23 entries categorized "Books"

A new book from the world of Harry Potter

Just in time for Christmas comes something new for fans of Harry Potter.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, available for pre-order now. This book of fairy tales was written to supplement the Harry Potter series and will be published in two new editions on December 4, 2008.


Standard and Collector's Editions

The Standard Edition features all five fairy tales from the original The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a new introduction by J.K. Rowling, illustrations reproduced from the original handcrafted book, and commentary on each of the tales by Professor Albus Dumbledore.

The luxuriously packaged Collector's Edition is designed to evoke the spirit of the handcrafted original. It is housed in its own case (made to resemble a wizarding textbook found in the Hogwarts library). The Collector's Edition includes a reproduction of J.K. Rowling's handwritten introduction, as well as 10 additional illustrations not found in the Standard Edition. Opening the cover of the case reveals a velvet bag embroidered with J.K. Rowling's signature, in which sits the piece de resistance: your very own copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, complete with metal skull, corners, and clasp; replica gemstones; and emerald ribbon.

You can order the Standard Edition for $7.59 here, or the Collector's Edition for only $100 here.

Pretending to be normal

PretendingIt's been quite a busy time since my birthday. We've been organising a special event for later this year, setting up and launching the Australian Institute of Magic web site, spending time with Danny Archer, working on some new material, preparing a new version of Hollywood:Live with Mat Unwin and Ben Whimpey, host a poker night and performing a few shows.

We have had one or two goes on the Wii Fit (which is GREAT) but I haven't had time to watch any DVDs or read any of the books I got for my birthday yet. I did get started on one I ordered for myself though, and it's quite amazing.

The book is 'Pretending to be Normal - Living with Asperger's Syndrome', It's written by a woman who discovered she had Asperger's after one of her daughter's was diagnosed with the condition. The diagnosis helped her (as it's helped me) make sense of a lot of odd behaviour in her past.

I'll give you one excerpt which I can definitely relate to and those who know me will probably say "Yep, that's Tim alright!"

"It was easy for me to give my opinions on things, virtually all the time. I was by far the most blunt and outspoken of our group, even when friends suggested I had gone too far. I never knew how far was too far. Even now, I cannot find one reliable reason for keeping my thoughts to myself. The world seems fickle on this point. Sometimes people want an opinion, sometimes they do not. Sometimes they say something so incredible an opinion has to be given. Other times they sit in silence seemingly unaware of the situation that lies before them. The entire dichotomy is too confusing. I do not see how anyone can ever know with any degree of certainty when they should voice their thoughts and when they can keep them silent. Sure, I often find myself wondering if I have said too much or worrying that I have been misunderstood. Sometimes I even wish I had not said what I did. But I realised long ago that it would be easier to stop a dog going for a bone, than it would be for me to stop thoughts escaping from my mouth."

Hollywood Animal by Joe Eszterhas

HanimalI just finished reading 'Hollywood Animal', the autobiography of Hollywood screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, the man responsible for 'Flashdance', 'Basic Instinct', 'Jagged Edge', 'Showgirls' and many more movie scripts.

If you've ever had any interest in the movies, this book is essential reading. It's very, very long, but it gives an amazingly open insight into the machinations of Hollywood, and the way it transforms one man without him even realising it.

It's fascinating to read the 'behind the scenes' stories of how many films got made, and how many others got shelved, and Joe certainly doesn't hold back as he names names and I'm amazed he hasn't been sued yet. (Maybe he has!)

His own family life is laid out just as openly and it is an amazing, and often pitiful sight to see. But it really does give you an entirely new world, a mix of fantasy and reality, to explore.

You can get a copy cheap on Amazon, or even cheaper ($4.95) at the clearance centre on the corner of Johnston & Hoddle St, Abbotsford in Victoria.

Hiding The Elephant

Elephant_1A few weeks ago I read Jim Steinmeyer's book 'Hiding The Elephant'. I really had no idea what to expect. I enjoy Jim's writing style in his 'technical' books like 'Art & Artifice' and 'Device & Illusion' so I guess I expected 'Hiding The Elephant' to be more of the same.

I was very pleasantly surprised. Not since 'Carter Beats The Devil' have I been drawn so completely into the wonder of the world of magic. Steinmeyer weaves such an intricate web filled with detail and colour, and he isn't afraid to go off on tangent after tangent because he knows exactly how to get back to telling the tale.

The story has a simple premise. Like a detective, Steinmeyer sets out to find out exactly how Houdini managed to vanish an elephant live on stage at New York's vast Hippodrome. However, as the author explores different methods he also talks about the inventors of the methods, the methods they were inspired by, the inventor's of those methods, how the various magicians interacted... and before you know it you are totally absorbed into a world that sounds much more exciting and wonderful than it ever could have possibly been.

'Hiding The Elephant' does expose secrets, many of them very important secrets. Steinmeyer defends his decision by saying that nothing he exposed wasn't in magic books already available to the general public. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about that particular aspect of the book.

On the other side of the coin I recommend this book to those magicians feeling drained, worn out, exhausted by the sheer blandness of much of today's magic. Reading 'Hiding The Elephant' will remind you of why you became interested in magic in the first place. Indeed, if anyone can recreate the feel of 'Hiding The Elephant' on stage I'm sure they be well rewarded in both fame and fortune.

Does the book appeal to non-magicians... ? It certainly would be popular with fans of period drama or detective thrillers, but I think any reader would have to have at least a passing interest in the art of magic before they opened the cover. I hope more readers do spend the time with 'Hiding The Elephant' though, it really is one of the best magic shows I've seen in a long, long time.

The Protocols have arrived

Protocols_1 I received my copy of Max Maven's new book 'The Protocols of the Elders of Magic' today and I must say, I'm disappointed. The book is much smaller than I expected, only 13 x 17cms. The colour on the front is sort of a light grey too, nothing like the picture. It is fairly heavy though, for a book that size. Maybe that's the secret?

Oh well, at least with the addition of this book my library is now discerning.