You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.

NeilGaimansNeverwhereN47367_fIt’s always interesting to look at the graphic novelisation of a story to see what’s been left out, what’s been changed, do the characters look different to what you imagined and so on. I have to confess that although I have the novel I haven’t got round to reading it yet, but I do remember the BBC TV series from goodness knows when, so I have something to compare it to.

And it’s Gaiman of course so it’s bound to have a higher quality starting point than lots of other things.

So Richard helps a girl he finds in the street and gets dragged into a world below London which slightly mirrors what goes on above, but only slightly. There is a quest, there is betrayal, there are some rather unpleasant villains, there is a satisfying resolution (well I thought so anyway).

I enjoyed this; the artwork was cool, the story made sense, I liked the mythology of a London under London (I will never look at Knighstbridge quite the same way again) and the authors showed proper respect to Neil Gaiman without being constrained. And now I really must read the novel….

Oh, and this was my final read for the Dream King Challenge, though I feel the pull of Sandman…….

LoveandMurderWonderWoman49795_fI have to confess that I have never read anything written by Jodi Picoult and from what I know of her work it probably isn’t my thing anyway. I also have never read a Wonder Woman graphic novel before, so the combination of the two looked interesting enough to give it a try.

Not going to even attempt to describe what this is about as it’s clearly in the middle of a much longer story (there’s even a ‘Previously on Wonder Woman’ thing at the beginning which was an interesting approach) and it ends on a cliffhanger. Suffice to say that WW’s human alter ego is supposed to capture and bring to justice WW herself, which is all far too confusing for everyone involved.

The story is quite good but I always feel a bit odd about WW – maybe it’s my age but I can’t help thinking she’llcatch her death in that outfit, that the costume just looks so uncomfortable, and that despite all the stuff about female empowerment I’m probably not the intended audience for someone so impossibly pneumatic. Having said all that I read it in a sitting and am curious as to how the situation at the end is going to be resolved, though not curious enough to have actually bought the sequel.

Enjoyed the Batman cameo though.

Sexy - Joyce Carol Oates17610_fOK, so we all know that my admiration for Joyce Carol Oates knows no bounds, that I have read a lot of her stuff but that there is still a huge amount out there to read because she is astonishingly prolific. One of the areas she writes in that I haven’t explored in too much detail is her young adult stuff, and Sexy definitely falls into that category.

Darren Flynn is 16, athletic (he swims in his school team) and beginning to realise, uncomfortably, that he is attractive. As he is struggling to come to terms with his identity he has an encounter with a male teacher who clearly has some regard for him, and this confuses him even more. The same teacher then becomes a target for a campaign by a number of other students, most of them friends of Darren’s from the swim team, which rapidly gets out of hand and has serious consequences, not least for Darren who gets dragged in to the whole thing and has to decide not only what to do but how he feels.

It’s quite difficult to write about this short, powerful novel without giving away what happens, so all I’m going to say is that I thought this was extremely well-written as you would expect, that Darren himself was a compelling character, and that unfortunately what the teenagers get up to is all too believable. Sometimes young people are just not very pleasant, but this is compounded by a tendency not to think things through, or to be aware that their actions have outcomes and consequences which are often beyond what they intended.

A really interesting and worthwhile reading experience.

TheGraveyardBookNeilGaim53580_fSo last year I had a very simple aim, which was to read The Graveyard Book as soon as I could get my hands on it; the evidence here shows how well that went in practice!

And now we are seven or eight months further along and I have finally managed to find the time to savour this award-winning novel by one of my favourite writers properly and of course I’m kicking myself for having waited so long as, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a little gem of a masterpiece.

No need to set the plot up I suppose, but I’m going to anyway. Bod is taken in by the inhabitants of a graveyard when the remainder of his family is murdered; brought up by ghosts and with a guardian who is one of the undead (and I don’t think that’s a spoiler, just look at Silas on the cover and tell me what else he could be) with a witch as a friend and Miss Lupescu as an occasional governess, this is the story of how he grows up, how he learns from his friends and how he finally faces up to what happened to his family. And it’s absolutely fantastic.

I’m boringly recommending this to almost everyone I know , forcing the Book God to read it so that I have someone to talk to about it, because I read it days ago and it’s still in my head, in a good way of course. I love Silas, I love Miss Lupescu, I love the fact that whenever a new ghost is introduced they have a quote from their epitaph in brackets after their names (Dr Trefusis (1870-1926 , May He Wake To Glory), I even loved the bad guys.

I’m going to stop gushing now, but if you haven’t already read this then you must; seriously, you must.

And it contributes to my reading for The Dream King Challenge.

bookshopSome new additions to the Bride’s library in recent weeks:

Margaret of York: The Diabolical Duchess by Christine Weightman: a biography of the sister of Richard III, a thorn in the side of the Tudors, wife of Charles of Burgundy, fomenting rebellion from across the Channel. Looks absolutely fascinating;

Leviathan, or The Whale by Philip Hoare: this book has just won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2009, and is apparently a mixture of the natural history of the whale and Hoare’s own obsession with them which was triggered by Moby Dick. Already dipped in, and this may move to the top of the tbr pile;

The September Society by Charles Finch: the second Charles Lenox mystery, set in Oxford in 1866. I enjoyed the first one very much so looking forward to this as part of August crime month.

PashazadeTheFirstArabesk21232_fSo we find ourselves in an alternative 21st century, one where Germany won the First World War and the Ottoman Empire still exists. Ashraf Bey is the son of an American photographer and apparently the Emir of Tunis, though his mother always told him his Dad was a Swiss watchmaker or something. Anyhow, Raf is on the run from prison near Seattle where he was serving time for a murder he probably didn’t commit, and has been summoned to El Iskandryia (alternative world Alexandria) by an aunt he didn’t know existed, and is to be married off for money. For he is pashazade, a member of the aristocracy with a diplomatic passport and extremely eligible as a husband for the daughter of a man climbing his way up the social ladder.

But of course it doesn’t work out quite like that. His aunt is murdered, he is the prime suspect and of course that means he has to go on the run again, relying as much as he can on the help, reluctant or otherwise, of Felix (an expatriate American policeman), Zara (the woman whose hand in marriage he has rejected) and Hani (his nine year old niece). All while trying to identify both the killer and the motive and clear his own name.

 I really enjoyed this, because it brings together two things I love – science fiction and crime – and does so very successfully. The sci-fi is quite light, the world of El Iskandryia is not so far away from our own that its unrecognisable, but still sufficiently different that you know we are in an alternative time-line. The mystery is well done; didn’t guess the murderer this time but you can’t win them all. It works because Raf himself is an ambivalent and attractive character and its easy to root for him. This is the first of a trilogy and I am looking forward to reading the sequels.

MySisterMyLoveJoyceCaro50994_fWhile I was about a quarter of the way through this novel I happened upon an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent from a few years ago (we are woefully behind here…) which was similarly based on the Jon-Benet Ramsay murder case but took a very different approach (and guest starred the wonderful Liza Minnelli as the grieving mother); an interesting coincidence.

The L&O slant was very much a classic solve-the-murder thing, as you might expect, but My Sister, My Love is as much about family dynamics and wider society as it is about who killed a small, precociously-talented girl and why.

But it’s fair to say that this is really the story of Skyler Rampike, the older brother of Bliss Rampike, the tiny little skating prodigy who is found murdered in her parents basement not long before her seventh birthday. Skyler tells his story in the first person, and not only gives us the background to his sister’s murder (which happened when he was only nine) but the effect that it has had on him – his estrangement from his parents, his drug addiction, his myriad doctors and special schools as he becomes a problem child who has to be managed rather than a damaged youngster who needs to be looked after.

What is interesting for me is the satirical picture it paints of a certain section of society in the USA, of which I have to say I have no knowledge other than what I see on TV and read in books like this. His parents are acquisitive and have aspirations to move up in society. Skyler (and a number of the youngsters at his various schools) are diagnosed with a range of disorders and syndromes and heavily medicated, and you get the impression from Oates’ perspective that actually most of the time there isn’t really anything wrong with them at all, they are just inconveniently becoming teenagers with all that entails.

Part way through I had developed a pretty good idea of who was responsible for what happened to Bliss but not why, and being right re the culprit didn’t spoil the enjoyment of the novel for me, it’s really well-written and wonderfully put together. I’m a huge JCO fan and looking forward to working through the pile of her stuff that I have tucked away on various bookshelves in the house; happy to have started with this one.

TheDangerousAlphabetNeil49688_fSo you have two children with a pet gazelle (like you do) and a treasure map, who go off exploring behind their father’s back and find a whole world underneath the city full of monsters and pirates and creepiness. Will they find what they are looking for? Do the 26 lines of the story actually stick to the alphabet as we know it, or do things go a little awry?

This is a great alphabet book, full of wonderfully creepy illustrations with lots of detail to pore over at your leisure. It’s huge fun and I for one became very fond of that gazelle.

Oh and look out for the creatures with deep sea diving helmets for heads…..

Another read for the Dream King Challenge.

A quiet month for films, but if you would like to know what I thought about Red Cliff, you should head here.

thursdaythunksThis week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by
Kimber, the number 14 and the color of your mother’s hair dye.

1. When you close a door, do you close it quick and just let it slam or do you hold the knob and slowly shut it tight? Depends on whether I’ve lost my temper or am trying to make a big exit for other reasons; but on a normal day I do the quiet thing.
2.Train A is moving at 60 miles an hour. Train B is moving at 22 miles an hour. They will pass each other at X time. Now what color shoes are you wearing when train A derails? Black, almost certainly


3. What if M&M’s grew on trees? What color M&M tree would you have? Red


4. How many petals on a flower does it take to make it the perfect bloom? 42


5. I took you to spend $421.67 on you, what did we spend that money on? Handbags


6. If you were a squash, what type of squash would you be? Butternut


7. Have you ever gotten a wrong number call and ended up talking to the person for longer than 5 minutes? No, why would I want to talk to someone who can’t even dial the correct phone number?


8. Why haven’t you joined Berleen & Kimber at Insanity Cafe yet? Do we stink? Just a failure, I suppose


9. Now for one of Ber’s questions back when TT was brand new… Shampoo bottles say lather, rinse, repeat… do you? Lather, rinse only, repeating is so last century

10. It’s July, the year is half over. Do you see it as “whew that part is over” or best is yet to come? The best is yet to come; I prefer the autumn


11. Why do you do the Thursday Thunks meme? Because it’s there!

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday



Blog Stats

  • 43,292 hits
July 2009