Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 421
Series : #4 Camelot
Format : Fantasy Novel
Reason for Reading : Arthurian Challenge, to continue with the series

The final installment in the wonderful Camelot series by Sarah Zettel. This follows the final son of King Lot, Sir Agravain and the Lady Laurel of Carnbrea (introduced in Camelot's Sword, sister to Lynet). Agravain is the heir to the dying King Lot and Laurel is still trying to resist the pull of the sea and her mother's kin. Laurel decides the best thing to do is to marry and is offered Agravain. On arriving at Camelot no one seems to want to or be able to tell her much about her soon-to-be husband. He keeps to himself and is not loved by many. Laurel and Agravain find something in each other that pulls them towards each other surprisingly.

Agravain was initially interested in Laurel as he believes she can help defeat Morgaine and the Black Knight. He seeks advice from Merlin and finds the Black Knight is none other than Arthur's son with his half sister Morgaine, a secret known only to very few. On hearing Lot is dying he takes his new bride to Goddolin to battle. There they must work together to avoid Morgaine's magic and finish things once and for all. Laurel is told by Merlin she can bring Agravaine something only Guinevere was able to being Arthur that will save him in the coming battle.

I am so sad this series has come to an end. Like the others it is a wonderful blend of magic, mythology, romance and great story telling. I really liked Laurel when reading Camelot's Sword and I was excited to read more of her story. I will definitely be reading more by Zettel who has another series out. Highly recommended.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 208
Format : Non-Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : Arthurian Challenge

A look at the legends around Sir Gawain. Most of the ancient tales have Gawain as the eldest of King Arthur's nephews and his heir, but one has him pinned as his son. Gawain is most well known as the son of Lot of Orkney and Morgause, Arthur's half sister. He has been linked to Cuchulainn and one of the three sons of Lugh in various tales.

Probably his most famous adventure was the tale of the Green Knight which has many different versions all based around the beheading game. The different versions are considered along with their origins. The book also looks at the many women in the life of Gawain. He begins as a chivalrous knight frequently linked to the Goddess, who in later tales has a change in reputation becoming a rogue.

Like Lancelot, in most tales Gawain fails at the grail quest for the same reason as Lancelot. Their weakness is women. However, there are versions of the tale that have him succeeding and again he is linked to the Goddess and frequently the Otherworld. This is a great resource for the older less common Arhturian sources. It has a fantastic bibliography and summarises the main parts of the tales surrounding Gawain.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 310
Series : #1 Alpha and Omega
Format : Urban Fantasy Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, I love Patricia Briggs!

Following on from the short story in the collection On The Prowl, Charles and Anna are getting to know each other. They are both werewolves but Anna has a complicated past of abuse and not being taught properly what it is to be a werewolf and a rare Omega (a wolf that can calm others and does not have to do the bidding of her Alpha like others in the pack). Charles is the son of the Marrock (leader of all the werewolves in North America) and he has spent a lot of time alone. He had given up hope of ever meeting his mate and very surprised to be so strongly drawn to Anna so quickly.

When Charles takes Anna to live with him Anna must meet a whole new group of werewolves and learn to adapt to sharing her space. She must also learn what it is to be intimate with another without it being forced. Complicating matters Charles is the enforcer for his father and is sent to locate one or more werewolves that are killing people in their territory. It could be a rogue werewolf or it could be a bigger plot against the Marrock who wants to bring werewolves out of the closet. They must learn to trust each other quickly or it could mean the end of one or both of their lives.

I loved this book, it was even better than I expected. Anna and Charles are both great characters who you empathise with and it was good to see some other familiar names and faces from her Mercy Thompson series. There were some great twists and turns and a few heart wrenching moments especially near the end when the story plays out. I can't wait for book two in the series to come out.

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 393
Series : #3 Histories of Middle Earth
Format : Mixture of Fantasy and Non-Fiction
Reason for Reading : My love of all things Middle Earth

An insight into how the Lays of Beleriand were written and evolved. This is primarily a look at the Lay of the Children of Hurin about Turin andthe Lay of Lethian about Beren and Luthien. It also adds some of the early poems "The Flight of the Noldoli", "Fragment of an Alliterative Lay of Earendel" and "The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin".

One of the most interesting sections of this collection of writings is the commentary of CS Lewis concerning the Lay of Lethian. It is annotated to show which comments Tolkien used and changed his writing accordingly in alter drafts (or made a note to change it but never got around to it). Lewis pretends to treat the Lay as an ancient and annoymous work and adds comments from 19th centuary scholars which takes the sting from some of his sharper comments and judgements. There is also some great praise for some of the passages.

Overall this makes an interesting addition to the series and sees the stories evolving from The Book of Lost Tales II.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 164
Series : Canongate Myth Series
Format : Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

A re-telling of Ovid's Iphis legend from Metamorphoses. It is one of the few collections in the novel to have a happier ending luckily. This version alternates between sisters Anthea and Imogen (Midge). Their mother left when they were young and they were raised by their father and grand parents. Anthea is a free spirit who starts work at the advertising agency Imogen works at, but doesn't like being constrained to her role there despite being reminded she is on a good wage.

Imogen on the other hand follows the crowd. She runs with the men there who are extremely sexist, homophobic and rude. They are always trying to get her drunk and she is barely eating, disappearing into herself. Things change for both sisters for the better when Anthea falls in love with a graffiti artist who is a girl who looks like a boy. Imogen has to deal with her sister being gay amd find her own way in life at the same time.

This was a beautiful story. I adored it so much and have been telling everyone I know to read it. It has themost unusual and moving sex scene I think I have ever read in a novel. The prose is beautiful, a sort of stream of consciousness of the thoughts of the two sisters. It challenges gender stereotypes with the masculine being found beautiful in women and vice versa. It's part of the wonderful Canongate Myth series and I wil definitely be reading more in the series and by Ali Smith.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 128
Series : #1 Crossing Midnight
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

The first installment in the Crossing Midnight series which sadly didn't sell too well and only consists of three collections. Set in Nagasaki, Japan, twins Toshi and Kai Hara are born one each side of midnight. This time difference leads to major differences in their lives. Toshi (the sister) manages to survive impaling herself on iron railings causing her to discover she cannot be harmed by blades. Toshi has no power and spends much of his time looking after his sister despite her invulnerability.

One evening a strange man appears who can control blades called Aratsu claiming to be Kai's master. Each time she refuses to go with him he kills someone close to her until she eventually gives in. To aid Kai get his sister back Nidoru who has power over needles comes to his aid, but there will be a cost in the future that Kai cannot know about.

A great mixture of Japanese mythology and folklore with lots of blood and death along the way. There is a really interesting section at the back explaining some of the Japanese ideas behind the story and hinting at how the plot will unfold in later collections. I adored this opening volume and it will definitely appeal to fans of Fables and Sandman for it's darkness and mixture of myths. Drawn interestingly, again it's a shame it only lasts 3 volumes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rating : 2.5/5
Number of Pages : 210
Format : Short Story Anthology, Fiction
Reason for Reading : Library Discussion Group, 999 Challenge

A collection of short stories subtitles "Stories of Flo and Rose". They are for the most part in chronological order and tell of different periods of Rose's life growing up in Canada. Flo is her stepmother and Rose is brought up in a poor region before flushing toilets and televisions were around. She is a bright child and seems to want to move far away from her upbringing and forge her own life.

The tale follws her as she grows up and moves to Toronto. She gets a scholorship to go to college and has a mostly unsatisfactory relationship with Patrick followed by a 10 year marriage resulting in their daughter. He fantasises about her poor background without really realising where she comes from and calls her his "Beggar Maid". Rose is restles and wants to keep moving and eventually the marriage breaks down. She spends some time in acting and on the radio before becoming a teacher.

This was an itneresting collection and my first of Munro's. I know she is well regarded as a short story author, but I wouldn't recommend this collection to someone new to her work. I felt that she had much better writing in her, but am intrigued to read more in the future. There wasn't much about Flo in the collection despite the subtitle, btu I did warm to both her and Rose. All in all middle of the road from an author I expected more of.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 192
Series : #3 The Dreaming
Format : Manga
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, Manga Challenge alternative, to continue with the series

The conclusion to the sppoky series by Queenie Chan sees the drama unfold an all the different parts finally tie together. The full story of the school is revealed when Jeanie meets up with the missing Mrs Skeener. We also hear parts of the story from Amber as she relates her dream of Millie. The story adds fairy tale elements to spirits from Aboriginal folklore. We meet spirits from "The Dreaming", the Quinkan who steal the souls of sleeping children and can possess people.

I adored this series and loved the ending which was very creepy in keeping with the whole tone of the series. As always the artwork was stunning and I plan on photocopying some of the pages to colour in. Possibly my favourite manga series so far, I don't want to say too much more about it and risk spoiling too much of the plot. I will definitely be visiting Chan's website and seeing what else she has been working on. Japan meets Australis by someone from Hong Kong, highly recommended.

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 161
Format : Poetry
Reason for Reading : Guardian Reading Challenge

Spanish author Lorca set his ballads in Andalusia which was the regionof Spain he was from, among the gypsy people. He was gay and was later killed by General Franco's Civil Guard on 19th August 1936, barely a month after the start of the Spanish Civil War. On of his friends was artist Salvador Dali.

His poems often revolve around sexuality and violence and it makes a moving collection. My favourites of the 18 ballads wer "Ballad of the Moon, Moon" about the moon who abducts a child to sleep, "The Unfaithful Wife" about a man who sleeps with a woman who turns out to be already married, "Ballad of the Summoned Man" about a man who is fated to die at a specific time and does so, "The Martyrdom of Saint Olalla" about a young girl tortured and killed who becomes a martyr and "Tamar and Amnon" which is a Biblical tale of incest from Sammuel concerning King David's children.

The ballads themselves are quite short for the most part, usually not longer than 3 pages each. It was interesting that the original Spanish was on the left page and the translation on the right. I don't speak any Spanish (except a couple of dirt phrases!) which made it interesting to try and learn a little and pick up on common words. There was a very interesting introduction and at the end was an interpretation of the main themes in the poem referenceing other Spanish poems of the time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Firstly thank you so much to everyone who left me a message on part one of this post. It really meant a lot to me, I can't even begin to say how much.

The good news is shortly after (I think a matter of days) I put up the post I was offered a job and accepted it. I handed in my notice and as I am due to start work with a competitor they severed my employment immediately and paid me for my proper notice period. This meant I had four weeks off being paid and generally doing nothing but read and play computer games. I did drag myself off my butt to visit Mariel which was lovely (I will try and get up again very soon). I was hoping to visit Nymeth, but realised I hadn't organsied anything for my new job so decided to postpone it when I can visit another time with my husband Alex.

My first day is tomorrow and I really excited and nervous all at the same time. I am going to be away visiting clinets up and down the UK in my first week and then am due to spend the second week in the offices in Scotland so may not be around too much for a little bit. Since I quit I haven't had a single panic attack and have not renewed my medication after the month's course ran out. I am hoping to put the incident behind me and move on. It has definitely damaged my confidence, but I am hoping that with some positive changes I can continue to rebuild it and move forwards. I have decided that I need to keep on top of my work/life balance more and am planning on taking more time for me and my own personal development. I will never again let a job, no matter how shitty, affect me in such a way again.

Onwards and upwards fingers crossed... :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I'm about 5 or 6 book reviews behind plus I have seen two films at the cinema so far this month, but what the hey. I thought I would put up some photos from the snow we had a couple of weeks ago instead. It's the thickest snow we have had in the UK in 18 years and my husband got snowed in to work for 3 days and couldn't make it home which sucked. These photos were taken on my mobile phone camera:

The view from our front window. As you can see cars were not going anywhere that day :

This is the view out from our kitchen window where the snow looked really pretty on the trees.

My mother-in-law got Morgaine a cat lead (it's far too small for Merlin, he's a giant cat despite being the same age as Morgaine bless) so I thought I would try it out and see what she thought of the snow. It was actually deeper than she is tall, but as she is light she didn't sink too much luckily or I may have lost her. You can get an idea of the depth looking at the water pipe and the red is out back door step which is about 30cm tall. She was not too amused by the snow but had a better time than Merlin who ran straight back in the house wuss!

Here is a photo of me that I asked a random stranger to take. It took me ages to build that snowman as it was really hard to puch his body and make it bigger by myself. He had a carrot nose, fern arms and he borrowed a hat and scarf from me for the day.

The best thing about it was meeting a lot of my neighbours for the first time. Everyone was out in the snow building snowmen and having snowball fights. I played with lots of the young children and did some excellent fake falls getting very cold when they managed to hit me with snowballs! I live in a very mixed race area and we are one of the few white couples in the area and it was great to get out there and mix with many different people from different backgrounds and cultures. Sadly Alex missed it as he was stuck at work, but I hope people stay friendly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 296
Format : Teenage Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge II

Maia is an orphan whose guardian takes her out of boarding school to go and live with distant relatives the Carter's in Brazil. They live up the Amazon and after reading up on the area (Manaus) Maia is excited to go. She imagines lovely, welcoming family who love and embrace the mixture of cultures, but she finds the reality sadly very different.

The family hate everything that isn't English. Mrs Carter has an obsession with killing bugs, the windows are always closed even in the hottest weather and the twins barely leave the house. They take an instant dislike to Maia and one of them goes so far as to dig her nails into Maa's hand the first time the meet. The family need Maia though for the upkeep money she brings. Maia takes her pleasures spending ime with the governess she journeyed from Englan with Miss Minton (Minty). She has a trunk full of books and devises ways for Maia to leave the house and befriend the Indian servants.

On on e of her journeys Maia meets a local boy and the friendship with him and struggling young actor Clovis change her life forever. This is very much an adventure and an awakening. t was impossible not to put it down once I got into the story. It also really made me want to visit Brazil which I hadn't really thought about before! Fantastical yet very realistic with a perfect ending. It isn't often I give a full 5 star rating.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 192
Series : #2 The Dreaming
Format : Manga
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, Manga Challenge alternative, to continue with the series

More from twin sisters Jeanie and Amber as things come to be much scarier at the school. After Millie is discovered the school stops it's regular functions and many of the students leave as well as the teachers. Jeanie and Amber stay and while Amber is ill sleeping all the time in bed, Jeanie becomes more curious about the school's history.

She spends time with remaining teacher Miss Anu and finds out that she went to the school when she was younger and her roomate also disappeared mysteriously. She has returned as a teacher so she can investigate the school and Vice Principle Mrs Skeener. She discovers her given name before she was married and the identity of the twins in her photo. The power goes off in the school, the road is flooded and the missing girls from the different ages appear in front of the school in the middle of the night.

Very sppoky, I read this in bed right before I went to sleep and it gave me nightmares oops! I loved the second installment and I am really looking forward to seeing how everything comes together in the final installment.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 170
Series : #5 Gloom Cookie
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

The final installment in the Gloom Cookie collection. This time the artwork is by Vincent Batingale which is a great surname all things considered! Funnily enough Vermillion and Moon Raven take centre stage for most of the collection. She has got her man and theya re due to marry, but she isn;t who he believes she is. She has made herself out to him that she has magical powers, but in reality she is delusional and left the Carnival Macabre as they discovered her secret as well.

Sebastian and Lex need to face up to the realities of their relationships with Chrys and Damion respectively. Chrys has never really been her own person being brought to life by Sebastian. Damion is extra possessive now that the curse has been broken. All he has ever done is love Lex and has had to suffer watching her die in consequtive life times. He has become wary of Sarah and barely lets Lex out of his sight.

I wasn't sure about how all the ends tied up, but overall I did love this series. I came to really like Chrys and Moon Raven the most and felt sorry for them as the story played itself out to it's conclusion.A great mixture of art and gothiness, not ooky at all!

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 282
Format : Fiction, Novel
Reason for Reading : Book Awards Reading Challenge II

In 1956 seventy six year old Reverend John Ames begins writing a journal to his young son who is not yet seven. His first wife died in childbirth and his daughter very shortly after and he does not fall in love again and remarry until he is in his late sixties. ONe of his biggest regrets is not being able to get to know his son before he dies and he has been diagnosed with a heart condition

Life changes when fellow minister and close friend Boughton's black sheep son and John's namesake comes back into town. There was a scandal when the he was a young man and he left somewhat in disgrace. John is torn between warning his family about young Boughton as he is worried he will take his place at the head of his family after he dies. As both stories unfold you learn John's reasons for being fearful as he compares their two lives and what could have been if young Boughton had been his own son.

This is a slow novel that really captivates the reader. Very descriptive and beautiful and I got really into it the mre I read and was unable to put it down. It's hard to put down my thoughts even though I finished this a week ago, it's such a hard novel to pin down. It is definitely one that will linger in my mind for a long time to come.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 208
Series : #4 Gloom Cookie
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

The Gloom Cookie cast are back and things are even more confusing than ever. Is Lex dead or alive? Where is the alternative monster and what are it's plans? Is Chrys really a werewolf? At least the curses are broken and Damion does not have to suffer having Lex ripped away from him again in this lifetime.

Some new characters are introduced. First we have vampire Queen wannabe Moon Raven. She believes herself to be the beloved of Vermilion (who has the best lucky underwear ever!). She has come to take Lex's place in his heart, but he is not so sure he wants a new love. Second new characters are the people at the Carnival de Mort led by the mysterious Marguerite. She is trying to kill Sebastian as she believes he has too much power to be left alive. She has a long standing grudge with his family at the Carnival Macabre and they will come up against each other in this collection.

It is beautifully drawn again by artist Harley Sparx, I must look out for more of her artwork in other collections. I really love the characters, but I did find this a bit hard to follow in places. There is one more volume and I am looking forward to seeing how it all ties together in the end although I will really miss it.

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 30
Format : Non Fiction
Reason for Reading : Guardian 100 Greatest Books Challenge

Job is a follower of God. He is a wealthy man and an example to the local people. Like many at the time hebelieved his blessings were a direct result of his good deeds. Satan comes and takes everything away from him including his livestock, children and health, causing him to become depressed and question himself and God.

Job's friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bilad the Shuhite and Zphar the Namathite) try to make him feel better, but end up making him feel even worse by telling him God rewards the righteous and punnishes sinners. He keeps his faith until suddenly God appaears and talks to him directly. He reminds Job that he cannot understand the knowledge and wisdom of God and he should stop trying to!

Job learns to trust God again fully. This is the ultimate book of patience and faith. It has been so long since I have sat down and read any of the Bible. It was an interesting read and is thought by many to be the most relevant and well written of the book. I am not sure I agree yet, but I am sure I will go back and read more books at some point.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 275
Series : #3 Daughters of the Moon
Format : Teenage fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

The third Daughters of the Moon novel centres mostly around Jimina and her power of premonition. Her serious boyfriend Veto was killed a year earlier by being on an enemy gang's territory. His funeral was a closed casket and when he appears out of the blue to Jimena she wonders what really happened. Is he a ghost, has he been in a witness protection programme or is there some other explanation. Unfortunately the reality is worse. He has been brought back by the evil Atrox to try and break up the Daughters of the Moon.

Cassandra is one of the Folowers of the Atrox and has been gaining more power recently. She is not yet immortal, but has had audience with the inner circle and has been granted the ability to go back in time and change one event. Karyl and Morgan are helping her and Jimena has a premonition of Cassandra pushing Veto into a massive chasm in the earth. Stanton warns Serena causing her to reveal their secret relationship. Vanessa is having trouble with her boyfriend Michael and Catty just wants a boyfriend. Jimena also has to deal with her emerging feelings for Serena's brother Collin.

This has been my favourite in the series so far. I think it's because of the girls I like Jimena the most. She is tough and gets tempted to go back to her old gang ways which somehow makes her the most down to earth of the group. I look forward to the next in the series which looks to follow Catty next.

Rating : 2.5/5
Number of Pages : 287
Format : Erotic Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

O is taken one day without discussion by her lover Rene to Roissy. It is a place full of S&M and O is to be the new slave. There she is kept naked but for a collar and wrist cuffs, open to be abused by anyone in any way they see fit. This is mostly carried out by having sex with O in a number of different ways and orafices as well as frequent whippings. She is passed around by her lover, beaten and humiliated. No matter how much she cries or begs, no one will take pity on her. All that keeps her going is knowing Rene loves her and that she loves him.

One discharged from Roissy she goes back home to her career as a photographer. She takes a symbol of Roissy (an iron and gold ring) that she must wear at all times and if anyone recognises it's symbolism they are at liberty to use her as they would at Roissy. People recognise a change in her clothing (she is never allowed to wear any underwear or a bra and must always wear clothes that open easily so no buttons) and manner. She develops feelings for one of her models Jacqueline and Rene encourages her to seduce her with a view to recruiting her to Roissy. Rene also passes her to a new Master Sir Stephen who takes her even further on her internal journey. He also puts his marks upon her which once placed on O are permanent.

Now this is not the first novel of S&M I have read and is by no means my first experience in that world. Saying that I found this quite a hard read. It was more like torture than reading about an erotic experience. I didn't like O's attitude the further into her journey she got. I found much of it to be ugly and distasteful. On the other hand the sections where O is out of the S&M side of the story the book is very beautiful and sensual, there are some lovely passages and descriptions. I also liked that there were two beginnings and two endings to the tale.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 385
Series : #2 The Histories of Middle Earth
Format : Mixture of Fantasy and Non-Fiction
Reason for Reading : My love of all things Middle Earth

The second part of the tales written by JRR Tolkien between 1916 and 1920. Again they are lovingly annotated by his son Christopher Tolkien. They include the earliest tellings of Tinuviel (Beren and Luthien), Turambar (Turin and the Dragon), the Fall of Gondolin and the Nauglfring (the Necklace of the Dwarves). Also included are the notes and poetry of Tolkien concerning Earendel and Eriol of AElfwine who is the central character listening to all of the tales in the Cottage of Lost Play in books one and two.

This is another great collection and a must for all Tolkien fans. The extended versions of Gondolin and the Nauglfring are the only full versions in existence (later drafts contain much condensed versions). It was really interesting to see how the tales evolved as Tolkien kept re-drafting for example in the tale of Tinuviel one of the main protagonists is an evil Prince of Cats and in the final version it was Sauron. It's amazing to see how much of the early mythology nd ideas Tolkien had written by the time he was 25.

My favourite tle was of Turin. It's such a sad tale and really moving. I do also like Beren and I am looking forward to the third book in the series whcih continues with both characters. This volume also sees the first appearance of one Legolas Greenleaf and it was interesting to read that Tolkien didn't approve of airy fairy paintings of the elf. He was supposed to have been quite substantial, fierce and strong with great stamina.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 192
Series : #1 The Dreaming
Format : Manga
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, alternative for Manga Challenge

The first in a series of 3 mangas about twin sisters Amber and Jeanie. They start at a boarding school run by their aunt in the Australian Bushlands which has many secrets. The Vice Principal is against twins due to a superstition not yet revealed, so they have to pretend to be sisters rather than twins. There is a mysterious sealed room guarded by a creepy picture and girls keep going missing wandering out into the Bush for no explicable reason. There is no trace of the missing girls and it is a complete mystery what is causing them to disappear.

The twins start having indentical nightmares where they are in the Bush surrounded by other people and the trees start dripping blood. They are dressed in what looks to be Victorian dresses and both keep waking at the same place each night. Amber is already superstitious and expects the worst and Jeanie is left trying to piece everything together. Things get even stranger when they discover a series of Victorian paintings around the school by an ex pupil and the women in it are seem to be going more insane in each successive painting.

Spooky, creepy and beautifully drawn I definitely recommend this series. I am hooked and will definitely be continuing the adventure very soon. It's nice to find a short manga series as most of the others around seem to just keep on going. There is also a fun bonus short story by Sarah Ferrick at the end.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

So I am joining one more challenge. It was inevitable really! I am joining the graphic novel challenge hosted here. There are 4 levels of participation:

Minor: Read 6
Major: Read 12
Masters: Read 18
Doctorate: Read 24

I haven't decided which one I will go for yet, I think I will just see how many I can fit in. I would like to go for Doctorate reading 24 on top ofthe 9 I aim to read for the 999 Challenge, but am committing to at least Major for now depending on how the year progresses. I am also not putting together an official challenge list, but here are some of the series I am likely to be reading in 2009:

  • Fables (read 1-4)
  • Jack of Fables (read 1)
  • Sandman (read 1-2)
  • Y the Last Man (read 1)
  • Whatever else takes my fancy!

I can't wait to get started...

Monday, February 02, 2009

January Summary

Lets see how 2009 started reading wise. I got off to a really good start reading 18 books (the sames as January in 2008 incidentally). I am not working at the moment so am not expecting to keep this up all year. I made a good start on the 999 challenge, but really do need to get stuck in to the Arthurian Challenge which ends 31st March. Over all though a really good start to the year.

Books Read = 18
Pages Read = 4448

Manga Challenge : 1/6 plus 2 alternatives
Scott Westerfeld Mini Challenge : 0/3
Arthurian Challenge : 3/12 (6 minimum)
Book Awards Reading Challenge II : 5/10
What's in a Name Challenge II : 1/6
Challenge with Nymeth : 0/5
Challenge with Mariel : 0/5
The Dream King Challenge : 0/3
999 Challenge : 10/81
Guardian Challenge : 36/50

January Films

Director : Edward Zwick
Genre : War Film, Drama
Rating : 3.0/5

Based on the true story of the Bielski brothers who are Jewish living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Their family are killed along with most of their friends and they flee to the forest. Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber) and Asael (Jamie Bell) need to keep their wits about them if they are to survive detection, capture and ultimately death. The problem is that other Jewish refugees enter the forest and find them seeking shelter and aid. Tuvia becomes something of a local legend people flock to, but his competitive brother Zus thinks they are attracting too much attention and leaves to fight with the Communists against the Nazi's.

It's not the type of film I would usualy watch. I did enjoy it and was glad of the comic relief they were able to fit in amid the fighting and hardships suffered by the Jews. Otherwise I think it would have been too much. I was interested that they put up what happened to the brothers after the war during the end credits and were able to say roughly how many people they saved. It's always interesting to see unlikely heros (they murder and steal to survive).

Director : Iain Softley
Genre : Fantasy
Rating : 4.0/5

Mo (Brandon Fraser) is a silvertongue who when he reads a book aloud the characters appear from the book. A side effect is that for every character that leaves a book, someone must enter it. He doesn't realise his gifts until one day his wife is taken into Inkheart which he was reading to her and the villian Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and fire juggler Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) are released. Years later when Mo's daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) is in her early teens Capricorn comes looking for Mo to read riches out of books for him. Dustfinger must choose whether he will help or hinder Mo as he tries to find a way to set the world to rights and get back his wife.

I knew I would like this film but was not prepared for just how much. I had a crush on Paul Bettany before, but seeing him topless doing fire poi made it far bigger! I am really looking forward to reading the book and I hope they make the others in the series into films too.

Director : Catherine Hardwicke
Genre : Fantasy, Teen Angst
Rating : 3.5/5

I think most people know the story by now but just in case you have been living under a rock... Bella (Kristen Stewart) moves in with her dad when her mother and her new husband go on tour. At school she finds a crowd to get along with but notices a strange group of people on the outskirts. Theya re all beautiful and are all the adopted children in the Cullen family. She is particualrly drawn to Edward (Robert Pattinson) who saves her life one day in the school yard when she is nearly hit by a car. From there she tried to figure out how he got to her so fast and it is revealed that he is a vampire.

I liked the film, but only afterwards thinking back on it and listening to the soundtrack I think it will realy grow on me the more I watch it. Bella, Edward and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) were great as were Rosalie and Esme. The others of the Cullen family didn't quite feel right to me (especially Alice), but hopefully they will grow on me when they make the next film. James and Victoria were great and I look forward to seeing what the new director will do with New Moon.

Director : Danny Boyle
Genre : Indian Drama
Rating : 4.5/5

A lad from the slums of Mumbai grows up to be a contestant on the Indian Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Somehow he gets all the questions right up until the last question when the show is stopped running out of time. It is due to continue the following day, but Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is hauled off to jail to be questioned and tortured to find out how someone of his background could possibly know all the answers. From here begins a journey from his childhood to the present day telling the story of his life along with his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) and the girl he loves Latika (Freida Pinto).

This is a fantastic film, one of the best I have watched in a while. Not always very pleasant to watch, it is realistic with a brilliant soundtrack. The three sets of actors playing each of the three main characters are all perfect in their roles and I will definitely be watching this again. Highly highly recommended to all.

Director : David Wain
Genre : Comedy
Rating : 3.0/5

Wheeler (Seann William Scott) and Danny (Paul Rudd) work together selling Minotaur drinks to school kids. They are trying to get them to stay off drugs by promoting their substitute! Danny hates his life in contrast to Wheeler who loves it, sleeping with lots of different women and generally being obnoxious. Danny's girlfriend and lawyer (Elizabeth Banks) finally has enough of his whining and dumps him causing him to loose the plot and get them both arrested at a school. Instead of jail time they are offered 150 hoursin a big brother programme looking after Augie Farks (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is ito live action role play and wears a cape and Ronnie Shields (Bobb'e J. Thompson) a kid with major attitude and language issues. Would jail not have bene easier?!?

A stupid film that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. It's typical dude humour but what sets it apart is Augie and all the LARP stuff which was legendary. My husband is into D&D and LARP so it really struck a chord with me.

Director : Darren Aronofsky
Genre : Drama
Rating : 2.5/5

Randy the Ram (Mickey Rouke) is a professional wrestler who began around 20 years ago. He is battered and bruised wearing a hearding aid and glasses from the countless beatings inthe ring. He is one of the best in the business still though. He has an awakening when after one match he has a heart attack needing bypass surgery. The doctor tells him he can't wrestle again and must take things easy. He does try. He attempts a relationship with veteren stripper Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) as well as trying to patch things up with his neglected daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). Ultimately though can he resist all he knows how to do.

I thought this was just a brutal film. It didn't stop hitting you. Mickey Roukedoes a fine job of playing Randy, but it was just all a bit much for me. Plus I really didn't like the ending.