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Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages (Medieval World (Crabtree Paperback))
Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages (Medieval World (Crabtree Paperback))
by Marsha Groves
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.81
50 used & new from $2.20

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages, November 20, 2007
These books in The Medieval World series (there are 20), published by Crabtree Publishing Company, serve myriad purposes. For the intended reading age, 9-12, they present medieval life--very confusing to our contemporary conventions--in a perfectly understandable fashion. For that age range, I could not recommend these books higher. If I'd had such materials when I was younger, I might have ended up as a medieval scholar.

Yet they also serve a purpose that the publisher may not have intended, and that is for the casual researcher of medieval life.

There are accessible texts for the casual researcher, this is true, but none that I've seen contain simple explanations and diagrams. For example, this book is full of wonderful illustrations that depict manners as they relate to the chapters below (a squire being knighted, serving a bishop, teaching young boys to serve as pages, etc.), with a two-page diagram of Harvest Time; and many, many more.

Every page in this book (there are 32 pages in every book in the series), is presented in full color, the pages colored to resemble parchment, and the illustrations done to wonderfully evoke the period.

The "chapters" included are:

The Middle Ages
Orders of Society
Noble Youth
At the Table
Chivalrous Knights
In a Monastery
A Woman's World
Wedding Customs
Birth and Death
Winter Festivities
Spring Holidays
Harvest Time
Glossary and Index (wonderful to have!)

If you're a writer, and you're looking for simple information on what medieval life looked like, this series of books can't be beat. To buy the entire series may be prohibitive, but if you have an idea of exactly what you want, this is a great starting point.

My only complaint would have to be that I wish these books were bound together in a single volume. Some of the material overlaps from book to book, and as the books themselves are only 32 pages long, a single volume would run well under 200 pages, I would imagine.


Medieval Towns, Trade, and Travel (Medieval World (Crabtree Paperback))
Medieval Towns, Trade, and Travel (Medieval World (Crabtree Paperback))
by Lynne Elliott
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.28
47 used & new from $2.44

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Towns, Trade, and Travel, November 20, 2007
These books in The Medieval World series (there are 20), published by Crabtree Publishing Company, serve myriad purposes. For the intended reading age, 9-12, they present medieval life--very confusing to our contemporary conventions--in a perfectly understandable fashion. For that age range, I could not recommend these books higher. If I'd had such materials when I was younger, I might have ended up as a medieval scholar.

Yet they also serve a purpose that the publisher may not have intended, and that is for the casual researcher of medieval life.

There are accessible texts for the casual researcher, this is true, but none that I've seen contain simple explanations and diagrams. For example, this book is full of wonderful illustrations that depict: travelling from town to town (and paying a fare); how towns are defended by different structures such as castles, and what people in castles did to keep attackers out, craftspeople and tradespeople at work in their respective businesses and the implements they employ, and a two page numbered diagram of a fair.

Every page in this book (there are 32 pages in every book in the series), is presented in full color, the pages colored to resemble parchment, and the illustrations done to wonderfully evoke the period.

The "chapters" included are:

Growing Towns
Town Defense
Living in Town
Craftspeople and Tradespeople
Religion and Education
Markets
Fairs
Measuring Goods
Money
Fun at Fairs
The Silk and Spice Routes
Other Travelers
Transportation
Explorers
Glossary and Index (wonderful to have!)

If you're a writer, and you're looking for simple information on what medieval life looked like, this series of books can't be beat. To buy the entire series may be prohibitive, but if you have an idea of exactly what you want, this is a great starting point.


Life on a Medieval Manor (Medieval World (Crabtree Paperback))
Life on a Medieval Manor (Medieval World (Crabtree Paperback))
by Marc Cels
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.95
65 used & new from $0.12

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in a Medieval Manor - sumptuously illustrated and described, November 16, 2007
These books in The Medieval World series, published by Crabtree Publishing Company, serve myriad purposes. For the intended reading age, 9-12, they present medieval life--very confusing to our contemporary conventions--in a perfectly understandable fashion. For that age range, I could not recommend these books higher.

Yet they also serve a purpose that the publisher may not have intended, and that is for the casual researcher of medieval life.

There are accessible texts for the casual researcher, this is true, but none of them--that I've seen, that is, and to their detriment--contain simple explanations and diagrams. For example, in this book, there is a two-page full-color drawing of a medieval manor, and it gives a better bird's eye view than any scholarly text I've come across.

Every page in the book, for that matter, is presented in full color, the pages colored to resemble parchment, and the illustrations done to wonderfully evoke the period.

I've read a number of books on the Middle Ages, but until I came across this one, I never really had a good image of a medieval manor: where the "peasants" lived, where the church was situated, where the mill was and how it worked (yes, there's a diagram on how the mill works, and what the components of the mill are called), who performed some of the essential duties of the Lord of the Manor (who really couldn't be troubled) and many others.

If you're a writer, and you're looking for simple information on what medieval life looked like, this series of books can't be beat.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2007 8:41 PM PST


1408 (Widescreen Edition)
1408 (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ John Cusack
Price: $3.99
162 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lack of inventiveness skews a story that's already been told, November 5, 2007
This review is from: 1408 (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I must not "get" Stephen King. I rarely like any of the movies made from his books (Misery is an exception), and have only truly been satisfied from his shorter works, of which The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me are perfect examples.

1408 - hasn't it's premise been done to death? A strange hotel with a stranger general manager, a haunted room, mysterious ghosts and figures appearing and disappearing, rarely in a pattern that makes sense? Yeah, it has. And all of the good acting and top-notch special effects end up being nothing more than cheap window dressing, and window dressing has never saved a film.

It's probably true that there are no more original stories to be told, but I need a more distinctive stamp of novelty before I'll buy into listening to, reading, or watching another take an age old concept.

The ending was supposed to be shocking. Really? It was as predictable as an ending can be. Although I should admit that I kept expecting aliens to pop out of nowhere and take credit for the haunting. But he's done that, already, in how many movies?

I have to admit that I feel strange criticizing the work of a man who has written more books than I could contemplate writing, but in his book On Writing, King said that he essentially follows tangents and lets them lead him through his work. It's a formula that has sold tens, if not hundreds of millions of books for him, but not a formula that any student of writing should consider. To blindly follow a tangent without stopping to ask yourself questions like "Does this make sense?" can only lead to ruin.


Harry Potter Hard Cover Boxed Set: Books #1-7
Harry Potter Hard Cover Boxed Set: Books #1-7
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $109.00
119 used & new from $38.73

891 of 1,078 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, not much thought went into the packaging, October 20, 2007
There's no question that the contents of the books inside this so-called chest are of the highest order. The entire Harry Potter epic was ingenious, brilliant, engaging, and encouraged hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young readers to read when they might have rather played with their Xbox.

But this is about the packaging, and the packaging is just horrid.

I wasn't expecting something that was as heavy and substantial as, say, a pirate's chest, but I certainly was hoping that the box was more sturdy than a few flaps of cardboard rather cheaply assembled, and easily DISassembled.

I bought this so that I would have a full set of unread hardcovers with the original artwork, for the sake of posterity. In one of the worst marketing decisions I've seen regarding the Harry Potter series, the publishers thought it would be a good idea to include the extras (decals and whatnot - things I'm not interested in) shrink wrapped with the books. To get at them, you have to tear the shrink wrap, and thus compromise the books over time (a long period of time, and admittedly not much would be compromised).

Also, the clasp on the box was cheap plastic. Horrible. I almost broke it when undoing it. Is a metal clasp too much to ask for? Apparently it is.

I'm not completely dissatisfied with the purchase, because the books are phenomenal. I would have purchased a compilation of all seven books at some point, but I wish I had waited until they offered such a product without the sadly and unfortunately shoddy "chest". When I bought this product, I absolutely, 100% was buying the packaging, and the packaging was dismal.
Comment Comments (55) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2015 1:41 PM PDT


The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time
Offered by Big Time Online
Price: $14.55
32 used & new from $0.99

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty true to the books, October 17, 2007
This review is from: The Wheel of Time (CD-ROM)
I was surprised to see that no reviews had been written for this game. When I played it - seven or eight years ago now? - I had hours of fun with it, especially when I found the cheat codes online. (I'm not a skilled gamesman by any definition, and need all the help I can get!) It was true enough to the *world* that Jordan created, although it didn't contain any of the main characters. Which was fine with me.

The graphics were terrific, if a bit slow (I wonder how they'd run on the PC I have now, a few generations removed?), and the sounds were great. Shadar Logoth (sp? - it's been years) was just as spooky in the game as it was in the books, and I'll give Jordan credit; it was extremely eerie.

The guys that wrote this game put a lot of thought into it. Jordan utilized weaving Air, Fire, Earth, and Spirit in his system of magic, and so did the game. It even had balefire, and let me tell you - using balefire ROCKED. I felt like a kid when I was using that.

The end of the game gets rough, and even with all of the cheats, I was never able to get there. I did get past one male Forsaken, although I was just pressing buttons and holding my breath and couldn't tell you how I did it, but that's as good as it got for me.

I've never played the Atari game, and didn't realize it existed until this evening, when I looked for this game, so can't compare them.

With Jordan having passed away last September, people may want more than the books to keep them close to the world he created. This is as good as anything.


Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel
Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel
by Marie Phillips
Edition: Hardcover
99 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Um, 1-900-Aphrodite?, October 14, 2007
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is absolutely hysterical. The depictions of the gods and goddesses are brilliantly done, as well as their interaction with mortals, and their relationship or understanding regarding Christianity. Phillips did her research well, and she was able to play on character traits of the various Olympians which made the story stronger, more believable, and tangible. For example, Artemis, goddess of the hunt, is a dog walker in the 21st century. Aphrodite is a phone sex operator, and her observation from this activity is hysterical: "Mortals today, they've got no staying power. You barely have enough time to get their credit card details and they've already finished. I said all along that we should have put the pigs in charge."

It was comments like that - although humorous - that helped me believed that I was reading a story about Greek Gods living in a run-down London town house.

Their interactions with "mortals" make for some of the best reading. It's a solid book, front to cover. A very brave first attempt, and one done very well.


The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
by Christopher E. Vogler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.99
182 used & new from $8.81

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well organized and very accessible, October 14, 2007
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Vogler does a fine job of laying out his own system of the Hero's journey, as first discovered by him in the works of Joseph Campbell. For clarity's sake, he includes a side-by-side list of the different aspects of the Hero's journey. On one side is his terminology/definitions, and on the other, there are Campbell's. This is more than fairly suggestive that he has borrowed heavily from Campbell, but given it his own "twist".

Vogler, like Campbell, breaks the story arc into three acts.

Act One
Ordinary World
Call to Adventure
Refusal of the Call
Meeting with the Mentor
Crossing the First Threshold

Act Two
Tests, Allies, Enemies
Approach to the Inmost Cave
Ordeal
Reward

Act Three
The Road Back
Resurrection
Return with the Elixir

Anyone familiar with Star Wars, or The Lord of the Rings, should be able to look at Vogler's outline and know exactly where to place parts of the those respective stories.

This text is very accessible. I've read other books that talk about the writer's journey, or the hero's journey, that are, well, quite "out there", yet still come back to the same three acts, the same archetypes, and, essentially, the same outline and terminology.

I'm uncomfortable recommending this book to writer's, because I feel that using this as a template with which to construct your story (*especially* if it's a fantasy/quest story), you'll substitute your own imagination with what Vogler outlines in his book. But it does serve a good purpose. If anyone wants to understand character archetypes better, Vogler explains them as well as anyone here, and better than most. You can also use this book as a how-not-to-write-my-fantasy guide. Campbell made the argument that it's OK that every conceivable story has been told, and that it's the writer's responsibility to present a new story in such a fashion that it will excite readers. It's a good argument, and several authors I admire write in a way that exemplifies (consciously or subconsciously) this somewhat rigid "archetype" of writing a story.

I do have to say - can't writer's find different movies and books to talk about? In everything I've seen, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars are trumped out over and over again. If we keep seeing the same examples, we're going to get bored. While it may be true that virtually everyone knows the storyline of both movies, and therefore makes sense to use them as examples, using them doesn't encourage someone who's already well versed in "hero mythology" to read your book. We've already heard all about Dorothy and Luke - more than we ever wanted to, perhaps!

Still, issues such as those mentioned above are minor, and truly, for someone looking for a well-written book that chronicles the Hero's Journey and everything that he/she is expected to confront during that journey, this is a great place to start.

There's some interesting text about cultures that are "herophobic". That encouraged me to look at my story somewhat differently, and it gave me some good ideas. The point being, you can (almost) never read too much because you're likely to learn something new each time.


Motorola Cigarette Lighter Adapter for Motorola Phones with a Mini-USB Connector (Not compatible with newer phones with a Micro-USB connector)
Motorola Cigarette Lighter Adapter for Motorola Phones with a Mini-USB Connector (Not compatible with newer phones with a Micro-USB connector)
Offered by Modern Day Treasure Hunter
Price: $13.50
10 used & new from $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It's sturdy and it works. That's about what one should expect., October 10, 2007
Some who gave this product one star wondered if they received a genuine Motorola product. After seeing those reviews, I was concerned, as I had returned the charger Verizon gave me when I bought my Motorola Q because it broke upon my first use of it. I needn't have worried. The product did not have the feel of a knockoff - instead, it felt appropriately heavy, it fit snugly into the cigarette lighter (now being called a power source more and more), and worked beautifully. The M logo lit up with a pleasant glow, it looks cool, and my phone was recharged.

So - it does exactly what it's supposed to. Perhaps those who received what they thought was a knockoff bought a used product?


Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset [Retail Packaging] (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset [Retail Packaging] (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
5 used & new from $100.00

96 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome device - not only good volume, but superb clarity, October 10, 2007
This is my second Bluetooth device. The first was also a Plantronics, from Verizon, and while I was happy with the volume, with increased volume did not come increased clarity. I'm hearing impaired, so clarity is something that I'm very concerned about with any hearing device, be it phone, hearing aid, stereo headphones, and especially TV EARS!

Anyway, turning up the volume means I'll hear the sounds, but it doesn't always mean that I'll be able to discern them. "Hi, this is J.K. Rowling calling, and I'd like to invite you to tea," could turn into, "Your bowling league called, and said they want some bees." If I'm lucky. I returned the unit I received with my phone (as a matter of fact, I returned all of the accessories Verizon packaged with my Motorola Q - they were all junk) and bought this headset based on the strength of all the positive reviews. After testing it out, I couldn't be happier, and have to add my voice to the chorus of approval. Not only is this headset capable of great volume, it also is extremely clear.

To put this in perspective, I have less than 50% hearing in my left ear, and none in my right. I *need* these devices to work, and work well. Using the headset in my left ear (of course), I called my roommate, who is very soft spoken. He came in loud and clear. I not only heard what he said, I understood what he said.

I tested this again when I had to call Dell for technical support. The person had a very heavy accent, and while talking to him on my Motorola Q, I had a very, very difficult time understanding him. When I switched from the phone to the headset, I was able to (mostly) understand him. To me, that was the real litmus test, because for people like me with nerve damage, clarity is key, and accents are h - e - double toothpicks.

Buy this with confidence.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2015 10:43 AM PST


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