Tag Archives: The Dark Is Rising

Books vs Movies

7 Oct

A lot of people get really fixated on how much better books are than the movie adaptations of said books. I’m not really one of them – I tend to try and find things to enjoy in both.

When I was just barely 16, The Fellowship of the Ring came out in cinemas. Whilst I’d read LotR (That’s Lord of the Rings to the less geeky amongst you…I’m not sure you exist, but I’ll explain things anyway) a couple of times by that point, I wasn’t hugely into it – Tolkien’s writing can be pretty difficult work if you’re a kid. I did quickly reread FotR (this one you can probably work out) before going to see it in the cinema, and enjoyed it more that time, but it was seeing the movie that really kindled my love of Tolkien’s works.

I joined the Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza in January 2002 as a direct result of the movie, and the people around me quickly inspired me to read and read again, discovering the lore and poetry of Middle-earth.

So movie adaptations do have their place. The thing is, it’s very hard to make a book into a film. There are lots of elements that work on the page that don’t work on the screen. So I don’t mind that directors cut things out – Tom Bombadil for example *ducks flying rocks from diehard Bombadil fans).

Adding things in…I’m less okay with.

Arwen rescuing Frodo at the ford? Really, Peter Jackson?

But I get why he did a fair bit of it.

Some film adaptations are just wrong. For example, I will never watch The Dark is Rising. It’s such a British book, a very British series, but for some reason they felt the need to have the main character in the movie be an American tourist, not the Anglican choir boy he should be? Weird.

Usually I can find something to enjoy in everything I watch, if I can change the way I watch it. Nobody will ever make an exact adaptation from book to film.

Currently reading:

Sisters by Barbara Mortimer*

Harry Potter y la Cámara Secreta by J K Rowling

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë*

The Martian by Andy Weir*
‘”He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” 
   He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.’

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The Magic in the Weaving by Tamora Pierce

Orion Arm by Julian May

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch*

Completed since 12/3/2014 (54)

Snuff by Terry Pratchett*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett*
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie*
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow*
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett*
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Avengers Prime: Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis*
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin*
Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough*
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan*
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns*
Pawn by Aimée Carter*
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan*
A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin*
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan*
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan*
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan*
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Hounded by Kevin Hearne*
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë*
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Hammered by Kevin Hearne*
Tricked by Kevin Hearne*
The Great Cat Massacre: A History of Britain in 100 Mistakes by Gareth Rubin*
Bridget Jones’s Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding*
United We Spy by Ally Carter
The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid*
Trapped by Kevin Hearne*
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë*
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
“‘You self-righteous cock, I’ll -‘
‘What?’ shouted Jean.
‘- I’ll throw myself at you, and you’ll beat the shit out of me,’ said Locke. ‘And then you’ll feel awful!'”

Perseus Spur by Julian May
Hunted by Kevin Hearne*

*First read

 

What I’m Reading 6.1

14 May

Did you know, it’s actually surprisingly hard to find an affordable large dog? There’s one at the Blue Cross in Southampton right now that looks and sounds just like Puffin, so am hoping to put a reserve on him tomorrow – fingers crossed!

I suppose I should state that the first thing I’ve been reading is lots of sites that advertise dogs and puppies. So. Much. Want.

so, anyway, let’s continue on from Saturday’s fandangle:

From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris delves deeper into the revelation that Sookie has fairy blood. She meets her great-grandfather, and gets sucked into both were and vampire wars, and nothing is plain sailing. Meanwhile, Sookie’s brother is cheated on by his pregnant were-panther wife and makes sure Sookie discovers it for herself (we all like to walk in on our in-laws engaged in shenanegins with random people) at the same time as Crystal (the naughty cheating panther)’s uncle, Calvin Norris. Sookie and Calvin stood up for Jason and Crystal at their wedding, so naturally Sookie has to break Calvin’s hand. Were-panthers are just so easy-going.

This novel sees the overhaul of the vampire political system in Louisiana, which was already struggling in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the bombing of the covention in Rhodes from the previous book. At this point it would be extremely hard to just jump into the series, so don’t try. Go back to the beginning. Shoo.

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris sees the werewolves and shapeshifters doing whatever the two-natured version of coming out of the coffin is. The vampires kindly lend a protective hand and everybody pretends they like each other for the cameras. In little Bon Temps, the announcement goes almost without a hitch, except for one waitress who quits when she discovers her boss likes to turn into a collie at the full moon.

Sookie is dating the Viking vampire Eric again at this point, only this time he knows who he is, which can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it. Sookie is tugged into vampire politics once again – the King of Nevada has taken power from the (now late) Queen of Louisiana, and sent a douchecanoe (I love that word) called Victor to lord it over Louisiana. Victor has his eyes fixed especially on Eric’s Area Five.

Hate crimes abound across America against the newly revealed weres and shifters, and Sookie is kidnapped by fairies and tortured – this book ain’t for the faint hearted. But if you were faint hearted you probably would have given up amid the general gore of the first book, so hey. Have I mentioned I love these books?

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris. Ah, the family. Throughout most of this series Sookie (who, worryingly, I just called ‘The Sookster’ in my head) has thought she has hardly any living relatives. Now she has fairy cousins, fairy great grandparents, fairy great uncles, and a little telepathic human cousin by the name of Hunter who is the son of Sookie’s cousin Hadley, the one who got herself turned into a vampire because she was in love with the Queen of Louisiana, which frankly happens to me every day. There’s a lot of cuteness in this book, and also a lot of plotting murder.

Sookie’s not the only one with family troubles, however. Eric’s maker comes to town, bringing along with him his younger ‘son’ – Alexei Romanov, the son of the last czar of Russia. The kid’s a bit nuts.

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris – Victor continues to be a douchecanoe, threatening the lives and businesses of people Sookie cares about. He has to go. Sookie, Eric, and Eric’s ‘child’ Pam seek to bring about the downfall of Victor. It’s a rip-roaring tale of cold-blooded murder. Yay!

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris only came out this month, and I only started reading it last night…at 1am…on a worknight…causing me to only get four hours sleep. Sometimes I really get sucked into books, and the Southern Vampire Mysteries are brilliant at this reader black hole thing. I really had to struggle to turn off my Kindle (I love that thing. Its name is Humphrey) and put it down and go to sleep. When I say ‘go to sleep’ I mean ‘lie there for another hour wishing I’d kept reading’. Sookie and Eric are on the rocks, a vampire queen wants to marry Eric, Sookie’s boss’s homicidal werewolf girlfriend thinks Sookie wants to steal Sam off her, the Fae are up to something, and Felipe de Castro, the King of Nevada is in town investigating the mysterious disappearance of Victor (douchecanoe dude). Sookie’s brother is getting married again – here’s hoping this wife doesn’t end up crucified, as this one’s a decent human being. I’m not being supernaturalist – if Crystal had been pure human she would have been a bit of a skank, Michele is just awesome. Anyway, I’ve wondered off track. one and a half books to go for me and then this series is finished . Woe is me.

The Grey King by Susan Cooper is the fourth book in The Dark is Rising sequence. Old One Will, having been desperately sick with pneumonia, is shipped off to stay with relatives in Wales, where he meets a mysterious young boy called Bran, and sets out on a mission to defeat the Grey King of the valley and retrieve a magical harp for the Light. The most sinister thing in this story is a man – an ordinary man – by the name of Caradog Pritchard, who bares an old grudge against Bran and his father, and directs it at the local sheepdogs, especially Bran’s beloved Cafall.

This is probably my second least-favourite of the series, but it’s still really cool.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got time for now – dinner time! There’s a delicious asparagus soup that’s about to happen to me. I’ll put up 6.2 in a couple of days.

What I’m Reading 4.0

5 Feb

Do you know what would have been a really sensible thing to do, bearing in mind that I haven’t updated in two months?

Keep a list of what i was reading somewhere! Now I have to try and remember what on EarthI have read.

Finished books as of 30/11/11:

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Tortall and Other Lands
Star by Star
Little Brother
Lies
Want to Play?
Star by Star
Heist Society
Dark Journey
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Live Bait
Dead Run
Snow Blind
Play to Kill
Over Sea, Under Stone
Mastiff

So, let’s start with the obligatory Star Wars books!

Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand by Aaron Allston continues the war against the Yuuzhan Vong in the system of Borleias, where Wedge Antilles and his people continue to hold the system against all the odds using an assortment of trickery. Jaina Solo has become, to the Yuuzhan Vong, associated with Yun Harla, the goddess of trickery, and so the rebels are playing with that thought. Jaina finally starts to pull out of her grief, and in this novel she finally seems to realise that she has feelings for her fellow pilot, Jag Fel, who has an Imperial background and has been raised among the extremely formal Chiss. I continue to love Aaron Allston and all his works.

Traitor by Matthew Stover – Johnny 5 Jacen Solo is alive! Which I knew, because Leia’s been saying it all along and I MAY have read these books before, but it’s nice to have it reaffirmed, because who doesn’t like to know that somebody is alive? Jacen’s being merrily tortured by the Yuuzhan Vong, as this funky bird creature called Vergere has convinced them it’ll be super cool if they can convert him to the Yuuzhan Vong religion so that when they capture his twin sister, Jaina, they can make him participate in the joint twin sacrifice by duelling Jaina to death and then killing himself.

So, once Jacen’s had all the fun available from the Embrace of Pain (yes, that’s a Thing) they untie him, put him in some weird living clothes and dump him in with a bunch of slaves who are living in a mini fake world thing. The fake world is inhabited by baby World Brains, who are learning how to be the best World Brains they can be by taking control of groups of slaves and getting them to try to kill the other baby brains. Jacen makes friends with one particular World Brain, takes over the enclosure and kills all the other brains. The surviving brain is destined to control the world of Yuuzhan’tar which used to be the capital world of Coruscant and which the Vong want to recreate in the form of their homeworld. What follows is a lot of running around on Yuuzhan’tar and the surprise revelation that Vergere is actually a Jedi of the Old Republic. Jacen allows himself to be recaptured, convinces the Yuuzhan Vong he wants to go along with their sacrifice extravaganza, betrays them and escapes with Vergere. Yay!

(It’s possible I shouldn’t start writing blog posts after midnight)

Destiny's Way by Walter Jon Williams Destiny’s Way by Walter Jon Williams makes me feel uncomfortable. First of all, there’s a bucketload of politics, a recurrent theme through all the expanded universe novels. The New Republic’s government has reformed on Mon Calamari (yes, that’s ‘My Squid’, get over it :-p) and it’s time to elect a new Chief of State to replace Borsk Fey’lya, who died a martyr on Coruscant. The thing is, galactic opinion is still pretty divided over the Jedi, and it looks like it’s going to be a Jedi hater who will win. The good guys rustle up a candidate to run, Cal Omas, but then Lando and a smuggler called Karrde dig up some blackmailing material to make people vote for him – distinctly dodgy, ethically! But still, Omas gets in to office. All’s not plain sailing, however, when the intelligence service announces they’ve come up with a biological weapon that could destroy everything Yuuzhan Vong…duh duh DUH

But wait! It’s the long retired Admiral Ackbar to the rescue! He has a plan, AND…

He uses the Solo twins to lure the Yuuzhan Vong to a place called Ebaq 9, and generally makes a mess of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet. The Yuuzhan Vong warmaster, Tsavong Lah, who has been obsessed with the Solo twins for about six novels, lands on the surface of Ebaq 9 and Jaina kills him. Whoop whoop! Unfortunately Vergere has to kill herself to save Jacen’s life, but who doesn’t from time to time?

Remnant by Shane Williams and Shaun Dix Force Heretic I: Remnant by Sean Williams and Shane Dix

Before Vergere died she told Jacen that the first time she encountered the Yuuzhan Vong, she was on a living planet called Zonoma Sekot, and this is oddly important to the war, I forget how, so Luke, Mara and Jacen take a boatload of people to start looking for the planet, since it went AWOL after the initial encounter with the Yuuzhan Vong. Meanwhile, Han, Leia, Jaina and Jag head off to start reopening communications with some planetary systems which have been cut off since the fall of Coruscant. They take Tahiri, Anakin’s best friend and would’ve-been girlfriend, with them, since she’s having some mental issues along the lines of having a Yuuzhan Vong in her head. Poor kid.

Luke’s people head off to visit what’s left of the Empire, only to find that they are now under attack from the Yuuzhan Vong too.

On the first planet visited by the Solos-minus-Jacen, all is not as it seems…

I did read books other than Star Wars ones I swear!

Refugee by Sean Williams and Shane DixForce Heretic II: Refugee by Sean Williams and Shane Dix sees the Solos-minus-Jacen visit the world of Bakura, where the original cast went straight after Return of the Jedi to battle an invading people called the Ssi Ruuk. On their arrival it turns out that the P’w’eck, previous slaves of the Ssi Ruuk, have rebelled and want to make friends with the Bakurans – or do they? *mysterious music* Everything is complicated by Tahiri still battling her Head Yuuzhan Vong, Riina.

The folks looking for Zonoma Sekot have left the Imperial Remnant and have arrived in the domain of the uptight Chiss, where battles within the Chiss seem on the verge of overwhelming any chance of help for the Jedi.

Reunion by Sean Williams and Shane Dix Force Heretic III: Reunion by Sean Williams and Shane Dix – Luke and co. finally find Zonoma Sekot! I’m still reading this one, and I’m not really sure what’s going on as it’s been a while since I read it.

Leia, Han and Han’s old friend Droma the Ryn are on a planet filled with weird floaty life forms that’s under aerial assault from the Yuuzhan Vong, and they accidentally killed about 15 on arrival. Always a promising start!

Tahiri is now in a coma, fighting in her mind against Riina, who makes the fairly valid point that they are both the same person and just need to get along. Jaina’s gone into Tahiri’s mind to help her, but it seems like she’s in danger from the combined forces of Riina and Tahiri.

Greenwitch by Susan Cooper is not a Star Wars book! This is the third in the Dark is Rising sequence and sees the introduction of Will the Old One to the three children from the first book, Simon, Jane and Barney Drew, who have no idea who he is. The Grail found by the Drews in the first book has been stolen by the forces of the Dark, and the children must find it. In this battle, however, it isn’t power that matters. It’s the kindness is which Jane makes a wish for the elemental Greenwitch – ‘I wish that you could be happy’.

Plague by Michael GrantPlague by Michael Grant is the fourth book in the Gone series. As usual Grant doesn’t hold back with the icky as we see kids develop a cough that culminates in them literally coughing their lungs out. Lovely. The town of Perdido Beach comes under attack from whip-handed Drake, who is back from the dead and sharing his body with a girl called Britney, who is gradually brought round to the opinion that the Gaiaphage, the force of Darkness within the Fayz, is God. It’s all very jolly. Oh, and there’s these parasite things which eat people’s bodies from the inside out. There’s a whole mess of sexual frustration and the usual confusion over leadership which make the whole thing more believable.

Emma by Jane Austin is awesome and I love it. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read it beforehand. Emma is a wealthy gentlewoman who has a love of playing matchmaker, but is completely oblivious to her own feelings. She’s sweet, really. I enjoyed this book loads. I was completely unprepared for finding it impossible to put down. I think it takes over from Pride and Prejudice as my favourite Jane Austin book.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo doesn’t really need any introduction, being as it’s so huge at the moment. It’s about the fortunes of a horse in WWI, and I only started reading it this morning and am now about halfway through. It’s told from the first person perspective of the horse, Joey, from his first sale until…um, I don’t know, I’m halfway through. At the moment Joey is in the hands of the German army, working pulling ambulance carts back from the front. One thing I love about this story is that it isn’t painting the Germans as ‘The Bad Guys’ – the Germans we have met absolutely adore the horses and take good care of them, even though they were taken from English troops.

In some ways this reminds me of Black Beauty because of the way it is told, the perspective and everything, but it’s such a different story, and so far I think it’s brilliant. The only Michael Morpurgo book I’d read previously was The Butterfly Lion. The problem was, at ten years old and reading at a slow pace enforced by reading it in class, I just did not get it, and it’s put me off trying another one up until now.

Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Anne Scarborough

Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the first of the Barque Cats books. There’s the false threat of a plague among animals, and thousands are taken into quarantine. Among these are the Barque cats, bred to help on spaceships with all sorts of things like pest catching. An alien cat comes to the rescue, and it turns out he’s been making plans to have the cats take over the galaxy.

It’s a fun opener to the series, and I’m looking forward to reading the later ones.

Dragon's Time by Anne and Todd McCaffreyDragon’s Time by Anne and Todd McCaffrey is the last book Anne McCaffrey worked on, I believe, which makes me really sad. She passed away in November, ending an era that’s lasted decades. I plan to do an Inspirations post about her, but not just yet. I think this novel concludes the latest story arc, as everything seems to be quite wrapped up. They’ve taken a surprising polyamorous route with the characters, which I actually quite like – it’s rare to see anything outside of heterosexual monogamy depicted in fiction. Although I personally am heterosexual and monogomous (not to mention distinctly territorial!) I think it’s important that fiction represents the true variety of relationships that exist. It’s nice to see this happen in an established universe such as Pern. I doubt it’s a universally popular move, however.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien. Being an obsessive fan, I am aware that technically The Lord of the Rings is one novel split six ways, but regardless I am going to count it as three books, because that’s how I roll. I’m reading LotR (see, I’m so obsessive I call it by the acronyms!) along with Mark at http://www.markreads.net and am vastly enjoying how he has NO IDEA what’s going to happen next. Who knew it was possibly to be unspoiled for LotR?

When I was 16 I joined http://www.lotrplaza.com, the Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza, which is still one othe great loves of my life even if I don’t go on there often any more. I became a ruler, then an admin, and it was really good for me (not so much for my GCSE results, but eh. You win some, you lose some). So The Lord of the Rings = Win.

The Two Towers by JRR TolkienThe Two Towers by JRR Tolkien still needs no introduction. I’m still reading  along with Mark, and we’re about halfway through. I’m reading a chapter a night on my Kindle just before I go to bed. I love my kindle. It’s my precioussss.

I think that actually may be all of it!

Nope, I’m wrong. Okay.

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine HarrisLiving Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris is the second in the Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood novels. Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill are sent to Dallas to investigate the disappearance of a vampire there. It emerges that the missing guy, whose name I have forgotten, has been kidnapped by a ‘church’ called the Fellowship of the Sun, a strongly anti-vampire organisation. Investigating with the human boytoy of one of the Dallas vampires, Sookie is captured by the Fellowship and severely threatened. This book is filled with Harris’ quirky humour, which makes the darkness of the books much more handleable.

Club Dead by Charlaine HarrisClub Dead by Charlaine Harris is the third Sookie Bookie (as I shall henceforth call them). Sookie’s boyfriend Bill has disappeared, and he also seems to have dumped her without telling her. It emerges that Bill has been working on something for the vampire Queen of Louisiana (the revelation that such a person exists makes Sookie LOL) and the vampires of Jackson, Mississippi, have probably kidnapped Bill to steal whatever he’s working on. Bill’s immediate boss, Eric (who by the way has an enormous crush on Sookie), asks her to go to Jackson along with a werewolf that owes him a favour to see if she can use her telepathic ability to locate Bill. Shenangins ensue, including dancing, jealous exes, pretty hair and nails, bodies in closets, Sookie being staked, rape, murder, etc etc. Oh, and Sookie kills somebody.

Dead to the World by Charlaine HarrisDead to the World by Charlaine Harris is the fourth Sookie Bookie. Sookie and Bill are broken up, on account of him having sort of run off with his maker, who Sookie killed. Sookie is driving home from work one evening when she meets Eric, running along the road with no memory and no shirt. It emerges that Eric’s memory has been taken away by some very aggressive witches/shapeshifters, the leader of whom wants Eric for her plaything because, y’know, he’s pretty. Sookie ends up charged with taking care of Eric until his memory returns, and because he’s so pretty and cute and memoryless they sort of end up as a couple.

Meanwhile, Sookie’s brother Jason disappears, and it turns out he’s been kidnapped by local were-panthers and has been repeatedly bitten.

Okay! For real, that’s everything!

So, finished books as of 5/2/12:

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Tortall and Other Lands
Star by Star
Little Brother
Lies
Want to Play?
Star by Star
Heist Society
Dark Journey
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Live Bait
Dead Run
Snow Blind
Play to Kill
Over Sea, Under Stone
Mastiff
TheDark is Rising
Dead Until Dark
Moon Child
Looking for Alaska
Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
Traitor
Destiny’s Way
Force Heretic I: Remnant
Force Heretic II: Refugee
Plague
The Fellowship of the Ring
Catalyst
Dragon’s Time
Emma
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World

So, that’s 112 days, 31 books. Need to up my game! That’s only one every four days. Lame.

Currently still reading:

Force Heretic III: Reunion
War Horse
The Two Towers

I’m sorry if this post lacks any sense of cohesion – it’s taken 17 hours! I didn’t write continuously, of course, I did also eat/sleep/read and help put away shopping.

What I’m Reading 3.0

30 Nov

Well, that’s been quite the couple of weeks. Feeling the buildup towards Christmas at work, and then I go and get a virus that gave me labyrinthitis, which knocked me off my feet for a week. Fun! I hope your late November was brighter than mine. On the plus side I turned 26, and got a Kindle, which will enable me to read more!

Completed books:

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Tortall and Other Lands
Star by Star
Little Brother
Lies
Want to Play?
Star by Star
Heist Society

What I’ve been reading since:

'Dark Journey' by Elaine Cunningham Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham continues the New Jedi Order series, and follows the progress of Han and Leia’s daughter, Jaina, as she deals with the loss of her brothers in Star by Star. It’s quite hard going if you’re a fan of the Solo kids – if you read the Star Wars extended universe novels you’ve basically seen the three children grow up, and now one is dead, one is missing (presumed by Jaina to be dead), and the third one is veering heavily towards the dark side out of grief.

At this point in the series I’m like ‘yeesh, these people have had more than 20 years of war, give them a break already!’ but this book doesn’t do that, although by the end of the novel we see Jaina finding some measure of relief as she starts to curb her desire for vengeance.

Rebel Dream by Aaron AllstonEnemy Lines I: Rebel Dream sees the forming of a new government after the collapse of the capital planet of the New Republic. This new government dislikes the Jedi, and doesn’t expect to win the war against the Yuuzhan Vong, and only care about buying time so they can save their own planets, so they plan to sacrifice our heroes to buy that time. Aaron Allston is one of my favourite of the Star Wars writers – he plays with a couple of X-Wing squadrons as well as with the main characters, and he continues the focus on Jaina Solo, who has moved away from the dark side to a more fatalistic view, expecting to die in battle like her brother(s) and distancing herself from her loved ones.

Live Bait by PJ TracyLive Bait by PJ Tracy is the second of the awesome Monkeewrench novels. Detectives Magozzi and Rolseth, with some help from their friends from Monkeewrench, investigate the deaths of several elderly people in suburban Minneapolis, leading them into a tale of vigilanteism (is that even a word?) and revenge dating back to WWII. Have I mentioned that I love Patricia and Traci Lambrecht? I have such a big writer crush on them. This novel continues the character development from Want to Play? with much more warmth and humour than one traditionally gets from a thriller. So much love for these books.

Dead Run by PJ Tracy is the third Monkeewrench novel. Grace and Annie from Monkeewrench and their friend Sharon who saved Grace’s life in Want to Play? are driving cross country to consultant with a sheriff department in Wisconsin when their car breaks down. Now they are trapped in a small town called Four Corners, where all the people are dead and some sort of army is patrolling the streets. Their menfolk (lol) rush to rescue them as they rush to rescue themselves, and suddenly the whole thing becomes so much bigger than just Four Corners. This book scared the crap out of me the first time I read it. Seriously, READ THESE. Or I’ll punch you in the nose. Deal?

Snow Blind by PJ Tracy Snow Blind by PJ Tracy is the fourth Monkeewrench novel. Someone’s killing cops and hiding them in snowmen – is it a serial killer or something murkier? This novel explores vigilanteism and domestic violence, and the utter creepiness of being alone in the dark.

This one’s spooky and thought provoking, and a little heartbreaking.

Play to Kill by PJ TracyPlay to Kill by PJ Tracy (Shoot to Thrill in the US, where they have stupid names for stuff :-p) is the fifth, and so far last, of the Monkeewrench novels. I think it’s my least favourite – I even managed to put it down once. Someone is putting videos of their murders on Youtube. The Monkeewrench crew team up with FBI agent John Smith and their friends Detectives Magozzi and Rolseth to try and save the day, but when the whole of Minneapolis is threatened, can they solve the murders in time?

I desperately want more of these!

Ok, something different.

Looking for Alaska by John GreenLooking for Alaska by John Green – I’m reading this along with Mark at http://www.markreads.net. So far we’re following this kid Miles who’s just started at a new boarding school in Alabama where he’s met this girl called Alaska that he’s fallen in love with. So far I’m really enjoying this – there’s a sort of ferocious celebration of intelligence in it which I adore – but I have no idea what it’s ultimately about! The blurb isn’t giving much away, and I hadn’t even heard of John Green until the day a week or so ago when Mark announced he would be reading this in between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I probably won’t keep you informed about whether I like this, so why don’t you read along with Mark too? I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris is the first of the Southern Vampire books, more popularly known as the True Blood novels. I have a guilty love for trashy vampire fiction, and though it’s pretty well written, you can’t get much trashier than the True Blood books. There’s a lot of humour to them though, and they don’t take themselves too seriously, which is something I’m always a fan of. Sookie Stackhouse is a small town waitress in rural Louisiana, who just happens to be telepathic. Her boring life becomes a lot more interesting when she befriends and then falls in love with local vampire Bill Compton.

Harris’ world is quite detailed, and it’s something not done before as far as I know – a world where vampires have come ‘out of the coffin’ as it were, due to a Japanese invention of sythesised blood. If you don’t mind borderline porn, it’s an enjoyable read that doesn’t overtax your brain.

Moon Child by J R Rain is the fourth and so far last of the American Vampire series that I think are only available for Kindle. Samantha Moon is a soccer mom who has been a vampire for about six years, and in this novel her seven year old son is dying – she only has one way to save him. She must work as quickly as possible to find a way to reverse his vampirism, but another, far older vampire is out to stop her.

This series is way better than it sounds, and it’s dirt cheap for Kindle – if you have one, or if you have the Kindle app on your phone, I really recommend it.

The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper is the first of the Dark Is Rising sequence for children. Simon, Jane and Barney are on holiday in Cornwall with their parents and the mysterious Great Uncle Merry, when they blunder upon an ancient map. Before they know it, they are on a quest, racing against the forces of the Dark to find the ancient Grail. I love these books. These are my childhood. When I went to Cornwall for the first time about four years ago, everything just reminded me of this novel – it’s a bit old fashioned now, but at the same time it’s timeless. I hope my children will read it one day.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper is the second in the sequence. Will thinks he is just an ordinary boy, but on his eleventh birthday he is called into his power as the last of the Old Ones, destined to fight the Dark for the fate of humanity. He must collect six signs. From here on in the books follow this verse, which I was obsessed with as a child (approximate, from memory!)

When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back,
Three from the Circle, three from the track.
Wood, bronze, iron, water, fire, stone,
Five shall return and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long,
Wood from the burning, stone out of song,
Fire from the candle ring, water from the thaw,
Six signs the Circle and the Grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold,
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old.
Power from the Greenwitch, lost beneath the sea,
All shall find the Light at last, silver on the tree.

It’s basically an epic battle of good vs evil, all fought in a quintessentially British way. Plus if you get my version, it’s all purdy.

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce  is the third and last of the Beka Cooper trilogy. Beka and her partner Tunstall and scent hound Achoo are called on to help when the crown prince of Tortall, four year old Gareth, is kidnapped.

This. Is. Amazing.

But before I talk about that, join me in freaking out about this:

WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER NECK? SERIOUSLY! IS THIS THE EXCORCIST OR SOMETHING? AAAAARGH!

Ahem. Anyway. This may well be my very favourite Tamora Pierce novel ever, which is really saying something. I got stuck in about a third of the way through, and couldn’t go to bed before I’d finished at 3.25am. I was very tired the next day. #firstworldproblems

I think that’s everything! That was pretty epic.

So, finished books as of 30/11/11:

Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Tortall and Other Lands
Star by Star
Little Brother
Lies
Want to Play?
Star by Star
Heist Society
Dark Journey
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Live Bait
Dead Run
Snow Blind
Play to Kill
Over Sea, Under Stone
Mastiff

So, that’s 45 days, 16 books.
Currently still reading:

The Dark is Rising
Dead Until Dark
Moon Child
Looking for Alaska