2008 January archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: January ‘08


31st January, 2008
New Moon; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 20:03 Comments (6)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

New Moon; Stephenie Meyer New Moon
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
595 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-88-6

First line: I felt like I was trapped in one of those terrifying nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough.

Back cover blurb:
For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella could ever have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning…

Thoughts: I quite like Jacob Black. I know it’s not quite the done thing, especially if you ask the Edward Cullen camp, but I can’t help it! I did accidentally read a spoiler at some point, so I’m not sure that I will keep liking Jacob, but I kind of hope I do, because as of yet, he’s the only character I’m not unmoved by. (Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m moved by Bella, in that she annoys me greatly from time to time.)

Still not crazy about Edward. I don’t dislike him either, though. I guess I just don’t see the massive appeal.

On the whole, I’m still kind of hooked on these books, and that’s despite not being crazy about characters, plot or, technically, the writing. It’s a bit like it is with the Tony Hill books by Val McDermid (except I am excessively fond of Tony). I don’t think they’re very well-written, but they are always full of excitement and I keep reading, because you get hooked so quickly and there’s no way I could put one down unfinished. (That only applies to her Tony books, though. I’ve read a couple of others of hers, and without the appeal of Tony, there’s no appeal at all.) Anyway, what I was trying to say, before I got side-tracked, is that Meyer’s writing makes me want to know what happens next, and so I’ve already started on Eclipse.

New Moon gets a B rating. It was going to get a C, but then I remembered that Twilight got a B, and I don’t like this book less than the first in the series, so a B it has to be.


30th January, 2008
The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl; Shauna Reid
— Love @ 19:38 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Biographies, English

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl; Shauna Reid The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl
by Shauna Reid
Australian

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
408 pages
Corgi Books
ISBN: 978-0-552-15578-6

First line: I’ve got the biggest knickers in Australia.

Back cover blurb:
In January 2001 Shauna Reid was twenty-three years old and twenty-five stone. Determined to turn her life around, she created the hugely successful weblog The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl and, hiding behind her Lycra-clad roly-poly alter ego, her transformation from couch potato to svelte goddess began. Today, 8,000 miles, seven years and twelve and a half stone later, the gloriously gorgeous Shauna is literally half the woman she used to be.

Thoughts: I saw this book mentioned in one of the many book blogs I read (I forget the exact one. Sorry!) and added it to my wishlist after reading a little about it and snippets of the blog it’s the book version of. When I next made a book order, I added it to my shopping cart “just because.”

Can’t say I regret it one bit! The book was funny and interesting and I was instantly hooked. Finished it in one sitting, in fact.

It gets a well-deserved B rating, and a shorter “review” (these random and rather incoherent thoughts don’t exactly count as the proper thing) than it really deserves, because I am too tired to think straight.


30th January, 2008
Messenger; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 19:28 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, English, Fantasy, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Messenger; Lois Lowry Messenger
by Lois Lowry
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
186 pages
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0-385-73253-8

First line: Matty was impatient to have the supper preparations over and done with.

Back cover blurb:
For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Once, Village was a place that welcomed newcomers and offered hope and homes to people fleeing poverty and cruelty. But something sinister has seeped into Village, and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. All along, Matty has been invaluable as a messenger between Village and other communities. He hopes someday to earn the name of Messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the increasingly treacherous forest to spread the message of Village’s closing and convince Kira, Seer’s daughter, to return with him. Matty’s only weapon against his dangerous surroundings is a secret power he unexpectedly discovers within himself. He wants to heal the people who have nourished his body and spirit and is willing to offer the greatest gift and pay the ultimate price.

Thoughts: As expected, this book tied together the characters of both The Giver and Gathering Blue. However, it didn’t really resolve the issue I had with one particular event in Gathering Blue, nor did it really appeal to me as much as the previous two books in the series did.

It also confused me a great deal. Apparently, the events of both previous books take place at much the same point in time, yet in one there is advanced technology, and in the other everything is exceedingly basic and primitive. These places don’t seem to be all that distant from each other, geographically, so I must admit I don’t quite see how the difference could be so marked, especially since the high tech one has the means to travel far and wide in not much time at all.

No, in the end I didn’t like the end to the series at all. I’m giving it a D rating, and that’s mostly just because I’m feeling generous today. I think I’ll try to pretend that there was nothing after Gathering Blue and that even if there was, I certainly didn’t read it.


29th January, 2008
Gathering Blue; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 23:56 Comments (2)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fiction, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

No cover image Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
218 pages
Bloomsbury
ISBN: 0-7474-5592-3

First line: “Mother?”

Back cover blurb:
In the tough, unforgiving society that Kira lives in, she is forced daily to prove her value in the village. Up until now she has had her mother to protect her. With her mother gone, Kira will need to use every ounce of cunning, wit and bravery to ensure her continued acceptance — and even survival.

So when Kira is summoned to judgment by the Council of the Guardians to resolve a village conflict, Kira knows she is fighting for her life. Perhaps only her special, almost magical talent will save her now…

Thoughts: I had expected Gathering Blue to continue where The Giver left off, as it’s being touted as part two of a trilogy, but that turned out to be quite wrong. It’s more of a companion book, I s’pose, in that it is a different take at what the future might be like. In The Giver, everything is made out to be perfect and the people have the help of pretty advanced technology, from what it seems. In Gathering Blue, nearly everything seems savage and brutal. It’s far into the future, though it’s not a high-tech future at all, but rather what might happen if disaster upon disaster strikes and all technology is lost. Still, despite the glaring differences, in certain things the two societies are very, very much alike.

I was a little apprehensive starting on the book, because I’d had it in the bookshelf for so long, waiting for The Giver so I could read that first, and now that I finally had, there was some sort of mental block hindering my progress. Only for a little bit, though, it has to be admitted. I sat down with the book, turned the first page, started reading and was hooked. In short: I loved it!

One of the main events of the year for the people in the book is the Gathering, during which the Singer sings the history of the world, all the way from the beginning of time, until the present day. We don’t hear many of the words to the song, but one little segment we are told. It consists of nonsense words that make little sense, but I had a feeling there would be a hidden meaning, so I unscrambled the words and there it was!

I’m rating this a B book. For a bit I considered a C, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it deserves the B. Any book that leaves me with the sort of uncomfortable feeling in the stomach that I’m experiencing right now, is a book that’s moved me in no little way. While the way it’s moved me might be good or bad, I feel that in this case it is a good way.

Now, Lowry says in an author’s note that she feels the ending is a happy and optimistic one. And while I agree to a certain extent that it is, I can’t agree wholeheartedly. There was a particular revelation towards the end, that I personally feel is responsible for the tummy upset, and that was left unresolved. I’m guessing (hoping, at least!) that that will be worked out in Messenger, though.

I really, really don’t like it when I can’t find a cover image that corresponds to the one on my copy of a book. I usually google the ISBN and sometimes I don’t get any hits at all, which is sad. Sometimes I do get hits, but all the cover images I find look different from the one of my copy. That is even sadder. Saddest of all is, of course, that I care as much as I do!


29th January, 2008
The Giver; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 19:58 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Decades '08, English, Fiction, First in a Series, Young Adult

The Giver; Lois Lowry The Giver
by Lois Lowry
American

For the First in a Series, Decades ’08 (first published in 1993) and A-Z reading challenges.

English
179 pages
Dell Laurel-Leaf
ISBN: 0-440-23768-8

First line: It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.

Back cover blurb:
Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.
When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Thoughts: I’ve read this before, of course, but this is the first time I’ve read it in the original English. It’s one of my favourite YA reads, and from what I can remember of the translation compared to the original, the translator did a good job (though that’s neither here nor there, as it isn’t the translation I’m writing these thoughts on).

What I like about it best is, I think, how everything sort of sneaks up on you. You start out thinking this world is pretty much like ours, except a lot more perfect, but little by little you realise that there are actually huge differences, and some pretty scary ones at that.

Whenever I’ve read this before, I’ve always interpreted the ending as a happy one, but this time around I was a bit more inclined to go for the slightly less optimistic interpretation. True, I think Jonas is probably better off there, than back in the community (I always expected the community to be spelt with a capital C. It just seems like the sort of place that would be, but apparently it isn’t), but it’s still not complete and utter bliss, and I’ll admit I shed a couple of tears. I do like the ending, though, especially how open-ended it is. It’s not Lowry’s fault that I’ve become a complete pessimist of late.

The rating ends up a B, because tempted as I am to dole out an A, I don’t quite think the book reaches those heights.

A couple of side notes:

1. I also read Cliffs Notes on Lowry’s The Giver, because I accidentally ordered that instead of the proper book. I searched the online book store for Lois Lowry and when I got the search results, I added the cheapest copy of The Giver to my shopping cart. Since I knew the book already, I didn’t bother reading the summary, but in retrospect, I find that I should have. Still, one would think they’d specify the title of the Cliffs Notes a little more than to say The Giver, with the author name Lois Lowry. Either way, I kept it, as returning it would probably have been more of a hassle than just keeping it, and it’s not like it cost a fortune.

2. There was a second side note, but I’m demmeda if I can remember it at present! How very annoying, I hate it when that happens.

a. I watched the 1934 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel the other evening. Can you tell? ;D


29th January, 2008
The Smiths: The Early Years; Paul Slattery
— Love @ 15:32 Comments (0)
Filed under: English, Music, n/a, Photography

The Smiths: The Early Years; Paul Slattery The Smiths: The Early Years
by Paul Slattery
British

English
159 pages
Omnibus Press
ISBN: 978-1-84609-858-1

First line: Taking photographs of bands for a living, I have seen an awful lot of them, good and bad, but I was smacked round the face with the sound and performance that The Smiths gave that night at ULU in May 1983.

Back cover blurb:
For many The Smiths were the definitive rock band of the 80s. A bracing antidote to Thatcher’s Britain for the youth of the day, Manchester-based Morrissey, Marr & Co. even approached something like mainstream success towards the end.

But at the start they were scruffy, uncompromising rebels. This was the period in which Paul Slattery took a series of band photos of great intimacy and power.

Slattery was particularly close to The Smiths in those early days, and his images — many of them seen for the first time here — were an insider’s work: informal, brash, exciting and revealing. Seen together these photos form an exciting visual narrative on the work of an influential band that, for a few turbulent years, cornered the market in lyrical gloom laced with mordant wit.

Thoughts: I love The Smiths, but I wasn’t a fan back when they were still together (would have been really hard to have been considering that I was either a) not even thought of, or b) not really that aware of my surroundings, for the duration of their career). Mind you, I’ve more than made up for it since!

This book was lovely. Full of photographs of the band, some of which I’d seen before, but the majority of which were completely new to me, and little comments from Slattery on most of them. However, as much as I loved it, I won’t officially rate it, because I feel there wasn’t enough text to do that.


27th January, 2008
Det fattas en tärning; Johanna Thydell
— Love @ 17:59 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Fiction, Swedish, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Det fattas en tärning; Johanna Thydell Det fattas en tärning
by Johanna Thydell
Swedish

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
211 pages
Månpocket
ISBN: 978-91-7001-571-7

First line: Svarta naglar på tangenterna, skärmen vit och tom.

Back cover blurb:
“Om ni hör någon ropa så är det jag. Jag är Puck. Jag är sexton år. Och jag är livrädd.”

Det här är boken om Puck, en ung tjej som gör allt för att inte förlora kontrollen, inte låta någon komma för nära, inte visa vem hon egentligen är. Men det är också historien om en pappa som försvann och en mamma som stannade kvar. Om hur det är att vara rädd — rädd för arga röster, rädd för att folk ska försvinna.

Thoughts: The language in this book was pretty simple, but not at all in a bad way, which made it easy to read and thus I finished it in about an hour and a half.

I like the main character, Puck (real name Petra, but nicknamed Puck by her father). She’s insecure and scared, and she messes up from time to time, but she’s not weak. There’s a guy she likes, but he’s a bit of an asshole and doesn’t exactly treat her well, and instead of sitting quietly by, letting him, she calls him on it and tells him to get lost. This I loved!

I’m giving Det fattas en tärning a B rating. All the characters were likable (yes, even the asshole, actually) and the language, while simple, was lovely (some authors know how to use simple language remarkably well. Per Nilsson springs immediately to mind as another example).


27th January, 2008
Som jag vill vara; Katarina von Bredow
— Love @ 15:17 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, Fiction, Swedish, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Som jag vill vara; Katarina von Bredow Som jag vill vara
by Katarina von Bredow
Swedish

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
282 pages
Rabén & Sjögren
ISBN: 978-91-29-66699-1

First line:
Det blev inte precis som hon tänkt sig.

Back cover blurb:
Arvid kommer till festen för hennes skull. Det påstår i alla fall Jessicas bästis Louise, och hon brukar veta. Med fjärilar i magen och dunkande hjärta beger sig Jessica dit, och visst, han är där! De dansar och pratar och det ena leder till det andra. Efteråt är Jessica rädd att han bara var ute efter att få henne i säng, men så är det inte. Arvid är verkligen den hon hoppats, och allt är så bra det bara kan vara. Ända tills mensen inte kommer som den ska…

Thoughts: I’ve read all of Katarina von Bredow’s previous books (well, except the two written for kids, rather than teens) and one of them is a favourite that I re-read whenever I need a good comfort book. Her later books have not been at all as good, but I still make sure to get my hands on anything new she’s had published. Som jag vill vara is her latest.

It tells the tale of Jessica, a girl of fifteen, who goes to a party where another guest is the guy she’s had a crush on for months. As it turns out, he quite likes her too, and one thing leads to another and they end up in bed together. She worries for a while that that’s going to be it for them, that he doesn’t want anything more. He does, of course, and everything is fine and dandy until her period is late. Everyone tries to get her to have an abortion, but she’s at first reluctant, later determined not to have one, and that’s what the rest of the book is about.

Everything is either black or white for the characters involved, it seems, and a lot of them come across as being rather preachy, which put me off the book a little. Jessica, the main character, feels very strongly about her point of view, but does bring up a good point at one time, which is something none of the other characters really do.

The ending is a pretty happy one, and maybe I am a cynic (actually, I am!), but I don’t feel that the happy ending is going to last. A year or two down the road, and everything is likely to be in shambles. I’m not hoping that it’s going to be like that, but it seems likelier than the other possibility.

Not one of von Bredow’s better books, then, which shows in the C rating. That it even ended up with a rating that high is because it was a quick read and I did get pulled into the story, even if I wanted to strangle most of the characters most of the time.


26th January, 2008
Whose Body?; Dorothy L Sayers
— Love @ 23:08 Comments (5)
Filed under: A, A-Z Reading Challenge, Decades '08, English, First in a Series, Historical, Mystery

Whose Body?; Dorothy L Sayers Whose Body?
by Dorothy L Sayers
British

For the Decades ’08 (first published 1923), First in a Series and A-Z reading challenges.

English
212 pages
Harper Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-06-104357-4

First line: “Oh damn!” said Lord Peter Wimsey at Piccadilly Circus.

Back cover blurb:
The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder — especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What’s more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.

Thoughts: It would appear that I have gone and done it again. Read a book I was certain was a re-read, only to find that it wasn’t, I mean. I was utterly convinced that Whose Body? was a re-read, and thus felt a little bit of a cheat for including it in so many challenges, but I couldn’t in fact remember a thing from it. Now, I know that if I did read it before, it was upwards of seven or eight years ago, but I still refuse to believe I would have no recollection of it at all. After all, Lord Peter Wimsey is not the sort of man you forget just like that.

If it sounds as though I’m complaining, rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth! I am utterly, utterly pleased to find that there was more Lord Peter for me to discover. It is not exactly a treat you are given every day.

My copy of the book (a handy paperback that’s been lugged around everywhere with me this week, as I have had very little time to actually sit down and read, but have been determined to sit down and read all the same, wherever and whenever that might have been) is full of little blue post-it notes sticking out where there are passages I liked especially much (mostly funny and/or snarky ones). I don’t usually quote the actual books in my reviews (apart from the first line, obviously), but I figured I would make an exception for Lord Peter and post a few things I adored (I will attempt to make all of them non-spoilery, so not all my favourites are included. In fact, most aren’t).

“[…] if I sacked you on top of drinking the kind of coffee you make, I’d deserve everything you could say of me. You’re a demon for coffee, Bunter — I don’t want to know how you do it, because I believe it to be witchcraft, and I don’t want to burn eternally.”

“[…] That’s all,” said Parker abruptly, with a wave of the hand.
“It isn’t all, it isn’t all. Daddy, go on, that’s not half a story,” pleaded Lord Peter.

“Never mind,” said Parker, soothingly, “he’s always like that. It’s premature senile decay, often observed in the families of hereditary legislators. Go away, Wimsey, and play us the ‘Beggar’s Opera’, or something.”

Quite obviously, my favourite character is Lord Peter Wimsey himself, mostly because he is magnificently snarky and simply wonderful, but there are other marvellous characters in these books as well. Parker, who is a police detective and a friend of Wimsey’s, and the Dowager Duchess of Denver, who is Wimsey’s mother and quite funny (though usually not intentionally so), are just two of them. I also have to mention Bunter, Wimsey’s man, because what sort of person would I be if I didn’t? The Wimsey books would be nothing without him, as he is Wimsey’s assistant in pretty much everything that he does.

But I ramble, and it’s getting late, so I’ll end this review (if it can even be called that. I’m not entirely sure anything I write in this blog properly could be) with an A rating. It was an exceedingly nice surprise to find that I hadn’t read the book before, the mystery I thought was a good one (though I hardly dwelt on that in the review) and the characters even better.


23rd January, 2008
Eva’s Reading Meme!
— Love @ 21:35 Comments (7)
Filed under: Memes

Eva over at A Striped Armchair posted this meme yesterday and since I really liked the questions, I figured now was as good a time as any to post my first meme in this blog. I suspect I will now find myself on a slippery slope and include more of them in the future, but you never know, eh? (Not that I mind memes. I just don’t quite see when I’ll have time for a lot of them, with all the other things I’m meant to be doing/want to do. Moderation is probably key in this, as in so many other cases. Too bad I suck at moderation! ;))

Enough of my blabbering and onto the questions:

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
I don’t even know the proper titles of the books, but they make up The Millenium trilogy by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Absolutely everyone and their mother has read them, and loved them, it sometimes seems and I just get more and more reluctant to read it. Not that I ever really planned to anyway, but every time I hear someone say how brilliant it was, I become even more convinced I don’t want to read it. Since I’m currently in a bit of an anti-Swedish phase, I can pretend that that’s the reason, but I know it’s not really.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
Mr Darcy is a given, I’m afraid! I’m not more original than that I am completely and utterly in love with him and I think he’d be utterly fascinating to spend time around. The second character would probably have to be a certain Horatio Hornblower, from somewhere in the middle of his career. I can never get over the fact that he sees himself in such a completely different light than everyone around him, and I think it’d be interesting to be in his presence and know how he sees himself. Third and final character I’d choose is Lord Peter Wimsey, for no better reason than that he is made of win! The social event would have to be a ball, I think. An early 19th century ball. Darcy, Hornblower and myself would be completely ill at ease with the social situation, and Lord Peter Wimsey might be a bit out of his time, but I think he’d hold up well enough comparatively. I’ve always wanted to go to a proper Regency-era ball, but if I am to be honest with myself, I am such crap at social gatherings I’d probably not enjoy myself the way you were supposed to at those things. So what better company to keep than others who do not feel comfortable (plus one snarky little devil)? We could hide away in a corner and discuss Things. Of course, I’d probably not be able to get away with that if being seen as a proper young lady, but hey! Regency drag would look pretty cool too!

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
I imagine, if the one book I read by him is anything to go by, that I would pick one by DH Lawrence. I read Women in Love a couple of years back and I swear I was bored to tears during most of it. What made it the most annoying, though, was that there were hints of it getting interesting every now and then. So I’d read and read and read, and it would be boring, boring, boring, then for about a paragraph or two (sometimes even a couple of pages), I’d be enjoying myself, and then it was back to being boring, boring, boring again. I finished the book, though, because a part of me was hoping there would be more of the interesting stuff, but also because I thought it was on the BBC Top 100 list. It was neither of those things, of course.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?
I honestly can’t think of one. I can think of a couple I’ve mostly skimmed through, or never quite got ’round to finishing, and sometimes I try to divert attention from that fact, but none of those are books I’ve never been anywhere near.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?
I think I might not have read Dickens’s David Copperfield, even though I usually say I have. There was a period when I read a couple of his books and watched a couple of screen adaption at the same time, but I can’t say for sure that I really read Copperfield, as opposed to just watching it. I’ll probably never find out, either. I should just read it now to make sure that I really have done it.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP)
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It’s got humour and witches and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, not to mention a whole bunch of other stuff (probably technically more important to the actual plot). What’s not to like?

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
French. I used to be so much better at French than I am at the moment (I got lazy and stopped practicing, which obviously was not good for me), and I have a couple of French books in my TBR pile, but with the state my French is currently in, I don’t know that I’ll ever get to read them. But since I could probably do it again if I just had a little discipline, a better choise for my fairy wish might be Russian. I think that would just be incredibly neat. I know there’s not much chance of me ever reading the Russian classics in original, which I’d love to, unless there is fairy intervention. ;)

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
I’ll go with Eva’s answer to this question: Pride and Prejudice. I read it about once every other year as it is, so making it once a year instead would not require a great deal of effort, plus I rather think I’d enjoy it. P&P was the first book I read in English (and I do mean first. Not first one that wasn’t one of those abridged, easy-to-read versions), it was the first whole book I finished in French (I had read one or two of those basic, French-for-non-Frenchies books first though) and it remains the only book I’ve read in three different languages.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
Quite simply put: reading challenges. I discovered the existence of such through a book blogging community on Livejournal and it really got me hooked. The reason I even started a book blog again (I’d had a couple before, but they all died when my domains expired or I got out of the habit of updating regularly) was so that I would have a place to post about reading challenges. I think it’ll be interesting to see what participating in all of them will do to my reading habits. I know that when I started keeping track of all the books I read, I spurred myself on to read more than I did previously (the first six months of keeping track, I read thirty-five books. The following year I read one hundred and fifty-six).

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.
I would love to have a room where the walls are completely covered, floor to ceiling, with book cases. There would be spaces for the doors, of course, but even over the doorways there would be bookshelves, so that no space was wasted. I’d like a couple of huge windows, deep-set in the walls, so that one could sit curled up in the window with a good book. There’d be at least one of those little ladders on wheels to make for easier access to the books up high, and a couple of huge and comfy armchairs with good reading lighting by them. The type of books found in the room doesn’t really matter. Anything and everything, really. Just as long as there are books enough that one can pick and choose according to one’s current mood. I can’t say I’d be terribly disappointed if a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard managed to find its way onto a shelf, though…

Technically, I’m now supposed to tag four people, but I’m not sure I even have that many regular readers. I’ll tag three, and that’s the best I can do (if they honour the tag is another matter entirely ;)).
Banquo
Caroline
Mikey

And Eva had another little thing to say about the meme:

[I]f you leave a comment letting me know you’ve done the meme with a link to the post, I’ll give you some link love via a big list on this post of who’s participated. If in that post, you link back to this one, I’ll also enter you in a drawing to win my ARC of The House at Riverton (see my review below). If you’re an American, this is especially exciting since it isn’t going to published until April. ;) To be in the drawing, you must have posted the meme (and commented here) by February 5th, which is when I’m holding the drawing.


22nd January, 2008
TBR pile, book giveaway and flags
— Love @ 18:49 Comments (12)
Filed under: General booktalk

TBR pile as of 20080122 Today I decided to take a *photograph of all the books I own, but have not yet **read (click to enlarge). Yikes! Turned out to be a much bigger pile than I’d expected and after I’d taken the photo and put all the books back in their spots, I discovered at least three I’d forgotten to include, but by then I was too lazy to start over from the beginning, so we’ll pretend this is really it.

I’ve bought more books in these past few months than I ever did before, which surely contributes to the size of the pile (some sixty books at least. Probably closer to eighty or ninety if you count the e-books in my virtual TBR pile and the books currently on their way to my mailbox). I graduated from university in the summer and got a job right away, so that meant more money than I was used to as a student. At first, this didn’t really change anything, but in October I moved into my own ***flat and ever since there has been an radical change in my book buying habits. And I’m loving it!

Now February is fast approaching and at the end of the month it’s time for the giant, nation-wide book sale that takes place in Sweden every year. I can hardly wait!

Today I also fiddled a bit with my book lists. They’re not all done yet, but the lists for 2002, 2003 and 2008 now have tiny little flag images by each book title, showing the nationality of the author. I thought it a nice touch to be able to see at a glance where they’re from. I can tell already that I should try to branch out and read more books that aren’t written by Americans, Brits or Swedes.

In other book news, I received my Christmas presents from my ex the other day. Two of the gifts were books and one of them was one I already own. It was a good read, but I don’t really need two copies of it, so I’m going to give one away if anyone’s at all interested.

Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton; Diane Wood Middlebrook Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton
by Diane Wood Middlebrook
English, 352 pages (paperback, read once)
read about it on Amazon.co.uk

Billy Tipton was a jazz performer who played in clubs throughout the Midwest of the US for nearly 50 years. Tipton never made the big time as a musician and ended up working as a booking agent in Spokane, Washington. Only with Tipton’s death in 1989 was it revealed that the five-times-married father of three boys was biologically female.

I’ll send the book to anywhere in the world, so don’t let geography stop you if you’re interested. If you are, comment here and depending on how many people are, I’ll either give it out straight away (if it’s just the one person), or pick someone by random draw (if it’s more than one). You have, let’s say, ten days, so you have until 1st of February to comment here and then I’ll inform whoever gets it on the second. Please make sure to leave a functioning e-mail address so I can reach you if you win.

*It’s blurry, I know. It’s due to poor lighting at this time of year. By the time I discovered it was as blurry as it is, it was too dark to even make a second attempt, and today’s the only day this week that I’m at home when there is decent light, so I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with this photo.

**Some of them I’ve read in translation before, so while I have read them before, they still belong in the TBR pile. Examples of this type of book are Ibbotson’s A Countess Below Stairs, Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and Chambers’s Postcards from No Man’s Land.

***When I moved, I bought two new bookcases, which was one more than I’d had previously (I had two, one wide and one not-so-wide, that were overflowing) and I’m already running out of space. As soon as I can get to Ikea, I want to get one more of the wide type I currently have, plus a lower one, and redecorate my living room. Once it’s done, expect photos!


22nd January, 2008
Duktig pojke; Inger Edelfeldt
— Love @ 15:20 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, A-Z Reading Challenge, Decades '08, GLBT interest, Swedish, Young Adult

Duktig pojke; Inger Edelfeldt Duktig pojke
by Inger Edelfeldt
Swedish

For the Decades ’08 (first published 1977) and A-Z reading challenges.

Swedish
208 pages
Rabén & Sjögren
ISBN: 91-29-64869-6

First line:
Han var ett väldigt snällt barn, annars var det väl ingenting som skilde honom från andra barn; jag menar, ingenting som märktes.

Back cover blurb:
“Är det här nåt slags modenyck, Jim?” grälade min far. “Nåt sånt här Davy Boogie-trams? Det trodde jag verkligen du var för intelligent för att gå på!”
Ja, sådär har det alltid varit. Jag hade alltid varit en “duktig pojke”. Alla utom jag själv visste precis vem jag var och hur jag borde utforma mitt liv. Min framtid skulle bli en tvångströja av krav och normer, som jag inte vågade frigöra mig ifrån. Min mörka hemlighet — min kärlek — skulle alltid förbli just en mörk hemlighet.
Det trodde jag, tills jag mötte Mats…

Thoughts: I’ll start off this review with the rating, for a change, since I’m giving the book an A and there’s no doubt in my mind that it deserves it. I mean, it’s my sixth re-read of it — obviously I like it a lot!

I really wish I could share it with all of you, but as far as I’m aware it’s only been translated into German (maybe Spanish), and that was a while ago, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s out of print now.

Basically, it’s a coming-of-age story about Jim, who grows up feeling different from the people around him. To cover up his isolation and make it bearable, he throws himself into his schoolwork and excels at it — he’s en duktig pojke (a good boy). Then, the summer he turns fifteen, he figures out the secret he’s kept locked away inside — he’s gay. From then on, he throws himself into his schoolwork even more, desperate to not let the secret out. And then, in the last week of high school, he meets Mats and things start to change.

Mats is… well, Mats! But that means all sorts of wonderful things and I am seriously in love with this character. I’d managed to forget this time exactly how much, so when he appeared on the page again I was just as swept away as the first time around. He’s snarky, and sweet, and he hand paints the frames of his spectacles — what’s not to like? ;)

Another important character is Jim’s mother. Each chapter in the book starts with a paragraph or two written from her point of view and previously they have always made me feel sorry for her. I’m not sure exactly what’s changed, but this time around her self-pity just made me want to strangle her.

In the end, though, it’s still a great book and I still have to finish it in one sitting. There’s just no way that I can sit down, read a couple of chapters, then put the book down and go on my merry business doing something else. If I start it, I have to finish it then and there, with the consequence that I only got about five and a half hours of sleep last night. It was so worth it, though.


20th January, 2008
A Tale of a Tub; Jonathan Swift
— Love @ 18:45 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, Classics, Decades '08, English

A Tale of a Tub; Jonathan Swift A Tale of a Tub
by Jonathan Swift
Irish

For the Decades ’08 (first published 1704) and A-Z reading challenges.

English
132 pages
a Project Gutenberg e-book

First line: My LORD, Though the author has written a large Dedication, yet that being addressed to a Prince whom I am never likely to have the honour of being known to; a person, besides, as far as I can observe, not at all regarded or thought on by any of our present writers; and I being wholly free from that slavery which booksellers usually lie under to the caprices of authors, I think it a wise piece of presumption to inscribe these papers to your Lordship, and to implore your Lordship’s protection of them.

Back cover blurb: n/a

Thoughts: I really quite enjoyed this book, though I am well aware that I am missing out on a lot of references and things that would have made it even more enjoyable, had I lived in the day and age that it was published (that is to say, just over three hundred years ago). It’s amazing, though, how some things work even centuries after their first conception.

A C rating this time, because it was in parts a little hard to get through (I have to admit to skipping a paragraph or two of the digressions).

This is the second book I’ve read for the Decades challenge, and since the first was published in 1980, I now have quite some work to do to tie the two up (that is to say, I need to read one book from each decade between the two) . I’m quite looking forward to that, though!


16th January, 2008
Twilight; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 16:14 Comments (28)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Romance, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Twilight; Stephenie Meyer Twilight
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the Young Adult, First in a Series and A-Z reading challenges.

English
434 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-65-7

First line: I’d never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

Back cover blurb:
When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

What Bella does not realize is that the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those she around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…

Thoughts: I heard such different accounts of this book as puzzled me exceedingly*. Before I ordered it, I found only positive views in different book blogs. Of course, the second I pressed the confirm button on the book order, the more negative reviews started popping up.

After reading the book myself, I find myself in the camp in the middle. I wasn’t as completely blown away by Edward as others have been, but neither was I completely and utterly annoyed with Bella. Edward is okay, but he’s not one of those fictional characters I see myself falling in love with. As for Bella, I was a little peeved at her over a couple of things (mostly how she treats her father, because I refuse to believe he is as useless at cooking as she makes him out to be. He has, as he himself says, survived on his own for seventeen years, after all).

On the whole, I thought the book was good enough and I definitely want to read the sequels (already ordered them, in fact), but I find myself a bit of a sceptic when it comes to the great Bella/Edward romance. It’s a little too intense for my liking, to be honest. Either way, I do look forward to see where the story is going and this, the first installment, receives a well-deserved B grade.

*See what I did there?


15th January, 2008
Boy Meets Boy; David Levithan
— Love @ 21:00 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, GLBT interest, Humour, Romance, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Boy Meets Boy Boy Meets Boy
by David Levithan
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
185 pages
Random House
ISBN: 0-375-83299-8

First line: 9 P.M. on a November Saturday.

Back cover blurb:
Love is never easy. Especially if you’re Paul. He’s a sophomore at a high school like no other—and these are his friends:
Infinite Darlene, the homecoming queen and star quarterback
Joni, Paul’s best friend who may not be his best friend anymore
Tony, his other best friend, who can’t leave the house unless his parents think he’s going on a date… with a girl
Kyle, the ex-boyfriend who won’t go away
Rip, the school bookie, who sets the odds…
And Noah, The Boy. The one who changes everything.

Thoughts: I don’t quite know what to say about this book. I liked it well enough—it was short, sweet and quite funny—but I feel a complaint coming on, and one that’s going to make you roll your eyes at me. Remember how I often gripe about the bleak and depressing nature of a lot of gay-related stories? Well, I’m just about to take issue with one being too upbeat and positive. There seems to be no way to win!

The thing is, though, that while the town that Paul lives in is quite fun to read about and rather cute, it’s too perfect. It would be great if there were a town like his, but I think we’re a long way from that, still. Sadly enough.

Let’s face it, though: we don’t always ask for complete realism from short YA novels. In other words, I’m giving it a C rating, because it’s what I think it deserves. A little more realism (with the same basic plot/romance) and it’d have been a B or a C, depending on the language and characters. No one really clicked with me, like other literary characters have in the past, but if I had to pick one that moved me more than the others, I would pick Tony. He seemed the most realistic to me.


13th January, 2008
The Princess Diaries V: Give Me Five; Meg Cabot
— Love @ 12:28 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Chick lit, English, F, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

The Princess Diaries: Give Me Five; Meg Cabot The Princess Diaries V: Give Me Five
by Meg Cabot
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
166 pages
e-book

First line: The week of May 5-10 is Senior Week.

Back cover blurb:
Mia is about to turn fifteen and can’t wait to dance the night away with Michael at the biggest, most romantic event of her life so far: the senior prom! But nothing’s going according to plan. Not only does Mia face a snoozefest summer of sceptre-wielding in Genovia. Even worse is the fact that Michael hasn’t even invited Mia to the prom at all. Hello, what is going on here? Just as Mia comes up with a perfect plan to change her man’s mind, disaster strikes. A disaster that only a genius like Grandmere can overcome…

Thoughts: I hated this book. The first book of the series was quite good, so I read the second one, which was quite nice as well, so I read the third, which was not quite as good, but still okay, so I read the fourth and about there I think I should have stopped, because the fifth in the series did nothing but annoy me and make me grit my teeth. Thankfully it’s such a short book that the agony of reading it was over quite quickly (as much as I wanted to give up and put it down, I couldn’t, because it was one of my set choices for the YA challenge).

There are at least four more books to the series, but trust me when I say that I will not be reading those.

As you might have guessed, the rating I’m giving this book is an F.


7th January, 2008
Some Danger Involved; Will Thomas
— Love @ 19:56 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Back to History, English, Historical, Mystery

Some Danger Involved; Will Thomas Some Danger Involved
by Will Thomas
American

For the Back to History and A-Z reading challenges.

English
302 pages
Touchstone
ISBN: 978-0-7432-5619-3

First line: If someone had told me, those many years ago, that I would spend the bulk of my life as assistant and eventual partner to one of the most eminent detectives in London, I would have thought him a raving lunatic.

Back cover blurb:
An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar in London’s Jewish ghetto. When the eccentric and enigmatic Barker takes the case, he must hire an assistant, and out of all who answer an ad for a position with “some danger involved,” he chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man with a murky past.
As they inch ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder, Llewelyn is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker’s peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the heart of London’s teeming underworld.

Thoughts: Sometimes, when you read the first line of a book, you just know that you’re going to end up loving the whole book. This one had one of those and I was not disappointed in the least. It reads very much like a classic Holmes-type detective story, but is in fact written just a few years ago.

And oh, Victorian London! It’s one of my favourite settings for books, I have to admit. All that grime and slum and, well, everything about it — I adore it. As for the story line itself, it was pretty good. It wasn’t obvious whodunnit, but there were a couple of clues that you could’ve picked up on (unless you’re as dense as me, of course), which is nice. I don’t like mysteries where the solution is too obvious, but neither do I like when it’s so surprising you still can’t see the clues even when you know the answer.

This was the first in a series and although I like it, I’m not sure I’ll read the following books. At least I’m not absolutely dying to.

For the moment, rest assured that the B grade I’m giving it is very well-deserved.


6th January, 2008
Knowing where to stop
— Love @ 16:04 Comments (0)
Filed under: General booktalk

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get with Flambards Divided. It was written more than ten years after the third Flambards book and to be honest, I don’t see the point of it.

Flambards in Summer ended on a pretty positive note and, whereas I personally wanted more at that moment, that’s just the way I am, and I’d rather it had left off there than continuing as it did in Flambards Divided. It took my favourite character and the ending I was hoping for all along and completely and utterly wrecked it.

Why do authors do that sort of thing? And why did I not stop at Flambards in Summer? I’m going to pretend that I had and that the next book never happened and that my personal favourite got the ending he deserved.

What about you, have you ever read a series of books where you felt the author took it one book too far?


5th January, 2008
An Assembly Such as This; Pamela Aidan
— Love @ 22:49 Comments (5)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, Back to History, English, First in a Series, Historical, Romance

An Assembly Such as This; Pamela Aidan An Assembly Such as This
by Pamela Aidan
American

For the First in a Series, Back to History and A-Z reading challenges.

English
256 pages
Touchstone
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9134-7

First line: Fitzwilliam George Alexander Darcy rose from his seat in the Bingley carriage and reluctantly descended to earth before the assembly hall above the only inn to which the small market town of Meryton could lay claim.

Back cover blurb:
“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

So begins the timeless romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic novel which is beloved by millions, but little is revealed in the book about the mysterious and handsome hero, Mr. Darcy. And so the question has long remained: Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?
In An Assembly Such as This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of her Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley and reveals Darcy’s hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice. As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley’s persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows—as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.

Thoughts: Unlike Darcy’s Story, which I read in December, this book really captured me from the first chapter. Here is Mr. Darcy as I have always pictured him. The other characters, some of which are original characters, are well-written as well and especially Fletcher, Darcy’s valet, won my heartfelt approval.

On the whole, it felt as though it was written very much in the spirit of Austen herself, and there was much giggling and squeeing from me as I read it.

The only negative thing about it is that it’s the first in a series and I hadn’t realised that the whole series would make up the events in Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I thought the following two books would relate the events after Darcy’s and Lizzy’s wedding. As I found it was not the case, I shall simply have to hunt down the following two volumes at my earliest convenience, as I will not rest until I know what happens next (shut up! Yes, I know I know what happens next, but I don’t have Aidan’s Darcy’s take on it, so there!).

For now, it’s a B grade. If the rest of the series proves to be as good as this, I might bump it up to an A in the end.


5th January, 2008
Flambards Divided; KM Peyton
— Love @ 15:34 Comments (2)
Filed under: D, Decades '08, English, Historical, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Flambards Divided; KM Peyton Flambards Divided
by KM Peyton
British

For the Young Adult and Decades ’08 (first published 1981) reading challenges.

English
283 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-257055-6

First line: Christina had dreamed of Will again.

Back cover blurb:
When Christina marries Dick, she hopes that life at Flambards will settle down at last. But the village gossips find it scandalous that she, a rich landowner, should marry a peasant, and show their disapproval in no uncertain terms.

Even more unsettling is Mark’s return from the war in France. Badly injured and resentful of Dick, Mark is still the imposing character of old who stirs up confusing feelings in Christina. Just as before, Christina finds her loyalties divided between two very different men, and knows she has a terrible decision ahead of her…

Thoughts: This is by far my least favourite book in the series. It is the last one and the most grown-up, so you’d think I’d like it better, being older now than the first time I read it. But no. In fact I feel as though Peyton quite ruins my favourite character (even if his reactions are understandable, I still don’t want him to have them quite so violently. Things could have worked out, I am quite certain of it).

Another thing is that all the other books are seen completely from Christina’s perspective, but here we suddenly get passages written from someone else’s point of view. Normally I wouldn’t have minded that, but with three books behind you, it’s a little late to start changing things around without it seeming a little strange.

In the end, whilst the rest of the Flambards-books have received Cs, this one gets a D, for the reasons outlined above.


4th January, 2008
Flambards in Summer; KM Peyton
— Love @ 15:11 Comments (2)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, Historical, Young Adult

Flambards in Summer; KM Peyton Flambards in Summer
by KM Peyton
British

For the A-Z Reading Challenge.

English
188 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-275054-9

First line: The RFC ditty with the sad tune, which Christina had sung several times with Will and his friends when he had been home on leave, would not leave her head.

Back cover blurb:
Widowed at twenty-one, Christina has returned to Flambards to find much has changed. The First World War is well underway, with Uncle Russell and her beloved Will both dead, while Mark is missing, presumed killed. Flambards itself is run-down, neglected and completely overgrown.

Christina vows to return the manor house to its former glory, and works hard to transform the home of her childhood. It is only when a familiar face appears at her door one day that she realizes that Flambards may even bring her love again…

Thoughts: This is the third of four books about Flambards and I finished it in one sitting. Like the previous books in the series, it’s a nice enough read and, while still considered YA, decidedly more adult than the other two.

While I don’t like it quite as much as Flambards (which I think is my favourite of the four), I still give it a C rating.


3rd January, 2008
The Edge of the Cloud; KM Peyton
— Love @ 23:43 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, Historical, Young Adult

The Edge of the Cloud; KM Peyton The Edge of the Cloud
by KM Peyton
British

For the A-Z Reading Challenge.

English
181 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-275023-5

First line: ‘We’ve eloped,’ Christina said to Aunt Grace.

Back cover blurb:
Christina and Will have escaped Flambards for London with their heads full of dreams, only to find a whole new set of problems. Not only the basic ones of work and a place to live, but Will’s single-minded ambition to design and pilot flying machines, which terrify Christina every time he leaves the ground. Will is certain he can become a success, but what price is he willing to pay for the glory?

Thoughts: This is the sequel to Flambards and has less horses (and a lot more air-borne machinery). It reads as a logical continuation of Christina’s and Will’s story and earns itself another of those C ratings I seem so fond of dealing out of late.


3rd January, 2008
Flambards; KM Peyton
— Love @ 19:52 Comments (0)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, First in a Series, Historical, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Flambards; KM Peyton Flambards
by KM Peyton
British

For the First in a Series, Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
220 pages
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-271955-3

First line: The fox was running easily.

Back cover blurb:
Christina is sent to live with her uncle and his two sons in their country house, Flambards.

She finds her uncle fierce and domineering and her cousin Mark arrogant and selfish. But Flambards isn’t all bad, for Christina soon discovers a passion for horse-riding and forms a binding friendship with her cousin Will.

As time goes by Christina comes to realize the important part she has to play in this emotionally-charged and strange household.

Thoughts: Oh, it’s been absolute ages since I’ve read any horse-y books! I used to be quite crazy about them when I was younger, just as I was crazy about everything else related to horses.

It is a nice book, though. I quite like it still, even if perhaps not quite so much as previously. A C is in order—I spent a couple of hours curled up with it, time which I don’t begrudge it, and I have no objection to (re-)reading the rest of the series, but it’s not absolutely fantastic.


3rd January, 2008
His Majesty’s Dragon; Naomi Novik
— Love @ 15:30 Comments (7)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Here Be Dragons, Historical, Seafaring Challenge

His Majesty's Dragon; Naomi Novik His Majesty’s Dragon
by Naomi Novik
American

For the Here Be Dragons, First in a Series, Seafaring and A-Z reading challenges.

English
356 pages
Del Rey
ISBN: 978-0-345-48128-3

First line: The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea; a stroke might as easily bring down the man making it as the intended target.

Back cover blurb:
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies… not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.
When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into the uncertain future—and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarefied world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

Thoughts: I really, really liked this book. I’d suspected I might, and thankfully I was not disappointed, as has sometimes been the case (The Eyre Affair springs readily to mind as an example of this). Naomi Novik’s take on the Napoleonic Wars is quite exciting to read and her characters are ones you quickly become exceedingly fond of. The only beef I have with the story is that it’s sometimes a little too fantastic, perhaps. That, and the reactions of the main character to certain things (though, granted, they are perfectly understandable reactions for him to have, as a product of the Regency era. Still, they grated on me a little).

All in all, though, I can say with certainty that I will try to get my paws on the next three books in the series as soon as possible, and that I will also wait with bated breath for June to come around and with it the publishing of the fifth book.

A B rating is nothing if not extremely well-deserved in this case.


3rd January, 2008
Here Be Dragons: Reviews
— Love @ 15:08 Comments (8)
Filed under: Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons: A 2008 Reading Challenge Now that 2008 is here, the Here Be Dragons challenge has officially started. I hope you’re all going to enjoy your chosen reading material.

The challenge actually has a few participants other than just myself. Including me, this is the list of readers taking part in the challenge:

(You can still join, should you want to. Sign up post is here.)

Post links to your reviews of challenge books to Mr Linky (this post will be linked to in the sidebar, so always easy to find).

Please post the following in the name box:
name (title of book by author)

An example:
Love (His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik)

In the URL field, simply insert a direct link to your review.

I know it says Thursday Thirteen, but let’s just ignore that, shall we?


3rd January, 2008
2007: a summary
— Love @ 14:58 Comments (0)
Filed under: Stats

I meant to post this a couple of days ago, but somehow never got around to it. I have to admit, though, that this sort of post is almost the highlight of my reading year — I experience a geeky sort of pleasure at seeing the stats written down. I also quite enjoy looking at other people’s stats posts.

In 2007:

  • I read 140 books by 92 authors.
  • I read 52 male authors, 40 female (which confirms my suspicion that I tend to go for the blokes. I thought there’d be more of a difference, though.)
  • I read 56 authors I’d never read before, and 23 who were Swedish.
  • I read 103 books in English, 36 in Swedish and 1 in French.
  • I read 35 books that were re-reads.
  • I read 108 books that were works of fiction and 32 that were non-fiction.
  • The busiest reading month was January, when I read 31 books.
  • I failed to reach my reading goal, which was 60 000 pages. I’d read 38 274 pages by the end of the year.
  • Best books (no re-reads) were:
    • Finns det liv på Mars? by Inger Edelfeldt
    • The Virtu by Sarah Monette
    • The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (despite the epilogue which I have still not learned to like, and most likely never will)
    • Linas kvällsbok 2 by Emma Hamberg (more for nostalgic reason than it being a proper great book. And no, I’ve never read it before—the nostalgia stems from the fact that the main character goes to the same type of highschool I did.)
    • Now & Then by William Corlett
    • Leave Myself Behind by Bart Yates
    • Flying Colours by CS Forester
  • Most disappointing was The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, which was really, really dull and I wanted to like it, but couldn’t. Every time I started to get into it and wanted to know what happened next, the story jumped backwards in time so it was like starting all over again.

For 2008, I don’t have any specific reading goals, except to try to complete as many as possible of the reading challenges I’m signed up for. I’d also like to try to read an average of four books a week. It won’t be a big deal if I don’t succeed, but I am at least going to attempt it.