Friday, June 26, 2009

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 271
Format : Fantasy, Teenage Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, I love Charles de Lint

TJ has moved from a farm in the country to the city with her family when their fortunes take a turn for the worse. Unfortuantely this means giving up her beloved horse Red. One night she hears something in the walls on her house and it turns out that a family of Littles are living there. She meets Elizabeth who is the complete opposite to her. She is a Little with a really big personality into punk and making her own cool clothes. TJ is more of a goody goody and she tries to help Elizabeth who has run away from home and her controlling parents.

To learn more about LIttles and the myth that they can change into birds and fly, they try to find author Sheri Piper who seems to be the only other human who knows about Littles. Unforatuntely things do not go as planned. With Elizabeth hidden in her backpack, TJ is set upon by a gang of boys and loses her. They each have their own adventures as they are forced to go their seperate ways. Elizabeth meets more Littles, the fey folk and explores the Goblin market. TJ is finally noticed by boys and opens up about Elizabeth to two very different reactions.

This was a great story. Charles de Lint fast became one of my favourite authors and this book reminds me just why. He blends fantasy and fairy tale perfectly. He also has such a way with characters that really brings them to life. I wish I had Littles living in my flat.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 352
Format : Fantasy Anthology
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

An anthology of fantasy stories by Garth Nix, most well known for his Abhorsen Trilogy. There is quite a mixture of different stories included in the collection which includes a story set around the Abhorsen stories. Instead of reviewing all the stories I will just mention some of the ones that really stood out.

Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case
A tale of Nicholas from the Abhorsen series who lives in Ancelstierre. His ambition is to return to the Old Kingdom and see Lirael. His uncle will help him if he answers some questions for the mysterious Department Thirteen. Dorrance runs the Department and is an eccentric who owns a strange free magic creature in a case form the Old Kingdom and Nicholas is convinced it is still alive.

Lightening Bringer
This was my favourite in the collection. It mixed controlling minds, seeing auras, lightening, sex and love. It reminded me of The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman which is another story I love.

Down to Scum Quarter
A fun "choose your own adventure" story that plays with Zoro and the Three Muskateers. Very silly but a lot of fun.

Hearts Desire
A re-telling of the Merlin/Nimue myth from Arthurian legends. To gain power one must catch a star and give up their heart's desire. Merlin caught his star years ago and knows his future and now it is the turn of Nimue.

Hope Chest
A fantasy Western tale about a baby girl who is found on a train with a note saying her name is Alice May Susan and she will bring good luck. She is adopted along with a mysterious trunk which none can open until she turns 16. What she finds inside helps her go after a dangerous cult leader called The Master.

Three Roses
A sad and poignant tale about a man who growa beautiful roses for the love of his dead wife.

One thing I really enjoyed about this collection was the introduction to each story by Nix. They give you an idea of what the story is about and why he wrote it and what it was written for. I really look forward to reading more of his writing.

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 124
Format : Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : Library Reading Group

One night whilst walking her ill tempered corgi's in the palace grounds, the Queen stumbles across a travlling library. Her manners lead her to check out a book and she is not one to turn down a challenge so she finishes reading it. She doesn't enjoy it but on returning it she tries again advised by Norman Seakins, a young man from the kitchen whose interest is primarily gay books.

The second book is a big hit with her and she quickly becomes hooked on reading. However, her advisors are not happy about this sudden turn in events. They worry that her reading is elitist and doesn't teach the public anything. She seems to come out with what they consider inappropriate questions and comments to visiting dignitaries. She takes books in her carriage with her hidden below the window and is always recommendting a good book to everyone including the Prime Minister.

I mostly loved this but I felt the ending was a let down. It was an excellent premise and it made me wonder much more about the Queen and what her hobbies might be. What must it be like to live her life? The problem was how to end it, it didn't really go anywhere and I wondered what Bennet's motivation was for writing it.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 291
Series : Canongate Mythology Series
Format : Mythology, Folklore, Fairy Tale
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

Binu's husband has been taken as one of the local men to build the Great Wall of China. They were quite poor despite Binu's good looks. Binu loves her husband Wan Qiliang and when the wether starts to turn cold she worries he will need his winter coat. So she sets out on a journey by foot from her home Peach Villiage to travel to find him across Great Swallow Mountain and give him his coat. With her travels a blind frog that was once a blind woman looking for her lost son.

The journey is long and hard with many interesting adventures along the way. Binu is set upon by many sleezy men as she is a woman travelling alone. No one in North Moutain can cry naturally through their eyes and the woman have learnt to cry through various other body parts for example their hair, feet, breasts and ears. This "skill" saves Binu as well as putting her in more danger on many occassions on her journey.

A blend of mythology, folklore and fairy tale, this tale would be ideal for anyone who loves these themes or enjoyed Sky Burial by Xinran. I really loved this tale, it really captured my imagination and the language was beautiful. I really felt for Binu on her amazing journey of devotion for her husband. No one seemed to understand her love for Wan Qiliang which is a shame. Oh and don't expect a traditional fairy tale "and they lived happily ever after" ending...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This looks like a really fun challenge and is hosted here by Beth Fish. Taken from the blog:

The Rules:
1. Between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, catch up on Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series. No matter if you're starting with book 1 or book 8, you have a year to read all about Sookie. Read Sookie in print, listen to the audio, read an eBook -- format is not an issue.
2. Sign up using Mr. Linky. Put your name in the top box. For the bottom box, please use the URL that links specifically to your blog post about this challenge, not to your blog's home page.
3. After July 4, I'll create a post with another Mr. Linky where you can link your reviews so everyone can read them track your progress.4. If you don't have a blog and want to join in, sign up in the comments here. Later, let us know about your progress by leaving comments on the review link page.

The Books:
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to starting this, but realistically it most likely won't be until next year that I get stuck in.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I signed up for Quest the First throughout 21/3/09 - 20/6/09. The review site is here with links to all the reviews (well it did when Mr Linky was working) and the main post was here. Quest the First involved reading 5 books covering at least one of the following mythology, fantasy, fairy tale and folklore. I read the following for the challenge with links to my reviews:

1. The Good Fairies of New York - Martin Millar (Fairy Tale, Fantasy)
2. The Indigo King - James A Owen (Fantasy, Mythology)
3. Castle Waiting - Linda Medley (Fairy Tale)
4. I am Morgan Le Fey - Nancy Springer (Mythology)
5. The Prague Golem: Jewish Stories of the Ghetto (Folklore)

I enjoyed all five reads, especially The Indigo King by James A Owen which is part of one of my current favourite series. I can't wait for next years challenge to roll around again...!

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 63
Format : Folklore Anthology
Reason for Reading : Once Upon a Time III Challenge

A collection of legends and folklore surrounding the Prague Golem, it's creation and the Jews living in Prague. It is made up of a series of short tales in roughly chronological order including tales of the New-Old Sysnagogue, the Quiet Jew and Rabbi Loew who famously created the Golem to save the Jews of Prague.

There are some lovely pen drawings to accompany the tales and it was interesting to read stories from an area I have visited. I was lucky enough to visit the Jewish cemetary on my second trip to Prague and get a photo of Loew's grave as well as visit the New-Old Synagogue. Reading these tales made me want to go back again.

I think the story that most stuck in my mind was that entitled Rabbi Loew and the Rose which tells of the death of Loew. He was quite the inventor making a devide that told him every time the angel of death was near as well as the famous Golem.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 391
Series : #2 Dresden Files
Format : Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Reason for Reading : 666 Challenge, Mystery Read-A-Thon

Wizard Harry Dresden is back in another supernatural mytery. A series of murders are happening around the full moon and it seems like werewolves. This is not as simples as that as it turns out there are four types of werewolf. There are loup-garou's who are cursed to be werewolves and have amazing strength and when they change they loose their humanity. There are classic werewolves and also hexenwolves who wear a magicl amulet giving them the power of werevoles and causing their change. Lastly there are those that are wolves that can shapeshift and take on the appearence of humans.

He is initally hired by Murphy from the Chicago PD to help with the case after a long period of no work, but soon loses her trust. His protege becomes involved in the case but doesn't hang around for long causing even more problems between Harry and Murphy. He also has a love interest in the form of journalist Susan who he isn't sure is around to get aheads up on supernatural happenings for her paper.

The plot is quite complicated with lots of twists and turns, but it sweeps the reader along and it wasn't too complicated that I lost my place. I really like Harry and his pragmatic approach to the supernatural. I will definitely be continuing further with the series in the near future. Every time I read one of them though I am reminded that the series was sadly cancelled after the first series. It was so good, I really miss it but hopefully the books will keep going much longer and will remain as enthralling.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 290
Series : #1 Aurora Teagarden Mystery
Format : Mystery
Reason for Reading : Cozy Mystery Challenge, Mystery Read-A-Thon

Aurora (Roe) Teagarden is part of Real Murders, a club that meets every month to discuss murders that have really happened, who they think really committed them and to sometimes have guest speakers in. This month Roe is leading the lecture, but when she arrives at the hall she discovers the body of one of the members having been killed to resemble one of their famous cases. To make matters worse, it was the case she was about to discuss that very month.

The whole group quickly become suspects along with visiting mystery author Robin Crusoe. Investigating the case is Arthur Smith who is also a member of the club. Roe is drawn to both men as the case gets more complicated. More killings happen to the group members and the murder weapons turn up in the possession of others. It seems the killer must be someone in the group which is extrememly unsettling as they close in on Roe after threatening her mother's life.

This was a great start to the series, I couldn't put it down. I liked Roe as a main character and am looking forward to meeting her again in the future and seeing how her love life is doing. The idea of a real murders group sounds like fun as well if a little macabre.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rating : 2.5/5
Number of Pages : 165
Series : Canongate Myth Series
Format : Mythology, Non-Fiction
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

A look at mythology over the ages: The Paleaolithic Period, The Neolithic Period, The Early Civilisations, The Axial Age, The Post-Axial Age and The Great Western Transformation. It discusses different myths and how they have been shaped by the times and environment around them. Armstrong takes us up to modern time where science leads the way and discredits many myths.

I don't have too much to say about this book sadly. I thought it tried to cover far too much in too small a volume. I thought it would spend more time discussing what myth is and defining it and I also disagreed with some of the statements she made and how some of the myths and timepoints were interpreted. A very average read, maybe more suited to someone just dipping into mythology for the first time.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 290
Format : Fantasy, Ghost Story
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

A beautiful story of haunting love. Michael Morgan wakes up in a coffin at his own funeral. Turns out he is dead and is wife is suspected of poisoning and murdering him. He meets Mr Rebeck who is an alive ghost haunting and living in the cemetary with a raven that keeps him in food. He has taken himself away from life after he went bankrupt and lost his pharmacy business. It is up to Mr Rebeck to teach Michael about death and being a ghost.

Death is not the end for Michael. Ghosts lose their memories over time including human mannerisms like walking on the ground properly, but Michael is determined to keep himself together. He meets Laura, another recent ghost who was hit by a car. She had thought about sucicide when alive but never went through with it. It also seems that Mr Rebeck has another chance at a more usual life when he meets widow Mrs Klapper who may be able to help him come back to the world.

This was such a beautiful book. The language was consuming somehow, really pulling me in. I loved Beagle's ideas of death and what happens after we die. His characters were really interesting and there were some great surprises throughout the story. It's a ghost story but more a look at humanity and what makes a person. Highly recommended

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 424
Format : Literary Fiction, Play
Reason for Reading : Guardian Challenge

Three plays are collected in this volume surrounding Oedipus and his family. Oedipus was famous for killing his father and marrying his mother after being abandoned at birth. The first play is Antigone which follows the daughter of Oedipus and his wife/mother Jocasta. Her brothers have both died and while Eteocles is given a proper burial, Polynices is left out without any rites by their uncle Creon. Antigone is distraught and goes against Creon's wishes (he is the King after Oedipus) and tries to cover his body bringing about more sorrow to the doomed family.

Oedipus the King follows which shows the sequence of events leading up to Oedipus learning the truth about his birth and the crimes he has committed. It has him summoning the shepherd who is the sole witness of the death of Laius and it also emerges how he grew up not knowing his real parents. It's a sad tale as Oedipus did so much to try and avoid fulfilling the prophecy. The final play is Oedipus at Colonus which finishes the story of Oedpius after his exile. It concludes his story taking it to his death in Athens with Theseus. His daughters Antigone and Ismene are with him at the end.

I really enjoyed all three plays although I do feel that having Antigone first was out of order and it should have been the final play in the collection. I would really like to see them performed live, especially Oedipus the King which is the most powerful of the three with the truths it reveals. A must for all mythology fans.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 274
Series : #6 Daughters of the Moon
Format : Teenage Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

A new characters is introduced into the story in the shape of Tianna. She wakes up one day with no memory of who she is, where she is and what on earth is going on. She pieces information together throughout the day from a note she finds in her shoe, a neighbour and the people at La Brea High School. The note in her own hand writing warns her that someone is after her and she is in danger and she discovers she has a magical power, she can move things with her mind.

She seems to keep meeting up with Jimena, Vanessa and Serena who are still looking for their lost friend Catty. Tianna doesn't know who to trust and who to turn to whilst running from those chasing her. Is Tianna able to help rescue Catty even without her memory and who is chasing after her and why? Is she another Daughter of the Moon or something else entirely?

This was another great addition to the series which keeps getting better and better. Tianna is a fun, fresh new character and I really liked the ending and am looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 227
Format : Arthurian Fiction, Teenage Fiction
Reason for Reading : Once Upon a Time III Challenge, Arthurian Challenge II

A tale of Morgan Le Fey as a young child growing in to maturity. It tells the Arthurian myths from a different perspective and how she becomes the nemesis of King Arthur. As a young girl she has always been different with her mis-matched fey eyes and she sees Uther the night he visits her mother to concieve Arthur in disguise. Igraine and Uther marry soon after and when he dies Morgan, her sister Morgause and their nurse flee Tintagel before they are killed by those looking to get rid of the heirs.

On the journey they discover their nurse is more than she seems. They also have help and company from a young man named Thomas whose story contains references to True Thomas from fairy tale. After Morgan recieves a sending (a type of dream/vision) she knows she must journey to Avalon to further her magical training. She meets more of the fey, goddesses and the Master of the Hunt. She has fallen in love with Thomas, but he is fated to die in battle which Morgan hopres to prevent.

I enjoyed this short tale and liked the addition of Thomas, their nurse and the Master of the Hunt. The addition of more fey and fairy tale elements fit in really well and made it a little different from other re-tellings. It's a very easy read as the writing style is very lyrical and I hope to read more by Springer in the future.

Other reviews:
Things Mean a Lot

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The end of the read-a-thon is here. I managed to finish the two books I set myself:

Real Murders - Charlaine Harris
Fool Moon - Jim Butcher

I really liked both of them and am glad I picked them as although they are both mysteries, they are very different types of reads. I can't pick a favourite and will definitely be reading more by both authors in the near future. I had great fun doing this and hope there are more themed read-a-thons in the future.

Did you finish a book?

If so, what did you finish?
See above

How many pages did you read?
681 in the end which is ok but not great. I had a few cat distractions when they wanted my attention ^_^

How did the reading go for you?
It was good, I got the two books read that I wanted to and I was lucky that my husband was out at work for most of the day.

Did you have any major disruptions?
Nothing major, I stopped for lunch and cat attention giving but did the 12 hours straight through.

Would you join in for another read-a-thon later this year?
Yes of course, I really enjoy doing them if I am free.

What else do you think about the read-a-thon?
It would be good to do other themed read-a-thons for other genres for 12 hours. It was a good period to read for and didn't leave me too drained today.

So I have been reading for about 4 hours now and just finished my first book: Real Murders by Charlaine Harris. It was really gripping and the ending was not what I expected in a good way! I will definitely be reading more in the series (Aurora Teagarden). I am about to have a break for some lunch and will then start Fool Moon by Jim Butcher which I am really looking forward to.

There is another meme for the challenge as well:

Tell us more about your mystery/thriller reading habit.
When did you start reading this genre?
Last year I read the first in the Bath and Body series by India Ink (Yasmine Galenorn) for a reading challenge (A-Z Reading Chellenge, I needed an author beginning with I). I also read Storm Front by Jim Butcher (from the Dresden Files) last year for the First in a Series Challenge.

What was your first experience with the genre?
I liked my first reads (see above) and then decided to give the Cozy Mystery Challenge a go as it's always good to try a new genre and have sinece read the other two Bath and Body books.

How did you discover it?
I started with India Ink as I have read some of Yasmine's non-fiction books. I had also watched The Dresden Files on dvd and loved it. I am still gutted that it was cancelled after the first series.

Do you exclusively read mysteries and thrillers or do you mix it with other genres?
No I read other genres more than mystery books.

If you switch genres, which other genres do you read?
Mostly fantasy, urban fantasy and teenage fiction although I do mix in random fiction, classics and very occassionally non fiction as well. I love mythology and fairy tale re-tellings and have read a lot of these over the last few years.

So today is the mystery read-a-thon where you need to read mystery books for 12 hours starting whenever you like. I began at 9am this morning and have been reading for just over 2 hours now in the UK. I am pretty new to mysteries so am looking forward to the next 9.5 hours. I am currently reading Real Murders by Charlaine Harris and am really enjoying finally reading my first novel by her.

There is an introduction meme below:

What books do you want to read during this read-a-thon?
I am aiming for:
Real Murders - Charlaine Harris
Fool Moon - Jim Butcher

How many books do you hope to finish?
I hope to finish both. If I do I will check my shelves and pick out a third.

What (if any) breaks do you intend to take?
I will break in a couple of hours for lunch but don't have anything else planned.

Do you generally read lots of mysteries and thrillers or are the one of the many genres you like?
As I said above it is a new genre to me having only read one Jim Butcher paranormal mystery and three by India Ink (Jasmine Galenorn) from her Bath and Body series.

What are some of your favorite authors?
Well India Ink (Yasmine Galenorn) and Jim Butcher being the only mystery authors I have read but outside mystery books Anne Bishop, Anne Rice, Nick Hornby, Patricia Briggs, Margaret Atwood, Peter S Beagle and Ali Smith.

If you could make us all read one mystery or thriller for this read-a-thon, which one would it be and why?
I don't know really as I haven't really read a lot. The Bath and Body series was good, but the middle book was a little weak of the three. I haven't read enough of the Dresden Files yet to comment, but I did enjoy Strom Front.

Do you prefer series or stand alones?
Generally speaking I am a series fan.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

May Summary

So this has been my worst month for reading so far this year. In my defence I have been travelling and driving a lot for work as well as going away for my wedding anniversary. The travelling will not be easing up any time soon and I am currently away this time in Scotland for a few days. I am also behind on my reviews by 5 books now which is rubbish. I will try and catch up over the weekend.

Books Read = 11, Total = 81
Pages Read = 3,470, Total = 16,846

Manga Challenge : 2/6 plus 8 alternatives
Scott Westerfeld Mini Challenge : 0/3
Arthurian Challenge II : 1/6 (read 6-8 books)
What's in a Name Challenge II : 3/6
Challenge with Nymeth : 1/5
Challenge with Mariel : 0/5
The Dream King Challenge : 1/3
999 Challenge : 48/81
Graphic Novel Challenge II : 0/12
Guardian Challenge : 42/50
Opon upon a Time Challenge : 4/5
Vampire Challenge : 0/2
666 Reading Challenge : 2/36
Cozy Murders Challenge : 2/6
GLBT Challenge : 0/6 Starts July