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A. K. Berger "filburt_girl" RSS Feed (Nebraska, USA)

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Protegee (Exiles of Arcadia)
Protegee (Exiles of Arcadia)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars one bad decision leads to another, January 24, 2015
This is the second title in Gawley's Exiles of Arcadia series, but where Legionnaire, the first title, often failed to deliver, Protegee more than makes up for it.

Again, we're taken to Gawley's richly drawn, quasi-historical, quasi-fantastical world of Arcadia. While Legionnaire was told primarily from the point of view of a young soldier, Protegee follows Julia Lilith Fabian, the daughter of a provincial governor who is thrust into a ruling position when her father leaves for battle. This domestic setting of servants, gardens, public houses, and various government dealings allow Gawley's keen eye for detail to shine--I was impressed with how richly the world itself unfolds in such a short story, a key element Legionnaire, with its flatly drawn forest paths and generic mining caves, often lacked.

And Gawley populates his vivid world with equally vivid characters. Lilith begins the story as our standard protagonist, meeting each conflict with a heroine's confidence. Yet as her father's absence draws out and various elements in her world are upset, her lack of experience begins to show, one bad decision leads to another, and soon, Protegee is less a clear-cut good vs. evil story, more an ethical conundrum, an inquiry into the morality of what to do when you actually have no idea what to do. This is compelling stuff--we don't have a "likable" heroine here, even if we do have a richly drawn one.

While Lilith, with her murky past, amateur's shaky hand, and often-roiling emotions is a wonderfully dynamic character, some of the others who populate her life, particularly her father's wife Vyria and friend Atticus, while still interesting, often can't match Lilith's character in depth and nuance. The prose itself can often fall into this trap, too--many scenes that are simply summarized in a paragraph or two feel like they could have been full-blown scenes. I would have loved for Protegee, with its tightly wound plot, nuanced ethics, and rich universe, to be longer, but what we do have in this short work is still definitely worth reading, even if it does end on quite the cliffhanger. Plus, the ending reveals something of a whodunnit that we don't even realize was a key mystery running through the text--it's a neat effect.


The Philip K. Dick Anthology: 18 Classic Science Fiction Stories (Bybliotech Fiction)
The Philip K. Dick Anthology: 18 Classic Science Fiction Stories (Bybliotech Fiction)
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to one of the greats, January 5, 2015
I generally view PKD as better known for his novels, but his short stories are just as creepy, compelling, and strange, and this collection compiles some of the best of the many, many short stories he published, including Beyond Lies the Wub, The Variable Man, and Adjustment Team, among others.

Each story weaves a compact, carefully considered plot, often with a last-minute twist reminiscent of Twilight Zone episodes. Space travel, alien invaders, and government conspiracies abound, all steeped in a Cold War-esque paranoia that's very much of its time--I was surprised how easily Dick's stories inhabited and critiqued Cold War morality yet still contained a delightfully otherworldly texture.

My only criticism of the collection, and it's a small one, is that some of the space travel stories feel almost identical, and they have a tendency to bleed together as the anthology progresses. And yet, the final two stories in the collection, "Upon the Dull Earth" and "Of Withered Apples" have a gothic horror quality (similar to Ray Bradbury's but even creepier) that makes me wish Dick had written more in this vein--they're even weirder gems in a wonderfully weird collection, and I'm glad Bybliotech chose to include them.

In the past, I'd avoid PKD's huge catalog of short stories, often because I had no idea where to start. Well, here it is--a great (and cheap!) diving board into one of scifi's strangest minds.

(thanks, Bybliotech, for the gift review copy!)


Legionnaire (Exiles of Arcadia)
Legionnaire (Exiles of Arcadia)
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Legionnaire: Intriguing story building, June 8, 2014
Legionnaire follows Primus Seneca, a young soldier, through a highly imaginative version of the Roman Republic. The skewed reality here, while at first disorienting, especially in the opening chapters, eventually evolves into a rich world that pulls the story forward almost more than the story itself. We're introduced to a mysterious race known as the Woade, a homeland known as Arcadia, and greatwood forests rife with mines, abandoned cities, and military outposts. This is great stuff for readers who love a well-realized world.

Often, though, these settings can overshadow the characters; many of Primus's friends, colleagues, and enemies are tough to distinguish and often feel extraneous to the story. Most interesting, though, is Primus himself as he grapples with various power structures: his shaky loyalty to his far-from-perfect military father, his devotion to his own legion, and most curious (and it makes a late appearance in the book)--his very religious beliefs. This is where the story gets wonderfully strange--hallucinating hierophants, a beautiful woman from Primus's past, prophecies from the gods, and yet do the gods even exist? I loved this element to the story--and how it contributes to Primus's doubts about his religious tradition, not to mention how well this spiritual questioning fits into the hybrid historical/fantastical world.

Many elements in Legionnaire are setting up for the next installment in the series and the story ends on a rather unsatisfying note--partially wrapped up, yet not fully. You'll need to read the sequel.

(Many thanks to the author for a review copy.)


No Title Available

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort Counts!, February 16, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These shoes have to be my most comfortable shoes apart from my sneakers.

I wear a size 10 in most shoes, and I'd say these shoes are pretty close to my ideal 10. They might be just a TINY bit on the large side, but it's barely noticeable. I don't think anyone will have to worry about ordering a half size up or down. I also have a pretty narrow foot. If you've found dress shoes in the past to be too narrow, don't hesitate to order these in narrow.

The picture is pretty faithful to the appearance. The buckle gives these shoes a dressier look than your standard loafer (probably not something to wear with jeans!) but a bit more casual than some dress shoes. I wear mine with my business casual work clothing, and I'm sure they'd work fine with a more professional wardrobe, too. Also keep in mind that the buckle is more a burnished silver, not shiny.

Overall, the Grasshoppers Lisbon shoes are dressy but not too dressy, and a good option if you're looking for a COMFORTABLE shoe to wear to work.


No Title Available

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Except for Flavor, December 22, 2004
I bought all three flavors of this lip gloss on a whim one day. Although the small box the lip gloss comes packaged in claims the gloss is "flavored," it isn't. It tastes like beeswax and that's it.

Aside from the lack of flavor, I love these lip glosses. They add a nice glow to my lips, they double as a powerful balm for chapped lips, and they smell wonderful. The little glass container and tin lid are very well well made. I would have to say the Lemon Lime is the variety to get if you're looking for something strongly scented. However, my personal favorite is the raspberry because it's an unusual, very sweet scent.

If you don't mind your lip gloss tasting like beeswax, I highly recommend buying all three varieties. You won't be disappointed.


Trivial Pursuit: 6th Edition
Trivial Pursuit: 6th Edition
Offered by thebookrave
Price: $111.40
37 used & new from $26.99

131 of 139 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much like the Classic, May 21, 2004
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Trivial Pursuit: 6th Edition (Toy)
As a person who's rumored to have been playing Trivial Pursuit since she was six years old, I have to admit that version 6 of this game has to be one of the better ones to come along in years. Much like the first Genus edition, the questions have a great range in both subject matter and level of difficulty. However, a problem plagues Trivial Pursuit 6 that has plagued all other recent editions: NOT ENOUGH QUESTIONS. After about 5 full length games, I found myself and my companions repeating the questions! Trivial Pursuit 6 has about half the number of question cards that Genus I (from 1979) had. The new version 6 is great if you're a casual player who won't play it that often, but for any die-hard fans, this game is going to get really old really quickly.


E.T. 20th Anniversary Plush
E.T. 20th Anniversary Plush
6 used & new from $85.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Cute, October 4, 2002
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I'm fairly familiar with the original E.T. plush doll that was released in 1980, and I thought nothing could compare to the realistic features and impossibly cute expression.
Boy, was I wrong. This plush doll released for E.T. Special Edition far exceeded my expectations. The facial features are exact and the eyes look real. E.T. sits on my desk, and I half expect him to say "E.T. phone home." He's also a very nice size; fitting just about anywhere while not being too small.
However, I have one complaint with this toy. ET's right hand sports a finger that is supposed to look like it's "glowing." The yellow and white coloring on the finger only makes it look dirty...like it was dipped in a gritty yellow powder. It's actually rather gross. I know this is constant with all the E.T. dolls; I purchased E.T at a Toys R Us and fruitlessly searched for a doll without a "dirty" finger. No such thing exists.
Beside the ugly finger, this E.T doll is surprisingly realistic compared to the original version released in 1980. In fact, ET is so realistic that his neck expands and retracts. :)


Airport Tycoon (Jewel Case) - PC
Airport Tycoon (Jewel Case) - PC
Offered by The Fox Burrow
Price: $35.00
26 used & new from $0.72

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good gameplay, Horrible Graphics, September 24, 2002
In this age of 3D-accelerated EVERYTHING....very few people actually stop to notice the older, cheaper games that populate the market.
Airport Tycoon is one of them. The graphics are horrible, the sound is mediocre, but MAN, is it fun. This is not a game where you can jump right in and start building a thriving airport: you will undoubtedly fail in your first few attempts. But as you learn the ropes, this game becomes increasingly addictive. From choosing the site of your airport, to the layout of the terminal, this is one of those PC games that will whittle away hours of your time.
HOWEVER...there is a tragic, tragic flaw in Airport Tycoon: the graphics. What you see is not reality; the running of the graphics does not correlate to what is recorded on the data tables. For example, the graphical representation of your airport may show two planes landing in a single day, whereas the data table (that can be accessed through a menu) will show about 20 flights passing through your airport! The poor graphics are a horrible misrepresentation; do not take them seriously. On top of that, the layout of your airport REALLY doesn't matter...I've had vending machines in my terminal that have been shoved backward against a wall...and they still manage to generate profit.
If you're more into the math and statistics of a simulation game, Airport Tycoon may be for you. But if you're more of a graphics person (like most gamers are) then stay FAR AWAY from this crazy game.


The October Country
The October Country
by Joe Mugnaini
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.50
110 used & new from $0.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Haunting, August 7, 2002
This review is from: The October Country (Paperback)
From the first page, which features the eerie carnival story "The Dwarf", to the final page graced by the philosophical work "The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone", The October Country is a land of impossible concepts and wonderfully weird stories.
The qualities of the haunting short stories vary greatly. Some of the tales are mystical fairy tales, others are modern day horror vignettes. There are three crowning glories in this collection: "The Lake", "Jack in the Box", and "The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone."
"The Lake" is a haunting tale of a little girl whose life was claimed by Lake Michigan. Through a touching first person point of view, the narrator offers a tear-jerking look into the little girl's life and his relationship with her.
"Jack in the Box" tells the story of a little boy who was raised in complete isolation in a house that was a world all its own.
"The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone" chronicles the life of a fictional author who died a graceful "death", but still continues to live his life.
Although each story in the October Country is worthy of praise, the reader MUST keep in mind that this is an IMMENSE collection. Reading it straight through, the weirdly characters and dreary plots can appear to be never-ending. The collection could have been cut in half, and I would still feel it worthy of praise.
To sum it up, the October Country is an essential collection and offers examples of superior short story writing. But much like the world it depicts, The October Country can continue for forever....and never allow you to leave.


Gravity
Gravity
Offered by cdgiveaways
Price: $12.99
232 used & new from $0.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Even the Album Cover Art is Mediocre!, July 28, 2002
This review is from: Gravity (Audio CD)
As a long-time fan of this amazing Canadian rock band, I am very disappointed in Our Lady Peace's Gravity.
Previous Our Lady Peace albums have wowed their listeners with experimental guitar riffs, sassy drum parts, and amazing vocal talents. None exist in Gravity.
Our Lady Peace has essentially dumbed down their music for this album. Lead singer Raine Maida no longer implements his trademark falsetto ANYWHERE on the album. The stray drum riffs and listless guitar parts are absent as well; every single song has a structured, easy-to-follow melody. Even the lyrics sound uninspired and poorly written.
Despite its obvious flaws, Gravity has many good qualities. After all, this is rock and roll, pure and simple. The track "Sell my Soul" could easily be an anthem for any alternative rock station. Many of the tracks are worthy of singles, and such media giants as VH1, MTV, and Top 40 radio stations will eat this up in a second. Gravity is conventional rock; the media will welcome it with open arms.
But for an Our Lady Peace follower like myself, Gravity has marked the end of an era: an era of unique, creative music. The casual pop/rock fan will fall instantly in love with Gravity, but the devoted fan will only pray that OLP's next album will break the mold of mediocrity.


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