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review 2016-10-29 23:32
Mr. Wuffles!
Mr. Wuffles! - David Wiesner

Written and illustrated by David Wiesner


Mr. Wuffles is an unimpressed black and white cat who is very selective about his toys. One day, a tiny spaceship lands in a pile of his rejected toys and Mr. Wuffles takes an immediate interest in it, batting the spaceship around and shaking up the poor aliens inside. The aliens manage to get away, but their spaceship is in desperate need of repair. The aliens meet the bugs who live under the radiator and though they speak different languages, the aliens and bugs form an alliance and plan an escape for the aliens. The bugs provide the materials necessary for the spaceship's repair, and together, the aliens and bugs successfully get past the sneaky Mr. Wuffles with the repair materials. The aliens quickly fix their spaceship and fly away through an open window, much to the disappointment of Mr. Wuffles.


This book is in the form of a comic, with few words but many panels of illustrations. Fourth and fifth grade students could write a story to go with the illustrations, or they could create their own fictional comic involving a pet or themselves. Teachers could also lead discussions about collaboration and diversity in regards to the aliens and bugs.

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text 2016-07-12 06:30
To fail alone or succeed with collaboration?

I use to want to be a playwright.


I took a program at Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver and with the help of professional dramaturg's and the other members of the group developed Harry's Truth, A Play in One Act.


"Harry" even had a "reading" - professional actors read the play aloud. I was blown away and, believe it or not, so were they.


The next step was to take it to production, maybe in conjunction with a couple of other one act plays by other playwrights - make an evening of it.


Whether that would have happened or not I'll never know. You see, I'm not much of a collaborator and theatre is all about collaboration. By the time Harry's Truth was ready for production I'd about had it with the affected (def.: artificial, pretentious, and designed to impress) people I'd been working with, and believe me the definition fits when it comes to theatre people.


If you come right down to it I'd rather go it alone and fail than have to work with someone and succeed, which is probably one of the reasons I'm where I am at this point in my career, alone and a failure. Hmm.


Recently I came across Harry's Truth when I was searching the hard drive of my old laptop. I clicked and remarkably it opened. Nine years had passed and as I read it I thought this isn't half bad.


The play asks the question, "are there cosmic truths?" Harry thinks there are and he's discovered one which will make life easier, simpler and more fulfilling. He wants to share this epiphany with those he loves but not only do they not want to share in his enlightenment, they feel threatened by what he has to tell them. Much is at stake – careers, lifestyles, power – if Harry pursues his truth.


Seven scenes, forty-four pages and eleven and a half thousand words later Harry has his answer - the truth doesn't necessarily set you free, but it can sure make you unpopular.


Harry's Truth is now available as an e-book (should that be e-script?) at Smashwords. Until July 31st you can download it free as part of Smashwords SummerWinter Sale. Go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649522


Actually, five of my novels are also available free at Smashwords during the same promotion. You can go to my website http://rodraglin.com for direct links.


In a week or so it will be available on Amazon as an e-book and eventually a paperback at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.




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review 2015-10-19 02:52
Thoughts: The Copper Bracelet
The Copper Bracelet: Authors Roundtable - Lee Child,Lee Child,David Hewson,David Hewson,Jim Fusilli,Jim Fusilli,Jeffery Deaver,Jeffery Deaver

The Copper Bracelet  --  a collaboration serial thriller

-- conception by Jeffery Deaver

Book 2 of The Watchlist aka the Harold Middleton series


Other authors involved:  

Gayle Lynds, David Hewson, Jim Fusilli, John Gilstrap, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline, David Corbett, Linda Barnes, Jenny Siler, David Liss, P.J. Parrish, Brett Battles, Lee Child, Jon Land, James Phelan



This book is a collaborative effort among various crime thriller novelists, with Jeffery Deaver fronting the project (he created the main protagonist, Harold Middleton, and he also writes the first and last chapters).  I don't know all of these other crime thriller authors, though I think some of them were part of the first book's writing... and some are new names.

I was just as intrigued with it as I had been with The Chopin Manuscript (my review), though I had been worried that the book would be a big mess with so many minds and so many ideas trying to take precedent. And despite The Chopin Manuscript getting slightly out of control towards the middle and the ending, it was still a very enjoyable piece... if you can ignore a lot of the mess.

Whether this book was really a big haphazard, narrative mess, or if it was just me, being distracted at all the wrong times while listening to the audiobook, I can't be sure. But I sure as hell had a hard time following what was going on with so much going on within moments of events.

It's a pretty good concept that has potential to last a few more books, honestly. Harold Middleton is pretty much the leader of a group of Volunteers who are tasked with helping keep the world a safe place by going after potential terrorist threats and the like. And, of course, in The Copper Bracelet, there's a lot of action, and traveling, and secrets, and secret reveals, and death, and destruction, and betrayals, and torture, and... there's just a LOT going on in this book.

Like I said already, I had no idea where the book was going with all the things happening for a good long time.

Still, I had fun with this one. Even if it was a lot of confusing fun.

And once again, Alfred Molina did excellent with his narration; though I can't help but feel that it was better in the first book.

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review 2014-12-05 11:23
Thoughts on: The Chopin Manuscript
The Chopin Manuscript: A Serial Thriller - Alfred Molina,Jeffery Deaver,Lee Child,James Grady,David Hewson,Jim Fusilli,Joseph Finder,John Gilstrap,David Corbett,Randall Parrish

This is the first collaboration of The Watchlist by various authors.  The concept and character of Harold Middleton, the main protagonist of this book, was created by Jeffery Deaver.


Other authors involved:

Peter Spiegelman, Ralph Pezzullo, Lisa Scottoline, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Hewson, S.J. Rozan, Erica Spindler, P.J. Parrish, John Ramsey Miller, Jim Fusilli, David Corbett, James Grady, John Gilstrap


I'm reminded of a time in high school when several of my classmates spent a free day sitting around when someone slipped a sheet of paper onto my desk. It had the words, "Once upon a time, there was a teenage girl named Alice." Without hesitation, I had grinned and added the sentence, "She was sitting in school one day when the ground began to shake." And then I handed the paper over to one of my closest friends sitting next to me. As the paper circulated between a few other girls, "Alice" managed to slip down a rabbit hole, fight dragons in the underworld, and meet up with a hunky knight who was also a warlock.

We never finished the story. The progression began to get out of hand and then class ended and the notebook paper scribbled with the gibberish of "Alice's" adventure was left in the trash on our way out. I regret not taking and saving the writing--it would have made for some good material for future reference.

But this is what I thought about as I listened to The Chopin Manuscript. I worried that several authors with differing writing styles, ideals, and behaviors would create an incoherent product as we did. But the difference is that we were a bunch of teenagers fooling around.

The Chopin Manuscript was a challenge to create an epic serial thriller between fellow crime thriller authors.


I'm not familiar with any of the authors in this collaboration, but I know the names--heard of them before as popular crime thriller/action/mystery writers. I thought the project was an interesting one.


Harold Middleton is a former war crime investigator, but due to circumstances, has given up that life to study music.  He is in possession of The Chopin Manuscript of which he believes is a forgery.  But this musical piece proves to be involved in a deadly conspiracy of international proportions as many people involved begin to turn up dead.  The danger comes closer to home when Harold Middleton realizes that he's been drawn into the sinister workings of shadowy mystery man known only as Faust.

The concept seemed created as any typical action thriller, maybe made-for-movie entertainment. I didn't find anything overly unique about the story line or the characters, but the book was as enjoyable as any action movie I've seen in the past. It probably helps a little bit that I listened to the audio book version, narrated by Alfred Molina. I believe that this story was originally created as an audio book, which helped since I'm not sure I would have read this book otherwise--not because the book is terrible or anything, but probably because it's just not my cuppa.

I can't say that they didn't accomplish their mission. The story turned out quite well and I was fairly hooked from the beginning. The background music and Alfred Molina's stellar performance might have been incentive--I was pleasantly surprised at his ability to move from one foreign accent to another and even take on sounding American so naturally. It was pretty cool.

In the beginning, The Chopin Manuscript felt exciting with plots developing and characters surfacing with hidden agendas. But as the story progressed, you could start to see the presence of several minds competing against how they wanted the story to unfold, yet also trying to remain within the scope of the original concept. It was barely there, but the way certain scenes twisted were different from others and the way the story progressed felt sudden and haphazard. It took some time to figure out what significance each character played, and with some, their significance didn't seem to stand out despite having a heavy presence throughout the book--then they were killed off and it felt a little awkward and sudden.

A lot of times, I found myself asking why certain conflicts were introduced only to fizzle out.

But the story itself, as a whole, was quite entertaining.

Overall Impression: Typical action/crime thriller plot you would see in a lot of action movies involving government conspiracies, secret organizations, international conflicts... the like. Enjoyable.

Alfred Molina's performance was the best part of the whole ordeal, though and I'd be interested in looking up any other audio book he has narrated.

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review 2014-11-21 00:34
#CBR6 Book 122: The Lady Most Willing...A Novel in Three Parts by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway
The Lady Most Willing...: A Novel in Three Parts - Eloisa James,Connie Brockway,Julia Quinn

Taran Ferguson has decided that if left to their own devices, his two nephews are never going to get their act together and find suitable brides. So just before Christmas, he takes matters into his own hands, rallies his faithful retainers, rides over to the neighbouring estate where there is a house party at present and kidnaps the three likeliest young women. Only because it's dark and things got rather confusing, they end up with four ladies and one really rather pissed off Duke, who happened to be sleeping in the carriage the drunken Scotsmen stole to transport the kidnapping victims in.


Ferguson's nephews, the Earl of Easton (poetically named Byron) and the Comte de Rocheforte (Robin), who also happens to be Ferguson's heir, are both appalled. There is nothing they can do about returning the ladies, as a terrible snowstorm has ensured that everyone will have to stay put in the ice cold, drafty castle for at least three days until the road has cleared again. So we have a Laird, a Duke, an Earl and a Comte and very conveniently, there are also four young women. Lady Cecily Tarleton is the wealthy and beautiful daughter of the neighbouring estate and Ferguson seems very determined that one of his nephews chose her as a bride, as she comes with a generous dowry and has substantial social standing. She is, however, English. There are also the local heiresses, Fiona and Marilla Chisholm, the former pretty much doomed to become a spinster after her reputation was ruined when her erstwhile fiancee died, falling from her bedroom window (that Fiona had not invited him in the first place, let alone allowed him to touch her inappropriately in any way seems to be irrelevant to the local gossips). She's resigned to her fate by now and has determined to take her money and travel to exotic places. Her younger sister Marilla is terribly spoiled and a shameless flirt, revelling in the opportunity to find herself a titled match due to their sudden abduction. Miss Catriona Burns is the daughter of the local squire, swept up by accident. She knows that she has neither the dowry or the social status appropriate to make any sort of match with the men of the party, so she won't have to make an effort to impress anyone either.


Over the course of the next few days when the couples are trapped, unsurprisingly there are four convenient matches made. Normally, I would be very uncomfortable with the abduction, the forced matchmaking, the not one, not two, but four cases of insta-love that a story like this requires and the huge amounts of disbelief I would need to suspend to fully accept the developments in this story. Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway (who is the only author of the trio whose books I have never read before) are excellent writers, however and because it's such a frothy, silly book that pretty much dares you to scoff at it, it sweeps you off your feet and charms you instead.


Fellow Cannonballer NTE reviewed this back in September, which is what made me remember that I bought it in an e-book sale way back when and had it buried in my Calibre library. Her review (I'm going to be terribly gender stereotyping here and assume that a reader of romance is a woman) made me dig it back out and I read it. It was a very quick read and I pretty much blazed through it. Naturally, because there are eight protagonists of a sort and they all have to fall madly in love with each other while snowed in at a freezing castle in the Scottish Highlands (it may actually be the Lowlands too, but that doesn't sound as fun, somehow), there isn't all that much time for a lot of character development. Each person tends to have one or two defining character traits and they don't muck around for long before falling into each other's arms. I did like how often it was pointed out that Ferguson's castle really was dreadfully drafty, difficult to heat, generally very shabby and not actually equipped to comfortably house so many unexpected guests in the style to which they are generally accustomed. That aspect of the book was very well done. Having enjoyed this book as much as I did, I was delighted to discover that this is actually the second collaboration from the three authors. I think I'm going to have to go seek out The Lady Most Likely as well.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.com/2014/11/cbr6-book-122-lady-most-willing-novel.html
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