(Just because I can’t think of anything else specifically to do with the leap year!)
I have a dirty secret. Two dirty secrets actually. My guilty pleasure books (or more accurately series) are in fact Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie. They are beyond cliche, about as intellectual as a goldfish and not the kind of thing I intend on putting on my CV or telling anyone else about (unless very intoxicated), but I have a very deep love for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and anything written under the name Carolyn Keene. They’re painfully famous so there’s no real need for me to surmise them here, but suffice to say that even now I do occasionally pick up a Nancy Drew/ Little House on the Prairie and settle down to a good, if somewhat vapid read.
I have this habit of leaving books on my shelf for a long time before actually reading them, and The Song of the Lioness quartet was no different- the first book-Alanna, was a present for my 7th birthday but I didn’t read it till I was at 10 or 11. From that moment on I was hooked, and devoured the rest of the quartet immediately, continuing to read Pierce to this day. The series is set in the fantasy realm of Tortall (think medieval europe with magic thrown in) and follows Alanna- a young girl who switches places with her twin- Thom so that she can learn to become a knight and he can learn to become a magician. Alana is a wonderful heroine- flawed, but strong, not always perfect and thus very real and surprisingly- not cliche. The book follows her journey to knighthood with a sprinkling of romance, lots of action and some really very good writing. I still re-read these books on a regular basis and they remain (as to the other books written by Pearce about Torall) my favourite fantasy books of all time. (I love them more than Potter).
Its seems a bit unfair to write a review, in english, for a book that as of yet has no english translation, but I’ve read it, so it counts to my total. This book- by portuguese author João Leal is a little bit surreal and confusing, but other than that a real treat to read. Alcapao weaves together 3 seemingly separate story threads. In the first, Rodrigo, an orphan living in the cruel world of the orphanage S. João must struggle to survive and make sense of the world. In the second we are introduced to the foating island of Lothar, where the inhabitants believe themselves to be the only survivors of a the Great flood until one day, two of its inhabitants decide to leave in search of life. The third story thread is about the daughter of a King and her trusty slave who must hide themselves from the god of their enemies. Whilst seemingly disparate stories in different places in time and space, Leal weaves all three stories together into an elaborate tapestry of magic, reality and the unknown. I’m hoping that it gets translated so that anglophones can enjoy this really rather well written and well constructed little novel.
I still remember my mother handing me the Shadow of the Moon. It was at the start of a very hot indian summer and I was bored and restless. I was reluctant to read it (the book is massive) but also very bored, so I grudgingly began. Several years later, I have now read it at least 3 or 4 times. Every time I am swept up into its colonial world of parties and pain and misogonism. Partially because I have a love affair with colonial India and partially because I have always been horribly fascinated by the horrible years of the mutiny, I am alway gripped by this story of Winter and Alex and the implosion of the East India company. Beautifully written, I still fail to comprehend how Kaye’s ‘The Far Pavillions’ achieved such success where this book did not. Copies are scarce these days but luckily my mother still has my much-thumbed copy on her shelf 🙂
(Idea for this challenge wantoncreation)
£8,134.86 have been raised for the fly fringe appeal in Honduras! This appeal was launched in March last year when WHW visitors in Honduras realized that the working horses there are constantly plagued by biting flies causing open sore wounds around their eyes. Fly fringes are a simple way of making honduras horses just a little bit healthier and happier. Don’t forget to donate to support this work, and visit the full article.
So, lent starts today and with it comes my sacrifice for lent- my TV! Even though the challenge has gotten me reading much more the lovely screen in my bedroom continues to draw me in, so for the next 40 days and 40 nights the only moving pictures I will be see are you-tube videos to post on this blog and the occasional trip to the cinema. Wish me luck! And don’t forget to donate!
Ok so here’s the thing. I firmly believe that there is a secret fear of criticizing anything considered ‘A Classic’. It’s as if this title suddenly confers not only a stamp of literary excellence, but also makes a book both interesting andbeyond-reproach. Any criticism is like an affront to civilized society and the criticiser an ape with the IQ of a 5 year old. I am aware that this is not always the case, but it is often true. Whilst there is no doubt that books defined as ‘Classics’ are literarily excellent and a welcome addition to the canon of world literature, this doesn’t automatically mean that you’re actually going to enjoy them, or that your dislike of the book is some reflection on your intellectual capacity.
There is an actual reason for this rant, the reason coming in the form of the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I’m not going to put it lightly- watching paint dry would have been more interesting than reading Heart of Darkness. I watched my kindle “percentage of book done” counter with the same level of assiduous concentration as school student watches the clock in a maths class. The story centres on Charles Marlow, who is also the narrator. It talks of his time as a river-boat captain in Africa, exploring the three levels of darkness encounters by Marlow: the darkness of the Congo, the darkness of the European treatment of the African natives, and the darkness within every human being. Marlow’s job is to transport ivory downriver and to retrieve a famous ivory trader, Kurtz, who has apparently gone a little wild in the jungle.
Don’t get me wrong- there are many admirable qualities to this book- the frame narrative is intriguing, as is the exploration of human nature, but other than being painfully dull it is also incredibly racist, and therefore can happily claim the tile of being the dullest book I have ever read, classic or no.