Thursday, February 28, 2008


Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)

This is a difficult one. I think my favourite heroine at the moment is Mercedes Thompson from the Patricia Briggs books (Moon Called, Blood Bound and Iron Kissed). She is a Walker which means she can shapeshift into a coyote independent from the cycle of the moon, but it is her humanity that speaks to me the most. There are three books out in the series so far and she always kicks ass but has human flaws and failings which make her real rather than a superhero who always saves the day. She also has human desires and pains and it was in the third book (Iron Kissed) that I really felt a closeness with her. She is a bit of a tom boy who is good with her hands and is a mechanic. She is someone I could definitely be friends with as well as knowing I could call her if I was in a tight spot.

Depending on the tale Morgaine or Morgan le Fey is another heroine of mine, particularly in the Mists of Avalon version. She struggles through despite being tricked into sleeping with her brother and bearing his child to try to restore the worship of the Old Ways. She shows great strength of character and she is one of my favourite literary characters even when she is shown as the bad guy (who can't resist a good villian?!).

Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman is another heroine I have a soft spot for. She is in the series right from the start and has to do so many brave things I don't even know where to start. The bravest for me is when she has to choose between going into the Land of the Dead and severing herself from Pan forever. I was ona train reading that passage and I am not ashamed to say it made me cry. I was a little disappointed when Will was introduced in The Subtle Knife as he took over a little and Lyra wasn't able to make as many of her own decisions and play as large a role, but it worked out ok in the end.

The photo this week is a little random. Someone said they were thinking of getting a cat paw tattoo so I though I would put up a picture of the tattoos I have on my right wrist. I have quite a few tattoos (mostly quite small like the ones above) and those are: a triple moon (the one that looks like a sweetie!) showing the moon waxing full and waning, cat paw prints going in a circle around my wrist (they go all the way around) and the symbol is the Vesica Pisces which is used to decorate the well cover at Chalice Well where me and my husband had our Handfasting (pagan wedding) the week before our legal one. All three are special designs to me for different reasons.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 116
Reason for Reading : Mythopoeic Challenge, Inklings Challenge, I love Tolkien and I want to read his whole back catalogue eventually

A charming tale about young dog Rover and his adventures. He bites the trousers of magician Artaxerxes who turns him into a toy dog as punnishment. He shrinks in size as does his bark and he is stuck in a begging position. He is bought by a mother to give to her son Two, but he falls out of his pocket on day on the beach. The sand wizard Psamathos gets super fast seagul Mew to fly him to the moon down the silver pathway it's light leaves to meet the Man-on-the-Moon (another magician) and his moon dog Rover. As the dogs share their name, they change Rover's (the main character) to Roverandom.

On the moon they have many adventures together as Roverandom is given wings to fly about with. They have problems with the fearsome White Dragon who lives on the moon and causes eclipses of the moon as well as sometimes turning it red. Eventually Roverandom is sent back to earth to see Artaxerxes to change him back to his regular dog form. Artaxerxes has married a mer-maiden (one of the mer-kings daughters) and is living under the sea. Whale Uin takes Roverandom under the sea in his belly where he meets another dog called Rover, this time a mer-dog. They have many more adventures under the sea waiting for Artaxeres to find the time to change Roverandom back including an incident with the giant sea-serpent who sleeps not far from the mer-kings castle. Roverandom is eventually changed back into a proper dog and travels home to find Two.

This was a lovely tale based on an incident when Tolkien's second son lost his favourite toy dog at the beach one day on a family holiday. Lots of parallels to The Hobbit can be seen (the dragon, the spiders on the moon and the three magicians have Gandalf like qualities) and I definitely recommend it as a bit of light fun and happy reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 457
Reason for Reading : Mythopoeic Challenge, I really enjoyed American Gods and this sort of follows on from there with one of the characters reappearing

Fat Charlie Nancy lives a barely average life in London with the best part being his fiance Rosie. The downsides are her mother who hates him, the fact that Rosie won't sleep with him until they are married and his creepy boss Grahame Coats who talks in cliches. Fat Charlie's father dies unexpectedly and on returning home to America, neighbour Mrs Higgler tells him that his father was Anansi the spider trickster god who stole all the stories and songs from Tiger. He also has a brother he doesn't remember sent away by another old lady, Mrs Dunwiddy.

One drunken evening Fat Charlie tells a spider he wants his brother to stop by, which he does, turning Fat Charlie's life upside down. He steals his fiance and gets him arrested as well as moving in to his spare bedroom and creating a whole other world in there. To get rid of him Fat Charlie must journey to meet with the other animal gods who have all suffered from Anansi's trickster ways. In the background is the dastardly Grahame Coats, a ghost and an attractive police woman which all comes together in St Andrews in the Carribean.

I found this somehow different from his other novels, more lighthearted until the final third. It was the final third that I liked best, when that typical dark Gaiman writing came in to play and all the strings on the web started to converge. Funnily enough my favourite character was Grahame Coats who made a wonderful villian.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rating : 2.0/5
Number of Pages : 128
Reason for Reading : I needed a book beginning with X from the library for the A-Z Challenge and it was either this or a Xena graphic novel

A graphic novel spin-off from the hit television series. Made up of four different stories and cases for Agents Mulder and Scully to investigate.

Surrounded - The Agents are called in to investigate a suspicious death at a compound of anti government militists. The body has been skinned and it turns out to have been mutant dust mites from a failed scientific experiement by one of the house mates. He makes it away safely at the end carrying a sample of the mites with him.
Crop Duster - A strange tale about little green frog men that only one person seems to be able to see. He was part of a secret project called Crop Duster making chemicals to spray on people modulating their behaviour. There is a twist at the end involving his abused wife and the chief of police.
Soma - The best tale in the set by far about a series of Indian women found to have died by spontaneous human combustion with traces of the mushroom Amanita Muscaria (the red one with spots on that Alice sat on with the caterpiller which is poinsonous and causes hallucinations). It turns out to be a cremated husband looking for his wife who feld to America after not having enough faith to join her husbands funeral pyre.
Skybuster - Massive flocks of ravens are killing the employees of HAARP which is an organisation destroying the environment producing mutant animals and trying to control peoples minds. The ravens are linked by a Native American tale where they created the world and humans, gaining revenge for them now destroying what they created.

Not a very good read, more for die hard fans of the series only. I felt the stories were too short and under developed although Soma had some good ideas and artwork.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 277
Number in Series : #1 The Demon Princess Chronicles
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge 2008, someone recommended her Mona Lisa series to me and I picked this up as well

Princess Lucinda is demon dead. In life she was a Monere Queen and in death she is a guardian who brings back demon dead who have escaped or Monere who have left their Queen's to become rogue warriors. She also feeds off the Monere, both their blood and their sexual pleasure. The Monere are a race that started the vampire mythology as they feed on blood and can only really survive at night time. They Bask in the moonlight of their Queens who rule groups of males often killing them when they become more powerful than them.

Lucinda accidentally stumbles across rogue warrior Stefan and his mixed blood ward Jonnie. She saves them both when they are attacaked by humans who believe them to be vampires. She feels something for Stefan she has not felt since she was alive and he is able to give her pleasure she has not experienced in many centuries. She has to leave to return another rogue, Nico, to his Queen and in her court meets Talon who is a floradeur (a flower of darkness). Talon is a very rare creature from Hell who was stolen by another demon and hidden on earth with a Monere Queen.

I have to say I adored this book. One of my favourite series is The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop and this was very similar in style and content, but with enough differences to make it more than just a clone. Talon was my favourite character and I look forward to learning more about him hopefully when the next book (Lucinda, Deadly) comes out in 2009. It was a lot more sexually charged and erotic than Anne Bishop's writing which is more sensual than explicit like this was. I look forward to reading her Mona Lisa series and learning more about the Monere.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 416
Number in Series : #3 Adult Fairy Tale Series
Reason for Reading : Themed Reading Challenge, Short Story Challenge

This volume contains 22 tales and poems by 21 different authors. It is another blend of science fiction, fantasy, horror and erotic adult re-tellings of fairy tales. It includes a few from ouside Europe and is my favourite of the series so far.

Ruby Slippers - Susan Wade
A mixture of "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Red Shoes" by Hans Christian Andersen told as an interview with Dorothy later on in her life. I like the twisting of the original tale by Frank L Baum.

The Beast - Tanith Lee
Her take on "Beauty and the Beast". Isobel is married to the handsome and rich Vessavian who collects beautiful objects. As time goes on she uncovers his secret collection of beautiful objects he has taken from ugly settings.

Masterpiece - Garry Kilworth
A look at "Rumplestiltskin" and people who make bargains and fail to keep them. Susan Quarry is offered a deal by mysterious Mr Black one day that will make her a famous painter and let her create one masterpiece. Along the way she falls in love with her dealer, marries him and has a son. When Ms Black returns to collect her most precious object she is torn between giving her husband, child or masterpiece up.

Summer Wind - Nancy Kress
A look at the takes of "Sleeping Beauty" and "Briar Rose". Here Briar Rose awakens long before everyone else in the castle and becomes an old woman watching vaiours princes die in the briar surrounding the castle. Eventually one breaks through and the inhabitants awaken and she slips away, an old woman not recognised by her staff and subjects.

This Centuary of Sleep or, Briar Rose Beneath the Sea - Fariada S.T Shapiro
A poetical re-telling of Sleeping Beauty.

The Crossing - Joyce Carol Oates
Another look at Sleeping Beauty and Briar Rose looking at Martha who is in a coma after a car accident. She lingers on life support and dreams she is in an aunts house watching the train go by until one day she boards it and never wakes up.

Roach in Loafers - Roberta Lannes
A look at Puss 'n' Boots but with a cockroach instead of a cat. Funny and quirky.

Naked Little Men - Michael Cadnum
"The Shoemaker and the Elves" told by his wife.

Brown Bear - Lisa Goldstein
A blend of "Goldilocks" with animal bridegroom elements. It is a lovely blend of Native American symbolism of bears and a girl from their tribe Quick who marries and bears a child of the bears linking the two for ever.

The Emperor who had never seen a Dragon - John Brunner
Based on many Chinese tales looking at unjust rulers being overthrown by the common people and the moral that they need not forever be slaves to Imperial rule.

Billy Fearless - Nancy A Collins
Based on the Brothers Grimm "A Tale about a boy who went forth to learn what Fear was" but with an added Southern flavour. Billy manages to survive three nights in a haunted house winning riches and a wife.

The Death of Koshohei the Deathless (a tale of Old Russia) - Gene Wolfe
A Russian fairy tale with some of the blanks fomr the original filled. A son avenges his father who unknowingly fell in love with his sister. A fun tale but with sinister overtones with much still left unsaid.

The Real Princess - Susan Palwick
A look at the sinister motives in "The Princess and the Pea" of a Prince who wants a wife who bruises easily. Fairies are mixed in as well as much violence.

The Huntsman's Story - Milbre Burch
A poem written in response to the discovery of Polly Klass's body two months after the 12 year old was kidnapped. A sinister look at the huntsman who comes unbidden into our lives.

After Push Comes to Shove - Milbre Burch
Written during the 1993 Los Angeles fires. The witch from Hansel and Grettel burns in the oven and looks ahead to the death of the children who poison each other fighting over their forgotten fathers will.

Hansel and Grettel - Gahan Wilson
Hansel and Grettel in this story come from a very rich family and after finding their way home are given a large sum of money to live their own lives. They do much pleasure seeking staying only in the best hotels and later searching out other hidden places of interest. They discover a castle in the Black Forest which contains many life-like gold statues of humans in warrior poses. They are taken to the secret centre of the castle where there are statues looking afraid. They discover the truth of the statues and the story is told to a listener encouraging them to seek out the castle in turn.

Match Girl - Anne Bishop
Her first professional sale looking at the tale of The Little Match Girl but with more violence as well as a different kind of release for her at the end.

Waking the Prince - Kathe Koja
A look at "Sleeping Beauty" twisting the original to the Prince being the one who sleeps. His mother works magic to let him life a half life in our time but remain sleeping in his own.

The Fox Wife - Ellen Steiber
An interesting Japanese tale based on a doctor who treated patients said to be possess by Kitsume (the Fox) in 1892. The Fox is known as a trickster and in this tale it aids Haruko who is forced to marry a viscious Samauri Lord Ikeda. She takes her maid O-Shima who tells the tale of her possession and later escape.

The White Road - Neil Gaiman
A poem based on the fairy tale "Mr Fox" with a violent and unsettling ending dream sequence and ending.

The Traveller and The Tale - Jane Yolen
A science fiction story of a woman sent back in time to add stories into the French villages history to help them fight off alien invaders in the future and not succumb to their rule. Once she has travelled back she is unable to return to her own time. It contains another story within it, one the travller told to the village, which involves changeling aspects.

The Printer's Daughter - Delia Sherman
A re-telling of a Russian tale "The Snow Child" originally about a middle-aged couples desire for a child. This version sees an alchemist helping a printer who needs an apprentice to print his papers into a book. He makes a child out of paper and as the printer finds work hard to come by she can only speak from the paper she is written on which is a porographic tale and a series of sermons by the local reverend. She is turned into a book at the end by poet Robert Blanke with a dedication to her father and the poet.

My favourite tale was "The Real Princess" which is the second time I have enjoyed a re-telling of The Princess and the Pea the most. I also really liked The Beast, Masterpiece, Roach in Loafers, The Huntsman's Story, Hansel and Grettel, Match Girl and The Fox Wife (by far the longest tale in the collection). Recommended to all lovers of fairy tales and great stories.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 239
Number in Series : #1 The Sandman
Reason for Reading : The Graphic Novel Challenge, First in a Series Challenge, I want to read the entire series and this was a re-read to remind myself how it all began

A collection of the first eight comics in the series; Sleep of the Just, Imperfect Hosts, Dream a Little Dream of Me, A Hope in Hell, Passengers, 24 Hours, Sounds and Fury and The Sound of Her Wings. It begins with Morpheus the Lord of Dreams and King of Stories being trapped by a group of humans trying to capture Death. In the human world people start to suffer from a sleeping sickness while he is away only waking briefly throughout his capture which lasts a human lifetime. He is finally able to free himself and has to track down his sacred objects which contain parts of himself to regain his power. These are a pouch of sand held by a human, a mask an unknown demon has and a ruby last seen in the possession of one of the Justice League.

Along the way he meets a range of comic book heros and villians including John Constantine, John Dee, Doctor Crane (The Scarecrow), Scott Free, Cain and Abel from The Bible and the Morning Star Lucifer among others. He also spends a chapter meeting up with his sister, a perky goth girl who just happens to be Death. I enjyoed the mythological references and how Morpheus gains his freedom from Hell. Lucifer has his army arrayed and tells Morpheus he has no power in Hell. The response is "What power would Hell have is those imprisoned were not able to dream of Heaven?", very powerful stuff.

A good introduction to the series. Lots of horror in 24 Hours and you can really start to hear Gaiman's unique voice coming through in The Sound of Her Wings. I loved the artwork, some of the attention to detail is amazing. I am looking forward to reading the second collection in the series.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 178
Reason for Reading : Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time

Somebody must have made a false accusation against Josef K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong." K is a banker and has no idea what is going on the morning a group of men arrest him in his appartment. His arrest doesn't involve the police or jail and he is free to continue his life and go to work with the mysterious court looking into his case in the background. The appear to have courts in attics around the city and employ many people in their services from painters to maids.

K turns to a string of different women to help in his case ranging from a lady in his building, a maid working for his advocate and his landlady. The strangest set of people not connected to K seem to know about his case without knowing any of the actual details. They are all remotely connected to the lower courts and can only offer him so much help and advice. He maintains his innocence without ever knowing (or at least not explaining to the reader) what he is accused of.

A strange and unsettling novel which echos the present days insane bureaucracy.


All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

I am a paperback girl all the way. I occassionally buy hardbacks, but very rarely. They are often more beautiful than paperbacks, but they are too wieldly to carry around and read. I do a lot of reading on the train and hardbacks just aren't practical for that, especially when I have to carry a large work bag around with me as well. I prefer the feel of paperbacks somehow and I don't think I have more than 10 hardback books. However, if I had a dedicated mega library I might have copies of my favourite books in both hardback and paperback. The paperback would be my reading copy and the hardback for display and asthetics.

Above is a picture of my new poppet and poppet related additions. I love them and can't quite decide which is my favourite although I am leaning towards the Little Pink with no face and bunny rabbit. I have a few more on the way hopefully and am working on slowly building up a poppet army to rival my My Little Pony one!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 193
Number in Series : #1
Reason for Reading : It looked fun and I needed an author beginning with U for the A-Z reading challenge

The first in a manga series. Tadahiro comes home to stay with his cousins Tama, Yuzu and Kurako. Spirits are attracted to him, especially evil ones, and his cousins want to protect him without having to perform an exorcism. They are priestesses who keep an eye on the spirit realm. Middle sister Yuzu and Tadahiro have a mysterious connection from a shared past before he left that her family attirbute to love. She seems to be able to sense when demons and spirits are attacking him.

Tadhiro feels abandoned. His father died when he was young and his mother never seems to have really been around. He is trying to learn more about the father he never knew and fit into a family life after spending so much time alone. There is the suggestion his father was evil and that Tadhiro's blood is traced from a long line of ancestors and has mixed in a new and interesting way.

I thought this was a great start to the series. It is beaitifully drawn and I will definitely be reading more as well as looking out for the anime based on it. I haven't really watched any anime before, but if it is like the manga I will be giving it a try.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The last catch up post on what I read before blogging.

1) Triumph of the Moon - Ronald Hutton (5/5)
2) The Second Circle - Venecia Rauls (5/5)
3) The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (5/5)
4) The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (4/5)
5) The Witches of Chiswick - RObert Rankin (2/5)
6) One HundredStrokes of the Brush Before Bed - Melissa P (2/5)
7) Lost Souls - Poppy Z Brite (3/5)
8) Bitten - Kelley Armstrong (3/5)
9) Stolen - Kelley Armstrong (4/5)
10) Dime Store Magic - Kelley Armstrong (3/5)
11) Industrial Magic - Kelley Armstrong (3/5)
12) Haunted - Kelley Armstrong (4/5)
13) Jonathan Livingston Seagul - Richard Bach (4/5)
14) Katherine - Anya Seton (3/5)
15) I Lucifer - Glen Duncan (4/5)
16) The Real Witches Craft - Kate West (4/5)
17) A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby (4/5)
18) The Black Jewels Trilogy - Anne Bishop (5/5)
19) The Wicked Day - Mary Stewart (3/5)
20) Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult (4/5)
21) Maskerade - Terry Pratchett (2/5)
22) Feet of Clay - Terry Pratchett (3/4)
23) How to find your Inner Priestess - Kala Trobe (4/5)
24) Hogfather - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
25) Dreams Made Flesh - Anne Bishop (5/5)
26) The Virgins Lover - Philippa Gregory (3/5)
27) A Withces Grimoire - Judy Ann Nock (3/5)
28) COmplete Book of Natural Magic - Cassandra Eason (3/5)
29) The Time Travellers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (5/5)
30) The Sega of Darren Shah: Vampire Blood Trilogy - Darren Shah (3/5)
31) Step-By-Step Tarot - Terry Donaldson (5/5)
32) The Sega of Darren Shah: Vampire Rites Trilogy - Darren Shah (3/5)
33) The Sega of Darren Shah: Vampire War Trilogy - Darren Shah (3/5)
34) The Sega of Darren Shah: Vampire Destiny Trilogy - Darren Shah (4/5)
35) Jingo - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
36) The Last Continent - Terry Pratchett (2/5)
37) Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
38) The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood (4/5)
39) Son of a Witch - Gregory Maguire (4/5)
40) Promethea Book One - Alan Moore (3/5)
41) Promethea Book Two - Alan Moore (4/5)
42) Promethea Book Three - Alan Moore (3/5)
43) Promthea Book Four - Alan Moore (4/5)
44) Promthea Book Five - Alan Moore (2/5)
45) Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt - Anne Rice (5/5)
46) White Teeth - Zadie Smith (5/5)
47) Valiant - Holly Black (5/5)
48) The Pact - Jodi Picoult (4/5)
49) Costa Del Crime - Wensley Clarkson (1/5)
50) It's What he Would've Wanted - Sean Hughes (3/5)

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 156
Number in Series : #5 Worst Witch Series
Reason for Reading : Young Adult Challenge, I love this series!

Mildred Hubble arrives at school to start her third year, this time without Miss Hardbroom as her form teacher finally. New teacher Miss Granite will be taking her class and she is everything Miss Hardbroom is not. She has curly orange hair, very dark glasses and a high squeeky voice. When it comes to classes she leaves the girls to their own devices provking Mildred and her friends suspicions.

Mildred has other problems to deal with. She borrows Maud's magic curling hair brush and gets it tangled in her long hair. Ethel offers her help and just cuts it out leaving a very short patch. Trying to even things up Ethel makes a big mess and Mildred looks worse than ever! A growth spell made with the help of Ethel goes terribly wrong and Mildred's cat Tabby gets a bit of a shock.

Some old enemies arrive and some animal magic is used again. A fun return to Miss Cackles School for Young Witches.

Continuing marking the books I read before keeping a blog.

1) Sourcery - Terry Pratchett (2/5)
2) Moon Garden - Wendy Mewes (5/5)
3) Witch Child - Celia Rees (2/5)
4) Sourceress - Celia Rees (3/5)
5) Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett (5/5)
6) Pyramids - Terry Pratchett (2/5)
7) Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett (4/5)
8) Eric - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
9) Surrender the Pink - Carrie Fisher (4/5)
10) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon (5/5)
11) Merlins Kin - Evert Coles (3/5)
12) The Earthsea Quartet - Ursula Le Guin (3/5)
13) The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (3/5)
14) Moving Pictures - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
15) Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett (4/5)
16) Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett (5/5)
17) Small Gods - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
18) The World According to Garp - John Irving (5/5)
19) The Red Tent - Anita Diamant (5/5)
20) Sabriel - Garth Nix (5/5)
21) Lirael - Garth Nix (4/5)
22) Abhorsen - Garth Nix (4/5)
23) Delta of Venus - Anasi Nin (3/5)
24) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - JK Rowling (4/5)
25) Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett (4/5)
26) Men at Arms - Terry Pratchett (4/5)
27) Soul Music - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
28) Interesting Times - Terry Pratchett (1/5)
29) Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb (3/5)
30) Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb (3/5)
31) Assassins Quest - Robin Hobb (3/5)
32) Between Worlds (Charmed) - Constance M Burge (2/5)
33) Truth and Consequences (Charmed) (4/5)
34) Luck be a Lady (Charmed) (3/5)
35) Inherit the Witch (Charmed) (4/5)
36) A Tale of Two Pipers (Charmed) (2/5)
37) The Brewing Storm (Charmed) (3/5)
38) Wicked - Gregory maguire (5/5)
39) Angels and Demons - Dan Brown (5/5)

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 795
Number in Series : #2 New Crobuzon Series
Reason for Reading : Sci-Fi Experience, to read more in the series after enjoying book one

The main character this time is Bellis Coldwine who is fleeing New Crobuzon aboard The Terpsichoria for Nova Esperium. The milita in New Crobuzon have been slowly rounding up people who knew Isaac der Grimnebulin from the first book and Bellis was his lover five years ago before he met Lin and knows it is only a matter of time before they come for her. She is a translator and goes on the voyage to assist the captain diplomatically.

The voyage gets turned around at their first port however when they meet up with another man from New Crobuzon who has papers saying he can comendeer the ship. The passangers are confused at not being told the reason for their change in course back home until they are attached by pirates and taken to their floating island Armada. The Remade prisoners on board are given a chance at freedom and earning a wage for their work rendered to Armada. This pleases Tanner Sack who was remade with tentacles protruding from his stomach. He finds joy for the first time in the sea, the brine healing his tentacles which he thought were dead. He also furthers his friendship with Shekel (a young boy who was the cabin boy on The Terpsichoria).

Bellis wants to go home. She wasn't a prisoner like Tanner and misses her city despite it's many flaws. She starts to plot with Silas Fennac (the man who had the papers on the boat that changed their course) and he lets her know there is a major threat to New Crobuzon as the Grindelow are planning to attack and take over. The cities leaders are also planning on rising a monster from the deep called an Avanc and Bellis holds the key to the summoning but needs to work out if it will serve her plans to leave Armada.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as Perdido Street Station. There were some great characters like The Lovers who rule part of Armada and cut each other during sex in a ritualistic bonding and binding to each other. There was also the Brucolac, Vampir and ab-dead and Uther Doul the henchman of The Lovers with his Possible Sword. Again Mieville manages to blend fantasy, horror and science fiction creating something unique to him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Continuing updating my previous reading lists, this is what I read for the most part in 2004.

1) I Elizabeth - Rosalind Miles (4/5)
2) Blackwood Farm - Anne Rice (3/5)
3) Stonehenge - Bernard Cornwell (4/5)
4) The Firebrand - Marion Zimmer Bradley (5/5)
5) Wolfskin - Juliet Marillier (4/5)
6) Tales of Greece and Troy - Andrew Long (4/5)
7) The Mabinogion - Penguin Classics (5/5)
8) Guenevere: The Queen of the Summer Country - Rosalind Miles (4/5)
9) Guenevere: The Knight of the Sacred lake - Rosalind Miles (4/5)
10) Guenevere: The Child of the Holy Grail - Rosalind Miles (4/5)
11) The Forestwife Trilogy - Theresa Tomlinson (5/5)
12) Blood Canticle - Anne Rice (5/5)
13) The Queens Fool - Philippa Gregory (4/5)
14) The Cup of the World - John Dickinson (1/5)
15) The Merrybegot - Julie Hearn (3/5)
16) The Sea Priestess - Dion Fortune (4/5)
17) Praise to the Moon - Elen Hawke (4/5)
18) A Witches Guide to Life - Kala Trobe (5/5)
19) Voyage of the Snake Lady - Theresa Tomlinson (4/5)
20) Everyday Magic - Vivianne Crowley (4/5)
21) Tithe - Holly Black (5/5)
22) The Modern-Day Druidess - Cassandra Eason (4/5)
23) The Way of Wyrd - Brian Bates (5/5)
24) The COlour of Magic - Terry Pratchatt (3/5)
25) The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett (2/5)
26) Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett (3/5)
27) Mort - Terry Pratchett (4/5)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Genre : Romantic Comedy
Director : Adam Brooks

Will Hayes (the wonderful Ryan Reynolds) is about to be divorced. The highlight of his week are tuesdays and fridays when he gets to pick up his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine) from school. One day however he arrives and they have just had their first sex education class resulting in chaos. She wants to know the story of how he met her mother and after some convincing he tells her.

Turns out there are three woman in the story. Emily (Elizabeth Banks, JD's pregnant girlfriend in Scrubs), April (Isla Fisher) and Summer (Rachel Weisz). Emily is his college sweetheart who he leaves behind to go to New York and work on the Clinton campaign for president. April works as a copy girl there and Summer he meets returning a diary to her for Emily. All three are beautiful and he has feelings for them all for different reasons. The story becomes a love mystery as Maya tries to work out which one is her mother as Will has changed their names in an attempt to get her dad to realise he still lives her mum and doesn't want to get divorced.

It was quite a fun movie. I managed to work out about halfway through who the mother was and who he would end up with which made the second half seem pretty long. Breslin is great as the daughter and Reynolds plays Will very well. Not the best film out there at the moment, but certianly not the worst.

Juno - Film

Rating : 5.0/5
Genre : Dark Comedy
Director : Jason Reitman

From the director of Thank You For Smoking comes this dark comedy about Juno (Ellen Page), a sixteen year old girl who accidentally gets pregnant by her best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera from Superbad). She goes to have an abortion after telling her friend, but finds she is unable to go through with it. Instead she decides upon giving her baby up for adoption and searches in the local paper for the perfect couple to bring up her child. She finds Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman) Loring who have been trying for a baby for 5 years but are unable to conceive.

She tells Bleeker, but doesn't really give him a chance to get involved and he is unsure how to act anyway. Bleeker has been in love with Juno for a long time, but she just sees him as a friend. She finds something attractive in the adoptive father and starts spending time with him against her parents wishes who know her well. Things start to fall apart as Juno reachers her 8th month of pregnancy both for Juno and the Loring's leaving Juno confused and unsure what to do.

The best thing about this movie is the humor. It's extremely funny and witty and not in a romantic comedy way. There is a great fight between Jino's step mother and the ultra sound technician and many fantastic one liners and short speeches. Page is brilliant as Juno, she deals with the hand life deals her very well. The supporting cast are fantastic as well from Juno's father, step mother and best friend to the jock at school. I knew from the opening credits that I would love this movie much like Eagle Versus Chark last year and I am pretty sure this will be my film of the year. I am likely to see it in the cinema again and eagerly await the dvd. See this movie!

Jumper - Film

Rating : 3.0/5
Genre : Action Adventure
Director : Doug Liman

An action film following David Rice (Hayden Christensen) who at 15 first "jumps" through space. He is drowning in a frozen lake and suddenly reappears in the local library soaking wet ruining the stacks. His home life is less than great so he decides to run away. He realises he needs a photo to concentrate his jump sites or to have visited a place in person to be able to visualise where he needs to jump to. He gets money jumping into bank vaults and leaving IOU notes leading the mysterious religious group of Paladins after him. Their job is to kill Jumpers who are an anomoloy to God who is the only one who should be in all places at all times.

He spends some time with his old crush Millie (Rachel Bilson) trying to be her boyfriend without telling her the truth. While he takes her to Rome (via airplane this time), another jumper introduces himself as Griffin (Jamie Bell form Billy Elliot) and they form a temporary alliance against the Paladins and in particaulr Roland (Samuel L Jackson) who is particularly fearsome and good at his job.

There are a couple of side plots involving David's mother who left when he was 5 and the ending sets it up nicely for a sequel. I enjoyed this movie overall as a bit of light fun. The action was fast and the different locations were beautifully shot. It wasn't great though and won't be winning any oscars. Why some people can jump isn't explained at all and Hayden Christensen is pretty wooden in his role. Jamie Bell on the other hand is much better and his character much more in control of things. I would recommend seeing it at the cinema if you can due to the scale of some of the shots.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I have been going through my old book journals as I am about to start my third one and I thought I would keep an online record of what I read since starting to record what I read, how long it takes and what my thoughts were. I started my journal in 2003 and this is 2003's reading with their ratings.

1) The Other Boleny Girl - Philippa Gregory (4/5)
2) Queen of Camelot - Nancy McKenzie (4/5)
3) The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood (4/5)
4) Taliesin - Stephen Lawhead (4/5)
5) Merlin - Stephen Lawhead (4/5)
6) Arthur - Stephen Lawhead (3/5)
7) Pendragon - Stephen Lawhead (3/5)
8) Grail - Stephen Lawhead (2/5)
9) Origins - Cate Tiernan (4/5)
10) Eclipse - Cate Tiernan (4/5)
11) Dark Vengence (Charmed) - Constance M Burge (3/5)
12) Shadow of the Sphinx (Charmed) - Constance M Burge (4/5)
13) The Moon Riders - Theresa Tomlinson (5/5)
14) Faraway Tree Stories: Three Books in One - Enid Blyton (4/5)
15) The Silmarillion - JRR Tolkien (4/5)
16) The Windsinger - William Nicholson (4/5)
17) Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier (5/5)
18) Son of the Shadows - Juliet Marillier (4/5)
19) Child of the Prophecy - Juliet Marillier (4/5)
20) More, Now, Again - Elizabeth Wurtzel (4/5)
21) Memoires of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (4/5)
22) The Rebel Fairy - Deborah Wright (3/5)
23) Unfinished Tales - JRR Tolkien (5/5)
24) Wideacre - Philippa Gregory (4/5)
25) The Favoured Child - Philippa Gregory (3/5)
26) Meridon - Philippa Gregory (3/5)
27) The Wise Woman - Philippa Gregory (4/5)
28) The Winter King - Bernard Cornwell (5/5)
29) Enemy of God - Bernard Cornwell (5/5)
30) Excalibur - Bernard Cornwell (5/5)
31) Postcards from the Edge - Carrie Fisher (4/5)
32) The Isle Witch - Terry Brooks (2/5)
33) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - JK Rowling (2/5)
34) Bodily Harm - Margaret Atwood (4/5)
35) Antrax - Terry Brooks (4/5)
36) Morgawr - Terry Brooks (3/5)
37) Reckoning (Wicca) - Cate Tiernan
38) Full Circle (Wicca) - Cate Tiernan
39) Easy - Emma Gould (3/5)
40) Mist and Stone (Charmed) - Diana G Gallagher (4/5)
41) Something Wiccan this way comes (Charmed) - Emma Harrison (3/5)
42) Mirror Image (Charmed) - Jeff Mariotte (3/5)
43) Slaves of the Mastery - William Nicholson (5/5)
44) Firesong - William Nicholson (4/5)
45) The Magicians Nephew - CS Lewis (4/5)
46) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe- CS Lewis (4/5)
47) The Horse and his Boy - CS Lewis (3/5)
48) Prince Caspian - CS Lewis (4/5)
49) The Voyage of the Dawn Treder - CS Lewis (4/5)
50) The Silver Chair - CS Lewis (5/5)
51) The Last Battle - CS Lewis (2/5)
52) Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman (3/5)
53) Nights Child (Wicca) - Cate Tiernan (4/5)
54) The Redemption of Athalus - David & Leigh Eddings (3/5)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

After the Honeymoon

I had a post ready for today, but I liked this suggestion from Chris even better, so … thanks, Chris!
Here’s something for Valentine’s Day.
Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

You know I can't think of anyone. I know a lot of people went off Anne Rice later in the vampire series and especially with her book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, but continue to love her writing. Oh the exception is Mark Haddon I think. He wrote A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which I absolutely loved. I was really looking forward to reading something else by him and I was really excited when A Spot of Bother came out. When I got around to reading it, I was sadly disappointed and it has put me off reading more by him in the future. Perhaps it was my really high expectations after reading his first novel, it was such a hard act to follow, but either way I would think twice about buying another novel by him. Depending on what the reviews are of his next book will determine whether I take him back or not. I also have a horrible feeling that JK Rowling will be the same. After the success of Harry Potter, how on earth do you top it and write something that will catch the attention of readers so much.

The photo above is of Morgaine's paws. I thought it was really cute the way she was sleeping, it looks like someone took a white paint brush and ran it across her toes! She kept me awake most of last night and I got my husband to pshut her out the bedroom when he went to work. She just sat outside the door meowing and scratching at it until I eventually got up to see what she wanted. Now she won't leave me alone and is following me about checking she isn't getting separeted again silly beastie.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 595
Number in Series : #2 Twilight Series
Reason for Reading : Series Challenge, Young Adult Challenge, I loved Twilight and wan't to see what happened to Bella and Edward next

Bella has everything she ever dreamt of in her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen. Things start to go wrong on her eighteenth birthday when she is accidentally hurt at the Cullen's house which culminates in their leaving town and Edward going with them and ending things with Bella. She spends months in a zombie state going through the motions with her father Charlie, at school and at work. She finds sollace rekindling her friendship with Jacob Black who seems the only one to be able to pull her out of her depression. The problem is he wants more than friendship and this is the one thing Bella is unable to give him. Secretly she is still communicating with Edward through hallucinations she is able to bring on when she is doing something reackless and dangerous like riding a motorbike and cliff diving.

Things start to change with Jason as well in time. He is drawn into what looks to Bella like a dangerous cult and he stops hanging out with her. The plot becomes even more complicated with the return of Alice Cullen after seeing a vision of Bella trying to kill herself setting events in motion beyond either of their control.

I thought this was a great follow up to Twilight and I am really looking forward to reading Eclipse and the final installment Breaking Dawn (out in August 08). I felt really sorry for Bella when she was suffering from depression and could understand her numbness. It also must have been really difficult to loose her best friend and not be able to go through his changes with him. One of my favourite series at the moment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 446
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge, Man Booker Challenge and I loved White Teeth

Two families, the Belseys and the Kippses, are at war. The fathers are professional rivals and the children partially follow suit. Somehow fate seems destined to keep bringing them together. Whether it be an ill-judged engagement, an unexpected friendship or an illicit affair for one who should have learnt by now how destructive it could be.

It looks at Love and Beauty and our ideals of the two. Why do we love who we love, why do we keep repeating the same mistakes time and time again and what exactly is beauty, is it a physical thing, something poetical or lyrical or something more spiritual. What really makes this book is the characters. Both families (although we learn far more about the Belseys and their motivations) have a great set of members with their own interests and characteristics. On the side of the Belseys is Howard (father) and Kiki (mother), 20 year old son Jerome who has found Christianity and is a virgin, studious daughter Zora who is very self righteous and youngest son Levi who has affected a Brooklyn accent and listens to hip hop. Opposite are the Kippses, Monty and Carlene (parents) along with mostly absent son Michael and daughter Victoria (Vee) who is just discovering her sexuality and the power she holds.

Her prose really draws you in, I was hooked after the first page and knew I was going to love it already! I couldn't wait to see how it would all play out. I enjoyed this book immensley and can see why it has recieved such high praise and awards/nominations. I am looking forward to reading The Autograph Man in the future.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 213
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge, recommendation by my best friend

The oldest English poem composed between the middle of the seventh century and the end of the tenth century in the first millenium. It was written in Anglo-Saxon or Old English and describes events in Scandinavia. The version I have is the bilingual edition showing the Anglo-Saxon version alongside this translation by Seamus Heaney.

Warrior Beowulf sails to Denmark to help Prince Hrothgar whose people are being beset by the monsterous Grendel. He is descended from Cain from the Old Testament making him part demon with much strength. Beowulf defeats Grendel by ripping his arm off at the shoulder causing him a mortal wound. After they celebrate their victory, Grendel's mother bursts onto the scene to seek vengence for her son. Beowulf again fights her and again defeats her in an under water battle.

After Beowulf and his men are rewarded by Hrothgar they sail home again. Beowulf's uncle Hygelac is King and Beowulf gives him a gift of many of the rewards he recieved. There is no petty squabbling between the two warriors and no double dealing and treachery. In time Beowulf becomes King after Hygelac is killed in battle and his son Headred is killed for double dealing. A dragon is mistakenly awoken by a thief stealing a cup from his treasure Horde. Beowulf goes to fight it, knowing it will be his last battle. All of his men run away from the dragon apart from Wiglaf (son of Weohstan) who stays and aids his master in this last battle.

Although Beowulf is boastful and arrogant, he lives his life with valour. His death will see many of the old battles rekindled without someone in his place to keep the peace. I definitely recommend this poem. It was really interesting to see it alongside the Anglo-Saxon and see if I could pick out any of the words (sadly not many!). This is an excellent translation which keeps the spirit of the original poem, but somehow brings it up to date.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 341
Reason for Reading : Saw it in the library and was intrigued

A collection of 10 fairy tales collected by Lester Del Rey and Risa Kessler with illustrations by Michael Pangrazio. Some of the authors are pretty well known within the Fantasy and Science Fiction genre, but I haven't read any short stories by them. As this is a collection of fairy tales I thought it would be interesting. All the tales are original and not directly based on any already existing although they contain many familiar and traditional elements. Most tales seemed to involve dragons.

Prince Delightful and the Flameless Dragon - Isaac Asimov
About a young man who at birth was visited by a clumsy fairy godmother among many others. She mistakenly gifted him with gracelessness by holding her wand upside down during the ceremony. He sets off on the usual year and a day quest to kill a dragon and win the hand of a Princess. Turns out the same fairy visited the dragon who cannot shoot flame, only produce a terrible smell! I really enjoyed this tale, the humour appealed to me.

Imaginary Friends - Terry Brooks
Jack McCall is about to turn 13 when he is diagnosed with leukemia. During this time he remembers an incident with an elf when he was younger that no one else believedc. In his sickness the elf visits again and Jack has to save him from a troll and dragon which are a metaphor for his illness.

Gwydion and the Dragon - C J Cherryh
There is a sorcerer and dragon taking over Dyfed. The last Prince in the land, Gwydion ap Ogan goes to try his luck and win the hand of the sorcerer's daughter who has her own powers. He takes his friend, horse and dog as companions in his quest.

The Fairy Godmother - Lester Del Rey
Princess Samantha is on the way to stay with her aunt who she doesn't really like when bandits appaer. For some reason she seems invisable to them and escapes into the forest. She has been told she has a fairy godmother, but has never seen her and wonders if she is protecting her. In the forest she finds a couple who take her in and look after her. One day the woman is bitten by a poisonous snake and Samantha is sent to fetch the doctor. She meets a mysterious stranger at the cross roads who offers help instead.

Thistledown - Susan Dexter
A story of a young unicorn and peasant Flax whose mother was suspected of witchcraft before she tragically died.

The Old Soul - Wayland Drew
A merchant, doctor and architect are thrown together on a long journey across the land after they all miss their passage aboard a ship. Along the way they meet a Crone who tells them a story about fairies and saving the Mysteries. The story affects each listener differently and each set off on their own personal quests.

Changeling - Barbara Hambly
Brown Michael is the lord of White Marshes and kills a dragon. In it's cave he finds a young girl, a strange green deer-like creature and a ball of sparkling lights and he takes them all home with him. He and his family are unable to find the girls parents and she barely speaks so they suspect she is fairy born. They try to return her to her family when another dragon is spotted. The family suspect the ball of lights is a baby dragon, but things turn out quite different from expected.

The Tinkling Fairybells - Katherin Kuntz
A beautiful tale of a fairy and a White Robe priest who fall in love despite everything going against them. She is ethereal and when he is later ship wrecked whe can only watch as he is drowned. The story doesn't end there however, but I won't spoil it here.

The Quest of a Sensible Man - Anne McCaffrey
Prince Bieregard of Mundesland is sent off to find a mare for his mount, a stallion of direct Peagasan lineage. One his journey he is able to break through a magical wood to find Alav and Sendra who have 6 suitable mares. Fortune has shone on them and as well as falling for Senra, Bieregard is able to help them break the enchantment of the forest and finally leave it.

Portrait of a Hero - Lawrence Watt-Evans
A tale of a village a dragon is molesting. Young Wuller leaves the town after they consult an ancient oracle to find the beautiful lady it said could helo rid them of the dragon. On returning the villagers think she is there to be a virgin sacrifice, but the young woman comes from a family of dragon killers and has other ideas.

I quite enjoyed this collection. My favourite tale was by far "The Tinkling of Fairybells" and I also enjoyed "Prince Delightful", "Thistledown" and "Changeling". The downside was there seemed quite a lot of repetition with the occurance of dragons and Princes.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 436
Reason for Reading : Sci-Fi Experience, Man Booker Prize Challenge, I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood

A science fiction novel following Jimmy in a future not too far from us where genetic engineering and super bugs have destroyed humanity apart from the mysterious Crakers. It alternates between the present where Jimmy has renamed himself Snowman and his past showing life in the compounds where his father works as a scientist seperate from the pleeblands where the regular people live. His father is involved in making pigoons where human organs are grown inside pigs and harvested for human transplant. They even grow human neocortex.

It tells the story of how Jimmy meets Crake (real name Glenn) at school who becomes his only friend. They spend their youth looking at the delights of the internet including child pornography, animal and human websites, live executions and assisted suicides. Nothing seems banned visually to them and Crake has the genius to find a way to hack into the adult-only sites using his step-fathers credit card. They also play a series of games like chess and extinctathon which involves giving yourself the name of an extinct animal (this is where Crake gets his nickname which sticks).

The tension builds slowly over time with the addition of Oryx who both friends fall in love with after seeing first her as a child on HottTotts. There is a dark undercurrent as Crake starts college at Watson-Crick and gets more involved in creating new "improved" creatures. Jimmy uncovers more about Crake's past and what really happened to his father which turns out to be murder for having discovered the truth behind some of the pharmaceutical companies.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were fantastic and I love Atwoods prose. She weaves such a great tale and I love how she intersects the past into the present. My only problem with her is her endings. I saw it coming as I have now read a few of her books, but she has a tendency to leave things at there most interesting! She seems to revel in ambiguity and much of her writing is open-ended. This book was quite unsettling, but I do feel that science is always portrayed as the bad guy which also doesn't sit too well with me being a scientist.

But, enough about books…

Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

I supposed my other main hobby is going to the cineman although I have only been once so far this year. I pay a set amount every month to use the Cineworld chain of cinemas as often as I want. This means I try and go at th every least twice a month so I have some catching up to do in 2008! I like comedies and quirky unique films, but am not a horror fan. The best film I saw last year was a strange rom-com called Eagle Versus Shark from New Zealand which I just bought on DVD and I highly recommend. The year before I think my favourite film was Little Miss Sunshine.

I also do cross stitch patterns and make cards from time to time and hope to start teaching myself to make clothes this year. I can barely knit and have only mastered plain stitch to date. I try to spend a fair amount of time with the cats as they are indoor moggies and very people friendly. They are very demanding on my attention if I am in the house which is always fun.

I used to go out clubbing a lot as I love music and dancing, but I haven't had much time lately (although I might be going out tonight). Every monday however me and my husband do DJ in a bar/club in South London where we play a bit of everything except Indie music. We have been doing it for about 2 years now and it's a fun little side project to make some money for our holiday fund.

The photo is Morgaine sleeping on the back of the sofa with her tongue out ^_^

Monday, February 04, 2008

You Make My Day

Thanks to Melody and Nymeth for giving me a You Make My Day award. It's always good to know people read my blog which I was never expecting when I started it!

Once receiving the award the next part if to pass it on to 10 other bloggers. I have been thinking about it and have decided to pick 10 people whose blogs I really enjoy whether they have already been nominated or not which I hope is ok.

Nymeth - I know she nominated me, but hers is honestly the first blog I know I want to visit when I am online. If I have time to look at a few different sites I save hers for last as I know it will take the longest for me to read every word. If I only have a few minutes I will check hers out first. I have had some great book recommendations there and have been lucky enough to meet up briefly at a book signed. Hopefully we will get the chance to meet up again before she leaves the UK.

Jehara - She is a real sweetie with very similar tastes in reading and spirituality to me. One day she found my blog and saw I was hoping to get a pen pal so she kindly sent me an email offering which has been fun so far (woman you owe me a letter!).

Caroline Wood - Caroline is a lady I met online a few years back who I think is great! She is a fantastic tarot reader and I especially love her crafty blog with all the things she makes and her current projects. She is generally a great source of inspiration to me.

Amy Sleepy Reader - I love her layout and her reviews are always fun to read. She always has something nice to say and I am really glad I found her blog.

Chris Stuff as Dreams - Another blog I save until last as there is always lots of interesting stuff to read. He writes about books, films and random goings on in his life which really make it feel like you are getting to know him which is always fun. He has similar reading tastes to me so it's another place for great recomendations and one day I hope to go to New Orleans...

Margo - She is someone I have known for a while online (maybe one day I will get to meet up with her for a coffee) and I love reading her reviews of books, films and music. A real star.

Clare Confessions of a Book Addict - Again another person I have known for many years online (we must meet for coffee too!). She has great taste in books and was lovely enough to put me on the right track for two authors who are now in my top 5 all time favourites. She recommended both Anne Bishops Black Jewels Trilogy and Charles de Lint. She also loves Juliet Marillier as much as me and I still need to read some Caiseal Mor on her recommendation.

Darla D - Someone I have recently discovered who also loves Charles de Lint, Manga and YA books. A great new place to get recommendations and she visits me here lots too and I am enjoying chatting about books we share an interest in. I hope to get to know her better.

Wendy Literary Feline - I love her blog, so many different types of books and it's always good to see a dog lover converted into being a cat lover as well! She encourages me to read books outside my usual scope which is always a great thing.

Thoughts of Joy - I love the challenges she is running this year and I think I am doing 3 of hers at the moment! It's great to be encouraged to read more YA books as well as start some of the many new series I have sitting on my shelves. She is also really friendly which is always good.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Genre : Fantasy, Horror
Director : Tim Burton

Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) arrives back in London after being wrongly accused of a crime and deported. He has changed his name to Sweeny Todd and has sworn revenge on the man responsible for his exile. Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) caused it because he fell in love with Barkers wife. On arriving back in London with young sailor Anthony Hope (Jamie Capbell Bower) he hears his wife took poison after he was deported and she was raped by the judge who now has custody of his daughter Joanna (Jayne Wisener).

Someone who recognises him is pie seller Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) whose shop is below the flat Barker and his family used to rent. She has always had a sweet spot for Barker and agrees to rent him the apartment again on Fleet Street so he can open up a barber shop once again. He plans on reeling the judge into his shop and slitting this throat with his silver razors. Mrs Lovett is all for the plan and when things go a little astray and Barker/Todd starts killing tourists and people who won't be missed she uses their bodies to make the best meat pies in London and relaunch her shop.

A very gory film with lots of silly fake blood. The secondary tale with Anthony and Joanna gave it a more human twist with him falling in love with her and trying to rescue her from the judge. The acting was great as well as the singing, but I wasn't a massive fan of the music. It wasn't particularly catchy and the best song was near the beginning where Todd is singing to his razors and Mrs Lovett joins in saying she is his friend too. I felt sorry for Todd, but it quickly evaporated when he started killing so many people and making them into pies! The final straw came when him and Mrs Lovett turned on the one person who trusted them the most, a young boy they were giving work to, Toby (Ed Sanders). Fun but it isn't going to make my top 10 of all time.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Names of Magic - Dylan Harrocks & Richard Case
Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 124
Reason for Reading : Been meaning to read some of this series for ages and the library had a copy

Timothy Hunter has faced down many challenges since discovering he is destined to be the greatest magician known to the world, but they mean nothing if he cannot discover his true name. Who he thought was his father turned out not to be and his mother died when he was six and was too young to ask her. There are at least two tales of his true birth. One is that Mary is his mother and Tamlin his father. She fought to get him back from Titania, but he missed the faerie world and one day after their son was born he was gone. Another says Timlin is his father and Queen Titania of the faeries his mother. She hid Tim in the human world as a baby with human parents so he could be brought up safe from the jealousy of her husband Auberon.

Tim is being chased by the mysterious Golden Lotus group as well as the Unseelie Court with help from some traitors from some Seelie Court members. He can only hide in the White School if he knows his true name and so begins his journey to uncover his real heritage. I really enjoyed this tale and the artwork and will definitely be tracking down some of the earlier books in this series which was created by Neil Gaiman and John Bolton.

The Books of Faerie: Auberon's Tale - Bronwyn Carlton & John Ney Rieber
Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 127
Reason for Reading : See above

A collection of stories form the Books of Magic world. The first three tell how Auberon became to be the King of the Faeries as a young boy. It must lead into another tale from one of the other books as it stopped just as things were getting interesting and he is still very young and surrounded by enemies and plots! It involved regicide, a pretender to the throne and a usurper.

Another tale was about troll Strum saving his brothers and gaining a magical pot allowing him to walk under water and still be able to breathe as normal. He aids a lady reclaim her silver treaure and gains a reward. There is also a tale of Auberon before he was declared King where he finds a fearsome pet in the forest which is possibly a mythical beast. The final tale was the saddest and the most beautifully drawn. It involves Tim Hunter being transported by a magic key to the realm of the dead. There he meets the spirit of a girl who had loved Tamlin in life before discovering her hatred for him in death for spurning her. Tamlin is painted as a cruel and hurtful character and Tim helps her without realising it is Tamlin she loved.

I enjoyed this collection, but feel it would have meant more if I had read some more of the tales before it. Must go and seek them out!

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 334
Number in Series : #3 Chrestomanci Series
Reason for Reading : I enjoyed Fire and Hemlock by the same author when Nymeth recommended her to me and saw this in the local library so thought I would give it a try

Chrestomanci is an enchanter in charge of controlling witchcraft in the many parallel universes out there. Each one has arisen when there were two different potential outcomes for example in one world Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo. One particular world forbids witchcraft and when a note appears on the desk of teacher Mr Crossley accusing someone in class 2Y of being a witch panic and accusations soon set in.

In this particular school it could easily be true as many of the pupils are witch-orphans whose parents were burnt as witches on bone-fires. As events in the story unfold we discover there is a witch in the class, in fact there are more than one. Misfits Charles, Nan, Brian, Estelle and Nirupam are forced to form an unlikley allience to put their world right allowing witchcraft to be practised freely with the emergency help of Chrestomanci.

This is the third book in the series and I enjoyed it enough to look for the rest. The idea of all worlds being inherantly magical was fun and the main characters were interesting, especially Nirupam who didn't have as much of a role as some of the others. It was funny that "magic" is used as a swear word in their world as well as some other little references that made their world different from ours. A fun read.

Friday, February 01, 2008

January Summary

January has been a crazy reading month somehow. If I get a new job this year I am sure that will slow it down. I have made a decent start on my millions of new challenges and tried to keep the old ones from last year going as well. Doing this list makes me realise just how many reading challenges I am taking part in this year doh!

Number of Books Read January : 16
Number of Pages Read : 6248
Book Awards Reading Challenge : 12/22 (need to read a minimum of 12)
Series Challenge : 4/8
Themed Reading Challenge : 2/6
Young Adult Challenge : 1/12
Challenge with Nymeth : 1/5
What's in a Name Challenge : 1/6
Graphic Novel Challenge : 1/10 plus 1 extra
TBR Challenge 2008 : 1/12 and 0/12 alternatives
First in a Series Challenge : 1/12
Man Booker Prize Challenge : 0/8
Short Story Reading Challenge : 2/10
Chunkster Challenge : 1/4
Mythopoeic Challenge : 1/7
Inklings Challenge : 0/4
A~Z Challenge : Titles = 7/26, Authors = 7/26
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time : 25/100 (aiming for 50)
Sci-Fi Experience : Read 2

101 Things to do in 1001 Days : 29/101