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Cover of the Week

Conan Cover Art by Frank Frazetta (Sphere/Lancer Books)

Conan the Avenger by Robert E. Howard

No, the one above is not a Sphere/Lancer edition. It is a Bantam cover by Bob Larkin. Not sure how much it appeals to the pulp readers, but I, for sure, have got an appetite for Frank Frazetta and prefer him over Larkin.

When Lancer decided to re-print Robert E. Howard’s Conan books , it fell on the able shoulders of Frazetta to work on the cover art. Frazetta, who also produced paintings for Burroughs’ Barsoom and Tarzan series, revolutionized the genre of sword and sorcery with his interpretation of Conan. Let’s take a look at some of the Sphere/Lancer covers of Conan books (below).

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Opinion & Featured Articles

Peace Through Superior Power: Game of Thrones Weapons

game of thrones weapons

As the season four premiere of Game of Thrones draws near, fans eagerly anticipate all the weapons, armor, costumes, and breathtaking scenery that make up the world of the hit series. Not to mention the backstabbing, epic battles, sexy characters, and glorious gore that is irresistibly compelling to watch. To get in the mood for the upcoming season, let’s take a look at the detail and craftsmanship that goes into creating some of the iconic weapons on Game of Thrones.

An important aspect in creating the weapons and armor for the series is the different climates in which characters and societies live. For example, the City Watch guards in the Mediterranean climate of King’s Landing wear intricately tailored gold chainmail cloaks that are a far cry from the heavy armor and fur cloaks of the Knight’s Watch in The North. Author George R.R. Martin places a high priority on realism when it comes to the history of armor and weaponry, and this is reflected in the show’s props and costumes.

The show’s armorer Tommy Dunne was tasked with creating prop swords representative of Valyrian steel. In the series, these blades were forged by an ancient civilization using an alloy interwoven with magic spells, making them unparalleled in strength and quality. The show’s swordsmiths used ancient Damascus steel as a template for Valyrian steel. Its ultra-strong carbon nanofibers were mixed with softer metal alloys to create strong, unbreakable blades. The quality of these swords can be replicated using a process called pattern welding.

Pattern welding folds in multiple layers of metal alloys, which are forge-welded by hand. These metal layers not only give the blade great strength, but also create an intricate pattern that no other forging technique can match. Not only are these swords beautiful, but they are strong enough to withstand the practical needs of combat scenes. While the traditional swordsmithing methods of the Middle Ages may have been lost over time, new technology and welding equipment allows us to make elegant swords with greater precision than our ancient predecessors—a crucial advantage when armorers have limited time to build hundreds of swords for battle scenes.

Man At Arms, the hit YouTube series where master swordsmith Tony Swatton crafts iconic weapons, gives an inside glimpse of how he built a replica of Jaime Lannister’s sword in Game of Thrones. He made the 36-inch blade by tracing a template and then using a band saw to cut the steel based on this outline. Swatton added the blood groove down the middle of the blade using a vertical milling machine. To add the hilt’s details, he soldered an intricate brass plate onto the hilt using an oxyacetylene welding torch. One of the most distinguishing features of Jaime Lannister’s sword is the pommel that features two lion heads. To create the double lion-head pommel, he made a wax model to use as a template for a plaster mold. The mold was then covered in molten bronze—melted at 1800 degrees—which quickly cooled to a solid. After polishing the bronze, he screwed it in place atop the handle for a finished sword, fit for the hands of the Kingslayer.

Author Bio:

Please feel free to contact Ella Gray at ella.l.gray@gmail.com with any questions or comments.

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News from the Book World

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: A List by Amazon

amazon 100 books to read in a lifetime

Here’s hot news for the booklovers. Amazon has recently announced its pick of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. It’s a pretty intriguing list because it differs substantially from similar existing lists.

Sara Nelson, the editorial director of Amazon said that the list is not based on sales figures or any other typical benchmarks. The list was compiled by the editors based on how much the books appealed to the readers over the years. They whacked off homework books like Joyce’s Ulysses and focused on the ones that readers of all ages enjoyed.

The list includes books from Victorian era to the post-modern and contemporary period. The books are not ranked in any particular order to emphasize that all are equally important. While Harry Potter made it to the list, classics like Moby Dick and Les Misérables were left out.

Amazon has also compiled another list based on user votes on Goodreads. Click here to check it out.

What’s your reaction to this list? Happy, angry, excited, surprised?

Amazon’s choice:

  • Meet Big Brother: 1984 by George Orwell
  • Explore the Universe: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • Memoir as metafiction: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  • A child-soldier’s story: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
  • Wicked good fun: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  • The 60s kids classic: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • A short-form master: Alice Munro: Selected Stories by Alice Munro
  • Go down the rabbit hole: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Unseated a president: All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  • An Irish-American Memoir: Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt
  • The angst of adolescence: Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • A literary page turner: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • The ghosts of slavery: Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Why and how we run: Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  • A journey from Haiti: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  • Launched its own catchphrase: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Vintage Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The timeless classic: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • Ambitious and humane: Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
  • Vulnerability breeds courage: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
  • For reluctant readers: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 by Jeff Kinney
  • A science fiction classic: Dune by Frank Herbert
  • “It was a pleasure to burn.”: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Gonzo journalism takes flight: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Marriage can be a real killer: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • First published in 1947: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Dickens’ best novel: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Understanding societies: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond
  • Meet the boy wizard: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • True crime at its best: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Award-winning short story debut: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • A literary milestone: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • A brilliant graphic novel: Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
  • Don’t eat while you read this: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  • One of the best of 2013: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Childhood on the frontier: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Nabokov’s triumph: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • A Latin American masterpiece: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • A saga set on the reservation: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • A life-changing book: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Funny and poignant: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • A beautifully-written novel: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Rushdie’s breakthrough: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  • Lewis hits it out of the park: Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • A writer’s writer: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  • The essence of the Beats: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • A remarkable woman’s story: Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
  • A groundbreaking graphic novel: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • Roth at his finest: Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  • The perennial favorite: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The birth of ecology: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • The absurdist WW2 novel: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • How Lincoln led: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • 19th Century high society: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  • Chabon’s magnum opus: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • A classic modern autobiography: The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  • The international sensation: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The trials of a “ghetto nerd”: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • Meet Holden Caulfield: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Exploring a mother’s past: The Color of Water by James McBride
  • Great, but divisive: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • A triumph of narrative nonfiction: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  • Moving and eloquent: The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  • A soulful young adult novel: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Classic dystopia: The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Pullman’s fantasy classic: The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  • The rich are different: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Feminist speculative fiction: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • A boy, a bear, a honeypot: The House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
  • Reality tv writ large: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Race, ethics, and medicine: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • A darkly funny memoir: The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
  • Monsters, Mythology, and a boy: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
  • Unique and universal: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • First-rate Chandler Noir: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  • The history of terrorism: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
  • One ring to rule them all: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A deeply human account: The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
  • The origins of food: The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
  • An odd and original journey: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Missionaries in Africa: The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Enforcer: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
  • The inner life of astronauts: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
  • This way to the apocalypse: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • A modern classic: The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Chilling and thrilling: The Shining by Stephen King
  • Existentialist fiction: The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Meet the Lost Generation: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • The best book on Vietnam: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • Baby’s first book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Mole, Toad, Rat, and Badger: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • From the modern Japanese master: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami
  • Beware the “Undertoad”: The World According to Garp by John Irving
  • Life, Love, Death: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • Tradition vs. change: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • A beloved family story: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • An American inspiration: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Addictively entertaining: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  • The joys of imagination: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • Let the wild rumpus start! : Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

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Opinion & Featured Articles

Five Famous Witches in Literature

medieval witch

Witches have been a most intriguing and often depicted subject in art and literature. With their roots in ancient paganism, witches were looked upon as fascinating materials for literary endeavours. They have been shown as diabolical instruments, repulsive creatures, benevolent beings and have even been romanticized in some cases. From Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling, witches have had a long and evolutionary literary history. Here are some of the memorable ones:

The Three Witches of Macbeth

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air”

The “Weird Sisters” of Shakespeare’s play, with their beards, bizarre potions and rhymed dialogues, would easily make it to The Hall of Fame for witches. They are grotesque, symbols of temptation to evil and are indicative of the wicked influence of dark powers over mortal creatures. Macbeth possibly wouldn’t have killed King Duncan without the push given by the witches. And the usurper became King only to witness the irony of the prophecy made by the witches as Birnam Wood came to him and caused his ruin.

The White Witch (Narnia)

narnia the white witch“I was the Queen. They were all my people. What else were they there for but to do my will?”

In The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we come across Jadis — the infamous white witch. Jadis was the one who forced Narnia into snow and ice for a century. While the witch is a fearsome creature in her own realm, her magic is of little use in other worlds. Like Medusa, Jadis can turn people to stone, though not by looking at them but by waving her wand. She is a breathtakingly beautiful woman, a powerful sorceress, highly arrogant, possesses superhuman strength and is a shrewd strategist. Though the white witch usurped power from the legitimate rulers of Narnia, her reign ended with The Winter Revolution. Tilda Swinton played the role of the White Witch in the Narnia films and won acclaim among fans and critics.

Baba Yaga

baba yaga

A deformed and fearsome looking witch from the Russian folktales. She is known to be a hungry cannibal who flies around in a mortar. Baba Yaga is thin as a skeleton and has iron teeth. She lives in a forest in a hut that seems to be alive. It stands on its own legs, can spin/move around, and has a fence made of bones and skulls with blazing eyes. Baba Yaga’s servants include some mysterious and reticent horsemen and a pair of scary hands appearing out of nowhere. Though mostly portrayed as a terrifying and vengeful old witch, Baba Yaga can be helpful to some, especially to people with a pure heart. However, she is a wild force and can’t be tamed.

the bell witchThe Bell Witch

The legend of the Bell Witch is a much disputed case. Brent Monahan, in his novel The Bell Witch: An American Haunting, claims that the book is based on true facts. It’s true that this is the only documented case in American history that deals with a spirit causing a man’s death. Old Kate or the Bell Witch was a terrifying and noisy spirit that tormented the Bell family in Tennessee. The witch gnawed as an invisible spirit at night and stood next to the sleeping people. She threw stones, slapped residents of the house and pulled a children across the floor by their hair.  The strange events were witnessed by a local school teacher who recorded them. Mr. Monahan used the evidence to write this book. A truly spooky story of a spooky witch.

Circe (The Odyssey)

circe

Circe was a witch and a goddess of magic in Greek mythology. She could transform people into animals using potions and her wand. Circe appears in Homer’s The Odyssey, where she is described as a perilous witch who transformed Odysseus’ crew into swine using her enchanted wine and magical potions. Odysseus used the holy herb moly to protect himself against the tricks of Circe and set out to free his men. Circe tried to seduce him but Odysseus, warned by Hermes, didn’t fall for the scheming witch, who would rob him of his manhood. Eventually, Odysseus could free his men and Circe suggested him roads to Ithaca.

If you were destined to encounter a witch (a literary one), who would you want it to be?

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Opinion & Featured Articles

Learn How to Spend Less on University Textbooks

cheap university textbooks

Going to University isn’t cheap. Just as you pay for tuition, meals, housing, supplies, fashions, and transportation, you also have to consider the cost of textbooks. Unlike many of the other costs associated with University, the purchase of textbooks seem to almost sneak up on you, and they are always much more expensive than you think they would be. There are several options available to save money on textbooks, but you need to find out what works for your particular University situation. Follow this blog below to get educated on how to save money on University textbooks.

Shop Early, Buy Used

The first key to spending less on textbooks is to shop as early as possible for them. If you visit your university bookstore, you are likely to find used copies of your class’s books that are a fraction of the cost of the new ones. And many times, these “used” textbooks are almost like new, with no visible damage, writing, or other issues. Even if the books have been written or highlighted in, or carry visible damage to them, they could very well still be worth the price you pay for them used.

If you can’t purchase used textbooks at your school’s bookstore, take your class syllabus—which will often have the ISBN numbers for the specific textbooks—and shop at other stores for used or new books. Even if you have to purchase new books outside of your school, you can likely find them for much cheaper than you would at the school due to the high markup they attach to their books. If you find them at a brgain wile your pockets are empty, visit paydayloans.org.uk for a little extra cash. The key is, even if your University has what you are looking for, be sure to shop around to get the best deal possible on the books.

Consider Electronic Books

Between being able to read the book anywhere, write in it, reference it during class, or easily make copies of it if needed, print books are still the most popular way to go for textbooks. If you haven’t given them a try, however, to save money and have other added benefits, you might consider buying electronic books instead. Often times, e-books are much less expensive than print editions of books and are just as portable and accessible—if not more so—than traditional texts. Being able to write and take notes in the e-books is still being developed, but electronic readers often carry those possibilities as well. If you don’t need the whole book, you might even be able to purchase single chapters or other necessary sections of books online for even cheaper.

Rent Your Books

If you don’t want to buy your textbook at all, but are still comfortable with e-books, try renting the copies online. In particular, Amazon has great deals on renting e-books for Kindle that you should consider. When you rent the book through Amazon, you can access it via your Kindle, or apps attached to PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and several other smart phone or similar devices.

If you don’t want to rent an e-book, you can also still rent traditional text books. Your University might have deals or another competing bookstore, but you might also be able to find some great deals online, too. If you go with this option, be sure to return your textbooks at the appropriate times so you don’t incur additional charges or end up purchasing the book because it was rented too long.

Share Books

It is a little tougher to maintain, perhaps, but a final option to consider here is to share textbooks with friends in the same class or who simply use—or did use—the same textbooks. You can split the cost of the textbook with one or more friends and organize times to use the book. This could get tricky during test times, but organize carefully and you can save pounds by sharing your textbooks.

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