Author Archives: charlesprogers
Bedtime Stories: Goldenhand
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Goldenhand by Garth Nix.
I don’t have a scary story for you today. Sorry! I was too excited about the new Garth Nix novel to read anything else. I’m sure you all understand.
20 years ago, the Australian author released Sabriel the YA fantasy novel about a young woman, Sabriel, flung before her time into the dark and dangerous world of necromancy. Wielder of seven magical bells, her job is to fight Free Magic necromancers, who bring the dead back to life to do their bidding. Later, we met Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr. Lirael is a Clayr, the Seers who live underneath the glacier and watch the future and the past. In the final book, Abhorsen, Lirael continues her quest to defeat a dark necromancer.
And now, 20 years after the last battles of the Old Kingdom, we get Goldenhand, a new tale that picks up shortly after Abhorsen. Tying together all the novels (including Clariel, a story that takes place hundreds of years earlier) we get what appears to probably be the final book in the series. Focusing again mostly on Lirael, we join her as she reunites with a young man from the other side of the Wall, a non-magical person with little experience in the magical North. We also meet a new character, another brave and fierce woman, a tribal warrior named Ferin. While Lirael and Nick work their way to the Clayr’s glacier, Ferin is fighting to make her way to Lirael, carrying an important message from Lirael’s long-deceased mother.
If you have read the other four books in the Old Kingdom series, Goldenhand will quench your thirst for another trip north of the Wall. Personally, Sabriel is still my favorite but this is a satisfactory end to a much-loved series.
Bedroom Design: Chic Brown Bedrooms
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Brown in a bedroom? Okay, so the color doesn’t sound sexy, and when you fantasize about your dream bedroom, you’re probably not dreaming in brown. That being said, it’s not the most obvious choice for the basis of any color scheme –– especially that of a romantic room –– but brown can be incredibly appealing, and lovely in a bedroom. Let’s take a peek at a selection of chic brown bedrooms.
Straightforward with a clean design, this California bedroom takes on a Mediterranean feel. The crisp, white bedding balances the soft brown backdrop. Notice how the nightstands fit perfectly into the head cubicle.
Timeless elegance and luxurious, brown walls set the tone for this Chicago bedroom. Again, the white bedding pairs well, but this time, with an embroidery detail. A traditional crystal chandelier makes the space feel upscale with a feminine twist.
Photo by Rugo/ Raff Ltd. Architects
Designer Marcia Morine used a variety of brown shades in this rustic bedroom in Minneapolis. The house boasts a mountain or lodge feel, and the smart layout accommodates multiple guests.
IMI Design LLC is responsible for this contemporary Asian-inspired Phoenix bedroom, which has brown in the grasscloth, wood floors and built-ins, platform bed, ceiling pattern, and bench, but adds a color on the bed. This teal bed covering gives the space the punch that it needs.
This San Francisco bedroom might be a bachelor pad, but that doesn’t mean a woman wouldn’t appreciate the space. Decorator Grace Dumalac added a woman’s touch but still maintained a level of masculinity for her single client, and it begins with brown walls.
Bedtime Stories: Strange and Creepy Stories
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Get In Trouble by Kelly Link.
Nobody does weird and creepy quite like Kelly Link. I fell in love with her stories the first time I read “The Wrong Grave” about a self-obsessed young man whose girlfriend had died and he’d thrown a sheaf of poems into her grave, thinking it the poetically appropriate thing to do only to regret losing such amazing writing to the earth and deciding to exhume his probably terrible teenage poetry. This is one of the more likely premises of a Kelly Link story. Get In Trouble shows a bit of maturing in her writing; some of her early stories leave the reader a bit puzzled at the end, which I think was her purpose. This new collection, which was a Pulitzer finalist this year, has nine short stories covering ghost hunting reality television, fake vampire boyfriends, and superhero conventions.
Kelly Link merges the mundane and the bizarre with such casual ease that you begin to wonder what’s made up and what isn’t. The rich girl Ainslie in “The New Boyfriend” gets everything she wants, including all the boyfriends available: the Vampire Boyfriend; the Werewolf Boyfriend; and on her birthday the discontinued Ghost Boyfriend featuring Embodied and Spectral mode. He can float invisibly like a ghost. Immy is deeply jealous that Ainslie has the ghost, who she has named Mint. That’s just the first couple pages of a wonderful tale of complicated friendships and ghost boyfriends.
“The Summer People” is about a girl and her moonshiner dad who tend to vacation homes while they are abandoned. They also care for one in particular, where the Summer People live, a group of mysterious beings.
Each of her stories is dripping with atmosphere and plunges you headlong into strange and often spooky worlds. Great reading for teens and adults who like fantasy and horror but are looking for something less run of the mill.
Movies in Bed: The Witches
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Halloween is a little more than a week away. And so, it is imperative that we continue to thumb through the movies of monsters, ghosts, witches and goblins. Keeping with the theme of children’s/family friendly movies, let us turn today to The Witches, based on the 1983 Roald Dahl novel of the same name.
While young Luke is on holiday to visit his grandmother Helga in Norway, she tells him tales of the witches. Real witches, with flashing violet eyes who are repulsed by children, will lure the disgusting things and do away with them. According to his grandmother, her own sister was taken and imprisoned in a painting.
Luke is fascinated but these stories fade as he discovers terrible news: his parents have been killed in an accident. Helga takes over care of Luke and moves with him to England. One day, while in his treehouse, a strange woman with violet eyes comes by and tries to lure him down. Immediately he remembers the stories Helga had told him. Screaming for help, the woman slinks away. Shortly thereafter, Helga and Luke retire to the seaside for some R & R only to discover there is a massive witches’ convention there, under the ironic pseudonym of Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. When Luke discovers their nefarious plan to turn all children into mice, he becomes an early test subject. Luckily he has a very understanding grandma and together they fight to defeat the Witches.
Scary in the way cartoonish witches are scary, this movie is more action than horror. The witches are horrendously ugly when they remove their human disguises but not too frightening. My 8-year-old enjoyed the movie. So if you need something a bit spooky but you still want your kid to sleep in his own bed, The Witches is a great pick.
To Nap or Not to Nap?
Post by Tracy Kaler.
You woke up far too early this morning, or you’ve been burning the candle at both ends and you’re completely exhausted. Your meeting got canceled so you have an hour mid-day to rest, but should you take a nap?
Most experts will confirm that napping is good for your health, but if you find yourself napping regularly and for the wrong reasons, then that’s another story. If you have a need to nap even though you get a good night’s sleep, or if you’re suffering from chronic insomnia and end up catching shut-eye over your lunch hour, then naps might not be the best solution. You could have another health issue that you’re not aware of, so a doctor’s visit might be in order.
Are you overworked or do you have too much on your plate?
Stress and anxiety can cause fatigue at any hour of the day, prompting an afternoon slump which will lead to naps. Lack of sleep can cause mid-day sleepiness as well, and encourage naps even if you’re not a routine napper. If this sounds like your scenario, then napping would only be a temporary fix. You’ll need to get to the root of your stress or insomnia, and then you probably won’t feel the need to nap any longer.
Did your parents nap?
Apparently, the gene pool plays a role in whether we take naps or not. Chances are, if your mom and dad were nappers, you could very well be a napper too. If you are one of those natural nappers, catching a short snooze during the day could be essential to your well-being. A nap could last anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes, but even the shortest sleep could recharge your battery and boost productivity.
What if you’re not a habitual napper?
That’s okay because everyone’s body is different and you might have enough energy to make it through the day without putting your head down for 30 minutes. Don’t sweat it if you can’t sleep mid-afternoon. You’re not alone, and falling asleep during the work day could have the opposite effect on you. You could wake up more tired and even groggy after a short rest. Stick to your sleep schedule and however many hours you’re getting each night, and leave the napping to others.