Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 168
Reason for Reading : I love his Redwall series and picked this up randomly from the library

Six short stories by Liverpool author Brian Jacques are collected in this anthology of horror stories for children. I love his Redwall series which I have mostly completed but aim to read through again, but haven't read anything else he has written. I picked this up on a whim from my local library as it looked like a fun easy read.

The Ribbajack
Archibald Smifft is left outside a school as a baby with a note pineed to him saying to take care of him and a warning that he bites. In his basket is a large pile of rubies so the school take him in and continue to recieve rubies each year to pay for his schooling. He grows up to be a horrible 11 year old and one day the headmaster and matron slip past his booby traps to enter his room where they find a collection of occult paraphenalia hidden under his bed. Archibald is trying to create his very own monster and after quizzing his frightened room mates he learns of the Ribbajack. It is a monster created by the mind with the purpose of making a single enemy disappear. On completing it's task the Ribbajack disappears and cannot be called again, but if it fails it takes it master with it instead. Archibald thinks he is clever enough to use his Ribbajack more than once, but nothing quite goes to plan.

Smile and a Wave
Maggie is given a new coat by her parents that just isn't cool or fashionable. She tries to leave it behind in school one day so she can pretend she has lost it, but her mother finds out and sends her back to retrieve it despite being a Saturday. If she doesn't come back with the coat Maggie can forget about seeing her friends and going to the ice rink later that evening. She finds the school surprisingly unlocked and lets herself in. Someone or something evil is lurking inside however.

The All Ireland Champion versus the Nye Add
Roddy Mooney is the All Ireland Champion Fisherman despite being only 19. One day he comes across Little Micky Hennessy fishing for a Nye Add in the local river. A Nye Add is half fish and half woman who can drive a man insane with her song. Looking into the river all Roddy sees is a large fish and he fetches his fishing tackle to try to catch it for his impressive collection. Unfortunately the fish has other ideas and what turns out to be a Kelpie causes him serious problems.

The Mystery of Huma D'Esta
Jason Hunter is the school's bully. He is a good looking kid, the best at sports that require little dedication or stamina, but lacking in intelligence. New girl Huma D'Este is able to stand up to him on her first day and firmly put him in his place using her superior height, strength and intelligence. She has strange haunting eyes and that night he follows them in a half-dream. Huma D'Este is only an anagram of her real name which Jason tragically finds out.

Miggy Mags and the Malabar Sailor
Miguela McGrail known as Miggy Mags lives on the dockside in Liverpool. While her father is away sailing on The Bengal Pearl she is looked after by her bully of an uncle Eric who owns and runs the Mersey Star Boardinghouse where she works. Her only friend is cook Atty Lok until her father brings her a pet mongoose she names Sailor. Atty says she has a friend for life who will be brave and protect her as it is known for being able to kill snakes. Her uncle believes she has a rat and sets out to trap Sailor.

Rosie's Pet
At 8 Rosie Glegg is a menace in her home town of Nether Cum Hopping. Everyone, child and adult, is afraid of her until she befriends Charlie Lupus and her behaviour is tempered.

This was a fun collection of tales, my favourite being Miggy Mags and the Malabar Sailor. Perhaps this is because it is set in Liverpool, Brian's home town as well as mine, and I loved Sailor. A lot of them saw bullies getting their just deserts which is always a good message for children and adults. A little spooky in places but definitely recommended.


This week’s question is suggested by (blogless) JMutford:
Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?

One of my favourite eccentric and quirky characters was Wemmick in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. He works as a clerk for the lawyer Jaggers helping out Pip and the two become close friends. Wemmick lives in a castle surrounded by a mini moat in the centre of London as well as having a canon and a draw bridge. He also lives with his father, the Aged One, who is mostly deaf so everything has to be shouted and a lot of nodding and smiling goes on. He also has a very interesting relationship with his fiance Miss Skiffins. I think he was my favourite character in the book.

Trelawney from the Harry Potter books is another great quirky character. She is the schools teacher and Professor of Divination. Her predictions are usually violent and she loves to tell people they are going to die. Harry and Ron take great delight in making up false prefictions in class to amuse her with unusual and grisly ways they meet their maker. At least one of her predictions has come true however involving Harry and this is why Dumbledore keeps her on staff. I like that she is so chaotic, vague and all over the place.

I am sure that there are some quirky characters that grate on my nerves, but I can't seem to think of any right now. Mostly they are the ones that stand out and make a book special to me. I like to think I am a bit quirky and eccentric so maybe that's why!

The above is a statue in the British Museum. It's an African man balancing on a crocodile which I thought was pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 349
Reason for Reading : Library Book Discussion Group

William Thornhill is born in 1806 and brought up in poverty in London. As a young boy he is encouraged to steal on the side of helping his father collect dog shit which he sometimes has to dig up with his fingernails to sell to a local factory. As an adult after both of his parents have died, he gets caught stealing from his employer and is sentenced to be hung from the neck until dead. His wife and childhood sweetheart Sal helps him to petition for mercy and instead he is deported to Australia as the slave of his master Sal.

They begin to forge a new life for themselves. William works for two years before being able to apply for more freedom and later on his pardon. They gain their own 100 acres of land to raise their family and build their own hut. The problem is the black people who live on the land and have been there long before them. They are stealing from the white settlers and burning down their crops and dwellings. There is an undercurrent of violence between the two different races apart from one of the white settlers who learns the languauge and falls in love.

Things come to a head when Will has to choose between staying and "seeing to the blacks once and for all" and risking his life and that of his family, or giving in to Sal's deepest desire to go home to London. Will knows that they will be nothing in London, they will always be the family of a man who was detained by His Majesties Services and this will be remembered down the generations.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was very descriptive with very little dialogue. The early part of Williams life passes very quickly and I think it was just there to show where he came from and why he makes the choices he does. Sal was a great character as was his son Dick and neighbour Blackwood. It was nominated for a Man Booker Prize award and her earlier novel "The Idea of Perfection" won the orange prize for fiction in 2001 which I hope to read in the future.

The second part of my series list is series I have at home and am yet to start. Again it includes manga and graphic novels as well as novels. I hope to start some of them soon!

Shiro Amano – Kingdom Hearts I
Shiro Amano – Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories
Shiro Amano – Kingdom Hearts II
Aaron A – Serenity Rose
Kelley Armstrong – Nadia Stafford Series
Jean M Auel – Earth’s Children
Keri Arthur - Riley Jenson Guardian
Ilona Andrews - Kate Daniels
Terry Brooks - High Druid of Shannara
Anne Bishop - Tir Alainn
Anne Bishop - Ephemera
Jim Butcher – Dresden Files
Patricia Briggs – Raven Duology
Frank L Baum – Oz
Herbie Brennen – Faerie Wars
Alice Borchardt - Legends of the Wolves
Alice Borchardt - Tales of Guinevere
LA Banks - Vampire Huntress Legend
Marie Brenan – Doppelganger
Kit Berry - Stonewylde Series
Clive Barker – Abrat
Nicola Barker - Thames Gateway
Jacqueline Carey - Kushiel
Jacqueline Carey – Sundering
Jacqueline Carey – Imriel
Trudi Canavan – Black Magician Trilogy
Trudi Canavan – Age of Five Gods
Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl
Queenie Chan – The Dreaming
Bernard Cornwell - Grail Quest
Karen Chance - Cassandra Palmer
PC Cast – Goddess Summoning
PC Cast – Partholon
PC Cast – Divine
PC Cast – House of Night (with Kristin Cast)
Kathleen Duey - Unicorn's Secret
Mark Chadbourn – Dark Age
Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black – The Spiderwick Chronicles
Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black – Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles
Stephen Donaldson - Thomas Covenant
Stephen Donaldson - Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
Stephen Donaldson - Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
Ellen Datlow & Terrin Windling – Years Best Fantasy and Horror
Ellen Datlow & Terrin Windling – Fairy Tales Retold
Lynne Ewing - Daughters of the Moon
Lynn Flewelling - Tamir Triad
Cornelia Funke – Inkheart
Christine Feehan – Dark
Jake T Forbes – Return to Labyrinth
Kosuke Fujishima – Oh My Goddess!
Philippa Gregory – Earthly Joys
Yasmine Galenorn - Chintz 'n China
Yasmine Galenorn - Sisters Of The Moon
Colleen Gleason - Gardella Vampire Chronicles
Robin Hobb - Tawny Man
Shannon Hale – The Goose Girl
Charlaine Harris - Sookie Stackhouse
Charlaine Harris - Harper Connelly
Charlaine Harris – Lily Bard
Laurell K Hamilton - Meredith Gentry
Creative Hon – Last Fantasy
Tanya Huff - Victoria Nelson
Tanya Huff - Quarters Novels
Kim Harrison - Rachel Morgan
San Hee-Joon – PhD Phantasy Degree
Lori Handeland - Night Creature
Erin Hunter – Warrior Cats
India Ink - Bath and Body
Erika Kari – Vampire Doll
Sherrilyn Kenyon - Dark-Hunter
Stephen Lawhead - Dragon King
Stephen Lawhead – King Raven
Alice LeGrow - Bizenghast
Charles de Lint - Cerin Songweaver
Charles de Lint – Moonheart
Charles de Lint - Jack of Kinrowan
Charles de Lint – Newford
Jeff Lindsay - Dexter
George Lucas with Chris Claremont - Shadow War
Madeleine L’Engle - Time Quintet
Sergei Lukyanenko – Watch
Richelle Mead - Georgina Kincaid
Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy
Thom Madley – Glastonbury Series
Haruhiko Momokawa & Nariko Ogiwara – The Good Witch of the West
Gerlad Morris - Squire's Tales
Julian May with Marion Zimmer Bradley and Andre Norton – Trillium
Rosalind Miles – Tristan and Isolde
Juliet Marillier - Bridei Chronicles
Juliet Marillier - Wildwood Dancing
Paul Magrs - Brenda
Caiseal Mór - Wanderers
Caiseal Mór - The Watchers
Caiseal Mór – Wellspring
Alan Moore – Lost Girls
Tsugumi Obata – Death Note
James A Owen - Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica
Sang-Sun Park – The Tarot Café
Peach Pit – Zombie Loan
Terry Pratchett - Johnny Maxwell
Terry Prathcett - Discworld (Childrens)
Michelle Paver - Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
Christopher Paolini – Inheritance
John Rateliff – The History of The Hobbit
Silver RavenWolf – Witches’ Chillers
Neil Stephenson – Baroque Cycle
Whitley Strieber – Hunger
Manda Scott – Boudica
Sunny – Monere
Rosemary Sutcliffe – The King Arthur Trilogy
Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus
Sharon Shinn - Safe-Keepers
Susan Sizemore - Primes
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell - Edge Chronicles
Theresa Tomlinson - Against the Tide
JRR Tolkien - History of Middle-Earth
JRR Tolkien - The History of The Lord of the Rings
JRR Tolkien - Later Silmarillion
Serena Valentino – Gloom Cookie
Serena Valentino – Nightmares and Fairy Tales
Carrie Vaughn – Kitty Norville
Bill Willingham – Jack of Fables
Scott Westerfeld – Uglies
Diana Wynne Jones – Howl’s Castle
Yo Yo – Laya the Witch of Red Pooh
Jane Yolen – The Young Merlin Trilogy
Sarah Zettle – Isavalta Trilogy
Sarah Zettle – Camalot
Marion Zimmer Bradley – Witchlight

I know a lot of people did this last year, but I didn't get around to it. It has taken me a while, but I have finally compiled a list of all the series I am reading/have read (I think anyway...). The ones in bold are the ones I am up-to-date with and next to the other ones is the number I have read in the series so far. I hope to keep it updated with my progress. I have included manga and graphic novel series.

Kelley Armstrong – Women of the Otherworld (read 1-6)
Terry Brooks – Shannara
Terry Brooks – Landover
Terry Brooks - Heritage of Shannara
Terry Brooks - Voyage of the Jerle Shannara
Anne Bishop – The Black Jewels
Holly Black – Tales of Modern Faerie
Dan Brown - Robert Langdon

Isobel Bird – Circle of Three (read books 1-6)
Patricia Briggs – Mercedes Thompson
Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars
Lewis Carroll – Alice

Michael Crichton – Jurassic Park (read 1)
Charmed Pocket Book Series (read 1-26)
Bernard Cornwell - Warlord Chronicles
Ellen Datlow & Terrin Windling - Fairy Tale Anthologies (read 1-4)
Philippa Gregory – Tudor Series (read 1-4)
Philippa Gregory – Wideacre
Alan Garner – Alderley (read 1)
Neil Gaiman – Sandman (read 1-4)
Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea (read 1-4)
Robert Holdstock - Mythago Wood (read 1)
Robin Hobb – Farseer
Laurell K Hamilton - Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (read 1-6)
Brian Jacques – Redwall (read 1-14)
Robin Jarvis - Deptford Mice
CS Lewis – Narnia
Stephen Lawhead – Pendragon
Lois Lowry – Anastasia
Lois Lowry - Sam Krupnik (read 1)
Courtany Love – Princess Ai
Stephenie Meyer – Twilight
Gregory Maguire – Wicked
China Mieville - New Crobuzon

Jill Murphy – Worst Witch (read 1-5)
Rosalind Miles – Guenevere
Juliet Marillier – Sevenwaters
Juliet Marillier - Children of the Light Isles
Alan Moore – Promethea
Garth Nix - Old Kingdom
William Nicholson - Wind on Fire
Akif Pirincci – Felidae (read 1)
Terry Pratchett – Discworld
Terry Pratchett – Bromeliad
Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials
Anne Rice - Vampire Chronicles
Anne Rice - Sleeping Beauty
Anne Rice - Mayfair Witches
Anne Rice - New Tales of the Vampires
Anne Rice - Christ the Lord
JK Rowling – Harry Potter
Celia Rees – Witch Child
Darren Shan - Saga of Darren Shan
SF Said – Varjak Paw
Mary Stewart – Merlin

Sunny - Demon Princess Chronicles
Sue Townsend – Adrian Mole (read 1-4)
Cate Tiernan - Wicca
Cate Tiernan – Balefire
JRR Tolkien - Lord of the Rings
Theresa Tomlinson - Forestwife
Theresa Tomlinson - Moon Riders

Hiroki Ugawa – Shrine if the Morning Mist (read 1)
Bill Willingham – Fables (read 1-2)
My Dead Girlfriend – Eric Wight
Marion Zimmer Bradley - Avalon

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 287
Number in Series : #3 Mercedes Thompson Series
Reason for Reading : To see what happens next to Mercy

Mercy is a walker which means she can transform into a coyote. She has helped the vampires kill a demon riding a vampire, her housemate is werewolf Samuel and her trailer backs onto the house of alpha werewolf Adam. She is torn between the two werewolves and things are getting very strained, and she also has feelings for Stephan the vampire...

This novel focuses on the Fae. Zee (Mercy's friend and mentor) and Uncle Mike enlist Mercy's help to sniff out the murderer in a string of deaths in the fairyland reservation. She notices the same human scent in all the murder scenes and when Uncle Mike and Zee go to talk to him, they find him already brutally murdered in a way that seems only a Fae could accomplish. The police have already been called and Zee is arrested despite being innocent. The Gray Lords (the Fae council) are happy to let him take the fall as it cleans things up quickly leaving them time to look for the true killer. However, Mercy is not going to let this happen, despite how many people tell her to let things alone.

Alongside the main plot, Mercy also has to choose between the two werewolves as tensions are rapidly rising. Her final choice makes sense and felt like the right thing to do, I hope it works out for her in future books. She has the Fae after her, the Gray Lords, Zee wants nothing more to do with her and a magical walking stick keeps following her around. The greatest danger is from an unseen corner and has very tragic consequences for Mercy.

I enjoyed this book the most so far. I liked the Fae lore and the confusion Mercy feels deciding between Samuel and Adam. I also found this the saddest of the series so far and really felt for Mercy having been through something similar in my past. I highly recommend this series and I can;t wait to see what will happen next.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 386
Number in Series : #2 Fairy Tale Anthologies
Reason for Reading : Themed Reading Challenge, Short Story Reading Challenge, my interest in re-tellings of fairy tales

The second in the fairy tale anthologies collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Again it contains short stories that are adult re-tellings of fairy tales. This time there are 18 tales by 18 different authors with the only cross overs from the first in the series being Susan Wade, Nancy Kress and Jane Yolen with Susan Wade writing the only completely original tale in the collection again.

Worlds Like Pale Stones - Nancy Kress
A re-telling of Rumplestiltskin looking at the magic of words and the power of knowledge. Ludie is the daughter of a drunk and a boastful washerwoman who tells people she can spin straw into gold. She is taken to the Prince and told if she cannot spin gold she will be killed. A rat-boy comes to her aid, one of the Old Ones, and when she spins gold she is forced to marry the Prince. She gives birth to the savage Dirk before finally running away when a woman who can spin straw into diamonds is found.

Stronger Than Time - Patricia C Wrede
A bittersweet look at Sleeping Beauty. A Prince appears on the doorstep one evening of a woodcutter and persuades him to help him reach the keep contained within the thorns. He claims there is an enchantment within caused by the Count insulting a witch-woman at the christening of his daughter. She laid a curse that on the girls sixteenth birthday she would die, but the Queen was able to counter it keeping her alive for 100 years safe in her resting place. She was very specific and her magic was to cause a specific Prince to arrive to set her free the day after the 100 years had passed. Unfortunately the Prince was impatient and arrived a day too early and was killed by the thorns. This new Prince is a relative of the one who died and has come to finish the task.

Samnus's Fair Maid - Ann Downer
Another Sleeping Beauty tale. The roles are slightly reversed and it is the male who has the sleeping sickness which his Aunt believes can be cured by a kiss from the one he loves.

The Frog King or Iron Henry - Daniel Quinn
A look at what happened to the Frog King after he was rewarded by the Princess for bringing back her golden ball. Scattered bits of information recalled by one with amnesia.

Near Beauty - M E Beckett
A strange science fiction tale if a sleeping beauty and an amphibian. Amanda talks to the three foot toad she finds in her boyfriends shower called Kane and they strike up a friendship that no one else knows about. An odd tale that sees them leaving and her becoming the Pilot for the Carnival the toad is in.

Ogre - Michael Kandel
Another strange tale about an ameatur dramatics group putting on a fairy tale performance of "The Yellow Dwarf". One of the cast members is an ogre who eats human flesh sandwiches prepared by his mother. When the director is fired by the ogre-like Connie, it is the ogre who is kind and thanks him for his direction.

Can't Catch Me - Michael Cadnum
A look at The Ginger-Bread Man. He is born in a hot oven before escaping into the cold world. On escaping from his parents and running away from them and his neighbour who chases him with a pitch fork, he stops long enough to repeatedly taunt those chasing him. He crosses a rinver on the head of a river fox who eats him all up, but ginger doesn't agree with foxes and the parts brought back up run away faster!

Journey Bread Recipie - Lawrence Schimel
A strange, short poem on how a wolf, child and hood for grandma can be made into bread. I very much enjoyed this short poem:
"5. Now crack the wolf and sseperate the whites -
the large eyes, the long teeth - from the yolks."

The Brown Bear of Norway - Isabel Cole
A classic Scandinavian tale in the "animal bridegroom" folklore tradition.It implies that the sorcery of shapeshifting is not to different from the magic used in turning from adolescence to adulthood.It follows a young girl living in New York who has a boy from Norway in her class. He gives her an address of someone back home who wants a penpal. They begin to write to each other and he signs his letters The Brown Bear of Norway. He starts to visit her in the evenings and tells her not to look at him, but one day she cannot resist and he is gone. She learns Norwegian and tracks him to his homeland, eventually finding him changed from a bear to the boy she knew from school.

The Goose Girl - Tim Wynne-Jones
Tells the story from the viewpoint of the Prince in the traditional tale. For a lark a Princess and her chambermaid exchange places before they meet the Prince the Princess has been sent to marry. Things go a little further than planned with the Prince marrying the chambermaid and the Princess being sent to work with the geese. The Old King realises what has happened and asks the chambermaid what punnishment someone who had done something like this should recieve, and then committs this punnishment upon her. Things do not quite end happily ever after as the new Queen is cold and unforgiving on the Prince.

Tattercoats - Midori Snyder
A lovely tale of Lilian who has been married to Edward for 7 years before feeling something is missing from their marriage. Her mother, the Queen, gives her a series of impressive gifts including a tattered coat made of animal skins which she says is the most important as it will teach her about herself. Lilian tries wearing the different beautiful dresses to attract her husbands attention, but ends up wearing the tattered coat on a bridge and seducing her husband. They begin to meet in secret, her hidden in the furs and him unsure who she is, until one day after they have rebuilt their marriage she decides it is the final meeting and she is going to tell the truth. Turns out Edward was not so unsuspecting afterall.

Granny Rumple - Jane Yolen
Yolen's take on Rumplestiltskin using her Granny as the main storyteller and the sad murder of her husband for being Jewish. It brought a lovely personal twist to the well known tale.

The Sawing Boys - Howard Waldrop
Based on a tale I didn't know called "The Bremen Town Musicians" and retold in the South of America. A group of people end up in a small town in Kentucky intent on mischief and murder, until they are dissuassed by local musicians entering the towns music contest.

Godson - Roger Zelazny
A very cool tale about David who has a very interesting Godfather. It is based on a Brothers Grimm tale and I don't want to say too much as it will spoil the story and it is one of the best in the collection.

Ashputtle - Peter Straub
A strange and unsettling tale about a Kindergarden teacher called Mrs Asch. She is excellent at her job although it is unclear whether she even likes the children she teaches and their parents. Every so often a child or parent goes missing from where she teaches and the implication is that she is killing them. Each time she moves on with no suspiscion to another town.

Silver and Gold - Ellen Stribar
A poem baed on Little Red Riding Hood looking at the path we take through life and the wolves we face in the real world. It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between the ones who love you and the ones who will eat you alive.

Sweet Bruising Skin - Storm Constantine
A wonderful re-telling of The Princess and the Pea told from the eyes of the Princes mother who is a cruel sorceress. Lots of alchemy, magic and death, the story looks at what happens after the Prince marries the Princess with the bruised skin. My favourite in the collection by far.

The Black Swan - Susan Wade
An original tale looking at how far women will go to transform themselves to a particular ideal of feminine beauty. Ylianna is dark to her cousins light and desires to change everything about herself secretly. When she unveils herself to everyone in the Kingdom including Prince Sigfried they all fall in love with her. However, she is accused of having an affair with the kind servant who helped her to transform (the narrator of the tale) and Sigfried openly denies her. She rushes upstairs and throws herself off the balcony, but instead of hearing her body hit the ground a beautiful black swan flies away to freedom.

My absolute favourite was Sweet Bruising Skin. It was interesting to sympathise with such a controlling tryant rather than the innocent Princess. I also really enjoyed The Black Swan, Silver and Gold, Godson (perhaps my second favourite), Tattercoats, The Goose Girl, The Brown Bear of Norway and Journey Bread Recipie. It took me a little longer to get into this anthology as the first stories didn't appeal to me as much, but I am so glad I stuck with it as they got much better.

This challenge is being hosted by Becky at Becky's Book Reviews with full details here. The aim is throughout 2008 to read at least 2 books by or about CS Lewis and at least 2 books by or about JRR Tolkien. Biographies also count and you are also encouraged to watch films based on their lives or work. I love the Narnia series by Lewis and all of the Lord of the Rings books by Tolkien and it will be nice to read a little more by both authors outside of these. I am not going to pick challenge books in advance, I will just see what takes my fancy throughout the year.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Eva's Book Meme

I was tagged by Gautami Tripathy and Annie the Superfast Reader for this. They were tagged by tagged by Eva from A Striped Armchair.

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
Everyone I know loves The Earth's Children Series (The Clan of the Cave Bear etc) by Jean M Auel. It seems like something I would love, but I just can't seem to bring myself to read them. I am not sure what it is about them, but I just can'e see the appeal.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
For a night of clubbing definitely Lestat from the Vampire Chronicles series by Anne Rice. He is pretty sexy and has had such an interesting long life I am sure we would have a lot to talk about inbetween dancing. I would also like to go dancing with Mercy Thompson from Patricia Brigg's books. She is a tom boy like me so I wouldn't be the only one in baggy jeans and trainers. I bet she knows how to let loose on the dance floor and it would be interesting to chat to her more. My final choice would be anyone from Newford in the Charles de Lint stories. The characters are mostly about my age group and quite punky which would be a fun night out.

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
That's a difficult question as I assume the most boring book is one I haven't read yet. I would probably pick a book on sport or a biography of someone from a sport like cricket or rugby that I really have no interest in at all.

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?
You know what, I don't think there is a book I have pretended to read. I was always ashamed I hadn't read Dracula by Bram Stoker (I finally got around to it last year), but I never pretended I had so I guess I pass on this question.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?
I can't think of one for this question either. I keep a journal of what I read which helps me remember what I have and haven't read. I am pretty anal about my book reading habbits!

You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you'd have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP)
It depends on what their job was. If they were in politics I would recommend 1984 by George Orwell or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury to give them an idea into what things can be like with over control.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
It would be very cool to be able to read Ancient Egyptian Heiroglyphics. To be able to walk around all the ancient sites and tombs knowing what all the inscriptions say would be fascinating. I bet a lot of it is boring though!

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
I would pick something short and inspiring like Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I think it would give you a different insight from each re-read and wouldm't become too dull over time like a novel might.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
Goodness, there have been so many authors I would never have discovered without the blogging community. It was someone online who recommended both Charles de Lint and Anne Bishop to me who are now two of my favourite authors. I have also found lots more great recommendations of fairy tale and mythology re-tellings from online blogs as well as some great urban fantasy authors like Patricia Briggs I hadn't heard of before. The main thing is the blogging world has helped me to open up my reading boundaries, try some more classic work and just make more time for reading.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.
My dream library is pretty traditional. It has lots of panels of books with a ladder on wheels that I can push around the shelves. There would be a mixture of leather bound volumes of classics as well as paperbacks in new condition and everything would be organised alphabetically within their genre. There would be a ghost called Jeeves living there who sometimes moves things around, like I might find a classic novel in the urban fantasy section, but other times he might help when I stand in the middle trying to find a particular book by flying it gently towards me. For ancient books they would be under special cabinets with apparatus for turning pages so they do not become damaged. A nice oak reading desk and lamp would be ner the middle and a large globe that you can spin too.

And the final portion of this assignment is to tag four others:
Kailana at The Written Word
Marg and Reading Adventures

*And, for extra credit, if you leave a comment letting Eva know you've done the meme with a link to the post, she will give you some link love via a big list of who's participated. Additionally, if you link back to her original post, she will enter you in a drawing to win The House at Riverton. If you're an American, this is especially exciting since it isn't going to published until April. ;) To be in the drawing, you must have posted the meme (and commented) by February 5th, which is when she is holding the drawing.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 867
Number in Series : #1 New Crobuzon Series
Reason for Reading : Chunkster Challenge, Sci-Fi Experience, My husband recommended it to me

Set in New Crobuzon which is inhabited by humans, remade and a host of alien creatures including kephrin (insect people), cactacae (cactus people), garuda (bird people) and vodyanoi (water people) among others. The remade are usually fusions of humans or aliens and metal parts carried out as punnishments many times. For example one woman has been convicted for killing her baby and her punnishment is to serve 10 years in prison as well as having her babies arms remade on to her face as a constant reminder of what she did.

Isaac der Grimnebulin is a human scientist operating on the fringe of mainstream discoveries compounded by having a kephri girlfriend called Lin who is an artist. Both get drawn down different paths, Isaac investigating flight for a broken and outcast garuda, Yagharek, and Lin doing a sculpture for crime lord Motley. Isaac begins to study all creatures who fly or larvae who have the potential to fly, including a brightly coloured grub that unbeknownst to him will turn into a terrifying slake-moth with no known predator who sucks out peoples dreams. Lin is being drawn further and further into Motley's criminal world which you know can only end badly for her.

A dark mixture of fantasy, science fiction and horror with constructs who gain sentinence and giant spiders called weavers. It is a pretty long book and the first half was very slow paced introducing you to life in New Crobuzon, the different races and the different characters. The second half was much more action based with the hunt for the slake-moths taking over the main plotline with Isaac and his gang being hunted by the government militia as well as Motley's thugs. I am looking forward to seeing what the next book in the series is like.

Friday, January 25, 2008


What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

Firstly sorry this is a day late, I have been away for a few days and couldn't get online. One book I read in 2007 was The Five of Cups by Wendy Mewes. She is a wonderful author who combines romance, fantasy and magic in a way that will appeal to many. She is fairly unknown which is such a shame as her first fictional novel Moon Garden was wonderful as well. Go check her out!

Another book I really love is The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A lot of people have heard of her Avalon or Darkover series, but her book retelling the siege of Troy through the eyes of Kassandra (the oracle doomed to always tell the truth and never be believed) is less well known sadly. It combines fantasy and mythology twisting a very well known tale from the eyes of the women in the story who are usually overlooked.

Theresa Tomlinson is another author I love who writes YA fantasy fiction. She wrote The Moon Riders and Voyage of the Snake Lady about the Amazons and their involvement in the siege of Troy as well as The Forestwife Trilogy which is her take on Robin Hood. All three books again focus on the women in the tales and tell the story from a different perspective giving them new life and a fresh outlook.

The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates is a wonderful book as well that I highly recommend. It tells the tale of a christian monk who forms a strange bond with an anglo saxon shamen/sourceror. The two go on a spiritual journey and learn of each others faiths having their eyes open to other possibilities outside of their usual beliefs. The ending was very well done and I like that neither gives up their own beliefs, but somehow assimilates it all together.

The Promethea graphic novel series (five in total) by Alan Moore are amazing. The artwork is stunning and it is a journey through magic and mythology that is a primer for esoteric subjects like tarot, astrology and the qabalah. Most people have heard of The Watchmen, V for Vendetta or League of Extrodinary Gentlemen but not this series. Highly recommended.

The picture above was taken yesterday in Luxemboug after a long meeting when I stole someones hat. I sadly had to give it back, but I am seriously in need to a days hat shopping as I think it looks awesome!

Monday, January 21, 2008

My New Look!

I got bored yesterday so I decided to dye my hair "dark natural golden brown". What do you think?

I am blond naturally (hence the really pale eyebrows) and after having blue/black hair for about 8 years I decided to go back to blond. I quickly went off the idea as I just don't think it suits me (I did get to play around adding purple, pink or orange as long as I wasn't going near my office anytime soon!). I always wanted to be a red head so gave that a go for 4 months. I think it really suited me (most people thought I was naturally ginger), but I always wanted to go back to darker hair. So anyway, I have never been a brunette so I am giving it a go before dying it a dark red and then finally back to black indefinitely again. Hair can be such fun!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rating : 4/0/5
Number of Pages : 323
Number in Series : #3 Modern Tales of Faerie
Reason for Reading : Series Challenge, to complete this trilogy

The sequel to Tithe featuring some of the main characters from Valiant. Roiben is being crowned King of the Unseelie Court and Kaye, his Pixie girlfriend, takes it upon herself to declare herself to him at his coronation leading to being sent on a quest to become his consort. Roiben decides to send her on an impossible quest as he doesn't want her dragged into the torments of Court life; to find a faery who can tell a lie (impossible, no faery can lie). Kaye also decides it is time to tell her mother the truth about her, that she is a changeling and the real Kaye was stolen away by the faeries and replaced with her. To make things right Kaye tried to hunt down the original Kaye to return to her mother.

Comlications arise from the Seelie Court Queen, Silarial, who wants to rule both Courts as well as have Roiben back under her control. She will stop at nothing to obtain her goals and use whomever neccessary for her own ends including trying to find out Roiben's true name and gain control over him forever. Kaye and Corny enlist the help of Luis who has the true sight to complete both quests but end up tangled up further in the dangerous Court life.

I really enjyoed this book in the series, it was perhaps my favourite developing the characters from the first two books further. I liked that it didn't have a sickly sweet happy ending, the whole series has been like that though with violence, bad language, sex and drug abuse. I still don't recommend this for under 16s, although this one is the most accessible of the three.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 384
Number in Series : #2 The Looking Glass Wars Series
Reason for Reading : What's in a Name Challenge, to continue the trilogy

The second book in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy sees Alyss putting Wonderland back in order after the disappearence of Redd and The Cat at the end of the first book. The re-building is coming along well and peace is slowly being restored to the Queendom. Things are not quite what they seem however, King Arch of the Boarderlands is plotting against Wonderland and using the Diamond clan to further his purposes. He is against woman ruling and generally sees woman as beneath men and unimportant. His plans at present focus around Alyss's young bodyguard Homburg Molly and her unknown connection to Milliner Hatter Madigan.

Meanwhile on Earth a painter keeps finding dark blotches in his new paintings, which on closer inspection appear to be a woman and cat. He can't get rid of them and they keep getting bigger and bigger until one day they escape from the canvas into the world. Redd immediately starts recruiting for her new army among Wondlandians who were exiled for practising Black Imagination and those on earth who possess special talents. Her goal is to re-take Wonderland and regain her Queenship.

I really enjoyed this sequel and am looking forward to the third in the series being published. This one was not so focused on battle scenes and focused more on the supporting characters like Molly, Hatter, Arch and Arch's bodyguards Blister and Ripkins. It ended on a real cliff hanger with everything in place for the final installment.

Let’s Review…

This week’s question is suggested by Puss Reboots:
How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

I don't let bad reviews out me off a book I am really interested in reading. If it's one I am not so sure about I might look for other reviews and see if they are all bad, but ultimately I will make up my own mind. Sometimes a good review of something outside my usual reading sphere will make me change my mind, but I suppose it isn't too often as there is usually a reason I wouldn't like it in the first place. I am trying to read more outside my boarders though where possible so anything could happen!

The reviews in the blogging community are really helpful for finding new suggestions. There are some bloggers in particular who share similar reading tastes to me and I know if they recommend a book I don't know there is a good chance I will like it too.

The photo above is of Merlin. I walked into the bathroom and there he was, sat in the sink...!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 376
Number in Series : #1 The Looking Glass Wars Series
Reason for Reading : First in a Series Challenge, Young Adult Challenge, recommended by my best friend

Alyss Heart is a Princess in Wonderland who will one day become Queen. On the day of her seventh birthday however, Queen Genevieve's exiled older sister Redd attacks with her card soldiers and The Cat (her personal Assassin) in tow killing Queen Genevieve and her husband King Nolan. Alyss manages to escape aided by the Queen's bodyguard Hatter Madigan by jumping into the Pool of Tears. Alyss emerges alone in England in the 1800s, stranded with noone believing her tales of Wonderland. After getting caught stealing with a band of other orphans she is taken to an orphanage and eventually adopted by the Liddles.

One day she meets Charles Dodgson (the real name of Lewis Carroll) and takes a chance trusting him with her tale. When she starts to tell him about her best friend in Wonderland Dodge, he assumes that the character is based on him and decides to write a book which eventually becomes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She is furious he has trivialised her life with this ridiculous tale of Cheshire Cats, Mad Hatters and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee and refuses to have anything more to do with him. She starts to doubt herself and her imagination which is key to becoming Queen and becomes part of English society to be courted by a Prince.

Wonderland hasn't forgotten her however. In the 13 years she has been away Hatter has been wandering the world searching for her and eventually finds her. She is brought back to Wonderland which has become a cross between Nazi Germany and 1984 for a show down with her Aunt Redd. Alyss has her faithful companions beside her; Dodge, Hatter, General Doppleganger (who can split into two, General Dopple and General Ganger), her tutor Bibwit Harte (an anagram of White Rabbit), Molly and some of the white chess pieces. In Wonderland much is done using imagination and there is a fantastic battle between Redd and Alyss conducted Matrix style.

I can't say enough great things about this book. I loved it so much and am going straight off to start the sequel "Seeing Redd". A review at the start sums it up for me, "To say Beddor's revolutionary novel is an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's original would do justice for neither author". In a nutshell, The Looking Glass Wars is to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland what Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 393
Reason for Reading : Reading Challenge with Nymeth, Mythopoeic Award Challenge

Polly is 19 when she picks up a copy of "Times of out Mind" edited by L Perry which has a cover reminding her of her Fire and Hemlock photograph. Looking through the short stories in the book she feels like it should have a different title and one the stories is missing. When she looks around her room other things seem to be missing too, like the photograph she stole, so she casts her memory back to nearly 9 years ago to the night she first met Tom Lynne at a funeral she accidentally gatecrashed. Since meeting Tom it seems up to the age of 15 she has two sets of memories, one with Tom and one without. She sets off to find out why Tom Lynne has been erased from her memory and the rest of the worlds.

Polly was a great character who really grew during the novel. She starts off quite timid and easily lead by her friend Nina, but later on ends up at Oxford University leading her own life and making her own decisions. I loved how much she read as a child despite people like her mother telling her it is a waste of time and suts her off from real life. I really felt for her during her parents divorce, being turned out by her mother and finding out her father isn't the man she thought he was. I think the reading and divorce struck a big cord with me and made me really associate with Polly as it was so like my own upbringing.

Each chapter has a small quote from Tam Lin or Thomas the Rhymer and I feel I would have got a lot more from this story if I knew both tales better. I hope to read them both and then give this another read. I liked that Tom wasn't always over indulgent with Polly, at times he sent quite abrupt messages to her pretend ideas which made it more realistic and I liked the blending of the two different myths/fairy tales.

This will appeal to Young Adult readers, Fantasy and Fairy Tale fans as well as anyone who plainly likes a good story.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 411
Number in Series : #1 Fairy Tale Anthologies
Reason for Reading : Themed Reading Challenge, Short Story Reading Challenge, my interest in re-tellings of fairy tales

This is the first published in a series of 6 short story collections edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Each story is an adult re-telling of a fairy tale. Some are very well known like Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Jack and the Beanstalk, while others I didn't know like The Dead Moon, Le Petit Poucet and The Glass Coffin by The Brothers Grimm. The stories are told from a fantastical or horror perspective with many focusing on the erotic elements of the original stories. The anthology contains 20 tales in total by 21 different authors.

1. Like a Red, Red Rose - Susan Wade
The only completely original tale in the anthology that is not a re-telling of another existing fairy tale. It combines many key elements of fairy tales with a witch, roses that represent a daughters virginity and love for a man, and a magic garden. The witch is not evil, she is just trying to keep her daugher away from men so she will not fall in love, It turns out she has good reasons for this which only become apparent after she dies. A sad and poignant tale. Blanche loses her love but gains a new daughter to raise in her own magic wood.

2. The Moon is Drowing While I Sleep - Charles de Lint
Based on a tale I didn't know, "The Dead Moon", this is set in Charles de Lint's Newford with one of his regular characters Sophie Etoile. She is having lucid dreams where the moon (a lady who looks just like her) has been trapped under water and is slowly drowning. Sophie wonders whether the moon is the mother who left her and her father suddenly when she was young. Like many of the fairy tales in this book she goes through a sexual awakening as well with Jack Crow.

3. The Frog Prince - Gahan Wilson
A strange tale about a frog in psychtherapy who dreams every night he is the frog prince in the tale. Everything seems so real to him and like a true memory and he spends his waking hours weeping over the dream and true love he lost.

4. Stalking Beans - Nancy Kress
Jack and his wife Anna have lost all their finery. He exchanges their best cow for some beans which grows into a beanstalk and he has made many trips up to the top to sleep with the giantess wife to the giant who lives up there. The giantess Maria becomes pregnant with the child Anna could never have when Jack is finally chased away by the blind giant for good, never to see his son.

5. Snow-Drop - Tanith Lee
A different version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Cristena lives in a house that looks after itself and her new husband is often away for long periods of time on business leaving her alone there. He was married once before and his first wife died in suspisious circumstances which the house cleaned up. She had been an artist and the house is filled with paintings of a woman with raven hair and dark eyes but porclain skin. One day Cristena destroys all the paintings but then sees the girl on television advertising the circus where she performs with seven dwarves. Cristena goes to see the show and then brings her back home where things take an interesting turn.

6. Little Red - Wendy Wheeler
The story is told from the perspective of the wolf in the Little Red Riding Tale. Josef is a dark hairy man who has made an effort to culture himself. One day he embarks upon an affair (nothing new for him) with Helen who is married to a priest and has a young daughter. When he meets the daughter (who he has bought a red hat for) he finds his tastes are for her rather than the mother.

7. I Shall do thee Mischief in the Wood - Kathe Koja
Another Little Red Riding Hood re-telling also from the wolfs perspective involving lust for the young girl. The young girl in this tale has a red cape and the villagers think she is simple. She lures the wolf back to her house in the woods where he meets the beast of the forest, her grandmother for a nice role reversal.

8. The Root of the Matter - Gregory Frost
The story of Rapunzel focusing on the sexual aspects of the tale. It sticks pretty closely to the original but exands in the witch who has Rapunzel in the tower (in this version a lighthouse). She had been abused by her father at a young age and ran away from home before she was 14 scorning all men. She locks Rapunzel away (the daughter she tricked from another family) to keep her safe from men and tells her all kinds of horror stories about sex and penises. One day however a man finds his way into the tower and opens Rapunzel's eyes to the real meaning of sex.

9. The Princess in the Tower - Elizabeth A. Lynn
A second Rapunzel tale told from a more humorous slant. Margheritina (Rapunzel) is scorned by her family and friends as she has such a tiny waist and barely eats. In their culture larger woman are much sexier and desirable and it is thought she might be anorexic. She meets her prince despite being locked in the house by her mother and they run away together.

10. Persimmon - Harvey Jacobs
Thumbelina told with not too many plot differences, just with humans rather than animals. Persimmon (Thumbelina) ends up having the power of restoring life and escaping a marriage unsuiltable for her leaving with the man she has revived. He has considerable wealth and takes her away to his island where they live together as father and tiny daughter. He realises she is lonely so introduces her back to her people who he has been growing to take over the world and not be a drain on its resources.

11. Little Poucet - Steve Rasnic Tem
The darkest of the tales based on Le Petit Poucet. This reminded me of the old, true fairy tales the most. It has elements of Hansel and Gretal as little Poucet and his 6 brothers are led away by their father and left as they do not have enought food to feed them all. Poucet has used biscuit crumbs as a trail and leads the way back, but the second time one of his brothers eats all the crumbs and so they are lost. They end up in a house with Auntie and her 7 demonic daughters. Their father is a cannibal who returns wanting to kill and eat the boys the next day. They disguise themselves as girls and give the daughters fake penises so the father kills the wrong ones leaving them to escape and return home with jewellry, money and torture devices stolen from the house. Little Poucet is able to sleep in his parents bed with the comfort of holding the torture devices under his pillow when he hears his parents speak of not having enough food...

12. The Changelings - Melanie Tem
A sad tale in modern times of Scandinavian chanelings and forest trolls. Bridget had a baby aged 16 with no support from the father or her own mother. When she gets the baby home it disappears and she is left with a changeling. When her daughter is 11 she finds a girl who she believes is her original daughter whose mother seems to have a forest-like aura about her.

13. The Springfield Swans - Caroline Stevermer and Ryan Edmonds
Based on The Wild Swans but set around a father who dreams of having enough sons to start his own baseball team. When he dies their stepmother curses the boys into swans and it is up to their eldest sister to make them jerseys without speaking or smiling until they are complete.

14. Troll Bridge - Neil Gaiman
A tale with one billy goat (human male) trip trapping over the trolls bridge. The first encounter is when he is just a boy and he puts the troll off eating his life by saying he will come back when he has lived more as there are so many things left to do. The second encounter is when he is a teenager and he offers up the girl he supposedly loves in his place. Again he escapes by saying he has more life to live and promises to return. The final visit is as an adult with a sense of missed opportunity and loss.

15. A Sound, Like Angels Singing - Leonard Rysdyk
An interseting re-telling of a famous fairy tale from the animals perspective. It is more about not heeding warnings in this version than favouring the people of the town.

16. Puss - Esther M. Friesner
In this version Puss-in-Boots is a shafeshifter who changes after tasting blood. He promised his former master he will get his son "bred by princes". He does this by tricking a king and another shafeshifter to get his young master married to the kings daughter, the princess. Puss then takes pity on the princess after his contract runs out and ends up making her a shafeshifter in a vampire fashion involving sharing blood.

17. The Glass Casket - Jack Dann
Based on "The Glass Casket" by The Brothers Grimm, set in Italy in the time of Leonardo da Vinci with poet, philosopher and magus Picodella Mirandola as the main character. He hears a womans voice and sees her in a dream before following her and freeing her from her glass casket. She is named Ginevra and lives 79 years in the past. Pico stays with her as long as he is able, listening to her tale and falling more in love with her. Eventually he has to return to his own time to face the emptiness of his destiny and never hear her voice again.

18. Knives - Jane Yolen
A short poem looking at the language and symbolism in Cinderella. Yolen focuses on the meaning of shoes, glass and knives.

19. The Snow Queen - Patricia A, McKillip
Pretty close to the original by Hans Christian Andersen in plot. Kay and Gerda and a married couple, Kay is annoyed by Gerda's innocence and turns to the sophisticated Nerva instead. Gerda meets thief Briony and ends up setting up a flower shop in the middle of winter filling peoples lives with colour. They end up rediscovering each other and Kay goes on to try to find the right flower to express how he feels for Gerda.

20. Beadcrumbs and Stones - Lisa Goldstein
Another tale looking at the metaphorical langugage used in fairy tales, this time based on Hansel and Gretal. Lynne and Sharon's mother is in hospital with camcer. They know little about her life as she keeps her secrets close to her after escaping Germany as a Jew. Her parents were both killed in concentration camps when she was young and she was raised by a foster Christian family. Once released from hospital she tells her girls the story of Hansel and Gretal leaving a trail of stones and the breadcrumbs. She tells them she used to have a brother, their uncle Johann who they never knew existed. It turns out he was killed in Auschwitz (possibly in an oven like the witch tried to do to Hansel). Sarah and Lynne realise their mother has always told them the breadcrumbs of her life to distract them from the stones.

My favourite in the anthology was "Like a Red, Red Rose" and I look forward to reading more tales by the author in the future. I also really liked "The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep", "The Root of the Matter", "Little Poucet", "Troll Bridge" and "Breadcrumbs and Stones". I can't wait to start the next anthology in the series, "Black Thorn, White Rose".

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 152
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge 2008, Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time Challenge

Written by "the founding father of the African novel in English". First published in 1958, this novel has sold over ten million copies in 45 different languages. It is separated into three parts centering around main character Oknokwo. He is a proud man who has established his own wealth after his father died in debt. He has also proven his worth as a warrior too by famously throwing the Cat during a wrestling match. The first part is filled with lots of mini-stories and folk tales letting the reader into the daily life in Umuofia. I really enjoyed this section as it captured life wonderfully, I especially liked Oknokwo's daughter Ezinma by his second wife Ekwefi.

Sadly at the end of the first part Oknokwo accidentally kills another clan member which means he has to leave the clan and be exiled for 7 years. He returns to the land of his mother's people where the white man has arrived and is spreading his religion. They are gathering converts from the villagers including Nwoye, Oknokwo's son. Things are slowing changing in Africa and Oknokwo is against it. Finally in the third part he gets to return to his clan after his exile period is up and take his family back with him. Sadly things are much changed and the white man has arrived there too. Oknokwo witnesses the end of his clan as he knew it.

This was a really powerful tale which I really enjoyed whilst thinking towards the end why do the white people have to always conquer and push their religion on the locals. There were some great stories and parables with the tale and the quote "there is no story that is not true" which I liked. The whole tale seemed to echo one of the initial ones about Oknokwo trying to grow his first yam crop. Strongly recommended, I am so glad I found this treasure.

Other reviews: My Own Little Reading Room

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 344
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge, recommended by Nick Hornby in The Polysyllabic Spree

A graphic novel that serves as the autobiography of author Marjane Saptrapi. I read the complete edition which contains "The story of a childhood" and "The story of a return". Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Iran during the Shah's reign. During her lifetime she has witnessed first hand the takeovwe by the Revolution, the war between Iran and Iraq and the compulsary wearing of the veil by all woman in Iran. Her parents were very liberal and she grew up with an immense curiosity and drive to speak her mind which often got her into trouble in such a strict society. At the age of 14 her parents send her alone to Austria where she goes to school but doesn't fit in. She associates with punks and nihilists where she experiments with drugs and has her first relationship which sadly doesn't end well. After spending some time living on the streets and nearly dying she decides to return home, but starts to suffer from depression when she is back. In Iran she feels like a Westener and in the Western world she feels like an Iranian so struggles to find her place.

This was an excellent novel beautifully illustrated and told with warmth and humour despite the often tragic subjects. I am not really one for politics and don't know more than the basics, but this has given me a thorough grounding in Iranian culture and the wars going on in and near by Iran. The Western view of Iran is of oppression, particularly of woman, and it was lovely to see that behind closed doors there are parties, make-up, relationships (both straight and gay) and everything pretty much the same as over here. The only difference is if caught the penalty can range from interrogation to whipping to death.

If you don't read graphic novels, I urge you not to be put off reading this as you will miss a great story and a great piece work of politics too.

May I Introduce….

How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?
Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

Lets see, my favourite 5 authors are Anne Rice, Anne Bishop, Nick Hornby, JRR Tolkien and Charles de Lint at the moment. Anne Rice I discovered by myself I think after watching Interview with the Vampire when it came out at the cinema. Anne Bishop and Charles de Lint were recommended to me by the same person who I know online (she definitely recommended Anne Bishops Black Jewels Trilogy) and I thank her lots for it! Nick Hornby I discovered by accident. I was about 15 and had gone skiing for the first (and so far only) time with my dad, his girlfriend and my sister but was ill. He had a copy of High Fidelity and as I was stuck in bed I finished my books and so started on his. It was love at first chapter. JRR Tolkien was one that my mum read to me when I was a child. We started on The Hobbit and then I started reading LOTR alone when I was abot 10 I think the first time.

All of my top 5 authors have become favourites after reading only one book and then wanting to read everything they have written which I am working on. I get a lot of great recommendations from my best friend who used to work in a book shop and is a crazy reader like me, as well as online blogs since I started Keeping one myself which I am very grateful for.

The photo at the top was taken at the weekend of a collection of small Egyptian cat statues in the British Museum. I went there to find the Gilgamesh tablets which I did and there was an exhibition on cats as a bonus.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Number in Series : #30 in the Discworld series
Number of Pages : 439
Reason for Reading : Series Challenge, 101 Things to do Challenge

It is coming up the the anniversary of Koom Valley, the famous fight between the dwarves and the trolls. It has always been contested who started it and who ended up winning. Things are uneasy in Ankh-Morpork and Vimes is trying to stop a full scale re-enactment of the battle in the city as well as investigate the murder of one of the deep down dwarves. He also has to deal with the new recruit (a vampire named Sally) and be home by 6pm every night to read "Where's my cow?" to young Sam.

For me the plot wasn't too great, it was the relationships between the characters that made it interesting as well as some great throw-away lines. For example when Vimes tried to make up his own version of "Where's my Cow?" which becomes "Where's my Daddy?". The original goes:

"Where's my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, "Baa!"
It is a sheep!
That's not my cow!"

Which gets replaced with:

"Where's my daddy?
Is that my daddy?
He goes, "Bugrit! Millennium hand and shrimp!
He is Foul Old Ron!
That's not my daddy!"

As always there are also the relationships between Vimes and Vetinari and Vimes and Sybil which are as funny as ever along with Nobby Nobbs getting a new girlfriend (an amazingly attractive pole dancer) and the tension between Sally and Angua due to old rivalries between vampires and werewolves. Recommended to existing fans of the Discworld series as they will get the in-jokes others new to the series would miss.

BAFAB Winners

Thanks to everyone for entering the BAFAB prize draw. It took me a while to sort out the entries into the different books, but I ended up using three different glasses to put them into after checking who had linked to me and required two entries.

My husband was good enough to randomly select the winners, one from each glass.

And they are:

Melody from Melody's Reading Corner - Spirits in the Wires by Charles de Lint

Gautami Tripathy from my Own Little Reading Corner - Magical Tales by RJ Stewart

Dewey from The Hidden Side of a Leaf - Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry

Can you please email me a postal address to send each book to (you can find my email on my profile). Congratulations!

*** Sticky post, scroll down for new entries ***

As this is the first week of January, that means Buy a Friend a Book Week (BAFAB) is here! What are the rules? I could hear you asking. It is pretty simple. Below is a list of books which I am going to give away to 3 lucky participants, and all you need to do is:

1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me which book(s) you want to win. You may enter your name for each book but you can only win one book (so that other participants will have a chance to win too);

2. Your name will be entered twice if you do a post about this giveaway, so please send me the link to your post.

Closing date is 8 January 2008 and the names will be drawn randomly by my husband as I don't think I can persuade the cats to do it sadly. The winners will be announced on 9 January 2008.

Here is the list of books to be won:

1) Spirits in the Wires - Charles de Lint

2) Magical Tales - RJ Stewart

3) Anastasia Krupnik - Lois Lowry

Edited to add other participants in this:

*** Competition Now Closed ***

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 545
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge, I really like the author

Based on the true story of Grace Marks who was the most infamous woman in Canada in the 1840's. Her and James McDermott were accused of murdering their male employer Mr Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper cum mistress Nancy Montgomery who was pregnant at the time. McDermott was said to have killed Mr Kinnear with a shotgun after earlier in the day the two of them strangled Nancy. Possible reasons were that McDermott was in love with Grace and Grace was in love with Mr Kinnear.

The tale picks up with Grace in jail sometime after McDermott has been hanged for his crimes. Grace was due to be hanged as well, but the sentence was changed to life due to the efforts of her lawyer Kenneth MacKenzie. It is told alternatively through Grace herself and Dr Simon Jordan who specialises in mental issues (Grace spent some time in an asylum but it was unclear whether she was truely insane or faking it). Dr Jordan is a young man trying to open his own asylum and adopts Grace as his new project that will hopefully give him the exposure he requires to get funding. The interest in her is that it was never proven just what her involvement was in the murder of Nancy and Mr Kinnear, she claims to have had a blackout and not remember anything for a couple of hours during the time Nancy was killed.

I absolutely loved this book. Grace was such an interesting character, you were never sure how much of what she was telling Dr Jordan was the truth. Atwood gives the impression that she was guilty, but it is never said outright. There are some interesting side characters like Dr Jordan's landlady and his mother who towards the end manages to get her own way, she is a very formidable opponent! I also spent a lot of time wondering whether Grace's friend Mary Witney was ever real or was Grace's original name and who the "J" from the apple core divination was that Grace would marry. Highly recommended to all Atwood, fiction and crime fans.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 192
Reason for Reading : Sci-Fi Experience

Halo Jones is an ordinary girl living in The Hoop. The Hoop is where the poor are put so that anyone with money doesn't have to look at them. It is no solution to poverty and unemployment, it is just a place to be. Nothing is really known of Halo's parents and it is assumed she was born on The Hoop and that they died when she was very young. She lives in the house of Brinna (considered to be a wealthy woman), Ludy a musician, Rodice another girl similar to her and Toby an animatronic dog who belongs to Brinna. Halo has always dreamt of leaving The Hoop and when Ludy becomes one of the Drummers and Brinna is murdered she siezes her chance to board a space ship as a hostess and travel to other planets.

She has became something of a legend in the future. She was supposed to be a war criminal who aided in the slaughter of millions and that she met many of the famous people of her time. The reality is somewhat different, she was more in the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place depending on your viewpoint). Her real story sees her losing many of her friends and fighting in a strange war at super slow speed due to a different gravity on the planet Moab.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel. The heroine Halo was most interesting as she was so ordinary. She "could have been anyone" (her most famous quote). It had many elements of more male based comics like spaceships, guns, war etc, but she was strong in her own right and didn't succumb to many of the female stereotypes like taking her clothes off and fainting a lot which was something Moore and Gibson felt important. The ending saw some earlier storylines tied up nicely and there may even someday be a fourth book (this collection is made up of the three books previsuly published) to continue her story which I would definitely read. I also liked that dolphins ended up taking over the earth, being more intelligent and sensitive, very Douglas Adams.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

This looks like a wonderful challenge hosted here. The aim is to read at least 7 books in 2008 that have either won the Mythopoeic Award or been shortlisted for it (and you can overlap with other challenges yay!). The Mythopoeic Society is dedicated to the study and enjoyment of fantasy and mythic literature, especially the works of the Inklings, an informal literary circle at Oxford that included the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others. Each year the Society awards the best scholarly and literary achievements exemplifying “the spirit of the Inklings” with the Mythopoeic Award. There are some great books on the list and I was happy to see I have read quite a few of them. My choices for this challenge are:

1. Briar Rose - Jane Yolen
2. Anasi Boys - Neil Gaiman
3. A Hat Full of Sky - Terry Pratchett
4. Roverandom - JRR Tolkien
5. The Bartimaeus Trilogy (Amulet of Samakand, The Golem's Eye, Ptolem's Gate) - Jonathan Stroud
6. Fire and Hemlock - Diana Wynn Jones
7. Tam Lin - Pamela Dean

Details can be found here but you basically need to read big chunky books between 7/1/08 - 20/12/08. Books need to be 450 pps regular type OR 750 pps large text. There will also be prizes every quarter for finishing one of your challenge books (to be decided upon) and sharing reviews is mandatory. You can also cross over with other challenges. My choices are:

1. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood (641 pages)
2. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville (880 pages)
3. The Brothers Karamazov - Foydor Dostoevsky (1054 pages)
4. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides (544 pages)

Friday, January 04, 2008


Last week we talked about the books you liked best from 2007. So this week, what with it being a new year, and all, we’re looking forward….
What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?

There are a few on my list that are coming out in paperback this year:
White Night - Jim Butcher
All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris
Slam - Nick Hornby (second most anticipated)
Voice of the Gods - Trudi Canavan
The Cursed - LA Banks
Belladonna - Anne Bishop (most anticipated!)
The Harlequin - Laurell K Hamilton
No Humans Involved - Kelley Armstrong
Made to be Broken - Kelley Armstrong
Embrace the Night - Karen Chance
The Well of Shades - Juliet Marillier (third more anticipated)
Kushiel's Secret - Jacqueline Carey
Trickery Treat - Charmed
Mona Lisa Craving - Sunny
Dark Possession - Christine Feehan

There are so many books I am looking forward to reading this year. Basically if you look at what I have to read on my challengelists, I am looking forward to reading every single one of them!

The above picture above is of me in my new cat paw print skirt and top with Morgaine on my shoulder bless her!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 632
Reason for Reading : Books Awards Reading Challenge, to read more by the author

Shadow is about to be released after serving 3 of his 6 year sentence in prison to begin rebuilding his life with his wife Laura. He has a job waiting for him working in a gym and things are looking up. A couple of days before he is due to be released however, he learns that his wife was killed in a car accident and he is released early to go home for the funeral. On the flight he meets enigmatic Wednesday who claims to be a god. He offers Shadow a job working for him doing errands, which he eventually takes after his other options are eliminated. They seal their deal with mead and set off on a journey across America.

Wednesday feels a storm coming that will be a battle between the old gods brought over by settlers to America (Bast, Horus, Ganesh, Anasi, Easter, Thoth, Anubis etc) and the new (railroads, cars, internet, television etc). Shadow seems somehow caught up in the middle of things with the added problem of the dead not staying dead. The novel is filled with myth and magic from the anicent world and how it might interact in a more modern setting.

I loved this novel from the beginning. I have a passion for mythology and my favourite genre is fantasy so it was right up my street. I knew a lot of the gods and was able to recognise Wednesday for his true name which helped a little. I liked that it explored their darker sides and wasn't light and fluffy. It was a little strange reading a book by an english author that was so american even though I knew this was Gaiman's aim. It expanded nicely on the ideas from "Small Gods" by Terry Pratchett so if you liked that you will definitely like this too. Truely unputdownable!