Monday, December 31, 2007

You can find details of this challenge here which has a number of options for reading short stories throughout 2008. I only really started reading short stories last year and really enjoyed most of them. I had picked the six Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling collections plus the Susanne Clarke one to read for other challenges and added a couple more that are unique to this challenge which I hope is ok. This puts me in for challenge option 3&4 I think and my choices are:

1) Black Heart, Ivory Bones - Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
2) Black Thorn, White Rose - Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
3) Blood Red, Snow White - Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
4) Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears - Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
5) Black Swan, White Raven - Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
6) Silver Birch, Blood Moon - Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
7) The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke
8) Bite - Laurell K Hamilton
9) Buring Your Boats - Angela Carter
10) Dates from Hell - Kelley Armstrong

Books Read 2007

1) Mythago Wood - Robert Holdstock
2) Anastasia Krupnik - Lois Lowry
3) Anastasia Again - Lois Lowry
4) Anastasia at your service - Lois Lowry
5) Anastasia ask your analyst - Lois Lowry
6) Anastasia on her own - Lois Lowry
7) Anastasia's chosen career - Lois Lowry
8) Anastasia has the answers - Lois Lowry
9) Anastasia at this address - Lois Lowry
10) Anastasia absolutely - Lois Lowry
11) Earth Wisdom - Glennie Kindred
12) Pies and Prejudice - Stuart Macone
13) Living Paganism - Shanddardman
14) The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett
15) The Truth - Terry Pratchett
16) Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
17) To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
18) A Charmed Life - Teresa Moorey
19) Medea and other plays - Euripides
20) Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
21) Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
22) Stories and Tales - Hans Christian Andersen
23) Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
24) The Five of Cups - Wendy Mewes
25) Moon Called - Patricia Briggs
26) 13 Moons - Fiona Walker-Craven
27) Thief of Time - Terry Pratchett
28) Night Watch - Terry Pratchett
29) Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
30) One Hundred years of solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
31) The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran
32) The Blue Girl - Charles de Lint
33) Ancestors of Avalon - Marian Zimmer Bradley
34) Witchcraft from the inside - Raymond Buckland
35) Lord of the Flies - William Golding
36) Othello - William Shakespeare
37) Guilty Pleasures Laurell K Hamilton
38) The Laughing Corpse - Laurell K Hamilton
39) Circus of the Damned - Laurell K Hamilton
40) The Lunatic Cafe - Laurell K Hamilton
41) Bloody Bones - Laurell K Hamilton
42) The Killing Dance - Laurell K Hamilton
43) Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
44) One Thousand and One Arabian Nights - Geraldine McCaughrean
45) The Epic of Gilgamesh
46) Fables: Legends in Exile - Bill Willingham
47) Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett
48) The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby
49) The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell
50) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
51) The Iliad - Homer
52) The Ice Queen - Alice Hoffman
53) To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
54) Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
55) Housekeeping vs The Dirt - Nick Hornby
56) A Chalice of Wind - Cate Tiernan
57) My Dead Girlfriend - Eric Wight
58) A Circle of Ashes
59) A Feather of Stone - Cate Tiernan
60) The Odyssey - Homer
61) A Necklace of Water - Cate Tiernan
62) The Worst Witch all at Sea - Jill Murphy
63) Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
64) Life of Pi - Yann Martel
65) The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe - Edgar Allan Poe
66) Dracula - Bram Stoker
67) Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
68) Chocolat - Joanne Harris
69) Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
70) Fables: Animal Farm - Bill Willingham
71) Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs
72) Genome - Matt Ridley
73) Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
74) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
75) Through the Looking-Glass - Lewis Carroll
76) Waifs and Strays - Charles de Lint
77) Beloved - Toni Morrison
78) Number the Stars - Lois Lowry
79) The Giver - Lois Lowry
80) Varjak Paw - SF Said
81) The Outlaw Varjak Paw - SF Said
82) A Short history of nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
83) Princess Ai Volume 1 - Misaho Kujiradou, Courtney Love, DJ Milky
84) Princess Ai Volume 2 - Misaho Kujiradou, Courtney Love, DJ Milky
85) Metamorphoses - Ovid
86) Indian Tales and Legends - J.E.B Gray
87) Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
88) Hamlet - William Shakespeare
89) Princess Ai Volume 3 - Misaho Kujiradou, Courtney Love, DJ Milky
90) Enigma - Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo
91) A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
92) Foxmask - Juliet Marillier
93) The Constant Princess - Philippa Gregory
94) A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
95) Stray - Vicky Allan
96) Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
97) Going Postal - Terry Pratchett
98) Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
99) Survival of the Fittest - Jeff Mariotte (Charmed)
100) The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
101) Felidae - Akif Pirincci

I also completed 10 reading challenges:

Once Upon a Time Challenge
Summer Reading Challenge
RIP II Challenge
Books to Movies Challenge
Classics Challenge
So Many Books So Little Time
Something About Me Challenge
Seconds Challenge
TBR Challenge
Four-Legged Friends Challenge

This year has been my best in reading so far!

This challenge was hosted by Kailana over at The Written Word after her beloved pet dog Sandy had to be put down. The challegne was to read I think at least 4 books with animals as the central character. I chose books that had cats in prominant roles as I have always had cats since as long as I can remember and have 2 monsters now. I read :

1. Varjek Paw - SF Said
2. The Outlaw Varjak Paw - SF Said
3. Felidae - Akif Pirincci
4. Stray - Vicky Allan

My favourites were the two Varjak Paw books by SF Said and my least favourite was Stray which was pretty crap to be honest.

Rating : 3.0/5
Number in Series : #1 Felidae series
Reason for Reading : Four-Legged Friends Challenge

Francis is a curious, logical cat (aren't they all?!). When he and his owner Gustav move into a new dilapidated building, Francis finds a dead brother cat in his new territory. This "cold-sack" has been murdered and contrary to popular cat belief, he doesn't think it was by a tin-opener. This turns out to have not been the first murder and on closer examination Francis finds out that the brother died in a state of sexual excitement (a common theme it turns out). This connection sets Francis off in detective mode and things become more complicated when a pregnant female cat is later murdered confusing things.

Underlying the murders seems to be tales of Claudandus and human scientist Professor Julius Preterius. Preterius was conducting scientific experiements on cats to find the composition of a new surgical glue that will be highly advantageous for both humans and animals if he succeeds. unfortunately his efforts fail apart from on a random stray he finds one day and adopts called Claudandus. The story goes that poor Claudandus then became the subject for more and more experiments and one day his prayers were answered. God struck down Preterius and Claudandus was able to ascend with God as a martyr. Or did he...

It was quite unsettling in places reading about the experiments on the cats and the frightening nature of Francis's dreams. I did enjoy it though and it worked well as a thriller adding many twists and turns along the way. I did manage to mostly crack the case as I have some genetics knowledge which helped, but there were definitely some surprises left at the end. I will keep an eye out for the sequel, Felidae on the Road.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I didn't really start blogging to join this challenge officially, but I wanted to clear some of the books I had so I decided to do it unofficially anyway. The challenge was to read 12 books throughout 2007 that you already owned and had waiting To Be Read. I picked 12 alternatives in case I changed my mind and I ended up reading my original 12 picks plus 9 of my alternatives.

1) Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
2) Ninteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
3) Hamlet - William Shakespeare
4) Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
5) Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
6) Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
7) Crime and Punishment - Fyodor M Dostoyevsky
8) The Five of Cups - Wendy Mewes
9) Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
10) Foxmask - Juliet Marillier
11) The Constant Princess - Phillippa Gregory
12) Chocolat - Joanne Harris

1) The Iliad - Homer
2) The Odyssey - Homer
3) One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4) Gilgamesh
5) Othello - William Shakespear
6) The Ice Queen - Alice Hoffman
7) Genome - Matt Ridley
8) Guilty Pleasures - Laurell K Hamilton
9) Lord of the Flies - William Golding

This was a challenge to read something by an author I had read only one book by before. I picked 3 books plus 3 alternatives and I read all 6 between 1/10/07-31/12/07. I made sure to pick authors I had really liked the first book by and I enjoyed them all.

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
2. Through the Looking-Glass - Lewis Carroll
3. Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs

1. Anything by Charles de Lint (Waifs and Strays)
2. A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
3. Fables: Animal Farm - Bill Willingham

I really enjoyed this challenge. Every participant put forward 5 books that meant a lot to them and explained why. They then picked at least 5 books for everyone elses list to read from 1/8/07-31/12/07. It was a fun way to bring the blogging community together and learn a little about otehr users. I put forward books which I love and all say a little something about me:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

I read all of my 5 chosen books plus 8 alternatives:

1. A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson (RaiderGirl)
2. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Stephanie, Janet)
3. The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby (Athena)
4. Chocolat - Joanne Harris (Chasida, Margo)
5. Genome - Matt Ridley (Juli)

Alternatives read during the time:
Twilight - Stephanie Meyer (Suey)
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (Chasida)
Crime and Punnishment - Fyoder Dostoyevsky (JMC)
Number the Stars - Lois Lowry (Booklogged)
The Giver - Lois Lowry (Sarah Miller)
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (Faith)
The Iliad - Homer (Alyson)
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (Trish)

This was posted on a blog that seems to no longer exist sadly, but I continued with it anyway. The challenge was to read 8 books by authors you hadn't read before. My list is below and I enjoyed every single one on it.

1. Hans Christian Anderson - Complete Fairy Tales
2. Homer - Either The Odyssey or The Iliad
3. Ovid - Metamorphoses
4. Edgar Allen Poe - The Complete Tales
5. Leo Tolstoy - Anna Karenina
6. Virginia Woolf - To The Lighthouse
7. Joseph Campbell - The Hero with a Thousand Faces
8. Vladimir Nabakov - Lolita

Rating : 4.0/5
Reason for Reading : Something About Me Challenge

Susie Salmon is 14 when she is raped and murdered by a neighbour on December 6th 1973. He dumps her body parts in a sink hole, locked inside an old safe. As it turns out, she is by no means his first victim and she won't be his last.

Up in heaven Susie gets to watch her family and friends deal with her death and continue with their lives, although she is not able to influence her. She watches her father suspect their neighbour with no one believing him, her mother begin an affair and disengage from her family, her sister get her first boyfriend and her younger brother lock his feelings away. One final chance is left to Susie on earth in the form of Ruth, a girl who was in her class in school.

I mostly really enjoyed this novel. The idea of heaven was interesting and I liked that it was forever changing as the soul changed and learnt new things about themselves, earth and the people still living there. It was also good to see how the different people dealt with Susie's death, it was very realistic writing. The only part I didn't like so much was near the end in a scene involving Ruth, Ray and Susie which spoilt the realistic illusion for me a little. That it didn't particularly have a happy ending to Susie's case again made it more real somehow and the fact that her death still remained somewhat of a mystery.

Friday, December 28, 2007

This is not a challenge but it is hosted by Carl V here and there will be random book give aways if you keep track of the site. The aim is to read some Sci-Fi within January and February 2008, either whole novels or short stories and post reviews up here

I have so much to read I will just see what I have time for. I am sure I can fit in a short story, graphic novel or short novel at some point.

Hosted by Dewey this challenge is to read at least 6 Man Booker prize winners or any that have been either long or short listed throughout 2008. I wasn't going to sign up for any more challenges, but as I already picked four to try and read for the Book Awards Reading Challenge and I have the others I picked out already at home I thought why not, it will help clear the stacks. My picks are:

1. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood (winner 2000)
2. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy (winner 1997)
3. Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha - Roddy Doyle (winner 1993)
4. Midnights Children - Salman Rushdie (winner 1981)
5. On Beauty - Zadie Smith (shortlist 2005)
6. The Testament of Gideon Mack - James Robertson (longlist 2006)
7. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (shortlisted 2004)
8. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood (shortlist 2003)


It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?
List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?

I have been thinking on and off about this for the last couple of weeks. Now that the year is very nearly over, I think I have only time for one possibly two more books so I guess it is time to answer it. Including the book I am reading at the moment I have read 100 books this year including manga and graphic novels and many of them have been excellent making this a difficult decision. My favourites have been:

Overall : Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
Fiction : Lolita - Vladimin Nabokov or A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
Fantasy : Foxmask - Juliet Marillier or Waifs and Strays - Charles de Lint
Urban Fantasy : Twilight - Stephenie Meyer or Moon Called and Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs
Non-Fiction : The Polysyllabic Spree/Housekeeping vs The Dirt - Nick Hornby
Graphic Novel/Manga : Fables Legends in Exile - Bill Willingham
Magical/Mythology : The Odyssey - Homer or The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell
Children's Fiction : The Blue Girl - Charles de Lint or The Giver - Lois Lowry

My favourite film at the cinema this year has been Eagle Vs Shark and I can't wait for it to come out on DVD next month.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rating : 2.0/5
Number in Series : #26 Charmed pocket book series
Reason for Reading : To continue with the series

This sees Paige, Phoebe and Piper battling UFOs. Woman are being abducted all over the city and then being returned with no memory of their abduction. Instead they return with a compulsion to exercise to a workout programme by Meg Winship. Even Piper gets swept up by the regime leaving Paige and Phoebe to deal with it all and wonder if a demon is in fact behind it all rather than alien invasion.

It was a stupid book which I gathered from reading the back before I started so nevermind! It did amuse me though which is the main thing. I always knew exercise was bad for you and this proved it for me. I am hoping the next in the series will be better and back to regular Charmed-style demons without quite so many plot holes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for Reading : Something About Me Challenge

Guy Montag is a fireman. This job involves setting fire to books as opposed to putting out fires. The title of the book, "Fahrenheit 451", is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns. People are being made alike and to achieve this books are being taken away to stop people who read from knowing more than others. In place of books the television has taken over with broadcasts being 24 hours a day on large walls in every home. Secretly however, Montag has been rescuing the odd book from places he has torched and hiding them in his house without giving it much thought.

One day he meets 17 year old Clarisse McClellan who helps show him how to begin questioning things again and then he attends a fire that changes him forever. He saves The Bible (possibly the last copy in existence) from the house and shows his wife his collection which they begin to read. He also tracks down a man he met in a park once who becomes involved in Montag's life for the better for both of them. The system is on to Montag though and has been silently and secretly monitoring for who knows how long. Will he manage to keep his secrets hidden and retain his books...

I really loved this book. The characters were really well written especially Montag and the Captain at the Firestation, they have a wonderful battle of words about half way through about how books can both assist an arguement and then in the same novel turn around and give the exact opposite opinion. A bunch pf professors being exiled and forced into hiding, memorising whole novels to keep the words alive is a great idea for a story. The afterward was particularly interesting about looking at how television is already conquering our lives and encouraging you to go out and get others to read more which I am sure will appeal to many out there reading this post. It compliments 1984 by George Orwell nicely and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number in Series : #29 Discworld Series
Reason for Reading : Series Challenge

Moist Von Lipwing is a con artist with many different aliases. One, Albert Spangler, is being hanged and Moist has a visit from an angel AKA the Patrician offering him a choice. He can either take his chances with the door behind him (leading to certain death he assumes) or take the job offered getting the Post Office back up and running. Sensibly Moist opts for the latter.

After being retrieved by his parole officer (golem Mr Pump) once, he decides the only thing to do is knuckly down and give the job a go. He meets the rest of the postal staff. The ancient Junior Postman Groat, Stanley (obsessed with pins who has "little moments" of insanity) and cat Mr Tiddles. Between them they take on the corrupted clacks system run by Reacher Gilt and bring in the idea of stamps. They also try to start delivering all the old mail which has filled the post office making it unsafe to work in. The old mail which whispers in the night and whose only mission is to be delivered. If this all wasn't bad enough, Moist is trying to get a date with Adora Bell Dearheart, a chain smoker who works for golem's rights.

This was a fine return to form. The new characters worked really well, especially Moist and the golems. It was nice to see some familiar faces pop up in small side roles like Ridcully, Death, Ponder Stibbons and Carrot. I still think a book solely about the Patrician Vetinari would be a wonderful addition to the collection. He has become my favourite character as the books have progressed.

Rating : 2.5/5

The new remake of the St Trinian's with a whole host of British actors. St Trinian's is a school for girls, but the girls are no ordinary girls. They learn gambling odds, brew their own alcohol and think nothing of cheating in tests to say the least. They are girls usually though of as ungovernable by all other schools.

When new girl Annabell Fritton (neice of the headmistress) joins St Trinian's, it isn't quite what she expected coming from a well known school for girls. She struggles to find her feet after being broadcast naked on U-Tube from the shower room and fit in with the other girls. They all have to band together however when the school faces closure due to bankruptcy and Annabell's father is trying to seel the school to make a quick profit.

Lots of famous english faces pop up like Lily Cole (model) as one of the school girls, Colin Firth as education minister, Rupert Everett as the headmistress and her brother, Russell Brand as Flash Harry and Stephen Fry holding a quiz. Even American Mischa Barton pops up as the previous Head Girl to offer advice to the newer students. I did find this film pretty rubbish however. It started really strong for the first 20mins with the random pranks the girls pulled at school. The best being the headmistress talking about "the special relationship between teachers and pupils" at the school when the camera focused outside the window showing a teacher driving a tractor pulling along a student attached to a piece of rope behind it. Another was the Religious Education class that was having an Easter practical with a girl attached to the blackboard in the shape of a cross. The best line was "it's like Hogwarts for Pikeys!", but sadly the writers then tried to inject more of a plot involving a heist and it all fell apart. It would have been much better filled with pranks and funny situations without burdening it with a story...

Rating : 3.5/5

Based on the novel of the same name or Northern Lights to us Brits by Philip Pullman, the film follows Lyra in a parallel universe to us. She lives in Jordan College but things start to change when her uncle Lord Asriel comes to visit and she saves him from being poisoned by the Magistrium. She is given an Alethiometer (Golden Compass) by the dean of the college which she is to take with her and keep secret when she travels with the mysterious yet captivating Mrs Coulter who has promised to take her to see the armoured bears in the North.

Before leaving Lyra's friend Robert is missing and she suspects it is due to the Gobblers who have been stealing local kids. Lyra has promised to rescue him if anything happens. She finds evidence linking Mrs Coulter to the Globblers and runs away on a mission to escape and save Robert. Along the way she befriends a witch, an aeronaut named Lee Scoresby, an armoured bear called Iorek Byrnison and the Gyptians who aid her in her quest. She has to learn to read the Alethiometer which is the last of its kind in the world. It's function is to tell the truth using a combination of different symbols.

I enjoyed this film although my husband didn't. It's been a few years since I read the books (which are infinitely better of course), and this was a little like the edited highlights. Dakota Blue Richards was a great Lyra and the seamless links between Pan's daemon form changes were done really well. It ended a little before the end of the book, but it seemed to feel right and fit well. Sam Elliott was also perfectly cast as Lee. I am looking forward to seeing how they do the next in the series The Subtle Knife.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge, Something About Me Challenge, Guardian 100 Greatest Books Challenge

Raskolnikov, Rodion Romanovich sets out one day in the middle of a fever to kill pawn broker and money lender Alena Ivanovna. He fashions a loop of cloth inside his jacket to hide an axe after hearing her sister Lizaveta will be away one evening and she will be at home alone. Once he gets to her flat, his plans soon seem to come undone. After killing Alena, Lizaveta arrives home earlier than expected and Raskolnikov has forgotten to lock the front door. In the spur of the moment he kills her as well and then flees the scene, taking Alena's purse and some possessions.

Interweaving the story of Raskolnikov is the story of his sister Dunya. She was a governess in a household where the gentleman of the house fell in love with her. His wife arranged for her to be married to clerk Luzhim, Peter Petrovich much to her brothers disgust. Both force her to choose between them and in the meantime her former boss Svidrigaylov, Arkady Ivanovich turns up to cause further trouble for Dunya.

What is really interesting is Raskolinkov's reasons, or lack of, for the murder. He doesn't really appear to have any and he certainly expresses little or no remorse during the course of the book. He refers to Alena as an "old witch" and barely mentions Lizaveta who was such a gentle soul. He gets involved with a prostitute (Sofya Semenovna) and her family who end up being his salvation ultimately.

There are some great cat and mouse games and converations between Raskolinkov and Porfiry Petrovich (the examining magistrate) as the net around Raskolinkov tightens. Do the police know the truth or are they just playing games with him? The book isn't so much about the crime (although it is frequently mentioned) or the punishment of it by law, it's more about suffering. Raskolinkov seems to make things worse for himself by randomly confessing to people and then pretending he was joking to further increase his suffering (perhaps because of his lack of guilt and motive?). It also discusses the nature of crime and his particular belief that some people who are geniuses are above the law (like Napoleon). It also parallels Dostoevsky's own experiences with crime and just escaping being put to death at the last moment to be exiled to Siberia.

It took me a little to get into this novel as it is pretty complicated, luckily my copy had a really handy guide to the Russian names at the back as they kept using different names for the same person. Once I did get stuck in, I fell in love with it. The climax is gripping the edge of your seat to see how it all plays out and I found it nearly impossible to put down. I highly recommend it if you haven't yet found the time for it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And, the Nominees Are….

What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007? (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
And, do “best of” lists influence your reading?

To be honest I haven't read much that was published this year. Fiction wise I have read:

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling

And Non-Fiction I have read:

Pies and Prejudice - Stuart Maconie
The Complete Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby

I really enjoyed all five and they got some of my highest ratings. Twilight and Blood Bound are both Urban Fantasy books with a difference and I highly recommend them both. I don't really need to say anything about Harry Potter... Pies and Prejudice was a travel guide to the North of England (where I am from). It covered lots of places I know and was fun and interseting at the same time giving me lots of recommendations for places to visit when I am up in Liverpool. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree was a reading guide of the books Nick Hornby read whilst writing his collum for The Believer magazine published in the USA. I got some great recommendations for myself, family and friends and love his writing style so again I recomend it.

I haven't really paid attention to "best of" lists before, but I have been doing some challenges reading prize winning books which has been really fun. Oh and of course I am reading at least 50 of the Guardians 100 Greatest Books of All Time for a personal challenge. I have started to pay a little more attention to "best of" lists, but still prefer to use recommendations from people I know, blogs that I read or other review sources rather than just because it won a prize.

The picture above is my baby girl Morgaine having her close up. She's just so pretty bless her ^_^

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rating : 2.0/5
Reason for Reading : Four-Legged Friends Challenge

Milla is a cat behaviour specialist after dropping out of vet school. She has closed herself off from relationships with men preferring the company of cats. Her best friend Gabriel is into birds and has been in love with Milla as long as he has known her, but she doesn't feel the same. One day she meets Josh out walking his dog. She tries to give him the bursh off but fate has a way of helping them meet again.

Things are going really well for them. Josh moves into Milla's flat, they are in love and for once Milla can see past the trivial irritating habbits. Things change when a strange white stray cat enters their lives called Purrl. Milla first meets her at a friends house when she is called in due to behavourial problems as the cat isn't eating her food. A strange relationship develops between them instantly. Purrl ends up being kicked out and finding Milla some months later and moving in with her, Josh, cat Tibbs and dog Zara. Milla begins to change though and things become more sinister as Purrl increases her hold over Milla.

It was such a strange book. At first I really liked it, but half way through Milla completely changed. She became a complete catty bitch and I didn't like it at all. The tone of the book compeltely changed and I know it was trying to be tense and creepy, but it was just crap to be honest. I kept reading to see how things where going to be explained, but it left too much out and it ended up being really vague. Shame really as the premise sounded interesting, I love books with cats as main characters and I loved the cover photo.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This challenge is being held again here which I am looking forward to. I missed the official start date this year but decided to participate unofficially anyway. The challenge is to pick 12 books and read them throughout 2008 from your TBR pile (ie you must already own them). I have picked 12 books plus 12 alternatives to give myself a bit of wiggle room in case I change my mind about my original picks. My list is:

1) The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke
2) The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
3) The Divine COmedy - Danta Alighirei
4) Lucinda Darkly - Sunny
5) Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
6) Hood - Stephen Lawhead
7) The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
8) Middlemarch - George Elliot
9) Lamb - Christopher Moore
10) Things Fall Apart - China Achebe
11) The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
12) The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter


1) Storm Front - Jim Butcher
2) Death Note v1 - Takeshi Obata
3) The Invisable Ring - Anne Bishop
4) Madam Bovay - Gustave Flaubert
5) Minion - LA Banks
6) The Trial - Franz Kafka
7) The Magicians Guild - Trudi Canavan
8) Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence
9) The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemmingway
10) The Book of Lost Things - John Conolly
11) Midnights Children - Salman Rushdie
12) Touch the Dark - Karen Chance

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rating : 2.5/5
Reason for Reading : Seconds Challenge

Katie is marrying Ray much to her families dismay. He is a great stand-in-father for her son Jacob, but everyone is convinced she isn't in love with Ray including Ray himself. Her brother Jamie is having problems with his boyfriend Tony, her mother is having an affair with one of her fathers ex-colleagues and her father is a whole other story. He has found a lesion on his hip and is having panic attacks about dying of cancer. He decides to take things into his own hands for better or worse.

Things spiral out of control as the wedding date draws near. We learn more about Ray's character along with Jamie who has never really given him a chance. Jacob is a sweet kid and the novel really captures life in England. It is a very British book with references to shops, television programmes and products.

It's not a bad book, it's just not a particularly good book either. It wasn't really anything new, the usual mid-life crisis stuff with a family totally wrapped up in their own lives. A sad let down after the wonder of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Secret Santa

I recieved my Secret Santa gift from the blogging world a couple of days ago. I got a beautiful Japanese card that folds out as well as a really interesting looking book called "The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin" by Idries Shah shown below.

He also wrote "The Way of the Sufi" and this is a coolection of Sufi teaching stories. It looks like a really interesting collection of tales and I am really looking forward to reading it. Thank you to whoever sent it and I would love to know who it was as the card wasn't signed. I can't wait to see what my secret santa thinks of what I sent them...

Rating : 4.0/5
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge, I enjoyed her other books that I have read

The Constant Princess details Katherine of Aragon's early life for the most part. She was betrothed to Arthur, Henry VIs first born son when she was 3 and was brought up believing herself to be the Princess of Wales and future Queen of England. Her parents were Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon (both in Spain) and she was brought up in battle fields. Her parents were using war to conquer the land of the Moors in Spain, el Andalus and her background is a mixture of Moorish and Spanish. When she reaches 15 she is shipped off to England to marry her betrothed who she has never met before, only spoken to via letter.

Things in England are very different from what she is used to. Henry is rude and Arthur seems like a young blustering colt to her. She even has to take things into her own hand on their wedding night and instigate things. As time goes on they do come to love each other and plan for the future and the kingdom they will lead. Sadly he dies not long after leaving her a Dowager Princess. To fulfil her destiny she tells the lie that their marriage was never consumated making her a virgin still and free to marry again without any loss in her value. She first repels the advances of King Henry (making herself a powerful enemy in him and his mother who helped put him on the throne) and instead goes after his second son, Henry who is a rather spoilt and selfish child.

As you know things work for many years before he casts her off by saying she was his brothers wife first and their marriage was null and void for Anne Boleyn. He was married to Katherin the longest of his 6 wives, for 24 years I think compared to the maximum of 4 with any of the others. The book tells Katherine's tale until she wins the war with Scotland while Henry is away fighting the French which she dedicates to his name. It then jumps to a scene in court where she is certain Henry cannot denounce their marriage (which of course he will sadly).

I really enjoyed this book but found it very sad in places. I think it's because I know the history (the Tudor time is my favourite part of history to read about besides mythology) I knew her happiness when she felt it would not last. I liked the way it changed from a description to entries in itallics like her diary or just internal voice. It really made it more personal and more heartfelt. Some elements of this story will never be confirmed 100%, was her first marriage consumated or not, which adds to the mystery.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Do you use any of the online book-cataloguing sites, like Library Thing or Shelfari? Why or why not? (Or . . . do you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking to?? (grin))
If not an online catalog, do you use any other method to catalog your book collection? Excel spreadsheets, index cards, a notebook, anything? Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
P.S. Incidentally, folks, did you see the clever post Joanna put together with all our Connecting Words from a couple weeks ago? Not to mention, of course Brad’s winner to the contest.

I do use Library Thing. I am a paid user and have put up all of my books along with tags which took ages! It is mostly so I can keep track of what I have as I was accidentally buying duplicates which this should hopefully prevent. I also have a handwritten list of them all which I continue to update using an address book so I can file them under author name. It's a couple of really small address books so I can also carry them around with me if I know I am going book shopping.

I have found Library Thing really useful for getting new ideas from other bloggers and other people with similar books to me. It is also a fun place to see what other people have thought of books I have read too. I always put my reviews up there as well and have met a couple of people online through doing so. Plus I won a cat shaped bar code scanner which makes it much easier to add books through putting up a Harry Potter review. The funny thing was I didn't know about the competition, I just reviewed it as I had read it so it was a lovely surprise to get the email.

The bad thing about Library Thing is finding out how many books I own that I have tagged TBR and knowing that I am still buying more. It's quite obscene, I think I have a book buying addiction...

Oh the photo above is of me and Merlin resting on the new sofa. You need to turn your head to appreciate that we are lying down cuddled up together ^_^

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The challenge is to read 12 books throughout 2008 that are the first in a series. It is hosted by Joy and should be really fun. I am doing another series challenge to get me up to date with some I am currently reading so this will help jump start some new ones for me. I am cheating a little and overlapping with some other challenges as I have signed up for probably far too many for next year already which I hope is ok. My list is:

1. Storm Front - Jim Butcher (Dresden Files)
2. Death Note v1 - Takeshi Obata (Death Note manga series)
3. The Magicians Guild - Trudi Canavan (Black Magician Trilogy)
4. Touch the Dark - Karen Chance (Cassie Plamer series)
5. Hood - Stephen Lawhead (King Raven series)
6. Sandamn v1 - Neil Gaiman (Sandman graphic novel series)
7. Minion - LA Banks (Vampire Huntress Legend)
8. The Looking Glass Wars - Frank Beddon (Looking Glass Wars series)
9. The Wee Free Man - Terry Pratchett (Bromeliad series)
10. Goddess of the Night - Lynne Ewing (Daughters of the Moon series)
11. Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison (Rachel Morgan series)
12. Dark Prince - Christine Feehan (Carpathian series)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rating : 5.0/5
Number in Series : #2 in Children of the Light Isles series
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge, Series Challenge

Set about 17 years after Wolfskin, Foxmask follows Nessa and Eyvind's daughter Creidhe and Margaret's son by Somerled, Thorvald. Thorvald believes his father to be Ulf, his mothers dead husband, so it comes as quite a shock when she finally tells him the truth. It was in fact Somerled who had killed his brother Ulf and been bannished from the Light Isles. He plans to go in search of Somerled with his friend Sam who is a fisherman with his own boat. Creidhe is in love with Thorvald who sees her only as a friend and she stows away in the boat secretly when they leave.

They sail to The Lost Isles which are ruled by Asgrim in a war with the Unspoken. One of the Asgrims tribe stole the Unspokens seer Foxmask and in punnishment the Unspoken sing away the souls of all the newborn babies before they see their second sunrise. Foxmask is being held captive on the Isle of Clouds protected by The Fools Tide which is only passable once a year during The Hunt. The tribes lose many men in The Hunt every year, but it is their only option until Thorvald, Sam and Credhe arrive to change everything.

Each of the three changes in the Isles. Sam finds a new hardness, Thorvald a father and respect from the islanders and Credhe completes her Journey and finds a love she never imagined. I loved this novel, it reminded me how much I love this author. Creidhe was my favourite character, I loved the idea of her embroidery and the many stories it encompassed. It was filled with magic, love, loss and cruelty. Highly recommended.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Two challenges I was participating in ended recently and I have been so busy I haven't had a chance to put up a post wrapping them up yet so here goes!

The challenge was to read five classic books below between 1/7/07 and 30/11/07. I read my five below and really enjoyed all of them, apart from possibly Edgar Allan Poe which was quite mixed (apart from the poems which I loved):

1) Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervanes Saavedra
2) Gilgamesh
3) Iliad - Homer
4) Odyssey - Homer
5) The Complete Tales and Poems - Edgar Allan Poe

The other challenge I have completed was The Books to Movie Challenge which ran between 1/9/07 - 1/12/07. For this challenge I read:

I was tagged by Stephanie at Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-A-Holic:

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago:
1. I think I was coming up to my first christmas at my first year at university
2. I was working two part-time jobs in the christmas holidays a total of 19 hours a day which nearly killed me!
3. It was possibly one of the two times in my life I have been single
4. I think my hair was probably jet black still (how I miss my black hair, when I get bored of red I am definitely going back to having dark hair and never going back to my natural blond again bah)
5. My favourite band was I think Metallica still

5 Things on my T0-Do List today:
1. Sleep
2. Post my secret santa gift. I know I am a day late, I intended to post it before I went to Prague but I managed to lock myself out of my house like an idiot and didn't get back in until after the post office had closed. The next day we both overslept and we had to really rush to make our plane so it had to wait until this morning sorry. I am assured I haven't missed the last day for international post to get to the USA in time for christmas (in case you need to know it's Monday 10th this year from the UK) so it should be fine.
3. Sleep more
4. Motivate myself to go out in the evening for a friend's birthday (remember card and gift as well as tarot cards)
5. Sleep even more

5 Things I would do if I were a millionaire:
1. Buy a bigger house with a dedicated proper old school library with wooden book shelves and a ladder that moves around the room on wheels
2. Hire a cleaner so I don't have to pretend I do any
3. Go on at least a year long trip around the world
4. Buy a PS3 (I know it's not that expensive but I wouldn't need to justify it if I had tonnes of money!)
5. Spend lots of money building a My Little Pony army to help me in my bid to take over the world and start making the vintage 80s ones again. In fact I would use my MLP army to only broadcast 80s cartoons and TV shows and make all the old toys again like Flower Fairies, original Transformers and Keepers

5 Things I'll never wear again (or have never worn):
1. A school uniform (I doubt I will be dressing up as a St Trinian any time soon...)
2. A waistcoat (shudder)
3. Leg warmers
4. Lipstick (possibly not never but highly likely, it annoys my lips and I hate wearing it. I can't even remember the last time I did unless you count lip gloss on my wedding day) and foundation (only once on my wedding day as well)
5. Ballet shoes

5 Favorite Toys:
This is hard as I love my toys and gadgets!
1. My Nintendo DS, it has all the best games on it as I can play all the old school gameboy games on it too
2. My Little Pony Castle, you wave a magic wand over part of it and it grows 3 stories and ends up being 2ft tall, how cool is that?!
3. My new Rainbow Brite bag, it's so kitch I love it
4. Mini Morg who is a cuddly cat toy that looks exactly like my cat Morgaine. As Morgaine is pretty tiny they are about the same size and I always sleep cuddling one or both of them
5. My Buddy Christ which I can't find at the moment from Dogma, yay for Kevin Smith!

I am cheating and tagging anyone else who hasn't done this yet...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for Reading : Seconds Challenge

John Wheelwright narrates this tale of Owen Meany and their lives as best friends. Owen is unnaturally small and is "The Voice" due to his unusual voice which has never broken and is expressed always in the text by capital letters. Owen hits a baseball early on in the tale that kills John's mother during a Little League game which causes his belief that he is "Gods Instrument". The other main contributor to the young Owen is when he is in a play of "A Christmas Carol" and he seems his name and date of death on Scrooge's tombstone whilst playing The Ghost of What is Yet to Come.

This was a really powerful book with a set of great characters. Owen is such a funny little man wiht a firm faith and an outstanding power of procognition at times. John and his family members were all great characters as well and I feel like I will really miss them all now that I have finished the book. How everything starts to really come together towards the middle of the novel is wonderful and some of it isn't obvious until right at the very end is very well written and makes you gasp.

I can't recommend this novel enough to any lover of fiction and great story telling. I have now read two books by Irving (this and "The World According to Garp") and I will definitely be reading more in the future.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's been a busy week and a bit. Last Saturday me and my husband Alex managed to have a whole day off together (he usually works weekends) so we decided to go to St Pauls Cathedral as I have wanted to go for ages. I found a voucher that got us in two for one and we spent a while looking around the ground floor before climbing the many stairs to the various levels. The first level is the whispering gallery where you whisper against the wall and someone on the other side of the dome can hear it. We finally got it to work which confused me as I hadn't seen Alex sneak off and then hearing his voice next to me I was really confused when he wasn't there! The other two levels were outside giving a good view over the city (the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery). I took some nice photos on my mobile phone but for some reason I can't get them to upload.

After going to St Pauls we had tickets to see the RSC performance of King Lear staring Sir Ian McKellan (Gandalf!) as King Lear and Slyvestor McCoy as The Fool (one of the old Dr Who actors). It was a great performance and all the actors were fab in their roles. It is my favourite Shakespeare play and I have wanted to see it performed on stage since I first read it. The best thing was getting a lot of autographs afterwards of the cast including Sir Ian and Sylvestor who were both really sweet.

Thursday this week we went to see an English guy called Lethal Bizzle in concert. He is a grime artist (the UK equivalent of Hip Hop) and it was a great night. There were five acts on and a radio one DJ had put it on called Tim Westwood who is a master of underground music. I hadn't been to a rap/hip hop/grime night before and we both really enjoyed it. It's always good to try new things, especially when it comes to music.

Friday night was spent in Wembley Arena watching UK comedian Bill Bailey. He has somewhat of a cult following over here (not sure if he has made it over seas at all) and is sort of a cross between Billy Connolly and Eddie Izzard. He blended comedy with music as well as a fun visual display behind him. He ended with a cover of "Creep" by Radiohead alongside a Bollywood Indian band which worked really well. A great night.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

November Summary

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 November = 8, total of 90 this year
So Many Books, So Little Time Challenge = 8/8
TBR Challenge = 9/12 and 9/12 of my alternatives
Book Awards Reading Challenge = 9/18
Something About Me Challenge = 5/5 and 5/19 of my alternatives
Classics Challenge = 5/5
Book 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 = 23 out of 100 (going for 50)

101 Things to do Challenge = 25/101

Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf has suggested this challenge that looks really interesting. Details are here. As I love graphic novels and have lots waiting to be read this should be a lot of fun. The challenge is to read at least 6 throughout 2008 and my list is:

1) Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes v1 - Neil Gaiman
2) Sandman v2 The Doll's House - Neil Gaiman
3) Fables Storybook Love v3 - Bill Willingham
4) Fables March of the Wooden Soldiers v4 - Bill Willingham
5) Emily the Strange Lost Dark and Boring v1 - Cosmic Debris
6) Gloom Cookie v1 - Serena Valentino
7) Gloom Cookie v2 - Serena Valentino
8) Nightmares and Fairy Tales : Once Upon a Time v1 - Serena Valentino
9) Nightmares and Fairy Tales : Beautiful Beasts v2 - Serena Valentino
10) Persepolis Complete Edition - Marjane Satrapi

Rating : 2.5/5
Reason for Reading : Picked up this graphic novel in the library as it looked interesting

Michael Smith's life is nothing out of the ordinary. On tuesdays he wears his blue socks and grey underwear, he counts his bath towels and has sex with his girlfriend Sandra. One tuesday however, his life changes forever when supervillian "The Head" appears and starts sucking peoples brains out of their nose. To further astonishment, his childhood comic book superhero Enigma appears to track down The Head and stop the killings. Things don't stop after The Head as supervillian The Truth appears to cause even more chaos and provide an even bigger challenge to Enigma.

An extremely surreal adventure where Michael tries to figure out his connection with Enigma. He ends up enlisting the help of the comic book writer who originally created Enigma, Titus Bird. Enigma only ran for 3 issues and Enigma soon starts to follow new paths seperate from the original comic and new supervillians appear. Titus also has to fend off the "Enigmatics" who treat him like a prophet and belive his comics to be complete truth with hidden messages.

It was a very sexual graphic novel without being explicit (I am guessing the author is gay?). I did enjoy it, but ultimately found it a little too pretentious playing up to comic book cliches. It was also a little overly confusing although I did like the twists it took for the most part. I am usually very good at guessing who and what is going on, but this time I was dead wrong which made for a nice change.