Monday, June 30, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 176
Reason for Reading : What's in a Name Challenge, I am a big Kevin Smith fan

Acclaimed film director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma etc) is back with another comic book series. This time the subject of his pen is Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and The Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) who team up to find "Mr Brownstone" who is at the bottom of a series of unexplained murders. Over the city people are ODing from heroin, but they have no track marks from injecting or evidence of having consumed the drug.

There is pronounced sexual tension between the old lovers, even though Peter Parker is now married to MJ. Felicia is back in town after a model friend of hers has gone missing who was linked to a young hot movie star who is a heroin user. Along the way to finding the identity of Mr Brownstone a variety of comic book heros and villians are enlisted including Daredevil, one of the X-Men and Scorpia. There are lots of funny references to some of the characters more diverse back stories from comic book fan Smith.

It contains Smith's usual wit with lots of popular culture references and witty put downs. The story takes a series tone about half way through when the subject of rape becomes a central theme for two of the characters who have both suffered abuse in the past. The ending is left with an opening to a follow up, but I am not sure if it will be written by Smith as this graphic novel took so long to finish. A fun read for Smith and comic book fans with a more serious message.

Rating : 2.5/5
Number of Pages : 329
Reason for Reading : Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time Challenge, TBR Challenge 2008

Emma Rovault marries Charles Bovary imagining she will move into a life of luxury and riches filled with love and passion. He earns a respectable wage as a doctor which also gains him respect in the community. Sadly life isn't as Emma dreamed it would be. She feels trapped in a loveless marriage and starts to look elsewhere for the passion she is missing in her life.

She is seduced into having an affair by a bit of a cad who is attracted to her innocence and beauty. They are together for over two years with him eventually getting bored of her and wanting to move on to a new mistress. They are due to run away together leaving behind her husband and young daughter, but he sends her a letter that breaks things off with her. After plunging into a pit of depression she takes another lover.

In time the passion fades again leaving just the empty sex. Her lover is bcoming bored with her and his friends are encouraging him to break with her, she is placing more and more demands on his time and he misses his freedom. Alongside this, Emma's mounting secret money troubles reach a head and the baliffs are after her to put up all of her and Charles' possessions for auction. In desperation she finds a bottle of arsenic and poisons herself, dying a slow and personal death.

To be honest, I really didn't enjoy this novel. I had no sympathy for Emma who brings all the troubles on herself. She freely chose to marry Charles and to have an affair. I felt extremely sorry for her poor neglected daughter who at the end is orphaned. I also pittied her poor husband, even though he was a bit of a drip. Nothing ever seems good enough for Emma and she is always seeing the glass as half empty. I wasn't too sorry when it ended tragically for her, which seems callous I know but it's true!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hosted at a special blog by 3M here the challenge ran from 1/7/07 to 30/6/08. The aim was to read at least 12 books that have won awards in the time allotted. I originally picked 17 and finished up reading 25!

1. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville (Arthur C Clarke Award)
2. Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson (Arthur C Clarke Award)
3. Iron Council - China Mieville (Arthur C Clarke Award)
4. Life of Pi - Yann Martel (Man Booker Prize)
8. American Gods - Neil Gaiman (Bram Stoker Award and Hugo Award)
9. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss (British Book Prize)
10. Wild Swans - Jung Chang (British Book Prize)
11. Beowolf - Seamus Heany (Costa/Whitbread Prize)
13. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanne Clarke (Hugo and World Fantasy Award)
14. On Beauty - Zadie Smith (Orange Prize)
15. Beloved - Toni Morrison (Pulitzer Prize)
16. Perfume - Patrick Suskind (World Fantasy Award)
19. Number the Stars - Lois Lowry (Newberry Medal)
20. The Giver - Lois Lowry (Newberry Medal)
23. Small Island - Andrea Levy (Whitbread Prize and Orange Prize)
25. The Accidental - Ali Smith (Whitbread)

My favourite book was I think American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but I really enjoyed most of them. My least favourite was Small Island by Andrea Levy which was ok not not great. I really enjoyed this challenge as I tend not to read much regular fiction mostly sticking to fantasy and YA so it was lovely to break out of my box.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 927
Number in Series : #1 Baroque Cycle
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge

The novel begins by introducing us to Daniel Waterhouse, a member of the Royal Society, around 1655. He shares a room with Issac Newton at Cambridge where they are studying together. The tale begins with him in the present day which is 1713 being taken back to England to pen his tales of life with Issac and rival Leibniz in the scientific and alchemical world. It is filled with scientific persons such as Christopher Wren and Hooke along with various royals like Charles II, James II and William of Orange as Daniel later gets caught up in politics and has a spell in the Tower of London as a traitor. Many scientific principles and experiments are described along with some unpleasant ones involving live stray dogs.

The second part of the narrative centres around Jack, "the King's Vagabond" and the lady he rescues from the Turks Eliza. They are both very colourful characters. Jack is a knave who listens to the Imp of the Perverse following this inner voice into many troubles and scrapes when he could easily take the easy way out. Eliza is called a whore by many, but has a vast intelligence and head for numbers. She becomes a spy for William of Orange as the story progresses and a double agent, while poor Jack has syphillis and will not last to the end of the tale.

The final section sees Daniel and Eliza's interests coming together independently with both of them escaping death and the many plots around them. Eliza and Daniel also both do work with Bob, Jacks more reliable brother who always tried to be a force of good and balance in Jack's life. Daniel has survived The Plague and the Great Fire of London and Eliza has escaped slavery to bring them into a new era.

Sorry for the wandering review, it is difficult to know where to even begin with this immense novel. My poor eyes are wrecked now. It is very long with a very small typeface which can be quite a strain at times. Overall I found it difficult to get into this book, but once Eliza and Jack were introduced it became much more fun! Both were favourite characters of mine and Eliza uses her femine charms indiscriminantly which made for an interesting read. I will read the two follow up books in the series at some point in the future, but for now I need to rest my aching eyes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Toronto Baby!

So sorry I have not been around lately. Last week I was only home for one full day and I didn't have time after updating my blog to visit other peoples. Now I am in Toronto until early Sunday morning and I will get back to everyone on my return.

So far Toronto is a lot of fun. I have a work conference tomorrow nd Ruesday with little time for sight seeing, but then I am free Wednesday to Saturday. I have booked a trip to Niagra Falls on Thursday which I am really looking forward to. Today I went to the shops and found the World's Largest Bookstopre. I don't think it is any more as I am sure Foyles in London is bigger, but it had a fantastic science fiction and fantasy section with buy three books and get a fourth free. Suffice to say I bought enough books to get 4 for free oops! I will put up a list when I get back along with some photos hopefully.

Better go as I have an early start in the morning and I have some reading to do tonight (must finish Quicksilver by the end of the month and it's massive with tiny writing doh!). I hope everyone is doing well. Speak to you soon xxx

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 112
Reason for Reading : Irresitible Review Challenge, recommended by the Adult Fairy Tale series

The winner of the Pulizter Prize for poetry, this short collection contains 17 poems based on tales from The Brothers Grimm collection. It includes classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Rumplestiltskin, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty). Each poem is prefaced with a short, almost seperatepoem, that looks at the tale in a more modern setting. The main body of the poem is her actual re-telling of the tale.

Dark overtones to most of the poems, they are dry and witty with insightful comments from Sexton along the way. They are a very intimate look inside the mind of the author with much of her personal thoughts exposed on various subjects along the way. I don't read much poetry generally but this made me want to pick up more and in paritcular some Slyvia Plath who has a similar background and personal history.

My favourite was Little Red Riding Hood which has a section on moder decievers that made me think. It's quite sad reading the poems however knowing that she killed herself 3 years after this collection was first published. There are lots of references to therapy, depression, ECT (electro convulsive therapy) and medication which strike the reader all the more for knowing what happens next. Overall a beautiful, dark collection of fairy tale inspired poems all lovers of poetry and fairy tales will enjoy.

Other Reviews:
Things Mean a Lot - The recommendation that gave me that final push to read it!
Booknotes by Lisa
The Endless Pursuit of Life
My Other Car is a Tardis

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 229
Reason for Reading : End of the World Challenge, one of those books I can't believe I hadn't read before!

Set in a future where families do not exist, there is no such thing as a mother and no one gives birth. Instead babies are made in test tubes in factories and are modelled into a class system before they are even "born". This is done by either with holding or administering a series of different chemicals. After birth the children are then conditioned during their sleep and encouraged to engage in sexual play when growing up. They are taught that "everyone belongs to everyone else" and there is no concept of monogomy. The different classes are also taught not to interact with those outside of their social group, apart ffrom the two highest groups (alphas and betas).

Here is also no concept of God and there is no such thing as unhappiness. As soon as anyone starts to feel uncomfortable, they take the drug Soma as a holiday from reality. It has no side effects and no come down (although you can overdose on it as it turns out later). Not everyone seems content though. Bernard marx is a psychologist and is dissatisfied with life. He questions the uptopia they appear to live in but is attracted to the "pneumatic" Lenina. He takes her to visit the Reservation where Savages live (like Native American's) who still have family units. There they meet Linda and her son John "Mr Savage" who originated in their world. He takes them back as an experiement which has very wide reaching consequences for all involved.

A fantastic novel. Definitely a product of it's time (1930's) and the factory line where Henry Ford has become a national figure (instead of oh God people exclaim oh Ford). George Orwell certainly must have taken inspiration from this novel when writing 1984. Brave New World is a much less brutal look at an alternative future with aspects seeming to be coming true (certainly the drug culture). Everyone should read this at some point.

Other reviews: Trish's Reading Nook

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 49
Series : Part of His Dark Materials Series
Reason for Reading : Series Challenge II, I love His Dark Materials and I wanted to revisit the series

Lyra and Pantalaimon are back in this short story "Lyra and the Birds" set in Lyra's Oxford. Sitting on the roof one day they spot a daemon bird making it's way towards them being pursued by a group of starlings. They wave it over towards them, rescue it and take it back to Lyra's room to find out why it was looking for them and who it is. As it is a bird daemon it must be associated with a witch, they are the only ones besides Lyra and Pan who can be seperated from their daemon. His name is Ragi and his witch is called Yelena Pazhets.

Ragi tells them he is looking for an alchemist in the city somewhere named Sebastian Makepeace. He is the only one able to make a cure for Ragi's witch who is suffering from a strangte new illness that kills the witch but leaves the daemon alive. Lyra and Pan agree to help, but something feels wrong to them and they remain suspicious of Ragi and his story.

A charming tale and a welcome return to Lyra and Pan. There are references to Will which made me sad all over again at the ending of the final book The Amber Spyglass. This short story also contains maps, postcards and random information about Lyra's Oxford making this a lovely book to own. A must for all fans of His Dark Materials.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 352
Number in Series : #2 Tiffany Aching Series
Reason for Reading : Mythopoeic Challenge, to continue with the series

Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle (Wee Free Men) are back for another adventure. Tiffany, now aged 11, goes to stay with another witch Miss Level to learn more of the Craft. There she learns the truth about Miss Level and she meets (or rather doesn't meet!) Oswald who lives with her. She also meets Petulia, another beginner witch of her age, who introduces her to the snotty Annagramma who believes magic is all about the right clothes and amulets. Her mentor disdains Miss Level and Mistress Weatherwax.

Along the way it transpires that Tiffany has learnt the ability of "borrowing" and stepping out of her body. This is advanced magic and only a couple of witches can do it (I think just Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax). The problem is that while she is out of her body, something else can get in. That something else is "the Hive" and it is not known how it can be killed. The Feegles get involved, but even they may not be able to fight and steal their way out of this one.

I really enjoyed this follow up to The Wee Free Men. It was great to have more interaction between Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax from the main Discworld series. There is even a cameo from Death in this novel, another well loved character. I miss having stories about the main witches from the Discworld, but this fills the gap nicely.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

As promised here are some of my photos from recent holidays. As I had so many I have only included the last two we have been on and it may take a while to load as I went photo crazy! The first holiday is Egypt

This is me (in my ginger hair phase) holding the top of the pyramid. I am clearly a giant...!

This is me and Alex by the base of the Sphinx. We forgot to take one of us appearing to kiss it but nevermind.

Me plus camel. Not the most comfortable ride I have ever been on, but certainly better than an elephant (warning to men, don't try riding an elephant!).

Oh yes. The snake charmer. I was fine holding the one around my neck but I really didn't like having one put on my head... Luckily I missed him getting out the scorpian from a match box and making the next guy hold it eww.

I took this from our balloon flight over Luxor about half way through the holiday. We went before sunrise over the city and it was beautiful. I couldn't fully appreciate it as it wa the only morning I was sick and I spent most of my time trying not to throw up over the side.

We found this group of puppies living in one of the temples in Luxor. Here they are sheltering under a rock from the very hot sun.

On to our last holiday in North Wales. These photos were taken in reverse order. I have noticed a terrible trend going through our photos today that I get more and more sunburnt as I go on in every single holiday! I really must be way more careful with putting cream on.
This is me with the puppy I wanted to buy but Alecx wouldn't let me. Look at his eyes, one is blue and the other brown. Beautiful.

I am the strongest of the strong and made it all the way to the top of Snowdon and down!

We had such perfect weather as you can see from the photo below of the beach at Harlech.

Alex standing in green in front of Harlech castle.

Some other weekly geeks have posted shots of places and animals:
Katrina is split between a Caribbean Island and dreary London in her poem
Kim at Bold Blue Adventures has posted about her dog and reading
Not Enough Bookshelves has put up a picture of where they will be, what they will be drinking and what they are taking to read

Once Upon a Time Challenge II was held over by Carl V at Stainless Steel Droppings between 21/3/08 - 20/6/08 and the aim was to read at least 1 book based on Fantasy, Folklore, Fairy Tale and Mythology. There is a site up for reviews here.

My list was composed of 7 books initially, but during the challenge I read quite a few more that fell into the classifications taking my total up to 24.

1. The Wood Wife - Terri Windling (Fantasy)
7. Lion's Honey - David Grossman (Mythology)

Extras read during the time period :
10. Peter Pan in Scarlet - Geraldine McCaughrean (Fairy Tale)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Weekly Geeks #7

The challenge this week involves photos with details here and below:

1. Decide what to illustrate and start taking photos: Most of you are book bloggers, so you may want to post photos of your favorite reading spot, your TBR pile(s), your local book store, your favorite librarian, your child reading, etc. You may want to post several photos of a certain topic (like all nine of your kids reading!) or a mixed bag of photos that are unrelated except that they’re bookish. Or you may want to post just one photo, it’s up to you. If you have a different type of blog, post photos of whatever you think is suitable.

2. Create a post of your photos.

3. Don’t forget! Also link in your post to another participant’s WG photo post. Weekly Geeks is a community thing, remember! If you’re one of the first finished, of course, you may have to add your link later. See if you can find someone you don’t normally read to link to.

4. Once your post is up, come back and leave a link to that specific post (not just your regular blog url) in the Mr Linky at the bottom of this post.

Funnily enough I just managed to upload 3 very full memory cards worth of photos to my new computer as it has a slot for SD memory cards so it doesn't matter that I *still* haven't found the lead! I will try and put up a post next Friday (sorry am away from this evening again) with come photos from our holidays including our Honeymoon in Malaysia (we lost one of the memory cards so only have photos from the second half of our trip sadly), Paris, Berlin, Egypt and North Wales.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 103
Reason for Reading : Challenge with Nymeth

A graphic novel spin-off from The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Death takes centre stage here as her usual perky goth self. Legend has it that one day in every century Death takes on mortal flesh, better to conprehend what the lives she takes away must feel like, to taste the bitter tang of morality. This is the price she must pay for being the divider of the living from all that has gone before and must come after.

So enter Death, who doesn't seem to pay for anything although she insists everyone pays, into the life of 16 year old Sexton Furnival (yes he has heard all the jokes). He looks a little like a Kurt Cobain wannabe and has decided at 16 that his life is dull, there is no such thing as love and he wants to commit sucicide. He explores the local dump and falls getting trapped under a fridge until Death turn up and helps him. She takes him back to her flat where she cleans him up and repairs his jeans. She seems referred to as Didi by her neighbours who have known her all her life despite her existing she is Death personified and has only exissted a matter of hours. Sexton spends the night and next day with her, trawling the city looking for homeless crazy witch Mad Hettie's missing heart as well as going to a club and getting kidnapped by someone after power over Death.

A fun tale, it takes the grim and scary out of Death somehow. There is a great introduction from singer Tori Amos who is a long time friend of Neil Gaiman. At the end is a short public servie announcement in comic form with Tori Amos as Death (that's what it looks like anyway!) telling the reader about safe sex, AIDS/HIV and condoms. Looking at the date it was published (1994) this makes a lot of sense due to the AIDS epidemic. Thought provoking I am glad I read this and look forward to more tales of Death, Dream and the other Endless.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 271
Reason for Reading : tl;dr Challenge, Irresitible Review Challenge, Once Upon a Time Challenge

Honour is the youngest sister who is nicknamed Beauty despite her feeling like she is exactly the opposite, especially when compared to her older sisters Grace and Hope. They are close sisters despite Beauty's misgivings about herself. They are from a rich merchant family living with their father after their mother and younger sister die. One day he suffers a reversal of fortune and the family are stumped at what to do until Ger expresses his desire to marry Hope. He knows of a house in the country where he is from where they could all live and he could work as a blacksmith. Soon after he married Hope, they depart for the country and she is pregnant with twins.

In the country they get along well with more menial work. They have a massive horse Greatheart given to Beauty to act as a cart horse which helps out. One day news of one of their fathers ships that had been lost is heard and he journeys back to the city to deal with it. On his way home he becomes lost on the forest finding shelter in a mysterious castle with servants he is unable to see. In the morning he picks a rose to take back to Beauty when a Beast appears and offers him the choice of his life or one of his daughters coming to live with him of her own free will. Thus Beauty departs to the hidden castle to live with the Beast with only Greatheart for company.

Obviously this is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. It is charmingly told with the girls not being quite so spoilt as in some other versions. Beauty adapts well to country life with her practical nature and likewise to living with the Beast. The characters were likeable which always help draw you into a tale and the narrative was enjoyable and warming. I definitely enjoyed this tale and recommend it to all lovers of fantasy, fiction and fairy tales.

Other reviews:
Things Mean a Lot - I think it was here I first read about this novel

Friday, June 06, 2008

This challenge involved picking a series of books that were linked and reading them between 1/1/08 and 30/6/08. It was hosted by Caribousmom. For this challenge I chose the Adult Fairy Tale series books collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. These are anthologies, collections of short stories and poems where fairy tales are retold for adult audiences (as they were origianlly intended and not the popular Disney versions at all).

1. Black Heart, Ivory Bones
2. Black Thorn, White Rose
3. Snow White, Blood Red
4. Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
5. Black Swan, White Raven
6. Silver Birch, Blood Moon

As I love fairy tale re-tellings I loved this challenge. They were all great but my favourite was I think Silver Birch, Blood Moon. I higly recommend them and will definitely be reading more collections by both ladies either singly or as a double act.

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Just a quick update. I am not ignoring everyone, I am just away a lot at the moment. I started my job Monday 2nd June and am staying away from home with no blogging access until I get back for two days at the weekend. This will be until at least the end of the month which will include a time away in Toronto. I will try and catch up on all your blogs at the weekend, but it's also the only time I get to see my husband and my kitties so forgive me if I lapse for this month and possibly July as well. I miss you all though and please feel free to email me in the meantime as I can access those from my phone and reply.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 369
Number in Series : #6 Adult Fairy Tale Series
Reason for Reading : Short Story Reading Challenge, Once Upon a Time II Challenge, to complete this great series

Sadly this is the last in the Adult Fairy Tale series of short stories collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windlin. It contains 21 tales and poems by 20 different authors. Below is a full list of the stories and a brief description of what they are about.

Rapunzel - Tanith Lee
A young Prince falls in love with a woman he meets on his way home after a battle. He spins his father a tale of Rapunzel to explain where he has been and why it took him so long to arrive home.

The Crone - Delia Sherman
A poem about the familiar figure of The Crone from many fairy tales.

Big Hair - Esther Friesner
A look at Rapunzel in relation to child Beauty Pagents. The end was quite chilling as her daughter follows in her footsteps and there is an illusion to child abuse.

The King with Three Daughters - Russell Blackford
A look at a troll killer based on the Norse tale The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain. A strange tale about a warrior who has to "rescue" a King's three missing daughters where all is not what it seems.

Boys and Girls Together - Neil Gaiman
A poem covering a variety of fairy tales which looks at boys not wanting to be Princes (any other role is fine!) and girls secretly being Princesses. In their turn they become bad Kings and wicked step mothers, wood-cutters, ancient shepherds, crones and wise-women.

And Still She Sleeps - Greg Costikyan
A look at Sleeping Beauty after the authors marriage collapsed and suffered from depression. It also looks at the romantic notion of love when sleeping girl is dug up. Legends say only her true love can wake her up but it seems he isnot to be found as how can you truely someone from just looking at them, you have to know them first.

Snow in Summer - Jane Yolen
Snow White is better bale to look after herself in this tale by recognising her steo mother when she turns up on her doorstep one day. A bittersweet ending for our heroine.

Briar Rose and Witch - Debra Cash
Two poems with fairy tale themes. Not originally written as a pair but they go beautifully together.

Chanterelle - Brian Stableford
Part based on Hansel and Gretel with elements of the novella "Luscignole" and the play "the Sunken Bell" with illusions to the use of magic mushrooms along the way. Another strange and bittersweet tale.

Bear it Away - Michael Cadnum
A new look at Goldilocks and the Three BEars with talking bears that are chaed away by Goldilocks and a hunter.

Goldilocks Tells All - Scott Bradfield
The second Goldilocks tale in the series which sees Goldilocks cashing in on her tale and dishing the dirt in the media and in her novels of femal empowerment. It takes the stance that Goldilocks was never the innocent one in the tale...

My Life as a Bird - Charles de Lint
Set in Newford (de Lint's made up city) it contains elements of Rumpelstiltskin and The Fisherman and His Wife. Some familiar characters for those who are familiar with de Lint's tales with the addition of a grumpy dwarf.

The Red Boots - Leah Cutter
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Red Shoes" the girl in this tale differs by never giving up her desire to outdo everyone else at dancing to the detriment of her personal relationships and love life. She suffers beatings and loses her best friend who she loves as more than a friend along the way.

Rosie's Dance - Emma Hardesty
Based on Cinderella after reading a poem from "Transformations" by Anne Sexton and looking at a painting by Terrin Windling. Filled with poverty and cruelty as one girl leaves behind her inherited family to make a life for herself. Contains many of the original elements of the tale despite the setting being very different from the original tale.

You, Little Match Girl - Joyce Carol Oates
Evoking the horror that happiness is but an illusion. The central character believes that if she loves no one she is free until her last close relative dies and she is in a car accident armed with just a fading flash light.

Dreaming Among Men - Bryn Kanar
A very odd tale where it turns out that the dreamer is an animal and not a human at all.

The Cats of San Martino - Ellen Steiber
Based on an Italian fairy tale found in Italo Calvino's collection. An interesting tale about a woman who runs away from her boyfriend after he cruelly dumps her for another woman he has been sleeping with behind her back. She finds solace in a house with no doors filled with cats that it turns out can talk. They lok after her until she is ready to return to the human world and carry on with her life. Unfortunately her ex-boyfriend is not so lucky...

The Golem - Severna Park
Looking at the parallel between the alienation of Jewish woman within their own culture with the alienation of the Jews in general. A older woman makes a golem to protect her and her friends from a group of men killing all of the Jews in the area. She is able to bring new life in the form of the golem, and in it's death, new life to an otherwise barren land.

Our Mortal Span - Howard Waldrop
A theme park named Story Book Town where one of the automations (a troll) breaks free and starts to smash up the others including Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Perrault among other fairy tale characters. His issue is that the story tellers have lied to us and their dead ideas need to be overthrown.

Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower - Susanne Clarke
In a similar vein to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It is a rendering of "The Midwife to the Fairies" found in English, Irish, Scotish and Breton variations. Many other fairy tale themes are used in this charming tale of a fairy, his servant and the man who tries to trick them to save the life of a mortal woman.

My personal favourite was The Cats of San Martino very closely followed by Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower, My Life as a Bird and The King with Three Daughters. Others that deserve an honourable mention are Big Hair, Boys and Girls Together, Snow in Summer, Briar Rose and Witch, Chanterelle, Goldilocks Tells All, The Red Boots, You Little Match Girl, The Golem and Our Mortal Span. I am really sad this series has ended and I look forward to re-visiting them in the future. I also look forward to reading more anthologies by both women, either together or singly and I higly recommend their collections.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 469
Number in Series : #1 Black Magician Trilogy
Reason for Reading : First in a Series Reading Challenge, TBR Challenge 2008, numerous recommendation

Welcome to the city of Imardin in the land of Kyralia. Here the rich are seperated from the poor (the dwells) and a King rules over them all. Also in the city are Magician's, trained from the rich Houses where they have their own guild and serve the King for the good of the city (not that the poor believe this). Every year there is a purge where many of the poor, crippled and thieves are driven from the city by the Magician's on behalf of the King. The dwells obviously are not happy about this and the youths gather to throw stones at the Magician's invisibe shields even though they know they have no effect.

One year young girl Sonea (a dwell) joins the other youths in throwing stones. She puts all her anger into it before launching it towards the Magician's. Against all the odds a flash of blue light apears and it penetrates the barrier, knocking the Magician unconscious. She escapes the search after being spotted by a still conscious Magician, but a full scale search begins. She is hidden by the thieves for a time along with her friend Cery, but as time goes on her magic becomes more out of control and it turns out if she isn't taught by a trained Magician her powers will become a danger to her and the rest of the city.

Not the most original of plots by any means, it is the authors writing that holds your interest and brings you in to the story. I found the second half of the novel much more interesting than the first, where Sonea starts to really learn about magic and what can be achieved rather than just running and hiding. I will definitely be continuing with the series as I am intrigued to read more about Sonea, Cery, Lords Rothen and Dannyl as well as The High Lord and his Administrator.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

May Summary

May sees another high book count, but this month is mostly made up of manga and short novels. I have had difficulty concentrating (especaillly the last 10 days) and have picked up multiple books and not finished any of them! Hopefully the new job I start on Monday will help focus my mind again.

Number of Books Read May : 18, Total 86
Number of Pages Read : 4616, Total 27372
Book Awards Reading Challenge : 22/23 (need to read a minimum of 12)
Series Challenge : 8/8 COMPLETED
Themed Reading Challenge : 5/6
Young Adult Challenge : 8/12
Challenge with Nymeth : 1/5
What's in a Name Challenge : 3/6
Graphic Novel Challenge : 5/10 plus 3 extras
TBR Challenge 2008 : 2/12 and 6/12 alternatives
First in a Series Challenge : 6/12
Man Booker Prize Challenge : 6/8
Short Story Reading Challenge : 5/10
Chunkster Challenge : 2/4
Mythopoeic Challenge : 5/7
Inklings Challenge : 2/4
A~Z Challenge : Titles = 18/26, Authors = 18/26
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time : 28/100 (aiming for 50)
Once Upon a Time Challenge : 7/7 plus 15 alternatives
Spring Reading Thing Challenge : 7/7 COMPLETED
Arthurian Reading Challenge : 0/12
tl;dr Challenge : 0/3
Series Challenge II : 0/8
Non-Fiction Five Challenge : 2/5 plus 0/1 alternatives
End of the World Challenge : 0/3 plus 0/1 alternatives
Classics Challenge 08 : 0/5
Irresitible Review Challenge : 1/8

101 Things to do in 1001 Days : 35/101