Yara Gray

Joined a year ago

Yara's Favorites
Babylon.js Essentials
Babylon.js Essentials
Babylon.js Essentials by Julien Moreau-Mathis. Rated 2 out of 5 stars, with 1 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the javascript category.
Head First Html With CSS & XHTML
Head First Html With CSS & XHTML
Head First Html With CSS & XHTML by Eric Freeman , Elisabeth Freeman, et al.. Rated 4.6 out of 5 stars, with 539 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the css category.
MongoDB for VB.NET by Example
MongoDB for VB.NET by Example
MongoDB for VB.NET by Example by Agus Kurniawan. Rated 2.9 out of 5 stars, with 2 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the mongodb category.
Squall
Squall
Squall by Sean Costello. Rated 4.2 out of 5 stars, with 5173 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the Nicholas Sparks category.
Weit wie das Meer: Roman (German Edition)
Weit wie das Meer: Roman (German Edition)
Weit wie das Meer: Roman (German Edition) by Nicholas Sparks and Bettina Runge. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 60 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the Nicholas Sparks category.
El misterio de Salem's Lot [Salem's Lot]
El misterio de Salem's Lot [Salem's Lot]
El misterio de Salem's Lot [Salem's Lot] by Stephen King, Xavier Fernández, et al.. Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars, with 84 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the Stephen King category.
22/11/63 [French Version]
22/11/63 [French Version]
22/11/63 [French Version] by Stephen King, François Montagut, et al.. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 351 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the Stephen King category.
Java Network Programming, Third Edition
Java Network Programming, Third Edition
Java Network Programming, Third Edition by Elliotte Rusty Harold. Rated 4.2 out of 5 stars, with 17 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the 'Java programming' category.
Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9
Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9
Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9 by Jonathan Stark. Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars, with 7 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the 'PHP programming' category.
Python Web Penetration Testing Cookbook
Python Web Penetration Testing Cookbook
Python Web Penetration Testing Cookbook by Cameron Buchanan. Rated 3.2 out of 5 stars, with 4 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the 'PHP programming' category.
Results of teaching materials for vocational and technical education software talent training mode reform project: a relational database with SQL language (with CD-ROM)(Chinese Edition)
Results of teaching materials for vocational and technical education software talent training mode reform project: a relational database with SQL language (with CD-ROM)(Chinese Edition)
Results of teaching materials for vocational and technical education software talent training mode reform project: a relational database with SQL language (with CD-ROM)(Chinese Edition) by HUANG XU MING. Rated undefined out of 5 stars, with undefined ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the 'SQL database' category.
Practical Probabilistic Programming
Practical Probabilistic Programming
Practical Probabilistic Programming by Avi Pfeffer. Rated 4.1 out of 5 stars, with 12 ratings. Read more and check out similar items in the Scala programming category.
Programming the Microsoft Bot Framework: A Multiplatform Approach to Building Chatbots (Developer Reference)
Programming the Microsoft Bot Framework: A Multiplatform Approach to Building Chatbots (Developer Reference)
Excellent book! I heartily recommend the book to anyone who wants to delve into this innovative technology from Microsoft, starting from the basics and reaching advanced topics such as the creation of personalized control channels or the integration with voice, mail, SMS and web services, as well as with Microsoft Cognitive Services, which empower modern applications based on Artificial Intelligence.

Unfortunately, two of the APIs on which the code examples included in the book are based, Wine.com and Groove, were retired by their respective creators after the book was sent to print. But this fact, in my humble opinion, does not impact at all the understanding of the underlying concepts, which are presented in a clear and didactic manner. Anyways, the author has rewritten all that sample source code using dummy data and the Spotify API (which is the Groove replacement, at the end of the day) and made it available from his blog.
Soldier's Pay: Carbon Typescript (William Faulkner Manuscripts)
Soldier's Pay: Carbon Typescript (William Faulkner Manuscripts)
I know that Faulkner is considered a great writer, but I had not found him accessible. About forty years ago I read "Light in August", which I thought was okay. My other attempts to read his books failed. So when the Library of America recently issued his earliest works, I figured that maybe was the way I could finally access Faulkner.

And boy did I love "Soldier's Pay"! I know it was an early work, that his style was not fully developed, that it was considered a minor effort, etc.

But, first of all, I could read it and for the most part clearly understand what was happening. Second, I found what was happening was unexpected and fascinating to me, very poignant, funny, odd, involving. Thirdly, while Faulker's ways of spelling, recording people's thoughts, and richly and repeatedly describing things (like the decadent, sensuous South), the book did immerse me in the scenes at a deeper and more viceral level than a more conventional novel would. Thus, it gave me a strong feeling of presence in this oft-romanticized bygone era; it was very nostalgic -- even though I never lived in the South and was born much later.

The characters -- like the fat, odd, scholarly, obnoxious, sexually aggressive Januarius Jones -- were so unique and intriguing. They are not the kind of characters I've found in other books. The plot was similarly odd and unpredictable; with numerous bizarre scenes.

Two drunken soldiers returning from WW1 take a deeply caring interest in another passenger on their train -- a returning captain who has been horribly disfigured, mentally disabled, and reported as dead. Along with a beautiful war widow who is also on the train (and with whom the two able returning soldiers both fall in love), they help the injured officer to reach his home, and his beloved fiancee, who is shocked and horrified by his condition and can't stand to be near him. Of course, as events unfold, it isn't clear what if anything is going through the injured captain's mind.

This is the kind of book I could easily read over again, and it gives me great pleasure just to think about it. It may not be one of Faulkner's better works from a technical standpoint, but it sure hit the spot with me (unlike the next novel in the Library of America volume -- "Moquitoes"!)

I'm hoping I will now be able to enjoy some of his other efforts in the same intense way.
Travel as a Political Act
Travel as a Political Act
[copy/pasta from my blog -- no links allowed :(]

Rick Steves is perhaps the most famous American giving advice on traveling abroad. I have never used his guidebooks (thinking that they were perhaps too generic for my “advanced” backpacking skills), but I just bought one for Italy.

This book (subtitle: “How to leave your baggage behind”) is not a guide for tourists but a guide for understanding other countries and cultures. What I especially enjoyed was how Steves clearly explains foreign ideas in terms familiar to Americans. I would have loved to have this book as a response to the many people who have asked why I travel and what I’ve learned.

This book very easy to read, so it’s also a good one to take on vacation. (These data are a few years old but they show that 40 percent of Americans took zero vacation years in the prior year while only 12 percent vacationed outside the US.)

But let’s get to some interesting parts of the book:

“Travel as a political act” refers to the ways in which we might import new ideas and perspectives from abroad back to the US:
We can learn more about our own country by observing other countries—and by challenging ourselves (and our neighbors) to be broad-minded when it comes to international issues. Holding our country to a high standard and searching for ways to better live up to its lofty ideals is not “America-bashing.” It’s good citizenship (loc 74).

Travel is also good for YOU. Travel has changed what I eat, how I commute, what I read, and so on. My revelation is not unique. In the 14th century, Ibn Battuta wrote that “traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” For Steves, “travel has taught me the fun in having my cultural furniture rearranged and my ethnocentric self-assuredness walloped. It has humbled me, enriched my life, and tuned me in to a rapidly changing world” (loc 64).

Steves and I agree that travel helps us understand our own countries better, and we both lament the FUD that our house-bound neighbors espouse. For him, the lesson was to protest war and push for cannabis legalization. My lesson was to accept that Dutch culture was better for me in some ways. Sadly, most people are too afraid to travel or question the status quo:

As the news becomes more sensationalized [Congress repeals the FCC’s Fairness Doctorine in 1987], the viewer becomes more fearful. And eventually, all that fear metastasizes into the political realm. In the long run, the transformation of news from information to entertainment—making us feel that we’re less safe—threatens the fabric of our democracy…and, ironically, actually makes our country less safe (loc 385).

I agree with Steves that we could bring far more security to ourselves (and the world) by spending money on aid instead of bombs, but corporate war mongers mean that the United States American taxpayers spend $600 billion on the military and 15-times less ($40 billion) on all international affairs. I am sure that the “war on terror” would disappear if we shifted 7 percent of the military budget to doubling the international budget.

Steves captures the tradeoffs for living in “socialist” Europe (loc 1093):
European housing, cars, gadgets, and other “stuff” are modest compared to what an American with a similar job might own. It’s a matter of priorities. Just as Europeans willingly pay higher taxes for a higher standard of service, they choose less pay (and less stuff) in exchange for more time off. Imagine this in your own life: Would you make do with a smaller car if you knew you didn’t have to pay health insurance premiums? Would you be willing to give up the luxury of a cutting-edge TV and live in a smaller house if you could cut back to 35 hours per workweek and get a few extra weeks of paid vacation? Would you settle for a 10 percent pay cut if you knew you’d never get an email or phone call from the office outside of work hours? For most Americans, I imagine that the European idea of spending more time on vacation and with their family, instead of putting in hours of overtime, is appealing.

Steves captures the essence of economic migration, immigrant culture and the refugee crisis in three excellent passages:
If you’re wealthy enough to hire an immigrant to clean your house, you do it—you get a clean house, and the immigrant earns a wage. If you don’t want to trade away your personal freedom to care for an aging parent, you hire someone else to care for them…and it’s generally an immigrant. That’s just the honest reality of capitalism. (loc 1406).

99 percent of Americans descend from immigrants, whereas much of Europe has been largely homogenous for millennia. In some European countries, large-scale immigration is a fairly recent phenomenon. This makes many Europeans particularly vigilant about ensuring that Europe’s homegrown culture continues to thrive. I share their concern, and yet, it’s easy to fall into contradictions: If diversity is a tenet of EU beliefs, what’s wrong with immigrants wanting to preserve their home cultures? Is it hypocritical to celebrate the preservation of the Catalan language, but expect Algerians to learn Dutch? (loc 1425)

I think the real refugee crisis is the human cost of a failed state. The refugees coming to Europe today are a direct result of poorly drawn borders by European colonial powers a century ago. If Europeans (or Americans) complain about the hardship of housing those refugees, they should ponder the hardship brought about by their ancestors’ greedy colonial policies a century ago (loc 1440).

Steves is also perceptive on (un)sustainable choices and lifestyles:
In America, we have freezers in our garages so we can buy in bulk to save money and avoid needless trips to the supermarket. In contrast, Europeans have small refrigerators. It’s not necessarily because they don’t have room or money for a big refrigerator. They’d actually rather go to the market in the morning. The market visit is a chance to be out, get the freshest food, connect with people, and stay in touch (loc 1511).

The bottom 40 percent of humanity lives on roughly 5 percent of the planet’s resources. The top 20 percent lives on over 75 percent. The greatest concentration of wealth among economic elites in the history of the human race is happening at the same time our world is becoming a global village. Meanwhile, even in the countries that benefit (such as the United States), the spoils go mostly to the already wealthy—padding profits for shareholders even as working-class American jobs are exported south of our borders, leaving many citizens of the rich world underemployed and disillusioned (loc 1859).

Any society needs to subscribe to a social contract—basically, what you agree to give up in order to live together peacefully. Densely populated Europe generally embraces Rousseau’s social contract: In order to get along well, everyone will contribute a little more than their share and give up a little more than their share. Then, together, we’ll all be fine. The Danes—who take this mindset to the extreme—are particularly conscientious about not exploiting loopholes. They are keenly aware of the so-called “free rider problem”: If I had to identify one major character flaw of Americans, it might be our inability to appreciate the free rider problem. Many Americans practically consider it their birthright to make money they didn’t really earn, enjoy the fruits of our society while cheating on their taxes, drive a gas-guzzler just because they can afford it, take up two parking spots so no one will bump their precious car, and generally jigger the system if they can get away with it. We often seem to consider actions like these acceptable…without considering the fact that if everyone did it, our society as a whole would suffer (loc 2258).

A perfect example of Danish “social trust” is the image of babies sleeping in carriages outside a restaurant while the parents eat inside. You might say, “But no one is watching!” A Dane will say, “Everyone is watching” (loc 2310).

What about drugs, prisons, terror and the Holy Lands??

When it comes to soft drugs, policies in much of Europe are also more creative and pragmatic than America’s… Much of the US seems afraid to grapple with this problem openly and innovatively. Rather than acting as a deterrent, the US criminalization of marijuana drains precious resources, clogs our legal system, and distracts law enforcement attention from more pressing safety concerns (loc 2909).

While America is still building more prisons, the Dutch are closing theirs. My Dutch friends needle me with the fact that the US has the world’s highest incarceration rate—nearly 10 times the Dutch rate—at an annual cost of $60 billion (loc 3037).

Yes, there are evil people in Iran. Yes, the rhetoric and policies of Iran’s leaders can be objectionable. But there is so much more to Iran than the negative image drummed into us by our media and our government. I left Iran impressed more by what we have in common than by our differences. Most Iranians, like most Americans, simply want a good life and a safe homeland for their loved ones. Just like my country, Iran has one dominant ethnic group and religion that’s struggling with issues of diversity and change—liberal versus conservative, modern versus traditional, secular versus religious (loc 3707).

Religions around the world seem to always be stoking turmoil—even though the teachings of those religions say “love your neighbor,” and all of them have the “do unto others…” Golden Rule. I’ve decided that fundamentalism is the crux of the problem…For a person of faith to travel without letting the experience stir what’s inside them is a lost opportunity. Of course, many people actually go on religious trips—pilgrims on pilgrimages. While I’ve never done exactly that, every time I’m at a pilgrimage site, I endeavor to keep a positive attitude about the devotion that surrounds me. It’s easy to be cynical about the reverence given to relics I don’t understand, the determination many have to believe in what seem like silly miracles, or the needless pain someone suffers in the name of their faith—whether by climbing a mountain in bare feet or a long staircase on their knees (loc 3898 and 4097).

The conditions in Balata [a Palestinian refugee camp] are dismaying, particularly when you think that people have been living this way here for decades. But Israelis point out that Israel has taken in many Jewish refugees and assimilated them into their prosperous society. Meanwhile, they claim that Palestine—and the Arab world—has intentionally kept the West Bank refugee camps in squalor in order to stir public opinion against Israel (4379).

And… finally… coming home:

On returning from a major trip, you sense that your friends and co-workers have stayed the same, but you’re…different. It’s enlightening and unsettling at the same time (loc 4513).

Mark Twain wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” These wise words can be a rallying cry for all travelers once comfortably back home. When courageous leaders in our community combat small-mindedness and ignorance—whether it’s pastors contending with homophobia in their congregations, employers striving to make a workplace color-blind, or teachers standing up for intellectual and creative freedoms—travelers can stand with them in solidarity (loc 4548).

My one-handed conclusion is that all Americans should read this book. Travelers will recognize echoes of prior thoughts while the sedentary will (I hope) understand the common humanity that binds us all.
How Jeff Bezos Can Fix Health Care: Leading the Transparency Revolution
How Jeff Bezos Can Fix Health Care: Leading the Transparency Revolution
In her 1997 book, Market Driven Health Care. Professor Regina Herzlinger from the Harvard Business School forcefully introduced the concept of a consumer driven health care system that would empower people to make health care service choices based on quality (real or perceived), price, and availability (access). This is in contrast to a payer driven system that induces people to use certain health care providers who have agreed to a discounted payment schedule. In her book, Professor Herzlinger lays out the key concepts that make such a system work for the benefit of all. While some progress has been made over the past 23 years since the publication of her book, the U.S. health care system remains mostly the same.
In his book, How Jeff Bezos Can Fix Health Care, Steve Hyde provides the missing links that inhibit a major move to a more consumer driven system. These links include easily obtained transparent information about provider quality, actual cost to patients/consumers before services are provided, and provider availability. All this is accomplished with an easy to use technology platform that enables consumers to compare choices in the market in a way that does not exist today. The other missing piece to make such a major change in the health care system is a private sector powerhouse champion, hence Jeff Bezos who has revolutionized the consumer purchasing marketplace.
Whether you favor a more centralized single payer system such as Medicare for All or private sector consumer driven system as proposed by Steve Hyde, this book is essential reading for those who what to better understand what may be possible to make our health care system function better of all citizens.
Ford Dynasty: A Photographic History (MI) (Images of Motoring)
Ford Dynasty: A Photographic History (MI) (Images of Motoring)
Ford Dynasty is another volume in the "Images of Motoring" series. These little photographic histories are 127 pages long, with every page filled with archival black and white photos. This book cannot possibly be an in depth history of a firm as large and complex as the Ford empire but the photos used here are interesting and informative, dealing with everything from the cars to the factories to the people who build the cars to the people who own and run the companies. For its price this is an worthwhile book. I don't think that a Ford expert would learn many new facts from this volume but a number of the photos might be unfamiliar to such a specialist. The generalist car fan will probably enjoy the photos and their informative captions and won't begrudge the very reasonable cost of the book. I enjoyed it along with its companion volumes on Chrysler and General Motors.
The Jeff Healey: Live at Montreaux 1997 & 1999
The Jeff Healey: Live at Montreaux 1997 & 1999
I've been a long time fan of Jeff's, going back to the late 1980's. He was always such a joy to watch when he performed with his unique playing style. It was a shame that he was taken from us so early, when he obviously had so much more to say. These live performances are all we have left and this CD/DVD combo is the perfect, and I do mean p-e-r-f-e-c-t way to relive the thrill of seeing Jeff play live. The band it s tight, the songs are great and every note is well documented here. The video is amazing and the sound is rich and full. This video also avoids the "3 seconds until next camera angle" that ruin so many of the videos sold today.

All in all, this video couldn't be any better at representing the Jeff Healey Band and his late 1990's live show.
Gem Stone King 925 Sterling Silver Round Sapphire and White Diamond Women's Engagement Ring (Available 5,6,7,8,9)
Gem Stone King 925 Sterling Silver Round Sapphire and White Diamond Women's Engagement Ring (Available 5,6,7,8,9)
My rings are not cleaned in these photos on purpose because they still look great and the photos do not do them justice. I get compliments all the time. I ended up buying two of these rings over a year ago and have worn them about every day since. I do dishes with them and everything else and the stones have stayed intact. I have not gotten paid to do this review and the rings are perfect to wear alone or as an addition to your engagement ring. I love these rings. They go great with my "real" set of diamond and sapphire wedding rings I got for our 45th anniversary. Sapphire is the gem for the 45th. The ring in the middle are real diamonds and sapphires. I got a new set of wedding rings for the occasion and the engagement ring has a wrap and it was put together with bars on each side and I didn't like the bars. I had them soldered and when I did that, it made the set look like one ring and I thought I needed a band to with it so I found this one. It works perfectly. I wish I could have found a "real" white gold ring like this, but I couldn't find one reasonable enough. This one will do til I find it. I will post more photos of my rings cleaned at a later date so you can see the difference. They clean up very well.
Saban's Power Rangers
Saban's Power Rangers
Thank God I didnt pay anything for this garbage.....

The storyline was awful and seemed to throw everything together without allowing the Audience to get to know each character....

Okay, as someone who remembers the original series of power rangers, this drivel seems to be the complete opposite of what the series was about.

In the original series, we had five teenagers who were active in their community, role models for many, and displayed a positive message to the viewers....

In this rehash, the main character (jason) is a felon, the geek (billy) is an accomplice, a new girl in town (trini) is ditsy with no storyline other then having LGBT issues), the other girl (kimberly) is almost a outcast, the 4th character (zack) just loves to do whatever....oh, and they all meet in detention....

The character Billy is now black as well and her parents seem to idolize Jason...hmmmm...

So, they meet up in detention, they decide to "borrow" a van, deprogram a police ankle bracelet (obviously the police dont care to do welfare checks), and somehow all show up a old mine where they find ancient power coins and go underground to find zordon who's literally is stuck in a wall and alpha (who looks like a robotic version of jar jar binks).....oh, and they must all be pure of something to access the morphin....oh, I give up. Makes no sense....they see zords, zach decides to take one without permission, and Krispy creme gets involved....somehow

Oh, and then, there's Rita. Looks like more of a reptile then human. Needs gold for...try to follow, recreate GOLDar....unbelievable that they took the name quite literally....

The zords come together but they are still seperated and beat rita, the end...

I felt like I wanted an hour and a half back...

This was a complete mess of a movie with zero character development....
The Lord of the Rings Instrumental Solos for Strings: Violin (with Piano Acc.), Book & CD
The Lord of the Rings Instrumental Solos for Strings: Violin (with Piano Acc.), Book & CD
I am an adult picking up the violin again after playing briefly in school over twenty years ago. I play many (many) instruments so I have a familiarity with music in general. Of all the books of music I own, this one is the most fun to play.

Overall, the product is a great value. The sheet music has violin and piano parts; however, another book bound inside of this book contains just the violin parts so you don't have to squint at the smaller staff and don't have to turn pages as often.

The CD is excellent. Track 1 is simply a bowed A String so you can make sure you're in tune with the CD (which was already correct according to my tuner). The even-numbered tracks contain the orchestrated song WITH the violin part you have the music for so you can listen to the complete parts. The odd-numbered tracks contain the same song but with the violin part taken out so you can play along with your very own full orchestra. I found the printed music to be absolutely accurate with the recordings.

I found this book to be good even for a beginner. The keys that these songs are in are not very difficult (C, D, G) with a few exceptions and perhaps some tricky accidentals. Some of the measure counting for some (rare) long rests and changes in time signature would be difficult to comprehend for an absolute beginner of any instrument, but if you even comprehend what I'm saying then it shouldn't be an issue at all.

One minor complaint is that after copying these tracks to my mp3 player, I had to manually enter the song names as this album was not found for data being the very niche product that it is.

Playing with accompaniment is fantastic practice. There is no stopping to get things right, you just have to go with it; just like you would in a live performance.

I would LOVE to own more of these types of books. It's a great value for what you get and I only wish I had more songs to play along with. Highly recommended.
THE R.L.STINE COLLECTION: "BABYSITTER" , "BABYSITTER NO.2" , "BABYSITTER NO.3": "BABYSITTER", "BABYS
THE R.L.STINE COLLECTION: "BABYSITTER" , "BABYSITTER NO.2" , "BABYSITTER NO.3": "BABYSITTER", "BABYS
Since this is three novels in one, books I-III I'll review each of them here.

THE BABYSITTER/My grade- B

Like all others in this series, this was a quick read, being under 175 pages. Other than the characters being in high school, grades, ages, and location weren't given.

Jenny Jeffers is the babysitter, and she lives with her mother. I don't particularly care for the mother, whose role is minimal in this.

Chuck, the classmate that likes Jenny, is overbearing and over the top yet still likable somehow. He just tries too hard to get her attention.

Donny's the annoying boy who's being baby-sat by Jenny. The author wanted us to know about four times that the kid has blond hair.

Mike Hagen, the man who's six-year-old son Donny Jenny's babysitting, is definitely over the top in his worry of his son and it got to be annoying.

This was suspenseful with several cryptic things going on at once. I can't say I was surprised to find out who the villain was. So far this one in the point horror collection had the villain with the most awful background. There are several more in the authors babysitting series involving the same lead character, Jenny and I do look forward to them since each one seems to have a conclusion and not a cliffhanger.

THE BABYSITTER II/My grade- C

This one was worse than the one that came before it and it seems shorter somehow but is around the same length. It takes place in the summer, about eight months after the previous one ended. It follows the same formula as the first in this series- Jenny's babysitting an annoying male child who's got blond hair and blue eyes and has an odd personality. She's paid $5 per hour, just like with the other babysitting job. She continues to receive the same creepy phone calls from an anonymous person. She's got different friends in this one, three of them, and of course both boys like her, and a character from the previous book makes an appearance.

The ten-year-old boy in this one is Eli. He's got three pet tarantulas, loves horror movies, and likes for the bad guy to win. He's got a really high IQ and his parents seem scared of him.

The negatives- Two of the three new friends in this didn't really serve a purpose. I didn't like sitting in on Jenny's multiple therapy sessions because all she did was repeat to the doctor everything we already know happened. It was just a way of filling up pages. Nothing exciting happened.

You'll never in your wildest dreams guess who the villain is so don't try.

THE BABYSITTER III/My grade- B

The third installment in The Babysitters series takes place a little over a year after the previous one ends. Jenny's in need of a change of scenery so she goes to stay with her teen cousin for the summer, and gets a job at a horse stable while she's there. Like the others in this series, there are quite a few characters in this one, some totally unnecessary, like ex-babysitter, Maggie, and Don.

Her cousin Debra's not that great of a person and likes to prank call a guy she likes and be flirtatious even though she's got a boyfriend. She was in this as much as Jenny was, so there were two main characters, which was nice for a change.

I never had an inkling as to who the villain could have been in this one and was truly surprised at the ending. I have to say this one was a bit less suspenseful than the previous two.
Ivory Closet [In Japanese Language]
Ivory Closet [In Japanese Language]
杉原爽香シリーズはすべて読んでいます。いつも楽しい。不倫ネタが多いけど、ずっと読んでいきたいシリーズです。
Lays of Beleriand (History of Middle-Earth)
Lays of Beleriand (History of Middle-Earth)
J.R.R. TOLKIEN, CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN, The History of Middle-Earth, Vol III, The Lays of Beleriand (pp. 150-329: The Lay of Leithian and pp.330-363: The Lay of Leithian recommenced ).

BEWARE:
This review does not refer to the new “Beren and Lúthien ”
published in the Spring of 2017, which does not use the whole text of the original version of the Lay.

The story of the love of Lúthien and Beren is framed by a deep and subtle theoretical infrastructure, but - as it is appropriate for a fantasy story and for classical literature - such theoretical content emerges only in moments of absolute poetical genius, in verses that are eternal monuments of both beauty and thought, woven by pure bliss.

First let’s read three of these moments of Wonder, then we will comment on them:

p.277
(Beren talking about Lúthien):

“Though all to ruin fell the world,
and were dissolved and backward hurled
unmade into the old abyss,
yet were its making good, for this –
the dawn, the dusk, the earth, the sea –
that Lúthien on a time should be ! ”

p.172
(Thingol sees/meets Melian in the woods, as later Beren will meet Lúthien):

“But Thingol stayed, enchanted, still,
one moment to hearken to the thrill
of that sweet singing in the trees.
Enchanted moments such as these
from gardens of the Lord of Sleep,
where fountains play and shadows creep,
do come, and count as many years
in mortal lands.”

p.183
(Beren wakes up after the kiss, and after Lúthien has gone away - see also page 180):

“He lay upon the leafy mould,
his face upon earth’s bosom cold,
aswoon in overwhelming bliss,
enchanted of an elvish kiss,
seeing with his darkened eyes
the light that for no darkness dies,
the loveliness that does not fade,
though all in ashes cold be laid.”

Now let’s try to see the details of what Tolkien is saying:

“…yet were its making good, for this –
the dawn, the dusk, the earth, the sea –
that Lúthien on a time should be ! ”

The existence of the beloved is enough to make the whole finite world “good”, i.e. justified, and the very end of the finite world could not change this value established for eternity.
Love justifies the finite world and it establishes a value that is eternal and cannot be changed by the circumstances of the becoming, cannot be modified even by an Armageddon. And the concept is repeated here (and in the verses that precede this quotation, note the BLISS):

“…the light that for no darkness dies,
the loveliness that does not fade,
though all in ashes cold be laid ”

And Tolkien says that the irruption of Love is equally an AUGENBLICK (the blink of an eye, an ATTIMO, the KAIROS, καιρός , the right moment, the propitious moment, the fullness of time) in which time and eternity meet:

“…Enchanted moments such as these

do come, and count as many years
in mortal lands.”

Thus, all of these verses evoke a profound liberation:

- the becoming is free from meaninglessness, the Being of Love overwhelms any despair, the existence of the beloved justifies the world (“.. good, for this…that Lúthien on a time should be ! ”)

- time is bypassed by the Eternal (or perhaps, the Eternal shines through time itself), (“…moments… count as many years ”)

- the overwhelming bliss defeats death itself (“…the light that for no darkness dies…”)

Much later in Tolkien’s stories - in The Lord of the Rings - Arwen Undómiel, Evenstar, will renounce her safe way back to the Elven Islands and will choose instead to marry Aragorn, a mortal, and share his fate. Repeating Lúthien’s choice, she exemplifies the understanding of the difference between the very, very, long life of the Elves (who will last until the world will last), and the shining-through of the Eternal, the – mysterious, luminous - Eternal Now of the Augenblick of Love.

So, both in the verses quoted above and in the story of Arwen, Tolkien is saying that Love is an appearance of Meaning, a manifestation of the Eternal, as well as a trace of the “imperative of the Eternal”, the unquenchable search for Meaning by the human beings (see ALBERTO CARACCIOLO, Nulla religioso e imperativo dell'eterno. Studi di etica e di poetica ). And Tolkien is saying that Love is a form of the Sacred Vision (see all the quotations above and the meeting of Beren and Lúthien in both the Silmarillion and the Lay.).

Let’s ask ourselves, what would the story of Lúthien and Beren be, without the verses that we have quoted above ?
Without these revelations of the visionary Truth of Love, there would be no story of True Love, there would just be a “love-story” good enough for modern times’ orcs and modern lands of mordor…i.e., good enough for those who have forgotten Wonder and who have forgotten that the Highest, the Ypsistos, ύψιστος , is Beatitude, Bliss.
Tolkien instead is teaching us that True Love, the love that is capable of living in Wonder, of Wonder, from Wonder, is a door, a Way. To the Meaning, to the Eternal, to the Deathless. Here, now, in our lives.

Don’t we all know all of this, when we truly fall in love ?
But then we falter, we forget the true Wonder and the Bliss…and we forget that in the language of Truth the verb “to love” has no past tense, exactly like – in the language of Truth, we said - the verb “to be” has no past tense…
…and Tolkien’s verses are there to help us, forever to wake us up to the Dream that is more real than any “thing”…
Therefore, this version of the story of Lúthien and Beren [in J.R.R. TOLKIEN, CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN, The History of Middle-Earth, Vol III, The Lays of Beleriand (pp. 150-329: The Lay of Leithian and pp.330-363: The Lay of Leithian recommenced ] is a classic, that will never stop talking to the lovers.

In memory of the Dream of June 16th, 2016

Thank you for your attention.

NOTE
If you are interested in the many themes evoked in this review, please see, here on Amazon.com, my reviews of

MARYLA FALK’s Nama-Rupa and Dharma-Rupa: Origins and Aspects of an Ancient Indian Conception

The Hevajra Tantra

STRATFORD CALDECOTT’s work about Tolkien’s works

https://www.amazon.com/Nama-Rupa-Dharma-Rupa-Origins-Aspects-Conception/dp/0895819783/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496262526&sr=1-1&keywords=Maryla+falk

https://www.amazon.com/Concealed-Essence-Hevajra-Tantra-Yogaratnamala/dp/8120809114

https://www.amazon.com/Power-Ring-Spiritual-Vision-Behind/dp/082454983X/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496262688&sr=1-6&keywords=Stratford+Caldecott
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Spoontiques Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Glitter Cup w/Straw, 20 ounces, Black
Spoontiques Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Glitter Cup w/Straw, 20 ounces, Black
I’m a HUGE HP fan so when I found this I was super excited. Over all it seems very sturdy and reliable however the sparkle like objects are kind of a bummer. They tend to gather all in one area even after messing with it for a little. This would be very un aesthetically pleasing when a drink it in the cup and you can’t mess with it to get them where they should be.

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