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Jul. 17th, 2014

03:03 pm - Books 31 - 40.

31. Keller & Papasan - The One Thing:The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results (219 pages)
32. Woolf - To The Lighthouse (304 pages)
33. St. Ignatius Of Loyola - Personal Writings (405 pages)
34. DeMontfort - The Secret Of The Rosary (142 pages)
35. Lewis - The Great Divorce (141 pages)
36. Cessario - Perpetual Angelus:As The Saints Pray The Rosary (109 pages)
37. Newman - Selected Sermons, Prayers & Devotions (405 pages)
38. Pasquale - Padre Pio's Spiritual Direction For Every Day (273 pages)
39. Heraclitus - Fragments (69 pages)
40. Vanderkam - What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, & Two Other Short Guideas To Achieving More At Work & At Home (171 pages)

Total so far: 8 417 pages.

Current Mood: artistic
Current Music: Fields Of The Nephilim - "For Her Light"

Jul. 13th, 2014

09:35 pm - Books 23 & 24 - 2012

Book 23: Stonehenge: English Heritage Guidebook by Julian Richards – 48 pages

Description from Goodreads:
Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world. Its great stones were raised more than 4,000 years ago as a temple to the sun; its banks and ditches are older still. This new guide includes a tour and history of the site and its remarkable landscape, together with full-colour maps, plans, reconstruction drawings and historic photographs.

Thoughts:
This is another brief little tourist book I bought while living in London – obviously about Stonehenge. It’s actually pretty comprehensive for a guidebook, going into detail about the various theories about why Stonehenge was built, whom by and what it was used for. It also goes into detail about the positioning of the stones and various other stone formations and indentations etc in the area. Very interesting.


23 / 50 books. 46% done!


7475 / 15000 pages. 50% done!

Book 24: Experience the Tower of London: Souvenir Guidebook by Brett Dolman, Susan Holmes, Edward Impey & Jane Spooner – 72 pages

Description from Goodreads:
Royal palace, fortress, prison and place of execution; arsenal, royal mint, menagerie and jewel house - for over 900 years the Tower of London has served all these purposes. In this lavishly illustrated 72-page guide you're invited to explore this formidable citadel as it was and is now.

Thoughts:
Another tourist book (I read a whole stack of these before I packed my shipping boxes up to leave for Australia). This one is about the Tower of London, which is pretty much favourite touristy spot in all of London (I am a massive fan of the Tudors, in particular, Henry VIII). This book talks about the history of this very famous site, some of the significant deaths that have happened there, the mysteries of the tower, and the very famous Beefeaters. Always enjoyable to read about this very significant place.


24 / 50 books. 48% done!


7547 / 15000 pages. 50% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan – 326 pages
-        A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce – 392 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: 'Frozen'

Jul. 4th, 2014

11:36 pm - Books 21 & 22 - 2012

Book 21: Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman – 274 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
He smiles. "Hello." It's a deep voice. I can feel it reverberate in my chest and echo all the way down to my toes. I know I should leave, but I don't want to. I want to keep my senses like this forever. I'm all eye, all ear, all skin. Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more--something dangerous and exciting--something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself. In a land where a singing river can make you forget your very name, Persephone is forced to discover who--and what--she really is.

Thoughts:
Of all the Greek myths, the story of Persephone and Hades is my favorite. Persephone is my favourite Goddess, because she is the balance of light and dark – Goddess of Spring, Queen of the Underworld. She is the personification of duality. I seek out retellings and analyses of the Persephone/Hades myth like most people read crime novels. This is another of these – a young adult version. Of course, as in most retellings, the plot is romantic – Persephone’s mother Demeter is overprotective of her daughter, and then along comes a mysterious man who promises Persephone adventure and she takes it. My main problem with this retelling is that Persephone felt very young, and Hades felt very old (not like old man old, but like a forty year old seeking out a teenager), and it made the romantic aspect of the story feel lecherous and slightly inappropriate. Perhaps if the book hadn’t been aiming to being romantic, but was aiming for the ‘kidnapped and raped’ version of the story, it would have worked better. It was still an okay read particularly for a young adult novel, with more of a plot than a number of other retellings I’ve read, but it would have been better without the slight creep factor.


21 / 50 books. 42% done!


7371 / 15000 pages. 49% done!

Book 22: Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House: Official Souvenir Guide by John Martin Robinson – 56 pages

Description from amazon.com:
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, built by the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1921 and 1924, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary dolls’ houses in the world. Standing over 2 meters (or 7 feet) high, it is a perfect replica of an Edwardian private residence of the grandest possible design, complete with Saloon, Library, Dining Room, private apartments, servants’ rooms, kitchen, wine cellar, and garage full of vintage miniature limousines—plus working lifts, running water and electric light. Every room is fully furnished with miniature replicas of the contents of a real Edwardian house—from the kitchen, with its copper pans and kettles, to the Saloon, with its tiny full-length state portraits. The wine bottles in the cellar each contain less than a thimbleful of vintage wine, the linen cupboard has a full complement of miniature sheets and tablecloths, and in the Strong Room minute replicas of the Crown Jewels are on display. It also has an art collection, by all the leading painters of the day, including Sir William Nicholson; and extraordinary Library, with miniature volumes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy and Edith Wharton, among others, and as the final touch, a garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

Thoughts:
When I lived in England I did a lot of travelling to all the tourist hot spots. One of the places I went was Windsor Castle. At Windsor Castle, the home of the British Queen (and my Queen, being an Aussie!), one can see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, a magnificent dolls house created in the 1920s. I saw it while I was there, and it is truly extraordinary, with a million little intricate details that make it much more than a dolls’ house and instead something akin to a small functioning home for Thumblina people. This souvenir book takes one through the house’s creation and through the structure itself and many of the fascinating details. An interesting read for anyone who is interested in the British Royal Family or dolls’ house or exceptional feats of carpentry!


22 / 50 books. 44% done!


7427 / 15000 pages. 50% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander – 277 pages
-        Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan – 326 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Fairweather Friend - Vanessa Carlton

Jun. 22nd, 2014

10:08 pm - Books 17 & 18 - 2013

Book 17: Awaken by Meg Cabot – 343 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera knew that by accepting the undying love of John Hayden she'd be forced to live forever in the one place she's always dreaded most: the Underworld. The sacrifice seemed worth it, but now her happiness and safety in the realm are threatened. The Furies have discovered that John has broken one of their strictest rules and revived a dead soul. If the balance of life and death isn't restored, both the Underworld and Pierce's home on Earth will be wiped out by the Furies' wrath. Pierce has already cheated death once ...can she do it again?

Thoughts:
This is the final book in Meg Cabot’s Hades and Persephone retelling trilogy. It had a plot, I’ll give it that, but it felt pretty weak. There was some stuff involving the god Thantos (God of Death, if my memory of Greek mythology is okay), and Pierce’s cousin, and after all the angst of her stalker boyfriend, John Hayden, in the first book, Pierce seems quite okay with his behavior and happy to wander off into a happy ending with him. There is revenge on the horrible popular kids who bullied Pierce and her brother, and defeat of the Furies who have possessed various people throughout the series, namely Pierce’s grandmother. I really didn’t get much out of the series, which disappointed me, because I really love the Persephone and Hades myth and really wanted to like this trilogy, but it read like any other angsty teen novel with misdirection and confusion and silly arguments. Overall, I think Meg Cabot writes adult books much better than teen ones…or I’m just too old to appreciate teen fiction anymore.


17 / 50 books. 34% done!


6464 / 15000 pages. 43% done!

Book 18: Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan – 375 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Waverly, Kieran and Seth are in a race against time - and with the future of humanity hanging in the balance, there's no room for mistakes... After a desperate escape from the enemy ship, Waverly has finally made it back to the Empyrean. The memory of home has been keeping her alive for the past months... but home is nothing like she left it. Forced to leave their captive parents behind on the New Horizon, she's returned only to find that Kieran has become a strict leader and turned the crew against Seth. What happened to the Kieran she thought she knew? Now Waverly's not sure whom she can trust. And the one person she wants to believe in is darkly brilliant Seth, the ship's supposed enemy. Waverly knows that the situation will only get worse until they can rescue their parents - but how? Before they have time to make a plan, an explosion rocks the Empyrean, and Seth and Waverly are targeted as the prime suspects. Can they find the true culprit before Kieran locks them away... or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? Now more than ever, every step could bring them closer to a new beginning - or a sudden end. "Spark "is book two in Amy Kathleen Ryan's thrilling young adult science fiction series Sky Chasers.

Thoughts:
This is the second book in the Sky Chasers trilogy about a two starships travelling across the universe to relocate a group of humans to a new world. After their parents were killed by the adults of the New Horizon, the children of Empyrean are left to fend for themselves and work out how to save the small contingent of parents still alive and held prisoner on board the New Horizon, as well as unravel exactly why their parents were taken in the first place and what can be done to get revenge. In true Lord of the Flies fashion, its as much the internal fight for power that almost undoes these kids. Kieran has got the role of leader, a role he believes he deserves, and Seth is in hiding. Caught between the two of them is Waverly, Kieran’s former girlfriend who has separated herself from the growing religious fervor Kieran is preaching to the children. Meanwhile, Seth believes someone has gotten aboard the ship, but has no way of communicating this to Kieran, without revealing himself.
This is a complex young adult novel, filled with interesting ideas about power, religion, belief, love, revenge, violence and legacy. The adults on the New Horizon have some pretty questionable morals, but it also becomes clear that the adults on the Empyrean did too, which raises some concerning questions about why these people were chosen to seed a New Earth. The kids, unfortunately, seem to as much products of questionable parenting, as they are of their situation. The ending of the book opens up a really difficult situation, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Ryan resolves it. Definitely stronger than the average young adult novel.


18 / 50 books. 36% done!


6839 / 15000 pages. 46% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander – 277 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Sixth: The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket – 259 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: The Mentalist on TV

Jun. 19th, 2014

11:19 pm - Books 19 & 20 - 2012

Book 19: Flat Earth News: An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media by Nick Davies – 397 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media. WARNING! Are newspapers seriously damaging your insight? Does what you read every day contain lies, PR, propaganda and distortion? Find out who's controlling your news in this shocking expose from the ultimate insider.

Thoughts:
This is a really important book. I stumbled upon it in the back of another book (I think it was Female Chauvinist Pigs) and when I was working in London I found it in Barnes and Noble and bought it. It was not lost on me that I discovered the TV show ‘The Newsroom’ about two months after I read this book, late one night while staying in New York City with my parents, after I’d finished my stint in London. This book compliments what the show is trying to do.
Davies worked on Fleet Street, home of London’s media, and in Flat Earth News, he takes apart the mess that is the media industry in the modern day, and why not a word of what it spews out can be trusted, not because of the evil desires of the Murdoch’s of the world to direct what we think, but rather to make money. Cutting, and cutting, and cutting back the budgets for journalism teams while expecting faster and faster news coverage in order to ‘get the scoop’ before anyone else has resulted in news that is barely news, human interest crap to keep the masses watching, but providing little actual truthful news about what is happening in the world. Davies details how this has come to be, how pervasive it is, and what media outlets are the worst. There is, in fact, a whole chapter dedicated to the Daily Mail, which is one of my favourite papers to read online, despite the fact that I know its utter trash. This book confirms that view (I still read the Daily Mail – its hilarious!). All in all, along with the noble endeavor of the Newsroom (even if some consider it completely fanciful), this is an important book, highlighting the critical thinking we all need to apply when watching the news.


19 / 50 books. 38% done!


6564 / 15000 pages. 44% done!

Book 20: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – 533 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

Thoughts:
I put this book on my to-read list, but I was wary given how popular it is (the more popular a book with the general public, the worse I tend to find them). Then I went to the Netherlands and my cousin recommended it to me, telling me she’d even gone to the trouble to read it in English. So, again, when I went to that Barnes and Noble, I picked up a copy. It sat on my nightstand till almost the end of my stay in London, and then I took a train trip to Belgium and took it with me. And I was engrossed! Because unlike the Twilights of the world, this is a damn good book. I don’t read a lot of murder/crime mysteries, but this one is an exception. It’s a complex, clever plot set in an unusual setting for someone like me who has never been to Scandinavia (but really wants to go!). There is a lot of description, a lot of background, but the style of writing doesn’t make it feel onerous or boring or designed to fluff out the story – the writing style is almost clinical, but substantial enough to make you genuinely interested in the characters, to give them humanity. It is fast paced, and the story is really, really fascinating as a stand alone as well as in the context of the rest of the trilogy (which I went on to read). I also really liked the fact that neither Lisbeth nor Mikael are perfect people. There not necessarily ridiculous attractive, they are flawed, they are selfish, and they hurt people. But their determination to solve the mystery of Harriet Vanger’s death, and their strange relationship with each other is, in my opinion, the true achievement of this book. One of the few internationally popular books that deserves its place at the top.


20 / 50 books. 40% done!


7097 / 15000 pages. 47% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – 700 pages
-        The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander – 277 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Breathe - Michelle Branch

Jun. 7th, 2014

12:01 am - Books 17 & 18 - 2012

Book 17: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – 559 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
The long-awaited companion to "New York Times" bestsellers "Graceling" and "Fire" Eight years after "Graceling," Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past. Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Thoughts:
This is the final book in the Graceling series, and its set in the same part of this world as the first book, which puts it, timeline wise, some fifty or sixty years after the second book, Fire. I was really sad to not read more about Fire (the character) as I loved her, but I was excited to get back to reading about Katsa and Po and to see how Bitterblue had grown up (she was a child in the first book – this one is set eight years after the event of the first book). Obviously Bitterblue is the star of this story, Katsa and Po playing fun supporting characters this time around. And poor, poor Bitterblue. Her story, her reign as Queen, so marked by the actions of her evil father. It is this, his actions, his motivation, and his power, that makes up this monster of a book. For despite her best efforts, it slowly becomes apparent that Bitterblue can’t as easily escape her father’s power as his death might suggest.
Cashore continues to do in this book what she set up in the previous two: create a complex, clever, realistic world, alongside a cast of funny, quirky, flawed characters. She manages to imbue her characters with tolerance, humility and some very much appreciated sarcasm. I think the thing I love the most about this book is that there are at least three openly gay characters, but at no point does Cashore make a big deal about them. They are people, not stereotypes. This might seem like an odd thing to like, but one thing that genuinely frustrates me (and something I try to avoid when writing myself) is when a writer creates a character to fit a niche, to show to their audience that they are in with the minority group (the ‘token black guy’ mentality, if you will) and then proceeds to go on and on about that character’s minority aspect to such an extent that it reduces them to a stereotype, to that characteristic alone, rather than who they are as a whole person. We are all so much more than gay, or black, or female or Jewish, even if that characteristic is a large or important part of who we are. I love that Cashore manages to get across to the reader that these characters are gay, without having to turn it into the only thing important about them.
Either way, this conclusion to the Graceling series does exactly what I would have wanted: it ties up the loose ends, answer the important questions whilst leaving enough unsaid to wonder about, and even manages to bring back Fire for a little bit. A really good conclusion to a really good series. Definitely recommended!


17 / 50 books. 34% done!


6003 / 15000 pages. 40% done!

Book 18: Culture Smart! Britain: the essential guide to customs & culture by Paul Norbury – 164 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Whether you are setting off to Britain to travel, learn, work or relocate, Culture Smart! Britain will provide a wealth of information on everything from cultural sensitivities to business and socialising. Culture Smart! offers an indepth insight to the customs and culture of Britain, an area where many other guidebooks only scratch the surface.

Thoughts:
I worked in England for ten weeks in 2012. I was sent over by the auditing firm I worked for at the time, a reward given to hard working employees – ten weeks in London, accommodation, flights etc paid for, and the implied opportunity to travel Europe on weekends. As part of the experience, I was made to go to ‘culture’ training to adapt to working with the English (something I found hilariously funny seeing as I’m Australian, and I’ve worked with tons of Poms my whole working life). They gave me this book at the training, and it was actually quite interesting. It explains standard customs and cultural sensitivities about the whole of Great Britain, and it had some advice I definitely ended up bearing in mind while there (I knew I’d been there too long when I started getting annoyed when ‘bloody foreigners’ didn’t queue properly). One of these days, I’ll seek out the version of this book for Australia just to see what it recommends!


18 / 50 pages. 36% done!


6167 / 15000 pages. 41% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – 700 pages
-        Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – 399 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: No One Mourns the Wicked - from Wicked: The Musical

May. 27th, 2014

05:04 pm - Books 21 - 30.

21. Banks - Excession (420 pages)
22. Lo - Ash (254 pages)
23. Roy - An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire (146 pages)
24. Freeman - St. Patrick Of Ireland: A Biography (191 pages)
25. Maguire - An Infinity Of Little Hours (258 pages)
26. Brooks - The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead (271 pages)
27. Brown - Unexpected News: Reading The Bible With Third World Eyes (153 pages)
28. Guyon - The Unabridged Collected Works Of... (411 pages)
29. Calamari & DiPasqua - Novena: The Power Of Prayer (153 pages)
30. Sts. Clement Of Rome & Ignatius Of Antioch - The Epistles Of... (141 pages)

Total so far: 6 179 pages.

Current Mood: busy
Current Music: Rush - "Tai Shan"

May. 14th, 2014

10:49 pm - Books 7 & 8 - 2014

Book 7: How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran – 301 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Caitlin Moran is the profane, witty and wonky best friend I wish I had. Shes the feminist rock star we need right now. Ayelet Waldman, author of Bad Mother ‘Caitlin Moran is so fabulous, so funny, so freshly feminist. I dont want to be like her I want to be her.’ Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter ‘Caitlin Moran puts a new face on feminism, cutting to the heart of womens issues today with her irreverent, transcendent, and hilarious How to Be a Woman.’ Half memoir, half polemic, and entirely necessary, (Elle UK), Morans debut was an instant runaway bestseller in England as well as an Amazon UK Top Ten book of the year; still riding high on bestseller lists months after publication, it is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Now poised to take American womanhood by storm, here is a book that Vanity Fair calls the U.K. version of Tina Feys Bossypants. You will laugh out loud, wince, and in my case feel proud to be the same gender as the author.

Thoughts:
So I have no idea who Caitlin Moran is. I’d never heard of her before this book, and even after reading the book, I don’t know much about who she is now in the scheme of her fame. Because that’s not what this book is about. She’s British, she’s a comedian of some description, and she has a wickedly awesome take on the world. Moran basically tells stories about her life juxtaposed against revelations about being a woman that these events have revealed to her. And I like Moran’s opinions. She’s got some great ideas about the removal of body hair, about being a parent, not being a parent, abortion, marriage, discrimination, fashion, all sorts of things. She’s self-aware, and reflective and enlightened. She understands that we can’t all live the same lives, we can’t all guard ourselves by the same morals, but we should try to live lives honest to ourselves. She made me laugh a lot, but more importantly she made me think. An enjoyable reflection on life as a woman and many of the important milestones we face.


7 / 50 books. 14% done!


2477 / 15000 pages. 17% done!

Book 8: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Fourth: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket – 194 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log. The pages of this book, I′m sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons. I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven′t, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket

Thoughts:
Number four of these crazy books. This was the first one I’d read that wasn’t in a movie. Which made it kind of dull. The adults in the book a really dumb, and I understand that’s the point but there’s only so long you can read about dumb adults and smart kids and bad guys getting away before it gets repetitive. The best part by far is reading about Violet’s really clever inventions. And I particularly like the fact that the girl is the inventor and the boy is the reader (which was undoubtedly done on purpose). I’ll keep plodding through only because I really want to know how they beat Count Olaf (that name just doesn’t feel evil to me anymore – its always going to be a happy-go-lucky snowman name since ‘Frozen’).


8 / 50 books. 16% done!


2671 / 15000 pages. 18% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        Man Drought and Other Social Issues of the New Century by Bernard Salt – 276 pages
-        I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – 700 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Goodbye to You (Acoustic) - Michelle Branch

Apr. 29th, 2014

04:06 pm - Books 15 & 16 - 2013

Book 15: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thomson Walker – 369 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown...' What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day becomes night and night becomes day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on an eleven-year-old girl, grappling with emotional changes in her own life? One morning, Julia and her parents wake up to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing

Thoughts:
This was not a good book to read during my audit busy season. That’s not to say it’s not a good book. Because it is. In a weird kind of way. But it’s depressing. It’s sad. It’s the kind of book that comes back to you when you feel a little down, or when you are lying in bed at two in the morning, unable to sleep. Or when something goes wrong in the world, and it takes a while for the powers to be to work out why. The premise of the story is that the Earth begins to slow on its axis, spinning slower and slower with the inevitable implication being that it will eventually stop. Gravity won’t work properly should the Earth stop. The beautifully precarious relationship we have with our planet comes into question in this debut novel. I’ve always felt that we – as in humanity – don’t truly appreciate the wonderful gift that is our planet. Not in a tree-hugging, do-gooder kind of way, because I truly believe that if we were to be ripped from this world tomorrow our world would be as if we’d never existed in a 100 years – a mere blink of the eye in planet life terms. But more in a ‘we are nothing in the scheme of things, and yet we have this amazing sphere flying through space to live on and its perfectly equipped to support us’. A too-near-flying asteroid could wipe us out tomorrow. And yet we all stress about our little problems in our little lives, and forget we are less than a drop in the ocean that is our universe. To my mind, this book looks at the idea behind ‘what if our planet decided our time was up?’. Over the course of the book, the Earth turns on humanity. Food becomes more and more difficult to grow, the days become hotter and the nights colder, the beautiful balance our bodies have with the rise and fall of the 24 hour day becomes increasingly irrelevant. And humanity struggles on, desperately trying to turn the Earth to facilitate our existence. Of course, some people try to adapt to this new world, in particular, the hours of day and night, trying to stay ‘off the clock’ and stay awake during days that stretch for days, sleep through nights of an equally long length. But the rest of the world very quickly moves to a 24 hour clock at complete odds with the rise and fall of the sun.
Don’t get me wrong. There are things about this book I didn’t like, despite my musings above. The story is told through the point of view of Julia, who is eleven. To be honest, I didn’t care all that much about Julia. I cared about the Earth, and Julie is a means through which to tell Earth’s story. But to me, the story is Earth’s and not Julia’s, even though I think the author did not intend it to be that way. I don’t care about an eleven year old, and I think the idea behind this story has so much potential and so many interesting questions that it would have been better served through a different protagonist. Or maybe not a protagonist at all. Then again, maybe it is Julia that gives this story its wistfulness.
I also had some problems with some of the effects of the slowing. To be honest, I’m not a hundred percent sure they are accurate or reasonable. But I can look past them. It’s not like there’s a lot of literature out there on the impact on the potential slowing of the Earth. I also felt the slowing happened too quickly; it seemed to jump from a few minutes of extra time to a whole day to several days quite quickly. But again, I can look past this. Overall, the idea fascinated me, and like the very best ideas (and I say ideas, not stories, because a great story can be a very simple, ordinary idea, and a great idea can be told in a story that is not at all interesting or enjoyable to read) it crawls under your skin and stays there, popping up to remind you of its existence whenever it feels it should. A fascinating debut with some flaws inevitable when trying to draw an Earth-changing idea into a mere 369 pages.


15 / 50 books. 30% done!


5727 / 15000 pages. 38% done!

Book 16: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter – 394 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
"She won't rest until she's sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever." Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone. Her father was right. The monsters are real. To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

Thoughts:
Alice Bell’s father is insane. Her mother won’t stand up to him, won’t leave him, just exists beside him. And her little sister Emma is Alice’s light, the one thing in her tormented life that she adores. But there’s a reason for Alice’s father’s insanity, and it’s not till the events of an evening that steal Alice’s family from her, that she understands what this reason is. There are zombies. And Alice’s father knew this, but not how to fight them entirely. It’s after her family are taken by the zombies that Alice is able to see them. At first she thinks she is going insane. But when she moves to a new school, she discovers that there are others like her. Including the very attractive Cole Holland, whom Alice seems to have some mystical connection with. The zombies are real, but can only be seen by some, and those some fight the zombies at night. So Alice is recruited into their little group, and oh yes, there might be something romantic going on with that Cole boy.
This is a pretty good book for a young adult novel set in the real world. I often find these kind of books make the teenage protagonists so annoying that they distract from the story (I much prefer young adult novels set in, essentially, another universe. The teenagers are, often, basically teenagers only in age.). The teenagers in this book manage to not be too annoying in this one (they get worse in the sequel) though Cole has a troubled past and Alice is still recovering from the death of her family. Setting off these two is Alice’s new friend Kat, who clearly has some health issues that she’d prefer to keep herself. Showalter doesn’t shy away from the inevitable practical problems that arise when one is fighting zombies at night – for example, missing schoolwork – and there is a nice sense of camaraderie among the zombie fighters even when half of them have dated the other half. The actual zombie fight that drives the plot is obviously setting up the overall trilogy, though even at the conclusion of the second book I still can’t work out what that conclusion might be. Overall, a clever play on some of the lore of the Wonderland stories coupled with the scary undeadness of zombies certainly had me looking at the dark in a different way afterwards.


16 / 50 books. 32% done!


6121 / 15000 pages. 41% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        Man Drought and Other Social Issues of the New Century by Bernard Salt – 276 pages
-        Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – 342 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: Sober - Nightcore Version

Apr. 27th, 2014

06:58 pm - Books 14, 15 & 16 - 2012

Book 14: The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty – 388 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon was the one she let get away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie's house on Scribbly Gum Island -- home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery. Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it's about time she started making her own decisions. As Sophie's life becomes increasingly complicated, she discovers that sometimes you have to stop waiting around -- and come up with your own fairy-tale ending. As she so adroitly did in her smashing debut novel, "Three Wishes," the incomparable Liane Moriarty once again combines sharp wit, lovable and eccentric characters, and a page-turning story for an unforgettable "Last Anniversary."

Thoughts:
I read Liane Moriarty’s book ‘Three Wishes’ several years ago and really liked it, and I’ve read most of the books by her sister Jaclyn Moriarty and really liked those too, so I gave this one a try. It’s an odd book, but that’s the Moriarty sisters’ style. Sophie inherits a house owned by her ex-fiancé’s aunt. Odd, but not the oddest part of the story. This house has a story behind it, an unsolved mystery involving her ex-fiancé’s mother (I think – I can’t quite remember anymore). At the same time this is all happening Thomas’ wife, Grace, a new mother, is suffering with undiagnosed post-partum depression. The story jumps perspectives, and as Sophie becomes more involved in Thomas’ family’s lives and the mystery in the house, Grace spirals further into her depression. I had a fair idea of what the mystery was right from the start, but Grace’s story made the book tough reading. It reminded me why I normally read fantasy. Whilst I appreciate the importance of the topic (ie. Post partum depression), I read to escape reality, not to immerse myself in it. Call me selfish or misguided if you will, but I don’t want to be depressed when I’m reading. So it took me a while to get through this one, because I really struggled to work through Grace’s issues. If the overall story itself had been more engaging I probably would have enjoyed it more, but given I’d already worked it out, that did little for me as well. So good, but not great! Having said that, I really liked the ending which was very…’modern’. Not as good as ‘Three Wishes’ but a good read if suburban family drama/mysteries are your thing.


14 / 50 books. 28% done!


4873 / 15000 pages. 32% done!

Book 15: Hatter M: Volume 3: The Nature of Wonder by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier; illustrated by Sami Makkonen – 187 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
In Volume 3, "The Nature of Wonder", Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan follows the Glow of the setting sun into America's wild west in search of Wonderland's lost princess. Hatter's adventures will include a shamanic vision quest in the Grand Canyon and tracking Black Imagination through San Francisco's Barbary Coast where he discovers an astounding clue to his own haunted past.

Thoughts:
This is the third of the Hatter Madigan graphic novels, filling in the years between Princess Alyss of Wonderland being tossed into our world and her finally getting back to the Queendom she rightfully rules. I love the character of Hatter Madigan (he’s like a nicer version of Vegeta from Dragonball Z, in my head) and its fun to read about his exploits, particularly given how Beddor and Cavalier interweave his story with history, Forrest Gump style. Alas, another volume must come, as Hatter does not succeed in finding the lost Princess at the end of this story. A cool companion piece to one of my most favourite series.


15 / 50 books. 30% done!


5060 / 15000 pages. 34% done!

Book 16: Fire by Kristin Cashore – 384 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
A must-read title for all fans of Patrick Rothfuss and Trudi Canavan, FIRE is an exceptional fantasy novel. From the deft characterisation to the gripping story, the fast-paced action to the evocative prose, this is one of the strongest fantasy novels of the year. Set in a world of stunningly beautiful, exceptionally dangerous monsters, Fire is one of the most dangerous monsters of all - a human one. Marked out by her vivid red hair, she's more than attractive. Fire is mesmerising. But with this extraordinary beauty comes influence and power. People who are susceptible to her appeal will do anything for her attention, and for her affection. They will turn away from their families, their work, and their duties for her. They will forget their responsibilities to please her ...and worse, crush nations, neglect kingdoms and abuse their power. Aware of her power, and afraid of it, Fire lives in a corner of the world away from people, and away from temptation. Until the day comes when she is needed - a day when, for her king, she has to take a stand not only against his enemies, but also against herself ...

Thoughts:
I have absolutely fallen in love with this book. The character of Fire reminds me vividly of the main character in my book, and yet is quite different. I think it’s their spirit that is similar and that in of itself draws me to this story. Her position as the only living ‘monster’ and the psychological battle she undergoes in order to accept herself and her role in the world is heartbreaking and beautiful. But its not just Fire who makes this story. It’s the ensemble cast, comprised, mostly of the Royal Family of the Dells, the region this book is set in. The region itself sits in the same world as Graceling but in a part of said world that is not known to the Seven Kingdoms mentioned in the previous book (a mountain range divides them). I love ensemble casts. My own story has a massive ensemble cast (almost a 100 characters, spanning 13 books and 35 years) and its ensemble casts that usually keep me going through a series. Harry Potter would have been unbearable if it hadn’t have been for the ensemble cast because Harry in himself got really annoying after awhile. Similarly, I finished the Twilight Saga and kept reading the Merry Gentry books not for the main characters themselves but for the supporting cast, the ensemble. Luckily, in Fire, both Fire herself and the ensemble cast are magnificent, but even if I hadn’t had liked Fire, I would have kept reading just to find out what happens to the ensemble. The book has some of the best (as in funny) lines I’ve ever come across in a fantasy novel (I’ve liked about 10 of them on goodreads) and the pace is solid, allowing sufficient reflection time whilst still cracking along nicely. I can’t say enough good things about this series and I genuinely can’t think of anything I’d change. The saddest thing about the entire affair is knowing that its set significantly before the events of Graceling (the previous novel in publishing order) and Bitterblue (its successor) and as such the characters I had grown to love are rather old when they make an appearance in Bitterblue. Without a doubt, one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read ever!


16 / 50 books. 32% done!


5444 / 15000 pages. 36% done!

Currently reading:
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Fifth: The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket – 221 pages
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        Man Drought and Other Social Issues of the New Century by Bernard Salt – 276 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Current Mood: fullfull
Current Music: It Was You - Ashley Ballard with So Plush

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