throws a dagger at his son, and has to be dragged away screaming. Fortunately, all the terrible things his father has been telling him about the magic school, or Magisterium, were not really accurate, and Call soon finds himself enjoying his school, though trouble seems to find him at every turn. Here's the blurb, and please stop by the Barnes and Noble page for this book, because there's a video of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black talking about their excellent story:
From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.
Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .
From the remarkable imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping, mind-blowing, pulse-pounding plunge into the magical unknown.
This book lives up to its hype, and is truly a page-turner full of plot twists, adventure and magic. I thoroughly enjoyed the three teenagers and their learning experiences and their personalities. Of course, the book ends in such a way that I am dying to know what happens next! Still, I won't spoil it for you, I will just recommend that anyone who enjoys good storytelling and beautifully written YA fantasy fiction should run right out and buy a copy of this excellent book, which of course gets an A from me, along with a prayer that Clare and Black do a book tour that lands in Seattle next year!

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