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review 2020-04-02 13:48
Ramses the Damned
Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra - Anne Rice,Christopher Rice

by Anne & Christopher Rice


Curiosity got the better of me on this collaboration. Once upon a time I loved reading Anne Rice's early vampire books and I've enjoyed one book by Christopher Rice (Vines) despite being written in present tense (the ultimate sin).


So, I started reading and my first impression was that it had the tone of those early vampire books and that perhaps the collaboration with her son was what Anne needed to get back on track. I started having some doubts when it became overtly sexual and the emphasis on gay sex started to impede the story flow. I don't object to gay sex, but I generally don't want to read about a lot of sex in general. It also dragged in a few places.


It's the story of Bektaten (totally fictional) who developed a formula to attain eternal life. The formula comes to Ramses and then the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, making them both immortal. Each of them shared their immortality with a few favorites and conflicts ensue.


This isn't, as I had assumed, a new vampire novel. No blood drinking has taken place. The immortality elixer is a new thing, not explored in any previous books I've read by either author, though there are some Ramses books by Anne Rice that I haven't read so this might be a series I just wasn't aware of. The Egyptian theme seems to be a favorite of hers.


The important thing is that I was drawn into the story and began to get to know the characters and all their foibles. My sympathies were naturally with Cleopatra, as she's a favorite historical figure, though not the nicest person in this story. I had some problem with keeping secondary characters in context as they weren't as well-defined as they needed to be, but it all fell into place near the end when the significance of their roles comes to fruition.


I found it interesting how the story explored concepts of reincarnation and afterlife, encompassing a few different belief systems within the plot and the beliefs of the main characters. The end seemed to drag out a long time, but the loose ends were all tidied up while still leaving room for some of the characters to appear in a new story.

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text 2019-12-04 17:00
24 Festive Tasks: Door 21 - Kwanzaa: Task 2
Doktor Faustus - Thomas Mann
Amadeus - Peter Shaffer
The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany - Martin Goldsmith
Dancer - Colum McCann
The Speech of Angels - Sharon Maas
The Sanctuary Sparrow - Ellis Peters
An Accidental Death: A DC Smith Investigation Series, Book 1 - Peter Grainger,Gildart Jackson
Cry to Heaven - Anne Rice
Overture To Death - Ngaio Marsh
Piano - Jane Campion

In no particular order, books (of all genres, except for artist biographies)* that I love where music plays an important role:


Thomas Mann: Dr. Faustus

Mann's gut-punch take on Faustian bargains; in this instance, by a composer who pays the price of syphilis-induced madness for a few years of success -- and whose deal with the devil simultaneously symbolizes that of the German people with Adolf Hitler.


Peter Shaffer: Amadeus

The play that reached an even wider audience when adapted for the screen by Miloš Forman: all about the punk rock genius of classical music and his rival, the "patron saint of mediocrity", Antonio Salieri.


Martin Goldsmith: The Inextinguishable Symphony

Goldsmith's biography of his musician parents (and their families), who met in Nazi Germany and, after much hardship, eventually managed to emigrate to the U.S. and establish a new life for themselves and their children there.


Colum McCann: Dancer

McCann's novelized biography of Rudolf Nureyev -- from the time before McCann moved to the U.S. and went all politically correct.  Lyrical, muscular and visually powerful prose to match the art of its protagonist.


Sharon Maas: Speech of Angels

The story of a musically gifted orphan who is taken to Europe from the streets of Bombay and has to find out who she is (Indian, European or ...?) and what exactly music means to her life. 


Ellis Peters: The Sanctuary Sparrow

A young musician takes sanctuary in the abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul after having falsely been accused of murder, and it is up to Brother Cadfael to find out what really happened.


Peter Grainger: An Accidental Death

Music may not exactly be central to the mystery, but blues music is definitely key to the protagonist's (D.C. Smith's) personality.


Anne Rice: Cry to Heaven and Violin

Cry to Heaven, a novel set in the world of the baroque castrati, just might be the best thing Rice ever wrote (when she was still listening to her editors).  Violin was the last book of hers that I liked; it occasionally borders on the melodramatic, but the translation of the (autobiographically-based) mental anguish of losing a loved one into music is by and large very well done.


... and Ngaio Marsh's mysteries set either in the world of opera or otherwise involving (performances set to) music:


     Overture to Death

     * Death and the Dancing Footman

     * Off With His Head (aka Death of a Fool)

     * Photo Finish


Honorary mention to two movies (and screenplays) focusing on music:


     * Jane Campion: Piano

     * Andrée Corbiau: Farinelli


... and to the movies which I discovered and / or love twice as much solely because Mark Knopfler (fomerly of Dire Straits) wrote the score:


     * Local Hero

     * The Princess Bride

     * Cal


* If I'd include artist and composer biographies, this list would be endless.


(Task: Music is an important part of a Kwanzaa celebration.  Which is / are your favorite book(s) where music plays an important role in the plot?)


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text 2019-08-06 18:53
Halloween Bingo 2019 PreParty -- Question for 08/06 (Day 6): Favorite Seasonal Covers -- Miscellaneous
Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice
Witching Hour (Lives Of The Mayfair Witches) - Anne Rice
Shining - Stephen King
The Raven - Gallery Books
Tales of Mystery and Madness - Edgar Allan Poe,Gris Grimly
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
A Pocket Full of Rye - Agatha Christie
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Dracula - Bram Stoker

These are books I've read, but my editions have other covers than those shown here ... which are so much more seasonal than mine!






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text 2019-08-05 19:59
Halloween Bingo 2019 PreParty -- Question for 08/05 (Day 5): Favorite Series with Supernatural Elements?
Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett
Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection - J.K. Rowling
The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis,Pauline Baynes
The True Game: Kings Blood Four/Necromancer Nine/Wizard's Eleven - Sheri S. Tepper
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Once and Future King - T.H. White
The Dragonbone Chair - Tad Williams
Merlin Trilogy - Mary Stewart
The Green Mile - Mark Geyer,Stephen King
The Complete Vampire Chronicles (Vampire Chronicles, #1-#4) - Anne Rice

Hmmm, are we talking "series" as in "including trilogies and quartets" here, or does it have to be more than that number?  Also, what about works that were intended as one (very long) book but are traditionally broken up into several parts that are published separately (like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) and books originally published in several self-contained parts but now frequently combined into one omnibus volume (like Stephen King's Green Mile)?


Anyway, starting with the beasts that nobody can legitimately dispute are series and moving on from there, based on the assumption that it's "yes" to all of the above:


Terry Pratchett: Discworld
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter
C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia
Sheri S. Tepper: The True Game (all nine books, including the Mavin Manyshaped trilogy and the Jinian / End of the Game trilogy)


J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
T.H. White: The Once and Future King
Tad Williams: Memory, Sorrow and Thorn
Mary Stewart: Merlin Trilogy
Stephen King: The Green Mile


Anne Rice: The Vampire Chronicles


Unsurprisingly, almost all of my favorite supernaturally-tinged series are fantasy -- and I read both Green Mile and the Vampire Chronicles for pretty much everything but their horror contents.  That said, Rice jumped the shark for me when she insisted on using Lestat (of all characters) as a vehicle for exploring her rapidly altering expressions of faith ... shortly before going BBA and thus earning herself a place on my no-go list once and for all.  I still like the first books in the series, though, especially the first two.



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text 2019-08-05 18:34
Halloween Bingo Pre-Party: Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies or Others?
Interview With The Vampire - Anne Rice
Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
'Salem's Lot - Stephen King
Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist

Sorry all, I had to do some self-care starting this Friday through the weekend. Still feeling kind of out of sorts, but wanted to jump back in here. Talking to all of you and having fun things to look forward to is helping. That and sending out the bingo prizes!




My first horror book monster that I fell in love with was definitely vampires. I remember when Christopher Pike was writing his teen horror books I read "The Last Vampire" in one sitting. Then of course there were the sequels all over the place too. 


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And who can forget R.L. Stine's vampire books as part of the Fear Street Series. 




I then fell in love with Lestat in "Interview With a Vampire" finished that series to date as much as I could along with reading and finishing the Twilight series when I was overseas. I think there is something that had me going that it's so romantic to have an immortal being that would want to be with me forever so much that they would turn me into a vampire so we could be together always.  


I eventually grew up (literature wise) and realized that I tend to really only like Stephen King's views of vampires and that they are evil. Even though I wasn't down for everything in Salem's Lot, I appreciated what King was doing. He revisits vampires in his Dark Tower series as well as his short stories such as "One for the Road" (sequel to Salem's Lot), "The Night Flier", and "Popsy." Other vampires stories I have enjoyed are "Let the Right One In" and "I am Legend". 


I never really got into werewolves that much and I realized I didn't read a lot of werewolf books growing up beyond watching movies like Teen Wolf and Silver Bullet. And even though I grew up near Pittsburgh, I never got into zombies as a kid/teen/early adult. I think I only started really reading them after "The Walking Dead" got so popular. 


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