Jun 232011

You don’t have to have read the book to answer this question! At least, I don’t think so.

In poking around on the Internet in search of questions or ideas for questions about this book, I’ve noticed the question “Who is your favorite character?” is often asked. The answer, overwhelmingly, is Scatty. I’ve already acknowledged that she was my favorite character, too.

What is it about Scatty that we all like so much, and what does it mean when a favorite character is a secondary character?

I’m really curious about this, so I’m not going to offer my opinion first. Can you think of other stories where a secondary character is the most popular?

Think hard, please. I really want to know.

Jun 212011

As usual, I’m living la vida seasonal, which means I may drop everything and head out and about without warning should an interesting opportunity arise. One such opportunity arose just as I returned from a planned expedition to a writing conference, and last Thursday, I unpacked, repacked, watered the garden, and headed back out. Whew!

Thanks goodness Kat’s taking over in July. Is everyone reading Ender’s Game?

All right. Back to The Alchemyst. Was there anything you disliked about the story? Here’s something that drove me nuts: Nicholas and Perenelle need the codex to create the potion or spell or whatever it is they need to remain immortal. When John Dee steals the codex, Nicholas and Perenelle are in grave danger of aging and dying if they don’t perform the monthly spell.

Uhh…they’ve been doing this for hundreds of years, wouldn’t you think they’d have the process memorized by now? Or wouldn’t you think they’d made copies of the instructions if it was un-memorizable?

This hole can be filled easily enough, and I happen to know it is done in the next book, but it drove me nuts throughout Book 1. Did anyone else have a problem with this?

If you prefer to stay more positive (remember, I only rag on books that are successful or have a level of quality that I deem high enough to endure a little criticism), since we all seem to like the connection this book makes with characters from history and mythology, what person or character would you like to see fictionalized in a similar way?

Oh! This brings to mind The Smile, by Donna Jo Napoli, who I just met at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. This story brings Leonardo da Vinci and Mona Lisa to life. It’s my favorite Napoli book so far. Love it, love it, love it!

What are some other novels with real people or characters from mythology?

Jun 112011

Did you see this free cross stitch pattern on the Funk & Weber Designs site?

Funk & Weber Designs free cross stitch pattern - American Flag Illusion

That is an afterimage illusion of the American flag. If you stare at this image long enough then look at a plain white surface, you’ll “see” a red, white, and blue flag. It works–ask Bev.

It’s small and easily transportable (good for outdoor stitching), it’s seasonally appropriate (Flag Day- and Fourth of July-related), and it makes a great bookmark. Although, technically, if you want it to hang vertically as a bookmark, according to flag etiquette, you should stitch a mirror image of the given pattern. When a flag hangs vertically in a window, viewers from outside should see the stars in the upper left corner. It’s an easy enough pattern that I’m going to let you figure out the mirror image. You can do it!

I’m out for a bit. I’ll see you back here next week.

Happy stitching!

Jun 092011

There’s all sorts of magic in The Alchemyst. Nicholas explains that there is evidence of magic all around, but that humans don’t see it, that humans choose to not see it or refuse to believe it even when they do see it.

How do you respond to the idea of magic existing in the world as we know it? Do you believe it exists? Do you think it’s possible? Do you wish magic existed? Do you firmly believe that while there are wonderful and awesome things in the world, they aren’t magical? Do you prefer to define “magic” on your own terms?

How do your feelings about magic influence your reading choices and experiences?

I don’t believe in magic, and I don’t want to believe in magic. I kind of feel that when magic is involved, the story is forced. The author can make anything at all happen by invoking magic. I always wonder why, if magic can solve this mess of problems, it can’t seem to solve that other mess of problems.

With magic in a story, it’s as though the author is playing cards with a deck that is 50% or more wildcards. The game is too easily won, the story too easily manipulated with all those wildcards.

Surely there are exceptions, even for me. But, generally speaking, magic is not a selling point for me.

Jun 072011

I’m afraid our planned leader for this discussion is currently out of commission, so yours truly will be taking over. My first question is who else has read The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, by Michael Scott?

One of the things I liked about the book was how Scott uses historical figures as characters. Nicholas and Perrenelle Flamel and Dr. John Dee were all real people, alchemysts to boot. He also tosses in characters from mythology—Scathach is my favorite. The mythology connections reminded me of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

The book is fiction, to be sure, but I find these links to my reality helpful in getting me into the story. You know fantasy isn’t my thing, so every little bit helps, and I enjoyed these links.

Do these connections do anything for you?

Do they alter the way you experience the story?

Were you familiar with the names, people, or characters? I wasn’t.

Did you look them up online? I did, but only because Josh was doing it. I’m not sure I would have thought to do it on my own, at least not in book one. In later books, characters show up that I do know from history, so that might have inspired a bit of recreational research.