Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: 2010

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Stupidest Angel (A Review)

Hilarious, witty and perverse at the same time, this book is a must-read for any adult, especially if they're struggling with the stresses Christmas can bring. Picking up this book at the local library, I wasn't sure if it would be right for me, but it turned out to be so strange that it was good. Horror and humour put together with pure genius.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Carbon Footprint (A Review)

A tale with an unexpected ending and some funny moments, 'Monsieur Pamplemouse and the Carbon Footprint' is a good light read. I couldn't help thinking, however, that I had missed something on several ocassions. Whilst the subject is adult at times, the telling keeps some resembance to the Paddington Bear stories for which Michael Bond is famous. I appreciated the story, but will not bother to read more in the series.

I borrowed my copy from my local library!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Well of Lost Plots (A Review)

Another ingenious tale of bookworld by Jasper Fforde, this tale satirises the very process of writing itself. Funny and witty, this book is often hard to put down. Fforde's work is pure genius, his characters are surprising despite (or maybe because of) many being well-known by many an avid reader. Its hard to classify what genre his work forms, but this particularly book is more closely related to the detectove genre than any other. Jasper's work is enhanced by the presence of imaginative credits, adverts and, on his website, behind-the-scenes footage (accessed via the book's very own password). Highly recommended.

My copy was borrowed from the library and is therefore not available for BookCrossing or BFB purposes- sorry for any disappointment.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Millions (A Short Review)

A tale of the perils and pleasures money can bring- how it brings out the best in some and the worst in others. This book was a pleasure to read, full of humour and human interest. I haven't seen the movie- but might consider it after this read.

If you're interested in this book then I'm willing to send it out to anyone in the UK- please contact abigailann on BookCrossing or Abigail Ann on BookMooch if you're interested. All I ask is that the recipient registers the book's arrival on either BookCrossing or BornFreeBooks (I will register it with which ever is requested).

Monday, 29 November 2010

BookCrossing Through Middle Earth (A Review)

Enjoyed this journey through the "awesome" sights of New Zealand. As someone living in England, who has been to Australia once, it was interesting to read the Australian perspective of New Zealand and how British it seemed. Has given me a new enthusiasm for doing some more wild releasing over the Christmas period. Now looking for someone attending a convention / unconvention / large meetup to pass this book onto. 

Lavinia (A Review)

It was a long time ago that I read the Aeneid and I could remember little of what happened. This book was wonderful for reminding me of the adventures, and much easier to understand that the original text. Ursula le Guin made a fantastic job of retelling th story through the eyes of Lavinia, getting the balance just right between following Virgil's text and imagining where it could have been different. The result is a fascinating and emotional story which tells of the struggles of balancing religion and destiny, love and state, family and independence. Lavinia comes across as a complex character whose life is anything but easy despite what it may at first seem. The story also contains some interesting ideas as to where Rome's foundation myths may have originated. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the Aeneid, or simply loves Ancient History.I shall be adding this book to my permenant collection.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Life of Pi (A Review)

A fascinating and intriguing book. Thde author manages to make a totally unbelievable concept believable somehow and takes you on an adventure at the same time. As others have said, the first part was slightly tedious, but the second part more than made up for it. And the third part was a fitting ending. I look forward to passing this onto someone else who is interested in it.  

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Lost in a Good Book (A Review)

If you've never read a Jasper Fforde book, where have you been? A truly brilliant example of his work, 'Lost in A Good Book' is a wacky, imaginative and sometimes hilarious work of literature. Featuring books both well known and lesser known, time travel, dodos, mammoths and unexpected goings on- its suitable for fans of multiples genres. Fantastic (and fantastical) story- not to be missed. My only disappointment- the fact that it finished with a cliff-hanger. Really looking forward to reading the next chapter, now I just need to find space to add yet another book to my permenant collection.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

My Antonia (a brief review)

A very good book, easy to read and interesting at the same time. It really felt like someone was speaking their story to me.

Part of a BookCrossing spiral- please don't request from me!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Earthsea Quartet (brief review)

I really enoyed this book. A great read to journey away from everyday worries into a different world. Probably one of the longest books I've read in a long time, but I had no temptation to read other books between the stories. Now I just need time to read more Ursula le Guin. Will be holding onto this one, so that I have it to read again another time.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Foretelling (A Review)

A lovely book about what it means to discover yourself and unravel your own future. Set in an Amazonian tribe (as in the women warriors, not the place), its an interesting story with many twists and turns. Perfect for younger readers. 

I'm happy to send this book to any of my UK blog readers, provided that they will register its arrival with BookCrossing

The Roman Mysteries: The Secrets of Vesuvius (A Review)

Described for ages 8+, this book was equally as good as light reading for an adult. I loved the way that the author presented a lively and interesting tale, whilst maintaining a good degree of historical accuracy in the detail. A book that I would thoroughly recommend. I am going to hang on to so that I can share it with the young people in my life.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Dark Side of the Sun (A Review)

More Ursula le Guin meets Douglas Adams than usual Terry Pratchett fair. Don't get me wrong, I like both those authors, but it just wasn't quite what I was expecting. Some very quirky moments, but often hard to follow. I'm going to re-read this one at some point- I'm sure there's more to be got out of it than what I've found so far.

The World Acording to Clarkson (A Review)

I was surprised (and slightly worried TBH) by how many of Mr Clarkson's comments held within this book struck a chord with me. Funny commentary on our world today. Worth a read to remind yourself that you can't take life too seriously. 

This book is available for request to anyone in the UK who is willing to confirm its arrival using either BookCrossing, BookMooch or BornFreeBooks (will register on  relevant site when requested)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Tales of Beedle the Bard (A Review)

Interesting book, and certainly easier to read than the Harry Potter books. I whizzed through this book- taking only one evening to read it. I loved the commentary by Dumbledore and the way other Harry Potter characters were weaved into it. 

UK followers- feel free to request this book from me (through BookCrossing, Born Free Books or GoodReads), but be warned that it may be a while until I can send it out because I have currently leant it to a family member. 

The Help (A Review)

A thought-provoking and well-written book, dealing with some deep issues and obviously dear to the authors heart. The further I got into this book, the harder it was to put it down. It made me want to know more about apartheid america. 

Feel free to request this book (through BookCrossing, Born Free Books or GoodReads), but be warned that I have currently leant it to a family member, so I can't send it out straight away. 

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Swindon (Magic Roadabout) BookCrossing UnConvention

I'm sitting here in my room, having just finished making journal entries for the many books people kindly gave me at the BookCrossing UnConvention. I'm wearing my 'Let's have a magic UnCon' t-shirt and I'm feeling good. It was magical today, meeting up with many of the bookcrossers who had only been usernames previously, joining in a book-swap game and listening to Jasper Fford.

So, I'd just like to say a big thankyou to the organisers, the authors and fellow attendees. I'm sorry I could only stay for such a short time with you, but I have a great time anyway. And thankyou, of course, to all the people who left me books (especially my NSS who was enormously generous with her gift(s) and time in getting/making them). I do hope that you see this post and that you understand how much it all meant to me.

I would love to hear from anyone else who was there about your favourite moments. And if you weren't there where were you?!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Great Apes (A Review)

Despite not being a very inspiring premise, the author really captured my imagination with his thoughts on how a chimp society would differ from ours. It was a slow start, but got considerably better as the book went on.

Read as part of a BookCrossing ray, so please do not request that I send the book to you

Sunday, 12 September 2010

We Need To Talk About Kevin (A Review)

An amazingly engrossing book, told from the point of view of a mother trying to come to terms with her child's actions. I found it incredibly hard to put this book down, as it took me through all the tosses and turns ouf a less than ordinary family life. There were questions a plenty- all of which were resolved, but none truly answered. Sometimes shocking, this book is a must for anyone willing to question their expectations of what it means to be a criminal.

This book is available to anyone in the UK who would like to read it (otherwise I plan to take it to the BookCrossing UnConvention in Swindon)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Hippopotamus (A Review)

To be honest, whilst I like Stephen Fry on TV and enjoyed his autobiographical book, I found this story rather too crude for my liking. It was also quite hard to follow at first, because of the way it went back and forth between different characters and time periods. Whilst I can't say that I particularly enjoyed this book, I am glad that I read it. There was certainly a kind of feel-good factor to its ending. I don't think I'll be reading another Stephen Fry fiction however.

I am quite happy to send this book to any UK readers who are interested. Just send me a PM via BookCrossing, Born Free Books or BookMooch if you are interested.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Three Men in A Boat (Review & Stream of Suggestions)

The Review:
Jocular and informative, I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to read about what the Thames was like in the past and the anacedotes kept the mood light.

Please do not request this book as I borrowed it from family and its not mine to pass on!

Stream Of Suggestions
Books mentioned in the main text
Bradshaw's Guide
'Sandford and Martin' by Day  
Books mentioned in the introduction
'The Delightful Life of Pleasure on The Thames' by James Englefield
'On The Stage and Off' by Jerome K. Jerome
'Idle Thoughts of An Idle Fellow' by Jerome K' Jerome
'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stevenson
'A Study in Scarlet' by Conan Doyle
'King Soloman's Mines' by Rider Haggard
'Plain Tales from the Hills' by Rudyard Kipling
'Diary of a Nobody' by George and Weedon Grassmith
'Stage-Land' by Jerome K. Jerome
'Three Men on the Burrel' by Jerome K. Jerome
'The Passing of the Third Floor Back. by Jerome K. Jerome
Authors mentioned in the introduction
Kenneth Grahame

I already have 'Plain Tales from the Hills' in my TBR piles, so that will probably be my next 'Stream of Suggestions' book

Monday, 30 August 2010

Stream Of Suggestions Part 2

'To Say Nothing Of The Dog' was my first book in the stream of suggestions challenge. I really liked this idea so, despite dropping my reading challenges in general, I'm going to continue on looking for links between books.

Number 2 in my personal 'Stream Of Suggestions' will be 'Three Men in A Boat' by Jerome K. Jerome.
I first became interested in this book whilst watching the TV series 'Three Men in A Boat'. This, if I remember correctly, was about a river journey tracing the book. I found it very funny in places and was intrigued by the trips to places that I had been to, or at least knew of.
In 'To Say Nothing Of The Dog' the main character sees Jerome K. Jerome making his journey down The Thames. Again, there were many references which went over my head without having read the original book.
So now I'm sitting down to remedy the problem and hopefully remember some of the lovely humour from the book and TV series. Along the way I'm hoping that I will doscover the authors own humour and more about the history of some of the places that I have heard of first-hand of from others.

Keep an eye out for the books and authors that I discover references to as I make my journey. Where will the stream take me?

The Last Battle (A Review)

Revolutions being not my favourite biblical book, I was put off from reading this story which I had associated with it. But I was wrong! This has just become my favourite of all the Narnia books!
What's so special about it is the way the pleasure of the children transcends the page. You can imagine their joy and almost feel like you're there as well. There are no floral descriptions, but simple comparisons and admitions of being unable to describe what is being imagined take their place nicely. The links with the bible are clear, but not pushed in your face. I came away with a nice warm glow for which I can only thank C.S. Lewis.
The perfect end to a wonderful series!

Please do not request any of the books in the Narnia series- the book I was reading from is on my keeps list!
However do keep a look out here, on BookCrossing, BookMooch and Born Free Books, as I have a few old copies I may consider releasing into the wild at some stage.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

My blog backgrounds

With the advent of blogger backgrounds I chose a blue one with a book on it. Perfect to describe my blog- after all it is all about books. But then I got to thinking- did it really reflect my reading habits? And so, joining the Narnia Reading Challenge, I decided to change it to something more appropriate (in this case a Narnian-style wood). And then the challenge finished and I read some different books. And I got to thinking- why not change my background to suite that new book? The result- those of you visiting my blog will now see a variety of backgrounds relating to the book I'm currently reading.

I hope that this backgrounds will not only produce a bit of variety, but also help you decide what to read next.

Does you blog have an interesting background? Is there a story behind the backdrop of you website? Please do share.

Guppies for Tea (A Review)

Exceedingly accurate and sometimes moving, I thought at first that this book would be too much for me. But as it went on the side-plots became more interesting. I would have liked to have known what the author thought would happen next- it all ended on rather a cliff-hanger.

This book came from a ray on BookCrossing, however I do have another copy which I am willing to send out to my UK followers. If you're interested please leave a comment saying why you would like this book.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A Small Person Far Away (A Review)

I didn't find this book as interesting as the previous two in the series. It seemed to lack the interesting stuff about fitting in, apart from where it repeated incidents originally told in the other books. The character of Mama seemed rather unrealistic and, although I sympathised with her, Anna didn't seem as interesting. I came away from this book rather disappointed.

This book was part of a BookCrossing ray. Please ask there if you would like to read it.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Silver Chair (A Review)

I think this was probably the story that I was most interested in whilst watching the TV Narnia episodes many years ago. It had it all- intrigue, action, special effects and Tom Baker. No special effects (or Tom Baker come to mention it) in the book, but with a little imagination the words can really come alive. The way in which the children are portrayed is particularly interesting in this story, and even more so when you understand C.S Lewis' childhood. The story seems more grown-up somehow and Aslan more akin to the average Christian's relationship with God than in the other books I've read so far. All together well worth reading, after all it is part of our literary heritage!

Please do not request this book- it is in my 'keeps' collection!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Back To Narnia

I've finished all my BookCrossing rings and rays for the timebeing and so have a chance to return to the world of Narnia once more. As I previously said, I've been reading The Silver Chair alongside my main read. However, my voyage through the World of C.S. Lewis was temporarily halted when I started reading The Testament of Gideon Mack (surely a sign of how good that book was). Now I go back to Narnia. And with it goes my blog wallpaper- back to the woods where we first came across the secret world. The reading challenge may have ended but, if you too have read these books and have a comment to make, please do let me know.

The Testament of Gideon Mack (A Review)

I seem to be reading rather a lot of fictional books that claim to be real at the moment. First there was 'The Woman Who Walked Into Doors' and now there's 'The Testament of Gideon Mack'. The blurb describes this book as "a compelling blend of memoir, legend, history and, quite possibly, madness". I wonder what other books of this kind have fallen on to me shelves yet to be noticed by myself?

A rather unique premise which made me want to read on and on. Wasn't sure what my opinion would be of this book, but it was extremly well-written and surprisingly easy to believe given the unusual premise.

This book was part of a BookCrossing ring! The ring has reached the end of its life now, but the originator has asked for the book to be returned to them, so please let them know if you would be interested in reading it. 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Woman Who Walked into Doors (A Review)

Wow! Its hard to believe that this story is a work of fiction, let alone by a male author writing as a woman. So believable was the tone and 'voice' of the text that this was emotionally harder to read than many real life stories I have read. I almost went as far as putting the book away because of the feelings it was creating. But I'm glad I persisted- this book is fantastically written and is a must read, if just for the experience.

This book was part of a BookCrossing ray- please don't request it from me, check out BookCrossing to join the ray if you're interested.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Bombs on Aunt Dainty by Judith Kerr (A Review)

Charming and emotional at the same time, this book portrays what it is like to be both a teenager and someone living in a place that has yet to fully accept them. You really feel like part of the events. Suitable for teenagers and adults alike!

This book was part of a ray- please join the BookCrossing ray if you would like to read this copy!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

My recent book activity

This past week or so has been one of those times when everything comes at once. Whilst I've had a chance to do some reading inbetween 'real world' and work, there's been no real times to post on my blogs and websites. And I've decided that, since this is unlikely to change any time soon, it would be best if I stopped doing reading challanges for the time being. So, I guess that means the end for my detailed Narnia posts this year.

On the plus side, I intend to keep making offline reviews of the books I read and post loads at once whenever I get the chance. I should also be able to keep track of what I buy and release in a similar way. So, look out for temporary post overloads, coming soon! Also, those of you who like to request books, should know that I'll probably be offering more of the books I read for sending out, as well as wild releasing at a slower rate. So, UK readers, request away (and I may even offer the ocassional EU/ international book as well)

For now, back to what I've been reading since my last post.
Well, I've continued to read The Chronicles of Narnia and have moved on from Prince Caspian to The Voyage of The Dawn Treader. The theology in this story got me slightly confused, especially where it seemed as if several of the characters could have represented God / Jesus / The Holy Spirit. I've decided that I definately need to start reading some books about the theology in the Narnia stories rather than just trying to work it out for myself.

Whilst The Chronicles of Narnia is a very good read, the version I've been using was far too heavy to carry out with me on a daily basis. So, I've also started reading 'Bombs on Aunt Dainty' by Judith Kerr- a book which was send to me as part of a BookCrossing ring. Its the sequel to 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit' and I'm also on the ring list to read the next book in the series. More about that when I've finished reading.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Prince Caspian: My Introduction

A book and TV series, another memory from my childhood. To be honest both have blurred in my mind over time, allowing me to wonder at what I will discover when I re-read this story. Due to a busy schedule this story will probably take a bit longer for me to read than the others, but I hope that this will give me the time to ponder the subtle references which are often a feature of the Narnia series. Please do journey with me in this adventure.

The Horse and His Boy (A Review)

OK, so you've probably got fed up of me commenting on this book, but I promise this will be my last post on the subject (for now, at least).

I find this book a bit slow at first. The tale seemed simple and uninspiring, the biblical references obvious and inconsistant. However, once Aslan revealed himself the tale become more interesting. I started to look back and consider the forms in which he had appeared before. What was his purpose? Was there a grand design in the mind of the author? How did it compare with God's role in our own world? Worth reading as part of the Narnia serious, although still not as good as some of the other stories in my opinion.

The Horse and His Boy: Entering Narnia

The second thing that struck me about 'The Horse and His Boy' was the differing reactions that the main characters had on entering Narnia. I'm going to look at each of the four main character's reactions one at a time, and also the reaction of Rabadash, which is also very interesting.

Shasta enters Narnia in the dead of night without even realising it. He is guided to his destination by Aslan, who stops him falling off the trecherous paths which he must take. He seems unphased by his entry, as if it just had to happen at some point. And neither is he phased by meeting a talking hedgehog, despite never having encountered one before. In fact the only things that surprises him seems to be the centaurs. He is pleased with the new country, and even more pleased to find himself officially a part of it. He is relectant to take his rightful place as king, but only because it pushes Corin from the throne- he is a humble boy.

In contrast, Bree is a proud creature. She does not want to enter Narnia until she is as good as she can be. She does not want to seem less than the other horses in Narnia. She does not believe the tales that she is told, although she uses the language of Narnia. It is only when Aslan teaches her that her behaviour is foolish that she is ready to enter Narnia.

Avaris has been brought up to see Narnia as a dangerous place, and yet she is eager to get there. She wariness still remains in her attitude towards Aslan- since he is a lion, and lions are dangerous, he too must be dangerous! And yet she is ready to accept his reassurance that his paws are velvetted and will not hurt her.

Hwin has always longed to see Narnia, his home. He is not bothered how they arrive in  the country, he just wants to get there. And, knowing that Aslan is the deliverer of Narnia, he puts his life in his paws (literally), despite his fears.

Now let us take a look at Rabadash. Rabadash tried to conquer Narnia, to overcome the power of its army. Of course, all that happens is that he is made to look a fool. He will not learn to be humble and instead tries to scare away his enemies, he is unable to see when he is defeated. And so he leaves Narnia under the control of Aslan and all who follow him- tame, lowly and a fool. Aslan forces peace upon him and makes him rule his own country in a much humbler manner. He will never be allowed to set foot in Narnia again!

The Horse and his Boy: Meeting "Myself"

I was struck by how different the way Aravis, Shasta, Bree and Hwin met Aslan (also known as 'Myself') was from how characters met him in the previous two Narnia books I read. Aslan does not appear in all his glory, showing himself as king of Narnia. Instead he works in more subtle ways- changing the path that the children and horses follow, protecting them and teaching them lessons in the process.

Aslan is there at the tombs, allowing Shasta to sleep in comfort against his back. Then he appears as a domestic cat, meek and mild. And before Shasta actually sees Aslan, knowing that he is something alive is enough to persuade him to tell of his sorrows. He is there at times of needs without being called.

Aslan looked after Shasta as a child, delivering him safely from the sea. He drove away the jackels from the tomb. And he saved Narnia by making sure that the horses travelled fast enough to get Shasta to King Lune in time.

The Aslan of 'The Horse and His Boy' judge and prosecutor. He punishes Avaris for her actions, and makes her understand the true nature of them. He mets out justice against Rabadash. But he is not unfair in his judgement- his wounding Avaris serves a double purpose; he gives Rabadash every chance to repent and effectively allows him to go unharmed so long as he lives in peace with his neighbouring countries.

Ultimately, Aslan is simply himself. He cannot be defined by known concepts, his nature defies true explanation. It is clear that in this name of Aslan, C.S. Lewis echoes the description of the Old Testament god as 'I Am'.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Horse and His Boy: My Introduction

Now, this is one that I don't think I've ever got to the end of before. I remember trying to read it quite a few years ago and feeling slightly lost at times. I think the problem was mainly the fact that its not taking place in Narnia, but across a series of other countries in the same world (if I remember rightly). Hopefully, now that I'm a bit older, it'll be easier to understand and I'll enjoy it more.

Not sure what I'll be focusing on yet for blog posts, I guess I'll just see what inspires me.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (A Review)

I felt much more connected with this book than I did reading 'The Magician's Nephew'. I don't know if that's because the story is so much more familiar to me, or if there's something different about the characters or the writing style. I did love, however, when the reader was being addressed directly, it made it feel as if the story was written just for you. Maybe the reason for this was because, as it says in the dedication, it was written for C.S. Lewis' goddaughter, Lucy. The only thing that disappointed me was how quickly the story started. I felt that it could have done with more background setting, like in the adaptations I've seen. But maybe this is just a sign of the changing times.

Part 3 of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: Even the Smallest.....

Whether its the mice freeing Aslan, Lucy healing the wounded or Peter leading his first battle, in the world of Narnia we are shown that even the smallest (or least unexpected) can make a difference. What is it that allows them to do this? Faith! Without it they become like Edmund before he knew Aslan- controlled by their desires and fears. Are we too like this, or as we willing to face the dangers that might make even the smallest decision the most important we have ever made?

Part 2 of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe- Meeting the White Witch

Having looked at the different ways characters reacted to meeting Aslan in 'The Magician's Nephew', I thought it would be interesting to study also how characters react to The White Witch. The events I describe take place up to the end of Chapter 13.

We have already seen a variety of reactions within 'The Magician's Nephew'. I won't go into great detail here (I don't want to spoil it for anyone who's not read that story'. Suffice to say that some saw great wonder and beauty in her, whilst others saw danger and deception. But how do the characters of 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' react? For this, I will look at 5 different groups of reactions.

1. Edmund
When Edmund first meets the witch he has no idea who she is. He is impressed by her sledge, but at the same time worried about the way he looks at her. She reacts violently towards him at first, but he is soon too preoccupied with food, drink and promises to remember this. She tempts him and wins. Peter later says that the proceeding betrayal is partly his own fault because he had been so mean to Edmund. This may be partly the case, as Edmund has doubts when he returns to Narnia once more with his siblings. These doubts are pushed aside by anger towards his brother, often unjustified by blown up by ill-feelings. This ill-feeling is multiplied and projected onto his other siblings because of their rejection of the Queen whom he has convinced himself will give him power. But, all too soon, the true nature of the Witch is shown as he becomes useless once more. She breaks her promises and turns against her former prince in one move. Now she is something to be feared, but still he feels that he must do her will. It is only now that Edmund sees what he has lost by making his alliance.

2. Mr Tumlus
We are not present at the moment when Mr Tumlus meets the White Witch, but we do know a lot about his reaction to her. He promises to follow her and to give up any humans that come his way to her. Unlike Edmund, however, this does not seem to be so that he can gain rewards. In fact, if we are to believe what he tells Lucy, then the opposite is true. His actions are motivated by fear, fear that he will be killed, or worse, if he does not do what is ordered of him. It is easy because he has never met a human. Maybe he has heard tales of evil humans, as the beavers claim that there are both good and bad kinds, and is prejudiced against them (we shall never know). But when he sees the kindness in Lucy then he manages to break the Witch's grip over him, even though it means that she will destroy him.

3. Peter, Susan and Lucy
This meeting is passed over very quickly, but it is quite important. All three siblings have heard tales of the evil witch. We are told that they feel shudders running down their backs at the sight of her. And yet they do not run or hide. Why is this? Surely because they have Aslan with them.

4. The rescue party sent to Edmund
They rush in and seize Edmund, knocking the dagger out of The Witch's hand in the process. They have no fear of her! Surely this is true belief in the protective nature of Aslan. They have been sent to rescue Edmund and so they will complete that mission, there is no danger for them! What is interesting here is that just before this meeting the White Witch has been boasting about being able to turn Aslan's army to stone, and yet she hides from a simple rescue party. 

5. Aslan
Of course, this is not the first time Aslan has been The White Witch. When they met before she cowered and ran away. This time she is more confident- the world has been under her control! And yet Aslan also remains confident and sure. He allows her to come amongst his people (all be it unarmed). He talks with her in private. He makes deals with her which he believes she will keep, despite prior evidence. And he is ultimately in control! For he can send her running away with a roar dare she question him!

Part 1 of 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'- Finding Trust and Narnia

Having read to the end of Chapter 6 and watched the movie up to the same point, the main difference that has struck me is the increased lack of trust shown by the children in the film version. The reasons for this are clearly set up- they have been evacuated in the middle of the Blitz, having already experienced a terrible air raid themselves. There father is at war and Edmund, in particular, is extremly fond of him. Much more is made of this than in the book, probably because of an expectation that the audience may not understand the background to events as the original reader would have. I do wonder however, whether the addition of Edmund's worries about his father are not a product of our blame culture, as if what he is going to do is simply a result of the terrible society in which he has grown up. Anyway, with this background in mind and combined with our modern fears, it is easy to see why the movie includes more trust issues.

Firstly, Mrs McCredie makes a big issue about not just interrupting her tours but a mirad of other things including not disturbing the professor. It is as if she cannot trust the children to behave without her direct instructions. Secondly, when Lucy meets Mr Tumlus it is not only the faun that is shocked but her as well. They both come across as a lot more scared. This gives an opportunity for the film Lucy to be reassured prior to an invitation to Mr Tumlus' house which, incidentally, she seems to be more hesitant about still. Thirdly, on a similar theme, Edmund needs to be saved by The White Witch before he trusts her enough to accept food, and then he only accepts said food after talking for a while. One wonders if these are the director's attempts to reinterate 'don't accept food from strangers'- the character has to be established as a possible friend before food can be taken. Fourthly, partly in reaction to Mrs McCredie's added warning, the Susan and Peter seem a lot more wary of talking to The Professor. In the book it is there choice to go to him and they talk freely with the reassurance that the story will be sent home if necessary. In the film they seem almost worried of being judged unable to look after their sister. They only talk to The Professor because they are forced to be Lucy's bumping into him, and then they do it hesitantly. Lastly, Peter and Susan's talk to The Professor seems to suggest that they agree with Edmund that little children often carry their imaginations too far. The only mention of madness, or that she could really believe what's happening, comes from the adult present and then only in passing. The implication is that it is totally reasonable not to trust strangers, adults you've only known a short while (even if they are officially caring for you) and young children (even siblings)- in short that it is natural not too trust others.

Interestingly, there is one difference between the movie and the book that does not fit this pattern! The final entry into the wardrobe in both versions is made when escaping from Mrs McCredie. But, in the book, this is simply because there is a tour going on which they've been told not to disturb. In the film not only are the children already in trouble for waking The Professor, they've also broken a window. I wonder if this increased impetus for running away does not reflect the difference in seriousness needed to reprimand children in today's society. To run away simply because they were happened upon is no longer enough- in such circumstances today could they not have simply stated that it was an accident there being there!

Anyway, back to the book.
I wanted to look at the different ways in which the children enter Narnia, referring to The Magicians' Nephew (which I recently read) and occassionally the film version as well.
  1. The first child to enter is Lucy. Lucy has no prior conception of Narnia when she enters, she simply wishes to explore (something that is lost in the film). Like Digory and Polly, she has to reassure herself that she will be able to get back home. But, like them,  she also has the childlike innocence that allows her to be open to new ideas. She has no issue with their being such things as fauns, in-fact she hardly seems surprised to come across Mr Tumlus. The movie portays this innocence beautifully when Lucy first sees the woods- and it is worth watching only for this moment. I couldn't help but think that this is what Jesus must have meant by entering the kingdom of God like a child. It is almost with sadness that I read about her beginning to doubt that it was real.
  2. The next to find Narnia is Edmund. He already found that he could not enter the other world when he was looking for it. He has told everyone that he doesn't believe Lucy and we are told that he enters the wardrobe only to tease her. However, we are also told that he is only a year older than Lucy and his teasing reminds me very much of that of a young boy who mocks something because he is scared to believe that it might be true. And whilst he's not prepared for the weather in Narnia, he doesn't seem to surprised to be there really. The book simply says that he was reluctant to admit that he had been wrong. Interestingly, he seems naturally afraid of the new place in a way that none of his siblings seem to have been. Is this, like Uncle Andrew, because he knows he's done something wrong?
  3. Finally, Susan and Peter enter Narnia. They too could not enter the other world when they were searching for proof. Is this C.S. Lewis' way of saying that if we search for proof of our faith then we will not find it? Eventually, when least expecting it, they do manage to get into Narnia. At this point they are not even considering what Lucy had said and even if they were, they have been prepared by The Professor to be more willing to accept the truth. Was that talk necessary to allow them entry into the other world?

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: My Introduction

The Magician's Nephew left us with a cliff-hanger that clearly naturally leads into the 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' story. This is one of the stories that I've read many a time, seen in a TV series and watched the movie version of. However, it is quite a while since I last read it and so I'm looking forward to seeing how the dramatisations (both of which I've seen more recently) compare with it. My intention, therefore, it to watch the movie version alongside my reading and blog about the differences and any effect that this has on the story.

The Magician's Nephew: A Review

On the face of it a simple and charming fairytale, as with all of the Chronicles of Narnia there is a deeper meaning hidden within its pages. This is one of the things that I love about the Narnia series- the way in which, depending on what mood I'm in, I can take the stories on a variety of levels. The Magician's Nephew does not disappoint in this respect! I'm only surprised that no-ones made it into a movie yet!

Please do not request this book, as its a keeper!

Day 2 of The Magician's Nephew: Meeting Aslan

Having now read to the end of the book, I'd like to reflect on the different reactions characters had to meeting Aslan, as well as the world of Narnia itself. There seem to be five main types of reaction, ranging from that of The Witch at one end to that of Polly and the Cabbie on the other.

Reaction 1: The Witch
The witch's immediate reaction is to challenge Aslan. She believes herself stronger than him and able to conquer his will. When she finds that she cannot win a face-to-face battle she leaves silently, but with the intention of becoming stronger still and subverting his followers in the meantime. Aslan tells us here that her ploys have brought her what she desires, but not what is good for her. She is unable to see the bad side-effects however, and so would see no reason to repent. She seems to personify devil or even evil itself, but I wonder whether there isn't an element of her in some people as well. Is she the person who sees God and yet not only rejects him but actively argues that others should do so as well?

Reaction 2: Uncle Andrew
Uncle Andrew briefly sees the goodness in Aslan's song but, once presented with who is making the noise, refuses to hear it any longer. To him it becomes gibberish, non-sensical and dangerous. Aslan is simply an animal, and a dangerous one at that. The result of these beliefs is that he sees all the well-intentioned actions of the Narnians in a fearful manner and they become dangerous to him because he can longer communicate his wishes. As Aslan says, he blocks what he does not wish to see. Aslan can do nothing but give him rest as acceptance needs to come from within. This is probably the easiest character to see an equivilant of in our own world.

Reaction 3: Digory
Digory wants to believe, but finds it hard. He is fearful of Aslan at first because he knows that he has done wrong. Yet he is brave enough to confront him with the needs of another. Hedoubts himself, but finds reassurance through Aslan. He is faced with temptation and yet finds the determination in himself to overcome it and follow the will of Aslan. It is not an easy path for him and yet it is one that will ultimately bring protection to the whole of Narnia, as well as rewarding him with his greatest desire. Since this desire is at one with Aslan's, it is one which will also bring him true happiness. No doubt many Christians walk the path of Digory, so it should be conforting to remember that his actions unknowingly lead to the construction of rather special wardrobe

Reaction 4: Polly
Polly's reactions are probably the least stated in the story- they are very important however. Polly silently watches as Aslan completes his work. She is wary of him and seeks reassurances, yet she does not back away and answers at his bequest. She is the friend of Digory, helping him complete his work. She does not interfere when the Witch tempts him, knowing that it is not her place, but she is ready to be there once again when he needs her. How many Polly's do you know, silently striving to help others complete God's will?

Reaction 5: The Cabbie
 Probably the most interesting quotable passage has to be this one:
"Son", said Aslan to the Cabbie. "I have known you long. Do you know me?"
"Well, no, sir," said the Cabby. "Leastwise, not in an ordinary manner of speaking. Yet I feel somehow, if I may make so free, as 'ow we've met before"
"It is well," said the Lion. "You know me better than you think you know, and you shall live to know me better yet"
In this way, The Cabbie's meeting with Aslan is not a usual one. It seems to me that there are two possible interpretations of this passage: 1) C.S. Lewis is pointing on to us that the Cabbie knows God in our world and, since this is the case, he must also know Aslan; or 2) It is possible to know God in our world without realising it, i.e. without calling yourself a Christian or any other religion. Now it strikes me that the 2nd idea might be contraversal to some, but I put it out there as a possible intended interpretation.
Whatver the intended interpretation of the passage, the Cabbie's reaction to Aslan is clearly as the King of Narnia. He seems full of wonder, more awed than fearful. And he is ready to do Aslan's will, even if it seems beyond his abilities. He promises to do his best to everything that Aslan says, and is justly rewarded for his loyalty. He is to be the rock and the foundation of Narnia!

Day 1 of The Magician's Nephew

I've been surprised so far how much of this story I actually know. I could have sworn, prior to starting, that I'd never read the book or seen any commentary / TV series about it. Well, maybe I read it a long time ago, or maybe I've just picked up a lot from general Narnia commentaries. Whatever the reason, its interesting to find out how much I remembered and how much is new to me.

Reading chapters 1-6, I was struck by the way in which travelling to another world and the dangers it brings seems to be linked up with exploration into unknown places. In The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the children find Narnia through playing Hide and Seek into a forbidden room, in  The Silver Chair Eustace and Jill are trying to escape through a locked door. There's also an element of trying to escape from everyday life, often from those everyday badies of non-sympathetic grown-ups or bullies.

Is it like this in our everyday lives? Do we try to escape the day to day problems by travelling into the unknown, only to find greater troubles? And is this a necessary process to find or own 'Narnia', or is 'Narnia' the way of getting out of situations we should not have put ourselves into in the first place?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Narnia Reading Challenge: The Magician's Nephew

I've finally managed to get through all the BookCrossing rings and rays on my TBR pile and can start on The Chronicles of Narnia! Yipee!!!!!!!!

I'm reading the books using a complete Chronicles of Narnia and taken in the order they are presented in that edition- The Magician's Nephew; The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; and The Last Battle. Out of these it is The Magician's Nephew; The Horse and His Boy; and The Last Battle which I am least familiar with.

My intention, as I said in my introduction, is mainly to familiarise myself with those books that I remember least. This means that I aim to read at least the 3 stories mentioned above. In addition, I would like to re-read the other stories and compare them to the movie and TV versions which I have in my possession.

Anyway, on to The Magician's Nephew. I know very little about this story at the moment. The little I do know is from a study guide to biblical references in the chronicles. From what I remember there is a boy called Diggory and his uncle (although I may be confusing this with another story from the chronicles). I also believe that it concerns the early days of Narnia. It will be interesting to see how the story begins.

Anyway, look out for comments as I read along (hopefully), or at least a review when I finish. For now I must start reading

The Stars Like Dust by Asimov (A Review)

I'd heard a lot of praise for Asimov, but for some reason I had always felt that I would not enjoy this works. I think, maybe, I had the impression that it would be like Arthur C. Clarke- of whose books that I've read I only enjoyed the 2001: A Space Odyssey series so far. So I'm glad that I gave this BookCrossing ray a try, because I found that I really enjoyed this book. The plot twists kept the story alive and my brain engaged. And there was something about the writing style which I enjoyed (although I can't quite put my finger on it). If this is truly not the best of his work, as other reviewers have suggested, then I look forward to reading more of his stuff.

If you're interested reading this book then check out the ray on bookcrossing- new participants are still being accepted!

Just received- Joe, the only boy in the world

Yesterday, I received a wonderful gift as a thankyou for some voluntary work (how did they know I like reading, lol). The book is Joe, the only boy in the world by Michael Blastland.
Here's what the blurb says:
A little boy stops on a slide and sings, oblivious to the queue snapping behind him. In a hardware store, he plonks himself on a display toilet before crowds of shoppers and wees. He thumps crying babies. Joe is ten and mentally disabled. He lives in a bubble of misunderstanding and occasional calamity. He's funny, fascinating, maddening.
This remarkable book tells Joe's story, but it also argues something audacious: that until you know Joe's life, you can't fully understand your own; that his misadventures teach us 'nothing less than the people-ness of people
Through his strangeness, Joe makes normaity luminous: how we make sense of others, what we mean by guilt and innocence, how we perceive our surroundings. All of which invites an outrageous question: for of Joe sets humanity in such sharp relife, how is he still a part of it? The author who asks is Joe's father. Here is the answer
I'm always interested in books which show us a different way of viewing the world, whether they're in different cultures, or just experience life in another way. As the blurb of this book says, I too believe that the can be used to gain a deeper understanding of our own lives and social norms. I'm looking forward to reading this book and hoping that it reveals Joe to be not mentally disabled, but a person with a mental disability which sheds light on us all.

Since I read a lot of books about people with special needs, I'm considering making a book-box of them. If you're interested (and are a member of BookCrossing) please let me know and I'll put you on a list for if this ever happens (or for this book if I decide against the idea for finacial reasons)

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Women of Magdelene (A brief review)

I received this book as part of a bookcrossing ray!

The women of Magdelene are dying and no one seems to care, least of all the haughty Dr Kingston, the director of the genteel Ladies' Lunatic Asylum.
Set it the shattered post-Civil War South, Women of Magdalene is a beautiful tale of deception, betrayal, greed and self-sacrifice.  

My (brief) review:
Often deeply moving, I found this book hard to put down. It was extremly thought-provoking and gave a good insight into the time when it was set.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The White Queen (A Review)

The copy that I read was part of a BookCrossing ring. Please don't request it from me- if you're interested in borrowing it then check out the ring at BookCrossing!

1464. Cousin is at war with cousin, as the houses of York and Lancaster tear themselves apart....
And Elizabeth Woodville, a young Lacastrian widow, armed only with her beauty and her steely determination, seduces and marries the charismatic warrior king, Edward IV of York.
Crowned Queen of England, surrounded by conflict, betrayal and murder, Elizabeth rises to the demands of her position, fighting tanaciously for her family's survival. Most of all she must defend her two sons, who become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing Princes in the Tower.
Set amid the tumult and intrigue of the Wars of the Roses, this is the first of a stunning new series, in which internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this extraordinary drama to vivid life through the women- beginning with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen

My review:
It took me a little while to get into this book, but I'm glad I persisted. The character of Elizabeth was complex and interesting. I feel as if I really understand the intrigues and differences of the period now.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

BookCrossing wishlists now working!

Having heard that BookCrossing wishlists are now working, I've just been over there to update mine. All books now listed are ones that I am hoping for! And I will now start adding books that I would like to read once more as well.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Narnia Reading Challenge

I used to love watching the TV series about the world of Narnia when I was little, and along side that I read several of the books. So, when I saw the Narnia Reading Challenge on the 'Reading to know' blog I thought it would be a great opportunity to read some of the less famous books. Plus, I may just get round to watching some of the series as well.

So, look out for posts about Narnia during July. And, if you're interested in Narnia, why not join in as well.

Monday, 21 June 2010

War of the Worlds- A Review

Surprised myself at how quickly I read this- must be a good sign. I finally understand now about all the panic when the radio-version was first broadcast. H.G.Wells writes in a realistic and gripping manner which makes you want to read on and on. Even knowing what would happen from TV productions, I found the book hard to put down. A true classic!

I've actually found myself inspired to try listening to the radio programme again (if I can find a copy). I seem to remember trying to sit down to it 10 or so years ago, but I was younger then so I think its well time for another go. Will try to remember to post something here if I do.

This book was part of a ring, so please don't request it from me!

'Our Tragic Universe'- A Review

Exploring and debating the reality of the universe, I found myself contemplating many of the issues rasied in this fictional story. It is as if the characters' journeys are a distorted image of real life and the inner struggles than many go through. The idea of structuring this around an author appealed to me, as did the idea of trying to explore the world without genre stereotypes. The story was slow or almost non-existant in parts, so I had to use my imagination to full in the gaps (something I don't mins doing, but others might feel should be the job of the author alone). Worth giving a go- you may enjoy it like I did!

Please note that this review correponds to an uncorrected proof copy!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Born Free Books

I've just joined Born Free Books

It's a brand new book-sharing site, along similar lines to BookCrossing. It's clean-looking and its designer is committed to the principles of keeping as many people reading as possible.
The site says:
If you're anything like us, you're sitting on a veritable goldmine of information and adventure; but you've unlocked every ancient treasure and solved every murder mystery. Instead of allowing these assets to collect dust in a shady corner, why not liberate them using this Born Free Books service and community. Don’t worry; they won’t be completely gone as we will add them to your virtual online library where you can enjoy the history of your reading in a beautiful 'coverflow' environment and follow your books as they travel the globe – delighting, enlightening, entertaining and thrilling.
Those of you who know me from BookCrossing- don't worry, this doesn't mean I've given up on BC.
I simply intend to widen the range of my books by using a combination of both sites. I'm not sure exactly how this will work yet, but be reassured that I intend to make it work.

Why not pop across and join BornFreeBooks now?! You'll be supporting a fledging site with a lot of potential! You can share your love of reading in yet another way! Plus, if you're one of the first 1,000 members you get a free Born Free Books Starter Pack! It would be great to see you there!

Wild Release #50

Made a trip over to Gloucestershire in the glorious sunshine yesterday. Whilst there I dropped off a book on a bench outside the car park. Someone had picked up the book by the time I went past again in the afternoon! Hopefully they'll find the BookCrossing sticker and let us know where it goes.

The was The Painted Veil and you can find more about the BookCrossing copy by clicking here

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Stream of Suggestions: To Say Nothing Of The Dog

Those of you who have been keeping an eye on my reading challenges page will have noticed that I recently signed up to 'The Stream of Suggestions Reading Challenge'
This challenge is to follow a trail of authors from one book to another mentioned one to the next.

My first book for this challenge will be 'To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis'.
I've chosen this book because it includes a multitiude of references to other books. This will give me plenty of scope to back-track should I hit a dead-end.
Here are the books mentioned, presuming they're all real of course (from which I can choose any of their authors to read next in the challenge):
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Howard's End by E.M. Forster
  • Oliver Twist
  • The Lady of Shalott
  • The French Revolution by Carlyle
  • The Admirable Chrichton
  • The Importance of Being Ernest
  • Through The Looking Glass
  • The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Commentaries by Blackstone
  • The Industrial Revolution by Tonybee
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • Strong Poison
  • An Old-Fashioned Girl
  • Have His Carcase
  • A Study in Scarlett by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Descent of Man by Darwin
  • The Decline and Fall
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • The Fountain Pen Mystery
  • The Seasons by James Thomson
  • Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie
  • The Sittaford Mystery
  • The Masqued Murder
I'm thinking, at the moment, that I shall probably read either Three Men in A Boat or Alice in Wonderland as the next book in this challenge, although I may try one of the murder mysteries (to link with The No Ruts Reading Challenge should I find one of the authors hidden in my extensive unread collection)

Further reading for this challenge will be posted on my current reading challenges page, and I'll also post a summary of links under the 'Stream if Suggestions' label.

To Say Nothing Of The Dog (A Review)

No, not the classic book of the same name, but a time-travelling romp by Connie Willis. Truly enthralling, this is a tale of dogs, cats, rivers, love and unexpected consequences. I found it both thought-provoking and entertaining. The characters of Henry and Verity were well-rounded, whilst others were hilarious or simply added to the events in a silent but meaningful fashion. A book that I would like to own someday, so that I can read it again and again.

If you want to read it yourself its still possible to join the ray on BookCrossing

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

'Watermelon' makes its way to London

I've been waiting a while for one of my wild released books to be caught in the wild for a second time. And now, just before my first BookCrossing anniversary, its finally happened. A journal entry has just come in (click here to see it) saying that 'Watermelon by Marian Keyes' has made its way to Oxford Train station and is now on its travels to London. Hopefully someone will pick it up there so that the book can continue its adventures.
Who knows, maybe it'll become an international book?

Monday, 31 May 2010

Atonement (A Review)

Simply one of the best books I have recently had the pleasure of reading! The way the story was presented through several different view-points and effortlessly spanned the centuries was pure genius. Ontop of that, I became enthralled by the exploration of character and writing techniques made by Briony. I'm certainly interested both in reading more of Ian McEwan's work and watching the film of this book!

Wild Release #48 and another new book

Used the bank holiday as an opportunity to visit Grey's Court near Henley. They had a booksale on when I got there. I was very good, however, and only bought one book (to replace to one I had planned to BookCross whilst there).

The book I bought was 'No Full Stops in India by Mark Tully'. I'm hoping to use this one towards the Round the World Reading Challenge that I'm currently participating in. There's also a BookCrossing release challenge called 'The Places Where We Go' that I took part in this year. Maybe this book would be useful for that if its repeated next year.

The book I sent on its way at Grey's Court was Katherine by Anya Seton. I had planned to save this book for a release challenge involving names, but I couldn't resist making a release for the 52 Towns in 52 Weeks Challenge and this was the most suitable book for Grey's Court.

By the way, do take a look at my new challenge pages if you're interested in release or reading challenges.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Songbird (A Review)

Not the sort of book I would normally choose to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story was interesting and vivid. The main character was intriguing. All in all, well worth a read.

I will be registering and RABCKing this book as soon as I'm sure the new BookCrossing website will take the strain. 

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Queen and I (A Review)

The premise of this book was fantastic and often produced hilarious moments. The royal family were portrayed is an imaginative and convincing way. This would probably be better suited to those who know about the way UK politics works. The only disappointing thing for me was the ending.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Fantastic booksale & Wild Releases #46 and #47

Popped out to Shippon's church for their Spring booksale this morning. Having been disappointed by the description giant being attached to the last sale I went to (elsewhere) I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised. There was barely room to move between the two rows of tables stretched right across the hall, and there were 2 more tables outside. Much deserving of the label 'giant', although it was not applied.

Now, those of you who have been following my blogs may realise that in these conditions I would surely end up coming away with quite a few books. OK in this case quite a few is probably an understatement, in fact 'all you can carry' would probably be a more appropriate phrase. I left with two bags full- 16 books in total (including 2 which I already had, 1 on purpose and 1 by mistake).

The full list is as follows:
  • A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
  • The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer
  • A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer
  • Only Strange People Go To Church by Laura Marney
  • First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
  • Not The End of the World by Christopher Brookmyre
  • Back Home by Michelle Magorian
  • Mourning Ruby by Helen Dunmore
  • Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • The Eternal Quest by Julian Branstorm
  • Gridlock by Ben Elton
  • Blast From The Past by Ben Elton
  • The First Casualty by Ben Elton
  • The Miracle Maker Resource Book
  • Inconceivable by Ben Elton (turned out I already had this one)
  • Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (to donate to the BC SF-F Library)
As usual, I plan to register these books with BookCrossing (with the exception of The Miracle Maker Resource Book) and wild release them (apart from Night Watch). If any UK BookCrossers would like to be sent one of these books as a controlled release then please let me know. I may also be open to creating rings for these, or some of my other bought books listed on this website, due to increasing lack of space. Do contact me via BookCrossing if you would be interested.

Anyway, having bought all these books, I had to get rid of at least 1. So I decided to wild release 2 which I had finished with. 'A Sudden Fearful Death' was left near the booksale in Shippon and I also dropped off That's Amazing By Spike Milligan on a bench opposite the toyshop in Abingdon. Neither have been journalled yet, so they may still be out there. Good luck if you go hunting.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What would you think if this happened in your library?

Certainly makes a change from the usual stereotype of dull, quiet libraries ;)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Nowhere Man (A Review)

I felt that this book should have been fantastic, but I just didn't get it. Sometimes I was confused by which character's POV was being taken and I felt that I didn't have enough background about the characters to help me. I wonder if having read 'The Question of Bruno' first would have helped me with this. As it was I was able to appreciate the interesting language and the different approach of the author, but it didn't really work for me.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Cakes Created For Book Lovers

Saw a BookCrossing link to a fabulous blog entry about cakes shaped like or inspired by books. Some absolutely fabulous ones over there, well worth a look.

Just to give you an taste, here's my favourite (or should I say favourites):

More on the 'Cake Wrecks' blog

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Painted Veil (A Review)

I found this book a hard read at first, but I'm glad I persisted because it turned out to be rather a gem. Kitty's character was complex and intriguing, as were the book's events. Definatly worth a read.

This book was the April read for The Historical Fiction BookClub on BookCrossing.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Wild Release #45

Diwali- Living Festivals

Released in Abbey Meadows, Abingdon, this is a book given to me after a house clearout.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Second Sight- A Review

 An often moving story spanning several generations, Second Sight is hard to put down. I found myself feeling part of the extended family whose emotions and experiences we were told so much of. The only thing I wish for this book is that the story had carried on for just a few more pages.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Wild release #44 inc. review

Leakey's experiences are interesting and, sometimes, almost unbelievable. They can be funny and, occasionally, daunting. This account is a real testimony to the bravery of many young men who have fought for their country. The only downside, in my opinion, was the proiliferation of military jargon which was confusing at times.

I released this book as a Special Sunset Mission for VE Day, which was today. I hope it will help someone else to remember elements of the war that have been forgotten by many.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A Theory of Relativity and Sickened Reviews

A Theory of Relativity by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Interesting story delving into the issues surrounding adoption and child custody. Was a little slow at the start and ocassional US references sometimes lost me. Final chapter, from child's POV, made a lovely ending.

Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory.
A moving and gripping account of a girl (and a family) entangled in the grip of Munchausen by Proxy. Intense and revealing, it was hard to put this book down- especially once I realised that it was a true story written by the very person who was abused. The way this abuse was carried and twisted through the generations was particularly haunting

Wild Releases #38-43

As promised, my releases whilst I was up North.

Too technical for me, but maybe it will find a musical home suitable for it

Someone picked this up, so I hope its found a nice new family life of its own

A colouring book

Day Of Honor (Star Trek)
My first holiday accomodation release. Hoping that it finds a good home with a future visitor

First Amendment (Stargate)
Missed the Sci-fi release challenge, but I hope whoever finds this book enjoys it anyway

Mango Spice
Not a cookery book, but a book of interesting songs

Reviews of books read to follow

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Turn of the month update

Well I've been up in Yorkshire the last few days, busy reading and doing other stuff. As with all my holidays, I tend to end up buying loads of books and releasing a few as well.

So firstly, here is what I've bought:
  1. Cry Silent Tears by Joe Peters
  2. The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn
  3. King Arthur's World by Kevin "Rossley" Holland
  4. Tommy's War by Thomas Livingstone
  5. The Last Hero By Terry Pratchett
  6. The Duff Cooper Diaries
  7. The World Acording to Clarkson
Not bad for £11, I think. None in bad condition and a wide-range of subjects as usual. Apologies for the lack of synopsis this time, but there's too many there for me to go into detail at the moment. Look out for my reviews and, if you want more details in the meantime, try Amazon or something.

Anyway, I said I did a few BookCrossing releases as well. All were wild, partly because I wanted to go some more places towards the 52 towns in 52 weeks challenge. I'll provide more details of these when I get a chance to write them onto BookCrossing (wondering whether some finder will get a chance before me). All I'll say for the moment is to look out for them if you're in Yorkshire, or travelling south along the M1.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Wild Release #37

Going Places 3, a geography text book. I released thsi along a route taken by many school pupils in the hope that one of them will find it and decide its useful.

I Capture the Castle (a review)

I just love books written from the character's POV, and this is a particular good example IMO. Through the three sections (or books) we see Cassandra growing from a child to a woman and all the emotions that go with that experience. Playing alongside that is a tale of two worlds colliding, romance and motivation. You really feel as if you are entering the mind of the character. Very enjoyable.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Star Warped (a review)

A very funny (and sometimes adult) take on the Star Wars Trilogy combined with all sorts of other science fiction and comedy references. Light-hearted, it made a change from my usual reading and was easy to read at the same time as another book.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Bought 2 books

Ok, so I went to Tesco's to get some printer cartridges and a few pieces of stationary, and came back with 2 new books as well. The fact it that I just can't resist their prices when it comes to books, often around half the published price. Anyway, one of them was on my wishlist at BookCrossing so at least I've actually bought one I'd planned to get and not just two random ones.

For anyone who's interested, I've bought 'Empire: Wounds of Honour' by Anthony Riches and 'The Rapture' by Liz Jensen. Managed to resist buying the new Philip Pullman book, although I'm bound to buy it the first time I see a paperback version.

The Empire: Wounds of Freedom
Was inspired to buy this by finding I had no Roman historical novels to read during the relevant GoodReads Historical BookClub theme.
Marcus Valerius Aquila has scarcely landed in Britannia when he has to run for his life- condemned to dishonourable death by power-crazed Emperor Commodus. Desperate, the Praetorian Guard officer agrees to take a new name, serve in an obscure regiment on Hadrian's Wall and lie low until he can hope for justice.
Then a rebel army sweeps down from the wastes North of the Wall, and Marcus has to prove he's hard enough to lead a century in the front line of a brutal war with a merciless enemy.

The Rapture
A review of this book came up on my Google Reader choices and it sounded interesting so I put it on my BookCrossing wishlist. When I saw it at Tesco's I just couldn't resist!
In a merciless summer of biblical heat and destructive winds, Gabrielle Fox's main concern is to rebuild her career as a psychologist after a shattering car accident. But when she is assigned Bethany Krall- violent, delusional and insistant that she can foresee natural disasters- she begins to fear she has made a terrible mistake. When catastrophes begin to occur on the very dates Bethany predicted, the apocalyptic puzzle intensifies and the stakes multiply.
A haunting story of human passion and burning faith, The Rapture, is an electrifying pyschological thriller that explores the dark extremes of mankind's self-destruction in the world on the brink.

Wild release #36 and catch #14

Finding didn't enjoy the book, but (on the plus side) they certainly got the concept of BookCrossing. They've joined the site, so hopefully we will see more releases from them in the future.

Anyway, the book released and (so quickly caught) was Morpheus Factor. Click here for the entries

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Day of Honor Omnibus (A Review)

 6 stories exploring the idea of honour in various Star Trek cultures. I loved the way adventures from the different series (DS9, Voyager, TNG and original) were linked by an overriding theme. My favourite stories were 'Her Klingon Soul' and 'Honor Bound' because they dealt with internal struggles within people of 2 cultures (Klingon and human). All of the book was well-written and it was easy to imagine the characters from the TV series. The addition of pictures for the final story was nice.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Bought 3 books for 60p

Garage sales really can be a great place to get bargain books. I headed off to one this morning and, as well as a tapestry to sew, got myself 3 books for only 20p each.

This is what I bought (summaries from the back of the books):

Shadowlands by Leonore Fleischer
Jack (C.S.) Lewis, author of the much-loved Narnia stories, is professor of English Literature at Oxford. Into his masculine, academic world walks Joy Gresham, a brash, fast-talking American poet who storms the shadowlands of Jack's heart.
Clear to everyone, except Jack, is that they are falling in love. They must marry secretly, only to discover that Joy is terminally ill. Jack, a deeply religious man, is forced to ask: what are God's intentions? Why does He make us suffer? How can we afford to love?
The story of this true and unusual romance, its setting, and the courage and commitment of the lovers, sent theatre audiences out weeping into the night: the pain then, Joy says of her impending death, is part of the happiness now.
The Evening Standard called the play "unbearably moving". The themes of Shadowlands- love, loss and the wonder of life- transform the lives of the people in it and reach out to touch us all

Tell it To The Skies by Erica James
Suddenly in the middle of a crowded Venice street, Lydia glimpses a face that takes her back to England, back to her childhood and to a dreadful secret that she believed she had banished to the past....
As children, Lydia and her sister were sent to live with grandparents they'd never even met. It was a cruel and loveless new world for them, and it forced Lydia to grow up fast. She learned to keep secrets and to trust sparingly, and through it all she was shadowed by guilt and grief.
Then, as an adult, the beautiful city of Venice gave Lydia peace, fulfilment and even love. But in a single moment, a stranger's face forces her to revisit the past she has been hiding for the last twenty-eight years...

Plain Tales From The Hills by Rudyard Kipling
In this collection of short stories Kipling succeeds in shattering such misapprehensions about life in India during the British Raj. Drawing on her own experiences as a cub reporter, he is able to interpret the ways and beliefs as well as the work and pleasures of the Imperial administrators and the races they governed that were half a world away from his original Victorian readers.
Viceroys and beggars, soldiers and their officers, civil servants and children- and some very clever women- all play their parts in the history of a sub-continent. And although everywhere there are barrier between the races, the classes and the sexes, the inevitable misunderstandings between them as often end in comedy as in tragedy.

Look out in this blog for reviews of these books and information on their possible BookCrossing destinations

Friday, 16 April 2010

Controlled Releases #8 and #9- Plus intro to the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Library

A new BookCrossing Library has been set up to concentrate on Science Fiction and Fantasy books. For those who don't know, the idea of a BookCrossing Library is to allow people 'take out' a certain sub-set of books over the internet. These are then made available to other users when they are finished with.

The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Library (sf-f-library) aims to collect and make available hard to find, large collections or out of print sci-fi and fantasy series beginning with some personal favourites -such as Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, Piers Anthony's Xanth series and Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series- and later expand our collection with other popular fantasy titles such as Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time or any other fantasy collections suggested by you. Eventually we hope to branch out into Sci-Fi too but we want to take baby steps first. This way others can also satisfy their curiosity about rarer titles and we can introduce our favourite authors to others, increasing their audience and who knows maybe even the number of fans egging them on to churn out another title in that wonderful series. Ideally we would run a spiral for each series separately but with the number of books in Pier's Anthony's Xanth series being 34 and still writing it would take years to get a sensible spiral going and so this is not really an option.
From the SF-F Library page on BookCrossing

I was lucky enough to have 2 Terry Pratchett books ready and awaiting a good home. I have sent them to one of the librarians to keep safe until they are needed.

The books are:
                        The Truth (Sci-fi challenge)
                        Thud (BCID challenge and Sci-fi challenge)

Do contact the SF-F Library if you're interested in borrow a copy of either of these books. And don't forget to check out their shelf for other available books!

Book-themed irony

True BookCrossing

A book not registered with BookCrossing, but very much in the spirit of a themed wild release and with dramatic results.

Their 20-something daughter died a couple years ago, and mom was lost in her grief. About a year after, the couple decided to go for a picnic drive, taking a lunch and camera, and planning to try and take a break from the deep sense of loss that seemed to be tearing them slowly apart. They drove into the country looking for a campground or park that had picnic tables, but couldn’t find one. About to give up they spotted something that might work, what looked like a table near a small outbuilding?

They pulled over, and walked with their lunch over to what turned out to be three or four concrete steps going nowhere, just sitting in the middle of this clearing. She glances over at the little building and sees that there is a plaque on the door. It simply says, “The Shack.”

Together they eat their lunch sitting on the steps going nowhere. She feels drawn to this small building and decides to go and look in it. Her husband refuses. “What if someone is living in there?” She opens the door anyway.

In a corner of the one room is a tree stump that has been cut to function as a chair. Another corner has a shelf with a pile of slate, like stairs…going nowhere. Then there is the desk; complete with chair, a pad of paper, pens and two copies of a book that neither of them had ever heard of, The Shack. A typed note lay on the table. It simply read, “Please take whatever you want.” They took one of the books.

With her husband standing quietly just behind, while she talks she is laying down one photograph after another in front of me. The steps, the little building, the sign on the door, the inside room, the tree stump chair, the shelf, and the table with everything she had described including two copies of the book sitting on the right side.

Tears in her eyes, she hands me a worn book and says, “This is the copy I took. This is the book that saved us!”

Taken from WindRumors, The Official Site of W.M. Paul Young

Comic for those who've read The Aeneid

Get Fuzzy
Get Fuzzy
Get Fuzzy
Get Fuzzy

Monday, 12 April 2010

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Morpheus Factory (a short review)

An inventive and interesting story, however it lost something in the telling. The characters didn't always speak in the way I expected them to. I think it would have been a lot more effective as a TV episode since so many different perspectives were involved at times.

Wild Release #35

The Root Children
A charming children's book, written as a rhyme. I hope its found by someone who will appreciate it.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The First Amendment (a review)

This is the first Stargate book I've read but, liking the Stargate series, I thought I'd give it a go. I was really impressed with the writing style. Sometimes science fiction / TV series books are written in a rather stilted manner, but this one wasn't. The characters acted in a way which fitted their TV personas and the adventure was different to many Stargate episodes. Having said that, the planet seemed far too much like something out of a 1960s science fiction movie. There were plot reasons for this, but I think it could have been done more effectively. Suitable for Stargate lovers and novices, thanks to the brief but thorough explanations of characters and events.

Controlled release #7, wild release #35

Sent 'The City of Dreaming Books' on its way to the next bookring participant and entered it into the science fiction and fantasy challenge.
I do love doing these bookring and bookrays. At the moment I've been lucky enough to not get too many arrivals at the same time, although I'm finding it hard to read these quickly, the bookclub books in the right month and books for challenges before the challange ends. Bought a magnetic bookmark with 'So many books, so little time' written on it, as it really ecapsulates my current reading situation.

Also wild released 'Ghost of A Chance' and entered it into the BCID and science fiction challenges. Left it in the local job-centre as I released that there was not much to look at whilst waiting for an appointment. Was pleased to see someone reading about BookCrossing as I went out. Hopefully they'll either take and register the book or take the concept with them.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

RABCK Received (plus some stickers)

Received 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' through the post this morning. And, in a seperate, package some bookcrossing stickers. Look out for my wild releases to find out what the stickers looked like. Will review the book here when I've finished it.

The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World

The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World

Click on the above link to see what must be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Located in a Dominican Church, The Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht combines wonderful architecture with what appears to be hundreds (if not thousands) of literacy pieces.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Ghost of A Chance (A Review)

Another adventure of the Starship Voyager, exploring both their adventures and the early crew relationships. I enjoyed this book and found the actions of the crew consistant with the TV series. However, there were still a couple of questions left unexplained at the end if the book. For this reason I only rated the book with a 7.

Catches #9 and #10 (also wild release #34)

Both new members, and have registered with BookCrossing!

At My Mothers' Knee.... and Other Low Joints

Watermelon- caught before I could do a release entry

The City of Dreaming Books (A Review)

Really gets to the heart of the joy (and obsession) of reading. Also felt some ressonance with my current writing situation. I found myself getting more and more into the book as it progressed until very near the end. However the pictures sometimes got in the way of this process, especially when they didn't seem quite as scary as what I already had in my head.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Watermelon (A Review)

Chick lit told from the point of view of Claire Webster, who has just had her first child. Feelings are well developed and sometimes complex, but many characters are not fleshed out. The whole book has the feeling of reading someone's diary.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

3 books received through the post this morning

Arrived at home to find a large(ish) parcel of books waiting for me. I saw the French on the post label and was puzzled at first since its so long since they were posted in Canada (2 months since the official release date) and I'd forgotten all about them.

Anyway, they arrived with perfect timing, since I'm just about to start a release challenge which they would be perfect for. Let's just hope I can get them read in time.

Well, here they are:



Offbeat Travel Photo – Wrong Book Shop

Fantastic blog post regarding a book shop and language problems

Offbeat Travel Photo – Wrong Book Shop

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Alone in Berlin ( a review)

It was very easy to engage with the characters in the book because they were all so differently and cleverly portrayed. The author presented a very thought provoking account of life in Nazi Germany and raised many issues in the process. The copies of historical evidence, in the back, on which the book was based were also very interesting.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Surprise RABCK

Received 'Life of Pi' all the way from the USA this morning. Very exciting, as I wasn't expecting this parcel at all. Shows that there's good reason to have a BookCrossing wishlist!

Read more about my copy on BookCrossing

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The City of Dreaming Books ring

Just received this book through the BookCrossing ring. Looking forward to reading it, as I hear that it really speaks to booklovers.
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