Friday, 2 December 2011

Month in Review: November 2011

Another lazy month, reading and blogging-wise.  I have been doing some of my own writing - though not taking part in NaNo for the first time since 2009 - and this is taking priority over reading.  And then I bought a couple of new games and lost some time to those (Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7, both very good and very timesuck-y). 

I also don't think my reading is going to go up in December, but I do plan to do a lot of Year in Review style posts on the blog, covering things I've read this year and challenges I've completed.

Books Read in November 2011
134. The Lantern Bearers - Rosemary Sutcliff
135. The Missing - Lisa McMann
136. Real Live Boyfriends - E. Lockhart
137. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
138. Dead Girls' Dance - Rachel Caine
139. Frontier Wolf - Rosemary Sutcliff
140. Beauty - Robin McKinley
141. The Iron King - Julie Kagawa
142. Love and Other Four Letter Words - Carolyn Mackler
143. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
144. The Mark of the Horse Lord - Rosemary Sutcliff

Total Books Read = 11
Total Pages Read = 2924
Average Book Length = 266

Owned Books = 2
Library Books = 8
Bought After Borrowing & Reading = 1 (The Iron King)

Most Read Author = Rosemary Sutcliff (3).

Top Ten Books of the Month
01. Real Live Boyfriends
02. The Iron King
03. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
04. The Missing
05. The Lantern Bearers
06. Frontier Wolf
07. Beauty
08. The Mark of the Horse Lord
09. Dead Girls' Dance
10. Love and Other Four Letter Words

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Rereadathon: End Result

Oh, look at that, no extra posts over the weekend and this is going up Tuesday not Monday.  And I only reread two books over the weekend because I was sucked into the world of Lego Harry Potter, trying to find any character who could do dark magic (oh, Bellatrix, that was possibly the first time I've ever been happy to see, thank you for hovering over Hagrid's hut like that). 

Anyway, the books read were...Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Paper Towns.  So, the first two on my list.  The others on there are, however, still books I very much want to reread (and review) so that will happen soon, I hope.

The Rereadathon was hosted by The Perpeutal Page Turner, who put up some questions over the weekend which I missed owing to time zone differences and lack of internet, but here are my answers now:

Friday/1. What books are you planning on rereading?  Why did you pick those?

I have a list of the books I was planning to reread on my masterpost, and the main reason for picking all of those was: I love them.  And I haven't read some of them for a while (Harry Potter, how have I gone so long without touching those books?).  Those I have reread recently I've skimmed/skipped to my favourite bits - or skipped over bits I find boring.  The plan was to revisit and re-evaluate a lot of my favourites, which didn't really happen.  Still, all those books on that list: I love and recommend.

Saturday/2. How are your general feelings towards rereading? Are you finding yourself remembering [more] things about these books than you thought you would? Are you feeling like you are moving quickly through the books because you've already read them. Are you enjoying them as much as you did the first time you read them?
I reread a lot - it often stops me from reading new books - but, as I say above, I often skip.  I also hadn't read the two books I reread this weekend for a while.  I don't think I got through them faster (I read them both in one sitting originally) and I definitely enjoyed them as much as the first time.  There were things I'd forgotten in both books, which were often things that made me laugh, but I could remember the basic plot which is how it tends to go with me and books: basic plot, few set pieces, none of the jokes.

Sunday/3. Overall, how was your experience rereading? Do you feel like it's something you want to do more or do you feel like you'd rather read new books?

I love rereading, but actually think it's something I should do less: I miss out on trying new books because I'm so happy with my old ones.  It's easier to stick to what I know than experiment - except that when I do experiment I find something I really like.  It also prevents me doing little things like returning books to the library on time rather than renewing and renewing because I haven't got round to reading them yet.  Still, the books I read this weekend were as fantastic as I remembered, and I'm definitely going to reread the other books on that list.

Now I have to get back to reading a book the library wants returned tomorrow.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Re-readathon Masterpost

I signed up for the Re-readathon here - it's being hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner.  It is now here, and because I am me I'm already behind with my own (somewhat daft) self-imposed schedule.  I meant to start this morning, but instead I've been running round Constantinople screaming at Templars and then Hogwarts trying to hex Umbridge (for some reason I can't, which is annoying me).  So, new plan:

- Start reading tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
- Stay up as late as I can that night reading.
- Keep notes about how much I read each hour (because this is the mad type of thing I do anyway).
- Try and read some of the following books:
-- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
-- Paper Towns
-- Anna and the French Kiss
-- Devilish and/or Girl At Sea
-- Game of Kings
- Try and read a book by the following authors:
-- Antonia Forest
-- Terry Pratchett
-- Dorothy L Sayers
-- JK Rowling

And a couple of quick rules for myself: 1) reread properly, don't skim bits like the code cracking in Have His Carcase; 2) don't start Game of Kings until Sunday afternoon/have read 5 other books because that book is intense/dense/complicated/long/will eat my life.

I'll post as much as I can although internet is a bit patchy over weekend.  Will link to all posts here.  If not: giant retrospective post on Monday.

Right, back to forming the DA.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Month in Review: October 2011

Slightly lazy month, both for reading and blogging.  In a minor defence it was my birthday, which meant I actually had a social life but that I also attempted to make some resolutions which I promptly broke and didn't post about.  And then November started and I still hadn't done anything new.  I need to make some plans and stick to them (this applies to my writing as well as my reading and blogging).  However, I have done quite a bit of reading in October - but am really looking forwards to the Re-readathon later this month.

NB: While I did read Dante's Inferno this month (review here) I'm not listing it as it's part of my doorstop Oxford Classics Divine Comedy so I'll count it when I've finished Paradiso.

Books Read in October 2011
121. Stop in the Name of Pants - Louise Rennison
122. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? - Louise Rennison
123. Frostbite - Richelle Mead
124. Valiant - Holly Black
125. Ironside - Holly Black
126. Let It Snow - Maureen Johnson, John Green & Lauren Myracle
127. The Labours of Hercules - Agatha Christie
128. Destination Unknown - Agatha Christie
129. Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
130. Wish Me Dead - Helen Grant
131. Seven Sorcerers - Caro King
132. Before I Die - Jenny Downham
133. A Murder of Quality - John le Carre

Total = 13
Total Pages = 4317
Average Book Length = 332
Most Read Authors = Holly Black, Agatha Christie and Louise Rennison (2 each)

Cover of the Month
Beauty Queens

Top Ten Books of the Month
01. Beauty Queens
02. Before I Die
03. Let It Snow
04. Ironside
05. Valiant
06. Wish Me Dead
07. Seven Sorcerers
08. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?
09. Stop in the Name of Pants
10. Frostbite

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Review: Dante's Inferno (Group Read)

I read this for the Group Read being hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey.

I'm still sorting my thoughts on this poem - I only read Inferno, so there may be things that happen later in The Divine Comedy which would affect my current opinion but which I don't yet know about.  I finished at midnight last night after a few glasses of wine, which may be why I was underlining anything that was also referenced in Assassin's Creed 2 (or maybe I'm just a colossal geek) and getting annoyed with Dante for being all smug about leaving someone with their eyes frozen over.  I think the easiest way to do this may be in a list.

1) I am so glad I'm a classicist.  I was looking up quite a few notes in the back of my edition anyway - mostly to do with Florentine history and who some of the sinners were - but if I'd also been looking up the mythological references the poem would have taken even longer to read.  The only one I didn't recognise properly was Electra: I thought it was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra and got a little hacked off that she was being treated nicely.  Turns out, it was someone tied into the whole Aeneas-founded-Rome thing.

2) Moving on from the first point, though, is the fact that I've always preferred Greek to Latin, especially when it comes to poetry.  The Aeneid does my head in a little, especially the end and Turnus and I'm sorry, I'm supposed to admire Aeneas because no, not happening, and don't even get me started on Dido - because at least none of Odysseus's ladies topped themselves when he left, whatever Dante may be saying about him in Inferno.  There is a note in my edition that states that Dante had no Greek and that Homer's work existed only in fragments or commentaries at the time, so he was drawing on those for his information, but still.  I was angry - as the above rant possibly suggests.

3) Also a follow on: the style of the poem.  I don't think I've ever seen so many Homeric similes in one place before.  They're everywhere.  And better done than Virgil, who does occasionally seem to be labouring the point.  The trip to Hell is also a clear imitation of the trip to the Underworld in The Aeneid, which is in turn based on Odysseus's journey there in The Odyssey.  I wonder what it would have been like had all of Homer been extant at the time of Dante's writing.

4) Did Dante like anyone besides himself, Beatrice and Virgil?  Because a lot of this read like Chaucer in A Knight's Tale threatening to immortalise his enemies in poetry.  This may change as he moves up to heaven - I'm guessing there will be examples of good people there - but in Inferno it seems like everyone who has ever pissed him off is suffering agonies.  He claims to have respect for the office of the Pope but is happy to have several late Pontiffs buried upside down in pits with their feet on fire.  And he even devises a way for people he likes who are still alive at the time of the poem to be suffering merrily away: your sin makes you lose your soul, which descends to Hell, and a demon takes your body (like a vampire in Buffy).

5) I'm not sure if the point is that Dante is human and therefore fallible, but he doesn't come off particularly well during his journey.  Not only does he swoon as much as Pamela, but he's smug and he lies and he's generally annoying.  Again, this may change when he gets to Purgatory and Heaven, but he didn't behave particularly well in Hell (they have a code of conduct down there, you know).

6) Some of the punishments were utterly grotesque - which may be why so many TV serial killers use them on their victims - but the one that scared me the most was in the desert at the beginning, full of people who had achieved nothing of good or evil.  Their lives had been blanks; they had done nothing and could go nowhere.

I feel like this should have some sort of conclusion, but I'm not sure what it could be - and I'm aware that this has been a bit ranty (I am clearly one of the wrathful).  I did enjoy the poem - as much as something that horrific can be enjoyed - and when I got into the rhythm of it the stanzas flew by.  I also want to read the rest of the comedy, and read up the history of Florence at the time because it sounds fascinating and faction-full.  Maybe that's the highest praise I can give it: I want more now.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker (Group Read)

Published: 1897
My Edition: Penguin Classics, 2003
Group Read: Hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey; main link post is here.

Review: I have 9 1/2 sides of A4 full of notes I made while rereading Dracula; some are serious, some are downright silly and there's an entire essay on gender and sexuality buried in there somewhere.  My main thoughts on rereading were that this is not the book I remember, or which seems to exist in the popular imagination - the horror is less about Dracula and more about people's reactions to him.

Not that I can't see the origins of just about every vampire story in the book.  Pages 254-5 of my edition lay down almost all the rules of vampires.  The main rule 'missing' is the harmed-by-sunlight thing (which originated in Nosferatu) as Dracula is merely prevented from using his full powers during the day time.  And a major difference from modern fiction *cough*Twilight*cough* is that Dracula is not an attractive vampire - though the three sisters are beautiful and voluptuous (that is their main descriptor) - and he gets younger as he drinks more blood, rather than being a fixed age.  There are all sorts of elements that can be dragged out and changed to keep the vampire myth going.

In that sense, Dracula is as it is perceived, but the main concerns of the book seem to be less about vampires and more about gender, sexuality and madness.  It's not just Renfield: almost every character seems to be haunted by the idea that they're insane for believing in vampires despite the strange occurrences happening around them, and that they may even be imagining what's happening.  Jonathan Harker has brain fever (of course, you can't be in a Victorian novel without it) and thinks the things at the Castle can't possibly have happened.  Mina's dreams are put down to her mind being too active and troubled.  They even consider how they're going to explain to the police about the burglary and murder they're going to have to commit to rid the world of the Count - because "oh, this foreign dude we just stabbed in the heart and decapitated is a vampire, officer" doesn't really cut it.  There's even an acknowledgement of how weird everything is, when Seward says "I sometimes think that we must all be mad and that we shall wake to sanity in strait-waistcoats" (292).

I'm actually finding this review a bit difficult to write, because I almost want to turn it into an essay and because a lot of the things I want to say are better expressed here by Cleolinda (as she says, Van Helsing talks like a lolcat; my personal favourite of his many bizarre speeches is "he fear time, he fear want!  For if not, why he hurry so?  His very tone betray him, or my ears deceive" (327)).  It is a horror novel and there are some absolutely terrifying bits - I had forgotten about the wolf breaking into Lucy's window and then her lying under her mother's corpse all night - but I think the greatest fear the characters feel is sexual, both the changes that will occur in the pure women if they become vampires, and in Dracula's own interest in Jonathan Harker.  The first four chapters in the castle are very homoerotic, and if the book hadn't been written in 1897 it could easily go another way. 

Which makes me wonder what it would have been like to read the book when it was first published.  Reading it now, not only am I reading subtexts into it that may not have been picked up on*, but I know Dracula is a vampire - and even if I didn't I know enough of the rules (laid down by this very book, if that isn't too circular a thought) that that I can spot what he is as soon as it turns out that he doesn't have mirrors in his house and all the locals are crossing themselves and giving Jonathan Harker rosaries to protect him.  But to read the book without any of that foreknowledge, to just think that the Count is a slightly eccentric foreigner...that could be interesting.

Rating: 8/10

* Although I think it's more blatant than The Picture of Dorian Gray and Victorians evidently found something there they didn't like.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Re-Readathon: 18th-20th November

Signing up for the Re-Readathon being hosted by The Perpetual Page-Turner.  There is a long, long list of books I want to reread, either for blogging purposes or just for fun.  Some of them from this year, others from a while ago that I haven't touched for ages (hello there, my Terry Pratchetts and Antonia Forests, how I've missed you).  As I semi-mentioned in this post, I want to go back over some of the books from earlier this year with an eye to reviewing them.  There are also a few books I'd like to reread to get a different perspective on them - Gaudy Night and Dracula are both completely different to how I remembered them - and I want to try and start a regular feature on this blog where I reread my favourite books and review them.

Basically, this weekend has a lot riding on it.

I'll do a proper list of books nearer the time - will have to juggle quick reads and those I really want to delve back into - but this is me stating that, yes, I am going to do this.  I haven't had a weekend of reading for a while, so it will be nice to do nothing but sit around reading and drinking coffee.  I hardly ever do that.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Group Read: Dracula - Pre-reread Post

I've decided to do the Dracula Group Read which is being hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey, mostly because I don't need an excuse to reread the novel - although it has been a while since I read it all the way through.  This post is, as the title suggests, a chance for me to share my thoughts about Dracula before I start my reread; I think it will be interesting to see if my opinion of the novel changes as a result of a new reading.

Please note: potential spoilers below for anyone who hasn't read the book.  I do talk about bits I remember really liking, which are things that may not be as well known about the novel as certain elements (primarily: vampires!).

I first read Dracula at university; not for a course but for the fun of the thing.  I've since bought the absolutely gorgeous annotated edition, which does occasionally frustrate me with the suggestions that it's all real and Bram Stoker is reporting facts - the same is true of my annotated Sherlock Holmes; I get that people like to pretend it's all real and that's fine but eurgh, it bugs me - but has some fascinating notes and all sorts of awesome pictures.  Sadly, I couldn't get that on the train with me as it is a veritable brick, so I'm using my slightly battered Penguin Classics edition (as pictured).  I can at least read it without needing to prop it on my knees or hurting my arms.

So, what do I remember about Dracula?  I have reread the beginning a few times and that's (currently) my favourite part.  The end doesn't interest me as much, though that may be because I've only really read it once.  The whole book is a bit mad, and suffers from the usual Victorian problem of a lack of copy editing as Stoker forgets how long journeys took and changes what people do and don't know/can and can't do for the sake of the plot.  As far as I recall it also features some fun sexism and big strong men being utterly stupid, which may contribute to my feelings of annoyance.  All that stuff about Mina having the gentleness of a woman and the brains/courage of a man is a bit too close to all that nonsense about Marian being almost as a good as a man in The Woman in White.  Heaven forbid women are strong without it being a manly characteristic.

What I mostly remember about Dracula - other than the utter homoeroticism of the Count laying claim to Jonathan Harker as his own (am now just thinking of Vampire!Bill and his entire "Sookie is miiiiine" thing) - are the creepy set pieces.  There are a lot of these, mostly in the beginning before people figure out what's going on, primarily:

- Jonathan's attempts to escape from the castle after he's found the coffins
- Dracula crawling down the wall
- the dog on the beach after the wreck of the Demeter
- Mina's nightmarish rush across Whitby to find Lucy (probably the most surreal and fantastic bit of the book)
- my utter fury with Lucy's mother for opening the windows and removing the garlic; it's not that she was prompted by Dracula, it's that she was officious idiot
- all of the stuff with Lucy and the escaped wolves and the children.

In fact, there are a lot of set pieces I can remember.  I don't think it is a book made up primarily of 'moments', but those are the things that stick with you.  Listing all of these is really making me want to reread it, though, although I'm not sure how I'll feel about the end when I get to it.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I Think This Post's Mostly Filler

Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey, #12)
As I briefly mentioned in my In My Mailbox post, I have missed blogging for a while.  I had all sorts of plans and then life intruded.  I had little access to the Internet and was at my parents' house where there is the benefit of all the books I can't cart around the country with me but also not much time for blogging.  So, this post is mostly to have something here before I do a new review/something because I want to create at least a semblance of this blog being live (which it is).  Though this will primarily be a list, because I like them.

- Am rereading Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers - I'd forgotten what a weird book it is.  It's a detective novel without a murder (fairly rare for the Golden Age of Crime) but that's not what I find weird: it's how much of Sayers' own thoughts and beliefs are on the page.  She's addressing her own concerns about writing, feminism, honesty and relationships, and there are lines which Harriet thinks which are clearly Sayers talking about her own work.  It's bizarre but fascinating.  I will have to do a full review of it, just because it is so odd but also brilliant.

- Have decided to do both Group Reads for October at A Literary Odyssey: Dracula and Dante's Inferno (sign up post is here for anyone interested).  I've read Dracula before but haven't read it all the way through for ages; I usually just read the fantastic bit at the beginning with Jonathan Harker trapped in the castle because that is so creepy.  I've never read Inferno but it's one of those books I know bits about, mostly thanks to crime dramas in which the serial killer is recreating elements of the poem with their murders in an effort at originality (it's always Dante or the Bible, televisual killers often lack creativity).

- Doctor Zhivago is still looming at me as the last challenge book I have to read this year.  It scares me a little, and I think I may have to photocopy the cast list at the front so I can keep all the Russian names straight.

- I really want to read more Dickens, and that is something I never thought I'd say.  Am unsure whether to do it chronologically (though am not overly fussed about Pickwick Papers) or start with the books I want to read - although that may means I never get to the ones I'm not sure about.  Mostly, I want to read Bleak House.  And reread Oliver Twist

That's about it, really (I hate it when a post runs to an end).  I do have plans, and am undecided about whether to keep reading new books quickly or to go back and reread slowly for the sake of reviewing.  I will definitely be doing the Group Reads, though, so that is something to give me structure for the month.

In My Mailbox #4

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.  I am not only late with this week's but also missed last time, which sucks as I had many shiny new books to show off blog about.  The last fortnight has abounded with the arrival of pre-orders (except my special edition of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, boo!) and the kind of lucky finds in second hand bookshops that make me happy.  One book I've been looking for for ages is a treat; two is positively lucky.


Lola and the Boy Next DoorThe Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  Reason: I loved Anna and the French Kiss so there was no way I wasn't pre-ordering Lola and then devouring it in one day (which I did).
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.  Reason: It's MJ, it's set in London, it's Jack the Ripper - and I pre-ordered from Waterstone's so I got a signed edition, yay!

Bought - normal store (not sure what else to call it)

The Eagle of the Ninth

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff.  Reason: One of my favourite books of this year so I had to own a copy.  Am going to reread and review soon (she says optimistically).

Bought - second hand (the god of second hand bookshops smiles upon me)

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1)Lord of Misrule (The Morganville Vampires, #5)Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine.  Reason: Borrowed it from the library earlier this year and enjoyed it, so when I saw it for £1 I figured why not.  Also, this way I can reread and review properly.
Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine.  Reason: I have three more books to read before I get to this one, but I figured I might as well buy it and free up a library slot.
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead.  Reason: Again, I have three books to go before I get to this book and I bought it to free up a library space.  I am really enjoying this series though.

IronsideLayer Cake

Ironside by Holly Black.  Reason: I've wanted this book for ages and there it was on a second hand bookshelf.  I bought very quickly.
Layer Cake by J.J. Connolly.  Reason: I have been after this book for a while and couldn't find it anywhere - I was starting to think it didn't exist.  Then, ta da, there it was in an Oxfam bookshop (I love Oxfam bookshops).

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Month in Review: September 2011

September seems to have lasted forever, so much so that I when I came to compile the list below I didn't think I'd read some of the books this month.  This is not good.  I'm reading things so quickly I'm not really taking them in, so that I'll find myself wondering which book I read so-and-so in and be annoyed that I can't be certain.  Think I'm going to need to slow down and do some rereads of books from earlier this year, although it's my birthday this month which means a Book Buying Binge of grand proportions.  Still, I tend to read more books from the library than books I own, so maybe that will slow me down a little.

Books Read in September 2011
099. The Masqueraders - Georgette Heyer
100. The Treasure Map of Boys - E Lockhart
101. The Princess Diaries: Take Two - Meg Cabot
102. Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel - Andrew Graham-Dixon
103. Guyaholic - Carolyn Mackler
104. The Princess Diaries: Third Time Lucky - Meg Cabot
105. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things - Carolyn Mackler
106. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden - Helen Grant
107. The Riddle of the Poisoned Monk - Sarah Matthias
108. Feeling Sorry For Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty
109. Tom Fletcher and the Angel of Death - Sarah Matthias
110. And That's When it Fell off in My Hand - Louise Rennison
111. Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins
112. The Glass Demon - Helen Grant
113. You Know Where To Find Me - Rachel Cohn
114. The Silver Branch - Rosemary Sutcliff
115. Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins
116. Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers - Louise Rennison
117. Startled by His Furry Shorts - Louise Rennison
118. Ripley's Game - Patricia Highsmith
119. The Thieves of Ostia - Caroline Lawrence
120. Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing - Louise Rennison

Total = 22
Total pages = 5861
Average book length = 266
Most Read Author = Louise Rennison (4 books).

Nicest Covers of the Month
The Vanishing of Katharina LindenMichelangelo and the Sistine ChapelThe Masqueraders

Top Ten Books of the Month
01. The Treasure Map of Boys
02. Lola and the Boy Next Door
03. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
04. The Glass Demon
05. The Silver Branch
06. The Masqueraders
07. Hex Hall
08. Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel 
09. You Know Where To Find Me
10. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week a list which could go on forever with me.  I constantly reread, often just picking up a favourite (usually Terry Pratchett or Antonia Forest) and skim reading chunks for comfort.  So, am going to keep this to books I want to reread in full/which I haven't read for ages.

1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - I've only read this once, although  I've read every other Austen multiple times.  I read it second year uni and remember finding that it dragged, that Fanny was annoying me, that it was altogether too Moral for my liking, but I also feel like it's Austen and I should now give it another try.

2. Nation by Terry Pratchett - when I read this in June I don't think I paid enough attention; I was so convinced something bad was going to happen that I didn't take the time to enjoy what was happening.

3. The Player's Boy by Antonia Forest - one of the few Antonia Forest books I've only read once, I want to reread it partly because it's Antonia Forest and partly because I'm going through a bit of a Tudor historical novel kick at the moment.

4. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - I'd like to read this in one sitting.  When I read it last year I ended up taking a massive break partway through, so that I not only had to get used to the writing style again but also remind myself who some of the secondary characters were.

5. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - now that I know the plot (oh evil tricksy twists) I think it would be interesting to read for the sake of spotting 'clues'. 

6.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - just because, really.  This time I'd like to savour the book rather than rush through it in a mad haze.

7. Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer - this was the first Heyer I ever read and I can remember vague bits of the plot and a slightly drunken discussion about Hubris vs Nemesis that had me in stitches.

8. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark - a book that I think I'd appreciate more now that I'm older.  I liked it the first time around but wonder if I maybe didn't get as much from it as I could have done.

9. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - first read when I was eighteen (after I read Lord of the Rings), I haven't touched it since and think it would bear a reread if I can get past the beginning with the gate crashing dwarves and all the other unfunny overly jovial bits.

10. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco - another book that I might get more from now.  If I'm honest a lot of books I read at uni could probably do with being reread.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Review: The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Silver Branch
Published: 1957
Pages: 246
Series: The Dolphin Ring Cycle #2
Read: 22nd - 23rd September 2011
Challenge: N/A
Status: Borrowed but buying
Reason I Read It: I really liked The Eagle of the Ninth and am now determined to read all of Rosemary Sutcliff's books.

Synopsis: Violence and unrest are sweeping through Roman Britain. Justin and Flavius find themselves caught up in the middle of it all when they discover a plot to overthrow the Emperor. In fear for their lives they gather together a tattered band of men and lead them into the thick of battle, to defend the honour of Rome. But will they be in time to save the Emperor... (from Goodreads)

First line: "On a blustery autumn day a galley was nosing up the wide loop of a British river that widened into the harbour of Rutupiae."

Review: Rosemary Sutcliff is one of my favourite 'new' authors of the year.  The Eagle of the Ninth was fantastic, Outcast was good if depressing until about 1/5 from the end, and I definitely want to read all of her books even though this will no doubt involve tracking a few down second hand.  The Silver Branch sits somewhere between those two in terms of how much I like it (I think it's going to take a lot to knock The Eagle of the Ninth off its top spot in my estimation) and is the book I knew least about as I started reading, both plot- and history-wise.

Because I thought I knew something about Roman Britain.  And I did, it's just that my education always focused on Julius Caesar, Claudius and Boudicca and then fastforwarded 350 years to the Romans leaving us to panic over a lack of luxuries and the fear of invasion.  So, because I never bothered to do any research of my own, I never knew someone called Carausius set himself up as Emperor of Britain and northern Gaul in 286 AD (thank you, Wikipedia) or that he would be the Emperor featured in The Silver Branch.  I genuinely thought Justin and Flavius would be dashing off to Rome and that there'd be a pellmell dash over Europe in a similar style to Marcus and Esca's journey to Scotland in The Eagle of the Ninth.  That the book is set entirely in Britain and that through this I learned a bit of history (and now want to read more on the time period) is an unexpected bonus of reading the book.

I also hadn't realised that both Justin and Flavius are descendants of Marcus, and that the Eagle from the first book would play a part in this one.  Or that the book would turn into an espionage drama halfway through, with lots of sneaking around and secret paths above the town - I love stuff like that.  Add in a couple of courageous last stands and a fantastic closing battle and the book was full of things I enjoy that I hadn't expected to find.  Sutcliff's prose is always beautiful, her plot raced along even during 'quiet' moments and I felt like I learned something.  I am going to have to read the rest of this series.

Rating: 9/10

In My Mailbox #3

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

This week: I join a library in a neighbouring county and squee my way round their young adult section (except not really because it was a library so it was silent squeeing and a lot of grinning; if there's CCTV footage I probably look deranged).

The Silver BranchThe Lantern Bearers

The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff.  Reason: I'm really enjoying Rosemary Sutcliff, and this is the next in her Roman Britain series (after The Eagle of the Ninth).
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff.  Reason: Follows on from The Silver Branch in the Roman Britain series, and sounds pretty interesting/dark.

"...Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers" (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #6)'...Startled by His Furry Shorts!' (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Book 7)

Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers by Louise Rennison.  Reason: I'm loving the Georgia Nicolson books, and in this one she's off to America.
Startled By His Furry Shorts! by Louise Rennison.  Reason: As above, next one in the series.

'Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing...' (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Book 8)'Stop in the Name of Pants!' (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Book 9)

Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison.  Reason: Once again, more Georgia Nicolson.
Stop in the Name of Pants by Louise Rennison.  Reason: The penultimate in the series (I have the last one on order at my local library).

Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2)The Dead Girls' Dance (The Morganville Vampires, #2)

Frostbite by Richelle Mead.  Reason: I read Vampire Academy recently and now I need to know what happens next.
The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine.  Reason: I read Glass Houses earlier this year, had this book from another library before I moved, and now I've found it again.

The MissingValiant (The Modern Faerie Tales, #2)

The Missing by Lisa McMann.  Reason: I love Wake and hadn't realised that Cryer's Cross had been published in the UK (probably because they changed the title) which may have been why I meeped when I saw this in the library.
Valiant by Holly Black.  Reason: The sequel to Tithe (though I really want Ironside for Corny).

Wish Me DeadBefore I Die

Wish Me Dead by Helen Grant.  Reason: I've read Helen Grant's first two books recently and I'm a fan.  And once again I hadn't known this one existed.
Before I Die by Jenny Downham.  Reason: I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and it's been on the shelf at my local library for ages calling to me so I finally go it out.

The Hollow

The Hollow by Jessica Verday.  Reason: I've been wanting to try some of Jessica Verday's books for a while, and there it was on the shelf.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)
Published: 2010
Pages: 323
Series: Hex Hall #1
Read: 18th September 2011
Challenge: A to Z Title (cheating a little to get X)
Status: Owned book
Reason I Read It: A review by the Story Siren.

Synopsis: When a spell she performs backfires, Sophie Mercer is sent to Hecate Hall, a school for magic users who have risked exposing themselves (and by extension their world) to humans.  While there she discovers things which her non-magical mother has kept hidden from her, and falls foul of a group of three powerful teen witches.

First Line: "Felicia Miller was crying in the bathroom.  Again."

Review: On the surface, this book may seem a bit like 'more of the same': school of magic, bitchy girls, cute boys, weird goings on and a teacher making the protagonist's life hell.  I think if I saw a brief summary of Hex Hall - like the one I just gave - I might overlook it, but I'd really be missing out.  At no point when reading did I find the book unoriginal, which may be because the magic system and the world feels different to anything I've read before.  There's depth and history and a means of combining magic users, fey and shapeshifters within a world that also features werewolves, demons and vampires and doesn't feel overloaded.

A large part of my enjoyment came from Sophie herself, who isn't perfect or beloved by all (blerg to first person protags like that) but is full of snark and faults.  She makes mistakes and has to pay for them, and a lot of why she is how she is comes from the actions of other people, rather than gifts handed down from on high that show up when she needs them.  How things are going to play out in the sequel are beyond me, which is a feeling I like in a book when it's done as it is here: I want to know because I think Rachel Hawkins will surprise me, rather than because I fail to see any logic to what's going on.

My only real problem with this book is that it is a first in a series, so there are threads left hanging at the end which I imagine will be resolved in Raising Demons (see my predictions below) and Spellbound.  Having said that, I enjoyed everything else about the book: the characters, the world, the magic system - although, again, there is a sense that as it's the first in a series there is more to be discovered.  I think this is a book which raises more questions than it answers, but I trust Rachel Hawkins enough to know that there will eventually be answers - and that they won't annoy me the way some 'revelations' in books do.

Rating: 8/10

Do I Want More? Hell, yes.  Good thing I have Raising Demons, though shame I have to wait till next year for Spellbound.

Predictions: For the next book (Raising Demons) and spoilerful for this one, so highlight to read: Archer isn't evil, he just isn't, there'll be a perfectly rational explanation for the whole Eye thing.  I think a lot of the groups who are purported to be Evil will turn out not to be, or will at least not be as one dimensionally bad as the Council would have people believe. 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Challenge Updates: The whole damn lot of them

This year, I signed up for a few challenges: 1st in a Series, 2nd in a Series, Victorian Literature and the A to Z Title challenge.  I've completed 1st and 2nd, done the bare minimum of Victorian reading (5 out of 5-9) and have only Z to go on the title challenge (Dr Zhivago).  So, time for some updates because I have read a lot of books this year and have so far only managed to review 4/113 - that's 3.5% which is rubbish.

I'm not going to list what I've read for each challenge, as that is on the Challenge page, but I am going to make a few plans and hope that by sharing them I actually complete them (seriously, me and Emma Woodhouse have far too much in common when it comes to book related plans).

1) Complete the A to Z challenge.  Dr Zhivago is scaring me a little because a) it's my first ever Russian novel, and b) I've tried to read Anna Karenina and oh good Lord the names.  Why must everyone have so many different names?  It is confusing for the reader.  This is what is worrying me the most, I think, that I'll get so confused I'll give up.  I must not give up.

Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1848)
Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes (1857)
Villette by Charlotte Bronte (1853)

There are also libraries I can raid, possibly to find shorter Victorian novels.

3) Review at least half of the books I read for these challenges.  Some of them crossover - so far I have read 55 individual books for these challenges, and have reviewed 3 of them (Ash, Sisters Red and Treasure Island).  I borrowed quite a few of them from the library, or don't have them in my current flat, so I'll be doing those which I actually have with me so I can reread/check facts before reviewing.

4) My final, ongoing challenge is Project Fill in the Gaps.  I've read 16 from the list this year, taking my overall title to 29/100.  I'd like to get to 30.  Some of the books I read for other challenges overlap with this one, and the Victorian novels listed above fit on it, so I should be able to complete this.  Review target: half of the books I've read this year.

So, not too much to be getting on with there.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Feel Everyone Has Read But Me

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week (as the big title above suggests) is books I feel everyone has read but me.

1. Anything by Lauren Oliver - I have both Before I Fall and Delirium, I've read half of Delirium - before I bought it, then I had to return it to the library.

2. Anything by Sarah Dessen - again, I bought The Truth About Forever ages ago, and I just got Along for the Ride from the library, and again I'm clearly one of the last YA bloggers/fans to read anything by her.

3. Anything by Shannon Hale - yet another author whose books I own but have never read.  I've started reading a couple, then I've got distracted.

4. The rest of The Hunger Games series - I've only read the first book.  A friend who borrowed my books and read the first one after me has read all of them. 

5. The rest of the Vampire Academy series - once more, I've only read the first one.  This one will probably involve a lot of library reservations as damn those books are popular.

6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - and the rest of the series, but I feel I should get started on the first one first (it seems logical).

7. If I Stay by Gayle Forman - am I the only person who hasn't read this?

8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - this could be because I'm British and I read a lot of American YA books in which the characters study this at high school (it wasn't a required book for us), but I feel like I should have read this.

9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - so classic it's used as character development in The Wire.

10. 1984 by George Orwell - all of my friends have read it.  I don't want to be different to my friends.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  No new bought books this week, but trips to a couple of libraries - needed to kill some time before Tinker Tailor started (and when I used the abbreviated title to the guy at the ticket booth in the cinema he looked at me like I was mental rather than trying to speed to process up) - mean that I have borrowed a few this week.

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the BeastIce

Beauty by Robin McKinley.  Reason: Everyone seems to have read this but me.
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst.  Reason: I love fairytale retellings, and I've heard good things about this one.

Along for the Ride"...and That's When It Fell Off in My Hand."  (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Book 5)

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen.  Reason: I have never read any Sarah Dessen, and it feels like everyone else has.
...and That's When it Fell Off in My Hand by Louise Rennison.  Reason: I am pretty much addicted to these books.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Review: The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
Published: 2009
Pages: 337
Series: N/A
Read: 12th-13th September 2011
Challenge: N/A
Status: Borrowed but buying
Reason I Read It: I have The Glass Demon by Helen Grant on my TBR shelf, and because of the first line of this book.

Synopsis: On the day Katharina Linden disappears, Pia is the last person to see her alive.  Terror is spreading through the town.  How could a ten-year-old girl vanish in a place where everybody knows everybody else?

Pia is determined to find out what happened to Katharina.  But then the next girl disappears...(back copy)

First Line: "My life might have been so different had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded."

Review: How could I resist an opening line like that?  Although there aren't any exploding grandmothers in the book - it's more a freak accident involving hairspray and an open flame - the novel more than lives up to that first sentence.  The fact that Pia is in her late teens narrating events from her childhood allows the language and the commentary to be grown up without being ridiculous precocious.  The prose alone is a reason to read, and the plot and characterization make this an exceptionally good book.

While I enjoyed the book as a whole, possibly my favourite thing is the German folklore that pervades the story.  The tales Pia is told eventually colour not only her notions of what is happening to the vanishing girls but also her perceptions of the book's climax.  There's nothing supernatural about the girl's disappearances - there's all too human an explanation - but the ending contrives to makes events take on a folkloric quality.  Often the book feels like an extended folk tale, with the perils lurking not with the Fiery Man of the Hirnberg or in a haunted mill but in the house of someone seen every day.

Overall, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is the perfect mix of prose, plot and folklore all seen through a child's perspective of the adult world.  There are some moments of genuine horror and an ending that isn't perfectly happy, which makes the book as a whole like a true folk tale: even if the hero wins, there isn't a guaranteed happily ever after. 

Rating: 10/10

Monday, 12 September 2011

In My Mailbox #1

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and encourages bloggers to post about books they've got that week, whether through the post, from a shop, or borrowed from one of those miraculous places that lets you take books away for free.

In The Post

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2)Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren't Complicated, I Wouldn't Be Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver, #4)

Supernaturally by Kiersten White. Reason: I liked the first book in the series, Paranormalcy, and I'm not waiting till the sequel is published in the UK.

Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart.  Reason: it's the last Ruby Oliver and I need to know the ending.

From The Library

Being Elizabeth Bennet: Create Your Own Jane Austen AdventureThe Riddle of the Poisoned MonkThe Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

Being Elizabeth Bennet: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster.  Reason: Choose Your Own Adventure Jane Austen style, how could I resist?  Though the prize is Darcy and I'd rather have Tilney or Knightley.

The Riddle of the Poisoned Monk by Sarah Matthias.  Reason: I actually saw the first book by this author before this one, but they both looked good, and then I find there's time travel and a talking cat.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  Reason: Everyone has read these books.  I'm not sure how my classicist leanings will affect my reading of the series, but if I don't borrow it out now I'll never see it again.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Review: Autumn Term by Antonia Forest

Autumn Term (The Marlows, #1)
Published: 1948
Series: The Marlows #1
First Read: Sometime before 2004
Times Read: 3
Status: Owned book (my edition: Faber, 2000)
Reason I Read It: I'd been told Antonia Forest is the Jane Austen of school stories - I was not disappointed.

Synopsis: Twins Nicola and Lawrie are the youngest of six sisters to start at Kingscote School.  They are determined to do as well as their elder sisters, but things do not go to plan.

First Line: "Train journeys, Nicola decided, were awfully dull."

Review: Rereading this book I was surprised by how many elements of the later books are present here, not just the brilliance of the writing and dialogue, but also in the characters and plotlines that are emerging.  There's Lois Sanger and her feud with Rowan and later Nicola; there's Marie Dobson and her general air of desperation; and there's even Miss Cromwell and her hatred of prefects.  All sorts of events are here which are going to affect later plots, but the book itself is self-contained.

The plot itself is fairly simple, as shown in the above synopsis.  Everything Nicola and Lawrie try to succeed in - entrance exams, sports, Guides - fails, either because of their own lack of education (they're behind because they've been ill a lot as children) or because of other people's actions.  Nothing happens that is beyond the bounds of reality, except that it's a fairly eventful term, and there are no sudden miraculous changes of fortune at the end.  The success that is achieved at the end is the result of the twins' own hard work and abilities, when they decide to do something they want to do instead of trying to emulate their sisters. 

If there is a fault with the novel, it's that Ginty and Karen Marlow aren't as fleshed out as they later will be.  They're still believable and differentiated from the rest of the family, but they aren't given the same attention as Rowan and Ann.  I think this may be because Forest planned to do a series in which each member of the family was focused on in turn, so she purposefully left them 'blanker' in order to utilise the others more.  It isn't a weakness of the novel for a first time reader, but as I've read the whole series I'm looking for things - especially from Ginty (bah, The Attic Term, bah!) - which aren't yet apparent.

For a first novel, this is a fantastic book.  I'd recommend it to someone even if they don't read school stories, albeit with the knowledge that the series is only going to get better as it progresses.

Five Reasons I Love It:
1) It takes school story cliches and plays with them.  Everything the twins try to do that is inkeeping with a recognised school story trope fails miserably.  There's even a point at which Lawrie imagines saving Lois from drowning, and then "a feverish and conscience-stricken Lois would...confess everything" (143), only Lawrie isn't really going to follow the traditional storyline, she's going to "jolly well let her drown.  And I'd let her see I was letting her drown, what's more" (143).  There aren't many school stories in which a heroine would have such thoughts, or in which she would be allowed to go unpunished for even thinking such a terrible thing.

2) Rowan Marlow and her snarky glory.  It continues to grow - my favourite future line is "my grief would be consolable" - but is already on display here, such as when she concedes a point to Ginty: "[a]ll right...[y]ou didn't cry.  It was an extraordinary coincidence that just that week you had such a very bad cold" (20).

3) The 'villains' are believable.  They're not hideous pantomime types, doing things because they're evil and devious and have no morals whatsoever.  A lot of the time, they're causing problems and dropping other people in it because they're trying to save their own skins - Marie Dobson is a particular example of this.  They're villains because they're weak, and it's this weakness (as well as Forest's strength as a writer) that prevents them from having redemptive moments in which they're 'fixed'.

4) All of the prose, especially the dialogue.  It's so finely crafted yet doesn't feel forced.  As I said above, Antonia Forest is often compared to Jane Austen and I think this, along with her ironic view of everything, is part of the reason.

5) The occasional flashes of insight: "[she]...was affected by the...uncertain feeling of guilt which arises from seeing one's secret ill-wishing regarding other people come true" (159) or "one couldn't...suddenly like people just because everyone else did, or forget that they had been fairly swinish, even if they were doing their best now" (241).  It ties in with how great the characters are, but everyone gets some deeper moments of characterisation, even if its only for a moment.  All of it adds depth.

Next: The Marlows and the Traitor (scheduled for Saturday 24th September)

Focus On: Antonia Forest

Run Away Home (The Marlows, #10)
In March I read The Marlows and the Traitor, the second in the Marlows series by Antonia Forest and the last book of hers I had left to read.  This did not fill me with joy.  She's one of those writers who never wrote nearly enough to satisfy her fans, even though she wrote ten books over the course of 34 years, and even though they are all quite long for children's books.  All but one of her books focus on the Marlow family; four are school stories; two are historical; and they all feature wonderful prose, believable characters and an ironic view of the world. 

Unlike a lot of school stories, Kingscote is a real school: no wonderfully understanding headmistress, no jolly nice prefects, and no guarantee that the 'villains' will be punished at the end.  The girls are teenage girls, with cliques, rivalries, and friendships that often include cruel words and painful ostracism.  Within the Marlow family there are favourites, arguments and misunderstandings.  Even Nicola, the heroine, is not saved from being wrong or spared ironic representation. 

To summarise: I am a massive fan of these books.

So, I'm going to have a reread.  First the present day Marlow series, then the two historical novels, and finally The Thursday Kidnapping, the standalone book.

The Marlows series
Published between 1948 and 1982, the books only cover two and a half years in the lives of the characters but are all set during the time in which they were written.  The series starts with references to the Blitz and ends with characters watching Morecambe and Wise.  There are seven books in the series: four school stories and three 'holiday' books, although the events of these last range from spies to gymkhanas.

Autumn Term (1948)
The Marlows and the Traitor (1953)
Falconer's Lure (1957)
End of Term (1959)
Peter's Room (1961)
The Thuggery Affair (1965)
The Ready-Made Family (1967)
The Cricket Term (1974)
The Attic Term (1976)
Run Away Home (1982)

Historical novels
The Player's Boy (1970) and The Players and the Rebels (1971) are really one book split in half for length.  They're set in the later years of Elizabeth I, are mentioned in the main series, and feature Shakespeare, Marlow and the Essex Rebellion.

The Thursday Kidnapping
Published in 1963 this is the only book by Antonia Forest not to feature the Marlow family.  It is set in Hampstead Heath, where she grew up, and features one of the most painfully accurate portrayals of a lonely girl I've ever read.

Of all these books, my favourite is The Cricket Term - though whether that will change when I've reread them all, I don't know.  I suspect it won't, but you never know.

Later: Autumn Term, which I haven't read all the way through for ages.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Friday Favourites: Top Five School Story Authors

The School at the Chalet (The Chalet School, #1)
As I'm starting a new series of posts tomorrow focusing on Antonia Forest, I thought I'd start doing Friday Favourite: Top Fives with a list of my top five school story authors.

I'm not sure why I love school stories so much.  Possibly because I first started reading them as a teenager when my life was hellish and they offered an ideal escape.  Possibly because a lot of them are set in between the world wars and there's something I love about that period.  Or possibly because my earliest 'big book' was The Worst Witch, so that got me thinking of school stories as special (that and schools where you learn magic).

1) Antonia Forest.  Obviously.  Given that I'm about to start reviewing all of her books, I won't say any more here except that she is an aberration in my school story love as her books are frequently lacking in any idyllic happiness.  Things are happy, but they're never as perfect or easily resolved as in other author's work.  Favourite book: The Cricket Term.

2) Elinor M. Brent-Dyer.  She wrote a lot of short series, some standalones, and one monster of a series, The Chalet School, which is 58 books in hardback, even more in paperback thanks to Armada and their belief that children don't read long books so they'd better split some titles in two.  The series covers over four decades and travels around Europe, from Austria to Guernsey to Britain and finally Switzerland.  Incredibly idealised in places, lots of girls almost dying and having to be rescued by other girls, but incredibly enjoyable.  Favourite book: The Chalet School in Exile, though all of the early books are wonderful.

3) Dorita Fairlie Bruce.  Five distinct series, four of them school stories although these all continue to focus on the characters after they leave school.  The series often interconnect, so that Dimsie will suddenly rock up at Springdale to help people out or two of the schools will play matches against each other.  Favourite book: Captain at Springdale.

4) Elsie J. Oxenham.  Lots of interconnected series, with major characters in one becoming minor characters in others.  There are charts and reading orders for all of the connections, which are confusing to say the least.  A lot of her books are out of print (and some cost a small fortune to find as they were only printed once) but those I have been able to get my hands on are worth reading.  Favourite book: The Girls of the Hamlet Club (even if I have to read it as loose sheets of photocopied paper because an actual book is out of my price range).

5) Josephine Elder.  I have to admit I've only read one of her books but it was superlative.  Like Antonia Forest, she writes a much more realistic version of school and growing up - I'd dare to say it's more 'modern' than the other authors, in that the interactions between characters feel more real: they're real teenage girls, which isn't always pretty.  I do have a couple more of her books on my shelf (thank you, Girls Gone By) and hope they're as good as my 'favourite' book: Evelyn Finds Herself.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Sequels I'm Dying to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week: top ten sequels we're dying to read.  As usual, my list is a combination of books I want to buy, books that have yet to be published (or named! They may not exist), and books which I own but have yet to read.  Some of them also appeared on last week's Top Ten TBR Books for Autumn.

1. Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart - arrived in the post today.  Am reading first chance I get.

2. The follow up to The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh - I don't even know what this book is called, or when it will be published, or anything.  I assume it will exist because The Crowfield Demon left some threads hanging.

3. The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett - Lymond in Malta, dealing with the Knights of St John (thus linking him to my favourite painter who shouldn't be let out without supervision, Carravagio) and meeting his Arch Nemesis.  Read the first chapter a while ago and Lymond fools the English with an army of sheep, so he remains on form.

4. The Rivals by Daisy Whitney - I really enjoyed The Mockingbirds (my review here) and was a tiny bit disappointed that I'd have to wait till 2012 for the sequel.

5. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce - Sisters Red was really good (my review here) and now Jackson Pearce is tackling Hanzel and Gretel?  I think it will be both awesome and disturbing, which are things I look for in a book.

6. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - everyone and their dog has read this but me.  The daft thing is I want to read it but haven't yet.  I think because it's the middle of a trilogy which means things are about to get very bad.

7. Supernaturally by Kiersten White - also arrived today, also needs to be read as soon as humanly possible.

8. The Lies that Bind by Lisa & Laura Roecker - how did I not know there was a sequel to The Liar Society?  I wanted a sequel but that book could standalone but now I know there will be more. (tbp 2012)

9. ...and That's When It Fell Off in My Hand by Louise Rennison - these books have surprised me by how much I enjoy them, just a shame I have to watch the library catalogue like a hawk to get copies as they're returned.

10. Frostbite by Richelle Mead - again, surprised by how much I enjoyed Vampire Academy, and again having to get this from the library and curse whoever took it out before me.
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