Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rating : 3.5/5
Number in Series : #3
Reason for Reading : To complete the series

The final installment in the Princess Ai series sees Ai recovering most of her memories and learning more about her past and her heritage. She is still being chased by the Fury sisters from Ai-Land, apart from Tess who is serving as her bodyguard. The other main plot against her isby talent agency HTA who she is signed with. The question is whether Takeshi will be able to go through with his mission or not.

Ai goes through a lot to discover her secrets and when all seems lost it helps her to dispel the darkness. It seems she must loose everything to find her true path. What is revealed isn't the biggest surprise and leads to lots more questions which aren;t answered here sadly.

A really beautiful conclusion that leaves the story wide open for a continuing series. It finished on a high note creatively and artistically. I am really glad I persevered after the first book in the series which wasn't great. I now want my own Ai doll!


Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors…

Yes definitely. I love vampire and urban fantasy books so I can sit and read lots of these in a row by people like Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs and Laurell K Hamilton. Reading challenges like Once Upon a Time and RIP encourage this as it's a seris of books from within the same or similar genres which helps focus me sometimes. I tend not to read books written in the same year o npurpose, but I do read series from start to finish, books with similar main characters or with similar themes running through them. At the moment I am trying to catch up on a lot of literary fiction which is very varied in style and subject, but are all recognised as having a large impact on the reading world.

I do try and break up my reading though. If I find I have been reading a lot of fantasy for instance I will deliberately try a different genre next. I can find that ideas become stale if I read the same type of book over and over in a string for too long. If you look down the list of books I have read this year on my blog I like to think it is a pretty varied list overall, but closer inspection with reveal definite themes and similarities.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rating : 3.0/5
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge, Guardian 100 Greatest Books of all Time

Possibly the greatest and most famous of Shakespeares plays. I saw this play on stage many years ago, but have never read it. Reading it I found so many famous quotes in it that I had forgotten about. The basic story follows Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and his family. His father, the King, died of a snake bite and only two months later his mother married his uncle who is now the King. His father's ghost appears and reveals that he was really murdered, he was poisoned by Hamlet's uncle.

Running parallel are the Lord Chamberlain Polonius and his son Laertes and daughter Ophelia. Ophelia and Hamlet have a bit of a thing going and he has given her to believe that they will marry. On finding out about his uncle, Hamlet looses the plot a little and starts to go a bit mad. He takes out his anger at his mother remarrying so soon on innocent Ophelia who he treats appalingly and breaks off ties with. He also accidentally kills Polonius. Hamlet is shipped off to England to calm down and while he is away Ophelia goes mad herself and drowns. On returning to Denmark Hamlet doesn't realise a plot has been made between Laertes and his uncle to kill him. He is invited into a play fencing match with Laertes who has dipped his foil in very potent poison. Just in case he doesn't scratch Hamlet, his uncle is on stand by with a poisoned drink for him (just how many times can you kill one man).

As this is possibly the best known tragedy you can be fairly certain everyone will end up dead! Unfortunately I didn't really sympathise with Hamlet apart from his mother remarrying. He was pretty aweful to Ophelia and his mother (he really should have raised his concerns with her before she married). I enjoyed it on the whole, but it doesn't come close to King Lear or Macbeth for me.

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge and recommendations

Mr Norrell is on a quest to be the only magician in England and to being back English magic. He is sick of all the theoretical magicians with no other practical magicians besides him, that is until magical prodigee Jonathan Strange enters the scene. At first Strange becomes the pupil to Norrell's master, but things change after he does a stint with the Duke of Wellington in Portugal and Spain in the war. Both men seem subject to a prophecy told by a street sorcerer from London called Vinculus and they have an unseen enemy, a man with thistle-down hair and no name.

A world of fairies and magic set mostly in England in the 1800's against a backdrop of the war with Napoleon, the mad King George and famous poet Bryon. The differences between the two magicians is pronounced, but separate they are not as strong and have no one else to share their interests with.

The supporting characters (especially Stephen Black and Childermass) are what really made this book for me. The other was Clarke's incredible attention to detail. The book is set in a real period of history, yet she works in many foot notes citing events that did and didn't occur as well as books that do and don't exist. Don't be put off by the length, once you start reading it, it becomes impossible to put down again.

I was tagged for this by Jehara so here are my seven random things:

1) I used to play chess for Liverpool (the city I am from) when I was in junior school around 10 years old. I played for the girls team and the mixed team and even won a couple of competitions.

2) My favourite food is spaghetti bolognaise and I generally love most Itallian food, but I don't get on with Japanese food which is sadly my husbands favourite.

3) My wedding day May 2006 was the best day of my life, I planned it all and put it all together and it came out amazing.

4) I fart really loudly and am usually very proud hehe!

5) I have a pet dead bat (yes dead) called Brenda. I was given her (already dead I didn't kill her) when I was 9 or 10 by a guy who worked for the Bat Conservation Trust. He had to keep an eye on their numbers and collected dead ones to keep track of them which he kept for a while. Every now and then his wife made him throw them out of his freezer and for some reason he gave a pipistrelle to my mum to give to me...

6) Even though I am not a girly girl by any means, I just love bright pink and My Little Ponies (I am starting a collection at the moment).

7) When I take my socks off I have to run my fingers between all my toes or they itch and feel funny.

I tag :

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rating : 3.0/5
Reason for Reading : I love mythology, fairy tales and folk tales and thought I would enjoy this collection from the library

This is a collection of Indian myths and folktales retold by Gray. It includes a section on the famour Indian myth, The Ramayana about Rama and his wife Sita The stories were mostly short focusing on morals and moral judgements which seem to be the focal point for a good upbringing. In these tales the good usually(not always!) won and the wicked were punnished for succuming to greed, counting their blessings before they had them in their hands and being false.

My favourite tale was a very short one called Mousey the Merchant which was about a merchant who began a very prosperous business by selling a dead mouse and it snow balling from there! I also really enjoyed the final series of tales The Vetala's Stories which was three stories within a larger one. It had some interesting challenges which made the reader think along with the King in the tale.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, especially all the animal tales. The animals were not the usual Western animals and included vultures and a mongoose which made it a little different. I also enjoyed the involvement of the gods in the tales as well as demons and fairies and some wicked people being able to find redemption mixed in amongst those who deserved their fates.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Connecting Words

Okay, today’s question is going to be a little different. First, I’m posting it early because Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I’m going to be busy making and eating turkey as I’m sure some of you will also be, so I want to give everyone time to play. And two, because I’m basically going to link you through to somebody else’s blog with a question that I thought was pretty interesting.
Joanna and Brad are asking about “connecting words,” and they don’t mean conjunctions like “and” or “but.” No, what they’re looking for are unique, or treasured words that we’ve found out and about in our daily travels, words that might not be common usage, or often heard, but which struck a chord for some reason.
This is unorthodox, of course, but here’s the thing: if you link back to Joanna’s post (which is where the rules are written), you’re eligible to win a prize. Not to mention joining in some great conversation about interesting words.
I’m not sure if you’re supposed to leave a comment there or not. She only specifies that you should link to it in your post, but . . . I suppose a comment wouldn’t hurt. But, as always, comment here, too, please so that all of us can play along. I’ve already answered this one here.

A while back when the last Harry Potter novel came out I remember getting into a discussion on Colleen Gealson's blog about the English sland words that JK Rowling had used in the books. Words like "macking" "snogging" "git" and "bloody" that American's don't use. "Macking" isn't one that I have heard but the other three I have been using for years and it's interesting to hear American's and people from other countries using them, it makes me laugh a little (like hearing Indian people saying "bloody hell" in their beautiful rich accents around London). I think everyone who reads this post should try and put a piece of British slang into their next post :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Funshine Bear
You are filled with unlimited energy and extremely resourceful. You like to tackle problems and tasks head-on and you gladly accept any jobs that come along the way. However, you often take on too much and your stubbornness won't allow you to accept help from others. But you're always willing to have a good time!

I pinched this off Melody as I love Care Bears. I have both of the movies (as well as the My Little Pony one and volume one and two of Rainbow Brite, I'm such a big kid at heart) and watch them when I am feeling down. I love the Care Bare friends too and am happy with being chosen as Funshine Bear :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I just signed up for this excellent Blogger Christmas Exchange over at Nymeth's blog. See her post here for the full details. Basically it is a secret santa in the blogging world where you get someone assigned to send a little something to. It can be a book, bookmark, homemade gift etc. It should be fun and I am looking forward to seeing who I get.

Rating : 3.5/5
Reason for Reading : Guardian Challenge, So Many Books Challenge

Roman poet Ovid was born in central Italy in 43BC. In AD 8 he was exiled to the Black Sea by Emperor Augustus for reasons that have never been made clear. He died around Ad 17/18, never having returned to Rome despite constant petitioning.

Metamorphoses is his epic poem on change. It covers many metamorphoses, mostly humans being turned into animals, plants, birds etc by the gods. The most unlucky name seemed to be Cycnus as you are likely to be turned into a swan at some point! It shows how it never pays to scorn the gods as you will get turned into a spider, horse, stag to be hunted by your own hounds, raven etc... The other key transforming factor was grief. People weeping were liable to turn into birds or plants/trees mostly and Hecuba even turned into a dog.

Lots of famous tales and people were included in this poem. Everyone from Icarus to Theseus, the Minatour, Narcissus and Echo, Arachne, Hercules and Aeneas. The tales ranged from very gory to very irreverent via erotic, Ovid had a very interesting sense of humour which came across in most of his tales (this possibly caused the trouble with Augustus). His treatment of the gods is interesting, he focuses on their human aspects of pride, revenge and their tendency to be quick to anger. Yes the poem is very long, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. It was interesting as well to read something from a roman perspective after trying out some of the greek classics.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Today’s question comes from Conspiracy-Girl: I’m still relatively new to this meme so I’m not sure if this has been asked yet, but I’m curious how many of us write notes in our books. Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?

I am definitely a preservationist. I never write in my books much like I never fold down the corners. The only times I have done it is when I was back in school and we were studying passages in english and then it was always in pencil. I just don't like the idea of writing in books so I usually carry a small notebook on me which I can write quotes down in or make a note of passages to come back to. It does the job while still preserving the book for me to come back to or to lend to others.

The cat above is Morgaine being a tight rope walker. We recently got a wooden four poster bed (we use it to dry our laundrey!) and she manages to get on top of the rail and walk around it. Mental cat!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I have seen a few people sign up for this challenge for next year and it looked like fun so I thought why not! It is being hosted by Annie at Words by Annie and is runnning throughout 2008. My picks are below and it took me a while to come up with all the different criteria, but I am really looking forward to it.

The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.

1. A book with a color in its title.
Seeing Redd - Frank Beddor

2. A book with an animal in its title.
Spider Man/Black Cat : The Evil that Men Do - Kevin Smith

3. A book with a first name in its title.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin - Mark Twain

4. A book with a place in its title.
Salam Falls - Jodi Picoult

5. A book with a weather event in its title.
Storm Front - Jim Butcher

6. A book with a plant in its title.
The Onion Girl - Charles de Lint

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rating : 3.0/5
Number in Series : #2
Reason for Reading : To see what happened next...

Princess Ai is now singing for HTA, the hottest talent agency around. They are trying to launch her as the new pop diva sensation. The trouble is, they have her in almost prison conditions. She isn't allowed to the library to see Kent (the guy she has an unusual connection with) which she really wants to do whilst simultaneously not wanting to see him for his protection.

She finds a book containing information about Ai-Land where she is from and it's history, but still has no actual memory besides a few fragmented flashes. She tries to break free of HTA whilst still being pursued by Fury Tess who has been able to track her via the media coverage of her new career, as well as dealing with her new found wings which are steadily expanding. Exactly who and what is Princess Ai?

I liked it much better than the first volume, the story had gotten going and there wasn't the same jumpy feel about it. It was like the writing had relaxed. The illustrations were as beautiful as ever and I really liked the coloured pictures at the beginning. The only thing I am not so keen on is the idea of Princess Ai saving the world with her music. It seems a little egotistical of Courtney Love who the character is based on.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less? Why?

I probably read about the same or slightly more than when I was younger. I have always been a book worm and I go through phases when I read lots extra which is again something I have always done. Reading has always been a passion of mine and I am so glad my husband shares it with me and we can read together. If I had more time I would read all day every day!

The photo above is of our new sofa with both cats enjoying it. It shows how much bigger Merlin is than Morgaine even though they are brother and sister from the same litter!

Since I started blogging I have found lots of great blogs I really enjoy reading. One has been Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot who has similar reading tastes to me. Her blog is a great place to find recomendations and we got to talking about doing our own reading challenge. We each picked 5 books for the other one to read in 2008. They are books that we love and that we think the other one will like. I picked the following for Nymeth to read:

The Black Jewels Trilogy - Anne Bishop (a wonderful fantasy tale)
Waifs and Strays - Charles de Lint (I know Nymeth will love him and this is a great introduction of lots of his short stories from throughout his career, lots of fantasy and fairy tale lore)
The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillippa Gregory (historical fiction at it's best)
Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier (another great fantasy tale based on a fairy tale)
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov (wonderfully written fiction)

I hope she reads them all and enjoys them. She picked the following for me to read over 2008:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - you read my post about this one today, so no need to add anything :P
Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland - a really lovely story about loneliness that is both sad and uplifting.
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones - this is a fantasy book that retells two Scottish ballads, Tam Lim and Thomas the Rhymer. The setting is quite realistic, though. It's more of a urban fantasy, and the main reason why I love it is because Diana Wynne Jones depicts people's feelings and relationships quite brilliantly in it.
Big Fish by Daniel Wallace - The book that gave origin to the Tim Burton movie. The movie expands the story quite a bit, actually. When I first read it I was a little disappointed that it didn't have everything the movie does, but later it really grew on me, and now I love both equally. It's a beautifully written book.
Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman - I know Neil is not your favourite, but this one tells a great story, and plus it has an introduction by Tori Amos!

I am really looking forward to reading them all (randomly Eleanor Rigby is my favourite Beatles song). If this inspires you why not do the same with someone you have met in the blogging world and learn a bit more about each other.

Rating : 1.5/5

The latest comedy staring Ben Stiller as Eddie Cantrow. His ex-fiance is getting married and he is the only single man left at the wedding who has never been divorced or widowed. His father and best friend are pressuring him to settle down and stop him being so picky. Not long after he meets Lila when a guy on a bike steals her bag and escapes. They start dating and things are going really well until Lila's company want her to move to Rotterdam. They have a policy of not moving married couples so Eddie takes the plunge and asks her to marry him.

Things start really well until they get on the way to their honeymoon destination. Lila starts to irritate him with her constant singing and other mannerisms. It turns out they have less in common than they thought and there is lots they have yet to discover about each other. As the days go on Eddie realises more and more he has made a huge mistake, further confirmed when he meets Miranda at the resort and falls in love with her.

I thought this film was pretty shitty to be honest. Everyone else in the cinema seemed to be loving it but I just thought it was overly crude and over the top. At the end I saw it was directed by the Farrelly brothers and it all made sense! I wouldn't waste your money going to see this as the only good bit was that Eddies best friend had the wicked witch music as his ring tone when his wife called.

Rating : 3.0/5

I hadn't heard of this film and I went to see it just because Steve Buscemi was in it. I didn't realise until it started that he also wrote and directed it. The plot follows Pierre Peders (Buscemi) who is a political journalist interviewing Katya (Sienna Miller), a popular television and B movie actress. He comes across as uninterested in her and lacking in preparation so she cuts the interview short. Pierre gets a cab home but the cab driver is so intent on watching Katya walk down the street he crashes the cab causing Pierre to badly bang his head. Katya takes pity on the journalist and takes him back to her loft to ice his head and clean up the blood.

Once back in the flat the interview picks up sporadically. Things turn more intimate and personal confessions are revealed by both parties. Pierre does some things in the flat he shouldn't while Katya gets high. It seems they have a skewed father/daughter connection which perhaps causes them to reveal more than they should.

Both acted excellently. The ending was satisfying although I wasn't sure about Katya's motives. Was she high, mad at Pierre for not knowing who she was or caring, or was she just spoilt and used to getting her own way. Either way the tagline "Everything you say can and will be used against you" suited the film. I am really starting to regard Sienna Miller as a serious actress as opposed to the It-Girl she is usually perceived as.

Rating : 3.5/5

Directed by Frank Oz (yes Yoda), this is a British black comedy. Daniel is setting up the house for the funeral of his father. Things get off on the wrong foot when the wrong person is brought in the coffin and the coffin bearers have to return the coffin and come back with the right one! As the other guests arrive including Daniel's brother Robert, the tensions between them all rise. Their cousin Martha is now engaged to Simon (Alan Tudyk from Firefly/Serenity and A Knights Tale), but is lacking approval from her father. Today is the day she has chosen to let him know they are getting married. On the way over they stop at her brother Troy's (Kris Marshall from My Family and Love Actually) house who is studying pharmacy. Martha gives Simon what she believes is a valium, but turns out to be a hallucinogenic concoction of acid and ketamine. Naturally it proves to be disasterous.

During the funeral Daniel is confused by the appearence of midget Peter who knew his father but no one has seen before. It turns out Peter is there to blackmail the brothers with incriminating photos. They try to dispose of him, but nothing quite runs to plan. The "vallium" go missing and Simon ends up naked threatening to jump off the roof.

I really enjoyed this film. I like British films and us brits do black comedies best. The relationships between the different characters was really well done, especially the one between Daniels wife and his mother and Daniel and his brother Robert. I love Alan Tudyk and Kris Marshall and they were both great as usual. Alan did a great job of someone off their face on illegal drugs!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rating : 2.0/5
Number in Series : #1
Reason for Reading : I was interested to read a manga involving Courtney Love

This is a manga tale following Princess Ai. She first awakens on earth with no memory of her past besides her name. She has in her possession a heart-shaped box which she knows is important, she just isn't sure why. She has no money and no place to stay, she is abandoned in Tokyo.

She meets Kent and they discover a strong coneection between them. He helps her to look at illustrated books to try and jog her memory in the university library. There she finds a mysterious blank book apart from a faded picture of a family crest. She also finds a street singer who helps her to rekindle her passion for music and singing. It allows her to take a job in a strip club as a singer (not a stripper). Not everyone is happy about her new job however... Another problem is someone is following her trying to find her, someone in a war with her forgotten home-land.

I really liked the artwork and it was interesting finding all the references to Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, Hole and Courtney Love (who Ai is clearly based on). The problem was the story seemed overcomplicated and jumpy. Sometimes I felt like a page was missing when there wasn't as it jumped to a different setting with the same characters. I will read volume 2 though as it did pique my interest.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Stardust - Film

Rating : 5.0/5

Based on the novel and graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess (Gaiman was the producer), directed by Matthew Vaughn it is a fantasy tale of finding your true love in the most unexpected of places. Dunstan Thorn always wanted to know what was beyond the Wall. It looked like just another field but folk said there was another world hidden behind it. One day he pushed past the guardian to find out once and for all. He finds another world and there a beautiful girl held slave by a witch. While the witch is away they sleep together before Dunstan returns to the other side of the Wall. Nine months later a basket is brought to him containing his son Tristan.

The tale is really about Tristan, who knows nothing of his unusal birth. He is in love with Victoria, a girl in the town out of his league and being pursued by another. To win her heart he tells her he will go across the Wall and bring back a fallen star. The star is not what he expected when he finds it, he finds in place of a lump of metal a beautiful young lady called Yvaine. Trying to take her back to Victoria becomes complicated as she doesn't want to be someones gift, she is being chased by an evil witch who wants to cut out her heart and eat it so she will remain young and beautiful, and they are being chased by a couple of princes who want the necklace she is wearing to proclaim them to be the new King of the land.

Me and Alex both loved this film. We hadn't read the book so it was all new to us (I will definitely be reading it in the future as well as the graphic novel). The cameos of the random British comics as the princes was great, they were all really funny (it's great to be able to name your seven kids 1-7!). I am not sure if American's would recognise them apart from Rupert Everett (Secundus) and possibly Ricky Gervais (the trader Ferdy the Fence). The special effects were spectacular and all the actors were great in their parts. I particularly loved Robert De Niro as the interesting Captain Shakespear, very very funny.

If you haven't seen this film, what are you waiting for?!? Definitely one I will be getting on dvd and watching again and again.

Friday, November 02, 2007

This challenge finished on 31st October. Carl had propsed a series of different perils and I chose Peril the First: Read Four books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose. I ended up reading five in the end and as I was moving and going on holiday this time I didn't pick my books beforehand.

1) The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe - Edgar Allan Poe
2) Dracula - Bram Stoker
3) Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
4) Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs
5) Waifs and Strays - Charles de Lint (collection of short stories)

I pinched the questions below from Nymeth who stole them from Tanabata:

Best book I read for the challenge?
I enjoyed them all but probably Waifs and Strays by Charles de Lint the most. It inspired me to read more short stories as well as more by the author.

Book I could've done without?
None, they were all great and I am happy I finally got around to reading Dracula.

Any new authors?
Bram Stoker, Stephenie Meyer and Edgar Allen Poe were all new to me. The others I have only read one book by each before.

Will I read them again?
Charles de Lint, Stephenie Meyer and Patricia Briggs for definite. I read all of Poes tales so there isn't anything new to read by him! Possibly Bram Stoker.

Best thing about the challenge?
Reading everyone elses reviews and finding some new recommendations.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Just a quick run down of where I am up to at the end of the month as usual. I am still on track with my reading challenges. The current run down is:

Books read in October = 13, total of 82 this year
So Many Books, So Little Time Challenge = 7/8
TBR Challenge = 8/12 and 9/12 of my alternatives
Book Awards Reading Challenge = 7/18
Something About Me Challenge = 5/5 and 5/19 of my alternatives
Classics Challenge = 5/5
RIP II Challenge = 5/5
Books to Movies Challenge = 3/3
Seconds Challenge = 2/3 and 2/3 of my alternatives
Four-Legged Friends Challenge = 2/4
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of all Time = 21 out of 100 (going for 50)

101 Things to do Challenge = 22/101

What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?
I thought about asking you about whether you were participating in NaNoWriMo, but I asked that last year. Although . . . if you want to answer that one, too, please feel free to go ahead and do both, or either, your choice!

I read books that are often in the horror section in bookshops, but I am not sure I would actually call them horror. I love Anne Rice who always gets put there because her books are about vampires, but shes more sensual and descriptive than make you jump horror. Again a lot of urban fantasy is kept in the horror section which I enjoy reading, but it's more sassy females fighting demons than scary stuff. I used to read Stephen King when I was younger but I went off him. So I guess the short answer is no not really!

I am not participating in NaNoWriMo and I have no idea what it is...