Sunday, March 30, 2014

Terms of Enlistment: Frontline Series, Book 1, by Marko Kloos.

Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos. [1]
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     I found this wonderful book on Amazon in their Kindle Owners' Free Lending Library! The Amazon Lending Library is one of my regular places that I go to get free reading material. I love to save money, so getting a free book every month adds up. Terms of Enlistment lists at $3.99 on Amazon; at $3.99 per month I'd be saving $47.88 a year--but we all know that many books cost far more than $3.99.

     One month, for example (January 2012), I chose The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for my free read of the month. The next month (February), I read Catching Fire (book 2). The following month (March), I read The Mockingjay (book 3)--all borrowed for free from the Lending Library. [2]

     There are so many books from which to select. I wanted a science-fiction book for my free pick for this month, and when I looked at some of the many titles, I liked the synopsis and premise for this book and picked it out for my March 2014, selection.

     After I read the book by Marko Kloos, Terms of Enlistment: Frontlines Series, Book 1, I decided to draft a book review, first, because I am always looking for a new author (to me) that I can enjoy his/her books. Second, I considered that I haven't given many book reviews in the science-fiction genre and thought that this would be a great one to do.

The Edge of Tomorrow retitled from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's,
All You Need Is Kill is also of the Military Sci-fi genre. [3]
     Additionally, I'm planning to do another military sci-fi book review before the movie, Edge of Tomorrow comes to theaters June 6, 2014. The story is based upon Hiroshi Sakurazaka's book, All You Need Is Kill. I have already read the novel and eagerly look forward to drafting the blog post for you. Moreover, this movie looks to be one of the summer's big hits with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as two of the movie's stars.

     I also wanted to showcase Terms of Enlistment, because it was free for me to read through the Lending Library. Yes, I wanted to show you that free books can be entertaining, but also that they can be well-written, intelligent, and not necessarily cheesy or slip-shod.[1] 

Marko Kloos sets his story in 2108. The location is the "North American Commonwealth." The population is out of control and resources are extremely limited. Marko Kloos' book reminded me of the world of "Blade Runner," or "Brave New World," environmentally. Terms of Enlistment, the Earth in 2108, has that same gritty feel to it. People are living on the edge, there's overpopulation and crime, and blackmarket sales of everything abounds. It seems that people will do almost anything to escape the hopeless conditions of life. [4]

One shooting location from the movie, Blade Runner, [5]
     For our hero, Andrew Grayson, like so many others in the book, has but two ways to escape the grinding poverty and welfare state propelling everyone into a life of crime and hopelessness. With some luck, Andrew could win the lottery to gain a slot on a colony ship and head for a new off-world settlement--yeah, right, what are the odds of that happening with so many people to compete for the precious few slots? Well, for Andrew, a second option seemed to promise more success--study hard and pass entrance examinations for enlisting in the armed forces. And that is exactly what he does.

     The book quickly goes from Andrew's pre-military time right into his training, and then early military assignments. The more fantastical sci-fi-like scenes fall in toward the end of the book as Andrew and company run into an alien species who are taking over a colony planet. It looks like escaping the planet is going to be a really big problem.

     I have never been in any branch of the military and had tons of questions that I put to my husband who has had tons of military experience. Thank you, Carl, for your assistance on the military information which you provided to me.

Genre's have gotten so specialized that now many
"sub-genres" exist--military sci-fi is a sub-genre. [7]
     I also want to refer you to a blogger who writes from the military perspective, so you won't have to entirely take my word about the book. The web site is, "A Soldier's Perspective: The Web's Leading Military Blog Since 2004." Fortuitously, the web site's blogger, "LL," has also posted a book review about Marko Kloos' book, Terms of Enlistment. Take a look at it if you wish more information about the military aspects.[6]

     O.K. So, what is "MSF" or "Military Science Fiction," alternately known as Military Sci-Fi? As a subgenre of science fiction, it features not only the technology that we love to see in traditional sci-fi, but we also see the military prominently featured in the genre. We might see many weapons, highly technical, and often futuristically portrayed. We might also see fantastic body armor and other military applications of the technology we have grown to love in science-fiction.

"Ridley Scott Eyes
The Forever War."
     Aspects of historical conflicts or peoples might be utilized. For example, a real person, place, military unit, battleship, or event could be transformed into a setting in space. We might even see the name of a real battleship on a space ship (i.e. The Enterprise). Two great examples of military sci-fi are Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, and Joe Haldeman's, The Forever War.  The Forever War (won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Book Awards) movie rights have been purchased by Ridley Scott and plans are in the works for turning it into a big screen production.

Starship Troopers by
Robert A. Heinlein. [9]
     Readers of military sci-fi insist on the author's "getting it right..." meaning, that the author must portray in an authentic manner the lifestyles and characters of the military within the book. Military terms, strategies, equipment, etc. must also be authentically portrayed, even if the weapons become super weapons and the story is transmuted by science fiction into a different time and location.

     Readers of MSF (military sci-fi) just have no patience with the characters in the book if they don't behave in a characteristically consistent manner with true-to-life military personnel. The logical conclusion is that many MSF writers have military backgrounds.

  That is one of the points that the article, "A Soldier's Perspective: The Web's Leading Military Blog Since 2004," makes; blogger, "LL," states that the author of Terms of Enlistment, Marko Kloos, served in the military in Germany. Obviously, Marko Kloos knows the life of the military man and can write with authority about the military aspect of MSF writing.[6]

     Even when I was a girl in grade school and high school, I was different from the other girls in that I loved to read militaristic books.

     I loved reading about Alexander the Great and Bucephalus (Alexander's great black war horse). I read extensively about the Berber General Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia and after whom the Rock of Gibralter was named.

     I loved reading about the bull riders of the Minoan culture, about the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur, about the Egyptians and their chariots and war practices, about Joan of Arc, Hannibal crossing the Alps, Temujin (Genghis Khan), about Charlemagne and Roland (I loved, The Song of Roland), and many others.

     I very much appreciate reading about the military experience. And, after I came to love sci-fi, I discovered the sub-genre of military science fiction and came to love it, as well. Yes, MSF is for men and women who have served in the military, but it is also for people like me who simply enjoy it, and for those of us who have relatives who serve or have served in the military.

In his first assignment, Andrew is
asked where he went to Basic. He
didn't know, and was asked if it was,
"Swampland, brushy desert, or nothing
but cornfields? Brushy desert..." An-
drew replied. "'NACRD Orem,' another
soldier says. 'I went there, too. Not
too bad. You don't have the bugs and the
humidity the poor fuckers at NACRD
Charleston have to deal with" (p.75).[11]
Detail:  That long preamble having been said, I loved Marko Kloss's book. One of the most important things the author does is provide enough detail for the reader to make the situations believable. Here, for example, Marko Kloss takes us through the steps of basic training with Andrew. We see Andrew as he is introduced to each unfamiliar circumstance; we are privy to Andrew's feelings and thoughts.

     Learning to march together, for example--Andrew tells of two hours of loud repetitive instruction at the end of which the soldiers still sucked. Andrew tells us that he felt "like a cog in a machine" and that he didn't mind because when "you're neither the best nor the can disappear in the crowd."

     He also tells us about one particularly bad day for Andrew. Andrew thought about "standing up and walking over to Sergeant Burke to announce" that he wanted to quit. Kloss tells us that Andrew thinks about where he came from (the PRC) "where it smells of piss and puke in the hallways and staircases, the thugs rousting people just out of meanness and boredom--and [he] banishes the thought." Detail. Emotion. Thought. Enough to make it all believable to the reader.

I love the name of this book. Terms of
. I love the multiple levels of
meaning, for example, as a noun describ-
ing the specific requirements of enlistment;
or as a description of the amount of time re-
quired for commitment; to give a descrip-
tive label to Andrew's enlistment, or even the
conditions under which Andrew undertakes
enlistment, and of course, the terms for which
Andrew will be paid and how much. [12]
Narrative Mode: It is Andrew Grayson who tells us his story. I say Andrew Grayson because the story is told in first person and in present tense. The effect of this is to give the reader a feeling of everything happening in the present time--a sense of immediacy. I also like that Kloos manages his writing style so that he doesn't leave the impression of Andrew running around "commenting" on everything he sees and does. That can be pretty dull. The writing just seems to flow naturally--I think Marko Kloss worked very hard to make it seem that way. And, by the way, I rather like it that Andrew is not omniscient.

Padding and plot:   Another thing I like is no padding in the book. No long sequences where absolutely nothing happens to move the plot forward. No pages upon pages of dialog where nothing of consequence is discussed (over and over again), and once again, the plot does not move forward. Thankfully, Marko Kloss keeps the plot moving and the avoids the pitfall of pages of inane exposition.

Fun:   Finally, I have to say that I just thought the book was fun to read. Once I opened the pages of the book, I could not put it down until I finished it.

Lines of Departure: Frontlines Series,
Book 1 
by Marko Kloos. [13]
     We don't have a movie rating to gauge the violence, sex, and bad language, so from what I can remember from the book, it was fairly clean. I would, though label this book PG-13, as the book is militaristic and people get killed. Parents, you know your children better than anyone else, and you are their best guide. Read the book and assess it first, if you need to.

     I enjoyed this book very much--so much so that I am planning on reading Lines of Departure, Frontline Series, Book 2 of the series in April when I get a new free library pick from the Kindle Free Lending Library. I must have enjoyed Book 1, because I mean...after all...I decided to do a blog post on the book. It takes a lot of work to get one of these done.

My rating: 4.5 Stars. [14]
     So, for all the above reasons, and because I really enjoyed the book, I rate Marko Kloos's book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

     Thank you for joining me this week as we explored Amazon's Free Lending Library and Marko Kloss's Terms of Enlistment, The Frontline Series, Book 1. I invite you to join me next week as we look at a new book. Pick up a book this week and read something, I'd recommend Terms of Enlistment--I think you would enjoy the book--give it a try. My best to you all.

Until next time...
White Rose. [14]

...Many happy pages of reading.  

1. "Terms of Enlistment: Frontlines Series, Book 1." [by Marko Kloos] Retrieved 03-27-14.
2. "The Hunger Games; Catching Fire; and The Mockingjay." [Author: Suzanne Collins] Retrieved 03-27-14.
3. "Garden of Entropy--Idle by the Fountains of Nonsense." Retrieved 03-27-14.
4. "Brave New World." [by Aldous Huxley] Retrieved 03-28-14.
5. "Movie Tourist." [Blade Runner] Retrieved 03-28-14.
6. "Book Review--Terms of Enlistment." [by LL] Retrieved 03-28-14.
7. "How to Define Science Fiction." Retrieved 03-28-14.
8. "Ridley Scott Eyes The Forever War." [by Starr Keshet] Retrieved 03-29-14.
9. "Starship Troopers." [by Robert A. Heinlein] Retrieved 03-29-14.
10. "My American Decade." [by Marko Kloos] Retrieved 03-29-14.
11. "Basic Training Zone." Retrieved 03-29-14.
12. "E-Book Recommendation Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos." Retrieved 03-29-14.
13. "Lines of Departure." [by Marko Kloos] Retrieved 03-239-14. 
14. "Lonely Planet." Retrieved 03-29-24.
15. "Top 28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." Retrieved 03-29-14.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Noah (Darren Aronofsky's) Brand New Book Comes to The Big Screen, March 28, 2014!

Noah, Darren Aronofsky's (Available
in hardcover from
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     Darren Aronofsky's book, Noah, by Darren Aronofsky, was released on March 25, 2014. And, with the film's debut to the big screen scheduled for release in U.S. markets on March 28, 2014, the time between book and big screen was only three short days.


     Some people who are religious will applaud the making of this film. Some atheist or Islamic peoples might condemn it. We might even see some Christians condemn the movie because it is too liberal, or political, or even because it pushes an environmental message instead of a more main stream Christian theme. Some people, undoubtedly, will think it antiquated and boring because it is a story of the past, and some will want to see the movie only because Emma Watson or Russell Crow is starring in it.

Perspective depends on where you are standing (or sitting)! [3]
     Perspective is a very curious thing. Everyone who reads the book or watches the movie will have his or her own perspective of things. They will bring a particular attitude, they will have a particular way of looking at it with their own unique point of view. They will make judgments about the story based upon they way they grew up, their education or lack of it, what religion they learned, whether or not they adopted atheism, or whether or not they even read books at all or perhaps think the topic uninteresting, boring, dull, or inane. It is what the reader/viewer brings with them to the story that determines the extent they care about the story.

Inspiration for story-lines can come
from anywhere, be anything, any-
place, anyone--even Noah. [4]
     So...why should we care about this story? First, I don't think that we should forget that while the inspiration for the story may have come from the Bible (more specifically, the book of "Genesis"), the book and movie, Noah, is, nonetheless, a work of fiction. Noah did not write an autobiography, nor is it a memoir. No one interviewed Noah and then wrote this book. It was inspired by a book--the Bible. Most fiction is inspired by something; authors get their inspiration from many different sources.

     Second, every story needs certain things to even be considered a successful novel. A beginning, a middle and an end--a story arc that introduces characters, gets them involved in something dramatic, and then concludes with some sort of resolution.

Does the story of Noah utilize all 7 Elements of Storytelling? [5]
     Ken Ramsley, in the "Seven Elements of Good Storytelling," lists for us the critical elements of creating a story: (1) A central premise; (2) Strong three-dimensional charac- ters who change over time; (3) A confined space (often referred to as a crucible for the characters); (4) A protagonist who is on some sort of quest; (5) An antagonist of some sort bent on stopping the hero; (6) An arch in everything (everything is getting better or worse); and (7) Conflict (perhaps the most important element of all). [6]

     Tangentially related to these critical story elements, I drafted a blog post addressing the hero's journey, and what it entails. That blog post was primarily based upon the work of noted author, Joseph Campbell. I discussed, extensively, what is required for the elements of such a story. That blog post review can be viewed by clicking this link. Campbell talked about how in all cultures around the world, patterns exist in story-telling and that these patterns are found in virtually every culture. That is simply amazing! The story of Noah is one of those kinds of stories. [7]

     Campbell tells us that we are the true heroes of our own life. We are the knights slaying the dragon...we are Noah saving mankind. Watch this short eleven minute video about the Hero's Journey (from YouTube) as Pat Soloman (at TedxRockCreekPark) explains to us, Joseph Campbells theory of "The Hero's Journey," in just a few minutes. [8]

     If we look at the story of Noah as literature, setting aside (for a moment) all of the personal baggage and biases we bring to the telling of a "religious" story, and instead, analyze it according to Ken Ramsley's criteria, we can force ourselves to be logical and objective and less prejudicial in our approach. For example, just watching the trailer for the movie of Noah (without even looking at the book), I can provide a list of the seven attributes suggested by Ramsley for the necessary elements of a good story. I bet you could, too.

     Third, in my blog post about The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel (follow this link to that blog post [9]), I had the privilege to write about how a group of wonderful men working and fighting to save artifacts endangered and stolen by the Nazi regime; many of those works were stolen from a people interned in death camps...a beautiful people, those from the Jewish culture (along with other nationalities, religions, and cultures).

     Mr. Edsel's book explains how a whole cultural heritage was being threatened with destruction. Stories like those in The Monuments Men and stories about Noah in Darren Aronofsky's Noah are part and parcel part of a culture of a people--it is imperative we preserve all such cultural stories from the past. The story of Noah is one of those kinds of stories that must be preserved; and, it is yet another reason to care about the book and the movie, Noah.

In the story of, Noah, we
find the family waiting a num-
ber of things to happen, nota-
bly, the flood. [10]
     In examining the story about Noah, we might just learn something of ourselves. We can learn how and why we make decisions, how to be disciplined in our daily life, how to stay motivated, and how to show others the way to love. We can ask ourselves, "What is truly important in our lives?" and be able to answer the question.

     If we were to examine such a movie critically, perhaps we could come away with tools to be better able to live life. So, whether we are atheist, Islamic, religious, or simply modernist, we should be able to find something in this story that would be of interest, motivation, or inspiration in our own lives.

I love this little assessment bar! By the way, the article in
which I found this wonderful graphic also contains a really
wonderful (short) story (about 1 page long) entitled, "Have
You Heard of the Cockroach Theory for Self-Development?"
It is by Brushan Reddy, and is very on point to this post. [11]
     One last point. Before the movie has even come out, I've heard it condemned because Noah got drunk. In life we can't escape seeing people abuse alcohol (or drugs, or whatever). It is HOW WE CHOOSE TO REACT to those situations that is important.

     We see bad examples of how to live life all around us. What are we going to choose? To use be unfaithful to our spouses? No. It is who we are on the inside that is important, what we choose for our own selves. Be disciplined. Be honest. Be sober. Be loving. And if we fall or if we are in need, ask for help. Don't give up on ourselves. We have all suffered in life--all of us. So, I'm telling you, not to give up on yourself. Just don't.

This photograph is of Noah when he is drunk as his sons
look on after covering their father. The photograph [2009] is
of an original painting by Albertus Pictors (Harkeberga Church);
the photographer was Marcus Martenson. Martenson's blog
shows a number of wonderful photographs of the church,
featuring the work of Albertus Pictors. [12] 
     And parents, if you take your kids to see this movie, talk to them about Noah getting drunk. Talk to them about alcohol abuse and make it a lesson. Make it a learning experience. With my children, when some- thing objectionable was on the television, or in the movies, I talked to my kids and explained why the scene was in there. I asked them questions, and listened to them. They in turn, listened to me. Love your kids enough to do this for them.

So, why should we care about this new book and movie?

     Well, for all the reasons I mentioned above, for starters. I'm sure you could come up with your own reasons why we should care about this book and movie. If you think of something I haven't listed, please just tell me in the comment section. I really would love to hear from you.
     The book's cover image (the image, just to the left, here, which is from the upcoming movie) is the back of Noah, facing the sun, his body bathed in, what photographer's call, a "halo" of light (the lighted areas just peeking over the edge of Noah's head, shoulders, and arms--like the silver lining of a cloud.)

     This image seems apropos since Noah is, generally, deemed by all, to be a holy man in the service of God. The man, a representative of all mankind, is facing a new day. The sun brings the light of God into the darkness, lighting the day where man lives with the new covenant given man by the Author of All. It is dark everywhere God's light does not shine.

     As we see, just above, the book cover image is one from the movie, Noah. The book, obviously, is one created to help promote the movie. Nothing wrong with that. We all want to promote things and products in which we are invested. We must, however, attempt to discern what messages are being incorporated into the book, if...we are to be discerning readers. For example, the "blinding sun" in Noah's and in our eyes seems to convey the idea, that looking upon God is a blinding experience, dazzling and radiant, all at once. Yet, the upright, alone, like Noah, can face God.

     Second, the lettering, while very legible, is not in a usual presentation for text. We expect most text to be horizontal. Here, the printed text, "NOAH," is at ninety degrees from what we expect it to be. It appears that the authors wanted, first, an association with the word, "Noah," and the image it rests upon--the man, Noah.

Whether it is a subliminal message, or just good photographic
imaging, when we look at the image of Noah on the front
cover, our eye meanders over and around the center of the
image. It appears that we are meant to consider just how the
image makes us feel and to pause to think. [13]
     It seems the creators of this juxtaposed image wish us to work to perceive something beyond what our eyes see: "a man looking at the sun." It seems they wish us to look at the word, "Noah," in an attempt to make sense of the altered environment of the photo.

     For example, if we placed the word, "Noah," anywhere else in the photo, how differently would we perceive the photograph? And does placing the text vertically on the image of Noah, make our eyes go back to track over and over, the center of the photograph, examining it repeatedly? How is placing Noah's name in this location meant to make us feel? While the cover, at first blush, appears simple and rather straight forward, it belies the hidden messages and subtlety that the photographic image really conveys.

THE BOOK:     Well, finally! On to the book, itself. First, let's look at the physical book, itself:

     The book is unique in its pres- entation. First, it consists of a durable hard cover (far left side of the photo) with photographic images on the front and back cover.

A large portion of the interior consists of photographs from the movie--some of the photos are matte and some are glossy.
     Then, at the back of the book, a recessed area, kind of like a photo frame or a mat frame has been included, it holds the second part of the book--a smaller book within the larger book.

     This is a very intriguing way to create the book. A book within a book--I think that is kind of cool and unique. What is of even more interest is that the little black book that has been included for the reader... the entire script of the movie about Noah. What? Yes, you heard me right. It is the entire script for the upcoming movie, Noah. 

     In the photograph on the left that I took so I could show you what the script looked like, you can see who is speaking, what they say, and directions for various actions. You can also see the location of the scene (but the page I selected to photograph for you, unfortunately didn't have that included).

     I honestly don't know if this has ever been done before, but I personally haven't seen a book promoting a movie put together in exactly this fashion.

Noah's Ark on the water with the animals inside  and
the rainbow set in the heavens as a sign of God's
covenant with man to never destroy the world
again, by water. [14]
     Most of us already have a good idea of the basic plot of Noah. We've heard about it in church, read about it in the Bible, been taught it in Sunday School (or catechism classes), or even seen movies or documentaries about Noah and the ark.
     Basically, in the traditional Christian version, God tells Noah to build an ark to save his family and the animals (two of every kind). Then the rain and waters come, flooding the land and killing the unjust. After a long while floating upon the water, the ark lands on Mt. Ararat, the waters recede, and the land dries out.  Then, Noah lets the animals and his family out to begin repopulation of the world.

This beautiful concept art (not in this book, Noah)
for Darren Aronofsky's Noah movie shows
some of the opening sequences of the book/movie.[15]
First, what I loved about the book:
(1) I loved the cover. The photographic images (front and back) were beautiful and went beyond just being creative. The photograph selected from the movie was inspired. Moreover, it demonstrated a masterful skill at photographic messages and artistic sense that really worked for the Noah concepts;

(2) I loved the photographs utilized inside the book. About the only thing I have to add, here, is that they are just beautiful. The book would fit well on any coffee table;

(3) I really loved the unique concept of creating a book that is more than a novel, more than a picture book, and places the book in a unique position of being a picture book with a movie script included (to tell the story). So, I loved the book within a book concept (See my photographs of the book, above). Very unique!

Second, what I didn't like about the book:
(1)      I didn't like what Aronofsky did to Noah's character. Ken Ramsley, in his "Seven Elements of Good Storytelling," said that any good story needs "strong three-dimensional characters that changes over time." [6] While any well-written character will have foibles, weaknesses and limitations, I didn't care for the concept that Noah wanted to kill his family in order to destroy mankind.

     Yes, Aronofsky's Noah does eventually change by the end of the movie, but personally, I just didn't buy that he would build the Ark to save all the "innocent" animals and not care to save God's greatest creation, "man."

Darren Aronofsky's Watcher from the movie,
Noah. The creature is 16' tall, has six
arms and is made of rock and mud. [16]
(2)     While I like creativity in a writer, sometimes it hits a jarring note. The "Watchers" are just such a note. On page 23 of the script we get a description of the Watchers: "Staring down on them are thirty Watchers - sixteen-foot-tall six-armed beasts made of rock and mud. SAMYAZA is their scarred and grizzled leader."

     While parts of the early books of the Bible may be strange in places, none more so than Aronofsky creating or utilizing, "...these 'Watchers'--who appear to be both fallen angels and giants--[but] will actually be helpers of Noah's" (so says Peter T. Chattaway of Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith puts it.) [16]

     They would probably be really great in a sci-fi story, or perhaps a fantasy novel, but here, they just seem out of place. I don't know--perhaps I am way off base, here--after all, Noah lived a very long time, way past the age of the average person, and that's unusual.

(3)     And finally, the "shimmering snakeskin" that is referred to as a "talisman." In chapter one, we read, "At first Noah thought it was a length of material....[then] Lamech...began to wrap the item slowly around his arm, Noah realized it wasn't material at all...It was a snakeskin....The snakeskin began to shimmer...and curl up and around Lamech's arm and body of its own accord, undulating as it did so." (p.8) Apparently, the snakeskin is the skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden and from the time of the downfall of man. I fail to understand how this snakeskin is a "talisman" and a blessing that is passed down from one generation to the next. Maybe watching the movie will make it clearer to me, but I just didn't get it from the book.

     Speaking of the movie, perhaps watching the trailer would give us all a better feel for how the book incorporates these seemingly disparate pieces into a cohesive whole. Adaptations of books are curious things, sometimes working out well, and at other times, not working out well at all. Let's take a look and see what we think.
     The trailer, or rather, the featurette is from YouTube. The trailer features Emma Watson and Russell Crow from the movie, "Noah."  The featurette is only 4:16 (minutes and seconds) long, so all in all, not a long watch, but informative and intriguing. [17]

     With Stars Russell Crowe, playing Noah, Emma Watson playing Ila, Jennifer Connelly playing Naameh, Anthony Hopkins playing Methuselah, with Nick Nolte playing Samyaza, Logan Lerman playing Ham, and Douglas Booth playing Shem, and with Darren Aronofsky directing, the movie looks to have a lot of potential to be a box office success. The genre is Adventure/Drama; the reported production cost was about $160 million dollars sans marketing and distribution.  Probably the most important information for families with children to consider is the rating--it has been rated as PG-13 and is 138 minutes long. The opening is March 28, 2014 in U.S. theaters.
     For a Bible story, this book has an awful lot of violence, physical, sexual, and psychological. I have yet to see the movie, but I think, wisely, the movie makers have labeled this movie as PG-13. Perhaps that should be a guide for the reading of this book as well. 

A poster of the movie, Noah, U.S.
theater release date: March 28, 2014.[ 18]

     I love many aspects of this book, as I explained, above. You also read about my reservations about the book, as well. Balancing it all out and throwing in my enjoyment of reading the book as a factor, I was able to come up with what I feel is a fair rating for the book. 

My rating for Noah. [19]
I award this book 3.5 stars out of 5. I am hoping the movie does a great job graphically to make the script come alive and make sense of the disparate elements.

     Thank you for joining me this week to review this exciting new book about Noah in preparation for the upcoming movie, Noah. Please join me next week as we open the pages of another book.

I loved reading this book--even if it did leave me scratching my head in perplexity! This week, I hope you pick up a book and read it. If it isn't Noah, then pick something else you will enjoy...and remember to keep turning those pages.

Until next time...
White Rose. [20]

...many happy pages of reading.

All my best to you, my friends!


1. "Noah, Darren Aronofsky's." Retrieved 03-20-14.
2. "Why Should We Care?" Spectator Retreived 03-25-14.
3.  "Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life!" Me To The Power of Retrieved 03-25-14.
4. "My Inspiration Box." Challenge Retreived 03-25-14.
5. "The Seven Elements of Storytelling." Retrieved 03-25-14.
6. "Seven Elements of Good Storytelling." Ken "frobber" Ramsley. Retrieved 03-25-14.
8. "What is the Hero's Journey?: Pat Soloman at TEDxRockCreekPark." Retrieved on 03-25-14.
10. "Wonders Of My World--in the world through which I travel I am endlessly creating myself." Wonder Of My Retrieved on 03-25-14.
11. "React or Respond." Retrieved on 03-25-14.
12. "My trip to Harkeberga church to Albertus Pictors Paintings." Retrieved 03-25-14.
13. "Musings and Meanderings." Retrieved 03-25-14.
14. "Printable Bible Noah's Ark Coloring Page." Retrieved 03-26-14.
15. "Concept Art for Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah's Ark' Epic Discovered?" [by Alex Billington] First Retrieved 03-26-14.
16. "Aronofsky's Noah may be even stranger than you thought." [by Peter T. Chattaway] Retrieved 03-26-14.
17. "Noah Official Featurette #1 (2014) Emma Watson, Russell Crowe HD." Retrieved 03-26-14.
18. "Noah." (Movie Poster) Noah. Coming Soon.not. Retrieved 03-25-14.
19. "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart." [3.5 Stars] A Blighted Retrieved 03-26-14.
20. "Top 28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." Retrieved 03-25-14.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros--This Brand New Book is the Best Pop-Up Book I've Ever Seen!

Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     The Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros, is a newly-released pop-up book by Illustrator, Michael Ko- marck and Designer (Paper Engineer), Matthew Christian Reinhart; this book was released on March 11, 2014, just over a week ago. So, it is a brand-new entry into the pop-up book realm.  

   When I saw the promotional photos of this book, I preordered it so I could get it on its day of release. I've been anxiously awaiting its arrival, and since this book is already a rock star in the world of pop-up books, I wanted to bring it to you today so you could see just what all the fuss is about.

Insight Editions can be found on
Facebook at
and on Twitter at:
THE BOOK:    The cover is hardcover; the jewels, artifacts, clasps and title are embossed, the edges treated with faux stitching around the edges. The book measures 11.3 x 9.6 x 2.5 (unopened). The book can be viewed one page/pop-up at a time, or it can be unhinged and folded out to about 46" x 30" displaying a full three dimensional map of Westeros (and Essos).


   The book, through Insight Editions, and in association with Roots of Peace, has stated that they will plant two trees for every tree that is used in the manufacturing of the book, Game of Thrones, Pop-Up Guide to Westeros. Roots of Peace is an international organization dedicated and renowned for its humanitarian work dedicated to the eradication of land mines, reclaiming land-mine land and war-torn land into safe wildlife habitats and productive farms. Roots of Peace plants vineyards and trees to provide farmers with skill and to foster sustainable land use. For example, in Afghanistan, Roots of Peace plans to plant two million fruit trees to encourage farming, to provide farmers with additional farming skills, to foster sustainable land use, and to reclaim land-mine areas.[5]

One of the medium-sized pop-ups, a dire wolf.
     This pop-up book was designed to be a pop-up guide--a guide to Westeros, not a guide to the whole of the epic novels created by George R.R. Martin. You will be disappointed if you expect it to recreate the whole series of books. But, it does what is says it will do, which is, act as a general guide to the land of "Westeros." 

This raven seems to just leap off the page--I really like this one!
     It introduces the reader to the key locations and provides key concepts in understanding the land, the religions, the houses (political structure, the seven kingdoms), inter- esting and unique peoples (i.e. The Shadow Assassin, The Night Watch, Giants (10' tall), Wildlings, White Walkers, the Dothraki, and the Unsullied) and even some of the creatures in the books series (dire wolves, ravens, and dragons).

The pop-ups are recreations of the key locations in the world of Westeros. The five MAJOR pop-ups include the following: 

One side of King's Landing (the other side
shows the gate and Flea Bottoms).
The Iron Throne--located
in King's Landing.
King's Landing
   King's Landing is the capital of the Seven King- doms and named for Aegon I Tar- garyen. King's Landing is the seat of the Iron Throne--which the authors have thoughtfully in- cluded. The infa- mous "Iron Throne" is recre- ated in the pop-up image on the the right. Also at King's Landing is the Red Keep, the Great Sept of Baelor, and the squalid Flea Bottoms in which so many poor live.).   

(2) The Eyrie
     The Eyrie is located in the Mountains of the Moon in the Vale of Arryn known for its unique location as an impenetrable fortress on the mountain peak known as the Giant's Lance.

     One of the notable features of "The Eyrie," is the justice that is met at "The Moon Door." The final justice that the accused meet at The Moon Door is decidedly final and terrifying. A "weirwood hatch" is built into the floor that is opened up when needed to give the accused their day of judgment. One push through the opening and the person falls hundreds of feet to their death--as the book indicates, there is ample time for the unfortunates "to contemplate their crimes on the way down."

     This important house has played a pivotal role in George R.R. Martin's epic novels. The Lord of The Eyrie, Jon Arryn, hand of King Robert Baratheon, was poisoned at King's Landing--his wife, Lysa, grieved to the point of "paranoia and madness." Lysa then ruled the House--the very one that brought Tyrian's champion (Bronn) to battle and defeat the Captain of the Guard, Ser Vardis Egen, to win freedom (for Tyrian and the sell swords) and to escape death at the Moon Gate.

This sprawling pop-up shows the general layout of Winterfell, with the
"Heart Tree" in the background--a lovingly preserved tribute to the Old Gods.
(3) Winterfell:
     Home of House Stark. Hot springs warm the great castle located on the Kingsroad, be- tween King's Landing and the Wall. Its great crypts house the bones of the great Kings from the North; it also has a large Godswood "Heart Tree"--a Sacred tree to those who worship the old gods. You can see the "Heart Tree" in the center back of the photo, here.

(4) The Wall: The massive Wall was built 8,000 years before and acts as a barrier between the uncivilized and icey north where whitewalkers and wildlings reside--the Wall is manned by "The Night's Watch," men who swear a solemn oath, for life, to protect all. The 300 mile-long wall's main keep is "Castle Black."

This page has four additional pop-ups: one of the White Walkers, one of the Giants, one of Longclaw (the Valyrian steel sword given to Jon Snow by the Commander of the Night Watch), and one of Castle Black --home of the "Night Watch."

(5) The Continent of Essos (& Vaes Dothrak): Located across the Narrow Sea from Westeros, the continent is home to a variety of eclectic cultures and influences:

After Khal Drogo dies, everyone expects Daenerys to reside,
here, in Vaes Dothrak, in quiet retirement with the other
widows of fallen leaders. The Unsullied also reside in Essos,
eventually coming under Daenery's command.
     The port city of Pentos is known for trading, bartering, and...brokering the marriage of Daenerys Targaryen to Dothraki horselord Khal Drogo. Qarth, another powerful port city is known for its opulence based on slave labor. Daenerys Targaryn ends up here to play a dramatic part in the city's future.

This is a pop-up of "Drogon" (named after Daenery's dead husband, Khal
Drogo); he is the largest and fiercest of the three dragons. His egg was black
with red swirls of color. The green dragon is Rhaegal (named for Daenery's
dead brother, killed by King Robert), and the white (cream) colored dragon is
called Viserion (named for her brother Viserys)--he has gold accents.
     The city of Vaes Dothrak is yet another important lo- cation on the continent of Essos. It is the only city of the nomadic Dothraki. The famous "Hor- se Gate" greets visitors--no visitor can carry weapons or shed blood within the city walls.

A typical "Pull" tab with information about the various
houses--here we see House Lannister (Hear Me Roar!).
     Every page includes Pull Tabs that contain information about the book series. One type of information focuses on the various Houses in the book series, including "House Lannister" (Hear Me Roar); "House Baratheon" (Ours Is the Fury); "House Tyrell" (Growing Strong), "House Greyjoy" (We Do Not Sow); "House Stark" (Winter is Coming); "House Arryn" (As High As Honor); "House Tully" (Family, Duty, Honor); and "House Targaryen" (Fire and Blood).

     Other tabs and pull outs include information about the history of Westeros and other miscellaneous tidbits. Also included are facts about Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms and the Rebellion Against the Mad King Targaryen, for example.

This medium-sized pop-up of "Tourney of the Hand,"
location, King's Landing, almost looks like a diorama.
   And if that's not enough miscellan- eous info, a veritable plethora of topics are available, every- thing from Kings Landing, for exam- ple, and the Kings- guard to the Tourney of the Hand (see photo to the right). Religious in- formation is also provided about faith in the Seven Kingdoms; info about The Wall is also included along with The Night's Watch, Longclaw (a unique sword of Valyrian steel), and the Wildlings.

   Information about the Continent of Essos is also featured, including the trading port cities of Pentos and Qarth, and facts about the city of Vaes Dothrak as well as general information about the continent, itself.


     If you are like me, you already are quite impressed by the awesome pop-ups we have viewed, above. Some of them, all by themselves, are simply stunning--there's no other way to describe these pop-ups. But let me tell you, if you think these pop-ups are impressive, just wait until you see what I have for you, next.

     The book and the pop-ups have been so designed as to open up completely. That is, all the pop-ups can be viewed at once--the whole view of Westeros as conceptualized by the very talented team that created this book. I think it highly likely that inspiration was drawn from the opening sequence of the HBO series, Game of Thrones. Check out this trailer, and tell me what you think.

     So, what do you think? Looks pretty inspirational, doesn't it?

     You need not worry about damaging your pop-up book by opening it up all the way--if you follow the directions! I have opened my book up a number of times already, and it remains undamaged--just be careful and go slow in opening it up. The publishers have thoughtfully provided "Instructions" for "Unfolding the Map." Simply follow those directions. Additionally, I have provided photos for you to see what it looks like at each step along the way. Let's begin:

(1) Place the book face down, then spin it around so it is also upside down as it faces towards you. The spine of the book has a magnet that permits the spine to be unfolded or detached from the book--don't worry, it won't hurt the book. Just unfold the hinge on the spine like my helpful son is doing for me in the photo.

(2) Grip all the pages in your right hand (as my son is doing) except for the two at the front of the book--the two pages attached to the front cover (these are the King's Landing pages).

(3) Carefully unfold the pages you are gripping away from the front cover until you can see three sections. (Not shown) Then...

(4) Grab the back cover of the book (and the pages under the back cover), lift them up to vertical...

...Twist gently (be careful not to tear anything!) until it opens up and you can lay the page out flat.

You will see--as here--the Continent of Essos and the globe seen in the HBO trailer (see bottom left of photo). 

In this photo and in the photo just above this one, you can see the preprinted directions for you to follow. After you do this once or twice, you won't need them any more, but I highly suggest you save them, anyway!

(5) NEXT: In the photo, just below, you can see the next step. I am now standing at the other end of the table.

...just continue to unfold the sections, carefully, as I have cautioned you all along.

Open up the ice Wall and then Winterfell--you can also see Winterfell just in front of the Wall. 

Two more sections remain...just continue unfolding the remaining sections.

The next section is the Eyrie and the last section to be revealed is Kings Landing.

Voila! The map is now fully opened. Approx- imately 46" x 30", the map of Westeros is impressive. To reassemble the book, simply perform the steps in reverse order.

I have an extensive collection of pop-up books, and from my experience, this is the most awesome pop-up book I have ever seen! I have never seen anything like it. 

     The paper engineering (by Michael Reinhart) is par excellence, and the beautifully rendered images by Michael Komarck are nothing short of gorgeous! Together, these authors have impressed someone who has become a bit jaded as far as pop-up books go. This book is AWESOME!

     The only cautions I have for you is to remember this is not a pop-up book for children. It is too demanding of care for someone immature. Additionally, even adults should be cautious in handling the book to prevent damage to the beautiful pop-ups.

My rating for this book: 4.5 Stars! [3]
     This beautiful book is very easy to rate. I give it 4.5 stars (only taking off .5 stars off for the fragility of the book). It is beautiful, and the kinesthetic part of me loves handling these beautiful pop-ups. I hope you will enjoy the book as much as I have.

     Thank you for joining me this week to look at the Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros. Please join me again next week as we will look at a new book. 

     Remember to pick up something to read this week. Reading is enjoyable, so don't make too much work out of it. Let the words fill you up and bring you joy. All my love to you all.

Until next time...
White Rose [15]
...many happy pages of reading!


1. "Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide To Westeros" Retrieved
2. "A Kansan Down Under" [Roots of Peace] Retrieved 03-18-14;
3. "Beats Music Review: The Ace is Back." Retrieved 04-19-14.
4. "Top 28 White Roses Picture for Free Download" Retrieved
5. 3. Roots of Retrieved 04-21-14.