Tuesday, August 31, 2010

RIP V Challenge

Yay the fifth RIP Challenge hosted here by Carl V at Stainless Steel Droppings is here. I'm so excited as I love this challenge and the fairy tale Once Upon a Time one he hosts. I am signing up immediately for Peril the First which means reading at least 4 scary books (mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror, supernatural) throughout September and October.

Carl makes it easy by letting you leave open your book list and not having to decide in advance. I have a whole pile of books to choose from that I might read. My pool of books (very much subject to change) is looking like :

* Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs
* Mona Lisa Awakening - Sunny
* Blood Rites - Jim Butcher
* The Strain - Guillermo Del Torro
* 20th Centuary Ghosts - Joe Hill
* From s Whisper to a Scream - Charles de Lint
* The Awakening - LA Banks
* The Good, The Bad and the Undead - Kim Harrison
* Living with the Dead - Kelley Armstrong
* The Sandman - Neil Gaiman (need to catch up with this series in general)

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 208
Series : #8 Death Note
Format : Manga Novel
Reason for Reading : To continue with the series

Light has taken on the role of L and is now battling L’s protégés Near and Mello. Near is in charge of the SPK, a special task force in the pay of the American President. Mello on the other hand rules a band of mafia and mercenaries based out of the USA as well. Mello’s group has captured Light’s sister and it us up to him and his father to get her back without revealing the identity of L or Kira.

The usual gang are working on the Japanese task force and it becomes a case of Light’s team working with Near but still trying to find out his real identity so they can kill him. Both teams are after Mello who gets his hands on a Death Note and a new Shinigami that turns up. Misa continues to be in the story, but very much in the background.

The usual mental Olympics as all three try to out manoeuvre each other. I haven’t really warmed to Near or Mello yet but it’s interesting to see the opposite paths they have taken to try and achieve the same goal. They are battling to prove which of them is the best by bringing down Kira, while Kira is trying to defeat his two new enemies.

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 233
Format : Erotic Fiction
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

Rachel is a slave who reads tarot for her Master. To do this she needs to blank out all other thoughts and feelings and this is done by a mixture of pleasure and pain. She has never lied to her Master but when a slave trader named Pearl arrives she deliberately misinterprets the cards as she is worried that Pearl will cause chaos to her and her Masters world. She keeps drawing the same three tarot cards, The Lovers, The Tower and The Devil. Pearl brings some new slaves into the mix who have body modifications that mix the grotesque with the beautiful and sensual.

Meanwhile Rachel spends illicit time with her Master’s brother who has always had a thing for her. He wants to buy her and add her to his own stock and there seems to be some genuine feelings between the two amid all the bondage and pleasure parades. Not all is as it seems and Rachel in her arrogance believes she knows the motivations of her Master, his brother and Pearl but in truth nothing is as it seems.

This is slaves and masters in the erotic fiction variety of course and this is very focused on domination, submission and humiliation. Some of it was very sexy but other parts just made me say ewww. The sex was constant but there still managed to be a decent story running through it. I would say it was written for women to read rather than men just because of the language and descriptions. Oh and I hate the cover, the woman looks like a transvestite.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 330
Format : Non Fiction Biography
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

A collection of columns for various magazines (all seem to be British) written by direction and comic author Kevin Smith. Some were written after Chasing Amy, others while Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back begins it’s casting and others while Jersey Girl is being filmed. They aren’t technical in focus, more Hollywood gossip and Smith’s musings along with a couple of emails from people who love or hate him along the way.

He’s very self deprecating and doesn’t hold back adding personal stories for example about his sex life with his wife and her wanting to get a nude portrait painted of herself. Some of the casting meet and greets with actors and actresses were really interesting and it was good to see his take on people like Shannon Elizabeth, Selma Blair and Eliza Dushku.

Some of it is a little too much information. There is a section on his bowel movements after being put on a weight loss pill and some of the crude references made even me blush! If you are offended easily stay away, there is a lot of bad language and sexual references, but it’s mostly tongue in cheek (no pun intended!) and supposed to be funny (which it was). I love his films and his comics and would definitely read more of his musings and podcasts.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 265
Format : Teenage Fiction Gothic Horror
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

The latest teenage fiction novel from Brit author Marcus Sedgwick. This is his take on a gothic novel and I couldn’t put it down! Rebecca and her father move to the country for the summer after there is some media controversy over his involvement in a police case. In the sleepy town Winterfold, which is slowly falling into the sea, she meets the troubled Ferelith.

In between the modern storyline we are taken back in time to a Priest in the 1700s who is seeking the secret of life after death. A Doctor from France moves in to the Hall in town and the two put their heads together to come up with a series of horrible experiments to try to communicate with the dead and find out if there really is life after death and what it is like if so. The Priest fears for his mortal soul as he can picture Hell in great detail, but his imaginings of Heaven are lack lusture and seem fake to him.

The story jumps between the two sets of tales as they interweave. The narrative moves from Ferelith to the unnamed Priest to a look at Rebecca and they slowly all converge across the centuries. Ferelith is such a sinister character and when I finished reading this in bed I have to admit to flicking to the end to check how it ended. I was scared I would have nightmares and wanted to see it turned out ok! Very naughty I know and I can’t remember the last time I did that. It’s my favourite of his books yet and I can’t recommend it enough. Subtly building I really felt for Rebecca and there were still so many questions buzzing around my brain long after it ended.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 208
Format : Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

Jane Hayes has a problem, she is secretly obsessed with Mr Darcy from Price and Prejudice. She is in her 30s and single when her great-aunt dies who was quite well off. Her aunt knew of her predilection and instead of leaving her money, leaves her a holiday in an English country manor where everything is set up as in Regency England.

At the manor there is another guest and Jane can choose her name as well as what age she wants to be. She sticks with her own identity and is excited to meet the actors playing the ladies and gentlemen at the manor. Included is Mr Nobley who plays the pride filled Darcy role. Jane can’t settle into her role and is attracted to the out of bounds gardener (ladies don’t associate with the help). Can she let go and be swept away in the story, or will she keep her walls up and not really enjoy the experience.

I loved this so much! Such a fun idea for a story and although the ending was a little cheesy, it was just what I wanted. It’s very different to her other fairy tale Bayern books, but that’s just the mark of a great writer that they can turn their hand to different styles. No one is quite what they seem and at the end the true characters emerge in a really fun climax.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 511
Series : #1 Chronicles of the Icemark
Format : Teenage Fantasy Novel
Reason for Reading : Challenge with Mariel

Thirrin is a young (14 year old) warrior Princess who will lead her people after her father dies. She has grown up educated in the art of war despite her young age and it is all she lives for. She lives in Icemark which is a small kingdom in the North which has harsh winters. A mighty Southern empire (Polypontian empire based on the Romans) threatens the safety of the country and it is up to Thirrin to save her people. She has the help of Oskan, a powerful male witch who could go dark.

She discovers allies in unusual places. First there are the wolf people when she takes a chance and spares the life of one who turns out to be their ruler. The wolf people then lead her to the vampires in the Land of the Ghosts and to the giant snow leopard’s in the far north. The problem is will her allies reach her before her enemy defeats them and will they keep to their promises.

This was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the second book in the series. I really warmed to the characters and especially loved the spoiled cat Primplepuss. Likewise I really liked the snow leopards and the differences in their impulses and the way they reacted to situations.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 207
Series : #3 Lily Bard
Format : Cozy Mystery
Reason for Reading : Cozy Mystery Challenge

Lily returns to her hometown for a week before Christmas for her sisters wedding on Christmas Eve. She has just started seeing detective Jack Leeds and isn’t sure quite where things stand. Due to her dark past she has a lot of trouble getting close to people and has determined not to ask anything of him. She does take the plunge and ask him to spend Christmas Day with her when she returns to Shakespeare which he accepts.

When she gets to home things are much as she left them. Her family still find it difficult to be around her, but her sister in particular is making a real effort. Lily is out of her depth having to dress up for various dinners, showers and the wedding itself where she is the maid of honour. Problem is that people are starting to die. First the local doctor and his assistant are brutally killed in their office and it looks like it was by someone they knew. More bodies begin to follow and it all seems to be linked to an unsolved case from 8 years ago. Jack turns up to work on the case and there are three main suspects, one of which is Lily’s prospective brother-in-law. They need to solve the case in 3 days before her sister marries Dill.

This was by far the best in the series so far. It kept me guessing right until the end as you don’t really know which of the three men is responsible for the murders and previous crime. Again there is lots of character development and I really like both Lily and Jack. Plus spending time with her family and old friends was interesting to see how her life was completely thrown in the air after her horrendous ordeal. I can’t wait to read the next one.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 256
Format : Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

Duncan is obsessed with American musician Tucker Crowe. He was best known for his album Juliet Naked which is allegedly about his affair with model Juliet. Shortly afterwards he was visiting a club to see some bands perform when he suddenly left and disappeared from the public eye not writing so much as a note since. The online community Duncan is part of has dedicated vast amounts of time to discussing Crowe’s disappearance and when a new version of Juliet is released it sends the little community into overdrive.

Duncan’s partner Annie doesn’t take to the new demos and it puts even more of a strain on their relationship. She posts her own review for the community to read after Duncan writes one that praises it sky high. Hers is less complementary. Unbeknownst to Duncan she receives an email from Tucker and after a couple of questions it seems to be genuine. From there begins a friendship that spans the globe and destroys many of the preconceived ideas and stories about Tucker as Annie gets to know the real story in secret.

This was a look at relationships, music and parenthood. The usual dry wit you associate with Hornby. I like that the story switches between the three characters narrating, mostly Annie and Tucker, so you get to read their own different takes on the situations that arise. The ending was lovely and just what I secretly wanted without being cheesy or corny. I can’t wait to see what Hornby writes next.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 177
Series : Prequel to Peter Pan
Format : Children’s Fiction, Fairy Tale Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

This was written after Peter Pan but is a prequel. There is lots of information and anecdotes about Kensington Gardens in London as well as the story of Peter Pan and how he came to be the boy who never grew up. There is a story about how prospective parents ask the birds for a child and that is why children think they can fly as they were born as baby birds.

Not all of the stories feature Peter Pan, the first half is a series of short tales about the different sights in the gardens and some of the children who have visited. It also talks about Barrie’s visits with the children to the gardens and I am ashamed to admit that while I have been living by London for nearly 10 years I still haven’t been to the gardens. I really must go and see if the monuments and sights have changed much since Barrie’s time.

This was beautifully illustrated by Arthur Rackham with over 50 full colour illustrations plus many pen drawings and this was how I found the book even existed. It was funny, sweet and makes a lovely collection to anyone’s library.

A couple of illustrations from the book :

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rating : 1.5/5
Number of Pages : 119
Series : Companion to 100 Strokes of the Brush
Format : Erotic Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

The follow up to One Hundred Strokes of the Brush when Melissa has grown up a little. She revisits some previous relationships and the narrative jumps around a little. She seems desperate to have a baby but when she miscarries it spells the end of her relationship as well. Not must of the erotic and sensual aspects of the first book, this is more inwardly focused on what Melissa thinks and feels.

I didn’t really like this. The first one was very sensual and I really warmed to Melissa. In this one I just found her really self absorbed and annoying. Luckily it was a short book or I would have tossed to aside and not bothered to finish it which is pretty much unheard of behaviour for me.

New Blog

I thought I would set up a second blog to use as a journal. I wasn't sure if two would be too many to manage, but after some thinking I decided that I do want to keep my reviews seperate from my general randomness. The link is http://rhinoasadventures.blogspot.com/

This blog will continue as usual and I am nearly caught up on my reviews and should reach my goal of being completely up to date by the end of next month. I've also been keeping on top of my google reader finally.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 128
Series : #2 Y the Last Man
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge 2010

Yorick and his friends are still being pursued by the Amazons which unbeknownst to him includes his sister. They are also being pursued by an Israeli squad with a secret commander. The group are forced to jump off a train and all reunite in a sleepy town Marrisville, Ohio. The town has a secret it is keeping hidden from the rest of the world and when the trio discover it, it provokes mixed responses and emotions.

The Amazon’s finally catch up with them and there is a showdown between Yorick and his sister. The art is nothing too exciting, but good enough to tell the story and serves its purpose. This is a story driven rather than artistic driven series from Vertigo.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 168
Series : #3 Y the Last Man
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge 2010

Yorick may not be the last man for much longer. Out in space is a spaceship with three astronauts, one a woman and two men. They need to land back on earth and the question is will whatever wiped out all the men work on them or has it moved on/deactivated. No one knows or understands what killed all the males (apart from Yorick and his monkey of course) so they are going to have to risk a landing and hope for the best.

Yorick hates being the last man and is very hopeful that the two men will survive the landing and be able to take on the mantle of repopulating the world’s men. A Russian lady joins the team who made a couple of brief appearances in the second book and I really liked her. The Israeli squad also catches up with them and some more storylines are closed and new paths open up.

This series keeps you guessing with lots of twists and turns, I will definitely be reading more in the future. I love the ideas behind it and the character development so far has been really good.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 208
Series : #5 Tarot Cafe
Format : Manga
Reason for Reading : Manga Challenge 2010

Pamela is slowly becoming the main focus of the series and in this instalment she travels to Scotland to try and find out more information about her past. She uses a perfume that lets her relive her memories, but this is at a cost as she is forced to relive the negative and painful ones so she is stuck in a nightmare. It is up to her friends to help her, but can they get to her in time.

As always the artwork is stunning and I was mesmerised by the drawings. It continues straight from the end of volume 4 and I cannot wait to see what happens next as we are drawn further and further into Pamela’s life and her past.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 192
Series : #6 Tarot Cafe
Format : Manga
Reason for Reading : Manga Challenge 2010

The penultimate volume in the series and it is the first one that has one continuous storyline running through it. Pamela is still learning about her past and trying to understand the work of fate. We get to discover it with her and learn about the characters right along with them. Meanwhile, Alecto delivers a surprise to Pamela which startles her. We get to learn more about Ash and his back story with some new surprises there too.

Lots of unexpected twists and it ends on quite a cliff hanger. Only one more to go and then I will have to say goodbye to Sang Sun-Park’s beautifully crafted world.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 192
Series - #7 Tarot Cafe
Format : Manga
Reason for Reading : Manga Challenge 2010

Sadly this is the final instalment in the Tarot Café series although there is a short novel I haven’t yet read. This follows Pamela exclusively as she travels into Hell to finally confront Belial in his castle Pandemonium. She takes such a risk to save Belus who is dying back in London and she wants to end her contract with Belial once and for all.

There are some old and new characters as she travels to the heart of Pandemonium including Harlequin (I seem to be reading lots of stories with Harlequin in them lately), Chiron and some of the characters she has helped with her readings. She travels through some of the levels of Hell including Diss to get to the final confrontation where there are a few more surprises in store for Pamela which change everything.

This was much more horror than fairy tale in contrast to come of the earlier collections. I felt the series could have had more instalments and the ending was a little rushed, but then again it’ always nice to find a shorter manga series and overall I really loved it. The art was stunning as always and I definitely recommend this series even if you haven’t read any manga before.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rating : 2.0/5
Number of Pages : 312
Format : Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

The narrative alternates between Roseanne’s personal testimony as she approaches one hundred and Dr Grene who runs the asylum where she was placed a number of years ago in her twenties. Roseanne tells her life story growing up with a mother who was also committed after her father died. She gets married to a Catholic despite being a Protestant in Ireland during dangerous times of unrest. There is a priest who does what he thinks is best for Rose, but his motives are questioned.

Dr Grene has his own problems. The home is being demolished and he is approaching retirement. There is not enough room in the new building for all of the patients and recent press forces him to look at if any of the patients were wrongly committed. Rose’s case is intriguing and he begins to try and question her to see if he can make alternative arrangements. Her version of events differs somewhat from those recorded in the old files.

I was very disappointed by this novel. There is a big twist, but the problem was I guessed the twist in the first couple of chapters and was annoyed that it was so simple and I was correct. I am not sure I would read more by this author as things stand.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


So I finally got a new iPhone recently which I have already downloaded lots of apps to. One is a blogger app and basically I'm seeing if it works! I at least included a photo of me and Eris caught snoozing a few days ago. I can't believe how big the kittens are now, but they are one now so technically not kittens anymore...

Looking forward to a fun weekend. My dad just turned 60 and me and my sister have a fun day of celebrations planned. I won't say here as he is sneaky enough to try and spoil the surprise. Tutt tutt.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 245
Series : Canongate Myth Series
Format : Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

Another in the Canongate Myths series and this time it is Phillip Pullman taking on Christianity. It is a retelling of the life of Jesus Christ with the twist that Jesus and Christ are actually twin brothers. It begins with their conception and the idea is proposed that their father is a boy from the village posing as an angel. This is left up to the reader to decide and from there the boys grow up with very different personalities.

Lots of key events from The Bible are described but with the two boys taking on different characters. It goes right through to the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection as Christ and puts a whole new spin on some of the most famous stories ever told. It addresses some of the issues with the way the stories of Jesus were recorded and how they are open to misinterpretation.

It was an interesting read and it’s a shame so many seem to have got bogged down in whether it is blasphemous or not. Being part of the myths series rather than in the religious section along with copies of The Bible and Qu’arn etc, I feel that it is irrelevant whether people are offended or not. It’s Pullman’s fictional take on the stories as an artist and author and it poses some very interesting questions like many good books. It’s not anti-Christian, but it is very clearly anti-Church. Sometimes you do have to wonder though has Pullman written this just to live up to his reputation of being controversial as obviously he knew the types of response such a novel would elicit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 448
Format : Fantasy Anthology
Reason for Reading : Short Story Challenge 2010

A collection of short stories, a follow up to Smoke and Mirrors, by acclaimed Fantasy author Neil Gaiman. I won’t go through each story, just the ones that I particularly enjoyed. The first was A Study in Emerald that matches Sherlock Holmes with Cthulhu myths. Everything is twisted around in this excellent detective story. How to talk to Girls at Parties was a fun look at what happens when two human teenagers stumble into a party filled with
women not quite of this world. Teenage angst with a sci fi twist.

The Problem of Susan is a tale I had often wondered about myself and it was interesting to read Gaiman’s take on what happened to Susan after the events of The Last Battle. She isn’t taken by Aslan as she is too into fashion and make-up. Harlequin Valentine was another dark and fun tale looking at love and is included in a Lisa Snellings-Clark book inspired by her artwork. The final tale is a novella which catches up with Shadow after American Gods finishes. American Gods is my favourite Gaiman book and it was a lot of fun catching up with him again. A strange tale, but one that will stick in my mind for some time to come.

There were a couple of stories I had read before in other collections, but for the most part they were all new to me. I read Smoke and Mirrors about 8 years ago and I don’t remember enjoying it as much as this set. There were a couple I didn’t take to, but overall a fun and freaky read. Everything you would expect from Gaiman.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joker - Brian Azzarello

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 128
Format : Teenage Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge 2010

A one shot graphic novel after the Joker is proclaimed sane and let out of Arkam Asylum. Jonny Frost is sent to pick him up and quickly gets drawn into his world which clearly is not sane! Since his stink in Arkam the city has been split between the various mobsters and crime bosses and the Joker has nothing. He has returned to claim what is his and he isn’t of the mind to ask nicely.

A whole host of villains turn up in the story including Harlequin, Penguin, Riddler and Two Face/Harvey Dent. Batman is always in the background and only appears at the very end. The Joker makes comment though that he is always watching from the shadows. He leaves behind him a wake of death and destruction and Jonny who narrates the tale gets sucked further and further in to the madness.

Dark and very well drawn. Excellent story and I loved the twisted ending which I won’t spoil here. A classic and you don’t need to be a Batman fan or have read any of the other graphic novels to enjoy this. Although perhaps, enjoy is not the right word…

Hellblazer : Dangerous Habits - Garth Enis

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 160
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge 2010

A one shot story of Constantine. Enis was wondering what to do with Liverpudlien John Constantine who has been to hell and back. Literally. He fights demons and is a poor mans magician and con man who although he doesn’t do bad will not be going upstairs when he finally kicks the bucket. Unfortunately that day may not be too far away now.

Enis has the radical idea of killing Constantine. He has always been a chain smoker and after coughing up blood and bits of his lungs, he finally goes to see a doctor and is diagnosed with late stage, terminal lung cancer. He runs various scenarios in his head and visits the few “friends” (human and otherwise) he has left alive before coming to the conclusion that there is nothing he can do. Instead he devises a plan that just might work, a way to preserve his life and miss out on an eternity being tortured in hell. Problem is he has to die first.

The film with Keanu Reeves was based partially on this graphic novel so I knew portions of the story. This however was much more explicit, dark and dangerous. Very gripping but best not to read it right before bed like I did as it may give you nightmares!

Saga of the Swamp Thing v1 - Alan Moore

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 176
Series : #1 Saga of Swamp Thing
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : Graphic Novel Challenge 2010

The first volume of Alan Moore’s take on Swamp Thing. In the introduction he gives an overview of the previous comics that introduce Swamp Thing and his origin story as scientist Alec Holland who works on a plant growth promoting “bio-restorative” with his wife. His experiment is sabotaged with a bomb and he is blasted into the swamp covered in his own untested bio-compounds. And thus The Swamp Thing is born and he acquires a group of confidants including Abby Arcane, neice of his one time nemesis.

In the first few panels of Moore’s version, he literally takes Swamp Thing apart and recreated him. He kills the character and reinvents his own in a fantastic twist. Once he has established his own version of events which tie in with the previous comics, he is free to begin his new tale.

This was a dark comic and one of the best I have read in some time. I can definitely see why this is a cult classic. Written back in the 80s it looks like Moore has finally returned to the series and the collected volume two is out later this year. I loved the end twists and can’t wait to see what Moore has in store for the characters next.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 178
Series : Twilight Series
Format : Teenage Fiction, Urban Fantasy Vampire Novel
Reason for Reading : Vampire Series Challenge

A Twilight novella set during the time of Eclipse. We follow Bree Tanner who is a new vampire, part of the new born army that attacks the Cullens in Eclipse. We learn how she was turned and see her trying to survive her second life in a nest of cruel and violent newbies. Bella never really acts like a newborn in Breaking Dawn so it was interesting to spend time with a group of them and see why the Cullen’s are so wary of turning her and surprised with the results.

She does manage to make a friend in Diego, but unfortunately it doesn’t last as he gets in the way of Riley and Victoria’s plans. Watching her trust and get close to someone was so sad knowing it was all going to end in tears. Reading about some of the kindness between the other newbies acts of violence, killing and destruction was like a balm. Bree also befriends Fred who has the talent of being able to repel the other vampires and Bree can hide in his aura. He is the only one to make it out alive so perhaps Meyer will write another novella to continue his story.

It came out just before Eclipse in the cinemas which was excellent marketing. It’s quite sad reading it as you are drawn into Bree’s life and you know how the story ends and it isn’t happy… I actually enjoyed this more than I was expecting, perhaps because it was a bit darker than the other Twilight books. I was glad Bree found some happiness in her short second life. This was a fun visit back to the Twilight world with a twist.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 187
Format : Non Fiction Anthology
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

This is a collection of myths and folktales featuring the moon from around the world. They are abbreviated versions from a variety of different cultures and traditions. The book has sections on the different moons throughout the year (eg. Hare Moon, Harvest Moon) and tales that correspond. Some feature the Man in the Moon and why there are dark spots, others are the various creatures and deities linked to the moon.

It was a lovely collection and introduction to myths and legends and I will definitely be following up on some of them and tracking down the original source material. It was good to read outside the usual Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Celtic and Norse tales. There is a companion volume called Sun Lore which I am looking forward to reading this year.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 320
Series : #10 Sookie Stackhouse
Format : Urban Fantasy Vampire Novel
Reason for Reading : Vampire Series Challenge

Sookie is back for book ten in the series that spawned the excellent tv show True Blood. This one focuses on the different family relationships of the various characters mostly concerning Eric. His maker (the Roman Appius Livius Ocella) arrives with his “brother” who causes a stir when it is revealed he is a famous character from history (don’t worry I won’t spoil it here).

Claude moves in with Sookie after Amelia moves back to New Orleans. She also has to look after a young family member and help him begin to come to grips with his talents. Tension is running high in the two natured community as the government is trying to make them all register which is upsetting the were’s in particular.

It’s a little lighter than the previous novel which made a nice change and was one of my favourites so far. I enjoyed looking at the different relationships. It’s less graphic on the sex and violence compared to some of the previous books in the series and you would need to read the earlier books to really appreciate this one. I can’t wait for the next in the series and see what Sookie and the gang get up to next.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 295
Format : Fantasy Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

Charles de Lint’s first novel (not his first published, but his first written) before he moved on to his Newford books. Minda Sealy has always had bad dreams in which she is terrified. One night while asleep she meets Jan (Lord of the Moors) who has been imprisoned by Ildran the Dream Master. He is trying to capture Minda and imprison her too in his rise for power. Jan gives Minda three tokens and the next morning she finds a way to flee her father and begin a journey to find and rescue Jan.

On her travels she uses standing stones to travel between different worlds. She makes many friends, some are human and others are various different fae creatures and animals who can speak. Together they must battle Ildran and the evil creatures he sends after Minda in their many forms.

De Lint incorporates much Celtic lore and mythology in this many-worlds novel which I really enjoyed. It is a story of discovery and coming of age as well. I have only read some of his Newford books and short stories prior to this and it is very different, but still has his lyrical storytelling and excellent characterisation. Recommended to all fantasy and Charles de Lint fans.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rating : 2.0/5
Number of Pages : 494
Series : #1 Pellinor
Format : Teenage Fantasy Novel
Reason for Reading : Challenge with Mariel

Maerad is a slave after both of her parents and younger brother were killed in the sacking of her home town Pellinor. One day in the cow byre she meets Cadvan, a Bard who is fleeing from an evil who had been torturing him for weeks. He recognises in her a Gift, she too is a Bard but the gifts have not yet awoken in her. She posesses a lyre which looks to be special and left over from the Dhyllic people. He decides to take her with him on a dangerous journey which will change her life. A dark power is arising, the Nameless One is suspected to be back even though the Light had thought him defeated. Maerad may just be the Fated One to defeat him once and for all.

I'll stop here with the description of the plot as anyone who has read a fantasy novel ever has read this book before. It borrows heavily from Tolkien with a lot of scenes and events taken from Fellowship of the Ring. The author also uses The Snow Queen as the basis for the tale of the evil Ice Witch. She puts her own spin on the telling, but I couldn't help feeling I had read it all before.

There were elements I enjoyed. It was fun having a female lead character and I liked that they were Bards and there was a musical element, although they did magic pretty much like a wizard. From reading reviews and the authors comments online it seems that she pays her homage to Tolkien in the first book and the rest of the series is more her own original ideas. Part of my issue was perhaps I had too high expectations as Mariel loves this series and raves about the books constantly. I have agonised over how to rate it and have given it a really low one after much internal debate. I think I will read the next book in the series and see if it does live up to the hype as a few series I have started lately have begun weak and then from book two onwards they have been amazing. Fingers crossed...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ash - Malinda Lo

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 304
Format : Teenage Fiction, Fairy Tale Novel
Reason for Reading : 10 10 10 Challenge

I picked this up in an airport travelling for work as I really liked the cover. It was in the teenage fiction section and in a retelling of Cinderalla. The book follows Ash after her mother dies. Her father is in a lot of debt and tricks a rich, vain woman into marrying him. She mistreats Ash though and after her father dies she becomes their slave. Her mother was linked to the fairy folk and Ash tries to keep up with the old customs even after moving into a more modern house with her step mother and step sisters.

This is where the author starts to have more fun and inject her own ideas onto the traditional story. Ash does meet the prince, but he is never really the focus of her attentions. Instead it is the Kings Huntress, Kaisa who she is drawn to. She also has much to do with one of the male fairies and there is a curse that is uncovered as the plot unfolds.

This was a lovely book and it was so refreshing to read a story where the main character is attracted to a woman and not following after the prince. There is no issue of her liking someone of the same sex, no fuss is made and it is not dwealt on, merely part of the story. At a bonfire couples pair off and there is a mix of men and women as well as woman and women couplings again with no issue made of it. It felt like a mature way to tackle the story and I would recommend this highly to anyone. One of my most enjoyed books so far this year and I am so glad the cover was pretty enough to catch my eye as I might have missed it otherwise.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 232
Format : Short Story Collection
Reason for Reading : Reading Challenge with Nymeth 2

This was my first collection by AS Byatt. It is a collection of six short stories and it is subtitled "Tales of Fire and Ice". They all have fantasy and fairy tale elements to them although "Cold" is the most traditionally fairy tale. It was also my favourite by far in the book. It follows a princess, the youngest child of the king and queen. She is loved by all but isn't very emotional and is often tired and sleepy. One day it snows and she finally comes alive and discovers one of her ancestors was a woman from the cold north lands. Her father wants her to marry (ideally from the North so she can be happy in the cold), but she chooses a man from the desert hotlands. She travels with him but begins to wane until her husband finds a compromise. It was beautifully told and mixed fantastical with cruel. It will definitely stick with me for a long time to come.

The other stories that stood out were "A Lamia in the Cvennes" and "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary". These were about a man who paints a lamia who lives in his swimming pool but tries to get out of marrying her once the painting is done. Christ is about two models who stood for Velsquez as Martha and Mary and where their lives have taken them since.

Unfortunately I wasn't so keen on the other three in the collection. They were a little dull and dragged. The three I did like more than made up for their lacking and as I said, Cold will stay with me a long time. From doing a search online it looks like this isn't the best introduction to Byatt's writing and I know I will be reading more by her in the future.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 272
Format : Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : Reading Challenge with Nymeth 2

Miles starts a new boarding school and makes friends with the Colonel and Alaska Young. He has a penchant for memorising the last recorded words of famous people. He led a lonely life before joinin Culver Creek and although he isn't one of the popular rich kids, he makes close friendships and finds his own place. They form their own small gang and enjoy pulling pranks on their fellow students.

There is a before and after section but I won't say why. All I will say is that it is a pivotal point in the book (it's not really a secret and is alluded to on many occassion but still) and it leads the boys on to looking into the mystery of Alaska. Miles gets the ironic nickname "Pudge" and pretty much immediately falls in love with Alaska. She is so out of his league though and has a serious boyfriend. He dates another girl Lara for a while but it is doomed for failure.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was very like Catcher in the Rye but more modern. The characters were really well developed and I enjoyed spending time with them all on their adventures and pranks. It's a coming of age novel with heart, sex, drinking, sadness and the exploits of youth. It got some negative feedback due to language and sexual content which I think is unjustified. There was nothing out of the bounds of the ordinary that I could see really happening. I look forward to seeing if they make a film version which I think is due for release in 2013.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 208
Series : #7 Death Note
Format : Manga Novel
Reason for Reading : Manga Challenge 2010, to continue with the series

Things are getting very complicated and I am reluctant to give too much of the plot away. Basically Light gets back his Shinigami and Death Note powers and continues his games with L whose time on the investigation into Kira is now numbered. Two new characters are introduced who join the investigation, but go about their roles in very different ways. Misa continues to be a pawn in Light's greater goal and a whole new storyline opens up as a major chapter closes and a new one opens.

I really liked the first half of this manga, but events happened which I don't believe to be true (or at least I hope not). I'm not sure about the new characters but will see how things begin to unfold in the next installment. It's still very clever, but if the plot twist is true I may start to lose interest sadly.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 257
Series : #7 Aurora Teagarden Mysteries
Format : Cozy Mystery Novel
Reason for Reading : Cozy Mystery Challenge

This time Roe's life is turned upside down when her former lover Robin Crusoe returns to town to shoot a movie version of one of his true life crime books. It just happens that the book was based on events that take place in the first novel in the series which makes it personal for librarian Roe. She isn't sure how she feels about Robin being back in town as she is dealing with her own loss and seeing Robin is bound to bring up the past and her complicated feelings.

Robin hasn't exactly been celibate since he left town. He has been dating the actress due to play Roe in the film (art imitating life). Unfortunately though they have split up and one morning she is found dead in her film trailer. Roe and Robin are immediately on the case and looking for who the murderer was.

The story was mixed for me, I guessed correctly who the murderer was this time but didn't guess at their motives which was a nice twist. These books are more about character development and I do like Roe. It was good to see Robin return, I liked him in the first book which is probably the best in the series.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 273
Series : #8 Auroura Teagarden Mystery
Format : Cozy Mystery Novel
Reason for Reading : Cozy Mystery Challenge

The final installment in the Lily Bard Mystery series by Charlaine Harris (best known for her Sookie Stackhouse vampire series). This time the murder is close to home for Roe. Her sister-in-law Poppy is the next to be found dead on her patio when Roe and her other sister-in-law go to pick her up for an event. Poppy was not perfect and had a series of extra marital affairs and as the story unfolds there are a few men that step out of the shadows that Roe was unaware of (they had escaped the town gossip).

Her husband was no saint either and quickly becomes a suspect in her murder. Things aren't that simple though and there are a number of people who could have done the deed. No one escapes suspicion including the police detective who has had relations with both Roe and Poppy. Roe's half brother turns up after his parents have marriage troubles and Roe has to meet her boyfriends mother and make a Thanksgiving dinner. She hasn't been feeling well though, she's tired a lot and her body aches.

Again I correctly guessed the murderer. Overall I really liked how the series ended, it felt all wrapped up and I was very happy for Roe when the "twist" was revealed in her personal life. I will miss Roe but I can always revisit her in the future.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 214
Series : #2 Lily Bard Mystery
Format : Cozy Nystery Novel
Reason for Reading : Cozy Mystery Challenge

Back in Shakespeare a body is found by Lily in the gym she works at. It was a bodybuilder and is clearly murder when his spotter strangled him with a set of weights. It seems to have been sparked by race relationships in the small town. Much unrest is mixed up between those of different colour and Lily gets in the middle defending a young black man despite her being white and her loyalties are questioned.

One of her cleaning bosses hired Jack Leeds to identify the ringleaders in the race issue. He believes they are connected to one of the businesses he runs and Jack goes undercover to lure them out. Lily breaks his cover though when she resognises him from the papers around her ordeal and we find out Jack's own painful past. They develop a bond having had so much negative media and they may just be able to pull each other through the town's difficulties.

Lily is a very different main character to Roe who I have spent more time with. I think I prefer Lily though, she is just a little more complicated which I like. There is a bit more to her despite her sad past. This book tackles some sensitive issues and it was done well. I look forward to getting to know Lily and Jack better in more of the series.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Since I started my job a year and a half ago I have been a poor blogger. I have barely been posting and have fallen so behind on my reader that I cleared all the posts and started again a couple of days ago. I have a new iphone (my favourite toy in the whole world!) so that when I travel I can now keep track of my google reader and rejoin the fabulous book blogging community. I am very behind on reviews and I plan on catching up completely by the end of September. I have also managed to complete a couple of challenges which I will wrap up again by the end of September.

So a review of where I am up to at the end of July :

Books Read : 13 (82 in total)

Once Upon a Time Challenge : 5/5 (Completed - needs wrapping up)
Cozy Mystery Challenge : 4/6
Manga Challenge : 5/6
Short Story Challenge : 2/5
Series Challenge : 3/5
Vampire Series Challenge : 4/6
Graphic Novel Challenge : 10/12
10 10 10 Challenge : 28/55
Sookie Stackhouse Challenge : 9/9 (Completed - needs wrapping up)
LJ Smith Challenge : 4/4 main books, no follow ups read
Challenge with Mariel : 2/5
Challenge with Nymeth : 5/5 (Completed - needs wrapping up)
Arthurian Challenge II : 4/4 (Completed - needs wrapping up)

Reviews to catch up on : 28