Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"No Hope for Gomez!" Birthday Party

No Hope for Gomez! is having a Birthday Party and Oh My Books! have been invited! And yes, you have been invited too! Check it out:

"No Hope for Gomez!" Birthday Party. Win kindles, iPods, and get free books!




“It's the age-old tale:      Boy meets girl.      Boy stalks girl.      Girl already has a stalker.      Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.”

It's hard to believe, but it's been a year since I handed in the final proofs for my weird little book ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ To celebrate this, and the fact that it just became a finalist in 2010's Best Book Awards, I decided to throw an international party. As I’ve had a debilitating fear of throwing parties and no-one showing up since early childhood, I’d be more than delighted if you’d come!

Of course, with every cool, international party comes a gift bag. Here's just some of the stuff attendants will get:
  • Exclusive short story collection
  • No Hope for Gomez: The Lost Chapters
  • Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
  • Signed hi-res poster + bookplate
(These are all exclusive items and will not be available again)

Additionally, several lucky attendants will win a Kindle or an iPod!

Oh yeah, you can bring as many friends as you like, just don't bring your crazy uncle who drinks too much and then tries to get me to go to the attic with him to see something wonderful. I've fallen for that before and I don't mind telling you, I came away very disappointed!

Find out how to attend HERE.

They're Jung and easily Freudened.


I saw a brilliant film tonight, more on't tomorrow - but for tonight, before I hit the hay, I will share another bit of my research from today. You may question quite what I'm researching, but here is a fun poem, anonymous, from Punch, March 1920 :

[A reviewer in a recent issue of The Times Literary Supplement asks, “Why should the characters in the psychological novel be invariably horrid?” and is inclined to explain this state of affairs by the undiscriminating study of “the theories of two very estimable gentlemen, the sound of whose names one is beginning to dislike – Messrs. Freud and Jung.”] – [this is from the article too]

In QUEEN VICTORIA’S placid reign, the novelists of note
In one respect, at any rate, were all in the same boat;
Alike in Richard Feverel and in Aurora Floyd
You’ll seek in vain for any trace of Messrs. JUNG and FREUD.

They did not fail in colour, for they had their PEACOCK’S tails:
Their heroines, I must admit, ran seldom off the rails;
They had their apes and angels, but they never once employed
The psycho-analytic rules devised by JUNG and FREUD.

They ran a tilt at fraud and guilt, at snobbery and shams;
They had no lack of Meredithyrambic epigrams;
The types that most appealed to them were not neurasthenoid.
They lived, you see, before the day of Messrs. JUNG and FREUD.

(I’ve searched the last edition of the famous Ency. Brit.
And neither of this noble pair is even named in it;
Only the men since Nineteen-Ten have properly enjoyed
The privilege of studying the works of JUNG and FREUD.)

Their characters, I grieve to say, were never more unclean
Than those of ordinary life, in morals or in mien;
They had not slummed or fully plumbed with rapture unalloyed
The unconscious mind as now defined by Messrs. JUNG and FREUD.

The spiritual shell-shock which these scientists impart
Had not enlarged or cleared the dim horizons of their art;
They had not learned that mutual love by wedlock is destroyed,
As proved by the disciples of the school of JUNG and FREUD.

The hierophants of pure romance, ev’n in its recent mood,
From STEVENSON to CONRAD, such excesses have eschewed;
But the psycho-pathologic route was neither mapped nor buoyed
Until the new discoveries of Messrs. JUNG and FREUD.

That fiction should be tonic all may readily agree;
That its function is emetic I, for one, could never see;
And so I’m glad to find The Times Lit. Supp. has grown annoyed
At the undiscriminating cult of Messrs. JUNG and FREUD.

Let earnest ‘educationists’ assiduously preach
The value of psychology in training those who teach;
Let publicists who speak of Mr. GEORGE , without the LLOYD,
Confound him with quotations from the works of JUNG and FREUD –

But I, were I a despot, quite benevolent, of course,
Armed with the last developments of high explosive force,
I’d build a bigger “Bertha,” and discharge it in the void
Crammed with the novelists who brood on Messrs. JUNG and FREUD.



1st in a Series Challenge 2011

COMPLETE!



1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. If you're not a blogger, leave your information in the comments.

2. There are four levels for this challenge:

-Series Novice: Read 3 books that are the first in any series.
-Series Lover: Read 6 books that are the first in any series.
-Series Expert: Read 12 books that are the first in any series.
-Series Fanatic: Read 20 books that are the first in any series.

You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts.

3. The challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2011.

4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2011.

5. If you're a blogger, write up a sign-up post that includes the URL to this post so that others can join in. Feel free to use the button above. When you sign up in the Linky, put the direct link to your 1st in a Series Challenge sign-up post.


My Challenge:

I will join this challenge as a Series Lover, and I will read 6 books that are first in any series. Maybe in the future I'll add more books, but I want to take it easy :)

Update: I decided to erase the list I made last year of books to read and read whatever I felt like reading :)

1.- Truly, Madly (A Lucy Valentine Novel, #1) by Heather Webber
2.- How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, #1) by Molly Harper
3.- Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Number, #1) by Sarah MacLean
4.- The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1) by Aimee Carter
5.- Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) by Beth Revis
6.- Love in the Time of Dragons (Light Dragons, #1) by Katie MacAlister



6 / 6 books. 100% done!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book-Trailer: Matched (+Release Day)

Today is the release day of MATCHED, the new dystopian book by Ally Condie (5 stars).

Watch the trailer and if you still aren't sure about reading it, read my review! It's an awesome book :)

Fantastic Reviews

First of all - a cry out for Janells - you've won a DVD of The Pillars of the Earth, please get in touch to simondavidthomas[at]yahoo.co.uk! Now on with the show...

Quite a while ago I posted a contemporary review of E.M. Delafield's (brilliant) The Provincial Lady Goes Further, from Time and Tide. When I did, I promised I'd post anything similar I encountered - which sadly I haven't done for some time, but today I was reading more reviews of various books, and thought you might be interested in one of the following. Here are reviews of two Stuck-in-a-Book favourites, both on my 50 Books... list: Edith Olivier's The Love-Child and David Garnett's Lady Into Fox:


The Love-Child by Edith Olivier
The Saturday Review (28th May 1927)
T. Earl Welby

‘Miss Olivier, whom I take to be a new writer, has made a hopeful beginning. Indeed, on the strength of this first book, if it really is her first, a brilliant future might be predicted for her if it were not for the consideration that the thing is a tour de force, and that it has yet to be discovered what she can do when dealing with lives lived out soberly under the light of the sun and not with a world of fantasy. Here is the matter of her story. Agatha Boddington, no longer young, and subdued to the routine of a life in which nothing happens, is bereaved of her mother. Her father she lost years earlier. There seems to be an utter emptiness in the years that stretch before her, but in her solitude she begins to remember the secret imagined playmate of her now remote childhood, such a playmate as very many children have invented for themselves. Mused upon, Clarissa, that daughter of imagination, gradually, uncertainly, takes flesh. The situation, should any but Agatha see Clarissa in her intermittent bodily manifestations, would demand more explanation than Agatha can offer. In a state of extreme excitement and anxiety, Agatha goes away from her house, from her bewildered servants, to an hotel at the seaside, where she can have accommodation for her “niece” and herself without arousing curiosity.

‘There Clarissa develops, and there is a period during which Agatha and she, in their flawless intimacy, know perfect happiness. But the visit must end, and having warned her servants that she is returning with a little niece, she and the love child born of her imagination go back to the old house. But, through imagery for which Miss Olivier may conceivably have had a hint from a wonderful passage in Gérard de Nerval, the frailty of the relations between Agatha and Clarissa is now suggested. Reading out of an antiquated pseudo-scientific book, they learn how attraction holds the stars in their courses; but Clarissa now lamentably apt to have ideas independently of Agatha’s promptings, raises the question whether a star might not pass out of reach of that attraction. Clarissa, certainly, is destined to pass out of the range of Agatha’s. Becoming so human, she responds at long last to the love-making of a young neighbour, David, from whom Agatha seeks vainly to keep her. And at the moment when she begins to love a human being other than Agatha, she ceases to be, dissolves into the world of dreams out of which the yearnings of Agatha materialized her. Agatha herself subsides into a fortunate madness, in which she can play games with the invisible Clarissa.

‘Miss Olivier has imagination and the method required by her material. She is careful to provide a matter-of-fact setting, and makes intelligent use of the stolid servants, the blundering policeman, the uncomprehending neighbours. She is also able to insinuate into her fantasy a sense of the pathos of a life so starved of actualities that it must be nourished on dreams. Agatha is not, as with the average writer of fantastic tales she would have been, merely an agent for the production of Clarissa: she is human, and her exultations and sufferings matter.’



Lady Into Fox by David Garnett
The Saturday Review (27th January 1923)
Gerald Gould

‘Every English country gentleman has, of course, pondered long and seriously what he would do if his wife turned into a fox. Few, however, have been called upon to put their conclusions into practice. To Mr. Tebrick, whose story Mr. David Garnett has told with admirable reticence, the shock came unexpectedly. “The sudden changing of Mrs. Tebrick into a vixen,” says Mrs. Garnet, “is an established fact.” He is not to be drawn aside into speculation on the possible explanations. He has a horror of second-hand or ill-supported embroideries upon the bare and certain story. What, then, are we to say about convincingness? To some narrow folk, Mr. Garnett’s story, despite its sober veracity, will seem as improbable as the elaborate inventions of Mr. Vivian; but not to those susceptible to the charms of style. From beginning to end of ‘Lady Into Fox,’ there is not one false-note. The coherence and harmony are absolute. To apply the vulgar and impertinent test of probability is unthinkable. Mrs. Tebrick was changed into a vixen: at first she preserved many of her human characteristics, desiring out of modesty to wear clothes, and continuing to play cards: but gradually the animal nature asserted itself, and poor Mr. Tebrick’s novel was ever more severely strained, but never gave way, and at the end his wife died tragically in his arms. We have Mr. Garnett’s word for it, in a prose as pure as Addison’s; and I am sorry for those who find it difficult to credit. Mr. Garnett’s woodcuts are corroborative evidence, being wholly in the spirit of the tale. The evidence is welcome, but the corroboration is unnecessary.’

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pow!


I was quite pleased when my book group decided to read The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (could someone tell me how to pronounce this, by the way?) because I'd got a copy through Amazon Vine a while ago, and knew I needed an incentive to make my way through all 483 pages of it. That wasn't going to happen off my own bat. Or my own back. I can never remember which it is...

The idea seemed really interesting: at a barbecue, somebody slaps somebody else's child. We see the event and its aftermath from various different perspectives, and an interesting and complex moral question is woven into the fabric of life for a group of Australian young parents.

Or that was the idea.

What Tsiolkas has actually done is so much less subtle that I wanted to shake him. The ingredients for a fascinating novel are in place, and - I'll say it now, because this review might wander into negative territory - Tsiolkas is potentially a really good writer, but it is all wasted. Tsiolkas has gathered together the most loathsome characters imaginable, the most loathsome of the lot indisputably Harry, who is the one to slap Hugo. He is also a wife-beater, a druggie, and someone who despises everybody who is not himself. The chapter we see from his perspective left me feeling nauseous, he was so disgusting a human being. Which Tsiolkas recognises, I think, so it didn't worry me from that point of view - what ruined The Slap was that the slapper in question offered no sort of moral grey area. He enjoys being violent to others, and enjoyed hurting Hugo. Hugo was, at the time, threatening Harry's child - which could have been an interesting angle, especially if Harry were normally a mild-mannered man - but Tsiolkas sweeps this ambivalence away.

It's not just Harry that is horrible. His wife Sandi is; Hugo's parents Rosie and Gary are; the host of the party, Hector, is. In amongst an enormous cast of characters, only two of the central ones seemed at all likeable, especially Richie - more on him later. And - have I lived a terribly sheltered life? - EVERY single character takes drugs. I hate reading books with drug-taking, as it makes me feel ill. I know this is my own faint-heartedness, and I don't expect every modern writer to steer clear of it, but Tsiolkas takes it to ridiculous lengths. Every character, from 14 to 60 odd, dabbles in recreational drug taking. Perhaps Tsiolkas thinks it spices up the book? And don't get me started on the amount of swearing in The Slap. When I raved about Ned Beauman's novel Boxer, Beetle, Lynne asked me what I thought about the swearing - well, I didn't really notice it there. Maybe because it seemed fit for the characters, or was used intelligently. Tsiolkas is under the impression that a sentence isn't complete without some really horrible expletives in it.

The structure of the novel isn't what I expected. I thought we'd see the same incident from various perspectives, which would have been tricky to pull off, but potentially brilliant. Instead, we move between different characters, each chapter giving the viewpoint of a different person - from the party where the slap occurs, through the resultant court case, and then meandering onto some quite well observed chapters (the reminiscences of an old man, and a young man coming to terms with being gay and having a messed-up best friend) which had almost nothing to do with the rest of the plot. The last 200 pages should have been removed, or instead used as the starting point for other novels, as they were the best written sections, but entirely irrelevant. Richie - the young guy - is easily the most affecting character in The Slap, and has the final chapter, which is quite moving. I warmed to him with this sentence:
Richie had a dawning sense that the fact that men loved kicking a leather ball to one another boded ill for the sanity of the human race.

You tell 'em, Richie.

As I said at the beginning, Christos Tsiolkas is a good writer, which is what makes The Slap so annoying. If he'd been a bad writer treating his topic badly, that would have been fine - I'd have thrown the book to one side, and moved on. As it is, he has a brilliant way of capturing a character's voice. Although the sheer number of characters, all arriving in a couple of paragraphs in the first chapter, meant I had to write out a sheet telling me who was married to whom, with which children etc. etc., after a dozen or so pages they all became sharply outlined, and very well drawn. The writing was compelling, and I read all 483 pages more quickly than I read many novels half that length.

But - the flaws in structure and the waste of a potentially interesting topic, not to mention the incessant drug-taking and swearing for effect, made The Slap ultimately fail in my eyes - and (for these and other reasons) in the eyes of those I discussed it with at book group. I can't think of many bad books which yet reveal good writers, but with The Slap Tsiolkas has convinced me to consider reading him again, even when I couldn't appreciate the novel itself.

Review: Sweet Inspiration by Penny Watson

Title: Sweet Inspiration
Author: Penny Watson
Series: Klaus Brothers #1
Release Date: December 2nd, 2009
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Pages: 206
Age: Adult
What if the legend of Santa Claus is in fact, true? What if Santa has five big strapping sons who help him run his empire? Five single, sexy sons looking for romance...
Nicholas Klaus is a master pastry chef, a strict disciplinarian, and the eldest son of the legendary Santa Claus. One look at café owner Lucy Brewster sends him into an unexpected tailspin of lusty desires. When Lucy is injured, Nicholas makes a decision that catapults both of their lives into turmoil ....
Lucy Brewster, the free-spirited proprietor of Sweet Inspiration, has a flair for concocting sugary confections but no time for adventure. She gets more than she bargained for when she awakens in the North Pole...rambunctious elves, a fitness-obsessed Santa, and the man of her dreams. Does she have what it takes to become the next Mrs. Klaus?
Nicholas Klaus is the eldest son and destined to be the next Santa. But his real love is baking. He's an excellent chef, and while looking for new flavors and recipes, he found Sweet Inspiration bakery.

Lucy is the owner of Sweet Inspiration. She loves and enjoys to bake, and her cookies are the best. She is very sweet and cute, but also lonely. But when she sees Nicholas at her store, it's love at first sight.

Both felt in love instantly, but it wasn't until two weeks later that they finally talk to each other and it turns out both of them have been having hot dreams with the other one.

Personally, I never thought Nicholas Klaus, Santa's son, could be so sexy. I always imagine Santa as a fat, cute and red old man. But obviously that's all a lie! Santa is in shape and all of his sons are sexy.

Nicholas Jr. is definitely hot! He's very serious, but he's sweet and charming with Lucy. Their romance was cute and sometimes too sweet, but their love scenes were exactly as I like them, spicy and romantic. And I was very happy with the ending, it's the perfect HEA. They are made for each other.

This book is perfect if you want to get in the Christmas mood. It's heartwarming, and while I read it I felt as if I was surrounded by snow (which it's impossibly with 32C). I loved the elves and that the author included the Klaus family, they are so funny.

Overall, it's a perfect light romantic read, excellent for Christmas. I can't wait to read the sequel, Sweet Magik, which is going to be available Christmas 2011, and features Oskar Klaus, the bad boy.


More about this book at www.pennywatsonbooks.com, Goodreads, Amazon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Song for a Sunday


This seems appropriate because it is *so* cold here... I was typing away in the freezing computer room at Magdalen, wearing gloves when I was reading, and taking them off to do the typing... anyway, this song's title is appropriate. And it's beautiful, and sometimes makes me cry... I can only find live versions (this one is synced to the original video) but... it'll have to do! Step forward Tori Amos, with 'Winter'.



For all other Sunday Songs, click here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stuck-in-a-Book's Weekend Miscellany

December approaches, and perhaps you have snow in your part of the world... none here in Oxford, but maybe before next week... I'm heading off for a nice early night, but will type this out to appear early on Saturday morning.

1.) The link - is courtesy of The Dabbler, where you can win a copy of the Christmas edition of Slightly Foxed - click here to enter, if you know your Christmas literary trivia.

2.) The blog post - is Harriet Devine's, because this amused me...


3.) The book - is the Persephone Ninety Diary, which Nicola Beauman very kindly gave me as a birthday present. It's beautiful - like the Persephone books, but with a more flexible spine, and has pages with the endpapers from all the Persephone books, alongside the diary pages. The question is, of course... is it too beautiful to use? I haven't made my mind up on that just yet...



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Read and Unread

I'm glad that a lot of you are thinking of joining in the novella weekend - turns out I will most likely be going to the musical, so my time will be cut a bit, but should still be plenty of reading time left. I don't seem to have much reading time at the moment, and there i one book in particular that I'm adoring, but have still spent two months reading...

So this is another not-very-time-consuming post: the following list (not in any particular order) has been doing the rounds of blogs and Facebook, and I thought I'd join in. Thanks for everyone who sent it to me. I saw it a few years ago, and it is a bizarre list (including some duplications). It's not the same as the list they came up with during the Big Read - a series I adored, especially the run-down of the top 100; must try and find that video somewhere... ANYWAY, here is the list, with the ones I've read in bold. Do comment on that which I have left unread which I ought to have read...

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (well, I've read over half...)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (I'm leaving in Nancy's comment on this, as I wholeheartedly agree: 'being it's part of the Chronicles, it's stupid this is on the list again')
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79 .Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazu Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare (as opposed to the complete works... hmm...)
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2011 Debutante Event



From the 1st-25th of December, Badass Bookie is going to be your guide to next year's hottest debuts! My lovely Debs just simply can't wait to meet you all so they are debuting early! Everything you need to know about your Debs and their amazing book will be here! Oh! and did I mention Giveaways Galore? Not only do you guys get to know the Debs better, YOU also get to win their books!!!

What is a Deb? Well, my lovely poppets, a Deb is short for a Debutante which is a New Author to the YA genre. Basically, their first book is coming out next year!

However, the Debs and I need your help! We want to make this event bigger and better, we want EVERYONE to know about this event! SO we are giving away a PRIZE for anyone who spreads the word about it!!! So spread the word and WIN!

Some of the prizes....




What do you think? I can't wait to learn more about this new authors and their books! :) 


P.S.  It's international!

Waiting On Wednesday # 26 - Prom & Prejudice


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single guy in his spring semester at Pemberly Academy must be in want of a prom date. 
After winter break, the girls at very prestigious, very wealthy, girls-only Longbourn Academy are suddenly obsessed with the prom, which they share with the nearby, equally elitist, all-boys Pemberly school. Lizzie Bennett, who attends Longbourn on scholarship, isn't exactly interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be - especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance, but less than impressed by Will Darcy, Charles's friend, who's as snobby and pretentious as his friend is nice. He doesn't seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it's because her family doesn't have money. It doesn't help that Charles doesn't seem to be asking Jane to be his prom date, or that Lizzie meets George Wickham, who tells her that Will Darcy sabotaged his scholarship at Pemberly. Clearly Will Darcy is a pompous jerk who looks down on the middle class--so imagine Lizzie's surprise when he asks her to the prom! Will Lizzie's prejudice and Will's pride keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? From Elizabeth Eulberg comes a very funny, completely stylish prom-season delight of Jane Austen proportions.
Elizabeth Eulberg
January 1st 2011 by Point
Hardcover, 288 pages
Amazon (Pre-Order)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Novellas


I was thinking about my previous weekend of reading novellas, and what fun it was, and musing about what I'd read were I to repeat the experiment... and toying with doing so on the weekend 4th-5th December. So I went around my bookshelves, pulling things off that I wanted to read, and that were around 200pp. or less. And now I have a pile of 13 books... I'm not going to reveal them just yet, because I think that last time it rather spoilt the surprise of what I'd read, and maybe led to book-mention-fatigue (just be grateful Miss Hargreaves isn't under 200pp.! As the bloggers who met Thomas the other day discovered, I can work Miss H. into more or less any conversation.) But the beady-eyed amongst you may be able to deduce one or two...


If I did provisionally put aside that weekend for novella reading, would anyone be interested in joining me?

Obviously I wouldn't be able to read all thirteen, but I daresay I'd make something of a dent, and it would be fun to know that other people were engaging in the activity elsewhere in the country.
It might be shortened by a potential trip to Cheltenham to see a musical, but... well, we'll see. December seems somehow appropriate for novellas. Although it also seems appropriate for enormous novels, which is why I have Sarah Waters' The Night Watch earmarked for a dark post-Christmas evening.

Do let me know if you'd be interested, and spread the word. You don't have to give up the whole weekend, of course - maybe just try to read one or two novellas at some point? It certainly demolishes the reading pile a little!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gifts and Prizes!




A book I forgot to mention the other day, in amongst my haul, is Aloe by Katherine Mansfield, kindly given to me as a birthday present from Claire, known to the blogging world as Paperback Reader. (I still have two other birthday presents to mention, but they're also going to get posts of their own...) Thanks Claire! I think this completes my collection of Mansfield fiction - now I just have to get her letters... I only have the selected letters at the moment.


And the other thing I must do is hand out the prizes for Pillars of the Earth DVD. Thanks for all your fab ideas for film adaptations - either ones which have never been done, or ones which deserve revisiting (and isn't it frustrating when you've loved a book, and see it was filmed in 1930something, not released on DVD, and like as not had the reels destroyed?)

Congratulations to.... Lucy Evans and Janells!
Let me know your addresses (well, I know Lucy's...) and the DVDs will be on their way to you!

Interview: Daniel Arenson (+Giveaway)

** The winner is Jaidis **

Hi everyone! Please welcome Daniel Arenson, author of Flaming Dove, who came here to answer some of my questions about his book.

Can you tell us a little bit about Flaming Dove?

The battle of Armageddon was finally fought... and ended with no clear victor. Upon the mountain, the armies of Hell and Heaven beat each other into a bloody, uneasy standstill, leaving the Earth in ruins. Armageddon should have ended with Heaven winning, ushering in an era of peace. That's what the prophecies said. Instead, the two armies--one of angels, one of demons--hunker down in the scorched planet, lick their wounds, and gear up for a prolonged war with no end in sight.

In this chaos of warring armies and ruined landscapes, Laila doesn't want to take sides. Her mother was an angel, her father a demon; she is outcast from both camps. And yet both armies need her, for with her mixed blood, Laila can become the ultimate spy... or ultimate soldier. As the armies of Heaven and Hell pursue her, Laila's only war is within her heart--a struggle between her demonic and heavenly blood.

Who is your favorite character from Flaming Dove?

I enjoyed writing about Laila, the main character, and Beelzebub, the antagonist. Laila is half angel, half demon. She's dark, tortured, and deadly with her Uzi. In her own words: "I am Laila, of the night. I have walked through godlight and through darkness. I have fought demons and I have slain angels. I am Laila, of the shadows. I have hidden and run, and I have stood up and striven. I am Laila, of tears and blood, of sins and of piety. I am Laila, outcast from Hell, banished from Heaven. I am alone, in darkness. I am Laila, of light and of fire. I am fallen. I rise again."

I enjoyed writing the outcast, the character who is powerful and deadly, but secretely vulnerable.
Beelzebub was also fun to write. He's a fallen angel and the ruler of Hell. He's also Laila's former lover. He now fights Laila for the throne of Hell, but he's not truly a villain, and still has feelings for Laila. He's suave, intelligent, witty, a hopeless womanizer, but also carries old pain within him. He's very much an anti-hero. Pitting him against Laila created lots of drama and emotion to explore in the novel.

What/Who was your inspiration to write this book?

I decided to write Flaming Dove after a visit to Israel. I discovered a crumbling old Crusader fort beside the sea, and thought about how men fought for so long over the Holy Land. I decided to write a novel about Heaven and Hell themselves battling here. I set the first chapter in this old seaside fort, now an outpost of angels battling demons.

I decided to give my book a few twists. First of all, Flaming Dove is set years after the epic battle of Armageddon. Heaven was foretold to win that battle, but instead, it ended at a stalemate. Both camps -- Heaven and Hell -- are now hunkered down and fighting an endless war of attrition.

To give things another twist, I decided to give my angels and demons human personalities. Angels are not always pure and pious; they have doubts, fears, flaws. My demons, too, are not stock characters of evil. I gave them human qualities too; they can feel compassion, love, longing. I feel that this gives my story a new depth, and makes it more interesting than just another "good vs. evil" fantasy.

Finally, I decided to make my main character a half breed. Her father was a demon, her mother an angel, and she is outcast from both camps. This allowed me to explore themes of alienation and loneliness.
I think, in some ways, the wars of Heaven and Hell in Flaming Dove mirror the wars of us humans.

Are you going to write a sequel?

If there is enough demand for it. If you want a sequel, let me know! Send me an email (Daniel@DanielArenson.com), spread the word about Flaming Dove, post an Amazon review... once I hear enough voices wanting more, I'll write more.

Can you recommend us a book?

If you're looking for another novel by yours truly, you can try my fantasy novel Firefly Island. This novel was first released in 2007, and is about a slave girl who fights a cruel king made of stone.

If you'd like to read fantasy novels by other authors, I recommend exploring the works of George R. R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, J.R.R. Tolkien, Weis and Hickman, Mike Resnick, and many others. In fact, I have a list of some recommended fantasy novels on my website. Drop by and take a look: http://www.DanielArenson.com/GreatFantasyNovels.aspx

Thank you so much Daniel, for taking the time to answer these questions :D

If you want to know more about this author or his books, check out his links:

Flaming Dove at the Kindle store
Flaming Dove paperback

GIVEAWAY


I have some amazon-money that I don't think I'll be spending, so I was thinking, why not use it to giveaway an awesome book for my readers?


So, I'm going to giveaway 1 ebook of Flaming Dove to 1 lucky winner (via Amazon - You would be able to read the ebook on your registered Kindle device or any free Kindle reading application, you just need to have an email address.) (more info here)


Rules:
- Read this interview and leave a meaningful comment with your email address. (and your extra points).
- Follow my blog.


Extras: (leave them in the same comment)
- Leave a comment on my review of Flaming Dove +1
- Tweet about this giveaway +1 (leave link)
- Link this giveaway at your blog / facebook +1 (leave link)


It's International and it ends November 30, 2010. I'm going to pick the winner via random.org.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Joy Street


I've mentioned on here before that I like to have a diary or collection of letters 'on the go' most of the time - and yesterday I finished the current read. It's Joy Street: A Wartime Romance in Letters by Mirren Barford and John Lewes (ed. Michael T. Wise), and was a gift from my dear friend Phoebe, who always knows what to buy me.

These letters were sent between Mirren Barford, studying at Somerville College in Oxford, and Lieutenant John Lewes, also known as Jock, who was away fighting. They take up less than two years, in 1940 and 1941, but cover a whole spectrum of emotions, thoughts, philosophies, and document the growing relationship between the young letter writers. What starts out fairly cool becomes a romantic exchange - with all the peaks and troughs that might suggest - and eventually more or less an engagement.
'Joy Street' became something of a symbol between them - as a destination for their future, united happiness. From the letters we grow to understand so much about Mirren and John - their differences (they almost split over his intense desire to be a soldier, and her hatred of warfare), their connections, their subtle steps towards one another and their backward glances. This between two people who only had the chance to meet ten times - the reader knows from the outset that John did not return from war. The letter Mirren writes to his parents, months after his death, is quite incredibly moving. I have never lost anybody very close to me, but I shall return to this letter when I do.

It's always a little uncomfortable reading people's private letters, especially without their permission. Mirren was dead when this correspondence was discovered in the 1990s by her son. Here are three interesting excerpts on this topic:

[Mirren] Once I thought I could write a pretty phrase or two, but your letter with its magnificence has shattered all my illusions and makes me feel really weak. It was a fine letter; one day I hope my great-grandchildren will take the trouble to have them published for many people would read them gladly if they had the chance.

[John] Your reception of my letter is gracious and generous; your praise is very dear to me always and on this occasion it could not have been higher than by saying that many people would read my letters gladly if they had the chance. And yet the publication of our correspondence is unthinkable, for it is so essentially private to us as almost to be written in code undecipherable to others. Readers may detect a felicity of phrase and even at times magnificence, but the significance of Penelope's design, wherein surely its chiefest value lies, must inevitably escape them unless they are supplied with a key

[John] It is a very great loss to all who read and write letters and journals that considerations of security forbid the detailed description of the lives that are being led in the multiform war. That is a loss to history and scientific record but it is no loss to literature, for writing is only worthy of that name which submits to a discipline both of substance and of form. and so perhaps, when this war's writing comes to be read and reckoned up as literature, it may be placed in a higher norm than the indiscriminate journalism which is so well thought of now. The things that matter are not the things that happen, but rather things that grow, and literature if it is to live must deal with life directly and not indirectly through its accidents. [...] And so the Journal to Mirren is not for the curious, who would find it dull indeed. It is for a lover of life, and its purpose is to try and present another life as worthy of that love.

Usually, reading collections of letters, there are all sorts of meetings or 'phone calls which we only hear about in passing; visits which are referred to, or the building blocks of a relationship which the reader cannot grasp decades later. With Joy Street, although there are a few meetings between the couple, we are privileged to witness the majority of their growing attachment. Almost everything that was built between them was built through these letters. And because they are real, they naturally have an authenticity that no novelist could fully craft.

In a letter which John never read, sent but not received before his death, Mirren writes:
Indeed, I want you to go on being alive. Maybe we'll never marry, but that isn't the most important thing. You'll go on, and you'll give of yourself to the world, for you have the power. And I'll go on too. If I'm ever capable of loving someone more than I love you, then there is no reason why my little ideal should be wrecked. If you die before we have had time to be together, at least I shall have the faith and love you have given me, deep rooted and eternal in my soul. And with that knowledge, I'll never be defeated; I may fail to do as much as I hoped but I'll never be defeated. And if I'm killed and you still love me as you do, then - I don't know how you'll feel. But I do know John, that you have given me something, and I, perhaps, to you, that no man or god can ever destroy. We call it faith, ideals, hope, but do we really and truly know what it is? I don't think so, and I don't think it matters, either. But it does matter that it is present, unforgettable, a part of my own self.

Books to get Stuck into:

-In the Springtime of the Year by Susan Hill: the best book about grief that I have read, or can imagine reading.

-Love Letters by Leonard Woolf & Trekkie Ritchie Parsons: the letters between Leonard and the woman he loved after Virginia are perhaps more revealing than Leonard would have liked, and a fascinating portrait of an unusual coupling.

Review: Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson

Title: Flaming Dove
Author: Daniel Arenson
Release Date: August 19th, 2010
Outcast from Hell. Banished from Heaven. Lost on Earth.
The battle of Armageddon was finally fought... and ended with no clear victor. Upon the mountain, the armies of Hell and Heaven beat each other into a bloody, uneasy standstill, leaving the Earth in ruins. Armageddon should have ended with Heaven winning, ushering in an era of peace. That's what the prophecies said. Instead, the two armies--one of angels, one of demons--hunker down in the scorched planet, lick their wounds, and gear up for a prolonged war with no end in sight.
In this chaos of warring armies and ruined landscapes, Laila doesn't want to take sides. Her mother was an angel, her father a demon; she is outcast from both camps. And yet both armies need her, for with her mixed blood, Laila can become the ultimate spy... or ultimate soldier. As the armies of Heaven and Hell pursue her, Laila's only war is within her heart--a struggle between her demonic and heavenly blood.
The Armageddon has taken place, and now angels and demons are fighting for the Earth.

In the middle of this fight is Laila, the half angel, half demon. Her only place to live is Earth, since the light at Heaven or the hellfire at Hell would burn her. 

Laila was an intriguing character. Since the begging of her story, we know she isn't interested in this war. It doesn't matter to her who wins, since she would still die. She only cares for her wolf, and drinking. But when she discover she may have a future after this war, she decides it's time for her to take her rightful place.

Besides Laila, the other characters were also interesting. They were all angels or demons, but it was difficult to think of them only as good or bad. For example, Michael, the good archangel, likes to lie. And Beelzebud, Michael's brother and the ruler of Hell, can be kind and charming when he wants. As if it wasn't difficult to fight your own family, love is also present, mixing things more, specially when the characters fall for someone at the wrong side.

Personally, I wasn't immediately caught in the story. The first chapters were slow, only trying to explain the war and Laila's life. But as the story unfold, I found myself wanting to know more about the characters and wondering how was this story going to end. It wasn't a light reading, and it took me more time to read it than normally because sometimes I stopped, and continued after a couple of hours.

Overall, I liked the story even when it wasn't the page turner - fast-paced book I prefer. I recommend it if you're interested in the fight between good and bad, angels and demons.


More about this book at www.danielarenson.comGoodreads, Amazon

P.S. I really liked the cover. It was made by Timothy Lantz. You can see the original artwork here.

Tomorrow I'm going to post an interview with the author and a little gift for you!!


In My Mailbox #20


In My Mailbox is a weekly bookish meme hosted @ The Story Siren

Hi everyone! :D How was your week? I hope it was great. I'm finally feeling better from my cold.

Anyway, I couldn't take pictures because my camera's battery are dead.....so instead I'll show you the covers.

WON

The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate by Donna St.Cyr
Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World
I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis



NETGALLEY

The Cellar by A.J. Whitten
- A Homemade Christmas: Creative Ideas for an Earth-Friendly, Frugal, Festive Holiday by Barseghian


What about you?? Please leave your links at the comments :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Song for a Sunday

Just to prove that I don't only listen to female singers (though I do find that they're more enjoyable to listen to, on the whole) here's 'My Word What A Mess' by Alex Cornish, from his great album Until The Traffic Stops.



For all previous Sunday Songs, click here.

Review: Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable

Title: Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable
Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Nicholas H. Dodman BVMS (Editor), Lawrence Lindner (Contributor)
Release Date: November 22nd, 2010
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 288
Our dogs are living longer than ever thanks to enormous advances in medical treatment and a highly evolved understanding of what they need to thrive. No one knows this better than the faculty of the Cummings Veterinary School at Tufts, who treat more than 8,000 older dogs annually. Their philosophy of caring for aging dogs combines empathy for each individual dog and owner, a comprehensive approach to patient care, cutting-edge science and technology, and a commitment to innovation. Good Old Dog brings their renowned clinic into your living room, arming you with essential advice to see your dog through his golden years. Featuring• Nutritional advice —not every senior diet is right for every senior dog• Emphasis on treating conditions common to older dogs so they live longer. How to evaluate complicated procedures and decide what’s right for your dog• The cost of caring for an older dog and how to shoulder the burden• How to identify cognitive decline and how to manage it• Advice on creating a healthy and comfortable environment• How to determine when “it’s time” and how to cope with the loss• And much more.
Probably you already know that I'm a veterinary student but I am also a dog owner. Cotton is ten years old and lately he have been sick.

I have experienced the worry and sadness you feel when your beloved pet is sick. And sometimes I have to help people understand their old pets, and teach them how to take better care of them and not be afraid to go with them to the vet. We want the best for your pet.

Personally, I liked a lot this book, and think it is a good way to learn about what is normal or not about your old pet. In an easy way, they explain you about the most common sickness of ours dogs and when you should be more careful. Also, they give you advices, for example about diets, and explain you the best ways to feed your dog and maintain him healthy.

Overall, it is a good read, specially it your loved pet is growing old and you want to give him/her the best care and aren't sure how to do it. Of course, always consult with your veterinarian first.


More about this book at Goodreads and Amazon.

P.S. I just discovered there is another book about dogs, called Puppy's First Steps: A Proven Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well-Behaved Companion.

2011 GLBT Reading Challenge


I've only read My Invented Life and Hero, but both were amazing. So, I'd like to read more amazing GLBT books.

Rules/Guidelines:
  • The basic idea of this challenge is to read books about GLBT topics and/or by GLBT authors.
  • The challenge runs year-round as usual, but instead of requiring a certain number of books, this year I'm handling this challenge in a more do-it-yourself sort of fashion. You set your own goal. It doesn't matter if that goal is 1 book, 10 books, a percentage of your books, or to read from various age groups/genres. Your goal is completely up to you. Design this the way you want. Make it work for you. The important thing here is simply to get us reading GLBT lit.
  • You don't need to choose your books right away, and they can change at any time. Overlaps with other challenges are fine.
  • In January, I will put up a review linky. Those links help serve as a reference for others. They are also how I will track participants for the end of year prize drawing. For each book you review and link up, the greater your chance will be at winning. At the end of 2011, I will use random.org to select one participant - from the review linky - to win a book of their choice (up to $20) from the Book Depository.

My Goal:
Read 10 books.

Update: I decided to erase the list I made last year of books to read and read whatever I felt like reading :)

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0 / 10 books. 0% done!