Monday, March 31, 2008
Number of Pages : 614
Number in Series : #3 New Corbuzon
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge, to complete the series
The third book set in and around New Crobuzon, Mieville's created world of humans and various new species living together. It centres around two groups of people. Cutter has left New Crobuzon in search of golem-maker and lover Judah Low with a couple of others. They are searching for him to help lead them to Iron Council. Iron Council has become a mythical figure for those who rebel against the government as they are the only rebels to have continued to elude the government and militia. Judah can help find Iron Council as he claims he was once a part of it.
Back in the city we find Ori. He is a young man dissatisfied with how things are being run and is sick of the Runagate Rampart spending all it's time talking about what is wrong and not taking any action. He meets and befriends the homeless Spiral Jacobs who puts him in touch with a gang led by bull-headed Toro who plan to assassinate the Mayor. In the background New Crobuzon is warring with Tesh, a country filled with magics they can use as deadly weapons.
Both groups are linked in ways that slowly emerge as the book progresses and explains the Iron Council, Judah Low's background and Toro. Is either capable of liberating and saving New Crobuzon from itself as well as Tesh?
I enjoyed this the least of the series, it was somehow different. I know Mieville was worried about having a gay relationship at the centre of the story, but that didn't bother me at all. There was something else I just can't put my finger on. I think mostly it jumped around too much and wasn't quite his usual style although the characters were fairly typical of his work that I have read so far. It took me a very long time to get into it as well which never helps. I will read more of him in the future, but he is not one of my favourite authors by any means.
Number of Pages : 99
Reason for Reading : Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time Challenge
The fable of an old fisherman and a young boy set in the Gulf stream off the coast of Havana. The old man has not caught any big fish in 84 days and is fast approaching his previous record of 87 days without a big catch. The people of the town have lost faith in his luck and ability. He was training a young boy who was a big helo to him, but his parents moved him to another boat that is catching fish. The young boy loves the old man and continues to care for him and help him where he can.
On the 85th day the fisherman sets off further from the shore than the other fishermen, following a large bird who is clearly huntiong large fish. He hooks a massive fish and from there battles to tire it and bring it closer to his boat to kill. The old man is pained, tired and hungry as the battle continues over a couple of days until the noble fish eventually tires and is killed. The old man has to lash him to the side of the boat as it is larger than his vessle. The reader has a sense of relief that the old man survived, but the problems are not yet over. The blood of the fish from the harpoon wound attracts shark who are all hungry for some of the dead fish. By the time the old man finally returns to port he has only the tail, spine and head of the eighteen foot long fish to show for his pains as well as something that has broken inside of him.
A beautifully crafted and told tale which won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I got swept away in this short tale and experienced the time on the little boat with the old man. I saw him return through the eyes of the boy, knowing that this is likely to be his last large catch. The old man was very brave taking on so many sharks on his return to the shore, despite losing his weapons along the way. I will definitely be reading more by Hemingway in the future.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Go on over to Nymeth's blog Things Mean a Lot to enter her book giveaway. She is celebrating her one year blogging birthday and Buy a Friend a Book Week and giving away not one, not two, not three but FIVE books. All you need to do is leave a comment on her blog saying which one/s you are interested in winning and you will be entered into a draw. If you advertise her giveaway on your blog you get your name entered TWICE.
Nymeth's is a blog I really enjoy reading and she is a pain in the neck for increasing my wishlist immesley. I forgive her though for making me spend more money that I should as she is pretty cool and has similar Tim Burton inspired dress sense to me ;)
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Rating : 3.0/5
Genre : Historical Romance
Director : Justin Chadwick
Based on the bestseller of the same name by Philppa Gregory starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, Scarlett Johansson as her sister Mary Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry Tudor. The story follows the Boleyn sisters and their family as the King starts to look around for a mistress. His wife and Queen, Katherine of Aragon, has given him a daughter but seems unable to provide a male royal heir and Henry is desperate that the kingdom is secure after him. Anne is put forward to try for the Kings favour, but after a nearly fatal mistake Mary catches his eye and becomes his mistress despite being newly married.
Anne makes another blunder whilst at court and is sent away to France in disgrace. Whilst Mary is in seclusion pregnant with the Kings child, his eye starts to wander towards other ladies in the court and so Anne is brought back to keep him focused on her sister. Soon her ambition seizes control of her and she starts to pursue the King for herself. She is aiming for the impossible, to get him to put Katherine aside and make herself his wife and Queen of England.
I love the book and wasn't impressed with the trailers I had seen making me unsure if I wanted to watch it or not. I am glad I did for the most part. It was beautifully shot with stunning costumes and sets. The actors were not who I would have chosen but surprised me by being better than expected. There were a couple of moments when Anne was newly back from France where I thought Portman's acting fell short, but she stepped up her game again when she gets her wish but things begin to fall apart for her. The tone of the book was a little lost as Gregory spent quite a lot of time describing court intrigue and the sisters relationship, but obviously things need to be cut in a film version. The only thing that threw it off for me was that Mary's husband just disappeared once she bedded the King and was never mentioned or seen again. My other problem was that Anne became the focus of the film when really I felt it should have been more Mary's story. Overall I enjoyed it more than I was expecting (perhaps because my expectations were lower going in) and could quite happily watch it again.
Rating : 4.5/5
Genre : Family Film, Fantasy
Director : Mark Waters
When the Grace family move into their Aunt Lucinda's house things are not quite as they seem. Their parents have recently separated and their mother cannot afford to live in New York anymore and so they move into the family home while Aunt Lucinda spends the rest of her days mentally ill in the local sanitarium. One of the twins, Jared, finds a secret passage way to a secret room where he uncovers ancestor Arthur Spiderwicks field notes of the magical and fantastical beings people don't usually see.
His sister Mallory and twin brother Simon (the same actor Freddie Highmore plays both Simon and Jared which I didn't realise unti lthe credits!) are unbelieving at first until Simon is kidnapped by goblins. It turns out there is an evil ogre called Mulgarath who wants the field notes so that he can wipe out the rest of the fairy creatures and reign over the world including humans. It is up to the family to keep the book safe and help the other fairy creatures defeat Mulgarath.
What can I say, I loved this film! It reminded me of Labyrinth quite a lot which is always a good thing. The children where good in it and it was nice to see that the girl was given the offensive aspects of the battle with her fencing sword and skills. I really hope to read the books some day and will definitely be getting it when it is released on dvd. Highly enjoyable and fun for all ages.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Number of Pages : 178
Reason for Reading : Inklings Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge plus I am a big fan of Tolkien and I wanted to read some more of his short tales
This is a collection of four of Tolkien's children's tales and poems found in the Red Book. They are mostly fairy tales with a fantasy theme. Farmer Giles of Ham is about a farmer who accidentally sees off a giant and is honoured by the villiagers of Ham and later the King who presents him with a sword. When dragon Chrysophylax attacks the land a few years later, Farmer Giles is sent to defeat him. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of 16 short poems. A couple have Tom in them, others have princesses, hobbits and animals from Middle Earth supposedly written by Bilbo, Sam and Frodo. My favourites were the non-Tom ones "The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late", "oliphaunt" and "Cat".
Leaf by Niggle is a curious and strange tale about Niggle and his neighbour Parish. Niggle is a painter who wishes to paint the perfect tree that he can see in his head. He ends up going on a journey directed by mysterious voices into a land of his imagined paintings. Smith of Wootton Major sees young boy Smith unknowingly eating an enchanted cake. He swallows a fey star which he later puts on his forehead letting him travel into faery as an adult. There he meets the faery Queen and later the King before having to give up the star to the next young boy.
A set of lovely tales. My favourite was Smith of Wootton Major and my least favourite (if you could call it that!) was Farmer Giles of Ham. Smith was very original and engaging whereas Farmer Giles was similar to lots of other tales and also had elements of Roverandom to it.
Number of Pages : 192
Number in Series : #1 Legends of the Dark Crystal
Reason for Reading : Spring Reading Thing Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge and I love the film and was interested in this manga
Gelflings Lahr and Neffi have lost everything and everyone they loved when their two villiages were raided by the Garthim working for the Skeksis. This is a prequel to the film The Dark Crystal and set before the crystal shard is out back into the main crystal. In this manga the Skeksis have only just found out that they are able to use the crystals power to drain gelfling essence giving them immortality.
Lahr is a shepherd and Neffi a weaver and together they realise they can turn their peaceful skills to more violent, defensive uses when pushed. Taking Lahr's dog Whouf, they set off to warn other gelfling villages of the new threat to their lives. They need to convince others of their kind to leave behind their passive musical ways and prepare for war.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
This week’s question comes from Julie, who asks:
While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?
I hold my hand up and admit I do often judge books by their covers. I have bought many a book because of the cover design (for instance "The Redemption of Althalus" by David and Leigh Eddings was bought because of the cat on the cover and "Zoli" by Colum McCann has lovely flowers on its cover. Also it was the cover of "Daughter of the Forest" by the wonderful Juliet Marillier that first drew me to it and now she is one of my favourite authors). What can I say, I am easily influenced. Likewise I have been put off buying books with ugly covers. If I am browsing in a book shop looking for new books, the first thing that will attract or repel me is the cover. Of course then I will read the blurb on the back, but that initial spark comes from the cover. I just finishing reading Wildwood Dancing which has a truely beautiful cover design especially done for the book. On reading it I frequently went back and studied it in more detail making out small references to passages and characters in the book. It came to mean more the more of the story I read which was a lovely experience.
As I have said time and time again I don't really do hard backs. I have a few scattered around, but I find them too cumbersome. I think my main exceptions are my Alan Lee illustrated copies of LOTR, but they are too special to me to leave the house anyway in case of damage. I am not really bothered between trade/mass market paperbacks and have taken to wrapping them in a carrier bag within my main bag to protect them from getting mashed up lately (thanks to my husband who has been doing that for years). I do tend to get illustrated copies where possible of books like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, especially if the author has done the illustrations (thanks Tolkien) or had them specially commissioned (thanks Quentin Blake for illustrating Roald Dahls novels). I love little touches in books. For example some have a symbol for each chapter that is very small at the top of each page in the corner and others have beautiful chapter headings (The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor are good for this). Basically something a little different and extra always catches my superficial eye. I don't know, it just makes me think the author cares just that little bit more.
The photo is Merlin this time sleeping in my new chair after doing a spot of reading ^_^
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I wasn't going to even think about any more challenges but I thought why not, the more the merrier! The challenge is hosted at Callapidder Days and to join simply set a list of books to read between 20th March and 19th June 2008, link to your post on the website and off you go. Reviews are encouraged if you feel like it along the way and you need to do a final wrap up post at the end. It couldn't be simpler. For my choices I have decided to read some more manga (they are short reads plus I seem to have a mounting pile I want to get through). These are the darker, more gothic ones I have and am looking forward to reading the most:
1. Bizenghast v1 - Alice LeGrow
2. Bizenghast v2 - Alice LeGrow
3. Bizenghast v3 - Alice LeGrow
4. Bizenghast v4 - Alice LeGrow
5. Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth v1 - Jake T Forbes & Chris Lie
6. Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth v2 - Jake T Forbes & Chris Lie
7. Jim Henson's Legends of the Dark Crystal v1 - Barbara Randall Kesel, Heidi Arnhold & Max Kim
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Number of Pages : 273
Reason for Reading : Once Upon a Time II Challenge, Twisted Fairy Tales Challenge, was interested in reading it as it is part of The Fairy Tale Series created by Terri Windling
A re-telling of the popular fairy tale collected by The Brothers Grimm. Set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1582-3. The Widow Arden lives with her two daughters Rosamund and Blanche treading very carefully as the villiage wise woman due to the witchcraft inquisition. Queen's magician John Dee and his assistant Edward Kelly (Ned) also live in the villiage, Mortlak, and are trying to summon fairy power to help change base metals into gold. A set of three mischevious fairies are unhappy with the link between the fairy realm and the mortal world and divert the magicians magic causing it to snare the essence of one of the Queen's sons. They are both half-mortal and half-fairy as their father is Thomas the Rhymer. When his essence is stolen, one of the brothers starts to change slowly into a bear.
As a bear he is bannished to the mortal world and his brother follows to try to find a way to change him back. The sisters become snared in the plot when the bear turns up at their house one evening and they figure out that he is under an enchantment. The three groups keep unknowingly working against each other fighting over the essence for their own reasons with bonds forming between the two sisters and fairy brothers.
I really enjoyed this book for the most part. I have to admit to having not read the original story and found it very helpful that at the beginning of each chapter was an extract from the Brothers Grimm tale which gave each chapter a focus. The only thing I didn't like, which I think is just a personal dislike for me, was the spoken language with the "thees" and "thous". Other than that I really enjoyed it and can definitely recommend it.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Number of Pages : 160
Reason for Reading : Once Upon a Time II Challenge, extra for Graphic Novel Challenge
Black Orchid is a plant woman created by Doctor Phil Sylvian who fights crime in Gotham City. On the night she is killed one of the other plant women Sylvian is growing reaches maturity and wakes up not understanding who she is and what she is. She has the tangled memories of Susan Linden who Phil grew up with and was in love with. It is her DNA and RNA that makes up the plant women, but as she is no longer around Black Orchid is still no closer to knowing about herself and her origins.
As more and more people she is close to are killed, she goes on a journey which takes her to Arkham Asylum and Louisiana meeting comic book heros and villians in her quest. All the time is is running from Susan's ex-husband who has just been released from jail who is trying to kill her for Susan leaving him, as well as Lex Luthor who wants to own her and dissect her.
It is beautifully drawn and is possibly the best looking comic book I have ever read. This series of three comics dispels the comic book sterotypes and turns superhero battles upside down. It is so much more than others in it's genre, much more than a superhero comic and is more about a voyage of self discovery. Highly recommended to all comic, superhero and fantasy fans.
I have been inspired by Ames at Thifty Reader to try to curtail my book buying which is pretty out of hand lately. I have such a massive TBR list (pile doesn't come close...) I really need to spend the next few years probably catching up. I have made a provisional list of all the books I think I want to get that are due out this year and I will try not to deviate from it and buy extras. Of course things may get added to it as new titles are released, but this will certainly slow me down for a while. These are the paperback release dates for the UK.
Belladonna - Anne Bishop All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris The Well of Shades - Juliet Marillier
Slam - Nick Hornby Voice of the Gods - Trudi Canavan Embrace the Night - Karen Chance
My Dead Girlfriend v2 - Eric Wright
Succubus on Top - Richelle Mead Frostbite - Richelle Mead Midnight Moon - Lori Handeland
Kushiel's Justice - Jacqueline Carey The Host - Stephenie Meyer was a gift from Mariel Fables v10 - Bill Willingham The Darkest Kiss - Keri Arthur Chosen - PC Cast & Kristin Cast
The Harlequin - Laurell K Hamilton Girl Meets Boy - Ali Smith Where the Roads Meet - Salley Vickers
Binu and the Great Wall - Su Tong
Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs When Twilight Burns - Colleen Gleason
Made to be Broken - Kelley Armstrong
Dark Possession - Christine Feehan
Rising Moon - Lori Handeland
The Cursed - LA Banks
Others to look out for with no date yet...
Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs
Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana - Anne Rice
Tangled Webs - Anne Bishop
Dingo - Charles de Lint
Little (Grrrl) Lost - Charles de Lint
Promises to Keep - Charles de Lint
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 628
Number in Series : #3 Twilight
Reason for Reading : Series Reading Challenge, to continue reading the series
Bella is back with vampire boyfriend Edward, but is continually having to choose between him and her best friend and werewolf Jacob Black. Both are manipulating her to try to get one up on each other and Bella can't help but to love them both. She seems set on being with Edward for all eternity by becomming a vampire after graduation. His condition is that she will marry him and hers is that he will sleep with her while she is still human.
Victoria and The Volturi are a lingering threat as a rash of killings in nearby Seattle rises which look to be the work of a newborn vampire or vampires. Alice's visions are unpredictable and it looks like someone has found a way around them undetected. Could someone be assembling a vampire army? More is revealed about Jasper's past which suggests that this is true and it was interesting to learn more about Rosalie and how she came to be with the Cullens.
I didn't like it as much as the earlier books in the series, although it was still very enjoyable. I think it was because Edward was so possessive at the start of the novel and controlling of Bella not letting her make her own decisions. I also felt too much time was spent on Bella being torn between the two males in her life when the action was so much more interesting. Alice is definitely my favourite character and each book she becomes more so.
Other reviews: Hello My name is Alice
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 227
Number in Series : #2 The Sandman
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novels Challenge, to continue with the series
Collecting comics 9-16 in The Sandman series. Dream continues to look for what is missing from his realm after recovering his artifacts in the first collection. This time what is missing is four of the major arcana. Brute and Glob he searches for first and finds hiding in the mind and dreams of a child. They have captured a ghost who they have set up as "The Sandman", a superhero who keeps the abused and mistreated child company along with his pregnant wife. The Corinthian is a nightmare with teeth for eyes who is found at a "Cereal" convention. He has inspired many serial killers throughout the world and is there as a guest of honour before Dream captures him. The fourth is Fiddlers Green who is a place and not a person in the land of Dream. He is trying out life in the human world, taking on human form for a time.
Desire of the Endless has a hand in things, trying to manipulate Dream using human girl Rose Walker to further his/her/it's own ends with the help of Despair. Rose has no idea what she and her family are caught up in as the truth is slowly revealed tying in nicely with the first collection. She is a vortex in the dream world and is somehow pulling the major arcana towards her helping Dream and his raven sidekick Matthew track them down by following her.
Gripping and deeply disturbing, it introduces some more of Dreams family and explains more of their role in our realm. They are not supposed to manipulate humans, it is the other way around but some seem to forget this. It will be itneresting to see what Dream does now that his realm seems to finally be in order.
You’ve just reached the end of a book . . . what do you do now? Savor and muse over the book? Dive right into the next one? Go take the dog for a walk, the kids to the park, before even thinking about the next book you’re going to read? What?
(Obviously, there can be more than one answer, here–a book with a cliff-hanger is going to engender different reactions than a serene, stand-alone, but you get the idea!)
Interesting question and the answer very much depends on the book. Lately I have been pretty much jumping into my next book on my list as I am in a bit of a reading groove. Sometimes though I do take some time off to think about the book, but that is more after a non-fiction book rather than something fictional. Especially after a scientific book where it can take a little to process some of the ideas explained in the book.
If it is a book in a series that I really loved, then screw my reading list I just have to pick up the next one and read it immediately. I had this with The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor where I read Seeing Redd straight afterwards. I also interupted my reading list when the new Patricia Briggs book Iron Kissed came out as I love her Mercy Thompson series.
There has been a couple of books that I have wanted to read again straight after finishing them. One was The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. I stopped myself by getting my husband to read it but was constantly asking which bit he was up to and wanting to steal it back off him so I could read it again. I got so lost in her dark world. The other time that happened was reading His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman. I have to confess to reading the series straight though and then reading it all the way through again straight away!
The photo this week is of my new uber chair that my mum bought me last weekend. It is perfect for reading in. The only problem is the cats keep stealing it if I get out even for a second (currently they are both sleeping in it while I type this) and when my husband gets in from a long day at work he tries to get to it before me too. It's my chair damn it and I am so in love with it right now. My husband ca;;s it the new cat nest and look, it has a cat paw print cushion, the two books I was reading at the time the photo was taken and Morgaine on my knee. Perfection.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 282
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge and Nick Hornby is a fan
Tells the story of Paddy Clarke (Patrick) growing up in Ireland in the 1960s. Set in the fictional estate Barrytown when Paddy is 10, Doyle looks at childhood and the brutality of it. Paddy is pretty much second in bully Kevin's gang and they get into all kinds of trouble. Probably the worst is pouring lighter fluid down Paddy's younger brother Sinbad's (Francis) mouth and then lighting a match horribly burning his lips. Another time they post a dead guinea pig through the letterbox of a woman in their estate that they don't like.
About halfway through the book it turns from the misadventures of youth to a more serious tone as Paddy's parents marriage begins to reall break down. Paddy begins to take more responsibility in trying ti stop their fighting without their knowledge as well as looking out more for Sinbad who is starting to grow up. He starts to recognise Kevin for the true bully he is and hang out with loner and hard knock Charles Leavy.
The children are written very convincingly, both their language and their often bizarre logic. For instance in fights there are rules and if one hits another you get a free hit in return. It made me miss my childhood a little with all the random games with local kids. It also made me sad as this culture seems to be shrinking as kids these days seem more interested in indoor persuits like watching the television and playing computer games rather than running about and playing outdoors.
Finally the Once Upon a Time Challenge is running again this year hosted again by Carl V at Stainless Steel Droppings with a review site here. The challenge runs from 21/3/08 - 20/6/08 and there are three different challenges you can undertake. I have chosen Quest the Second (Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. ) and my list is below. I have more than four books as a couple are graphic novels I have been looking forward to reading for a while now.
1. The Wood Wife - Terri Windling
2. Black Orchid - Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
3.Thomas the Rhymer - Ellen Kushner
4.The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch - Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
Fairy Tale :
5. Snow White and Rose Red - Patricia C Wrede
6. Weight - Jeanette Winterson
7. Lion's Honey - David Grossman
I am really looking forward to this challenge and will hopefully finish reading all the books on my list (fingers crossed)...
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Number of Pages : 370
Number in Series : #1 Wildwood Dancing Series
Reason for Reading : Twisted Fairy Tales Challenge, I love what else I have read by Juliet Marillier and I was really excited to read this now it is finally out in paperback
The enchanting story of five young sisters (Tatiana, Jenica, Iulia, Paula and Stela) living in Transylvania. Jena tells the story of how after a game played as a child with drastic consequences, her and her sisters can access a portal into the wildwood in the Other Kingdom. The portal can only be opened by all five sisters (four before Stela was born who isnow five) using their hands to cast a shadow on a certain portion of the wall on the night of the Full Moon. Once on the other side they attend dances with the Queen and King of the Faeries. Jena always takes her best friend, frog Gogu who is more than a regular frog and can communicate mentally with her alone, on their adventures.
When their father becomes ill and has to leave to look for a cure, Tati and Jena are left in charge of the household finances and business. Their cousin Cezar has other ideas when he sudden/ly becomes head of his household. He is of the opinion that woman are second to men and stops Paula from continuing with her studies and takes responsibility away from Jena. His mission is to destroy the wildwood after his older brother Costi was drowned there as a child by the witch Draguta. To make matters even worse for the sisters, the Night People are visiting the faerie folk and one of them is bewitching Tati, changing her and causing her to fall ill.
A lovely tale, the first in a new trilogy (book two is out, Cybele's Secret but book three looks a way off yet) by this writer who says her books are "historical fantasy". I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Daughter of the Forest which is my favourite of her novels so far, but I definitely recomend it. My only issue with it was Jena's need to constantly control everything. She needed to let go a little and let her friends and family live their own lives. I really admired the way she tried to stand up to her cousin however which made up for her slight faults.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Number of Pages : 647
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge, Man Booker Challenge, TBR 2008 Challenge, Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time
The tale of Saleem Sinai who is born at midnight on August 15th, 1947 at the precise moment of India's Independence linking his fate forever with his country's. The story begins with Saleem's grandfather and how he met his grandmother and continues until the beginnings of the generation after Saleem. As Saleem was born at midnight, he has been given special powers which he shares with his nemesis born at the same time in the same hospital. The other children born throughout India born in the midnight hour also have powers and they come together to form the Midnight Children's Conference which Saleem hopes will better the world.
The story is epic covering so much history and it becomes even more soas events unfold and small incidences come back to haunt Saleem and lead to much bigger events. It is very hard to review this book without giving much of the plot away so I appologise that this is a little vague. It did take me a little while to get into Rushdie's writing style as it is very disjointed with the narrator (Saleem) skipping forwards and backwards in time often within the same sentence. Once I got into it, I really enjoyed it and loved the language and style. I warmed to many of the characters despite their many flaws which are discussed at length in the story.
Just to give you a little taste of his writing style here are a couple of extracts:
"I was born in the sity of Bombay... once upon a time. No, that won't do, there's no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar's Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: it was at night. No, it's important to be more... On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out; at the precise moment of India's arrival at Independence, I tumbled forth into the world."
"No colours except green and black the walls are green the sky is black (there is no roof) the stars are green the Widow is green but her hair is black as black. The Widow sits on a high high chair the chair is green the seat is black the Widow's hair has a centre-parting it is green on the left and on the right black. High as the sky the chair is green the seat is black the Widow's arm is long as death its skin is green the fingernails are long and sharp and black."
I do recommend it if you can get past the first 50-100 pages and I will definitely be reading more by Rushdie in the future. I can see where Zadie Smith gets some of her inspiration after reading this novel.
Number of Pages : 366
Number in Series : #4 Adult Fairy Tales Series
Reason for Reading : Short Story Challenge, Themed Reading Challenge, to continue with the series
Another great collection of adult re-tellings of fairy tales. This collection focuses mostly on The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen re-tellings and is composed of 21 tales by 21 different authors.
The Flounder's Kiss - Michael Cadnum
The Black Fairy's Curse - Karen Joy Fowler
Snow in Dirt - Michael Blumlein
Riding the Red - Nalo Hopkinson
No Bigger than my Thumb - Esther M Friesner
In the Insomniac Night - Joyce Carol Oates
The Little Match Girl - Steve Rasnic Tam
The Trial of Hansel and Gretel - Garry Kilworth
Rapunzel - Anne Bishop
Sparks - Gregory Frost
The Dog Rose - Sten Westgard
The Reverend's Wife - Midori Snyder
The Orphan the Moth and the Magic - Harvey Jacobs
Three Dwarves and 2000 Maniacs - Don Webb
True Thomas - Bruce Glassco
The True Story - Pat Murphy
Lost and Abandoned - John Crowley
The Breadcrumb Trail - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
On Lickerish Hill - Susanna Clarke
Godmother Death - Jane Yolen
My favourite tale was easily "The Reverend's Wife" by Midori Snyder. It was the most original and inventive in the collection. I also very much enjoyed "Snow in Dirt", No Bigger then my Thumb", "The Trial of Hansel and Gretel", "Rapunzel", "True Thomas", "The True Story", "On Lickerish Hill" and "Godmother Death". As now many of the authors are repeated from earlier anthologies, I have come to really look forward to reading new stories by authors I enjoyed from previous anthologies but hadn't read before. I think my favourite two new authors from these collections so far are Midori Snyder and Susasnne Clarke.
I was tagged by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on to do Dewey's Negativity Meme so here goes...
1. When you dislike a book, do you say so in your blog? Why or why not?
Yes I do say so on my blog if I don't like a book. My blog is my thoughts and opinions on things, my chance to rave about something great or vent about something crap and I feel no need to censor my feelings if I don't enjoy a book/film/game etc. It would only really be lying to myself as that is essentially who I write this for.
2. Do you temper your feelings about books you didn’t like, so as not to completely slam them? Why or why not?
Luckily I haven't yet read a book that I could not take something positive from, no matter how tiny, so I haven't had to completely slam something. I think I would do it if it was deserving, but I would try to critise it constructively and say what I didn't like about it and why. Not everyone has the same tastes and there are some genres I just can't get into which others may love, so I would be a little careful in my phrasing to allow others to make up their own minds.
3. What do you think is the best way to respond when you see a negative review about a book you enjoyed?
I sometimes comment saying that I really enjoyed that book and why, but that I can see their point of view. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and as long as you aren't attacking what they say, I don't see a problem with disagreeing.
4. What is your own most common reaction when you see a negative review of a book you loved or a positive review of a book you hated?
A positive review of a book I hated is more interesting as it sometimes makes me re-evaluate the book for myself and perhaps see things a different way. This might not change my overall opinion, but it might open me up to other books the author has written or something like that. Negative reviews of books I liked ar fine, I like a few authors that people have gone off in later books (Anne Rice especially). I know what I like and if others don't agree that's ok as long as they aren't being mean to me about my tastes!
5. What is your own most common reaction when you get a comment that disagrees with your opinion of a book?
Usually it makes me double check my opinion, is this really what I think, yes well ok then! Like I said I don't mind if people think differently to me (it's good to encourage independent thought!), just as long as it isn't expressed by saying I am crap and have no idea what I am talking about etc.
6. What if you don’t like a book that was a free review copy? What then?
I have only been given one free copy of a book to review to date and I really enjoyed it luckily. I think though honesty would always win out for me. I might be a little more generous overall, but ultimately if I don't like something why lie about it.
7. What do you do if you don’t finish a book? Do you review it or not? If you review it, do you mention that you didn’t finish it?
It is so rare that I don't finish a book. I would probably just mention it and say I didn't finish it and why but not review it properly. It would also depend on how far into the book I had read before abandoning it.
This meme is floating around a few blogs at the moment so consider yourself tagged if you are reading this and haven't completed it yet :)
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Suggested by John :
How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:
__________ would have been a much better book if ______________________.
Stray by Vicky Allan would have been a much better book if she hadn't completely changed the personality of the narrator of the story half way through the book. This is one of the books I read last year that was pretty disappointing. The first half was written really well setting the scene and adding suspense, and the second half just completely ruined it for me. Perhaps she should only write half books in future...
Not one of my cats this time, but Merlin did do this once when I was having a bath. He jumped in and jumped out again very quickly soaking wet. I had to jump out after him and chase him around my flat with a towel only clothed in bubbles. Crazy kitty...
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 218
Number in Series : #2 Lois Lowry's Worlds
Reason for Reading : Young Adult Challenge plus I really enjoyed The Giver and wanted to read more of Lowry's worlds
Once a year at The Gathering, The Singer sings a song that lasts the whole day to the people of Kira's villiage. It tells the story of their past, of the world being made, destroyed and remade. He holds a carved wooden staff, the feel of which reminds him where he is up to with his song, and he wears a beautifully woven robe. Kira lives in this primitive villiage with her mother where a persons age is measured by how many syllables their name consits of. Before she was born her father was killed by the beasts in the forest and Kira was born crippled. Her mother fought to keep her as tradition says she must be left in the field for the beasts to eat as she is unable to work and care for herself. She displays a rare talent for weaving which saves her more than once.
When her mother dies the other villagers want to remove her to the field now that she has no one to care for her. At her hearing one of the Guardians defends her as he knows of her gift. She is to live with them repairing the Singers robe and filling in a future into the plain portion between the shoulders. She meets Thomas who is the Carver remaking the staff and her friend tyke Matt and his dog Branch provide her with information and friendship throughout the tale. Things are not quite as the Guardians have told her and the other villagers as she starts to find out on her quest for something to make blue dye for the robe.
I really enjoyed this book a lot. Kira and Thomas were lovely characters you really came to see as friends. Matt and Branch were my favourites in the story however, his sense of fun and his quest for knowledge really caught my attention. It is linked to The Giver although it is a completely seperate tale and I strongly urge you to read it if you enjoyed The Giver. This looks at a different future without the technical aspects of The Giver, this looks at a much more primitive future without running water or proper buildings. Highly recommended.
For all Patricia Briggs fans go and read an itnerview with her at Nalini Singh's Blog which tells you a little about her writing process as well as news on her new book Cry Wolf and the next in the Mercy Thompson series Bone Crossed. The great news is she is contracted to another 3 books after Bone Crossed yay!
Monday, March 10, 2008
This looks like just my kind of challenge and is hosted over at Squeaky Books. The challenge runs from 5th March until 5th May 2008 and the aim is to pick at least 4 books based on fairy tales to read during this time. You may also read a book that is not directly based on a fairy tale, but has a very fairy-tale theme. I am crossing over most of the books with other challenges as I have so much to read already, I am just bumping them up my list which I hope it ok... My list is:
1. Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier
2. Peter Pan in Scarlet - Geraldine McCaughrean
3. Tam Lin - Pamela Dean
4. The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
5. Thomas the Rhymer - Ellen Kushner
6. Snow White and Rose Red - Patricia C Wrede
Sunday, March 09, 2008
I haven't been reading much over the last couple of days as I wanted to finally finish Final Fantasy III. It was the first Final Fantasy game to be released on the Nintendo DS and was originally releasesed on the NES. It was the first one to feature the wonderful Moogles as well as a job system which the others don't really use until the costume idea from FFX I think. Some of the job classes are shown below and what was fun was if you had a whole team of say warriors, each outfit would be slightly different for each character despite being essentially the same.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
One of the best gigs I have been to in a while. I first saw Apocalyptica at the Roskilde festival in Denmark in 2001 and then again at the Download festival in the UK in 2006. They are a band of four cellists from Finland who play a mixture of heavy metal covers and their own compositions. Yes you did read that right, cellos playing heavy metal.
Number of Pages : 127
Number in Series : #4 Books of Magic
Reason for Reading : I was interested to read more of this series having read Book of Names and Books of Faerie Auberon's Tale
This graphic novel collects comics 21-25 in the series. Timothy Hunter discovers he is a magician when he is 13 and strange adventures befall him. "Heavy Petting" sees Timothy change himself into a cat to look for his girlfriend Molly. He finds her in Hyde Park talking to Marya and a woman calling herself Red Riding Hood. Red Riding Hood has changed a man into a pigeon before taking Tim with her ina cage (she knows who he is) and changing Marya's ex-boyfriend Daniel into a dog. "Needlepoint" has Tim waking up as a cat in a cage with Red Riding Hood. She tells him she is a body artist and changes him back into a boy. Inside all people are animals and she delves inside Tim to find out what his inner beast is. She is unable to find one and declares him the most human human she has comea cross. He asks for a modification to stop him hurting Molly in the future and ends up with a massive tattoo or a scorpian with wings on his chest. "Red Rover, Red Rover" takes place on Tim's fourteenth birthday. He stops a being calling itself The Margrave from transforming the son of his dad's new girlfriend and making him blow up his family. He then runs away to live by himself without magic.
"And Sure in Language Strange She Said" follows Molly who is staying with her aunt in Ireland. She sends her off to read a letter concerning Tim on top of a hill with three standing stones. There she meets Titania's fairy fool and ends up in a challenge to prove who is more foolish. It turns out the standing stones are people who lost to the fairy transformed into stones. "Used to Be's" follows Timoth on Brighton beach reflecting on a childhood visit there with his friend Jimmy. He bumps in to Death from the Endless who teaches him about loss.
Not the best collection I have read, but it was good to see a little more of Death from the Sandman comics. The artwork was ok, not the best but certainly not the worst I have seen. Overall a fairly average graphic novel although I would still be interested to read more in the series.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Number of Pages : 533
Reason for Reading : Library discussion book for March
A look at the two small islands of Jamaica and England. Set during the Second World War, four very different characters are thrown together. From Jamaica Gilbert Joseph joins the RAF wanting to be a pilot but he ends up being a driver. His expectations are further tempered on moving to England after the war ends and facing the racism there against black people. He marries Hortense and brings her over to England as well. She is very stuck up and thinks herself above other Jamaican's with her proper English ways. In England she also has a rude awakening when she finds out her teaching qualifications are not recognised and the English do not seem to be able to understand her perfect diction.
From England are Bernard Bligh and his wife Queenie Bligh. They have a very stale marriage and seem unable to have children. Bernard joins the war effort in the RAF and gets shipped off to India. When the war is over he doesn't return for 5 years and Queenie goes on with her life. She rents out rooms in their house to black people looking for a place to live as well as having an affair with a Jamaican. Bernard turns up at home one day and everyone is forced to change.
I found this book easy to read, but not very inspiring. I didn't feel the story was a new one, I felt I had read it before and it was a struggle to finish it. It wasn't that it was bad or not well written (it won the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Orange Prize for Fiction), it just didn't really capture my imagination or hold my interest sadly.
You should have seen this one coming … Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why?
My favourite hero or anti hero depending on your view point is Lestat from the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. He's sexy, seductive and has an interesting sense of fun always getting himself into different interesting situations like waking up the founder of the vampire race, swapping bodies with a mortal and visiting both heaven and hell. I like a male lead that isn't perfect and he certainly isn't that!
Another couple of favourites of mine are the three male leads in The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop. You have Saetan Daemon SaDiablo (Satan) who is the Lord of Hell and his two living sons Lucivar Yaslana (Lucifer) and Daemon Sadi (Deamon). All three have pretty dry humor and again cross the boarder between sexy and seductive. They can all stand up for themselves, but know how to treat a woman.
I love Merlin in most of the different versions of the Arthurian legends. Perhaps my favourite is the series by Mary Stewart (The Hollow Hills, The Crystal Cave and The Last Enchantment) which follow Merlin from a young boy coming into his manhood and discovering the truth of his own parenthood.
A new addition to my list of male leads I really like is Hatter Madigan from The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor. I just recieved a copy of the graphic novel about him which I am really looking forward to reading. He is bodyguard to Queen Alyss and his personality and inner struggles start to come to the front in Seeing Redd (book two in the series). I am looking forward to reading the third book when it finally comes out and am hoping for more from Hatter.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Number of Pages : 508
Number in Series : One of the books set in Newford
Reason for Reading : What's in a Name Challenge (Plant) and I am trying to read all of Charles de Lint's books as I love his writing
A sad yet beautiful tale mixing fantasy, fairy tale, mythology and reality. Jilly Coppercorn is a painter before being hit one night by a car and ending up in a coma. On waking up she finds one side of her body paralysed, but on the upside is finally able to enter the dreamlands that her best friend Sophie goes to in her dreams. She hides away in the cathedral forest while the Broken Girl lies not getting any better in the hospital bed. After seeking advice from some of the People Jilly finds out that to start to heal her body, she must first heal her past wounds that she has pushed away deep inside her as they involve child abuse, prostitution and drugs before people stepped in to help her become the person she is today. In hiding from her past it has found it's own way to catch up with her in the present in more ways than one.
The tale contains lots of familiar faces from his previous stories and I really liked the friendship of the three firce strong woman, Jilly, Wendy and Sophie. The elements of storytelling were woven together magically and I got swept away in the story and really getting to know the characters. It started to make me wish I could draw or paint and some of the passages about Jilly and Sophies artwork was so real somehow.
The story jumps around with different narrators, different worlds and different time points, but each chapter and sub chapter was clearly labelled at the top to keep you in the right place. After a little while you don't need to check as you can tell from what the characters are saying, thinking and feeling. A good message that you can't run from your past and that it's how you live your life that matters not always what cards you are dealt (a favourite analogy of my father's funnily enough). Some very powerful messages in the book like that turning the other cheek when violence is done to you is letting them win, violence to defend yourself is ok in situations like abuse and it's interesting to read a powerful author of women who is male.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
This challenge was hosted by Carl V and the original post was here with the review site here with what everyone read. The challenge was to read at least one science fiction book between January 1st and February 29th. Science fiction is not something I read much and I was surprised that I managed to read 4 books for this challenge. I think the most I have ever read in a year before has been 5. The books I read are below and of the ones I read, Oryx and Crake was by far my favourite, but then I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood anyway.
1. The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones - Alan Moore (writer) and Ian Gibson (artist)
2. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville
3. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
4. The Scar - China Mieville
February has been another crazy reading month. I am still on track with most of my challenges, but my reading is definitely starting to slow.
Number of Books Read February : 18, Total 34
Number of Pages Read : 5566, Total 11814
Book Awards Reading Challenge : 14/22 (need to read a minimum of 12)
Series Challenge : 5/8
Themed Reading Challenge : 3/6
Young Adult Challenge : 3/12
Challenge with Nymeth : 1/5
What's in a Name Challenge : 1/6
Graphic Novel Challenge : 2/10 plus 1 extra
TBR Challenge 2008 : 2/12 and 1/12 alternatives
First in a Series Challenge : 2/12
Man Booker Prize Challenge : 2/8
Short Story Reading Challenge : 3/10
Chunkster Challenge : 1/4
Mythopoeic Challenge : 3/7
Inklings Challenge : 1/4
A~Z Challenge : Titles = 11/26, Authors = 11/26
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time : 26/100 (aiming for 50)
Sci-Fi Experience : Read 4
101 Things to do in 1001 Days : 31/101