Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tea at Trianon: Priest Holes in English Houses

We interrupt this blogging about Jean Auel's series to send you over to Tea at Trianon: Priest Holes in English Houses.

You know how I love history from different times and places and blogs about them. Thus it will come as no surprise that I stumbled across this blog and fell in love...and I haven't read one of her books yet!

Wait till you see the travel tea case Marie-Antoinette carried!

For those of us who a) will probably not be going to England or b) probably would not have the time to visit and see all the priest holes, you have to read the entire posting (it will take you to another) where you will see not only stills but videos of them as well as get some good historical information along the way!

Go quickly my friends and enjoy yourselves as much as I!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

They said:

Ayla and Jondalar set out on horseback across the windswept grasslands of Ice Age Europe. To the hunter gatherers of their world--who have never seen tame animals--Ayla and Jondalar appear enigmatic and frightening.

The mystery surrounding the woman, who speaks with a strange accent and talks to animals with their own sounds, is heightened by her control of a large, menacing wolf. The tall, yellow-haired man who rides by her side is also held in awe, not only for the magnificent stallion he commands, but for his skill as an artificer of stone tools, and for the new weapon he devises that makes hunting less perilous.

In the course of their cross-continental odyssey, Ayla and Jondalar encounter both savage enemies and brave friends. Together they learn that the vast and unkown world can be difficult and dangerous, but breathtakingly beautiful and enlightening as well.

I thought:

I should see what others have thought about this book. Boy howdy, was I surprised by some of the comments! One comment was about her repeating things from an earlier book. Stop a moment and look at the different publishing dates. If you read the first one and then had to wait for the next one, you might appreciate the repeats so you remember what was going on from the last one. An then there are people like me who might find one copy but it is later in the series...those retells would put you right into the story without you having to go back to the first book to find out what is going on and who's who.

Sex. Yes, and people what to know about what might have happened in the past and if everyone is in the cave, everyone knows what is going on. So how did they handle the situation. How was the act different among the Clan than the Others? What we might consider rape today, might have been normal for one group. That's one of the things you are learning about as Ayla grows up and moves from one group to another. It is not gratuitous or even as graphic as some writers might have made it.

Wonder Woman and Superman? Ayla and her lover are compilations of the Others. The Clan shared a common memory and did not like change much. The Others did not have the memories so were more adaptable to change and building on one another's ideas and sharing for the good of all. She was both a shaman and a healer. I want to know what they used for medicine, did they ever do surgery, how did they deal with wounds? So all information and advancements were attached to Ayla. Many people of today are have the ability to pick up languages quickly...but there remain traces of their original accents, just like Ayla. Of course she is alway gathering things...they were 'hunter/gatherers. It was important that she find fresh food and well as food that will store well for winter and many of the foods that she ate while living with the Clan would not be available from one territory to another. She would have to find out what new things were safe to eat in the new areas. The same thing would have to be done with her herbal medicines...some she would figure out for herself but some she would find out when they visited in different camps.

Written or spoken, I really like this series!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The cave lion has taken off to start his own family, the filly has given birth to a colt, and the young blond man and Ayla have fallen in love. The are traveling to his home until they meet the mammoth hunters and are invited to stay with them through the winter. While visiting them, Alya rescues a wolf pup. People of the hunters are unsure of their safety but gradually become accustomed to him.

As we follow Alya, her lover, and the critters, we learn more about the land and the life of the people of the region. It is not an easy life but very interesting as is the continuation of Alya's story.

But now we must go on to the next volume! I am having so much fun with my marathon thanks to!

The Valley of Horses
by Jean M. Auel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alya has left the cave and the clan behind and finds food in the form of a horse. Unfortunately, the mare has a defenseless filly. She cannot leave this baby to die. She takes the filly back to her cave to raise with a baby cave lion she later finds. As she raises these animals she learns from them and how to use them. As the filly reaches the right age, Ayla learns to ride and the filly learns to help her by pulling things. This last is beneficial when Ayla and her horse are out searching for food and herbs when they come across two young men..."others". One blond like Alya who is close to death; while the other man is dead. She buries the latter and takes the former with her back to the cave.

Of course the story is much more complicated than what I have summarized, besides the story line, the above does not cover the her learning as she gets ideas and tries things. The learning is a condensation of what and how people of her time may have progressed, such as riding horses instead of eating them.

The oral story is very well narrated.

Now on to the next volume! (What great fun!)

At one time I had most all of this series of books but what with lending them to this or that person, I ended up with only one (1), of the hard backed books! So I started collecting them on Once I had them all, I held a marathon wherein I listened to the whole series, one after the other! It was a blast!

In the Clan of the Cave Bear we meet Ayla, who survives an earth quake that takes the 5 year old's mother.  Alone, wounded, and sick, she is recused by the healer of the clan of the cave bear's healer. As a child of 'the others', the 'flat heads' take her in even though they find her ugly and ignorant as she has none of the memories. Ayla heals and is adopted and loved by the clan as much as she loves loves them. As she grows, we, the readers, learn about the clan and their ways. I tell a lie, there is a member of the clan who hates her deeply! This one will one day be the head of the clan. When he does, Ayla is forced to leave as he has marked her as dead to them. 

One of my joys with this series is that you can read them as stand alones...though reading them in tandem (or marathon) is so enjoyable. 

The author has done great research with people well known in the study of man so far back in time. So if you like ancient history with solid research along with a good story...pick this one up!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
narrator, Roy Dotrice

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

©1999 George R.R. Martin; (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.


I still don't like serialized books that have to be read in order but I must admit their necessity for some this epic. Last season, a video of book 1 was shown on HBO which was entertaining and interesting from the point of taking 33 hours of listening and condensing it to 10 hours of viewing. The cast of characters is huge! But fear not, the important ones will stick in your brain, so well are they written. As in real life, no one is all good or all bad so you can't totally like or dislike them...well, except for one!

I liked the book better than the video on the last one and feel the same will hold true of the new season which should be starting soon as HBO is currently rerunning the first season. Oh, don't get me wrong, the HBO series is up to their standards! What is missing is all the little connectors which add so much color to the book! Mostly I miss the way Mr. Martin links together his words. As this was one of my books, hearing those words were pure pleasure! The narrator, Roy Dotrice, did such a terrific he managed to come up with so many diverse accents and speech patterns was just such an addition to the book.

WARNING: This is an adult only book! Not for language but nudity, graphic sex, and violence.