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text 2018-11-02 01:50
24 Festive Tasks: Door 1 - Día de los Muertos, Task 2 (Favorite Epitaph)

Task 2:  Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).

 

To a Shakespeare fan, there can be only one ...

 

 


Good friend for Jesus' sake forbeare,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

 


(Photos mine.)

 

And yes, he wrote that one himself. Apparently he had a premonition just what might happen after his death ...

 

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text 2018-10-28 19:59
The Sunday Post - The Run-Up to Halloween

Happy Sunday!

 

Winter arrived this weekend with the first sprinkling of the white stuff just outside the city boundaries and with a significant drop in temperatures.

 

The weather had changed so much, in fact, that my friends and I had to think of alternative options to our planned trip Glamis yesterday to partake in this year's Halloween event. In the end, we just settled on taking extra layers of clothing and getting on the road a little earlier than last year in case the roads were affected. It turned out that the roads were clear, but it was absolutely freezing, which made our walk around the Bewitched Woods at the castle a rather swift wander. 

 

 

The Bewitched Woods were the same as last year, just with different lighting and new spooky sounds and special effects that set off by motion sensor as you found your way through the wood in the pitch dark soon after we started the trail. And I do mean, pitch dark! It was a lot of fun.

 

 

I still love the wood carvings illustrating the story of Macbeth (Shakespeare's version, that is) that are placed along the trail. All of the sculptures were created using a chainsaw and I am simply amazed by the level of detail that the artists (Neith Art) commissioned to create them put into each sculpture. They really seemed to have read and analysed each scene and character that they chose to create.

 

 

The main event was, as it was last year, a ghost tour of the castle. Again, the inside of the castle had been decorated appropriately with skeletons, cob webs, and very real ghouls and ghosties who would pop out from behind doorways or nooks as we followed our guide through the castle. The usual tour packed with history was adapted again to tell of the more ghostly and ghastly history of the former inhabitants, and it was a lot of fun to see some of the characters "come alive" to converse with the visitors. 

One of the funniest things about this all was that there were some kids on the tour - some of which were really quite scared, and some of which put on a lot of bravado and ended up heckling the ghosts. One rather felt sorry for the ghosts. 

 

Even tho this was the same event as last year, I am glad to say that the people at Glamis castle again lived up to the challenge of creating an event that can be enjoyed on repeat visits. The ghosts and stories were rather different from last year - there was a lot more shrieking (mostly by the "ghosts") and there were a lot more and different "ghosts", too.  All in all, we had another excellent experience that put everyone in the right mood for Halloween. 

 

 

Of course, we ended our visit with a stop in the old castle kitchens again to sample the pumpkin soup before we made our trip back home. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the soup. I did make up for it today, tho, when I made some butter bean, lentil and spinach curry ... which I am counting as a soup as its consistency was rather stew-like.

 

 

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review 2018-10-23 11:00
BLOG TOUR REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: 'The Assassin's Guide to Love & Treason' by Virginia Boecker
An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason - Virginia Boecker

 

This book is OUT TODAY, everyone!!!! I am so excited to be posting about it and reviewing it TODAY. This is absolutely going to go down as one of my favorite reads of the year. I read all over the map (as in sci-if, horror, thrillers, you name it), but this was a truly fun read for me, with only a little bloodshed between the pages. So loosen your bodices and get comfy, and get ready for trip back home to London, England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First; it’s 1601.

 

 

*Thank you (again) to the amazing peeps at Rockstar Book Tours for including me on this blog tour!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, VIRGINIA BOECKER

 

Virginia Boecker is the author of The Witch Hunter series and An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason. A graduate of the University of Texas, she had a decade-long career in technology before quitting to become a full-time writer. When she isn't writing, Virginia likes running, reading, traveling, and trying new things (most recently: learning to drive a boat). She has lived all over the world but currently resides in beautiful Lake Oswego, Oregon with her husband, children, a dog called George and a cat named Thomas.

You can visit Virginia online at virginiaboecker.com or on Instagram @virgboecker  

 

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

Title: AN ASSASSINS GUIDE TO LOVE AND TREASON

Author: Virginia Boecker

Pub. Date: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 384

 

SYNOPSIS:

When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.

Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play--it's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.

The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.

 

MY REVIEW:

 

Did you know that Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was written to capture the would-be assassin of Queen Elizabeth I?!
And what do you get when you combine a cross-dressing Catholic called Katherine Arundell, out to avenge the death of her father, and put her slap-dab in the middle of merry old London?

 

‘An Assassin’s Guide to Love & Treason’, of course, and it’s quite scrumptious.

This romp through 1601 will have you questioning any history you may think you’ve learned about Elizabethan London, about the dalliances of Shakespearean players, and about the tension between the Protestants and Catholics at that time.

 

Being from England myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a bit of ‘history’ from home to indulge in. I delighted in this witty, clever tale about young Lady Katherine Arundell from Cornwall, who witnesses her father’s execution for being a practicing Catholic. This was because England is now Protestant under Queen Elizabeth I, and to avenge her father’s death, she then goes to London and plans to assassinate Queenie herself. Tall order perhaps.


Katherine constructs a plan, along with her merry band of Catholic conspirators; this means she must infiltrate the upcoming production of ‘Twelfth Night’, and create a new male identity for herself, Kit.

 

This is really at the crux of how clever Virginia Boecker is being with ‘Assassin’s Guide’ (and I know she knows this, because of her most brilliant Author’s Note in the back; only I do hope everyone reads it!). As many of you may know, women weren’t players in Shakespeare’s plays, men were, and they played all the women’s parts too. In order for Katherine to disguise herself in London, she must become Kit (this was a name short for Christopher back then), as well as to be a player on the stage.


She then gets the part as Viola, who (if you haven’t read ‘Twelfth Night’) dresses up as a man in the play. It all becomes quite complicated when Kit becomes drawn to Toby, who is another lead player, and writer, and unbeknownst to Kit, a spy for Elizabeth Regina; he’s trying to deduce which of the Twelfth Night players is the treasonous one. Yet he’s falling for Kit, just as he did previously for the late Kit Marlowe (that’s Christopher Marlowe to you).


Katherine’s own confidence as a ‘man’ mirrors Viola’s growing confidence in the play, particularly as Toby and ‘Kit’ rehearse together, and the themes of bisexuality and questions about societal gender norms play like their own characters in the book. Just like the very irony we see in having men play the parts of women (who play men), this is a double irony, if you will, forces the characters to constantly question their identities, as well as their loyalties. At a time when many only had loyalty to the Crown or to God, questioning your identity was frowned against and was highly confusing, and naturally left you open to being cast out by all sorts of weaknesses such as witchcraft and going back to the Old Religion (Catholicism). You certainly didn’t admit to liking the same sex, even if you did put on a dress for all to see in the Globe Theatre.

 

The ‘supporting cast’ of William Shakespeare, the Wright Brothers, and even the Queen, lend so much color to the tapestry that Boecker has woven for this ‘Guide’, and readers will love it when familiar names and places appear in the story. I’d also say there’s a little bit of everything here to make this an all-round great read: we start off with a murder, and then we have action, romance, and a lot of wit and charm. Shakespeare would approve of all of that.


Virginia has actually taken great pains to do her research and in her Author’s Note points out where she has meddled with the history and where she has kept to the facts. I absolutely loved this small part of the book, as well as the long bibliography she has listed.
While you may not come out with a proper Elizabethan history lesson, or an actual assassin’s guide, you will be thoroughly entertained, and may (like myself) be inclined to read up on your English history and to even re-read some Shakespeare!
This was a solid 5 star read for me.
Jolly good show.

 

**I played Maria in my high school performance of ‘Twelfth Night’.

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

For a chance to win one of 3 copies (US only, sorry) of this amazing book click on this ASSASSIN’S GUIDE GIVEAWAY LINK!

 

And next...links to BUY THE BOOK!

 

On AmazonBook Depository, B&N and iBooks - and add it to Goodreads

 

And now to follow the rest of the blog tour, here’s the FULL SCHEDULE LINK!

 

 

I hope you have been totally inspired and pick up a copy of the book, and GOOD LUCK with the giveaway too! 

x ~ K

 

“If music be the food of love, play on...”

 

 

*Guess how much this is worth?

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37678396-an-assassin-s-guide-to-love-and-treason?ac=1&from_search=true
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review 2018-10-17 12:18
More magic, more supernatural events, and plenty of wonder in the second novel of the series.
Atonement in Bloom - Teagan Riordain Geneviene

I was offered an ARC copy of this novel, that I had been after for some time, and I enthusiastically decided to review it as soon as I was able to.

I have followed Teagan Geneviene’s blog for a few years and have long been amazed by her creativity and her power to weave stories from the most unlikely jumble of elements, always rising to the challenges set by her readers, and writing by the seat of her pants. I am inclined to think there is some kind of magic at work, and I am not surprised by the genre she has chosen for her novels.

I have read and reviewed several of her books (you can check my most recent review of one of her serials here) and have long been a fan of her first-novel, Atonement, Tennessee (you can check my review, here). I had been waiting for the next instalment of the series for some time and had eagerly read any stories and snippets the author has shared in her blog about the Atonement universe. And I jumped at the opportunity to read an ARC copy of this novel, the second one in the series.

The author has tried to make this book stand alone, to ensure that anybody who started reading the series at this point would be given enough background to follow the events and enjoy the narrative, without slowing down those of us familiar with the story. Having read the first novel a while back and having reread it recently, I am probably not the best person to comment, but, in my opinion, she succeeds, although I would recommend anybody considering the purchase of this novel to go ahead and get the whole series, as they will be able to more fully appreciate the plot twists and the character development that take place in the series. And there are some companion stories available that you will enjoy as well.

The story is told from two different points of view, as was the case with the first novel. We have Lilith, Esmeralda’s (Ralda for short) calico cat, whose narrative is told in the third-person, and whose personality (her likes and dislikes, her strong opinions, and, indeed, her all-appropriate curiosity) shines through even more than in the first novel. She is witness to a number of events that allow the reader to be slightly ahead of Ralda at some points, but also increase the suspense and the expectations. She is not a human narrator and her understanding of events is often puzzling for us, so her clues are a bit like cryptic crossword prompts, familiar and alien at the same time. She gets involved in some hair-raising adventures of her own, and the end of the novel hints at many interesting things to come for our favourite feline narrator.

Ralda is the other narrator, and she tells the story in the first person. Those of us who have read the first novel know that she is a Southerner at heart, although she has spent many not-very-happy years in Washington DC. Atonement, Tennessee proves to be anything but the quiet and charming little town she imagines at first, secrets and supernatural events abound, and most of them centre on her house and her family line. She is a woman of strong intuition, but there is more to the events unfolding around her than a sixth sense. If the first novel saw her teetering between real-world difficulties (the move, the state of her house, the problems of her new-found friends), and some strange and decidedly supernatural events, in this second novel she at first suspects, and later comes to realise, that in Atonement, Tennessee, there is no clear separation between the “normal” and the “supernatural”. One of the things that make her a very compelling character, apart from her lack of ego and her self-deprecating sense of humour, is her open spirit and her ability to experience the wonder of the world around her. By her own confession, she has suffered the nasty side of things and people, and she at times appears overcautious and paranoid, but she is unable to say no to anybody needing help, and no matter how hard she resists, she finds it difficult to believe the worst of anybody. She might hesitate, but she will get in harm’s way if any of those close to her are in danger (and that includes Lilith, of course).

As for the plot… After taking stock of what happened in the first novel, things start getting interesting very soon. Some of the characters we thought we knew are revealed not to have been how they looked like at first (some for the better, some for the worse), and we have quite a few new characters turn up, some supernatural without a doubt (including my beloved glowing pigs), and others… well, I’ll leave you to see what you think. But there are unrequited loves, magical objects (one of my favourite things, both in fantasy and in the horror genre), some very Shakespearian turns of events, kidnappings, natural (or supernatural) wonders, and a fantastic battle scene (and I won’t reveal anything else).

Although the storyline is complete in itself and the events that unfold during the book get a resolution (and a more than satisfying one, I might add), there are mysteries still to be solved, some new ones hinted at, and I can’t wait to read the next book. If you love fantasy, supernatural events, folklore, myths and legends, Shakespeare, and appreciate a wild-tale full of imagination, you’ll be delighted by this book. I know I was.

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text 2018-10-06 17:33
Reading progress update: I've read 332 out of 332 pages.
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett

One of those Discworld books that only get better with every single reread.  Pratchett absolutely hit his stride with this ... one of my all-time favorites, by far not for the Shakespeare references alone.

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