Saturday, June 30, 2007
Today we drove to Avebury and back for my friend Hazels Handfasting to Ernie. A Handfasting is a Pagan wedding and isn't recognised legally in the UK at the moment (they will do the legal bits at some point as they have 3 children between them). The weather was horrible but stopped just as we started the ritual and started again just after which was a blessing. The ceremony was lovely (me and Alex did one of the Quarter calls) and lots of people were wearing dresses Hazel had made. She actually made the dress I wore for my wedding and Handfasting (see it pays to do both as you get to wear two different dresses!) as well as my bridesmaids and flower girls.
We weren't allowed cameras during the ceremony and I only had my phone with my anyway which didn't take decent ones. The only good photo I got was of the sheep above sheltering from the rain underneath one of the medium sized stones. See the thing about Avebury is that it is the largest stone circle in the UK (including Stonehenge which is only down the road). If you make it to the UK I recommend visiting here as unlike Stonehenge, you can walk freely between the massive stones which surround the entire town/villiage.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Today’s question is suggested by Carrie.
What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?
If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?
I used to read cereal packets and adverts when I had nothing else to read, especially over breakfast when it was too hard to hold and book and eat a bowl of cereal without splashing milk all over it! Since then the most desperate I have been was to borrow a book from someone in the office at work. I had finished mine on the train on the way over (The Pact by Jodi Picoult) and wanted something to read on the way home (it was an hour and a half journey). A lady upstairs had a book she wasn't reading called "Costa del Crime" by Wensley Clarkson which looked awful but I had no other options. The tagline on it was "scoring coke, hustling cash and getting laid - the true story of Spain's hottest coast" which gives you a good idea of what it was about...
I have to say it was dreadful! It was like car-crash reading and I just had to finish it, which was the worst part as it was horribly compelling. It was sensationalist crap, stuff of The Sun or News of the World. I felt slightly better having only borrowed it as a last resport and not having paid money for it.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Rating : 5/5
Reason for reading : Guardian 100 greatest books of all time challenge, and personal interest
The premise is that King Shahryar caught his wife cheating on him with one of the servants from the palace stables. On visiting his brother King Shazaman, he finds the same thing has happened there with the palace cook. Both brothers have put their wives and their lovers to death and decalre all woman are fickle:
"Woman are worthless,
Woman are liars:
They seem to be roses,
But grow into briars."
King Shahryar gets lonely at night time by himself, so he decides to marry a different girl each day and then have her put to death the following morning before she has a chance to stop loving him. One thousand days later he marries Shahrazah, the daughter of his wazier. Each night she tells him a different story which so captivate him that he delays her death another day to hear what happens next.
I have to say I completely fell in love with this book. The stories Shahrazah tells her husband were a great mixture of funny, spiritual, magical and from the mouths of animals. Each one is captivating in it's own way. It includes tales of Sinbad the sailor, Ali Baba and the forty bandits and Ala al-Din and his wonderful lamp. Some of my favourites were The Lion's Revenge on Man-Kin, The Everlasting Shoes, The Keys of Destiny, The Wonderful Bag and the Tale of the Anklet which seemed to be a basis for Cinderella. I recommend it to anyone who loves a good story, a lover of folktales and anyone who likes to let their imagination run wild.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
To see your blogs rating go to http://mingle2.com/blog-rating and see who is suitable to read yours...
Monday, June 25, 2007
Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for reading : Guardian 100 greatest books of all time challenge and personal interest
This classic follows the changing fortunes of Pip. His life becomes interesting when he first meets an escaped convict in the marsh lands near where he lives. He helps him out, taking him food and a file. The second main person to have an effect on his life enters as Miss Haversham who has spent every day since she was jilted by her fiance in her wedding dress with the clocks stopped at the time she recieved her devastating news. He also meets her adopted daughter Estella there and falls in love.
Pip learns he has a mysterious benefactor from enigmatic lawyer Mr Jaggers who makes him a gentleman, on the condition he makes no effort to find out their identity. He travels to London and befriends Herbert and the womderful assistant to Mr Jaggers, Wemmick. Wemmick lives in a castle complete with draw bridge, a cannon he fires every night and his father "the Aged" who is hard of hearing and responds to nodding.
Pip was a charming character you really want to succeed. The supporting characters were great too and I loved the humor throughout the book. It was a wonderful book which I highly recommend and I can defiantely see why it is such a classic.
Another day, another challenge. This one is being hosted over at Crazy Cosy Murders and involves reading between 3 and 5 challenges between 1st July and 30th November. As I am trying to get through some classic books this really appeals to me.
My list is:
1) Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervanes Saavedra (I aim to finish the second part)
3) Iliad - Homer
4) Odyssey - Homer
5) The Complete Tales - Edgar Allan Poe
Friday, June 22, 2007
I found this over at Nymeth's blog Things Mean a Lot, who is tagging anyone who wants to do it, and I'm doing the same too!
The rules are simple. In the following list of a hundred books, bold the ones you've read, mark in blue the ones you want to read, mark in red the ones you don't want to read , italicise the ones you've never heard of, and leave the rest alone.
1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) - just over half way through this
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)
I have read 36 of the 100 books and haven't heard of 30 of them which seems a lot. It looks like I have a fair bit of reading to do from looking at the books highlighted in blue...
1) Guilty Pleasures - Laurell K. Hamilton
Rating : 3.5/5
Reason for reading : Summer Reading Challenge, recommendation
Number in series : #6 Anita Blake Vampire Hunter
This book again focuses on the relationship between Anita, Richard (alpha werewolf) and Jean-Claude (master vampire) as it becomes more and more complicated. Anita is being worn down by both males regarding her no-sex-before-marriage stand point with sexual tension running high between all three of them. Jean-Claude has said he will step back is Anita still wants Richard after he has killed a rival alpha werewolf and has shape-shifted in front of her. They have also found a way to combine their powers making something far greater than any of them had ever dreamed of.
As always more is going on in the background. Hired killers are after Anita both at home and in public. A new vampire is also in town with his human servant who happens to be a powerful necromancer. The vampire has given up drinking blood because of his love of a woman, but is rotting away in a very disgusting way! Can Anita stay alive long enough to decide between her two boyfriends?
I didn't enjoy this as much as books 3 and 4 in the series. Hamilton is very much set in her style now and it is getting a lot easier to spot who the real bad guys are. The graphic mixture of violence and rape was a little bit much in once scene. I will finish reading the series, but I definately need a break for a while before I get bored with them. Not a patch on Anne Rice!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
School days, Golden Rule days….
Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:
Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?
How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?
I have a couple of books left over. I have a couple of Greek Tales from senior school and a psychology book from sixth form college. From uni I have a couple of biochemistry text books that I have kept hold of and still flick through from time to time.
I did keep all of my university notes, but they disappeared when my car got stolen a few years ago sadly. I still miss them as I would have liked to have kept reading them and used them in the future, but that's life. I still have my final year project and my write-up from my year out working in a laboratory on the computer, as well as old essays etc so not everything is gone forever. I still have two folders worth of psychology notes in my mum's house in Liverpool which I still sometimes look through as well.
I find it hard to throw things away, you never know when it will be useful some day...
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
One of the things on my 101 things to do in 1001 days list is to take a beginners pole dancing course (for fun and fitness rather than to learn to be a stripper). I have done 5 of my 8 weeks now and tonight I learnt how to go upside down! I am so proud of myself and it took quite a few gos to master. I banged the back of my ankle so badly doing it that it is now swollen and purple despite putting ice on it straight away doh. It was worth it though :)
I carried on with the class and spent the rest of the lesson trying to do the same move with my other leg starting. It's surprisingly difficult to do it on your non-dominant leg. I didn't quite manage it but got close. This means I can now go upside down and slide down as well as climb the pole to the top and touch the ceiling as well as a mixture of other spins and techniques. I can't wait for my bruises to heal for next week and then have a break before doing the intermediate class in September.
I recommend it to anyone trying to get fit who can't face using the machines at the local gym. The teacher is great and the other girls are really cool. We are even going to set up a pole the week after the course finishes in the club I DJ at for an hour or two to show off in front of a crowd (here's hoping I am brave enough...).
Monday, June 18, 2007
The books I have picked are:
1) Perdido Street Station - China Mieville (Arthur C Clarke Award)
Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for reading : Summer Reading Challenge, recommendation
Number in series : #5 Anita Blake Vampire Hunter
This time Anita travels outside her home town of St Louis but stays within Missouri to help a client raise a hill-full of 200 year old dead zombies to settle a land dispute. The area has been ploughed by diggers mixing up the bodies whose names are not even known, making her task even more difficult than it would be. Alongside this the bodies of three teenage boys are found nearby, killed by a vampire and slashed with a sword. A teenage girl is then found, again killed by a vampire, in her bedroom. Looks like it will be a busy week for Ms Blake...
I enjoyed this book a lot. Bringing in the fey worked well and having a paeophile vampire was suitably disturbing to say the least. Expanding Larry's character was also a plus, I am wondering what he will turn out to be as he has been declared not human either like Anita. He is not a necromancer though like her so that will be interesting later on. The sexual tension between Anita and Jean-Claude continues to build (will she manage to keep her no-sex-before-marriage vow or no-sex-with-the-dead vow? Which is more important to her now?) which will be interesting in the next book.
The ending was really well written and without leading directly into the next book, definately hooks the reader in to see what happens next.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
The last 70 pages crammed in a lot of the usual murder-mystery type story. It was the secondary plot line for most of the novel, but the ending was very fast paced. The pack leader Marcus has enlisted Anita's help to track down missing lycanthropes who have been disappearing close to the full moon. There were three seperate stories that sprouted from this and I figured out two of them this time yay me. One thing I am still trying to get my head around is the different types of shape-shifters. It's so easy to accept werewolves as they have appeared in so many other stories and tales. When it comes to wereleapords, wererats and wereswans it is a different matter. Fair enough the swan was a witches curse, but the rest? Hmm.
Finding out a little more about Edward was interesting, he is an intriguing character and I hope he keeps appearing in future novels. This was definately my favourite in the series so far, I enjoyed the story being fleshed out more and the character development.
Friday, June 15, 2007
This is a photo of me and my cat Morgaine having a nap on the sofa yesterday afternoon. She has a tendency to sleep on top of me as you can see! She is still a teeny tiny cat (especially when compared to her brother who is a big bear cat) despite being 6 now bless her. She has the sweetest white paws and whiskers and she is my baby. Is it wrong to see her as a close friend and security blanket?
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Rating : 4.0/5
Reason for reading : Summer Reading Challenge, recommendation
Number in series : #3 Anita Blake Vampire Hunter
This book saw a return to a vampire-focused plot more than the animator side of her work. Jean-Claude is still trying to get Anita to become his human servant and accept his last two marks. This would make the two of them incredibly powerful and would make other vampire masters think twice before challenging him as they have started to. To complicate matters a spate of vampire killings has begun by a potentially rogue vampire master. New-to-town vampire master Alejandro is also trying to make Anita his human servant and he is not afraid to take by forst what Jean-Claude it trying to get her to give up freely...
I enjoyed this book more than the first two and the addition of the immortal lamia was interesting. I had never heard of lamia's before and I hope she appears in further novels in the series. The final showdown seemed a little bit anti-climactic, especially with Oliver who was supposed to be a million years old. One question is annoying me, is the series sponsored by Nike trainers??? Everytime she does something or goes somewhere she reminds us she is wearing Nike and what colour they are. Strange. It was good though to see her having a bit more of a social life outside work and the gym and even dating.
Booking Through Thursday
Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?
And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted?
I have to admit to sometimes peeking ahead to the last page to see how it ends. I know I know, it spoils the story a little. I don't often do it and it still doesn't detract from the story as you still need to read for the detail of how you get from the point you are at to the ending. You can also cheat and peek ahead when reading a series. For example I am currently reading the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K Hamilton and I have read the dust jackets to a couple of the books further ahead in the series which have annoyingly given a lot of the future plots away. This wasn't really cheating as I just wanted to know the topics they covered and types of supernatural creatures involved. It was only by accident that I found out some more about Anita's personal life.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Rating : 3.5 out of 5
Reason for Reading : Summer Reading Challenge and recommendations
Number in series : #2 Anita Blake Vampire Hunter
This book focuses more on Anita's job as an Animator. This involves raising the dead as zombies and is used by people to find out how people were murdered, to sort out legal issues with wills and to right wrongs, before laying them to rest again. This story follows on shortly after Guilty Pleasures and has a whole new cast of villians including an out-of-control zombie who is gruesomly killing and eating families, a rich cripple who wants a zombie raising, a powerful voodoo priestess and fellow animator accused of human sacrifice.
Things start to go wrong for Anita when she refuses the vast sum of money offered by Harold Gaynor to raise a 300 year old corpse which would require a human sacrifice (a "white goat"). From there the violence and being chased begins anew. You would think this girl would learn really... I am still a little unconvinced in her writing style when she is talking about Anita. All the "naws" and "shit" are a little annoying, but I do like that the penguins made a reappearence as well as Master Vampire Jean-Claude. The thing I can't quite work out is the difference between an Animator and a Necromancer if there is one.
It was a more gripping read than Guilty Pleasures, but the final monster sounded pretty silly on paper (although it would be a completely different matter if it was coming towards me I am sure!). I still need a little more convincing...
Sunday, June 10, 2007
It was an interesting book. There are so many of this type of novel around at the moment, and it was fun to read one that was more focused on horror than urban fantasy like novels by Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs etc. It also didn't try to glamourise vampires either which so many other series have done. Anita made an interesting central character. She has human weaknesses with her main one being fear, but she struggles on through it despite overwhelming odds. The supporting characters were also intriging like Philip and Edward. I would have liked to have learnt more about Philip and about the lure of being a "freak" and going to vampire clubs. I get the feeling Edward will show up again in future novels.
I was recommended this series as I love Anne Rice. The two sets of vampires are very different however. This focused more on violence and supernatural powers, whereas I found Rice much more sensual and more about the stories the vampires have to tell. I was also told the Anita Blake series was very sexy and erotic, and was disappointed in this first one to find it really wasn't
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Booking Through Thursday
Almost everyone can name at least one author that you would love just ONE more book from. Either because they’re dead, not being published any more, not writing more, not producing new work for whatever reason . . . or they’ve aged and aren’t writing to their old standards any more . . . For whatever reason, there just hasn’t been anything new (or worth reading) of theirs and isn’t likely to be.
If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . . a book that would be as good any of their best (while we’re dreaming) . . . something that would round out a series, or finish their last work, or just be something NEW . . . Who would the author be, and why? Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Laurie Colwin? Kurt Vonnegut?
It's funny as I would normally say I would love to read more by JRR Tolkien, but they keep "finding" manuscripts he was working on and publishing them even though he is sadly dead. I love returning to Middle Eath and another book in the series would be great, maybe something set after LOTR. Another author I would like to read more by is Marion Zimmer Bradley in the Avalon series, yet the same thing has been the case with her. Two books have been published in the Avalon series since her death. Again this is a world I love returning to and there is always space for another tale.
Another choice would be Anne Rice writing something else in her Vampire or Mayfair Witches series. They are my favourite series of books and since the death of her husband she is not going to be writing any more. I enjoyed Christ the Lord and hope she will do a follow-up, but it isn't the same as Lestat, Louis, Pandora, Marius, Rowan Mayfair etc. Both sets of series could easily be extended and there could be another book that brings the two tales together like Merrick or Blackwood Farm *sigh*
Monday, June 04, 2007
One of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies along with Hamlet, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet. It tells the story of the Moor of Venice, Othello, who falls foul to jealousy. He is encouraged by Iago who dislikes Othello I think because he in turn is jealous of him and his position and reputation. Iago enlists the help of Roderigo who is in love with Othello's wife Desdemona. They conspire to make it look as though Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio who Iago is also jealous of.
I didn't think much of Othello's character, believed Iago far too quickly and didn't show any faith in his wife and her love for him. She went against her father's wishes to be with him. Although Othello has a great reputation, there is still a lot of racial discrimination against him because he is a moor and her father is set against it because of this. Iago was a nasty piece of work as well and I was glad his schemes were brought out into light. I was also glad Othello knew the truth about Desdemona before the end.
***1/2 out of 5
Saturday, June 02, 2007
This book tells the history of witchcraft from ancient times to modern day. Buckland is Gardnerian in lineage and this has influenced the book considerably. He draws on work by Margaret Murray a lot which was interesting as I have heard contradictory reports of the accuracy of her research and conclusions.
A full chapter was dedicated to the Salam Witch Trials, which focused a little too much on the details of the torture. It was a little sensationalist for my tastes to be honest. I am also not sure you can draw the conclusion that Witchcraft/Wicca are rooted in ancient Pagan traditions. It all seems a bit of a leap to me.
There were some thought provoking points, but generally it wasn't anything new. It dealt more with the American movement and the most enjoyable bit was short essay by Z.Budapest on Dianic/Feminist Wicca. I would suggest reading Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton instead.
** out of 5
Friday, June 01, 2007
May was a busy month. I have only read 4.5 books but I have managed to see 7 films at the cinema.
Here is a run down of my challenge progress:
I completed the Once Upon a Time Challenge
TBR Challenge - 5.5/12 of my main list and 2/12 of my alternatives.
SO Many Books so Little Time - Still 4/8.
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of all Time - 11.5/100 (goal is 50).
I also signed up for two new challenges:
Summer Reading Challenge and Something about Me Challenge
I am still working through my 101 Things to do in 1001 days and have been keeping up wo date with all the things I said I will try and do each month.