Monday, July 30, 2007

Rating : 3.0/5
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Challenge

Subtitled "The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation", this isn't a grammatical how-to book, it's about the correct use of punctuation. It starts by looking at the different meanings you can give to the same passage of text without changing the words, just the placement of the punctuation. For example compare the two passages:

Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy - will you let me be yours?


Dear Jack,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You gave ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

It then spends a bit of time talking about the main punctuation marks including the full stop, comma, apostrophe, exclaimation mark, question mark, colon and semicolon. She gives you the correct use of each and then a little time is spent on some examples showing how correct use changes the meaning of a sentence.

It was quite funny in places, but it didn't really tell me much that I didn't know already (except perhaps about the semicolon which I have never used). I think the main problem with this book is that people who already use punctuation are the type of people who will be interested in reading this book. Those who are unsure or don't really bother with it will see it as boring and pedantic and therefore not read it. This mostly defeats it's purpose!

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for reading : Something About Me Challenge, Book Awards Reading Challenge

Tells the story of the Finch family (father Atticus, son Jem and daughter Scout) living in Maycombe in America. It is set back when black people were seen as inferior citizens and were mostly employed by white people in the kitchen or picking cotton. The story starts with the children telling ghost stories about the reclusive neightbour next door who they nickname "Boo" Radley. This keeps them and their friend Dill entertained for most of the summer.

The small town is rocked when negro Tom Robinson (a family man with a wife and children) is accused of raping white Mayella Ewell. The Ewell's are not the most respected of families, being poor with an alcholic father and too many children to feed on their benefit money, and are deemed "trash" by some of the other white folks. Despite this, at the time the book is set (around the 1930/40's), white people do not loose court cases if the defendent is black. Atticus is given the case to defend Tom, which he does to the best of his ability despite knowing his loss is nearly inevitable and the town folk call his all kinds of names.

It was a really touching book that covers a range of topics. Foremost if the racial discrimination that went on at the time and how people were starting to change their attitudes and realise that all people are equal and that the colour of their skin is of no importance. It also discusses the class system at the time, with Atticus telling his children that no matter how rich the person, if they mistreat someone on grounds of race they are trash. The hypocrasy of the townsfolk was interesting as well. There is one incidence of a Jewish teacher who teaches Scout's class about discrimination as Hitler is starting to round up the Jews in Germany. She was however overheard at the trial of Tom making derogetary remarks about black people.

The parts covering childhood and family values stopped the book from being too serious. The children are very intelligent and really grow up in the few short years the book covers. I really liked all the central characters, especially Atticus. I grew to like their neighbour Miss Maudie and their overbearing Aunt Alexandra. It also had a lovely sense of humour running through the novel. I can see why people love it so much.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Best moustache-twirling

Booking Through Thursday

Well, after last week’s record-breaking number of responses (92 last time I checked–an all-time BTT record), I was tempted to use this week’s question to ask what you all thought about Harry Potter 7–but since a decent proportion of you weren’t going to be reading it at all, that seemed unfair. So instead . . .
Who’s the worst fictional villain you can think of? As in, the one you hate the most, find the most evil, are happiest to see defeated? Not the cardboard, two-dimensional variety, but the most deliciously-written, most entertaining, best villain? Not necessarily the most “evil,” so much as the best-conceived on the part of the author…oh, you know what I mean!

I think the scariest character from a book I have read recently was Jack from Lord of the Flies. It's not so much that he is evil (he is only a young boy of around 12), it's more that he gives in to his savage nature first and leads the other boys in the story to murder and baseness. It's scary because he represents human desires that tempt us all, yet most of us don't give in. He is a warning for what we could become if we are not careful...

The other "evil" character I have read recently was Humbert Humbert from Lolita. He is a paedophile and does some very dispicable things with Lolita, yet he is somehow strangely likeable and his story pulls you in. He doesn't seem to see anything really wrong with his actions and thoughts, he just tells his story as he sees it, eloquently yet creepy. The author did a great job writing his character writing an unsettling yet brilliant novel.

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge

The beautiful tale follows a little girl after making a wish that changes the rest of her life forever. She becomes icey cold as a result, like the little boy in the Snow Queen fairy tale, and forgets how to love and be loved. Growing up, she moves and one day she is struck by lightening whilst standing in her kitchen and again her life is changed. Instead of dying, she becomes even more icey and isolated.

A morbid fascination with death and dying since she was young, she looks for Lazarus Jones, a fellow lightening attack survivor. He was pronounced dead and taken to the morgue, but suddenly was revived and returns to life. She goes to him seeking the secret of death and instead finds the fire to her ice.

This was a beautiful, poignant, moving and terribly sad tale which I really loved. I would love to see a film adaptation done well of this novel. The supporting characters were interesting and flawed in their own unique way. Rennie is a fellow survivor whose hands are deformed and he has to wear gloves. He shows her his secret at night time when he takes off the gloves he always wears and she sees his hands glow gold. At the time of the strike he was wearing a watch and ring that have been imprinted into his wrists. The gold somehow merged with the fat in his hands and wrists causing the glow. Her brother Ned and his wife Nina are also interesting being very scientific and logical and it is only later in the book that you really get to know them.

There are lots of references to different fairy tales which I really enjoyed and it is very tempting to read The Brothers Grimm tales next. The main message I took away is that it is a persons percieved flaws that make them beautiful to others.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for reading : Various challenges, always meant to get around to it

The well-known story of the Trojan War is recounted here. It was all started when Paris (son of Priam of Troy) ran off with Greek Helen the wife of Menelaus. Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon raise an army and lay seige to Troy consisting of a selection of famous warriors including Odysseus, the two Ajax's, Achilles, Nestor, Patroclus and Diomedes. The Trojan side is led by Hector (eldest son of Priam), Paris, Aeneas, Sarpedon and Polydorus.

The story begins six years into the fighting with an arguement between Agamemnon and Achilles over a girl. Achilles refuses to help in the fighting, even though the Greeks are losing, until his best friend Patroclus is killed by Hector. He then gains his revenge by killing Hector even though his death has been prophesised to follow not long after. The novel ends with Hectors funeral and before Achilles dies and the sacking of Troy.

There is a great collection of characters on both sides and the story is filled with action and some great speeches. It can get a little A killed B, C kills B in retaliation and then D etc. To stop it from being just a list of the names of the fallen and their killer, Homer has a little back story for most of the characters just before they are killed. The methods of killing seem to be mostly by rock or by spear just above the nipple, in the liver or in the eyes or mouth. It's pretty gruesome in places and the killing blows nicely match my imagination of their armour and their weak spots.

My favourite, yet most annoying aspect, is the role of the Gods (mostly Hera and Athena who really mix things up and cause havoc). The Gods are not content to sit on the sidelines and let destiny unfold naturally and as prophesised, they are constantly argueing and getting involved. They often help their favourites by whisking them away from battle or shielding them from attack. They also make things more difficult for the opposition and attack the other Gods in the process. It's like the traditional image of them playing chess or another board game with the human warriors as the pieces.

Overall though, a great book. Again I can see why it is such a classic and I am looking forward to reading The Odyssey in the near future.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rating : 4.5/5

Reason for reading : To finish the series

This randomly turned out to be the fifthieth book I have read this year. At the beginning of the year I set myself the task of reading 50 which I thought was aiming too high, but turns out I was very wrong! I went to the midnight opening of my local Waterstones to pick up my copy I had paid for last month and saw a couple of people in costume which was pretty cool. I came home but was too tired to start it last night so started it this morning with the intention of not leaving my flat, using the computer or turning on the TV until I had finished it so as to avoid any spoilers.

It picks up a little while after book 6 finished off. Harry and his friends are still in shock that Dumbeldore is dead and set out to fulfil their mission of finding the remaining horcruxes. In the meantime Voldemort has returned and to power and is causing chaos in both the magical and the muggle world. Will Harry and his friends be able to find and figure out what the horcruxes are as well as figure out a way to destroy them before it is all too late...

***SPOILERS*** ( I have tried not to give too much away but it's really hard to review it without discussing bits sorry)

The book starts very fast paced with lots of shocks and sad surprises from the very beginning. My husband had made many jokes about Hedwig before the book came out and was amused to be right in his prediction. I suppose he wasn't really needed in this book, but still. After the first couple of hundred pages it really slowed down though as time was spent with Harry, Ron and Hermione as they try to avoid being caught and to plan their next move. Things started to pick up again once they are accidentally caught and recognised. From there it's just one thing after another really with the trio getting closer to a final battle and showdown.

The saddest part was the needless death of a loved character by the evil Bellatrix near the middle and then my favourite character was cruely killed near the end. It came at a point where I couldn't really stop and mourn their passing as it was right in the middle of the action and I wanted to see how it all ended so I kept going. Oh and Snape, what can I say, just read the chapter The Prince's Tale and I defy you not to cry. The ending was suitable, but the last chapter seemed a little much in all honesty and felt a little too sentimental. The other part I didn't like was the chapter entitled Kings Cross, which seemed very surreal and out of place with the rest of the book.

***End Spoilers***

All-in-all, although not the best writer, Rowling certainly can tell a story and keep you wanting more. I think most fans will enjoy this book. Very dark for the most part, it certainly gets your emotions going in all different directions.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Just Wild About Harry

Booking Through Thursday

Okay, love him or loathe him, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out on Saturday… Are you going to read it?
If so, right away? Or just, you know, eventually, when you get around to it? Are you attending any of the midnight parties?
If you’re not going to read it, why not?
And, for the record… what do you think? Will Harry survive the series? What are you most looking forward to?

Hell yes I am going to read it! I have paid for my copy from a local bookshop and will be going to the midnight opening to pick it up tomorrow night. I then plan on shutting myself in my flat and not leaving, going online or answering my phone until I have finished it. Hopefully I won't have to take time off work as holiday the following week and I can finish it over the weekend (I think it's about 600/700 pages so should be ok). I have been waiting to see how the series finishes and I just don't want anyone to give the end away and spoil it for me hence the paranoid behaviour!

Well I do think that Harry shouldn't survive the series. There is such a strong link between him and Voldermort that it is hard to imagine one surviving without the other. If Harry doesn't die then I think either Ron or Hermione will. It's hard to say what I am looking forward to the most, just the general completion of the series really. To see who pairs up with who, how they try to defeat Voldemort, how Snape will redeem himself (possibly dying to save Harry?), what happens to Draco etc. My favourite characters are possibly the Weasley twins and I am hoping they will have a part in the final novel.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat
You are a nice blend of cat and dog.You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

I wanted to be more cat, but I tried to answer the questions honestly...

Look who came to visit:

The poppets seem to have settled in nicely. They are enjoying looking at the books and finding where to sit on the shelves for now. The cats aren't too impressed however...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Book Quiz

You're The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

by C.S. Lewis

You were just looking for some decent clothes when everything changed
quite dramatically. For the better or for the worse, it is still hard to tell. Now it
seems like winter will never end and you feel cursed. Soon there will be an epic
struggle between two forces in your life and you are very concerned about a betrayal
that could turn the balance. If this makes it sound like you're re-enacting Christian
theological events, that may or may not be coincidence. When in doubt, put your trust
in zoo animals.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Rating : 5/5
Reason for reading : Coven reading list, always wanted to read

This is a non-fictional book looking at mythology. It is split into two main parts. Part one discusses the "monomyth" which is the myth structure that permeates all mythology. It goes from Departure to Initation and Return of the Hero and follows his journey from the initial call, his refusal, supernatural aid, trials, refusal of the return, rescue fron without, master of two worlds and freedom to live as well as many other ideas. The Hero's Journey is a famous idea within mythology and funnily enough George Lucas used Joseph Campbell and his ideas on the Hero's Journey when he was writing and producing the original Star Wars trilogy.

Part two covers the Cosmogenis Cycle and discusses Emenations, The Virgin Birth (in different traditions and cultures), Transformations of the Hero (including the Hero as Warrior, Lover, Emperor, Tryant, World Redeemer and Saint), Disolutions (the end of the world) and ends with an epilogue on Myth and Society. It draws on an extensive list of source material and covers myths from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism (The Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads), Shinto, Welsh (Maginogian), New Zealand (Maori tradition), Greek (Homer and Ovid), Sumerian, Babylonian, Mesopotamian myths (Gilgamesh and Innana) as well as Dante's Inferno and Joyce's Ulysses.

I highly recommend this book. I was expecting something very dry and academic, and it wasn't at all. It contained lots of fascinating discussion as well as lots of extracts from different mythological tales as well as psychology. It has given me so many ideas for further reading, I think I will have to read it again to make note of all the references! I have had this book recommended to me by my husband and so many friends over the years and I can't believe it has taken me so long to finally read it. There is so much to take in and the stories are so interesting, it is definately one to be read over and over again. If you love mythology, fantasy, fairy tales and folk-lore, this book is an absolute must-have for your collection.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rating : 2.5 out of 5

This third installment in the Shrek series follows on pretty much where Shrek 2 ends. Fiona's father, the King of Far Far Away is dying and Shrek is next in line to be the King. He doesn't feel suited to the job and instead departs on a quest to find the next in line, Arthur Pendragon. Meanwhile Fiona is pregnant and Shrek is none too pleased about being a father and Prince Charming is organising the villians for a hostile take over and their own version of their Happy Ending.

There weren't too many new characters on the good side, only Arthur Pendragon (Justin Timberlake) who was ok and the wonderful Merlin (voiced by Monty Pythons Eric Idle) who gets a few great lines. Some of the villians were fun, Captain Hook, enchanted evil trees, the wicked witch, one of the ugly stepsisters etc. I felt though that the humor wasn't anywhere near as good as the first film or even the second. There were a few good scenes, but not really enough to hold it together. I think my favourite was where the Gingerbread Man has his life flash before his eyes from birth in his fathers oven, to getting his legs pulled off in Shrek, to his legs being reattached and him jumping through fields to the theme from the Six Million Dollar Man!

The ogre babies were cute and Fiona's princess friends were quite fun when they got going a bit more towards the end (especially Snow White), but Donkey and Puss-In-Boots didn't really do too much. I think what sums it up for me was that my favourite part was hearing a beautiful Damien Rice song at a down point for Shrek... Sadly nothing really very new this time around. I wonder what the fourth installment will be like?

Rating : 3.5 out of 5

I wasn't sure about going to see this film as it was my least favourite of the books so far, but I am glad I did. This film follows Harry and his friends as the Ministry of Magic interfers in Hogwarts after they claim He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is not back contrary to the events of Goblet of Fire. Voldermort is after a prediction that was made linking him and Harry which he believes will give him an idea of how to destroy Harry once and for all.

I enjoyed the film mostly much more than the book. I think what put me off the book was that Harry was very miserable and was very bratty! The film didn't focus on that side of his character quite so much. Imelda Staunton is fantasitc as Dolores Umbridge, very pink and very scary. How she can keep that smile on her face whilst torturing the children is beyond me. Evanna Lynch was also great as Luna "Loopy" Lovegod, she was perfect for the part. Quite zoned out and whacky. The action scenes were great as well, the final battle was so sad and the duel between Dumbledore and Voldermort spectacular.

The downsides were that it missed out a few very important aspects of the book. It was a few years ago that I read it, but I remember loving the idea that Voldemorts nemisis could have been either Harry or Neville (revealed by the prediction I think?). Neville really grew as a character in this book, and sadly the film left pretty much all of this out. Daniel Radcliffe has really grown up in this film, he hasn;t half buffed up! I bet there are lots of teenage girls jealous of his kiss with Cho Chang.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rating : 5/5
Reason for reading : Something About Me Challenge and he is my favourite author

This is the first of two books (I got the American versions as it has only just been published in the UK in one edition but I couldn't wait that long!) by Nick Hornby which collect his essays from an American magazine called "The Believer". He keeps track every month of the books he has bought as well as those he has read. There are mini reviews within his essays as well as some excerpts from books he has read that month along the way.

What can I say, I LOVED this book! It's perfect for me, it's a book about books by one of my all time favourite authors so what's not to love?!? I love his writing style, very funny and insightful. It was interesting to learn a little more about his life in general. I knew one of his sons was autistic (I only found out recently though through buying another book he has edited "Speaking with the Angels") and that he is part of an organisation in the UK called Treehouse related to this, but it was intersting to hear his take on the books on autism out there and little details of his son.

The other good things about this book was I got some great recommendations on books for me as well as a book I want to buy my dad's wife for her birthday on a week or two. He also gave great validation for buying so many books, he confesses to not listing all the books he buys as some months it's an obscene number! He includes a great quote from Gabriel Zaid's "So Many Books":
"the truely cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure or their desire for more."

I can't wait to read the next one. Thanks Athena for giving me a push towards getting around to reading this!


1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference? (Personally, all other things being equal, I usually prefer whichever I was introduced to first.)

And, by all means, expand this to as long a list as you like. I’m notoriously awful myself at narrowing down to one favorite ANYTHING. So, feel free to list as many “good” or “bad” movie-from-books as you like. (Heaven knows that’s what I’ll be doing….)

1. This is a difficult question as there are lots of good ones out there. I think though that the best ones are where the author has written the screenplay for the movie or has been involved in the process to a large degree. Something like Peter S Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" worked really well. He wrote the book and then made an animated version which brought it to life really nicely. Another good adaptation is "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice. Rice wrote the screenplay and this really helped it capture the mood of the story and characters.

Other good adaptations include:
"Memories of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden - even though it leaves out a lot of the smaller details, the setting is stunning and the acting just right.
"High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby - It transposes the book from North London to America and still manages to pull it off and be one of my favourite films of all time.
"The Lord of the Rings trilogy" by JRR Tolkien - I don't think I need to explain this one! Obviosuly they had to leave some parts out, but the only part I really missed was the scourging of the Shire.
"Watership Down" by Richard Adams - another animated classic that transferred from book to movie well.
"Clueless" based on Jane Austin's Emma - a really good adaptation of Austin's novel bringing it current and up-to-date.
"Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell - has to leave chunks out (it was already 226mins long!), but looks stunning and the actors were perfect for their characters. It captured the mood of the book perfectly.

2. The worst movie adaptation of a book hmm. I think the film I have enjoyed the least lately was "Spiderman 3" by Stan Lee and Marvel. It changed a lot of the characters personalities and it was just a confused jumble. I am having a hard time thinking of other films by name, but I know that there are lots of them that are rubbish!

There are a lot of films out there that are great films, but awful adaptations of books. "Queen of the Damned" by Anne Rice again is a film I love, but not a very good version of the book as it leaves out far too much. Also for some reason they missed doing The Vampire Lestat which occurs chronologically between the two films.

3. If I can I try to see the film before reading the book. I mostly prefer the book version and seeing the film first doesn't ruin the experience for me. It stops me from sitting watching the film thinking "that never happened in the book" or "hey where did my favourite bit go".

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I have been thinking lately who my top 5 favourite authors are of all time. I can think of 4 and then I get stuck. I don't want to just pick anyone, it needs to be someone special to fill that last spot. My list so far is:

1. Anne Rice - She is always the first author I think of when anyone asks who my favourite is. I love her writing style and I am planning on re-reading all of her books soon. I think my favourite is Memnock the Devil where Lestat goes to heaven and hell.

2. Anne Bishop - I have only read The Black Jewels Trilogy and Dreams Made Flesh so far and LOVED both of them, to the point where I got really sad when I reached the end. I have her other paperbacks and am trying to space them out so I don't run out of books to read by her.

3. JRR Tolkien - LOTR was one of my favourite books growing up and I really enjoyed The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales too. I recently read The Hobbit which I didn't really enjoy as a child, but loved it this time around. I am looking forward to reading The Histories and The Children of Hurin.

4. Nick Hornby - I read High Fidelity first which I love and then saw the film which is one of my favourites. It changes the book a fair bit, transposing it to America, but it still remains a really great adaptation and I adore John Cusak. I am trying to read The Polysyllabic Spree really slowly to savour it at the moment (I have it in the two seperate books), but the temptation to race through it is intense. I also just read he has a new book out called Slam (not out until October 2007 in Hardback in the UK and I always wait for the paperbacks bah). The blurb on amazon looks great, it says:

Whoever invented skateboarding is a genius. There's only one skater, and his name's Tony Hawk. It doesn't matter if you don't know who he is, just trust me. Not only is Hawk the world's best skater, he's also good to talk to. So I talk to Tony Hawk, and Tony Hawk talks back. Because just when it seemed like everything had come together for me, I had to go and screw it all up. It only took two seconds. But all of me knew. One risk. One mistake and my life would never be the same. Hawk had a few things to say. And a few things to show me. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see your own future?

So who to pick for number 5... Possibly Margaret Atwood, Gregory Maguire, Roald Dahl, Brian Jacques, Charles de Lint, Lois Lowry, Juliet Marillier or Phillip Pullman. The problem with them all is I feel I haven't read enough of their work to justify giving them a coveted place on my top 5 authors list (apart from Brian Jacques).

So who would make your top 5 list?

Monday, July 09, 2007

I am putting my list up now as well so I can get started. I have a bunch of challenges running at the moment so need to get going... There are lots of books I want to read on the list, but am going to start with just 5. I figure if I have time I can add more as I go along.

A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson (Raidergirl)
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Stephanie and Janet)
The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby (Athena)
Chocolat - Joanne Harris (Chasida, Margo who I have know online for a few years now. She raves about this book so I really want to read it and she why she likes it so much)
Genome - Matt Ridley (Juli)

Others I hope to read eventually:

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova (Heidijane, Maryanne, A Book in the Life)
Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (Kookiejar)
The Memory Keepers Daughter - Kim Edwards (3M)
Twilight - Stephanie Meyer (Suey)
The Amulet of Samakand - Jonathan Stroud (Suey)
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (Bookworm)
Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (Chasida)
Crime and Punnishment - Fyoder Dostoyevsky (JMC)
Number the Stars - Lois Lowry (Booklogged)
The Giver - Lois Lowry (Sarah Miller)
Inkheart - Cornelia Funke (SheReads)
A Suitable Boy - Vikrum Seth (Lucca)
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (Faith)
The Iliad - Homer (Alyson)
A Tiger in the Well - Phillip Pullman (Valentina)
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kid (Ennavic)
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (Trish)
My Sisters Keeper - Jodi Picoult (Trish)

Books on the list I have already read:

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
The Never Ending Story - Michael Ende
The Red Tent - Anita Diamante
The Bell Jar - Slyvia Plath
I, Elizabeth - Rosalind Miles
The World according to Garp - John Irving
The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillippa Gregory
Christ the Lord - Anne Rice
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin
Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone - JK Rowling
The Time Travllers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Peper Pan - JM Barrie
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolsty
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
Anna Frank: Diary of a young girl
Charlottes Web - EB White
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
The Naughtiest Girl in School - Enid Blyton

I have read a lot it seems!

Games Update

As part of my 101 things to do in 1001 days challenge I am trying to complete all the console versions of Final Fantasy and Zelda. I am doing much better with Zelda than I am Final Fantasy. To date I have completed:

Zelda : A Link to the Past (SNES)
Zelda : Link's Awakening (GameBoy)
Zelda : Oracle of Seasons (GameBoy)
Zelda : Oracle of Ages (GameBoy)
Zelda : Four Swords (GBA)
Zelda : The Minish Cap (GBA)
Final Fantasy : I and II Dawn of Souls (GBA)

I am playing through:

Zelda : Twilight Princess (wii)

Final Fantasy : III (GBA)
Final Fantasy : V (DS)
Fianl Fantasy : XII (PS2)

Still to go:

Zelda : The Legend of Zelda (NES/GBA)
Zelda : Zelda II (NES/GBA)
Zelda : Links Awakening DX (GameBoy)
Zelda : Ocarina of Time (N64) - played to very close to the end but want to start again from the beginning
Zelda : Majoras Mask (N64)
Zelda : Wind Waker (GC)
Zelda : Phantom Hourglass (DS - not out yet)

Final Fantasy : IV (GBA)
Final Fantasy : VI (GBA)
Final Fantasy : VII (PS)
Final Fantasy : VIII (PS) - nearly completed but will start again as was about 5 years ago!
Final Fantasy : IX (PS)
Final Fantasy : X (PS2)
Final Fantasy : X-2 (PS2)

I am not counting the tie-ins for Final Fantasy although I have completed Kingdom Hearts on the PS2 and have nearly finished the follow up. My favourites are Zelda : A Link to the Past (SNES) and Zelda : Ocarina of Time (N64) as well as Final Fantasy VIII (I know everyone likes VII best but it's good to be different!).

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Rating : 3/5
Reason for reading : I am trying to get up-to-date with the Discworld novels
Number in series : #28 in the Discworld series

Pratchett introduces a new sest of main characters once again in this Discworld novel. Polly Perks wants to enlist in the Borogravian army to find her brother who went missing after joining. However, to enlist she must pretend to be a man. She cuts her hair and sets about practising her walk, belching and farting (the main characteristics of men) and enlists under Sergant Jackrum.

After taking on further new recruits including a troll and "black ribbon" vampire (one who has given up blood), they are nicknamed the "monstrous regiment". As things transpire, most of their army has been trapped inside a very well guarded keep by the opposition, and they are the only ones who can save the day and win the war. To aid them they have "the Secret" as well as capturing the eye of William de Worde and his newspaper when Ankh Morpork get involved helping the enemy.

This was by no means the best in the series, but also wasn't the worst. I liked that Sam Vimes was included in this novel (although in a very small capacity), and I really liked Polly and Jackrum. I don't really like war stories, even parodies so this didn't really do it for me sadly. My favourite part was very near the beginning on page 14:

"Polly reached the troll bridge... It cost one penny to cross, or one hundred gold pieces if you had a billy goat (Trolls might not be quick thinkers but they don't forget in a hurry either)."

Rating : 4/5
Reason for reading : It looked really interesting and the artwork was stunning
Number in series : #1

This is the first graphic novel in a series about Fables. They have escaped their land after being driven out by The Adversary. They are now living in New York amongst the mundane people who don't know their secret.

This set of stories follows the sudden disappearence of Rose Red (Snow White's sister). Her appartment is trashed and covered in blood. Due to "No more happily ever afters" written in blood on the wall, the Fable community believe it was another Fable that is responsible. Bibgy (the Big Bad Wolf) is the detective in charge, who has help from Snow White in looking into the case. The main suspects are Jack (of the Beanstalk fame), Bluebeard, Prince Charming and Snow White herself.

This was a really good story and was beautifully illustrated. I am really looking forward to the next set of stories. I defiantely recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy, folk tales, fairy tales, graphic novels or just a good story!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Great Novel

What with yesterday being the Fourth of July and all, I’m feeling a little patriotic, and so have a simple question:What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel? At least to date. A “classic,” or a current one–either would be fine. Mark Twain? J.D. Salinger? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Stephen King? Laura Ingalls Wilder? It doesn’t have to be your favorite book, mind you. “Citizen Kane” may be the “best” film, and I concede its merits, but it’s not my favorite. You don’t have to love something to know that it’s good.

Now, I know that not all of you are American–but you can play, too! What I want from you is to know what you consider to the best novel of YOUR country. It might be someone the rest of us haven’t heard of and, frankly, I think we’d all like to get some new authors to read.
In fact, while we’re at it–I’m curious about the geographical make-up of this meme. So, while you’re leaving your link to your post, tell us where in the world you are! (For the record, I’m in New Jersey, USA.)

I am in the UK and am based just outside London although I am from Liverpool.
This is a really difficult question. There are lots of books I love by English authors, but I am not sure they are the best of our country. I supposed my favourite English author would be Nick Hornby and my favourite of his books is High Fidelity (I love the American film adaptation too). Charles Dickens is an amazing British author and I loved Great Expectations. It is widely recognised as a classic, so perhaps that should be the best novel of my country and Nick Hornby my favourite. My favourite author from Liverpool would be Brian Jacques who wrote the Redwall series for children. I love the series and I was interviewed on television when I was younger for a programme called Book Worm that featured him as their author of the week. I have a couple of signed books from when he spoke at the school where my mum teaches English.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tori Amos - Gig

On Tuesday night I went to see the wonderful and quirky Tori Amos live at the Hammersmith Apollo. I took my sister as it's her birthday on the 10th as well as her boyfriend and my husband. It was my fourth time seeing her and she gets better and better. She came out dressed as Sante (a platinum blond rock chick) for the first half and then became Tori with very orange hair and gold sparkly jump suit creation!

She played for over 2 hours with both her band and by herself doing some of her quieter numbers. I can't remember the full setlist, but here is what I do remember her playing:
Black Dove (January) - she forgot the words and it became "I just had a brain fart" hehe
Tear in your hand - a delight for Neil Gaiman fans
Bouncing off Clouds
Hey Jupiter
Cornflake Girl
Professional Widow
Yes, Anastasia
Precious Things
Plus a lot from her new album which I am still figuring my way around.

If she plays near you I definately advise you to go! She has such an interesting playing style she is worth seeing for that alone. It's funny, me and my sister always love her work, but she will love one half of an album and I will love the opposite half. My sister was lucky when we saw her that she played most of her favourites and sadly hardly any of mine. Seeing as it was her birthday present I am glad for her (although I still wish she had played Love Song ort Hotel). My only critisicm is that she really needs to eat a little more, she looks to be wasting away a little.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rating : 4/5
Reason for reading : Guardian 100 greatest books of all time challenge, Classics Challenge

This Epic was preserved on tablets made of clay dating back as far as four thousand years. It forms a poem about Gilgamesh, who was the King of Urak in Babylonia. It is the oldest epic found to date and predates Homer's Iliad and Odessey by many centuries.

It follows Gilgamesh and his friend, wild man Enkidu, through their first meeting, their adventures against Humbaba who guards the Forest of Cedars, and Taurus the Bull of Heaven). Gilgamesh also sets out on a quest for immortality which takes him on a long journey to meet Uta-napishti who survived the Deluge (basically the Babylonian figure who Noah was based on).

I really enjoyed the poem in it's different variations. The differences between the Babylonia version at the start of the book and the Sumerian version in the last chapter were fascinating. The two styles were very different and I think I preferred the Sumerian style of writing. Considering how old it is, it reads very contempory. The introduction was really useful telling you the history of the areas and cultures involved as well as the different languages spoken and written. The appendix about the translation process of the tablets was fascinating as well. I find it hard enough to get by in French so I have absolutely loads of respect for those who work with languages like these and the cuniform writing.

This is definately one for lovers of Fantasy as well as Mythology and Folk-Tales.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Your Stripper Song Is

Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard
"Love is like a bomb, baby, c'mon get it on Livin' like a lover with a radar phone Lookin' like a tramp, like a video vamp Demolition woman, can I be your man?"
Break out the baby oil, you rock it old school.

I saw this on Pixelated Faerie Dust and I really wanted to get Closer by NIN, but sadly I got Def Leapord which just isn't as cool! Oh well, it's good to know what I should play when I am practising my pole dancing hehe.

June Summary

Just a quick run down of where I am up to at the end of the month. Still progressing well with my challenges I think. The current run down is:

Books read in June = 10, total of 44 this year so nearly at my 50 books target already!
So Many Books, So Little Time Challenge = still 4/8
Summer Reading Challenge = 6/6 which I finished in the first 3 weeks I think!
TBR Challenge = 6.5/12 and 4/12 of my alternatives
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of all Time = 13.5 out of 100 (going for 50)

101 Things to do in 1001 days = 10/101

I am still keeping up all my random stuff to be done a certain number of times per month for this challenge as well...