Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Dream King Challenge had different levels of participation and I choose to read 3 books by Gaiman throughout 2009 as well as watch one of his films or tv series. I decided to go for only 3 as I have read most of his books and graphic novels already. The challenge blog is here which has all the participants reviews. The books I read with links to reviews are below:

1. The Sandman v3: Dream Country - Graphic Novel
2. Blueberry Girl - Children's Book
3. Good Omens - Adult Fiction with Terry Pratchett
Movie = Coraline 3D

This was a really fun challenge and I think besides Fragile Things, Odd and the Frost Giants and a couple more Sandman graphic novels I am pretty much up to date with Neil Gaiman. He needs to write some more soon!

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 382
Format : Fantasy Novel
Reason for Reading : Dream King Challenge

A collaborative project from fantasy masters Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. We follow a series of characters as their stories intertwine as the appocolypse fast approches. Angel Aziraphale and Demon Crowley make an interesting team. They have both been living on the world for thousands of years and have grown rather attached to it. They don't really want the war between the angels and demons to take place so both risk going against the ineffible plan by trying to sort out the mess.

It all starts when the Antichrist is born and is switched into a human family. Crowley is in charge of making sure the switch goes to plan, but he doesn't bank on incompetant Satanic nuns. The baby grows up in the wrong family and Hell begin to question Crowley when the Hellhound arrives and Crowley can't find where it went. Into the mix comes Anathema Device, a descendent of Agnes Nutter a prophetess whose predictions have always come true. Anathema is trying to stop the appocolypse as well as she rather likes her life. The other human getting caught up in divine events is Newton Pulsifer who has sort of fallen into being a Witchfinder. Can the elements all come together in time to stop the Four Horsemen of the Appocolypse fom ending the world and bringing on the war to end all wars. Question is, if the war happens what will the angels and demons do next?

A fun read. It feels like Pratchetts writing and Gaiman's ideas a lot of the time. They worked well together, I personally prefer Gaiman's slightly darker side to Pratchett's more comic fantasy, but this will definitely appeal to Pratchett fans as well. I would love to see what else they could come up with as a writing team, but it seems highly unlikely at this point sadly.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 321
Format : Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : Library reading group

Balram Halwai is not the first name he has used, but it is the one he was given in school. He prefers to be known as The White Tiger, a rare creature that is born only once in a generation. He feels he is rare creature himself, one who has thrown off his rich master and become master of his own destiny. He is born a poor boy, the son of a rickshaw-puller and manages to become a driver after being yanked out of school and initally working in a tea room. This is a real turning point for him as things turn out.

He begins as the second driver but soon uses his wits to progress further up the career ladder. He loves his master who treats him well (for the most part), but soon realises when he accompanies him to Deli that he will never gain the riches and freedom he has. He decides to take his destiny into his own hands, doing the unthinkable.

I thought this was excellent and well deserving of the 2008 Man Booker Prize. It's a very sad, moving story that often has the reader grimacing, yet it is told in a very light hearted manner making the negative parts more easy to swallow. I think it is this that makes it so good, that the bad elements don't bog you down and depress you so much. You sympathise with Balram and I felt I could understand what he did (although not condone it). Recommended.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hosted over at Not Enough Books the challenge was to read at least 1 cozy mystery book per month between 1/4/09 - 30/9/09. I had not read very many mysteries before (I think one or two) and it is definitely a genre I will be reading more of in the future. The books I read (with links to the reviews) are below.

1. A Blush with Death - India Ink
2. Glossed and Found - India Ink
3. Real Murders - Charlaine Harris
4. A Bone to Pick - Charlaine Harris
5. Three Bedrooms, One Corpse - Charlaine Harris
6. The Julius House - Charlaine Harris

I loved Real Murders, a great start to the series. Sadly the second book A Bone to Pick was pretty rubbish. The rest of the series has been much more in line with the first book luckily and I hope to finish them hopefully next year.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 227
Series : #4 Aurora Teagarden Mysteries
Format : Mystery Novel
Reason for Reading : Cozy Mystery Challenge, to continue with the series

Aurora is back and is finally getting married. She hasn't known her prospective husband for very long and there are a lot of secrets she doesn't yet know about him. Still, she is in love and is willing to do what she can to make it work. As a wedding present he buys her the Julius House to keep her mystery solving hobby alive. The house is shrouded in mystery as one morning the families grandmother who was living above the garage came over to make breakfast for the father, mother and teenage daughter. They were missing but with their car in the garage and nothing stolen from the house. No bodies were ever found and it was a mystery to the police and local experts.

Roe quickly starts to decorate to her tastes and when her husbands friends arrive to live in the garage apartment, she enlists the help of Angel to help her measure the house looking for any clue as to what happened to the houses previous owners. It seems though that the house isn't her only problem when her new husbands past starts to catch up with them. Roe becomes the target of an axe man and it looks like if her husbands business associates won't kill her maybe the house will...

I really enjoyed this novel. It spent quite a lot of time with Roe and her personal life, but unlike the second book in the series A Bone to Pick, it didn't neglect the mystery aspects. There were lots of twists and turns, some of which could be predicted but others came from left field in the way of the best mysteries. I like Roe as a central character still and am interested to see what she gets up to next, both in her personal life and her mystery solving capacity.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I did it, I finished my final book yesterday for the challenge so completed it by the early bonus date of 9/9/09. You were allowed to overlap up to 9 books and I think I carried 3 over to other challenges in the end. The challenge was to pick 9 categories and read 9 books for each. Below is a list of what I read with links to those which I have reviewed (a couple are pending and will be done when I get back from holiday in a week or so):

9 Graphic Novels
1. Nightmares and Fairy Tales v4 - Serena Valentino
2. Hatter M - Frank Beddor & Liz Cavalier
3. Gloom Cookie v3: Broken Curses - Serena Valentino
4. Gloom Cookie v4: Carnival Wars - Serena Valentino
5. Gloom Cookie v5: The Final Curtain - Serena Valentino
6. Crossing Might v1: Cut Here - Mike Carey
7. Arkham Asylum - Grant Morrison & Dave McKean
8. Crossing Midnight v2 - Mike Carey
9. Crossing Midnight v3 - Mike Carey

9 Manga
1. Return to Labyrinth v3 - Jake T Forbes & Chris Lie
2. Bizenghast v5 - M Alice LeGrow
3. Princess Ai: Rumors from the POther Side - Various
4. The Dreaming v1 - Queenie Chan
5. The Dreaming v2 - Queenie Chan
6. The Dreaming v3 - Queenie Chan
7. Vampire Doll v2 - Erika Kari
8. Princess Ai: Encounters - Various
9. Vassalord v2 - Nanae Chrono

9 Urban Fantasy
1. Personal Demon - Kelley Armstrong
2. Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs
3. Burnt Offerings - Laurell K Hamilton
4. Blue Moon - Laurell K Hamilton
5. Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs
6. Undead and Unwed - MaryJanice Davidson
7. Undead and Umemployed - MaryJanice Davidson
8. Undead and Unappreciated - MaryJanice Davidson
9. Undead and Unreturnable - MaryJanice Davidson

9 Anthologies
1. Across the Wall - Garth Nix
2. On the Prowl - Various
3. The Beggar Maid - Alice Munro
4. Water - Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson
5. The Whole Story and Other Stories - Ali Smith
6. A Wolf at the Door - Ellend Datlow & Terri Windling
7. Swan Sister - Ellen Datloe & Terri Windling
8. Gothic - Various
9. The Prague Golem: Jewish Stories of the Ghetto

9 Fairy Tales
1. Troll Bridge - Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple
2. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire
3. The Twelve Dancing Princesses - Marianna Mayer & KY Craft
4. Pay the Piper - Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple
5. Puddledock Farm - Grace Lodge
6. Cybele's Secret - Juliet Marillier
7. The Iron Fairies v1
8. The Iron Fairies v2
9. The Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale

9 Teenage Fiction
1. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
2. Little Grrl Lost - Charles De Lint
3. Search for the Red Dragon - James A Owen
4. Cut - Patricia McCormick
5. Gossamer - Lois Lowry
6. My Swordhand is Singing - Marcus Sedgwick
7. Dingo - Charles de Lint
8. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
9. Catalyst - Laurie Halse Anderson

1. A Lion Among Men - Gregory Maguire
2. Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman
3. The Lolliopop Shoes - Joanne Harris
4. Raven's of Avalon - Diana L Paxson
5. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
6. The Worst Witch to the Rescue - Jill Murphy
7. Story of O - Pauline Reage
8. Ysabel - Guy Gavriel Kay
9. A Fine and Private Place - Peter S Beagle

9 Mythology/Folktale
1. Girl Meets Boy - Ali Smith
2. Binu and the Great Wall
3. Dream Angus - Alexander McCall
4. Where Three Roads Meet - Sally Vickers
5. The Helmet of Horror - Victor Pelevin
6. A Short History of Myth - Karen Armstrong
7. The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
8. The Outlasws of Sherwood - Robin McKinley
9. I Am Morgan Le Fey - Nancy Springer

9 Books in a series or by the same author

1. Into the Cold Fire - Lynne Ewing
2. Night Shade - Lynne Ewing
3. The Secret Scroll - Lynne Ewing
4. The Sacrifice - Lynne Ewing
5. The Lost One - Lynne Ewing
6. Moon Demon - Lynne Ewing
7. Possession - Lynne Ewing
8. The Choice - Lynne Ewing
9. The Talisman - Lynne Ewing

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Hours : 16:07:20
Format : Historical Fiction, Horror Audio Book
Reason for Reading : GLBT Challenge and RIP Challenge

Welcome to the time just after the second world war in rural Warwickshire. Doctor Faraday is a middle aged doctor serving the community who comes from a working class background trying to raise his status. He is called out one day to Hundreds Hall where his mother used to be a servant to the Ayres family when he was a young boy. He treats their yong servant girl Betty who is faking her illness to get out of doing work. She thinks there is something wrong with the house and has got herself all worked up. He stays and spends some time with the family, Mrs Ayres, Caroline and Roddy. Caroline is a spinster and Roddy was injured in the war leaving him with a bad leg and lots of scarring. Since the war they have really been struggling to maintain the Hall and their estate and Roddy is bearing the brunt of it.

Doctor Faraday soon integrates himself into the family. He begins an experimental new treatment on Roddy's leg and his connection with Caroline slowly starts to grow. The tension running through the novel starts to slowly build at the same time, beginning with an accident with Caroline's dog Jip. He suddenly attacks someone in the house during a party and things begin to go downhill for the Ayres from there. Is there a malevolent being in the house? A poltergeist or the personification of someones unconscious (a little stranger)? Doctor Faraday explains everything away using practical explainations, but as things get more spooky and serious, the reader is drawn into the mysetery never quite reaching the truth. A mixture of the supernatural and the class struggles of the time.

This is the first audio book I have listened to and it was a perfect introduction. Read by Simon Vance I had no idea what it was going to be about and just plunged straight in. I really felt the tension growing in the background, it was woven into the narrative so subtly though. The language is very sensuous and it was so easy to picture the house and it's inhabbitants in front of me as I listened to it. The audio veriosn also included an interview with Sarah Waters at the end which gave an interesting insight into her tastes, motivations and personality. Overall it's a classic haunted house story told exceedingly well.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 278
Series : #10 Daughters of the Moon
Format : Teenage Fiction, Witchcraft Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

The tenth novel in the Daughters of the Moon series is a departure from the regular storyline of Catty, Vanessa, Jimena, Tianna and Serena. Instead the story follows their mentor Maggie who is two thousand years old. She is an immortal who takes a potion at the full moon to restore her youth which is about to finally run out. She is due to pass on her role to another young woman (possibly one of the daughters?) and as her long life draws to a close she teels her story as a young woman in Athens called Penelope.

She lives with her father and sister Taemestra. Her mother disappeared one day and there are stories that Zeus is Penelope's real father. One day three men arrive to visit her father and go to war with him against the Spartans. One of them is called Hector and him and Penelope instantly have a connection. Her younger and more beautiful sister is jealous and sets events in motion Penelope never suspected. Penelope is torn between her love for Hector and her desire to take her vows to the moon goddess Selene. There are evil forces at work trying to prevent her from following her destiny which she isn't sure of herself.

I really enjoyed this and was interested to learn more about Maggie/Penelope and how she became immortal. I knew form previous books what happens to Hector and Chris, but it was good to have the gaps filled in and see how everyone got to their roles in the current storyline. I think I have guessed who her successor will be, but I defintiely feel there are more twists and turns for the story to take, especially to find out who Penelope's child will turn out to be...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick update as I haven't posted for a little while. I am still here and actually finished a book today so I will try and get some reviews up soon. I still have whiplash and it's actually getting worse so I went back to the doctors. I also have a rubbish head cold so feeling very sorry for myself. I did go to a music festival last weekend (I took care of myself and stayed in a hotel rather than camp and was careful watching bands) which was awesome and I have been cheering myself up with all 4 monsters.

Some new pictures of the littlest ones:

Sleepy kitties. Eris is on the left and Loki is on the right. I can finally tell them apart properly now!

Not a very good picture of me but proving that the kitties love me the best and not my husband! Loki is on the last and Eris on the right. I have decided to be fair and love whichever cat or cats are currently sat on me the most!!! Loki is growing quite fast and is definitely the bigger of the kitties meaning Eris is the smallest in our family bless her. Morgaine has been bumped to smallest big cat and Merlin dwarfs everyone and is terrified of them all anyway. He did sleep with the kitties today for the first time and give Loki a wash (Loki adores him despite Merlins reservations). When Merlin licked him I think Loki thought he was his mum as he tried to suckle off him bless. Merlin was not too impressed by this development and soon ran off, but I do think the kitty integration process is moving on nicely.

Morgaine remains mostly grumpy and unimpressed, but is not hissing at the kittens unless they actually try and attack her tail which is definitely progress. I knew she would take longer as she is top cat and runs our little household. Hopefully in time as the kitties so like her...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Firstly there is an awesome book giveaway here by Alaine Queen of Happy Endings. She has a choice of three, Fire the prequel to Graceling by Kristin Cashore, the new Audrey Niffenegger Her Fearful Symmetry and Juliet Marillier's Heart's Blood. You can only be entered for one so good luck choosing and she will post them internationally.

August started as a great month for reading, but once I got the kittens it all went downhill from there... I have barely read at all since they arrived, but I am just over halfway through listening to my first audiobook which has been a really fun experience. I wanted to finish the 999 challenge in August but didn't quite manage it. If things calm down a little I should get it done by the early finish date 9/9/09 fingers crossed. I really need to get stuck into some of my other challenges including then new RIP IV hosted by Carl V at Stainless Steel Droppings.

Books Read = 10, Total = 128
Pages Read = 2,640, Total = 28,102

Manga Challenge : 3/6 plus 9 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 : 2/3 plus 1 film (Coraline)
999 Challenge : 76/81
Graphic Novel Challenge II : 7/12
Guardian Challenge : 42/50
Vampire Challenge : 1/2
666 Reading Challenge : 9/36
Cozy Murders Challenge : 5/6
GLBT Challenge : 1/6
Sookie Stackhouse Challenge : 0/9
RIP Challenge : 0/4 (Starts September)