Sunday, 17 July 2011

In My Mailbox (3)...

The wonderful In My Mailbox meme run by the Story Siren which really appeals to me...

This weeks books thankfully retrieved from the Blue Bin... and a browsing trip around Bargain Books...

I know I have eclectic tastes and my book choices run through all sorts of genres and age groups but I hate to be pigeonholed and love to read everything from romance to fantasy, fiction and non-fiction...  I am not so good with really scary horror though...

The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa

A modern novel this time and another that I have read glowing reviews about...

"Meghan Chase has a secret destiny - one she could never have imagined...

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six.  She has never quite fitted in at school... or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar and her little brother is taken, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

She could never have guessed the truth.  Meghan is the daughter or a faery king and a pawn in a deadly war.  Now Meghan will have to choose between a normal life and her magical destiny - and between her best friend and a darkly dangerous prince.  

It's time for Meghan to enter the faery world..."

Death in the Cotswolds
by Rebecca Tope

Oh I do love a good murder mystery...

"Thea Osborne is thanking her lucky stars.  After two disastrous housesitting incidents in which she unwittingly became embroiled in murder and mayhem, she is only too happy to have a bit of time to concentrate on her blossoming relationship with DI Phil Hollis.  The couple has retreated to Phil's late aunt's cottage in Cold Aston, and other than the odd interruption from his childhood acquaintance, the eccentric Ariadne, they look forward to some peace and quiet.

But the bad luck that plagues the hapless Thea and her beloved spaniel Hepzibah is never far away.  With Autumn drawing in, preparations for Samhain, the pagan origin of Halloween, are well underway when Ariadne discovers a very tangible reminder of the season of death:  a body laid out like a sacrificial victim on Notgrove Barrow.

It soon becomes apparent that the cosy village has more than its share of secrets.  But just how far will some go to keep them hidden?"

The Kalevala
Translated by Keith Bosley

I started reading an extract from this very long epic poem on the web and just couldn't stop so I went looking for this book online...  It is a rather longer epic poem than I had realised...

"The Kalevala is the great Finnish epic which, like the Iliad and Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots.  During the first millennium of our era, speakers of the Uralic languages (outside the Indo European group) who had settled in the Baltic region developed an oral poetry that was to last into the nineteenth century.  This poetry provided the basis of the Kalevala, assembled by the Finnish scholar Elias Lonnrot and published in its final form in 1849.  It played a central role in the process toward Finnish independence and inspired some of the greatest music of Sibelius.

This translation of the Kalevala... by the poet Keith Bosley... is the first to combine liveliness with accuracy in a way that reflects the richness of the original."

Sunday, 10 July 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

My second week taking part in the In My Mailbox meme run by the Story Siren which is such fun.

Delivered to the door by my ever friendly postman...

I know I have eclectic tastes and my book choices run through all sorts of genres...  This week:

A tale of Redwall by Brian Jacques

Oh so cool... how have I never come across this book before... rodents!!!

"As Redwall Abbey's creatures bask in the glorious Summer fo the Late Rose, all is quiet and peaceful.  But not for long.  Cluny the Scourge is coming! And the evil one-eyed rat warlord is prepared to do bloody battle to get exactly what he wants:  Redwall."

The Phoenix and the Carpet
by E. Nesbit

Oh a trip down memory lane with this one...

"The Phoenix and the Carpet is E. Nesbit's second fantasy novel and is the sequel to Five Children and It.  From Robert, Anthea, Jane and Cyril's new nursery carpet there falls a mysterious egg which is hatched in the fire to reveal a benevolent, resourceful and ingenious Phoenix who explains that the carpet is possessed of magic qualities.  And so begins a series of fantastic and bizarre adventures as the carpet transports the children and the Phoenix to places as diverse as a chilling French castle, a desert island and even the Phoenix Fire Insurance Company's offices, which the Phoenix believes to be a shrine for his followers."

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

A modern novel this time.  I have read such thrilling reviews, about this book and the whole series, on blogs that I couldn't resist reading the first instalment any longer...

"Winning will make you famous.  Losing means certain death.  In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking pace.  Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games.  There is only one rule:  kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place int eh games, she sees it as a death sentence.  But Katniss has been close to death before.  For her, survival is second nature."

What Happened to Goodbye
by Sarah Dessen

I think this will be an interesting read... different to my usual choices...  This is the first book I have read by Sarah Dessen and I am looking forward to the experience.

"Mclean never lets herself get too attached...

After the scandal of her mother's affair, Mclean and her dad chose life on the road.  But since losing her family and home, Mclean has lost herself too; she's been Eliza, then Lisbet, then Beth - changing her name as often as she changes towns.

Until now.  Her neighbour, Dave, is like no one she's met before.  It's as if she's always known him, and just like that, she becomes Mclean again.  Is it finally time to stop reinventing?  Or will Mclean turn her back on the new life she loves, without even saying goodbye..."

Happy Reading...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Dog Days...

What Animal-related books have I read?
Which do I love?
Do I have a favourite literary dog?

This has ended up as a rather long list of wonderful books...  I hadn't realised just how many animal characters I have really loved reading about over the years.  Some are real.  Some are toys who become real or real who become toys.  Some are magical in some way.  Some are cartoons.  But all I have truly adored.  I thought I should probably divide them into groups but they are in no order of preference.


The Wild Road (and the sequels in the series) by Gabriel King
Its a Magical World - Hobbes - Bill Watterson
Born Free - Joy Adamson
Gobbolino the Witch's Cat - Ursula Williams
The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - T S Eliot
Garfield Whatever - Jim Davis
Adolphus Tips - Michael Morpurgo

Horses & Unicorns

Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Goudge
The Last Unicorn - Peter S Beagle
The Black Unicorn - Terry Brooks
Moorland Mousie - Golden Gorse


Grey Friars Bobby - Eleanor Atkinson
Roverandom - J R R Tolkien
Lassie Come Home - Eric Knight
101 Dalmatians - Dodie Smith
The Call of the Wild - Jack London
White Fang - Jack London
The Incredible Journey - Sheila Burnford
Fantastic Mr Fox - Roald Dahl
Peanuts Jubilee - Snoopy - Charles M Shulz

Birds and Flying Beasts

The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark - Jill Tomlinson
The White Dragon (and other Pern books) - Anne McCaffrey
The Ice Dragon - George R R Martin
The Snow Goose - Paul Gallico


The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Graham
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents - Terry Pratchett
Manx Mouse - Paul Gallico
Martin's Mice - Dick King Smith


Watership Down - Richard Adams
Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
The Brer Rabbit Book - Enid Blyton


Ingo (And the others in the quartet) - Helen Dunmore
Charlottes Web - E B White
The Snow Spider Trilogy - Jenni Nimmo
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Elmer - David McKee
Tarka the Otter - Henry Williamson

With these novels I find that they are often heart wrenching in places and exciting in others.  A few of these books are particular personal favourites that I have read many times Velveteen Rabbit and Brer Rabbit were two of the rabbit stories I loved.  As a child we had many pets, particular favourites of mine were rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, dogs and cats.  

My favourite literary dog is a draw... two very different books, I love Bobby the loyal little dog in Grey Friar's Bobby and I adore Buck the stolen pet who ends up in the Yukon Territory working on a dog Sledge team in Call of the Wild.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Top 10 Rebels...

Oh wow, top 10 rebels in literature...  the Top Ten Meme by The Broke and the Bookish...  what an exciting list to think of.  I suppose my idea of a rebel who is someone who stands up for what they believe when everyone around them is following a different line...

1.  Harry, Hermione and Ron in J K Rowling's wonderful series.  When everything is against them, they still come back standing up for love, truth and dignity and fighting against evil and brutality.

2.  Lyra in Northern Lights, I just love how this child has the courage of her convictions to stand up against adults and to try to protect and save her friends and later to give up her own happiness to save the worlds.

3.  Mary in The Secret Garden.  She is an unhappy unwanted orphan who through her courage to do what is right, brings happiness back into a house and the lives of its very unhappy occupants.

4.  Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon...  well yes, I suppose I am a child at heart, but it is really cool the way he succeeds in changing his whole village from wanting to kill dragons to actually liking them.  What can I say, I like dragons!

5.  Toad from Wind in the Willows.  I know he is a complete scalliwag and gets everyone into trouble even ends up in jail but at the end of everything, his heart is in the right place.

6.  Anne in Anne of Greengables.  Oh I loved this strong minded girl with her clear views on life.

7.  Salander in the trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  I really enjoyed this wonderful woman.  She is so resilient and when things go wrong has the most amazing computer hacking skills and survival instincts.

8.  Snape in Harry Potter series... Oh I really loathed Snape, he was truly dispicable, and then my feelings for him were turned on their head as I read about his death and heard his story and his life long love for Lily Evans.

9.  Scarlett in Gone with the Wind.  A strong woman who is willing to do just about anything to succeed.

10.  Princess Mononoke in the Studio Ghibli film of the same name...  I know this is slightly rebellious as it is a movie not a book.  But she is truly amazing in her fight for justice and nature.

This was a great list to compile.  

Monday, 4 July 2011

On My Bookshelf (1)...

Having started joining in with the meme In My Mailbox... on a Sunday which is a lot of fun...  but it made me think... I have a large collection of books... many I have read... many I intend to read... many on the To Be Read pile... but others languish On My Bookshelf...  they may have been read or they may be patiently gathering dust while they wait...  some I hope to review over coming months... while others may not be reviewed (after all there are well over 4,000 titles to choose from)...

The House of the Wolfings
by William Morris
first published 1888, republished 2003

The Roots of the Mountains
by William Morris
first published 1889, republished 2003

"If you like Tolkien's Aragorn, if you admire the bravery of the Riders of Rohan, if you long for more adventure in an unspoiled wilderness, or if you wish Tolkien had more romances between men and women, then you will be delighted by this tale from William Morris."

Oh yes, yes, yes...  
Another pair of books on my forever wishlist arrived with me... well, umm, a while ago and yes, I fully intend to read them... just not quite sure when...  What a talented man William Morris was... an amazing designer, business man and author of some of the first fantasy novels...

Sunday, 3 July 2011

In my Mailbox (1)

I am new to In My Mailbox meme run by the Story Siren which is one that really appeals to me...

Oh I wish I had a pretty mailbox that would be able to hold my parcels... but in the event of not being at home to accept deliveries it is more likely to be In Blue Bin which is usually scrawled across the Royal Mail Card...  saves a trip down to the sorting office and a long queue waiting to collect the package...

I know I have eclectic tastes and my book choices run through all sorts of genres...  This week:

The Summer of the Bear 
by Bella Pollen

I saw an interview with the author on the Book Show and thought this would be an enjoyable read.

"In the summer of 1979, a tamed grizzly bear is tempted by the lure of freedom and the wild open sea...

Meanwhile, the sudden death of British diplomat Nicky Fleming has left his wife closed down with shock.  Relocated from Cold War - riven Germany to a remote Hebridean island, Letty Fleming is haunted by the unthinkable - was it an accident, murder or suicide?  And how can she ever begin to explain to her three children that their father may have betrayed his country?

As the family's secrets threaten to tear them apart, it is only the strange but brilliant Jamie who manages to hold on to the one thing he knows for sure:  his father has promised to return, and Nicky Fleming was a man who never broke a promise..."

The Man Whom the Trees Loved
by Algernon Blackwood
written in 1912 and republished by Dodo Press

Oh I am bouncing up and down with excitement about the arrival of this short book (only 70 pages).

"Algernon Blackwood was a master of tales of the supernatural.  His horror stories... seek to induce a sense of awe... and are masterpieces of atmosphere, construction and suggestion."

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys

"Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting novel based on first hand family accounts and memories from survivors of Stalin's purges.  Its story will steal your breath and capture your heart."

The Leaping Hare
by George Ewart Evans & David Thomson

I have wanted this book for such a long time.  I really love books about folklore and myths and fairy tales.  I also just adore hares.  This book has been on my wishlist for such a long time.

"A reissue of a rare and remarkable book about every aspect of the life and legend of the wild hare - in nature, poetry, folklore, history and art.  Much of it is drawn from the oral testimony of countrymen (including poachers) still living when the book was written."

Friday, 1 July 2011

What's the best you can do?

What's the best you can do?  First-hand Recollections of a Second-hand Bookseller written by Derek Rowlinson

This was a hilarious read.  Mr Rowlinson, ran a second-hand bookshop in Bangor, Co Down, (Northern Ireland) for many years.  This book was an autobiographical glimpse into his experiences buying books, and selling books to the general book buying populace.  I don't know if I ever actually went into his bookshop before he closed it.  I do hope I did.  

I just have to mention a couple of quotes from the book to give a flavour of this unexpected page turner... 

in a chapter called "General Ignorance" on page 41...

"Coming up to Christmas I overheard one woman ask her friend in a broad Belfast accent "What d'ye want to buy him that for?  Sure he's already got a book.""

in a chapter entitled "Meanness" on page 63...

"I shall never forget the woman who stood at the bookshop window with a Chinese carry-out in one hand and armful of video rentals in the other, whilst her little daughter pointed at a fifty pence children's book I had on display.  "We haven't got money to waste on that," she told the girl peevishly, and shooed her along."

Late in the evening as I finished this short but pleasurable read I found myself thinking how lucky I was to have a mother who also loved reading and encouraged my brother, sister and I to read by using the "Teach Your Baby to Read" system that she bought in the late 1960's.  I can still remember the black and golden coloured box that it came in.

Fascinating to see the different perspective of a second-hand bookshop from the viewpoint of the bookseller in comparison to the person like me who loves to browse their shelves on wet afternoons looking for an out of print delight, although, I often find it easier to find the book online, a second-hand bookshop is an experience for all of the senses.