Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Review: Wicked 2: Legacy & Spellbound by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguié

Title: Wicked 2: Legacy & Spellbound

Author: Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguié

Year: 2010

Rating: 4.5/5

Review written for: The Bookbag

Review: Holly Cathers has returned, and this time, she's more powerful than ever. The war between the House of Cahors witches and House of Deveraux warlocks still rages on, and only one side will eventually triumph.

Having had just a short amount of time to adjust to her new position as the head of ... (click here to read more)  

Review: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Title: Interview with the Vampire

Author: Anne Rice

Year: 1976

Rating: 4.5/5

Plot: One night, a boy sits down with a stranger to hear the story of his life.

What makes this stranger's life story so interesting, however, is that for over 200 years he has been living as a creature of the night - a vampire.

And so the stranger begins a tale of hurt and betrayal, love and passion, good and evil.

Review: It took me a good three months to read this book from start to finish. I first read Interview with the Vampire while I was in my teens after seeing the film, and I'd forgotten how heavy Anne Rice was as a writer.

In some ways she reminds me of John Steinbeck. Not in theme, but in style. Her pages are filled with description that, at times, aren't broken down for a long while. Perhaps it's my lifestyle that makes me tired the majority of the time, but I find books like this quite long-winded if I just want a quick read while on the train to work or while waiting at a doctor's office. As a result, I'll feel my eyelids start to droop quite quickly if the paragraphs aren't broken down enough. As I said, I'm tired a lot of the time because of my lifestyle but Rice's writing didn't help matters.

Nevertheless, I took a small break from it over Christmas, and was eager to come back to it. This time around I finished it no problem. Maybe I needed that time away from it to breathe.

Interview with the Vampire has quickly become a classic in vampire literature. It's not hard to see why. Rather than the sparkly, friends-and-lovers-of-people creatures we read about in today's novels, the vampires in this book are as they should be: scary, dangerous monsters.

Louis, the title character, is a wonderfully complex character. His struggle to come to terms with the change between human and immortal, and the terrible guilt he feels towards his desire to kill, is fascinating. It is Louis' journey to find a proper peace of mind and discover where he lies in the balance of things that we follow with equal wonder and excitement.

Louis' problem is that he was never really given a choice. As a human he suffered from terrible grief over the death of his brother, and wished for death to come to him too. A vampire heard his pleas and came to his aid. As a result Louis now has questions that he can't find the answers for.

If vampires are Satan's children, as he belives them to be, how can he achieve a confident state of mind and enjoy an eternal life as those immortals around him can?

His vampire creator, Lestat, is one of my favourite characters in literature. Lestat has such mystery to him. We don't know where this creature has come from. We know nothing of his history and why he keeps Louis in the dark about the secret to his 'curse.' Is Lestat merely disappointed by the answers or is he, himself, also a confused wanderer, struggling to find companions to shield the pain? If so, why? Again, where has he come from?

It is Rice's ability to create characters with such unbelievable depth and mystery that make her a mistress of her craft. While Louis' narration keeps us intrigued to find the answers he's been searching for, it also provides a one-sided view of many spectacular characters (Lestat, Claudia, Armand) that we long to hear more about. Louis' description of the glances and feelings he gets from these characters don't do them justice: We want to get inside their heads too.

I really can not wait to read the second book of The Vampire Chronicles. The Vampire Lestat should hopefully bring to light a lot of Lestat's backstory. I guess that's also why I'm slightly apprehensive to read it too. Do I really want to get rid of all this mystery that surrounds him? At the moment I'm deeply sympathetic towards him because I have an idea in my head of a poor lost soul, struggling to make sense of the immortal world himself, but hiding it better than Louis. The Vampire Lestat might shatter that image.

Moving on, though, in spite of the initial trouble I had with getting into Anne Rice's reading, once I picked up the book again, I whizzed through the rest and discovered I really enjoyed it. I love the characters, I love the story. I love that it spans over 200 years so effortlessly; Louis doesn't mention how much time has passed between each incident but you get the idea when he makes occasional brief references to what's happening around him.

The fact that his story begins in the eighteenth century, and the vampires' ways of travelling the world in coffins in carriages, is reminiscent of the old and original classic vamp tales like Joseph Le Fanu's Carmilla or Bram Stoker's Dracula. A real history is built there and the old image of vampires being terrifying creatures of the night who leer outside your window is restored.

In a world where vampires go back to high school to fall in love with the quirky outsider or head cheerleader, it's refreshing to revisit a story like Interview with the Vampire where traditional vamp rules apply. Sunlight kills them. They kill people. It's rare to find that kind of scary vamp novel that I love nowadays. (Though Let the Right One In seemed to be the recent exception.)

Overall, an excellent read. It lost half a mark in the rating just because it took me so long to get used to Rice's fierce writing style. If you haven't yet read it and are a fan of vampire novels, get on it. So much depth and such brilliantly fleshed out characters. A real classic.

About the Author: Anne Rice is a best-selling American author of gothic and later religious themed books. Best known for her Vampire Chronicles, her prevailing thematical focus is on love, death, immortality, existentialism, and the human condition. Her books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history. - Taken from Anne Rice's Fantastic Fiction page.  

Sunday, 17 January 2010

TSS: Motivation & Resolutions

'Tis the first Sunday Salon of 2010! Huzzaaaah!

And I thought I'd kick this off by listing a few of my goals (or new year's resolutions) this year. :D

1) Reviewing, Reviewing, Reviewing
Those of you who follow me on Twitter (do it!) will know that my attempt at writing a book review last night was an aggressive one.

I haven't reviewed in so long that I'm out of practice and find that my writing's ... lacking something. Talent, perhaps?

I need to get back into the habit. Especially as I also volunteer to write reviews for a wonderful website called The Book Bag. (Oh ... yeah ... and that whole ambition to write reviews professionally comes into play too.)

So one of my goals is to write reviews for at least 80% of the books I read this year, and at least 50% of the films I watch.

And I need your help with it. If you see my list of 'Books read' (on the left side bar) growing but haven't seen a review since the dawn of time, poke me. Nudge me. Kick me! Make sure I'm reviewing. This blog provides perfect practice for the writing career I'd love.

2) TBR Pile
As of January 1st, 2010, there were 50 books on my TBR pile.

I managed to read 50 books in 2009 so there shouldn't be a problem.

My big reading goal this year is to see the end of my TBR pile. It needs to disappear so that I can start buying new books from my wishlist. XD

3) Weight loss
As I blogged about before, I want to lose weight.

By December, I want to have shed two stone and have toned up. This isn't so much a vanity thing as it is a personal quest to health and fitness. I eat healthily (with the exception to a lot of birthday cake and Christmas choccies); I need the fitness. It'll also give me a chance to try and make my Asthma better. :)

I've rejoined the 100 mile challenge that Trish from Trish's Reading Nook is hosting and, this time, I'm determined to do it. Treadmill starts tomorrow morning!

4) Savings Just another personal goal for me but this year I plan to open a savings account and start saving towards what I really want to do: Travel.

I've been planning these travels for the last ten years. It's about time I put my head down and really do it.

That, and I also need a new computer. I'm trading this old Dell PC in for a 'Desktop Replacement' laptop. Unfortunately I know nothing about computers ... but lucky for me, my better half is a computer nerd.

If any of you do recommend some excellent laptops (price within reason - I only make minimum wage), please leave it in the comments for me. :)

5) Guitar
I don't know how far I'm going to go with this one but I'd really like to learn how to play the guitar.

I played violin for eight years and, as a result, can read music. I'd love to be able to play guitar and there's nothing stopping me. (Other than the inevitable cost of a purdy new guitar.)

6) Smile
Smiling makes me feel good.

But I don't do enough of it. I'm also very quick to voice my (grouchy) opinions on certain matters (and people) ... and can regret it because of how I sounded and may have come across.

I want to strive to think before I speak and better myself as a person. :) <3


I got two more books for my birthday last week:

My friend, Philippa, got me the restored edition of Sylvia Plath's Ariel, while my brother bought me Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson. I swear these are two people who know me so well. These were the perfect gifts.

I also wandered into Waterstones, found myself a little birthday treat and bought This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff.

I've always been a fan of the film and have wanted to read this for years. Especially after having read a short story by Wolff called Bullet in the Brain whilst in uni.


That's about it for the first Sunday Salon. I really want to get back into my blogging, full force, so you might start to see the occasional meme pop up as I try and ingratiate myself back into the book blogging and film blogging community.

I do have a question for those of you who are still lovely enough to follow me, though. :)

Is there anything in particular you'd like to see from my blog this year? Anything I could do more of? Anything about me you'd like to know? Any features I could do?

I didn't start this blog to please people. I started it to amuse myself. But I figure if people are taking the time to read my words, I might aswell ask what they'd like to see.

Leave it in the comments. :) TTFN. xx

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Review: Silver by Norma Fox Mazer

Title: Silver

Author: Norma Fox Mazer

Year: 1988

Rating: 5/5

Plot: Sarabath Silver isn't like the rich kids at her new school. She isn't driven to school in her dad's new Bentley from their multiple-roomed mansion, and allowed to go out on shopping sprees with her friends.

Sarabeth lives in a trailer park with her mum, where hard work and budgeting are number one on the agenda. Her mother is determined her daughter will grow up to have a better life. And Sarabeth doesn't let a thing like money stop her having fun as a regular teenager.

At school she manages to make friends with a group of popular girls, who Sarabeth imagined to be leading perfect lives. However, as her new friends begin to confide in her, she soon discovers that something is very wrong and that Patty, the blonde of the group and most known for her unpredictable moods, has been keeping the most painful secret of all.

Review: The one YA book I remember from my teen years is Silver by Norma Fox Mazer. I can't think of any other book I devoured more.

I recently came across it, covered in a mile high of dust, after having neglected it for the last 8 years or so and decided to re-read it with a new adult perspective.

While the story's clearly a bit dated (modern YA lit is now filled with references to mobile phones and facebook), the strong message of teen friendship still shines through and is what's important.

What I found interesting about this book, while I was a teenager, was that it touched on themes I'd never come across before. One of Sarabeth's new friends, Patty, is being sexually abused by her uncle and her mother refuses to believe her. This is an unfortunate situation that millions of children find themselves in to this day, and it's important that we have books like Silver to support those that feel scared and alone.

Issues like this aren't brought up enough in literature or film. While children might seen an advert or poster giving them information about what or who to turn to if they're being abused, a fictional - and relatable character - in a book or a film might give them the extra push they need to speak out. Especially if that character leaves them feeling less isolated.

Another message - maybe not quite as prominent but equally as important - is that of pre-judgement. Sarabeth's upbringing leaves her feeling somewhat vulnerable to the 'rick kids' at school. She imagines that they have everything they could ever want in life and are the very definition of 'perfect.' What she discovers about Patty teaches her that it doesn't matter what you have or own in life, or even where you come from. Money doesn't necessarily buy happiness and, while Sarabeth and her mother aren't always financially stable, they have the closest relationship.

If I ever have daughters, I'd like them to read this. It's a YA book from my own childhood and one that I still love and think is very well-written. The issues I mentioned are treated with some delicacy but enough emphasis is placed on what's important.

I'd recommend anyone who enjoys a piece of YA lit to give this a go. As I said, it's a little dated, but it has plenty of heart and a good message.

About the Author: While visiting Norma Fox Mazer's website to look for information on her, I was saddened to discover that she passed away in October from brain cancer. She was 78 years old.

Norma Fox Mazer was an American author who is best known for her books for children and young adults.

She was born in New York City but grew up in Glens Falls, New York, with parents Michael and Jean Garlan Fox. Mazer graduated from Glens Falls High School, then went to Antioch College, where she met Harry Mazer, whom she married in 1950; they have four children, one of whom, Anne Mazer, is also a writer. She has also studied at Syracuse University. - Taken from Mazer's page at Fantastic Fiction.  

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


I don't take part in the Monday Musings meme but a lot of the book blogs I visit do. This week they were asked to post pictures of their bookshelves.

I love seeing pictures of people's bookshelves. Bookshelves and whatever little trinkets are on there say so much about a person.

I thought I'd do the same.

Of course, there is one thing. I don't actually have any bookshelves.

My room is the size of a kennel and, as a result, can only fit a wardrobe, single bed, mini cupboard and a tiny desk on wheels inside. This leaves me with very little room for anything else.

Consequently, my books are piled up, wherever I can fit them. Look at all the dust!

My TBR pile serves as a sort of bed-side table, squeezed between my bed and mini-cupboard.

It's currently complete with a bottle of Baileys I got from my brother for my birthday, a box of Maltesers (another birthday gift) from my boyfriend, a bag of Galaxy Minstrels (a Christmas stocking gift), a box of Lush bath smellies (a birthday gift from my other brother), and several asthma inhalers!

Books I've read! Squeezed between my wardrobe and a random wall.

This pile is adorned with two identical chocolate selection boxes I got for Christmas (one from my parents, one from the in-laws), my camcorder, and camera charger.

More books I've read. These are piled on top of my mini-cupboard.

Here they're complete with a couple of CDS (Wow! Remember those?) and a large collage of pictures of my boyfriend and me that has been framed.

The other side of my wardrobe pile. Lots of DS Games and part of a Russian doll.  

A Piece of Me

Book reviews to come very very soon. :D ... And thank you all for your wonderful birthday wishes. I had a wonderful (drunken) time. ;-) 2010 is starting out really well for me.

In the meantime, I was sorting through my old university coursework and came across this piece I submitted for my Creative Writing modules. I got a good response from my lecturer and my friends at the time but, now that I read back, I'm not sure what to make of it. hehe.

So, I'm going to post it and see what you guys think.


Crystal clear water fills the empty tub. My palm touches the surface, letting the heat send tingles through to my fingertips, and I watch as the bubbles dance around my skin, performing their own ballet to the beat of the waterdrops.

I leave behind a trail of musty clothes and dip my toes into the warm liquid, setting aside all my usual inhibitions about who I think I am, letting my naked body be free. I am one with the water; it consumes every grimy piece of dirt that attaches itself and slides along my skin with more tenderness than any man has ever shown to me.

All I have to do is finger the blade of an old razor to remind myself why I’m still alive. The sting of the rusted metal against the dark fuzz that covers my leg is enough to make me flinch. Pain is not a comfort to me. Not like it used to be. I won’t let anything touch me. I am a closed book. My chapters have long since ended.

My head is under water and I hear the fierce pounding of my heart ringing in my ears. My lungs expand, waiting for their new breath of air to come, while I float like a foetus still holding on to the safe walls inside its mother. Here the world cannot abuse me. I cannot abuse myself. I am at peace with the notion that soon I will reawaken and find a new day to start afresh. I will forget about those that scorn at my deformities.

When I resurface, nobody is there. Now all I have to cling on to are the thick, white substances that shoot from clear bottles, absorbing themselves into my pores, creating softness that I never thought I’d find. I want to smell like a fresh posy and attract attention when I walk into a room. My gels and soaps work with me to improve my life, to create something spectacular inside.  

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Today your not-completely-sane blogger friend turns 23. Eep!

I'm definitely reacting to it better than I did last year. Last year, the clock struck midnight and I cried. I really did not want to be 22.

But, this year, I'm more comfortable with myself, have better goals, and am generally happier.

Which is why I'll be spending the day indulging in a trip to the cinema, some games of bowling, and over-the-top drinking!


Alice in Wonderland (Extended) Trailer #2

This really does look amazing, doesn't it?

I thought the original trailer looked 'Wow!' This looks simply incredible. Visually stunning. A stellar cast consisting of:

Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Lee, Matt Lucas, Tim Spall, Crispin Glover.

And, of course, on top of that mix, it's directed by Tim Burton. Do you ever get the feeling that certain stories are just meant for some people. Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton = What a combination.

Expect to see me first in line when this comes out.  

The Tudor Book Challenge

Third book challenge of the year I shall be joining will be The Tudor Book Challenge.

This should be easy for me. It takes a year and I'm taking part in the easiest level. I love anything to do with Tudor history. Love it.

This challenge takes place between January 1, 2010 and December 31st, 2010.

The Challenge Rules:

  • You may read your books in any format – e-books, audio books, electronic reader books, and printed books are acceptable.
  • You are welcome to use the books you read for the Tudor Book Challenge in other challenges (where applicable).
  • Books can be fiction or non-fiction, but they must be about or inspired by Tudor England. If you do not know much about the Tudor dynasty, that’s okay. That’s part of what this challenge is about. If you’re lost, try the Tudor Book Resource for some Tudor book suggestions. You can find even more Tudor book suggestions here.
  • You are not required to post a list of the books you intend to read. You may choose them as you go.
  • Bloggers and non-bloggers alike are welcome to participate in the challenge. If you do not have a blog, you will need to review the books you’ve read on some book-related website: i.e. GoodReads, Amazon, Borders, etc. and send in the links (via comments) to be eligible for the prizes. I need to be able to verify that these books were read by you.

There are four levels for this challenge:

King or Queen – You are the ruler of your dominion. You will read at least 11 Tudor-related books.
Nobleman or Noblewoman - You are honorable, indeed. You have earned your title by agreeing to read at least 9 Tudor-related books.
Courtier – You are a rising star in the royal court. You have decided to read at least 7 Tudor-related books.
Commoner – Your role in the kingdom is small but mighty. You are going to read at least 5 Tudor-related books.

I have quite a lot of Tudor related books on my TBR but I'm not a fast reader so I'll be a Commoner for the duration of this challenge. :D

This is being hosted by Michelle from Benedictionary and, if you still want to sign up, go to this post here.

I'm really excited about this challenge. I should be able to do it. And ye Gods, I will! :D  

Friday, 8 January 2010

2009 Wrap-Up (At last!)

I was going to do another vlog about this but I can't bear to watch myself just yet ... I'm suffering from skin problems like a 13-year-old (as well as carrying five extra chins) - thanks to the last of the Xmas choccies for that. :P

So, here's what 2009 was like for me. :)



My biggest goal was to read 50 books in 2009. With only four hours to spare on New Year's Eve, I DID IT!!!!!

To a lot of you book bloggers, this is obviously a small amount but, for me, this was a huge accomplishment that I'm really proud of. :D

Three books that I tried to read but had to put down half-way through were:

1) The Monk by Matthew Lewis
2) The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
3) Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Favourite book this year?
Probably The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It was wonderfully written and a really touching and profound story.

Most disappointing read?
In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan. A collection of short stories not up to his usual standard.

Most surprising?
Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I expected a fairytale but got a serious political story that touches on a lot of issues still relevant to today's society.



Every challenge I took part in this year I failed. hehehe.


But this year I'm more determined than ever and will be posting on those that I'll be taking part in (on top of the GLBT Challenge & the Harry Potter Challenge.)


What a waste of a post, really. :P I guess I wanted to warn you that your Google Reader might start being flooded with an abundance of posts from me in the next couple of days. Sorry. :P

On a personal note, in real life (as opposed to net life), 2009 saw me ...

- Start a blog.

- As a result of that, I made a lot of wonderful (and patient) online friends. :) <3

- Try living as a vegan. (That lasted about a month or so before I switched back to Vegetarianism.)

- Get my ear pierced for the ninth time.

- Move back in with my parents.

- Read 50 books.

- Appear in the audience of a live TV Show, looking bored and grumpy, while my friend got his nose poked. (Did I mention it was live?)

- Turn down four job offers before settling into my current one which I love. :)

- Discover The Clash.

- Become addicted to Twitter.

- Start planning my worldwide travels.


In all seriousness to you guys who still read this, I know my posts have been pretty shit in the last couple of months. I had a fabulous anonymous message from someone a few days ago which informed me that I now suck (in a less polite way of speaking).

I've been busy with the job and pretty determined to make sure I get back into the swing of things for 2010 and I know my posts haven't been great but, seriously ...

I don't mind constructive criticism. In fact, you can only better yourself with it. But there's a certain way of going about it. :P Noobs.

I refuse to let it bother me.

As I'm starting over for 2010, I'd really love if you guys could tell me what you want to see more of or how I can improve this thing, though. Leave it in the comments. :)

Thank you for making my first 8 months as a blogger bearable. Thanks to my bloggy friends. Love you. xx  

Monday, 4 January 2010

Vlog! In which I expose the fact that ...

... I really am a gimp. :P

... And that I feel really uncomfortable being able to see myself while talking to the camera.

... And that I edited this video really badly. (Sorry!)

... And that I'm also a dork, nerd, and a big huge geek!

Yeah, so this is my vlog for my book loot from Christmas. (At last!) As I said, it's not the best quality and it's not very well edited.

I'm also not the most comfortable person in the world with myself so I try to make up for this by giggling at stupid things.

It wouldn't surprise me if I lost a ton of followers after this! hehe

Drinking game: Take a shot every time Ceri says, 'Yeah' 'So...' or plays with her hair. (Please excuse the latter - it's become a nervous twitch :P )

WARNING: Don't watch this with your children in the room. There's one swear right at the beginning. (Oops!)

Part One

Part Two

Books featured:

- Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
- The Blonde Geisha by Jina Bacarr
- My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman
- Diary of a Chav: Trainers V. Tiaras by Grace Dent
- There's Probably No God: The Atheist's Guide to Christmas edited Ariane Sherine
- Nightlight: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon
- New Moan by Stephfordy Mayo
- The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
- No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by John Lydon 'Johnny Rotten'

Two days after Christmas, I went into Waterstones and found Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson for half price!

In hardback too! There was no way I was going to let that go to waste so that was my Christmas present to myself. :)