Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 308
Series : #1 Carpathian
Reason for Reading : First in a Series Challenge

Raven Whitney is a psychic who uses her gifts to track down seriel killers for the police. This has devestating effects on her, it is terribly painful and emotional difficult to be in the presence of so much evil. She goes on vacation to the Carpathian mountains to escape the crush of people, but gets more than she bargained for when she meets the mysterious Mikhail Dubrinsky.

Mikhail is a true Carpathian wh daws strength and healing from the earth. Carpathian's are a race apart from humans who have telepathic gifts, can shapshift, drink blood and cannot stomach human food as well as having great strength. They have much extended life spans and when they lose their focus they can turn into vampires causing havoc and chaos in the human world. They have one true life mate (usually a Carpathian female) but they are having troubles producing female children that survive and so their race is declining. All this changes when Raven enters their villiage and she is considered the last hope by many for the continuation of their race.

My main issue with this was it was paranormal romance. I rally like urban fantasy, but am not a big romance fan and wasn't really sure what the different between the two genres was. It seems there is a lot more sex (not that I am against sex scenes, they just became a little too frequent and lost their sexiness as a result) and a lot less plot. It also felt like a male fantasy rather than something written for women. Raven had long silky hair, over sized breasts and a tiny waist. She tried to stand up for heself but Mikhail kept controlling her and calling her "little one" which annoyed me. The last third of the book got much better (hence the higher rating) and the plot picked up a great deal. I do want to read the next one to see what happens next to some of the supporting characters, but it is not my favourite series so far.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 323
Reason for Reading : RIP III Challenge, Books Awards II Challenge

Bod (short for Nobody) Owen's lives in a graveyard with only ghosts for company. When he was a baby a strange and evil man named Jack killed his parents and older sister. Bod was a curious child and managed to let himself out of the house in time and crawl to safety. He has the unusual gift of being able to see ghosts and he is given free reign of the graveyard and all it's secrets.

Time passes and Bod has a series of mini adventures on his way to manhood. When he is 5 he meets Scarlet and they go exploring some of the more ancient graves, he meets three ghouls who try to kidnap him and he tries to do a good thing for a young woman who was killed for being a witch. All of this leads him closer to finding the man who killed his family and being ready to enter the more usual world of the living.

A moving tale with some great characters and mini stories that all come together for a great conclusion. This was the first book I read using the song ereader and it was a very enjoyable experience. It had all the Dave McKean illustrations in it (beautifluly drawn) and I was able to make the print larger at night time when I had more sleepy eyes. Definitely recommended for kids of all ages and do consider getting an ereader (recommended by a real book lover).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 224
Reason for Reading : tl;dr Challenge, Book Awards Challenge II, because I like Gaiman's writing mostly

Tristran Thorn lives in Wall and is in love with the beautiful Victoria Forester. She says she will give him whatever he wants if he brings backthe star that has just fallen from the sky. To retrieve the star is no easy natter however. First he has to cross the Wall into the unknown magical realm beyond. Turns out the star is a woman who does not want to be given to some random lady as a token of Tristran's love.

Also after the star is a wicked witch who wants to cut out her heart to share with her sisters to regain their youth. There are also two remaining princes who need the necklace she wears to prove they are the next King of the realm. Secrets are revealed about Tristram's past and a true adventure is underway where Tristram discovers way more than he bargained for.

A brilliant story that was adapted well into a film of the same name. The book had a different ending albeit getting to the same point as the film and I enjoyed both versions. One of my favourite Gaiman novels so far, I look forward to seeing what he writes next.

Rating : 2.0/5
Number of Pages : 208
Reason for Reading : Found it in the library randomly

Set in the world of Shannara which Terry Brooks is famous for, Jair Ohmsford is back with his magical Wishsong power (from The Wishsong of Shannara). Although Jair and his sister Brin were able to destroy the evil book known as the Ildatch, that is not the end of the story. Brin urges her brother not to use the Wishsong. His powers with it cause illusions whereas Brin's causes reailty to change. In destroying the Ildatch Jair was able to make his former mentor weapons master Garet Jax. When the Rets reappear Jair goes off to find out what is causing the uprising up evil again.

Helping him out is Slanter, Whisper, Kimber and Cogline also from the book The Wishsong of Shannara. It seems that evil is trying to resurrect the lost Druid Keep Paranor, little realising it is protected by it's own ancient magic. Will Jair be able to keep his promise to his sister and not resort to using the Wishsong and will he be able to keep them from taking over Paranor.

The story was ok, it was well drawn but it just didn't translate well into a graphic novel. Brooks just narrated it like a novel at the top of most of the panels which defeated the purpose. Stick to the novels.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hosted by Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf with a dedicated blog here. The aim was to read at least 6 graphic novels in 2008 and I initially picked 10 and read a further 6 taking my total up to 16.

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

Extras read this year :

11. The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones - Alan Moore & Ian Gibson
12. Black Orchid - Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
13. The Tragical Comendy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch - Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
14. The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman
15. Nightmares and Fairy Tales v3: 1140 Rue Royale
16. Y the Last Man v1 - Brian K Vaughan

I read a few other graphic novels not on this list and will continue to do so this year and next year. It is impossible to pick a favourite as this was a great challenge with most of them being fantasic. The easiest thing to do is say which ones I did not enjoy so much which were Emily Strange and The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones. I really hope this challenge runs again next year to give me another excuse to catch up with some of the series I began this year.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 224
Series : #2 Gloom Cookie
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge

The follow up to the first collection sees a new illustrator, John Gebbs. Overall his illustrations were not quite up to Ted's (volume 1) apart from the first chapter which was stunning with a beautiful boarder around each page. The whole gang are back and some more of the plot is revealed. More of Damian and Lex's past is shared, we learn more about Sebastian and Chrys including the monster and Vermilion is back with more terrible gothic poetry.

I liked that we learn more of Isabella and her reasons for being the way she is. You come to pity her up to a point and understand why she treats Lex as she does. It is also now out of her control, the curse being so old. Vermilion has also decided that Lex is his true love, but he has other problems with rival Lord Delchi in town who is dating Lex and Chrys' friend Lyndi.

My favourite gothic soap opera. I look forward to getting some more free time so I can have my next fix. Another stunning collection.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 240
Series : #1 Gloom Cookie
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge

The first Gloom Cookie collection by Serena Valentino (Nightmares and Fairy Tales) is illustrated by the wonderful Ted Naifeh (Kin with Holly Black). It introduces a whole cast of gothic and fantastical characters. You have Lex (a petite and pretty goth) who is in love with Max (a tall cyber goth type). He does not love her sadly, but the evil Isabella who doesn't even notice him. Isabella has a history with Damion who in turn has a thing for Lex. Then there are Lex's friends Sebastian and Chrys who make a lovely couple. Things are not all they seem here either. Sebastian sees monsters everywhere and Chrys, well you will have to read the collection to know more about her.

There are also some great secondary characters like Vermilion who writes terrible gothic poetry and Sebastian's monster. The story of Lex and Damian starts to be explained and we delve into Isabella's past as well as Sebastian's parentage. I loved all the Vampire the Masquerade references, Valentino really knows her goth culture!

The stories blend elements of fairy tale, fantasy and gothic culture in a spell binding mix. Ted was just the right person to illustrate this collection as the artwork is stunning. It is just the right blend of hunour and seriousness, poking fun at itself and the goth culture it portrays in a loveing and endeering way. I look forward to more in this series.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 281
Reason for Reading : What's in a Name Challenge, Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time

Huckleberry Finn begins his adventures not long after Twain's earlier novel, Tom Sawyer. Huck is a bit of a rascal, he has a lot of money which was split with Tom from an earlier tale and is living with the well meaning Miss Watson who is trying (in vain)to teach him manners and reading. His life is turned upside doen by the return of his abusive father who takes him back into his care and tries to get hold of his money to drink it all away. Huck is able to fake his own death and escapes to Jackson Island with only black slave Jim for company (also running away before he is sold to New Orleans and separated from his family for good).

The two have a series of mini adventures on their travels. Some make you laugh out loud and others were sad, tragic tales of early death and loss. They meet up with two con artists who tell them they are a Duke and a King. Huck is wise to them, being a bit of a con artist himself, but they profit from their schemes for a while. Huck reaches his tolerance when the scoundrals try to fleece three young girls who have just lost their father and decides it is time to ditch them and travel just him and Jim again.

This novel started really slowly for me. The first third was pretty dull, just setting the scene and getting to know Huck and Jim. It was only when they left to sail down the river that things became more interesting. My main problem was that it is a product of it's time. For the most part, the story has moved with the times and is still funny, sad and relevant. The main thing is the racism. I understand that it was appropriate to use certain words at the time of writing, but it was quite uncomfortable the frequency with which some words were used and it did sour the book for me to a degree. I am glad I read it though, but am not sure I would read it again.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Inklings Challenge was hosted by Becky at Becky's Book Reviews and the aim was to read at least 2 books by or about CS Lewis and at least 2 books by or about JRR Tolkien. We were also to try to watch films or programmes based on them or their work throughout 2008. I didn't get a chance to see Prince Caspain when it came out at the cinema, but will try and rent the dvd now it is out.

My choices were:

1. Roverandom - JRR Tolkien
2. The Screwtape Letters - CS Lewis
3. Tales from the Perilous Realm - JRR Tolkien
4. Here, There be Dragons - James A Owen

It is really hard to pick a favourite, to be honest I enjoyed them all. It was interesting to read some of Tolkien's writing for younger readers and I particularly enjoyed Roverandom. Of CS Lewis I had only read the Narnia series and again it was interesting reading some of his more christian theology. Here, There be Dragons was a wonderful read and in my top 5 books read this year so far. It was like it was written just for me, it had everything I could want ina book!

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 326
Series : #1 The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica
Reason for Reading : The Inklings Challenge

Three young men are thrown together in an adventure when John's Oxford University professor is murdered. Jack is due to start Oxford University next year and Charles works for the Oxford University Press and all are in London answering questions about the professors death. Whilst there the soon to be companions meet the strange Bert who claims to be a friend and entrusts John with a mysterious book called The Imaginarium Geographica.

The book is really an atlas and shows the worlds of the imagination. It is written in many different languages and John has been studying under the tutorship of the late professor and is the new caretaker. The problem is that the Winter King also wants the book and has sent all manner of beasties after them including the wendigo (half man, half wolf) and the shadow-born. The three plus Bert and his crew must sail the Indigo Dragon ship in a race to save all the worlds from the Winter King and being turned into shadows.

I LOVED this book, it as like it was written for me with anything I could possibly want in a novel! There are many references to novels and authors I love including JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Peter Pan, Alice's Adventures in Wonderlan, Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, HG Wells etc. I know some have faulted it for taking so many ideas, but this is exactly what I adored about it. It fitted the different worlds together in a great adventure with memorable characters. I knew a little about the book to begin with (including Jack and John's identities), but I won't give that away here. Suffice to say anyone with a real love of fantasy needs to read this book! I can't wait to read the next in the series, The Red Dragon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 200
Series : #3 Death Note
Reason for Reading : Because it is awesome!

Continuing the story of Light Yagami who has the Death Note tht belongs to the death god Ryuk. Whoevers name is written in the death note dies and Light is using it to kill all the criminals broadcat on the news and so bring about a new world order with him as the new god. On his case is the mysterious L whose identity is known to only a few (including Light's father who is the head of the division in the Japanese police on the case).

L escalates his plan to catch Light who has been named "Kira" by the press. He knows Light is a suspect and joins his college where he tries to befriend him. In a shocking confession he tells Light that he is L and asks for his help to solve the Kira case. It puts Light in a real dilema as if he uses the death note to kill L it will be obvious he is Kira. The tension mounts and there is a second person calling themself Kira and killing criminals as well as innocent people. It seems there is a second death note loose in the world.

A fantastic installment, I can't wait for the next one! It is so clever and there is a very tense tennis match between Light and L where you see just how alike and competitive they both are. This is the best manga series I have read and I recommend it to anyone who has not tried this genre before. Excellent reading with beautiful illustrations.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 290
Series : #3 Bayern (Goose Girl)
Reason for Reading : Series II Challenge, because I loved the first two

The war between Bayern and Tira is over, but it is not the end of the story by any means. Finn, Enna and Razo are sent on a mission of peace to Tira to try and smooth things over. Along the way Razo finds a series of bodies that seem to have been burnt to death. He worries that Enna is back burning people and losing control of her gifts, or that she is doing it without her knowledge which is possibly more worrying. He tries to keep an eye on her with Finn's help to find out the truth.

Complications also arise as there are a force of people in Tira still campaigning to re-start the war. They are making assination attempts on the diplomat from Bayern. Rzo meets Dasha, a flame haired girl from Tira, who he develops strong feelings for. There is suspicision that she is responsible for the burnings which makes Razo very conflicted.

I loved that Razo was the main character of this installment, although it was also lovely to have all the other main characters there supporting him. He is very observant, but also very stupid when it comes to feelings! I love that Shannon Hale really changes the tone of her novels with the different main characters leading the tales. I can't wait for the fourth book in the series to come out. Maybe Finn will be centre stage next?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Well this is the end of the read-a-thon. I just finished Stardust although it was a race at the end. Stardust wraps up the Herding Cats tl;dr challenge as well. My reading stats at the end are:

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 281 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1, 224 Gloom Cookie v2, 204 Dark Wraith of Shannara, 224 Stardust
Total Pages Read : 1313
Books Completed: 6
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 3 or 4 I think
Reading Challenges completed curing read-a-thon: 3 (Graphic Novel, Inklings and tl;dr)

I am now 8 reviews behind which is a first for me and I will try and update my blog before the end of the month. I am also terribly behind with visiting everyone's blogs as work has been really busy still, but again I will get back on top of things by the end of the month hopefully. I had a great time and hope everyeone else did too. All that is left is the End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
From about 4am it started getting really hard and I had to have a few hours off for sleeping (15 hours in)

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
The Gloom Cookie graphic novels were fun and easy reads when you are starting to flag and Stardust was a lovely upbeat way to end the challenge.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
None that I can think of, it was a lot of fun.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
It was lovely to have lots of mini challenges and comments from other people either doing the read-a-thon or being cheerleaders. Such a great sense of community.

5. How many books did you read?
I read 6 in total (one I had started the day before and was half way through which I finished up first)

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Here, There be Dragons - James A Owen
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
Gloom Cookie v1 - Serena Valentino
Gloom Cookie v2 - Serena Valentino
Dark Wraith of Shannara - Terry Brooks
Stardust - Neil Gaiman

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Here, There Be Dragons was my favourite although I did really enjoy both Gloom Cookie's and Stardust.

8. Which did you enjoy least?
Huckleberry Finn just because it seemed to take forever to read. The first third was a bit dull but the later two thirds definitely improved.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
I was not and this was my first read-a-thon so not really any advice except keep posting and cheering!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I hope to do it again in the future ideally as a reader.

Well one more hour of reading to go, then bath and tidy before Mariel comes over to exchange long overdue birthday presents from September. I am really enjoying Stardust and will do my best to finish it although I think I will just run out of time.

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 281 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1, 224 Gloom Cookie v2, 204 Dark Wraith of Shannara, 132 Stardust
Total Pages Read : 1221
Books Completed: 5
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 3 or 4 I think

Yes I am back! I had a sleep for just less than 4 hours and spent the last hour and a bit reading Stardust. I don't think I will finish it in time for the end of the challenge, but will finish it tomorrow at the latest. I am really annoyed as I really wanted to take part inCarl's mini RIP II Challenge, but typically it began just as I went to bed. Also I do not think I have time to take part in the short story challenge unless I can find a really really short one!

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 281 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1, 224 Gloom Cookie v2, 204 Dark Wraith of Shannara, 75 Stardust
Total Pages Read : 1164
Books Completed: 5
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 3 or 4 I think

Back again. I did try to have a cat nap but Morgaine kept waking me up so even more sleepy. May have to go for a couple of hours sleep as definitely flagging now and only read 20 more pages since my last update. I have started Stardust by Neil Gaiman and will see how much more of it I can get through in the 7 hours left.

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 281 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1, 224 Gloom Cookie v2, 204 Dark Wraith of Shannara, 20 Stardust
Total Pages Read : 1109
Books Completed: 5
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 3 or 4 I think

Another book down and I have managed to stay awake another whole hour. I don't know whether to sleep for an hour or try and stay awake as I don't want to miss Carl's Mini Challenge which I think starts at 5am...

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 281 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1, 224 Gloom Cookie v2, 204 Dark Wraith of Shannara
Total Pages Read : 1089
Books Completed: 5
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 3 or 4 I think

It's now 3am and I think I might have a break for a snooze. I just finished Huckleberry Finn and have finshed the four books I set as a minimum.

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 281 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1, 224 Gloom Cookie v2
Total Pages Read : 885
Books Completed: 4
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 3 or 4 I think

As part of the mini challenge hosted by Softdrink see my top 10 list below.

Top 10 List of Best Reading positions (I have tried pretty much all of these):

1. Lying on back with book propped up on belly (the chubbier the better for maximum reading angles)
2. Walking around and reciting passages aloud (works best for theatrical types)
3. In bed under the covers with a torch, especially good for scary books
4. On public transport making sure a fake cover is clearly displayed to show how intelligent you are whilst secretly reading chick lit (wearing glasses optional)
5. Pretending to listen to a loved one nodding in all the right plaes but with an ear phone in and an audio book playing in the background (note be sure to have the ear phone in the ear furthest from loved one or they may spot it and get mad)
6. In the bath but be very very careful not to drop it (yes I have done this)
7. For pet lovers : book held at strange angle as pet tries to get your attention by stomping on you, sleeping on your arm (damn Morgaine) or otherwise trying to distract you and you try to read around them
8. Curled in a foetal position around your prized book
9. Book in one hand and sandwich in the other (cheese and cucumber is my personal favourite, nothing too runny)
10. Lying on the sofa inverted with head just above the floor and legs over the top of the sofa with book held in front of face (yoga experts find this very easy)

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 200 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1, 224 Gloom Cookie v2
Total Pages Read : 804
Books Completed: 3
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 3 or 4 I think

I the last hour I managed to finish Gloom Cookie v2 by Serence Valentino. This time it was illustrated by John Gebbia. His artwork was good, but not quite as good as Ted's from the first volume with the exception of the first chapter in the collection which I adored. It's like a funky gothic soap opera and I really liked it. I have the remaining 3 volumes which I will not read today but definitely will soon. This was my final pick for the Graphic Novel Challenge also.

Back to Huckleberry Finn which I hope to finish in 2-3 hours and then possibly have a sleep.

The next mini challenge is to complete the Mid Way Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?
Gloom Cookie v2 - Serena Valentino

2. How many books have you read so far?
Completed 2, nearly finished my current read and a third to go of Huckleberry Finn.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I am hoping to stay awake long enough to read The Graveyard Book and/or Stardust by Neil Gaiman

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
No although I keep telling hubby to be quiet and turn the volume down on his game bless. Oh I did ask Mariel to come over after 2pm tomorrow so I could be finished when she arrives (here I am due to finish at 1pm tomorrow afternoon).

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Normal stuff like Alex talking to me and playing his game loudly as well as the cats wanting attention every so often. I remind him I am reading and he shuts up bless! The cats I just have to stoke and try to read around them.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
It has been great that so many people have stopped by. I am also surpirsed I am stil awake after this much reading (it's just after midnight here).

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Um not really. This is my first one and I am enjoying it so far.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
I think to have the flat tidier before starting and kicking Alex out the house!

9. Are you getting tired yet?
Yes I am starting to flag a little now.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Not so far. I am just taking 5 minute breaks every hour to rest my eyes for a moment before continuing. I am also mixing up my books to stop from getting bored after a few hours.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Had enough of Huck Finn for a bit although the middle third of the book was much better than the first third.

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 200 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1
Total Pages Read : 580
Books Completed: 2
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 2 or 3 I think

Off to start Gloom Cookie v2 by Serena Valentino. I am hoping it is as fun as the first volume I read earlier.

Checking in at the end of the ninth hour.

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 171 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1
Total Pages Read : 551
Books Completed: 2
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 2 or 3 I think

Alex took the photo below of me and Merlin reading Huckleberry Finn, appologies for the bluriness as it was on a mobile phone and then emailed to me. It's just after 10pm here now and I am doing ok, will read one more hour of Huck Finn and then move on to Gloom Cookie v2.

Pages Read: 140 Here, There be Dragons, 105 Huckleberry Finn, 240 Gloom Cookie v1
Total Pages Read : 485
Books Completed: 2
Mini-Challenges Participated In: 2 or 3 I think

I had a lovely spaghetti bolognaise for dinner which I made for me and Alex. I also managed to start and finish Gloom Cookie v1 by Serena Valentino. It is illustrated by Ted Naifeh who I recently came across as the ilustrator of Holly Black's new graphic novel Kin. Filled with gothic tales of love, loss, monsters and a carnival macabre. Great stuff, I can't wait to read volume 2 later on.

Back to Huck Finn for the next 3 hours I think...

About a third of the way through Huckleberry Finn now at page 105 of 281. It's an ok read. Huckleberry Finn has so far managed to run away from his father and well meaning people of the town by faking his own death. He meets up with a run away black man from the same town called Jim and together they are trying to sail away to freedom. It is set in the time when black people were slaves in America.

Going to have a break from it and start Gloom Cookie v1 by Serena Valentino which is a graphic novel. I will also be stopping to make dinner soon as it is just gone 6pm here and I am hungry!

At the end of the third hour I have finished the wonderful Here, There bye Dragons by James A Owen which was brilliant. It was the perfect book and seemed written just for me. It had lots of Tolkien, CS Lewis, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes references plus many more from my favourite books and a number of excellent cameos. I will put up a proper review next week. It was my final pick for the Inklings Challenge which I will also wrap up next week.

I am currently 41 pages into The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and it already feels like one of those books that no matter how long I spend reading it I am not getting anywhere. I did hae a sneaky nap for 30 mins in hour two which is rubbish as it was around 2:30pm!

I'm literally 5 pages away from finishing Here, There be Dragons by James A Owen and had to tear myself away to check in at the end of the first hour. It is such a amazing book, I will write about it a bit more at the end of hour 2. For now I have answers to the meme:

Where are you reading from today?
So far the sofa in my front room but I may move to the big round chair as when I got up to write this Merlin stole my warm spot!

3 facts about me …
I havent washed my hair since last weekend and that is going t be the first thing I do when I finish up tomorrow before Mariel gets here.
I have a toffee stain on the jumper I am wearing and I can't bear to part with it long enough to wash it properly.
Despite being a big scruff I work in pharmaceutical sales which means dressing smart and meeting with important clients. It is a challenge I face constantly with lots of piercings and a tendency to want to dye my hair strange colours!

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
At least 4 (see my post below this one)

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
No not really,just to try and stay awake and have fun with it.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
This is my first time soI don't really know what to expect besides lots of reading of course.


So the Read-A-Thon hosted by Dewey (details here) starts at 1pm UK time (GMT +1) which is just over an hour away. I am really excited to get started and have been looking forward to it for the last month. I have my reading list sorted along with back-up books for if I run out or get bored:

Definite Reads:

  • Finish Here, There be Dragons - James A Owen (~140 pages to go)
  • Read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain (281 pages of tiny type)
  • Read Gloom Cookie v1 - Serena Valentino (240 page graphic novel)
  • Read Gloom Cookie v2 - Serena Valentino (224 page graphic novel)

Extra/Alternative Reads:

  • Dark Wraith of Shannara - Terry Brooks (208 page manga)
  • Dark Prince - Christine Feehan (308 pages Urban Fantasy)
  • Stardust - Neil Gaiman (224 pages Fantasy)
  • The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman (323 page ebook)

I can also read more sections of The Divine Comedy by Dante if I need a poetry fix!

I have tried to pick shorted reads so I feel like I am getting somewhere and am not likely to loose focus. I am hoping to stay awake for the whole 24 hours but as Mariel is visiting tomorrow at 1pm I may need to sleep for a little bit at some point. I haven't done one before so not sure how the process works so bear with me andI will try and check in most hours.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hosted by Joy at Thoughts of Joy this challenge runs between 1/1/08 - 31/12/08. The aim is to read 12 Young Adult books during 2008. I finished my list a week or two ago which was :

1. The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
2. The Looking Glass Wars - Frank Beddor
3. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
4. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
5. Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry
6. The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett
7. The Amulet of Samarkand - Jonathan Stroud
8. Goddess of the Night - Lynne Ewing
9. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
10. Peter Pan in Scarlet - Geraldine McCaughrean
11. The Worst Witch Saves the Day - Jill Murphy
12. The Black Tattoo - Sam Enthoven

It is really difficult to pick a favourite as I loved pretty much all of them! The Goose Girl was wonderful as was The Looking Glass Wars and were both great re-tellings of famous fairy tales. Coraline was creepy and spooky in all the right ways and The Wee Free Men sees Pratchett at his best. I love Young Adult and have many more outside of this challenge and will continue to do so. Thanks for hosting Joy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 260
Series : #1 Bath and Body Mystery
Reason for Reading : RIP III Challenge

India Ink is a pen name of Yasmine Galenorn who has written both non-fiction on witchcraft and urban fantasy fiction. This is the first in a series of books she has written in a mystery series that includes beauty and spa tips which I do aim to try out!

Persia Vanderbilt has moved back to live with her Aunt in Gull Harbor, Washington, after her boyfriend was imprisoned for fraud and embezzelment. At her new home she works for her Aunt in Venus Envy where she uses her exceptional nose to brew new perfumes, bath oils and all manner of lovely pampering spa treatments. On the side she also teaches self defence and has been doing martial arts training for many years.

What was once a sleepy town is rocked when Queen Bitch and beauty contest winner Lydia Wang is murdered in the shop and a gift to Persia, Aphrodite's Mirror, is stolen. Trevor (Lydia's ex boyfriend and Peria's friend) is arrested for the murder and things do not look good for him. Persia and her Aunt believe he is innocent and set out to prove it, following clues and poking their noses in around the town and in Seattle.

I enjoyed this book, it was a fun and short read. I don't usually read mystery novels and I loved that it combined real beauty tips to try out at home. Persia makes a good heroine and role model, appreciating beauty in everyone and not conforming to the sterotypes out there in the media. I will continue with the series as well as find time for her urban fantasy series in the near future hopefully.

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 419
Reason for Reading : Library Book Discussion Group

The second book by the author of The Kite Runner. I have not read The Kite Runner (yet), but understand this is not a sequel, but it is still set in Kabul, Afganistan looking at the effect the Taliban have on the lives of two very different women. Mariam is a harami, the bastard daughter of Jalil (a local businessman) and Nana who used to work as a servant in his house. As a young girl she idolises her father despite warnings from her mother and wants nothing more than to live with him and be accepted by all as his daughter.

Laila grows up with a loving father who is very open minded, especially when it comes to his daughter and wife, and mother who suffers from depression and mood swings. Her chidhood sweetheart is Tariq who has lost one of his legs and wears a prosthetic. When misfortune befalls Laila she meets Miriam properly for the first time and the women form a close friendship after the initial barriers are let down.
The Taliban enter the scene changing both of their lives forever. Circumstances move beyond their control as they face continued abuse, starvation and Laila must be separated from her daughter. Through the sadness comes a ray of very unexpected light for Laila. The novel ends on a more upbeat note than the main body of the story, but still has many shadows in the distance which may yet come back.

I have tried to be vague and not give away much of the plot, but it's very difficult with such an amazing and expressive book. Most people in my book group loved it (enjoyed is perhaps the wrong word as though it is beautiful it is heart breakingly sad for the most part), although two people were not impressed at all (the plot can be very predicatble but this did not stop my enjoyment of it). We were lucky to have a lady who was born in Afganistan come and talk to us about what life was really like for women, how much of the book is true to life and share some of her experiences with us. For me, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it. The writing style is lyrical and you really empathise with the two women. You forget that a man has written this novel, Hosseini did a fantastic job of describing their lives, the trails and mundane tasks as well as things like introducing the burka. Read this book!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 404
Reason for Reading : Short Story Reading Challenge

A collection of 4 short stories (novella's really as they are all just over 100 pages long) by some of today's most popular paranormal romance and urban fasntasy authors.

Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil - Kim Harrison
This story started off quite confusing as it mixed alive and undead vampires with a confusing mythology that wasn't very well explained. It became a sexy murder mystery tale centred around alive vampire Ivy Tamnwood. To get ahead it looks like she will have to whore herself to her undead vampire boss Art by lettinghim suck her blood. The murder comes in as they are working in the police force and theirpower games get all mixed in. Pretty average, I hope her series is better...

The Claire Switch Project - Lynsay Sands
A fun and sexy tale about scientist Claire who gets hit with a destabiliser ray giving her the power to shapeshift. She uses photos to emulate the shape, clothes and looks of other men and women. It gets more complicated when she finally gets a first date to their high school reunion with long standing crush Karl, but promises his twin sister she will shift into a famous movie star and be her date too! A quick and fun read.

Chaotic - Kelley Armstrong
Half-demon Hope has inherited her father's love of chaos. She works as a journalist covering paranormal stories as well as working as an Agent for the Interracial Council on the side. At least that is what Tristin Robard has told her. Everything falls apart when she meets sexy werewolf Karl Marsten who brings together chaos, desire and the truth in an explosive adventure at a museum gala dinner.
Dead Man Dating - Lori Handeland
Kit goes on a date with a guy she has met over the internet. Things go very wekk until they stop to have sex in an alley, which is very unlike her as she is a virgin waiting until she is married or meets her true love. A strange man calling himself Chavez turns up and shoots her date who leaves no blood or body behind. He claimes to be a rogue demon hunter and here Kit's adventures really begin...

I really liked the Kelley Armstrong story and I am looking forward to reading Personal Demon which has more on Hope. The tales by Lori Handeland and Lynsay Sands were also a lot of fun. The only disappointment was Kim Harrison, but I am planning on reading more by her and not judging her only on this short tale.

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 480
Series : The Bartimeaus Trilogy
Reason for Reading : Young Adult Challenge, Mythopoeic Challenge

The first in the Bartimeaus Trilogy introduces young magician's apprentice Nathaniel who summons demon Bartimeaus who is often seen in the form of a gargoyle (or a young Egytpian boy depending on his whim). Nathaniel has as ecret enemy, a powerful magician who has humiliated him in front of his master and a group of other magicians. He is not one to forgive and forget so he summons a demon to exact his revenge. To do this they try to steal the Amulet of Samarkad which they know the magician has acquired by deceitful means.

It proves more difficult than Nathaniel thought and the two of them get in a lot of trouble with magicians, other demons and the magical government. It is set in modern day London, but agic rules the nation a little like in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke. I liked that not everything turned out well and events are not sugar coated, no everyone makes it through the novel unscathed. Along the way, Nathaniel and Bartimeaus uncover a plot to overthrow the government and wrestle control away.

A fun tale, it alternates between the two main characters Nathaniel and Bartimeaus narrating. Bartimeaus makes for the more enjoyable read, he is very funny and sarcastic about the lesser humans. It wasn't the best start to a young adult/fantasy series, but I enjoyed it enought to continue reading the next two books in the series. I look forward to reading more about the non-magical children who are leading the rebellion against the magic users.

I know I am terribly late with this, my excuse is I have been away so much it has been really hard to stay on top of my blogging for the last month. I am around a bit more in October but next month I will be away for about 2 weeks again. Me so sleepy...

Anyway, I had the pleasure of interviewing Reader Rabbit for Weekly Geeks #16. They asked me about Wicked by Gregory Maguire and my interview is below:

Who was your favorite character in Wicked and why?
That's easy, Elphaba. She was very well written and it's very easy to asssociate with a girl misunderstood because of the way she looks. It is also very easy to empathise with some of her more difficult decisions and it was a fantastic twist on the Wizard of Oz take on the Wicked Witch.

Who would you reccommend Wicked too? Do you think that it's a good book for all audiences?
I would definitely recommend it, but not to children. Since the musical came out I have seen lots of parents buying the novel for their children expecting it to be very similar. The novel is much more difficult with adult themes and content in places. It is also very political througout. This makes it no less appealing, just a slightly different audience.

Is the world that the book takes place different from that of the original Wizard of Oz?
No, it is the same world, just a different perspective. The wizard and wicked witch kind of switch places in terms of good and evil with Glinda the Good being another product of misunderstanding. There are many of the same characters between the novel and the original books by Frank L Baum plus the film, but you see them in a whole different light by the end of the tale.

Have you (or do you want to) see the musical of Wicked? If you have, how does it compare to the book and if you haven't what would you expect from it?
Yes, I have seen the musical about 8/9 times (I lose count) in the West End. The musical is excellent and can be watched without having read the novel. The best way to describe it is by saying it is the Disney's Little Mermaid to Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid. It is the all singing, all dancing version of a serious story made more palatable for a family audience. It also changes the focus of the book from a politcal agenda to looking at the nature of wicked and good.

There's a theme of evil and good. How do you think it affects the reader?
The theme is more evident in the musical, but it definitely makes you question just what is wicked. A lot of it is about perspective. One of the lyrics from the musical is about one man's freedom fighter being another man's terrorist and the story very much looks at this.

And, do you think we should read it? =]
Definitely, it is an excellent book, just be aware of the differences from the more sugary musical version.

I was able to ask the Rabbits about The Princess Bride by William Goldman which I still haven't read (I know shame on me espcially as I love the film). Their interview is below:

I have watched the film a few times but somehow never gotten around to reading the book. How does the book compare to the film?
Aagh! To be honest, I watched this movie five years ago and I don't quite remember it. However, I do remember thinking that as books turned into movies go, it was pretty darn good.

Are there any major changes between the two? Anything you wish had been in the film from the novel or vice versa?
Once again, I barely remember it. However, I don't think that there are any major changes. The script was actually written by the author so it stays true to the book.Oh! But the one thing that it IS missing (but I wouldn't want it to be included-it just wouldn't work) is William Goldman's "abridgement" notes. Those notes make the novel HILARIOUS.

Who was your favourite character and why?
Ooh, that's a tough one. William Goldman has created so many unforgettable characters.(They're just all so unique!) Hmm..I think I'll go with Inigo. I've always felt a little sorry for him, what with his father dead and his entire life spent working towards that one goal. And, I've never been able to scratch that line out of my head (My name is Inigo Montoyo. You killed my father. Prepare to die). (And Wesley is interesting too...who can't admire someone who'd sacrifice so much for lurrvee).

What was your favourite part of the book and why?
My favourite part? Hmm....I really love the section *spoilers* where Buttercup is kidnapped by the Sicilian trio. And then, the man in black comes to kidnap Buttercup from her kidnappers-and has to go through three obstacles (Inigo, Fezzik and the Sicilian himself) to get to Buttercup. It's very action-y and exciting and we also get to know more about Inigo's and Fezzik's childhood.

How would you describe the novel to someone who is unfamiliar to the story?
It's about a beautiful (but unfortunately, not too bright) girl and a poor but (very) smart guy. Throw in some sword fights, a collection of unforgettable characters, some humour and you got yourself The Princess Bride.

Would you recommend it?
READ IT. READ IT! I think the Princess Bride has something in it for everyone. There's romance, there's action, there's everything, combined to make one incredible book. I've never grown tired of it. There's a reason why this book is still in print more than 30 years after its first publication! And, besides that, I think this also a novel that can be read and enjoyed by people of all ages.
Last weeks challenge was to post about your favourite books published in 2008. I haven't read too much that was published in 2008 but here is what I have read and the order I rated them:

Best Urban Fantasy
Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs
Second : No Humans Involved - Kelley Armstrong

Best Fantasy:
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier (paperback was published in December 2008)
Second: Tangled Webs - Anne Bishop

Best Manga:
Bizenghast v4 - M Alice LeGrow
Second: Legend of the Dark Crystal v1 - Barbara Randall Kesel, Heidi Arnhold, and Max Kim

Best Young Adult:
Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
Second: Slam - Nick Hornby
Third: Once Upon a Time in the North - Philip Pullman

Best Graphic Novel:
Kin - Holly Black & Ted Naifeh

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 180
Reason for Reading : Challenge with Nymeth

Big Fish tells the story of a father and a son. Edward Bloom is dying and his son William is trying to say his goodbyes to him, a father he feels he barely knows. Edward has always seemed hidden from him behind his never ending stories and jokes. He was away a lot and was not always faithful to his wife. William is struggling to understand the man who has been his father and form a bond with him before it is too late.

Many of Edward's mini stories and it seems he is something of a legend. He has bought a town, saved his sons life twice, commmunicated with animals and nearly caught a giant catfish swimming in the lake. You spend time wondering which tales are fact, which are fiction and which are a mixture of the two and wondering whether ultimately it really matters. It ends with William telling his story of his fathers death and how it transformed him. Here he has learnt what his father has been trying to teach him: persevernce, ambition, personailty, optimism, strength, intelligence and imagination. Much of it looks at Edward feeling like abig fish in a very small pond and wanting to escape and make thebest of himself. This is also something he wants to pass on to his son.

I have not seen the film so I cannot say if was adapted well. The novel though was well written in short, seemingly easy to digest chapters. It is one that stays in the mind and the different stories within it chase each others tails. It was very surreal in places and I think this is one that will grow on me with a second and third reading. It is a very difficult book to describe and summarise in all honesty, but like I said it is one that stays in the mind long after the last page has been finished which can only be a good thing.

Friday, October 03, 2008


What, in your opinion, is the best book that you haven’t liked? Mind you, I don’t mean your most-hated book–oh, no. I mean the most accomplished, skilled, well-written, impressive book that you just simply didn’t like.
Like, for movies–I can acknowledge that Citizen Kane is a tour de force and is all sorts of wonderful, cinematically speaking, but . . . I just don’t like it. I find it impressive and quite an accomplishment, but it’s not my cup of tea.
So . . . what book (or books) is your Citizen Kane?

It's been ages since I have been at home and able to answer the Booking Through Thursday questions. For me, the most well written book and widely praised book that I haven't liked has been One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I just found it slow and dull, it was a real struggle to finish it despite everyone raving about it. I am planning on reading Love in the Time of Cholera (another of his highly praised works) and see if I like it any better. When I was walking around New York on holiday for some reason I overheard so many people talking about his books and saying how much they loved and recommended them that I Hope I am able to change my opinion.

The picture above is what Alex made for me while I was away in Toronto. He bought a My Little Pony and customised it as you can see. I particularly like the high heels he made her out of gaffer tape and stockings made from the mesh bag oranges come in. He is nothing if not resourceful!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 112
Series : His Dark Materials
Reason for Reading : Series II Challenge, A~Z Challenge

Another short novella set in the world of His Dark Materials. The story tells of how aeronaut Lee Scorsby meets armoured bear Iorek Byrnison. Lee is a young man of 24 when he lands his balloon at Novy Odense with no money and no job. He tries to find work and refils his stocks, but the locals are in the middle of an election campaign and are more interested in getting on the side of the favourite to win, Poliakov. He is working closely with an oil company and their main policy to win the vote is to rid the land of the armoured bears.

The bears are seen as a nusience. They spend all their time drinking and are no longer the majestic beasts they once were. They are not even allowed to wear their armour in the town. Lee takes an immediate dislike to Poliakov when he is introduced to an associate of his, a man Lee knows by a different name from a different town. He manages to get himself in all kinds of scrapes and trouble with the folk of the town that aren't really his business.

A short and fun edition to the series. I love Hester (Lee's rabbit daemon who turns out to be an Arctic hare) and Lee and it was an interesting introduction to Iorek. There are a couple of letters from Lyra at the end to a tutor making out the novella is part of her dissertation which was a nice touch. There is also a game caleld Peril at the Pole where the object is to keep your balloon in the air longer than the other players.

This has been my worst reading month this year in terms of books read and pages read. I have had a weeks holiday in New York (not much time for sitting about reading sadly) plus two intense business trips away which have not helped. Hopefuly next month I can get back on track and wrap up a couple more challenges.

Number of Books Read September : 11, Total 135
Number of Pages Read : 3158, Total 42,241
Young Adult Challenge : 11/12
Challenge with Nymeth : 3/5
What's in a Name Challenge : 4/6
Graphic Novel Challenge : 8/10 plus 6 extras
TBR Challenge 2008 : 5/12 and 10/12 alternatives
First in a Series Challenge : 10/12
Man Booker Prize Challenge : 7/8
Short Story Reading Challenge : 8/10
Chunkster Challenge : 3/4
Mythopoeic Challenge : 6/7
Inklings Challenge : 3/4
A~Z Challenge : Titles = 26/26, Authors = 21/26
Guardian 100 Greatest Books of All Time : 30/100 (aiming for 50)
Arthurian Reading Challenge : 2/12
tl;dr Challenge : 2/3
Series Challenge II : 5/8
Non-Fiction Five Challenge : 5/5 plus 0/1 alternatives COMPLETED
End of the World Challenge : 3/3 plus 0/1 alternatives COMPLETED
Classics Challenge 08 : 1/5
RIP III Challenge : 2/2 plus 2 alternatives

101 Things to do in 1001 Days : 38/101

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 235
Reason for Reading : tl;dr Challenge, RIP III Challenge

Jenny Gluckstein lives in New York with her mother and Mister Cat. She is happy hanging out with her friends and loves the bustle and noise of the city. When her mother gets engaged to an Englishman and tells her they are moving to London her whole world is turned upside down. At least London is another city though and Mister Cat should only be in quarenteen for a month.

Their plans change. Evan gets offered a great job in Dorset, the middle of knowehere as far as Jenny is concerned. To make matters worse Mister Cat has to be kept for six months not one so Jenny is all alone in a foreign country with no friends, a new step father and two new step brothers. She makes two new friends. One is a girl from school, Meena, and the other is a ghost named Tamsin and her ghost cat Miss Sophia Brown. Tamsin's is a sad tale and Jenny must help her piece all the pieces together to help Tamsin remember who she was when she was alive.

Along the way Jenny learns about the myths and folk tales of Dorset including about boggarts, the billy blind the pooka and the Wild Hunt. They are threatened by the Oakmen and the Other One who is linked to Tamsin'spast but who she won't talk about. They also search for what happened to Tamsin's lost love, Edric Davies.

The Last Unicorn is one of my favourite books and films so I was excited about reading something else by Peter S beagle, although also a little worried it would not live up to my expectations. The story was very well told and very believable as a 13 year old girl. It has been so long since I have read a ghost story and this had a lovely mixture of tension, fantastical elements and mythology. Recommended to those who know Beagle's writing and those encountering him for the first time.