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26 February 2010

The Book Pile


So it is fairly obvious that I haven't been updating my reading log. Not just because of the lack of reading log posts, but also because of the pile of books towering over my bed. There is no excuse, it is just my general pattern of behaviour. I stack my books by my bed once read, and eventually it gets too high and I need to put them back on the shelves. If I am really being productive, I will record them and put them away when there is just 5 or so (a weeks' supply) but other times... well lets just say it gets a bit scary. And I think this weekend my book pile will scare me so much I will have to do something about it. I am saying this because I just finished another book at work, and I don't think it will fit in the pile. Add to that, I don't have any plans this weekend (thank god!) so I can devote a whole two days to sleeping, reading and maybe, just maybe, updating my blogs! All the things I have had to neglect in favour of a social life. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my friends! But I like spending time by myself as well. I also need to decide how to approach book reviews here at Book Bites. I used to write really good book reviews, but these days I don't have the time to sit down and organise my thoughts and spew them onto paper (or in this case, screen). I think I need to rewrite the one on Nalini's recent book, and decided how to write future ones in a way that doesn't take much mental energy or time, nor give away spoilers. The thing is, when I was writing the Nalini review I realised that I am used to writing essays at a tertiary level, which tends to be on books we all know the endings etc. haha even this message is convoluted... I should log off and go home...

So yeah, apologies for the lack of book log updates, I think that will be fixed shortly ;-p

18 February 2010


My friend Ms S (some of you may already know her or guess her identity - click the "follow" button on the side so I know is reading this LOL) is a fabulous author. I read her steampunk short story/novella (the pages weren't numbered) and was blown away. Well, she has started a new project.

We were mucking around the other night, playing with my wereleopard Rage and taking lots of photos, as you do. So when the photos were online discussions occurred on facebook, and Ms S was inspired to start a new project... And we are all in it! :D She has written 2 instalments so far, I will link you up when she has more up, but I have to say now, it is very promising! I would love to see her finish it as I think it will appeal to the Urban Fantasy readers and I am absolutely loving it!! And that isn't my ego talking. Cos frankly, every time I open my mouth I seem to give Ms S more fodder for the characterisation LOL I’m an empath called Gypsy (my online username for years because I identify with that part of my heritage) and she is called Sorrow, and Chrissi and TJ are in it as well. I want to read MORE dammit! I am such an impatient little wench! :D

I will link you up when she has more published on her blog. There is no point in all of us suffering from an out of control curiosity...

Book Survey III

1. What author do you own the most books by?

Nora Roberts. I buy her books at second hand stores and chain stores. I can't get my books from normal stores.... I am too much of a nerd. Which is why I love speciality stores. I own over 100 NR books, and buy a new one every month or so. I also have about 30-50 Dick Francis books.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?

Pride & Prejudice. I own the vintage one I had as a kid, I used it for uni, so it is full of pencil marks. But that is okay because it is my own old copy, I am never gibing it away, and it is comparable in this instance to a text book. I got 100% on my major essay for P&P. John Gray was going to give me 99.5% for an incorrect quote until I showed him my copy. I am keeping it for prosperity only. Hideous cover by some random low-end publisher. Stephanie at work gave me a complete Jane Austen collection, which is terrific, but it is really heavy and it hurts my hands to read. So I bought a Vintage Classic edition of all her books for ease of access. I am keeping the complete works for when I travel overseas. I've had more in the past. But I think 3 is enough LOL

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?


4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Secretly? I never keep it secret. If I like a character, the world (even if it is just my little slice of it) will know about it.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Madeline Brent’s Merlin’s Keep
Raymond E Fiest’s Magician
JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
David Gemmell’s Waylander and Iron Hand’s Daughter
Charles de Lint’s Ivory and the Horn, Mulengro, Someplace to be Flying, Yarrow.

6. What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?

Either something by Enid Blyton, Tamora Pierce or Isabelle Carmody, or a book in the Dragon Lance or Magic: The Gathering franchises.

7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

I started reading The Gone-Away world, but ended up giving it to my brother. He loved it, so it wasn’t a waste. It was a freebie from the publisher.

8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

9. If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

10. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

11. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - because they could get it SO wrong...

12. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

There have been some crazy ones… But I can't remember them. I rarely do.

13. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

Are you serious? Have you seen some of the trashy paperbacks I read these days? Some of them are quite lowbrow LOL

14. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

The Sacrifice as Terror - it is a book about the sociology of the Rwandan genocide. Fascinating but brutal.

15. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

I've only seen Macbeth, but that was in a warehouse. The witches were made up of 2 people each - the second was on the shoulders of the other. These came apart and cavorted as demons, covered in red body paint, and one kept pawing my leg. It was fabulous, as it was very informal, as in we were in and part of the set. I had a place at court LOL Lady MacBeth had this gorgeous red dress that had laces on the back, sort of a cross between an evening dress, a sundress and a medieval gown.

16. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

I haven't read any Russian authors.

17. Roth or Updike?

I've not read either author.

18. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

I've not read either author.

19. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Hard one!! I love Shakespeare, Milton is fascinating, but I have to say Chaucer has a place in my heart. I love Middle English. I still need to refer back to a ME dictionary for some words though, so it isn't the sort of thing I can read on the train unless I take a bag of references with me LOL

20. Austen or Eliot?

Austen. I have an obsession. However, I just bought Middlemarch, so I will finally start reading Eliot.

21. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?


22. What is your favourite novel?

Just one? Refer above to question 5.

23. Play?

Macbeth, Peer Gynt or Doll's House.

24. Poem?

Oh, hard question! Either Henry Kendall's Bell Birds or Last of his Tribe, most by William Blake, La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats or Robert Browning's My Last Duchess. There are just so many! I also have a fascination with haiku and eastern poetry.

25. Essay?

Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.

26. Work of nonfiction?

Anything on archaeology which was written by an academic author (i.e. not the mush published by non-academic publishers)

27. Who is your favourite writer?

Charles de Lint, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jane Austen, Raymond E Fiest, David Gemmell, Dick Francis, Charlotte Bronte, Madeline Brent, Victoria Holt, etc

28. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Dan Brown.

29. What is your desert island book?

Complete Works of Shakespeare or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or Langland's Piers Plowman. They are the sort of books I can mull over for years.

30. And… what are you reading right now?

Way too many books!!!!!! About ten, including books by Lillith Saintcrow, Lora Leigh, Susanna Clarke, Rachel Caine, Amber Benson, JRR Tolkien, Simon R Green, Anne Rice, and Emily Bronte.

16 February 2010

Covers [website]

I just found a fantastic website!! It is a blog dedicated to cover design, where people submitt covers to and people comment. I am in love!

Book Quiz I & II

I am reposting these. You can take them yourself at this website:

Book Quiz I

You're Roots!

by Alex Haley

While almost everyone agrees that you're brilliant, no one knows quite how to categorize you. Some say that you're a person with an amazing family tree. Some say that you're just a darn good storyteller. Others say that you're both and don't much care where to draw the line. What is known is that your people have been through a great number of trials and that you are where you are because of hard work. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Book Quiz II
(how the hell? I really dislike this book *sigh*)

You're A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man!

by James Joyce

A lapsed Catholic and classic overthinker, you are besieged by rapidly expanding contemplation of the world around you. While people often think you're making things up, you're really just talking about yourself. This navel-gazing makes you remarkably self-aware, though some of those you know will accuse you of being stuck-up or even narcissistic. This may be why you hate quoting other people. But it may also be because you think all perspective is subjective, which is ultimately why you can only speak for yourself.

Take the Book Quiz II
at the Blue Pyramid.

15 February 2010

Book Survey II: Influences

What book has most influenced your outlook on life?
I like Charles de Lint’s stories because they espouse a similar world view to my own. He writes urban fantasy, so you have your pieces of mystery and other worlds, but he is also a very strong advocate, so there are always threads through his books – we need to let our lights shine – do a little good and if enough people go out with kindness in their hearts it will make the world a better place – even if you only make one person smile, it’s a good thing. He is also an advocate against child abuse, child labour, and a lot of other unsavoury forms of violence and abuse. His “bad guys” are normally so horrible, but utterly believable because they are made up of the worse pieces that humanity has to offer. And his heroes are ordinary people – people you pass in the street every day and think nothing about – and yet they can triumph over that darkness – in themselves, and the monsters after them. So yes, lots of spirits running around a very urbanised landscape, but there are also a lot of admirable ideas involved. Plus, he has an interest in goth, punk, beats, hippie, arty cultures. I started reading Charles de Lint when I was 16/17, so I was at a point that I was developing my world views and identity. Reading his books made me embrace my uniqueness (my gothic/hippie/boho leanings) and art, and reinforced my world views. His stories are full of myth and folklore, things I have a great passion for. I wrote to him one day when I was 19 or so, and he wrote back to me. He was fascinated that I was studying archaeology, and a shared fascination for mythology and folklore. He also loved Buffy (I shared a short story he wrote about a vamp with Linda in year 12, and she drew Lilith as Drusilla – or visa versa) and that Linda and I identified with the crow girls… On another note, we are getting crow girl tattoos this year… if we can draw a design we like LOL

What books are pure fun?
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Nora Roberts books. You don't read them for intellectual reasons, but they are entertaining. Its all I read anymore. I think it is an unconscious rebellion about being serious and working too hard. My non-working hours are taken up with activities that require no effort on my part.

What was the hardest book to get thru?
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. I started it when I was 15 and threw it aside in disgust. I picked it up again about 6 months ago and am working my way through it. It’s the sort of book I need to be paying attention to, and I keep getting other books come through my door and I get distracted. I will finish it though!

If you could only read one genre of books what would it be?
Fantasy. That covers all the genres, including epic, dark and urban fantasy as well as paranormal romance.

Most inspirational book?
Someplace to be Flying - Charles de Lint
The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran

What book seems simple, but isn't?
There are quite a few. I tend to read ones like Charles de Lint, Frank Herbert, etc that whilst being entertaining, there are background motifs that have a lot of import. However, if you read Paranormal Romance, and it seems simple, its because it is LOL

Do you carry any books with you?
Always. I've started storing some at work as well, just in case I finish one during lunch. I hate train rides without my trusty sidekick!

Which writer's has the most fun with words?
Charles de Lint, Terry Pratchett, Piers Antony, Jane Austen.

What book do you like (or think you like) but shamefully have not finished?
Children of Húrin. It’s the one I slowly slog my way through. JRR Tolkien’s books are great, but when its more like an oral history written down to preserve the tales of a hero, I find it hard to read in one go. This book, and Unfinished Tales remind me of some of the Anglo Saxon texts like Beowulf, Battle of Maldon, or the Welsh traditions of the Mabinogion or the Irish Ulster Cycle. I've read them all, and I love mythology, but because there are so many tales wrapped up in one volume, it is hard to just sit down and read it straight through.

What novel have you read the most times?
??? I think I will need to make a list!
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Madeline Brent’s Merlin’s Keep
Raymond E Fiest’s Magician
JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings
David Gemmell’s Waylander and Iron Hand’s Daughter
Charles de Lint’s Ivory and the Horn, Mulengro, Someplace to be Flying, Yarrow.

What books do you remember from being a kid?
Enid Blyton, Tamora Pierce, Roald Dahl, Libby Hathorn, Gary Crew, David McRobbie, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Ann Martin, L.M. Montgomery, Jackie French, Paul Jennings, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Isobelle Carmody, John Marsden, May Gibbs, Victor Kellher, Gillian Rubenstien, Sonya Harnett, Catherine Jinks, Francine Pascal, Christopher Pike, Garth Nix… god there are too many for me to write down! I was a voracious reader from the age of 7! And it only got worse when I got sick at age 11!!! O_o

What is the best autobiography?
I don't really read autobiographies. One of the only ones I can remember off the top of my head is I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just a Little Unwell by Leigh Hatcher. It details his learning to live with ME/CFS. I also read some out of Africa types, but they were a long time ago. I also read one by an archaeologist, but I can’t remember which one. I prefer fiction, ethnographies and mythology over autobiographies.

Who is a good read although you disagree with nearly every word?
I can’t think of any. I tend to read books that I like, not because it is good literature, or popular. I can usually tell from the blurb and/or the first chapter if I will like it.

Who do you mostly agree with, but still makes you cringe a bit?
Any authors who are bigoted. Either to do with race, gender issues or disabilities. Those are all issues that piss me off when I have to listen to someone spouting hate and/or ignorance.
{Edit: I didn't read this question right. These are the books that make me cringe, and with whom I have no or a limited level of agreeance with the author.}

What was the best book you've read about a subject you don't really care about?
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. It’s filled with a lot of topics and motifs that I find abhorrent (incest, rape, bigotry etc), but it is well written (although unconventional), and I do love certain passages. An example is narrated by Quentin in the second part of the book – it always stuck with me.

“When the shadow of the sash appeared in the curtains it was between seven and eight oclock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather’s and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it’s rather excruciatingly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father’s. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it.
The bit in italics is the bit that I cleave to.

Who have you read the most books by?
Probably Nora Roberts because she is such a prolific author, and it is easy to get my hands on her books. I own over 100 of her novels now, and that’s less than half of what she has written. My other authors are not as prolific, but I have read 100% of their books. So I guess the answer relies on if we are talking actual numbers or percentages!

Book Survey I: The IntrovertZ

(Just a quick warning - I am posting pics of book covers, and one is to do with human remains... be prepared to scroll if you are sensitive)

What book are you reading now?
Redemption Alley - Lilith Saintcrow is my main squeeze at the moment but I am also (inactively) reading:
The Vampire Lestat - Anne Rice
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke

What are your favourite books? [You can put specific books or genres or both.]
Mostly the come under the heading of Fantasy: Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, etc. However I also love Classics, Gothic Romances, Science Fiction and Mysteries.

How did you learn to read?
My dad started reading to me at a very young age. Books like Brer Rabbit's A Rascal and Black Beauty are some of the earliest books I both remember having read to me, and learning to read.

What foreign languages do you read?
Anglo Saxon (Old English). I also know enough German to know if you are talking about cats and dogs.

What's the funniest book you ever read?
Probably something like Terry Pratchett.

What books have changed the way you look at the world or the way you live your life?
Bog Bodies: Mummies and Curious Corpses when I was in Year Four at school. I had that book out of the library for most of the year, and constantly reread it. I was absolutely facinated by the cultures preserving their dead, the practices they performed, and the biology behind the preservation. I pinpoint that as one of the turning points in regards to choosing archaeology as a career and discovering it was my vocation.

What books have affirmed what you believe about life or the way you look at things?
Um... I am not sure. I don't really read books about affirmation. Reading Charles de Lint's books has made me more accepting of my own inviduality, but that is because his characters are so interesting.

What books have you changed your mind about?
Anne Rice. I hated Interview With A Vampire, but I am liking The Vampire Lestat.

What are some of the scariest books you've ever read?
Books on genocide for "The Anthropology of Violence" subject I took at uni. It wasn't scary as in thrills, but scary how sensible the thought behind terror as a political tool can be made to seem.

About how many books do you think you have you read in your life?
Too many to number. Sometimes I read 100 books a year, sometimes its 300. When I was a 10 year old I was reading about 50. I am now 26, and I don't see this abating any time soon!

About how many books do you own?
I have no idea. Well into the hundreds.

How many books per month do you usually borrow from the library?
None. I used to borrow 5-10 a week but the libraries rarely have anything I haven't read that I am interested in reading.

How much would you say you've paid in library fines in your life?
A lot!

Do you read in bed?
Yes, it is my favourite place to read.

Do you ever read while walking or driving?
Not whilst driving, but I do walk and read quite a bit. There are times when I am working to or from the trainstation, and I just can't bear to put my book down.

OK, let's get real. Where is the strangest place you've read a book?
In lines for metal gigs, in lines at theme parks, in a canoe...

Do you listen to audio books?
No, they seem to defeat the purpose of a book. I am a very tactile person.

Has anyone ever read aloud to you or you to them? Tell us more.
My dad used to read to me when I was little. I think that is what started off my love affair with fiction. We didn't see a lot of Dad back then - he worked a LOT of overtime. So Mum would wake us up at 4am to say goodbye every morning, and wake us up late at night to say goodnight. Then he would sit snuggled in my bed and read to me.Those are some of my earliest and most treasured memories.

What book was the most difficult to read?
Wuthering Heights when I was 14. I put it down and said I would never read it again. I broke that promise, because I am now working my way through it again - when I am not reading anything else LOL

Do you read every word of a book, or skip parts that don't hold your interest?
Every word.

What books do you keep intending to read but put off?
George Orwell's 1984.

Do you buy new or used books, paperbacks or hardbacks, leather or collector's items?
All of the above! I prefer hardcovers for non-fiction, and I rarely buy collectors items. Ideally, new paperbacks. But I have no problem with buying second hand books - they have helped feed my addiction for the last 20 years LOL

What is the first book you remember reading?
Dad reading Brer Rabbit's A Rascal or Black Beauty. The first book I read myself was also Brer Rabbit.

Do you lend your books? Ever had to hire Large Louis to get it back for you?
I am no longer lending books. I have had too many things happen to my preciousouses in the last 6 months.

What were your favourite books when you were a child?
Enid Blyton, Tamora Pierce, Roald Dahl, Libby Hathorn, Gary Crew, David McRobbie, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Ann Martin, L.M. Montgomery, Jackie French, Paul Jennings, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Isobelle Carmody, John Marsden, May Gibbs, Victor Kellher, Gillian Rubenstien, Sonya Harnett, Catherine Jinks, Francine Pascal, Christopher Pike, Garth Nix… etc

What children's books do you most enjoy as an adult?
Tamora Pierce, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, PC & Kirsten Cast, Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, JK Rowlings, Libby Hathorn, Isobelle Carmody, etc.

What books would you especially recommend to young people?
All of those mentioned in the last two questions.

Do you ever read the ending first?


Did you ever agree to read the book somebody was pushing on you if they would read one for you in exchange? What were the books?

No, but I have a suggestions exchange with friends quite a bit.

Have you ever read a book more than once? If so, mention them and why you read them more than once, please.
A better question would be which books I haven't read more than once! Most books I read at least twice.

What frequently recommended books have you been unable to finish?
Dan Brown. Need I say more?

Which of these world classics did you actually plow through at one time or another in your life?
[x] The Iliad
[x] The Odyssey
[x] The Aeneid
[ ] Dante's Inferno
[ ] Paradise Lost
[ ] Goethe's Faust
[ ] War and Peace
[ ] Ulysses
[ ] Les Miserables
[ ] Atlas Shrugged
[x] Moby Dick
[ ] Gone with the Wind
[ ] Remembrance of Things Past
[ ] Churchill's History of England
[ ] Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

What other favourite books of yours are extremely long?
Off the top of my head, I would say Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and The Painted Man by Peter V Brett. This is just from visualising my bookshelf - I have a lot of thick books, but I couldn't pinpoint which without physically standing in front of my shelves.

Review: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

I really love Nalini Singh, and I have to thank Ms S for raving about her in book club. I read the Psy-Changeling books and really enjoyed them. I always meant to read the Guild Hunter’s series (damn those preview chapters!) but hadn’t yet picked up Angel’s Blood. I heard Archangel’s Kiss was being released and bit the bullet and bought them in one fell swoop. It is lucky I did, because the second I finished book one, I had to start book two LOL I am doing a Global Challenge and need to read two books from Oceania – I decided to include one Aussie and one Kiwi. I decided that Nalini would be one of those authors, because Archangel’s Kiss has just been released and I was going to comment on it anyway. That, and the fact that Nalini is a New Zealander LOL

Rather than just writing a conventional book review, I thought I would break it up into sections that I thought were relevant:

The Guild Hunter Universe

The world that the Guild Hunter series is set in is very much like our own, except for the zero world* component – that is, that angels are a major playing force, and their minions are the vampires. These are not religious novels. The angels are a bit more like the titans. They aren’t particularly heavenly, but they are powerful. There are normal angels, and there are archangels. Archangels are the more ancient and powerful of the two, and they run the council, controlling territories. They rule the world with an iron fist and through deflection and subterfuge. You couldn’t call the angels kind saintly beings, but winged beings of grace, power and control. Think of the deities of old, and you are on the right path – most especially because some of those deities were actually angels. The angels create vampires (as a biological imperative) and they are their minions. They are the bodyguards, the enforcers, the housekeepers, the business mangers, the lovers - and depending on the angel - the slaves. The vampires do have to drink blood, they do go on killing sprees, and that is why the Guild Hunters exist. However, they are not creatures of an evil or demonic genesis, but created by the angels. The humans tend to go about their own business, unless they are groupies or wannabees. The are seen as weak beings with such a fleeting lifespan and aside from taking blood, they don't seem to have much place in the lives of the angels or vampires. The exception to this is the Guild Hunters. They are employed to hunt down vampires who escape their vampire masters – either on the run, or on a killing spree.

The Characters

[Spoiler Warning about wings if you haven't read Angel’s Blood]
The two main characters who met in the first book are Elena and Raphael (can you tell which one is the angel?). Elena was a Guild Hunter who was employed to hunt an archangel who had gone rouge. Raphael was the archangel in control of the territory. Its more of an urban fantasy than a paranormal romance, despite the romance between them. At the end of the first book, Elena is made into an angel, something which hasn’t happened for millennia, and Archangel’s Kiss is set just after she wakes up from the coma. I am not going to go into the plot in any detail, you can discover it yourself if you read the book. Basically Elena and Raphael are trying to understand their relationship, whilst their world is in chaos. People are being killed, a child is stolen and traumatised, there are plots against the archangels, as well as one archangel playing with things best left alone.

The Interesting Stuff

I have to say, I was absolutely fascinated by the WINGS! I've read fantasy/paranormal romance books about “angels” before, but they were either wingless or the wings were always described so clinically. In Archangel’s Kiss, they are such a fascinating part of the angels. They are described so beautifully, with such attachment. They are written about in a tactile fashion, as another limb, a part of the body. Other books I have read with winged beings have been described as human forms, and the wings are just an afterthought. Nalini Singh is brilliant for describing in a fashion that is realistic yet fascinating. Another thing I love about her angels. The wings aren’t all the same. The variety of colours are terrific! And when a wing is injured they grow back in a different form (colour or pattern etc). I am just truly fascinated by Nalini's wings!!! I can't wait for the next book!

I really loved this book. I was not quiet sure what I thought of her when I started her first Psy-Changeling novel, but I can say, 9 books later, that Nalini is amongst some of my favourite authors! Her concepts are so fresh, her characters engaging, and her style has flair. I cant wait for Book Three in the Guild Hunter Series (as well as Book 8 in the Psy-Changeling Series LOL).
5/5 Stars

*Zero World is a concept originally prominent in comics, but also quite common in fantasy and science fiction. This is when the story in fiction is set in a world nearly identical to our own (or the equivalent in an earlier time period), except for one important exception. In the comics of yore, it was things like the x-men mutation. In fantasy it tends to be the inclusion of magic, the other world/s or other beings. I studied “Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror in Popular Culture” a sociology subject offered by my university department, and this was one of the core concepts that is visible in a lot of F/SF/H, and now in PR as well.

RIP Dick Francis

Oh Noes!!!!! *sob* No new Dick Francis novels!! :'( He was one of my favourite writers from a young age, out of my collection, only his rivals my Nora Roberts novels in number. He died peacefully on Sunday (?time zone?) at his home in the Cayman Islands. He had such a fabulous career, first as a jockey to the Queen Mum and the Queen, and later as a mystery author. His books tended to be centred around the racing industry, and you could always tell he "knew his stuff". As a girl raised surrounded horses, whenever I would read one of his novels I would be transported away, I could feel the heat to the horses, smell their sweet breath and hear the powerful lungs breathing. I would get caught up in his tales of suspense, intrigue and greed, whilst at the same time be homesick for the farm and my own horses. I love his novels, and I will really miss Dick Francis. He was an amazing man, and amazing author, and holds a strong place in both the racing scene and the world of fiction.

 Oh, I just found out Sherrilyn Kenyon is a fan to :'( Its just so bloody sad...


Dick Francis, thriller writer and ex-jockey, dead at 89

Dick Francis, the best-selling British thriller writer and former champion jockey, has died in his home in the Cayman Islands. He was 89.

A successful steeplechase jockey, Francis turned to writing after he retired from racing in 1957. He penned 42 novels, many of which featured racing as a theme. His books were translated into more than 20 languages, and in 2000 Queen Elizabeth II - whose mother was among his many readers - honoured Francis by appointing him a Commander of the British Empire.

His son Felix said he and his brother, Merrick, were "devastated" by their father's death, but "rejoice in having been the sons of such an extraordinary man".

"We share in the joy that he brought to so many over such a long life," Felix said in a statement. Francis' spokeswoman Ruth Cairns said the writer had died on Sunday from natural causes, but did not elaborate.

During his writing career, Francis won three Edgar Allen Poe awards given by The Mystery Writers of America for his novels, Forfeit (1968), Whip Hand (1979) and Come to Grief (1995).

He also was awarded a Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers' Association for his outstanding contribution to the genre. The association made him a Grand Master in 1996 for a lifetime's achievement.

Aside from novels, Francis also authored a volume of short stories, as well as a biography of British jockey Lester Piggot.

In recent years Francis wrote novels jointly with son Felix, including Silks (2008) and Even Money (2009). A new novel by the two, Crossfire, will be published later this year.

"It is an honour for me to be able to continue his remarkable legacy through the new novels," Felix said in his statement.

Richard Francis was born on October 31, 1920, as the younger son of a horse breeder in Tenby, South Wales. During World War II he joined the Royal Air Force in 1940 and was stationed in the Egyptian desert before being commissioned as a bomber pilot in 1943, flying Spitfires, Wellingtons and Lancasters.

A few years later he returned to his father's stables and became a steeplechase trainer's assistant. Later, as a professional jockey, he won 345 of the more than 2,300 races he rode in between 1948 and 1957, taking the title of Champion Jockey for the 1953-54 season.

His most famous moment in racing came just a few months before he retired, when, riding for Queen Elizabeth, his horse collapsed inexplicably within sight of certain victory in the 1956 Grand National.

Despite his many successes, he had expressed regret at never winning the prestigious Grand National.

"The first one I rode in I was second, and the last one I rode in I won everywhere except the last 25 yards. I would love the opportunity of having another go, but it's a young man's job," he said once during an interview with the BBC.

Francis' first book, published in 1957, was his autobiography, The Sport of Queens. His first novel, Dead Cert, came out in 1962 and was followed by a new title every year since.

He also worked for years as a racing correspondent for Britain's Sunday Express, and retired in the British Caribbean territory of the Cayman Islands.

Francis is survived by his two sons as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandson, Cairns said. A small funeral will be held at Francis' home on Grand Cayman, followed by a memorial service in London, she said, but could not say when they would be held.

12 February 2010

Third Hunger Games book?

Oh God!!!!! Apparently it is true - I just found it on a Scholastic blog anyway LOL I literally started hyperventilating when I saw it on tumblr just now...  Final name and cover for the third book in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games triliogy. The first two tied for my favourite book of 2009. I hope it does them justice! Bring on August!!! :D

The name Mockingjay seems quite apt, knowing the significance of the mockingjay in the Hunger Games mythos... especially seeing how Catching Fire ended...

I really love the other covers though, so I look forward to seeing the UK design...

09 February 2010

Illustrator: Arthur Rackham

I thought I would start doing a feature on illustrators I admire. There are quite a number of them, and a lot are recognised not only for their cover art, but for their careers as artists as well as illustrators. The first illustrator I plan to feature is Arthur Rackham. He is fairly well know, as his work was quite prolific. I had a lot of my favourite childhood books illustrated by him, as well as others like my copy of Peer Gynt (by Henrik Ibsen). Some others I have remembered reading are Rip Van Winkle, Alice in Wonderland (I am kicking myself for giving this away - I only payed 50c for it when I was a child), A Midsummer Night's Dream, Grimm's fairy stories, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, and Wind in the Willows. I love the line work, the brushwork, and I also really love his silhouettes. They are all simplely exquisite. I to get a tattoo that is the Yggdrasil, Ceiba, Plonte of Pees, the Bodhi/Banyan tree, the tree of life and the Axis Mundi (I am facinated by the parallels in the different mythologies and folklore around the world). I was visualising the design, and a motif I kept seeing over and over was that of Rackham's knarled boughs, and the texture of the bark that he expressed in so much detial with just a few lines. I'm planning on using that to influence the design for my tree tattoo for my back - when I finally get it done LOL

Arthur Rackham
Born Sept. 19, 1867, London, Eng.—died Sept. 6, 1939, Limpsfield, Surrey)
British artist and illustrator. While a staff artist for a London newspaper, he also began illustrating books. He became skillful using the new halftone process, and his highly detailed drawings revealed a unique imagination. He achieved renown with a 1900 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and his illustrations for Rip Van Winkle (1905) brought him recognition in America as well. Altogether he illustrated more than 60 books, including classics of children's literature as well as works by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, John Milton, Richard Wagner, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Some of his illustrations. Click on them to see the larger versions:

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