Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 200
Number in Series : #1 Death Note
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge 2008, First in a Series Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, recommendation from a friend who says it is an awesome series!

The first in the Death Note manga series which is also an animated series and now an animated film. Light is a teenager in Japan and is top of his class at school as well as being a hit with the girls there. One day he finds the Death Note dropped by a Shinimami (death god) named Ryuk. It is a notebook and if a person's name is written in the Death Note they will die. Details of their death can be written in within a time limit such as time of death, events leading up to their death as well as method of death, and if it is left blank they will die of a heart attack. You need to know the persons name to be written in the book as well as what they look like. When writing their name you must hold an image of them in your mind so that no one else with the same name also dies.

Light decides to use the Death Note to purge the world of dangerous criminals reported in the news. He feels he is the righteous ruler of the world and is doing what is in the best interest of everyone. It will cut down crime when it is noticed what is happening as ciminals will be afraid they are next. The police forces the world over don't share his vision and recruit the mysterious L to help investigate Kira as Light has become known in the press (a messenger sent from hell who will not abide evil in the world). No one knows the real name or identiy of L so he is safe from Light's Death Note for now.

This was a great start to the series. There are lots of twists and turns and extra information about Ryuk and the Death Note along the way. Ryuk can only be seen by someone who has touched the Death Note so Lilght has to find a suitable hiding place for it which is genius. The Shinigami only works for himself and is not able to influence Light or L, but you do get the feeling he at least respects Light and is relieved he picked up the Death Note alieviating his boredom.

The interesting thing is I don't really agree with Light's use of the Death Note. Yes it is great to cut down on crime, but I don't agree with randomly killing criminials to do it. I find myself on the side of L at the moment (this may change later depending upon what is revealed about him), but I do appreciate Light's mind and intelligence. I am definitely looking forward to the second volume in the series.

Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings as well as hosting the Once Upon a Time II Challenge which I am loving, is also celebrating his own book week. Each day there are posts with art and atrists relating to books. If you comment on each post throughout the week you will be entered into a draw and if you show artwork related to the posts you are entered twice. Not sure what the prizes are yet but if they are to be judged by previous delights they should be pretty awesome!

In keeping with his theme for Day Two which made art out of books, I thought I would put up these photos I took at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London last year. I put one up at the time and found a second one on my phone still. I love the way they look but sadly am not sure who the artist is, I will try and visit again and see if they are still there. They are two photographs of books (one writing and the other music) which have had areas removed to be able to place necklaces inside them. I think they are a beautiful way to show off jewelry, but am not sure I could do it to a book I owned. It seems somehow sacreligious!

My husband has a hardback book we were given free at a festival that he cut a section out of. Inside he hid money and we used it to save money for our wedding singer and I put money in for my wedding dress so it wasn't spent my mistake.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 293
Reason for Reading : Nick Hornby is one of my favourite writers and I rushed out to get his new paperback

Sam is 15. Life is going well at the moment. His skating is taking off and he is learning some new tricks (although he is very quick to point out it is skateboarding and nothing to do with ice), plus he is seeing the beautiful and cool Alicia. His idol is skater Tony Hawk (TH from now on) and he has a poster of him on his bedroom wall. Now not to be too strange, Sam talks to his poster and TH talks back. It's not quite what you think, Sam has read "Hawk - Occupation: Skateboarder" like a thousand times and TH always answers in quotes from his book appropriate to the situation.

Things start to change, Sam starts to get bored of Alicia after spending too much time with her and breaks up by her in the usual bloke style of ignoring her messages and calls. On his 16th birthday he gets an urgent text from her and he has a niggling feeling that he knows what it is. Whilst sleeping with Alicia one night an accident happens and she finds herself pregnant. At first Sam runs away to Hastings and then thinks surely having a baby can't be as bad as trying to live in Hastings and look after an old mean man. He goes home and has to face the music. TH helps out in the only way he can by whizzing Sam forwards a year where he meets him son and finds himself living in Alicia's parents house in her bedroom. He wakes up in the morning back in his own bed and continues life in a linear pattern for the most part.

Told with the usual Hornby wit and humour, this was an interesting and honest look at teenage pregnancy. The trials, the expectations and the hardships. It was even more interesting being written from the father-to-be's perspective which is often overlooked. It is his first book aimed at teenagers and I hope it isn't his last.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekly Geeks

My first post for Weekly Geeks (sorry I am a little slow, I was away at the weekend). The first challenge is to discover new blogs and there is a list of participants to visit. The aim is to pick 5 and leave comments on their blogs letting them know what your thoughts are.

Three people have visited my site so I thought I would return the favour as they are both new to me.

The first was Kim from Page After Page who visited me and luckily liked my site! She has signed up for similar challenges to me and recommends Spindles End by Robin McKinley for the tl;dr challenge which just arrived today! I must go back and read some more of the Once Upon a Time II and Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge reviews.

The second was Kristi at Passion for the Page who is currently reading A Short History of Everything by Bill Bryson which I read last year. From looking at her blog it seems we have some similar paranormal reading habbits.

The third was Kerry Saving my Sanity who also stopped by. She is from New Zealand where I hope to go for a month next year *fingers crossed* She reads, does cross stitch and has a cat which is all very cool. I hope to visit her blog more in the future.

A new blog to me was Mary at This Book is for You. It's funny, she compelted hated Twilight which I really enjoyed! It's interesting reading the review of someone who has a completely different opinion on a book to me :)

My final visit was to Misa, This Redhead Reads. I really like the list she has put up for the tl;dr challenge, a few of which are on my list to read soon. I also liked her Spring Reading Thing list.

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 241
Reason for Reading : Mythopoeic Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, recommendation from Nymeth and I wanted to read more in the Fairy Tale series

Part of the Fairy Tale series created by Terri Windling which looks at the tale of Briar Rose and Sleeping Beauty set in the context of the Holocaust. Beck's grandmother, Gemma, dies in a nursing home and gets Becky to promise on her deathbed that she will not forget her story. Since Becky was a little girl, Gemma has always told her and her two older sisters Shana and Slyvia the tale of Briar Rose with a few inconsistencies from the more well known version. She always claimed to be Briar Rose, the only one the Prince woke up after the mist came down and caused everyone to fall asleep.

After Gemma dies Becky starts to investigate her story. She finds a wooden box in the nursing home engraved with a rose and barbs on the lid which contains a collection of photos, newspaper clippings and other confusing forms. It turns out they know even less about Gemma than they thought, Becky's mother Eve is not even sure of her mothers real name. Her investigations lead her to Poland to chase down her grandmothers nickname "Ksiezniczka" which means Princess at a German extinction camp named Chelmno.

It seems wrong to say this was a wonderful book that I completely fell in love with, but that's just how I feel. The writing swept me along and I sat down and this this tale straight through. It alternates between a section of Gemma telling her version of Briar Rose which becomes explained throughout the main story and Beck's story. The middle section contains the story of the Prince with his part in Gemma's life. I enjoyed the little touches, like that Becky reads "Beauty" by Robin McKinley when she is feeling down and I am really looking forward to reading it soon.

It is such a sad tale, but then life is never quite like a fairy tale. It is disgusting what people do to each other on the basis of race, religion and sexual preference to name a few. The worst of it is that the horrible parts are true, or at least based on truth and similar attrocities are going on every day somewhere around the world. It was so moving and managed to inset happier images, there is still a note of survival and enduring. Heros become so where least expected.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 294
Number in Series : #1 Daughters of the Moon
Reason for Reading : Young Adult Reading Challenge, First in a Series Challenge, I was interested after reading the blurb on the back

The first book in this magical teen series follows Vanessa who can turn invisible and her friend Catty who can travel up to 24 hours forwards or backwards in time. Vanessa has had the distinct feeling lately that the shadows are following her so Catty turns time back to investigate. They are able to find that she was being followed but cannot tell who it is. Catty begins to practise her time travelling, leapfrogging in time so she can travel back a number of days. Something goes wrong and she never reappears leaving Vanessa worried she has been trapped in the "time tunnel" or it is something to do with the mysterious shadows.

New girls Serena and Jimena have their own secrets and try to help Vanessa steer clear of danger and find Catty. They introduce her to Maggie who seems able to teach her more about her gift and where it came from. It all seems linked to the silver moon pendents her and Catty have had since birth. Maggie also tells her about Atrox, the original evil force who convinced Lucifer to fall. It has shadow human followers that consume hope having had theirs removed, but if you do one a genuine act of kindness it cannot harm you. On top of all this Vanessa has just begun dating local hunk Michael and finds that everytime she kisses him her body rebels and starts to turn invisible!

It sounded so like Charmed I put off getting this series at first, but I am glad I gave it a chance as it is quite different. The power of invisibility isn't quite what I expected, it's more her molecules come apart and she disappears and moves like dust motes through the air which I found quite beautiful. I liked the four female leads and am interested to find out more about Stanton and Michael, I feel Vanessa will be torn between the two in later books. It was definitely a good start to the series and I hope to read the next one soon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 371
Number in Series : #5 Adult Fairy Tale Series
Reason for Reading : Themed Reading Challenge, Short Story Reading Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, to continue this lovely series

Another beautiful collection of fairy tales for adult readers collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. There are 21 tales by 21 different authors, some are new to the series and others are old favourites from previous collections.

Kiss Kiss – Tanith Lee
A variation on The Frog Prince. It continues the tale after the frog has changed back into a Prince and they are married. She loses her best friend to her husband after that “hateful betrayal of a kiss”.

Carabosse – Delia Sherman
The author says bad fairies may create problems, but they often offer the young prince and princess they curse the opportunity to become more than they would otherwise have been. They do everybody a favour by stirring things up a bit, and should be given more credit (and sympathy) for their subversive roles. The tale is a look at Sleeping Beauty and the good fairies motivations behind the spell told as a poem.

The Price – Patricia Briggs
A reworking of Rumplestiltskin. A much more human story somehow with some of the gaps from the original tale filled in.

Glass Coffin – Caitlin R Kiernan
A contemporary re-telling inspired by the song “Hardly Wait” by PJ Harvey sung by Juliette Lewis. Salmagundi Desvernine lives in a junkyard with 7 other discarded children waiting for Jimmy Desade to return. While he is away selling drugs she cuts her thumb on some sharp rusty metal and dies. He makes her a glass coffin before leaving the other children for good. Very bleak and desolate.

The Vanishing Virgin – Harvey Jacobs
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Flea and the Professor. Magic, even the most controlled, has a way of spinning out of control and creating magic of its own. This is about escape, a neglected magicians assistant and wife Ms Molly turns left inside the vanishing box during a trick. She is told to try it by the rabbit they use Pooper who turns out to be a man from a magical world she finds when she turns the opposite way in the box.

Clad in Gossamer – Nancy Kress
About court life, it’s pressures and its intrigues. Based on The Emperor’s New Clothes about Prince Jasper, second in line for the throne. He envies his brother and wants his intended bride for himself as well as the throne. Along the way the truth becomes twisted and he is no longer sure what is happening.

Precious – Nalo Hopkinson
She says “I’ve always hated the ending of the fairy tale about the good sister who has jewels and flowers fall from her lips when she speaks. Of course, the prince marries her, supposedly as her reward for being virtuous, but its obvious that the prince sees her more as a boon to the royal coffers and a beautiful sex toy than as a person. “Precious” takes up the thread after the marriage.” Jude beats Isobel to get more and more jewels until she eventually runs away keeping her address and number unlisted. He finally tracks her down and while she is telling him exactly how she feels he becomes buried under an increasing pile of jewels. She coughs up a ruby as big as a human heart which knocks him out. When she calls the police on her intruder she notices nothing leaves her mouth but the sounds she makes.

The Sea Hag – Melissa Lee Shaw
This tale originated as a rebellion against the multitude of strong, sympathetic adult female characters mostly found in Disney films. Most are either adolescent heroines or bumbling grandmothers. Anyone inbetween in age is usually portrayed as the villain in the tale. This story looks at the Sea Hag from The Little Mermaid from a different perspective. Beautiful and sad it sheds a new light on the popular tale.

The Frog Chauffeur – Garry Kilworth
The inspiration for this tale came from wondering whether a traumatic event like a frog being turned into a human would have residual effects. It considers the consequences of a human male as a frog with an active sex drive producing many tadpoles with a mixture of human and frog DNA. This tale tells of what happens when one such offspring becomes human after a traumatic event and marries Isobel Fairfax.

The Dybbuk in the Bottle – Russell William Asplund
Usually the genie who grants wishes is honourable, but this tells the tale of a dybbuk (a demon from Jewish folklore). It teaches the protagonist a few lessons along the way as he tries to trick the dybbuk back into its bottle with the help of Rabbi Meltzer after it takes over his house.

The Shellbox – Karawynn Long
Beautiful story based on various Selkie tales with a little bit of Bluebeard thrown in for good measures. About a woman who marries a man who treats her like dirt. She has a gift from her mother before she disappeared back into the sea, a shellbox that can hold anything she puts in it. During the tale she puts her voice in it singing to keep her husband company while he fishes, but he abuses it using her voice to call fish to him and then tells her he lost it when he disapproves of her friendship with a deaf and mute woman.

Ivory Bones – Susan Wade
Based on Thumbelina by Hans Christian Andersen. It tells the story from her intended mole-like husband who is a collector of rare oddities. He has in his possession a pearl ring made from Thumbelina’s skull. It contains dark connotations that suggest he had her deliberately turned into pearls so he could keep her with him always.

The Wild Heart – Anne Bishop
The Wild Heart is half of the princess in Sleeping Beauty. It has been travelling making itself strong enough to reunite with it’s other Gentle Heart. A dark look at the tale with a happy ending.

You wandered off like a foolish child to break your heart and mine – Pat York
Written by York after reading the manuscript for Bishops The Wild Heart. It looks at how someone might die by thorns which would be unable to kill someone quickly. A Queen nurses her son who is caught in the briar around the castle. There are 7 men still alive in the thorns which grow every day and try to strangle and kill them. When the prince arrives who is able to reach Sleeping Beauty, the remaining men are all killed when the roots move to let him through.

Arabian Phoenix – India Edghill
A version of “Scheherazde” from the Arabian Nights told in a modern setting. In this tale the reason the new Queens last only a week is due to their marriage contract only being set for that long. Shahrazad works out what happens to them as they are never seen again, the King is selecting the brightest woman and sending them off to university in the Western world. There is even the possibility of them getting married properly in the future.

Toad-Rich – Michael Cadnum
The “other” sister tells the tale of The Fairy Gifts by Charles Perrault. She is the sister who spits frogs, toads, snakes and spiders. After her sister marries the prince jewels become commonplace and it is her insects that become valuable. Her and her mother hope to use them to buy back her sister from the ungrateful prince.

Skin so Green and fine – Wendy Wheeler
A look at Beauty and the Beast. Bruno Bettelheim suggested that this story showed the Beauty could not love the beast until she had transferred her affection for her father to him at it looks at the Oedipal-conflict. The transfers the story to Spain adding in Voodoo and spiritual possession along the way.

The Wilful Child, the Black Dog, and the Beanstalk – Melanie Tam
This tale grew out of the authors duel passions for fairy tales and her job as a social worker. A social worker is teaching a class when someone stays behind at the end to discuss a case she was handling where the young girl killed her adoptive mother shortly before it could be finalised. It turns out she had tried to kill previous mothers-to-be in different fairy tale ways. One had nearly been pushed into an oven, another nearly had her ladder (beanstalk) chopped down and the final one was killed by stabbing her open from throat to sternum like the wolf in the original tales of Little Red Riding Hood.

Locks – Neil Gaiman
A poem inspired by Gaiman reading the story of Goldilocks to his daughter when she was young. It is a dialogue between father and daughter that has the father looking into the future and seeing her loss of innocence and him becoming the father bear checking all the windows and locks.

Marsh-Magic – Robin McKinley
A strange tale about a line of Kings, their mages and the local marsh people. Each King marries one of the marsh woman who produces only one male heir before disappearing. It takes one 22 generations later to break the bind by learning the mage’s true name and unveiling his real identity.

Toad – Patricia A McKillip
Written in response to unanswered questions surrounding the tale of The Frog Prince, especially why any self-respecting frog would want to marry a spoiled brat of a princess!

This is my favourite collection of tales in the series so far. I loved all of the tales and my particular favourites were The Sea Hag by Melissa Lee Shaw, The Wild Heart by Anne Bishop and The Shell Box by Karawynn Long. Other tales I enjoyed immensley were Kiss Kiss by Tanith Lee, Carabosse by Delia Sherman, The Price by Patricia Briggs, Clad in Gossamer by Nancy Kress, The Frog Chauffeur by Garry Kilworth, Ivory Bones by Susan Wade, You Wandered Off by Pat York and Arabian Phoenix by Indian Edgehill.

I really enjoyed this challenge held over at Squeaky Books. There is a review site here for what other participants read too. My list is below and of the six books I read I think The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale was my favourite closely followed by Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. My least favourite (if you can call it that!) was Tam Lin by Pamela Dean which felt like the last 50 pages were from a different story. Below is my list with links to reviews of all the novels I read:

1. Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 468
Reason for Reading : Twisted Fairy Tales Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, part of the Fairy Tale series edited by Terri Windling

I picked this up as it is part of the Fairy Tale series edited by Terri Windling and I like a lot of the collections she has put together with Ellen Datlow. The series is a collection of tales that each reinvent fairy tales. This focuses on the Scottish ballad Tam Lin which is helpfully reproduced at the end of the novel. It is set in America in the early 1970's in Blackstock Coleege. It begins with Janet Carter whose father lectures there on her first day. She meets her new roomates Christina and Molly as well as a couple of other girls on her floor and learns about the ghost who throws books out of their window at Halloween. She is also introduced to Thomas, Robin and Nick and the girls all pair off (Janet with Nick. Molly with Robin and Christina/Tina with Thomas).

A description of college life mostly fills the rest of the book. From the classes they each enroll in, their decisions over their majors, the petty squabbles between roomates and couples as well as dealing with their advisors at the college. Janet has Melinda Wolfe, an imposing woman who is determined to get her to switch from English to Classics when everyone knows the Classics majors are a little weird. She finds it hard to think about Melinda and form an opinion, something seems to keep pushing her out of her mind.

Peppered liberally with literary references especially Shakespeare and Keats as well as many others including Milton, I mostly enjoyed this novel. I loved it from the first page, lost interest a little in the middle as it all seemed a bit pomous and then enjoyed the latter third again. The thing that most bothered me was the sudden change that seemed to happen in the last 50 or so pages when it suddenly became a reworking of Tam Lin. It changed the tone from a look at college life with a few oddities and a ghost, to suddenly something much more supernatural which seemed a bit abrupt.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 160
Number in Series : #1 Nightmares and Fairy Tales
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge and just because it looked interesting

A collection of six dark comics telling the stories of life seen through the eyes of Annabell, a little rag doll as she changes owners. After witnessing the gruesome demise and violence surrounding her owners, Annabell believes herself to be cursed. Later owners begin to be able to hear her warnings and she discovers she may be able to help the innocent after all.

The first two tales are about Morgan who is dating Dominique who claimes to be a vampire. She stays with a friend when things start to get creepy, but wakes up to find him dead next to her along with his housemate. She is taken to a mental institution when it turns out Dominique is dead and branded insane, all because she refused Dominique's gift of immortality. The third tale shows Dominique in a nunnery giving birth. Her son is taken to his adoptive parents, but has possibly been sacrificed to monsters in the attic. It shows Dominiques origins and the truth behind her earlier claimes. Annabelle then meets Snow in the fourth tale with a look at Snow White before helping Gwen in the fifth tale. Gwen is moving to a new house with her parents that seems haunted. There are monsters in her closet and her neighbour gives her Annabell to protect her. The real monsters aren't in her closet however, and Annabell is able to protect her from her parents until her neighbour rescues her. It seems Gwen is the first to hear Annabelle. The final tale looks at Annabelle's role in Cinderella's life.

This was a beautiful collection. The tales were quite short and simple, but chilling and stuck in the mind afterwards. The illustrations by FSc are beautiful and it is worth reading for those alone. It leans more towards horror than fairy tale and is possibly more suited to female readers as it is always woman who seem to own Annabelle.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Well, here where I live, Spring is sprung–weeks early, even. Our lilac bush looks like it will have flowers by this time next week instead of in the middle of May as usual. The dogwood trees, the magnolia trees–all the flowering trees are flowering. The daffodils and crocuses are, if anything, starting to fade. It may only be April 24th but it is very definitely Spring and, allergies notwithstanding, I’m happy to welcome the change of season. What I want to know, is:
Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?
Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

This is an interesting question and not something I have really thought about. I think my reading is usually pretty mixed throughout the year and I don't pay too much attention to the weather when looking for my next book. I am hoping to start growing my own herbs this year so I will probably get around to reading a couple of herbals as it is the right time of year to get going. Generally though the weather and season don't generally influence me reading wise. I always carry a shoulder bag for whatever book I am reading and even going on holiday I don't really take into account what I am reading based on where I am going and what the weather will be like.

The photo is of Morgaine hiding in a yellow bag. She was in it straight after my husband put it down on the floor with the comment "here you go Morgaine". I think she looks good in yellow, very spring like considering the nature of this post!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 192
Number in Series : #2 Return to Labyrinth
Reason for Reading : Spring Reading Thing Challenge, Extra for Once Upon a Time II Challenge, to follow Toby's story

Turns out that after Sarah defeated the Goblin King and returned to our world with her baby brother Toby, the Goblin King began to lose many of his powers. The Pathmaker moves the walls of the Labyrinth without rhyme or reason, the bog of eternal stench bubbles over and his enemies grow bold amassing their armies in the fields of Gnor. The goblins claim he has lost control over the Labyrinth. He makes a journey to Mizumi, the Queen of Moraine and stikes a bargain with her. If he wins he keeps the ablation and if he fails the Labyrinth, the Goblin Kingdom and it's King are hers to do with as she pleases.

Now that Jareth has abdicated and named Toby as his heir, he needs to undergo a series of lessons before his coronation. These include economics (hoarding), drama (How to stick out his chest), PE (duelling) and philosophy (riddles, puzzles and conundrums). Mizumi has also offered to teach him magic, although it is more likely to serve her own purposes than his. He excels in all areas but has trouble with magic. He seems to have raw talent but is unsure how to focus it at will.

Jareth and Mizumi were once very much in love. For some reason though Jareth looked himself away from her and created the Labyrinth as an external expression of his power. The Labyrinth is a living thing ruled over by the Pathmaker and if Toby can find it's lair he can gain control of it. That is unless Mizumi finds a way to take this power first.

Meanwhile fairy Hana is still searching for her missing wings in the castle. She takes Stank, who turns out to be a baby version of Ludo able to move stones and rocks, and Moppet. They find a secret room which evokes hidden memories from Moppet's past and whilst escaping from Mizumi's daughers Moulin and Drumlin, her mask falls off revealing her to look just like Sarah Toby's sister. Back on earth in the middle of a rain storm, Jareth turns up on Sarah's doorstep.

Again beautifully illustrated, this time with a guest art gallary at the end. The story moved on nicely and I am looking forward to the next installment in the series. It links in nicely with the film and there are still lots of questions that need answering as well as a couple of mysterious lizard people who appear right at the end of this manga.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 208
Number in Series : #1 Return to Labyrinth
Reason for Reading : Spring Reading Thing Challenge, Extra for Once Upon a Time II Challenge, I loved the film and was interested to see what happened to Toby next...

"... in a kingdom far away, there lived a beautiful princess. Life wasn't easy for the young princess... for her wicked stepmother worked her life a slave. The princess was forced to slways stay home and watch over her baby brother, so she could never leave the castle. But what no one knew was that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the princess and given her certain powers. The princess knew that if she wished it, the King of the Goblins would keep her brother in his castle forever and ever and turn him into a goblin. So one night, when the princess coudl take the burden no longer, she called to the Goblin King for help. "Goblin King, Goblin King! Wherever you may be, take this child of mine far away from me!" she said. The King of the Goblins granted the princess' wish and took the baby to his castle at the centre of a vast labyrinth. Too late, the princess realised that she still loved her baby brother, and so she pleaded with the King to return him. "What's said is said" the Goblin King responded, for he took a promise very seriously. But the Goblin King did not have it in his heart to refuse the princess for he still loved her a great deal. "You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth before your baby brother becomes one of us forever." Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, she fought her way to the castle beyond Goblin City to take back the child that had been stolen. The Goblin King offered the princess her heart's every desire if only she would bow to him. But her will was as strong as his and her kingdom as great. He had no power over her. The princess returned home with her baby brother, confident that she had seen the last of the Goblin King. And sure enough, the Goblin King never troubled her again. Her brother, however, was not so lucky..."

And thus we are introduced to a new manga series which picks up where Jim Henson's film left off. Toby is now in high school and has his every wish granted. This hasn't won him any friends and seems to only get him into bigger and bigger trouble. One day he is sent to the principals office and meets Jareth who claims to have given him the world. Toby replies that he never asked for it and all he wants is to be left alone. That evening he is doing his homework without magical assistance, when he sees a goblin making off with the printed essay. As the power on his computer went off without him having saved it first, he follows the goblin to retrieve the only copy of his work.

Toby comes out of a pipe above the Labyrinth. He enlists the help of a fairy whose wings have been pulled off, her puppy Stank and goblin thief Skud to journey to the castle and get back his homework. Along the way they battle a water cat and travel through a secret garden meeting many strange creatures as well as narrowly escaping being beheaded. Upon reaching the castle they learn that the Goblin King is resigning and is about to announce his heir. The Queen of Cups is adament she or one of her two daughters rule and if it isn't awarded to them she is prepared to take it by force. The Goblin King announces his decision before disappearing and leaving Toby stuck in the castle leading nicely into the second volume.

It was beautifully illustrated and was a great start to the series. You get to catch up with old friend Hoggle (now a Prince as promised but not quite what he was hoping for), Ludo and Sir Didymus and his stead Ambrosius. There are some great new characters including a human girl called Moppet who is passing as a goblin. Fans of manga, fantasy and the origianl film will love this new series.

Where to begin...

Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf is holding a blogging challenge which I have signed up for. The deatils are here and there will be a different blogging theme each week. One week might be “catch up on your library books” week and the next might be “redecorate your blog week” or “organize your challenges” week or “catch up on your reviews” week. It’ll be fairly bookblogcentric, but not exclusively.

LadyTink has awarded me a button letting me know I am Tink Aprroved which can only be a good thing! I discovered her blogs only recently and am loving them, especially the book and movie reviews. Thanks lots :)

Finally in case this wasn't enough good stuff, Kim at Bold Blue Adventure is celebrating her 100th post. She is giving away "The House of the Spirits" by Isabel Allende, "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult, "Space" by James Michener, and "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards. To spread out to love, everyone has the chance to win 1 book by leaving a comment on her post to be entered. If you mention it on your blog then you get entered for an extra chance too. Like me if you are international, you can be entered for a $15 Amazon voucher instead.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 341
Number in Series : #1 Dresden Files
Reason for Reading : What's in a Name Challenge, TBR 08 Challenge, First in a Series Challenge, been meaning to read these for ages and I love the television series

"Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties or Other Entertainment."

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard for hire in the Chicago phone book. He sometimes works as a consultant in the stranger cases for Lieutenant Karrin Murphy on the Chicago Police Department. At the start of the first book in the Dresden Files series, Dresden is called in to investigate the murders of Tommy Tomm (bodyguard to local crime boss Gentleman Johnny Marcone) and escort Jennifer Stanton who works for vampire Mistress Bianca. Mid-coitus they both had their hearts ripped out by black magic and Harry is called in to try to discover who and why is behind it. In the background there is also a new drug surfacing called Thirdeye which has the reputation of opening the useres third eye to the mysteries and magic in the universe which only magical practitioners can see.

On his own private case he is contacted by a woman named Monica who wants him to help track down her missing husband who has been dabbling in magic. She knows enough to not look him in the eyes when she visits him offices for an appointment to go over the details. Harry is able to soul gaze if eye contact is made seeing inside the person who also gets a view into his soul. He has had a dark past and before now people have fainted upon glimpsing inside his soul. The dark past has led to the Doom being placed over him by the White Council. He is under investigation by Warden Morgan who appears whenever Harry casts a spell with his magical sword of Damocles ready to behead him if he has gone near black magic.

A fantastic start to the series. Great characters with convincing personalities, unseen plot twists and turns, scary vampires that depart from the usual sexy personification, Bob who is Dresden's spirit helper anchored to a scull, a giant "pet" cat named Mister, fairies, a fantastic magical pub and scary black magicians. I can't wait to read the next in the series, Fool Moon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 340
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge, recommendation from my mum

The story mostly focuses around dizygotic (from two eggs) twins Estha and Rahel who have no last name due to their mother being undecided at the time whether she would use their fathers name or her fathers name. It is set in India mostly and follows their family members when their white cousin Sophie Mol comes to visit them (the three are children at the time) and their uncle, her biological father. She is found drowned in the river after only being with them for a couple of weeks.

The story jumps around quite a lot in time narrating the events leading up to Sophie's arrival, later death and the far reaching consequences over twenty years later for the twins and their family. The storytelling reminded me in style of Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie's Midnights Children in the way it wasn't a linear tale and the way the characters were developed. The book it most brought to mind was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

It tells of love, who you can love, how much and in what way. A strange novel which I can't work out if I enjoyed or not. The final short chapter was beautiful concerning the twins mother, but I didn't like how Roy left the story of the twins. In places it was quite a slow and difficult read, but some of the language really stayed with me. I think this one needs some time dwelling on it before I can properly move on.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One more challenge then! Hosted by Renay with full details here, basically the aim is to make a list of 10 books you love and submit them via email/comments section and then pick any 3 books from participants lists to read between May 1st - November 30th, 2008. You need to put up reviews of the books that you read for this challenge as well.

To see the lists go to Reading Lists and Master List which is arranged alphabetically.

My list of books I put forard is:

1. Waifs and Strays - Charles de Lint (a wonderful collection of his short stories that are a great introduction to his work)
2. High Fidelity - Nick Hornby (my favourite of all of his books, a must for book and music lovers)
3. The Black Jewels Trilogy - Anne Bishop (dark fantasy at it's best, somehow particularly suited to female readers I think)
4. Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice (where The Vampire Chronicles all began)
5. The Magicians Nephew - CS Lewis (the first in the Narnia series and often sadly neglected. Perhaps my favourite in the series)
6. The Looking Glass Wars - Frank Beddor (a wonderful re-telling of Alice in Wonderland which turns the whole tale on it's head. Found in the teenage reading/young adult section but will appeal to older readers too)
7. The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale (a fairy tale re-telling I just finished reading and fell in love with. Highly recommended)
8. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (classic tale of man loves young girl, disturbing but one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read)
9. Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier (the first in the Sevenwaters Trilogy based on a fairy tale set in Celtic times)
10. The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood (everyone should read this dystopian novel)

I know that for people who read this blog it is a pretty standard list for me, but I can't help what I like!

What I hope to read are:

1. Beauty - Robin McKinley (Book Nut)
2. Stardust - Neil Gaiman (Becky)
3. Tamsin - Peter S Beagle (prplpen)

There are lots more I hope to read if possible like Inkheart (Cornelia Funke), The Princess Bride (William Goldman), Howls Moving Castle (Dianna Wynne Jones) and Moonheart (Charles de Lint).


Suggested by Nithin:
I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

To be honest I usually ignore words I don't understand and carry on reading. You can usually have a guess at what they mean depending on the sentence. If my husband is home I will ask him if he recognises it, but other than that I can't remember the last time I actively looked up the meaning of a word or made a note to ask about it later. I suppose that is quite a lazy thing to do, I should be expanding my brain and learning new words as I go. It's something I should start doing and as I always carry a small notebook on me I have no excuse! Thanks for the push :)

The picture is of both cats sleeping on MY chair which has quickly become THEIR chair damnit! My husband calls it the "cat nest" and I am in the process of trying to reclaim it... The larger all black cat at the front is the lovely Merlin and the smaller one with white paws is the pretty Morgaine. She is currently on heat and is being particularly noisy. Hopefully we can get our friend to bring his boy cat over and let them go on a cat date...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Well it didn't last too long, but I caved today on a one off book buying binge. My reasoning is I was going to go out for dinner to celebrate my new job but didn't get around to it. Instead I spent the money I would have spent on dinner on books which to be honest will last a lot longer than a meal out anyway!

The books I got were:
The Bromeliad - Terry Pratchett (I have really old copies and thought it was time to get new ones that aren't falling apart so I got all three in one. Damn you Nymeth!)
The Gypsy Crown - Kate Forsyth
Triskellion - Will Peterson
Set in Stone - Lida Newbery (won the Costa prize for children's fiction)
Angel - Cliff McNich
Betwixt - Tara Bray Smith (loved the title)
The Gift - Alison Croggon (blame Mariel)
The Riddle - Alison Croggon
The Crow - Alison Croggon
Cravings - Laurell K Hamilton
Every Which Way But Dead - Kim Harrison
The Good, The Bad and The Undead - Kim Harrison

Most of the authors are new to me and only Alison Croggon were recommendations. The rest were random picks from the teenage fiction section for the most part that looked interesting. I just need to find time to fit them in amongst my many challenge books now...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 383
Number in Series : #1
Reason for Reading : Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge, Young Adult Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, gift from my best friend

A wonderful re-telling of The Brothers Grimm tale of the same name. Ani (Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee) is the Crown Princess of Kildenree who has the gift if being able to speak to animals and has a very special bond with her white horse Falada. When her father suddenly dies her life changes as her mother reveals a plan to marry her to an unknown Prince in Bayern. She sets out on her journey with a small number of guards, a cook and lady-in-waiting Selia. Along the way Selia is unmasked as a traitor who wants Ani's possessions and idenity. Selia has the gift of people-speaking and uses this to get her own way.

Ani flees into the forest as the rest of her guard who remained loyal to her are cruelly killed. She gains help from the forest folk who take her to see the King and tell him her true tale. She finds she lacks the courage to tell her tale and becomes assigned to looking after the Kings geese. Hardship befalls her along the way to reclaiming her birthrite, but luckily she finds friends along the way who accept her as a goose girl and one of them. She also starts to think more about the third gift of nature speaking which no one has displayed for many years.

What can I say, I adored this book immediately. I really related to Ani who felt different from the other children growing up. She was a bit of a loner and missed her aunt and her tales when she left and who felt such pressure at being the Crown Princess. There were lots of twists and turns and the story telling was beautifully woven. I have to admit to having only cried reading two books, but this had me on the verge of tears in a couple of places which is a very good thing. I hope to read the other two books that follow this tale very soon.

Yay my best friend, lover of notebooks and the main person who recommends great teenage and children's fiction has a blog finally. She already has a bunch of book reviews up and it's looking good so far (yes I know it's a work in progress). Hopefully she will sign up to some reading challenges and get around to some of your blogs as well.

Here blog is Mariel at Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops and I am off to have a proper look at it now myself...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I was given this lovely Blogging Friends Forever Gold Card award by Alice over at Hello My Name is Alice which was lovely of her. I have decided to pass it on to some other lovely bloggers out there. I would really love to give it to everyone on my blogroll, but I am limiting myself for now to 8, although you all really deserve it.

Alice - of course I send it back to you
Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot - a cool lady with great taste in reading and life in general
Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made On - lovely bloke bless him
Jehara - she has such pretty hair and makes a great penpal, happy early birthday!
Susan at You Can Never Have Too Many Books - someone I recently found who has a great blog name and great taste in books
Kim at Bold Blue Adventures - again someone I recently encountered and whose blog I love
Darla at Books and Other Thoughts - Wonderful blog, great recommendations
LadyTink at The Movieholic and Bibliophile's Blog - another newish blog to me with lots of great recommendations both book and film related

***Edited to add a thank you to Melody over at Melody's Reading Corner for giving me this award too and I am sending it right back to you too!***

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 446
Number in Series : #6 Woman of the Otherworld
Reason for Reading : Series Reading, to continue with this series which I have previosuly enjoyed

The sixth in the Woman of the Otherworld series sees the welcome return og Elena Michaels. She is the only female werewolf and on top of that she is now pregnant by her werewolf boyfriend and man who turned her, Clay. At the start of the novel Elena is mostly worried about the effect that Changing will have on her unborn baby as well as staving off boredom by Clay and Jeremy not letting her out of their sights. She needn't worry as just around the corner looms a much larger threat.

Half-demon Xavier also returns in this novel to ask Elena to return a favour and steal the legendary "From Hell" letter supposedly sent by Jack the Ripper to the police during his killing spree. A sorcerer has it after an ancestor initially stole it from London police and it is guarded by special spells that only the werewolves can penetrate. Gaining the letter has unforseen consequences involving zombies and a time portal to Victorian England which the modern day Toronto locals are getting lost in. Necromancer Jamie and the rest of the Pack are called in to help Elena and Clay face their toughest challenge yet on the hunt for the notorious Jack the Ripper.

Gripping and much sexier than I remembered previous novels in this series, I found this hard to put down. Elena dealt with her accelerated pregnancy well wihlst still kicking ass. There were a couple of interesting new characters and I especially liked vampire Zoe who originally stole the letter from London police. I hope there are more in the series focusing on Elena, I really want to read what happens next for her.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 641
Reason for Reading : Chunkster Challenge, Book Awards Reading Challenge, Man Booker Challenge, I love her other books that I have read

The story of Iris Chase and her younger sister Laura as told by Iris aged 83 along with a selection of newspaper clippings. Brought up at the beginning of the last century into a wealthy family in Canada, Iris is charged by her parents and housekeeper Reenie to take care of Laura who can be very literal about life. When their family starts heavily loosing money, their father's button factory is set alight and Laura's communist friend Alex Thomas is blamed. The girls hide him until he is able to escape and he is never forgotten by either girl.

Iris marries prominent businessman Richard Griffin in a bid to save her fathers business against her wishes aged 18. Him and his poisonous sister Winifred soon take over both hers and Laura's lives using them as pawns in their own games in their political endeavours. There are sections amidst the main storyline with two unnamed lovers who are meeting in secret. The man tells the woman a wonderful series of stories he makes up, my favourites were following the blind assassin and the girl from the temple.

It is typical Atwood storytelling with the plot jumping around from the present, to the past, to newspaper articles which tell you the end of the main story before you hear about how they all get there plus the unnamed lovers. There were some great twists and revelations at the end, and I didn't see all of them coming which is always good. It took a little longer than usual to really grab my attention, but I loved it once I started to get to know the characters more. That is Atwood's strength, her development of her characters especially the female ones.

Other reviews: Bold Blue Adventure; Can I borrow your Book and My Own Little Reading Room

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Thank you so much to everyone who left a congratuations message on my post about my new job. Even though I don't start until June, things just keep getting better and better. I had a long chat with my lovely new manager-to-be today and found out they are sending me to an exhibition in Toronto in June a couple of weeks after I start. I have been reading lots of Canadian authors lately and am really excited. I will be working from Sunday to Thursday and am hoping to take a couple of extra days at the end before flying home to do a bit of exploring. It's so far away and I know nothing about it, does anyone live out that way or have any travel tips for me bearing in mind I will have limited exploring time? Obviosuly I intend to make time to visit that little waterfall everyone goes on about... ;)

I thought I would put up a post on the Arthurian books I have read and enjoyed with some recommendations seeing as Becky is hosting an Arthurian Challenge here. It is a genre of books I particaruly enjoy, both fiction and non-fiction. I love mythology in general and my favourite are the stories and tales of King Arthur, the knights, Merlin, Morgan Le Fey and Guinevere. I think because I am English and live over here still they have a particular pull to me. I have also made a point of visiting a few sites associated with the myths like Glastonbury (the possible site of Arthur and Guinevere's graves), Cadbury Castle (a medieval hill fort that was a possible site for Camelot), Winchester (another possible site for Camelot) and Tintagel (the place where Arthur was coniceved by Merlin's trickery).

One of my favourite series on Arthur is Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles (The Winter King, Enemy of God and Excalibur). They are more battle focused with the story being told by Dervel who is one of Arthur's champions. Dervel is a Saxon who was taken in by the British and has earned a name for himself fighting for Arthur. It does have some of the magical side of the tale as well, but be prepared for blood and guts galore!

Another essential series is Mary Stewart's Merlin series (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment and The Wicked Day). They follow Merlin from a young boy and discuss his childhood and role in the story. The final one tells the story of Mordred and was written at a much later date than the first three and is not quite as good. Many other re-tellings use her stories as a basis for their mythology.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley was a book I fell in love with. It is not the first in the series, but is the only one about Arthur and the others. It tells the tales from the viewpoint of the women in the story, mostly by Morgaine Arthur's half sister. I loved the magical sides of this book and it was the first to tell a different side to Morgaine and look at her motivations and feelings. It has a lovely Pagan feel to the novel.

Other series I have read and enjoyed are:

Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle (Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail). The first was my favourite as it told of the fall of Atlantis and sets up the story nicely. It is similar to the Bernard Cornwell books in that it focuses on the battles, but I felt that the later books don't live up to the promise of the earlier ones sadly. It was nice to have one told through the eyes of Bedwyr though who seems a neglected knight in other tales. Personally I found this series a little too Christian in focus, but that may appeal to other readers.

Rosalind Miles Guenevere novels (Queen of the Summer Country, The Night of the Sacred Lake, The Child of the Holy Grail were enjoyable as well. They tell the tale from the viewpoint of Arthur's wife, Guenevere. She isn't always portrayed too favourably in The Mists of Avalon and this was a good counter balance to that which explained her version of events in more detail.

The Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie (originally sold as two seperate books, I have the version with both in one) was another tale of Guinevere. It used the Mary Stewart books as a background and then told a tale over the top of them and sadly it does not better them.

The Mabinogian is a book of Welsh myths and tales which was Arthur in the background of a couple of them when he is King. Worth reading if you have a love for folk lore and mythology, but not just as an Arthurian read.

The best thing about the different re-tellings is that they use different versions. Sometimes Morgan is a temptress and evil, sometimes she is a pawn in anothers game and in others she never sleeps with Arthur. Others choose whether Guinevere is faithful to Arthur or not by sleeping with Lancelot. Yet others have Merlin as a powerful magician and others don't really involve him much in the tale. I have many more I hope to read and my list may get added to depending on time (I hope it's ok to read more that 12 books Becky!).

What I would really love to read is a tale based around The Lady of the Lake who is a favourite character of mine. Besides the poem The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson little is written about her as a character in her own right (besides some in The Mists of Avalon). If anyone knows of anything or can recommend something please let me know.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 306
Reason for Reading : Library Book Discussion Group, Book Awards Reading Challenge

A family of four are renting a house in Norfolk for a holiday. They are quite fragmented, the daughter Astrid is 12 and is going through an awkward stage on the threshold of womanhood. She is obsessed with filming everything with her new camera and won't touch any of the furniture in the house or the cutlery as she doesn't know who has touched it previosuly. Marcus is the 16 year old son who has taken to taking his dinner upstairs to eat and being even more anti social than usual. His mother is really beginning to worry about him. Michael is their step-father the children put up with. He lectures in English and Literary Criticism but has a more personal relationship with some of his students. Eve, their mother and Michael's wife, is an author who has suddendly found her brand of novels in the "Genuine Article Series" hit the big time.

One day out of the blue a woman turns up at the front door saying she is late. She is invited in by Michael who assumes she is something to do with Eve. Eve later assumes she is one of Michael's girls. It turns out none of them do and in the process of her spending her holiday with them, Amber learns their secrets and somehow manages to bring them together as a family, for a time at least.

The novel was split into three main parts (beginning, middle and end) with each character narrating a section including Amber. What I loved about it was that each voice was different and you got the sense that it really was someone different telling you their version of events. I particularly enjoyed one section were Michael was thinking in sonnets and his section was all written in poetry. I really enjoyed this novel and I liked that it took the family back to their "real life" after their time with Amber at the holiday home. I can definitely see why it won the Whitbread Prize and was nominated for both The Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Writing Challenge

Pick up the nearest book. (I’m sure you must have one nearby.)
Turn to page 123.
What is the first sentence on the page?
The last sentence on the page?
Now . . . connect them together….(And no, you may not transcribe the entire page of the book–that’s cheating!)

Book = Broken by Kelley Armstrong

"It continued down the street of nightclubs, past lines of people waiting to get inside. "Maybe say... I don't know... something like 'fifty bucks'."

Not particularly exciting I know sorry!

The photo though is of Morgaine sleeping on the sofa. I don't know how it's a comfortable position, but it did mean she got to show off her white tummy which matches her socks and whiskers. She is such a pretty little thing.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I just found the perfect challenge for me that Becky is hosting and she even has a special blog set up already here. The aim is to read between 6 and 12 books based on or around the Arthurian myths, legends and characters. It runs between April 1st 2008 and March 31st 2009. I LOVE Arthurian tales of any kind and have read quite a lot of the various re-tellings so this is something I am really excited about. I have quite a few fiction and non-fiction books I hope to read for this and it is really hard to limit myself to only 12! On my LIbraryThing I even have tags for "Arthurian Fiction" and "Arthurian Mythology".

As I am signed up for a million already this year and it runs until next year, I can even put off a fair amount to be read when I complete my other challenges. You can't ask for more than that!

I was going to wait and see about my list, but I am so eager here it is already...

1. Le Morte D'Arthur - Sir Thomas Malory
2. The Once and Future King - TH White
3. Ladies of the Lake - John & Caitlin Matthews
4. Sir Gawain: Knight of the Goddess - John Matthews
5. The King Arthur Trilogy - Rosemary Sutcliff
6. Camelot's Shadow - Sarah Zettle
7. Camelot's Honour - Sarah Zettle
8. Camelot's Sword - Sarah Zettle
9. Camelot's Blood - Sarah Zettle
10. Isolde - Rosalind Miles
11. The Maiden of White Hands Rosalind Miles
12. The Lady of the Sea - Rosalind Miles

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I have been a bit absent since Thursday as I had a really long job interview. I had a three hour drive there, a three hour interview and a three hour drive home again. Needless to say I went to bed very early on thursday! The interview was long and I had to prepare a 25 minute presentation which I ended up giving to 8 different managers including the boss of the entire company. I did the best I could and felt pleased coming out knowing that if I didn't get the job it wasn't down to anything I could have done better.

I was due to hear next week if I got it or not, but to put me out of my misery the manager phoned me on Friday telling me she wanted to formally offer me the job. Of course I said yes! It is a massive promotion and fab payrise so how could I say no?! The only slight downside is I won't get a comapny car anymore as I will be covering all of Europe instead of just London like I do now. They will arrange for a hire car when I am abroad travelling if I need it.

I am so excited and am finding it very hard to concentrate on anything at the moment. I don't start until June 2nd as I have holiday booked and so does my new manager so it makes sense to start when this has been taken. I am so bored at my current job, my brain is slowly dying and my manager is an idiot. It will be great to work for a bigger company with more responsibility and career prospects. I am not going to hand in my notice until the end of the month and will be able to smile to myself until then. Woo yay!!!!!!!!!!!

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 263
Reason for Reading : Once Upon a Time Challenge, Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge, Book Awards Reading Challenge

A prose re-telling of the famous traditional ballad of Thomas the Rhymer. Thomas bargains away seven years of his life inadvertantly for a kiss form the Queen of the Fairies who takes him to her fair realm. She was attracted to him for his harping and bardic skills. The time passes in days and Thomas asks to live out the full seven years in the fairy land as her lover and harper. He can stay as long as he only speaks to her (apart from when he is performing of course) and is careful to eat only the human food she provides for him. At the end of the seven years when he returns to the mortal realm, she makes him True Thomas and he can never tell a lie.

The story is fleshed out further with the relationhips Thomas has with elderly, childless couple Gavin and Meg before he is taken away as well as his mortal love Elspeth amongst his many other conquests. The tale is told in four sections starting with Gavin's tale, then Thomas Meg and finally Elspeth. There were also two beautiful stories within the main text in the fairy realm about a white dove who cries tears of blood and Thomas' invisible servant.

I really enjoyed this tale. A mixture of fantasy, romance and fairy tale it was everything I enjoy in a novel. There are two previews of some of Kushner's other novels which I will read at a later date and I do hope to read more of her tales in the future.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 96
Reason for Reading : Once Upon a Time Challenge and extra for Graphic Novel Challenge

The tale follows a grown man as he looks back and remembers his childhood and various family members who are no longer alive. He remembers his grandfather who sold his grocery business and opening an amusement arcade in the town. It has a mermaid (a lady in a costume and wig who sings on a rock), a ghost train, hall of mirrors and a Punch and Judy show. Sadly no one comes to it as it is not on the main pier and even when it is raining the people stay away so sadly it has to close.

It looks at the story of Punch and Judy as well as a couple of characters no longer in the show like Punch's girlfriend. I had forgotten how grim the tale is. Punch starts by throwing the baby out of the window and then beating Judt to death when she shouts at him. He then beats the polieman to death who tries to arrest him, a physician, a crocodile, a hangman (he tricks him into the hangmans noose in his place) and finally the devil himself. At the end Punch is happy as everyone is now free to do what they want with the devil having been killed. The adult narrating the story remembers how he was frigtened of the tale as a child and it is easy to see why.

It is also a look at the innocence and naivety of childhood. There is a secret past concerning his grandfather that he never picked up on as a child as well as an unexplained tale about his uncle. There are various references throughout the story saying that he now thinks differently. It did enjoy this graphic novel with the range of different illustrations by Dave McKean. A dark trip back down memory lane.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

I do read what I class as literature. I tag some of my books "literary fiction" on library thing which is usually authors like Tolstoy, Dickens, Margaret Atwood, Hemingway, George Orwell, Sylvia Plath, Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I do read them for pleasure now, but only really in the last year or two. I started doing my own challenge of reading at least 50 of the Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time and it has a lot of literary fiction books in it. I was a little wary of a few of the more daunting looking tomes (yes tomes, some are pretty hefty books!), but have enjoyed all on the challenge list so far. I have found they are not so dry and dated as I expected. I suppose there is a good reason they are classics!

This week is a photo of Morgaine balancing on the bannistairs. She is a nimble little monster!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 275
Number in Series : #2 Official sequel to Peter Pan by JM Barrie
Reason for Reading : Young Adult Challenge, Twisted Fairy Tales Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, to see what happens next in Neverland!

The Lost Boys have been adopted by the Darlings and are now 30 with families of their own when dreams of Neverland start to leak through leaving physical remains like cutlesses, arrows and bubbles. Wendy gathers the boys/men together to find a way to return to Neverland. The boys are unable to find any fairies in Kensington Gardens for fairy dust so Wendy helps them by getting a baby to have it's first laugh and give birth to Fireflyer.

They fly back to Neverland as children after finding out from Fireflyer that they can wear their children's clothes and reverse the aging process. Everyone knows that when you play dress up, you become what you are dressed up as so the adults steal some of their children's clothes. Nibs stays behind as he doesn't want to leave his children, Tootles only has daughters and becomes a girl really missing his moustache and Slightly is a widower with no children. He finds another way by going right to the end of the bed.

Everything has changed in Neverland. It has moved on from eternal summer to autumn and everything is scarlet including Peter Pan's tunic. He seems to have no knowledge of where Tinkerbell is and there are no longer any Lost Boys as he bannished them for breaking the rule and growing up. The mermaids are dead and there is a mysterious travelling man called Ravello who seems to be clothed in unravelling wool.

It was a lovely sequel and like JM Barrie's origianl all the proceeds from the books sale go to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. There were some lovely little touches and lots of original characters showed up along the way. Charming and it left room for another book to follow some day in the future.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

March reading was still increased, but the number of pages I am reading a month is slowly and steadily decreasing.

Number of Books Read March : 16, Total 50
Number of Pages Read : 5422, Total 17236
Book Awards Reading Challenge : 18/23 (need to read a minimum of 12)
Series Challenge : 6/8
Themed Reading Challenge : 4/6
Young Adult Challenge : 4/12
Challenge with Nymeth : 1/5
What's in a Name Challenge : 2/6
Graphic Novel Challenge : 3/10 plus 2 extras
TBR Challenge 2008 : 2/12 and 3/12 alternatives
First in a Series Challenge : 2/12
Man Booker Prize Challenge : 4/8
Short Story Reading Challenge : 4/10
Chunkster Challenge : 1/4
Mythopoeic Challenge : 3/7
Inklings Challenge : 2/4
A~Z Challenge : Titles = 15/26, Authors = 13/26
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time : 28/100 (aiming for 50)
Twisted Fairy Tales Challenge : 2/6
Once Upon a Time Challenge : 2/7 plus 2 alternatives
Spring Reading Thing Challenge : 1/7

101 Things to do in 1001 Days : 31/101

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There are also a bunch more givaways going on at the moment. Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf is giving away two $20 vouchers. There are 3 great sounding books being given away at Bell Literary Reflections and A Garden Carried in the Pocket is giving away a book by Shannon Shinn, The Shape Changer's Wife. Also Literary Feline is giving away two books Musings of a Bookish Kitty.