Museum of Literary Wonders

Museum of Literary Wonders #4

Museum of Literary Wonders

Hello, and welcome back to the Museum of Literary Wonders! Are you ready for another part of the tour? Perhaps some of you have just joined us for the first time today, in that case let me explain. I am Rinn, the curator and your tour guide for today. The museum holds many wonderful objects from many different worlds and universes, preserved in this museum because of their importance – perhaps they hold a lot of meaning, perhaps they’re important plot points or maybe just because they’re pretty… For whatever reason, they have been carefully stored in the museum collection so that generation after generation can learn about them. Without further ado, let us go on!

Sabriel


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The name of these Necromancer’s Bells is deceiving, as they were also used by the Abhorsen in the Old Kingdom, both to bind and raise the dead. Made of silver with mahogany handles, they are infused with both Charter and Free Magic, and as a result are very dangerous. A full set has seven bells, the names of which are Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth and Astarael. In the hands of the wrong person, they could cause utter chaos, hence the high security around this exhibit.

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Jeep


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Perhaps you remember reading in the newspaper about a new dinosaur ‘theme park’ with real live dinosaurs, and how it all went terribly wrong? People eaten by a tyrannosaurus rex, ripped to shreds by velociraptors? No? Well anyway, this is one of the jeeps from Jurassic Park – one of the few that wasn’t stomped on or ripped apart by a hungry king of the lizards. And don’t worry, it was carefully checked before it arrived here – no compsognathuses hiding away in the boot or anything…

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True Blood


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Perhaps you recognise this bottle of True Blood. Perhaps it’s something you consume on a regular basis. It may be an every day object for some people, but it also marks a historical event: the creation of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists, which enabled vampires to come ‘out of the coffin’, and reveal their existence. The revelation that vampires were real changed a LOT – new rules and regulations, political and religious stances against and for vampires, many people turned against neighbours and friends. Whatever you may think about it, it was certainly a game changer.

Are there any questions about today’s tour? What exhibits would you like to see next?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: April 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of twenty books, which sounds like a lot but many of them were graphic novels: After Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #13.5) by Charlaine Harris, Mass Effect Foundation: Volume 2 by Mac Walters, Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, Glow (Sky Chasers #1) by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes, Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor, X-Men Forever 2, Back in Action (X-Men Forever 2 #1) by Chris Claremont, Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Volume 2 by Stan Lee, This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, Civil War: Marvel Universe by Ed Brubaker, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, Behemoth (Leviathan #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Goliath (Leviathan #3) by Scott Westerfeld, Wolverine Noir by Stuart Moore, Wolverine First Class: Ninjas, Gods and Divas by Peter David, Wolverine First Class: Wolverine-By-Night by Fred Van Lente, X-Men Legacy: Emplate by Mike Carey, The Avengers: Volume 2 by Brian Michael Bendis, X-Men: Worlds Apart by Christopher Yost, The Kill Order (Maze Runner #0.5) by James Dashner.

I was so happy to finally finish the Leviathan series, and it’s now one of my favourite Young Adult series out there. I read some other great books this month: Days of Blood and Starlight was just as gripping as Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Falling Kingdoms was a wonderful fantasy read. I also went crazy on the graphic novel front, ordering as many Marvel comics as I could through my county library service. And there are still plenty more to read! I also read most of Dragon Age Library Edition: Volume One, but unfortunately my ARC stopped about three quarters of the way through. I did email Netgalley, who contacted the publisher but sadly I haven’t heard anything and the title has now been archived. I will just rate and review it based on what I did managed to read.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read five books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, so unfortunately I didn’t do as well as last month, and I also didn’t quite manage to defeat April’s villain, Kingpin. Better luck next month! May’s villain is Bullseye, and he looks to be quite a challenge.
  • I’ve already beaten my goal of fifty books for this year on Goodreads. I’ve raised the goal to seventy-five, which I think will still be manageable – I may even reach that before August, and I can raise it again!

 

Currently reading:

>The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black The Quick by Lauren Owen

Off the blog:

The majority of April was fairly quiet, but this past week has been pretty busy. I’ve been off work since last Tuesday, although I’m back today. On Wednesday night I went to the Glamour Book Club to see Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen, and I also met up with some fellow book bloggers! I will cover the event in detail in a future post. My friend joined me in London, and she stayed until Tuesday. On Thursday night, we went to see Jace Everett in Bristol. It was a TINY event, with about one hundred people – but the venue put out chairs, so no-one was dancing and I felt like we gave off a bad impression. But despite that, I loved the music and got to meet the man himself afterwards, and get a CD signed. Then on Friday we went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which I really enjoyed, Saturday was Free Comic Book Day which meant a trip to Forbidden Planet in Bristol, as well as Bristol Zoo because it was a lovely, sunny day. Oh, and a few weeks ago my Dragon Age: The World of Thedas book arrived, which my fellow Queen of Ferelden, Paola, convinced me to buy. I was just a *little* bit excited by its arrival, as you can see…

Some highlights from April 2014.
Some highlights from April 2014.

 

How was April for you?

 

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #9: True Blood

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: True Blood.

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Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse encounters a strange new supernatural world when she meets the mysterious Bill, a southern Louisiana gentleman and vampire.

I am unashamedly a big fan of this wonderfully cheesy series. I’ve read all the books (written by Charlaine Harris), and finally caught up with the TV show last year. Although the series is VERY different to the books – the only season that follows the book plotline is season one and partly two – they’re both gory, silly and very, very fun. So apart from the obvious: read the books by Charlaine Harris – here’s some other books you might enjoy if you’re a fan of True Blood.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

One of the masters of fantasy wrote a vampire novel in his early days, and it is seriously underrated. Set in nineteenth century Louisiana, it follows a riverboat captain called Abner Marsh who is approached by a strange businessman called Joshua York, and offered a very good deal. However, York is not quite as he seems, and Marsh may have gotten himself into something deadly… It has all the traditions of a vampire story, with a more unusual setting. Yes, it’s Louisiana and Mississippi, like much of True Blood (and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles), but it’s on a steamboat! Vampires! On a steamboat! Plus you can’t go wrong with GRRM’s writing (or maybe I’m a bit of a fangirl…).

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

I reviewed this one a while ago, and it really impressed me. A retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula, from the point of view of one of Dracula’s transformed victims, Incarnation is a wonderfully written book. The tone really captures the writing style of the period in which it is set, and the author’s descriptions of the Yorkshire moors and dark London streets are very eerie. I was so happy that I requested it from Edelweiss, as it was really nothing like I was expecting. My review was also chosen to be featured on Edelweiss, which was exciting.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Less of a traditional vampire novel than the other two, but still a brilliant tale. It’s a huge book, with a wide cast of characters. In The Passage, vampires are created through a virus, similar to that of I Am Legend. The story follows a group of survivors, as well as a young girl who is central to the whole thing – but they’re not quite sure how. The sequel, The Twelve came out last year and I still need to get round to that one.

Are you a fan of True Blood? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Misc.

A to Z Bookish Survey

 
When I saw this great bookish survey created by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner, I knew I had to join in. Credit also goes to Jamie for the image above.
 
Author you’ve read the most books from:
Natsuki Takaya, due to reading all of the Fruits Basket manga – after that it’s Jacqueline Wilson. I loved her when I was younger. But if we’re talking about authors I still read, then it’s Terry Pratchett.
 
Best sequel ever:
I’m going to cheat and say sequels, with the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series. I really can’t decide which of the books is my favourite, they’re all amazing and build perfectly upon each other.
 
Currently reading:
The Returned by Jason Mott (for a blog tour) and The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. The latter is taking me far too long to read since I don’t tend to like reading on the Kindle too much. But I better get used to it…

Drink of choice while reading:
Tea. Duh. Though I have been known to indulge in the occasional Southern Comfort and lemonade. Often whilst reading The Southern Vampire Mysteries.
 
E-reader or physical book:
I guess I already answered this one. Definitely a physical book, but I really need to get used to using an e-reader. I’m planning on going to university abroad for my Masters, and I can’t really take my books with me…
 
Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school:
Errmmm. Maybe not in high school/secondary school… but I’d quite like me a bit of Eric Northman, thank you please.
 
 
Glad you gave this book a chance:
Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar. Quite unexpected!
 
Hidden gem book:
Incarnation by Emma Cornwall. I’m afraid that this might get lumped in with all the other YA vampire stuff, when in actual fact it’s a wonderfully written semi-retelling of Dracula, from the point of view of one of his victims. 
 
Important moment in your reading life:
The same as Jamie, and probably many other bloggers: discovering Goodreads. It made it so much easier to keep track of what I was reading/had read, find new books, work out what to read next, and most importantly of all: find fellow-minded book lovers!
 
Just finished:
Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries #4) by Charlaine Harris. For the third time. I recently discussed the series after reading the twelfth and penultimate book, bought the entire five seasons on DVD and started re-reading the series again. As if I don’t have enough to read already without re-reading!
 
Kinds of books you won’t read:
Erotica, pure romance (it’s okay mixed with another genre, and as a minor part of the book, but otherwise I just find it pretty dull), paranormal romance (or rather, I’m more selective), overly graphic books (squeamish), any sort of fiction that pushes religious views on the reader. I’m also not a massive fan of poetry (unless it’s Ovid. Ovid is awesome).
 
Longest book you’ve read:
Hmm… if you count The Lord of the Rings as one volume, then that maybe? One book I’m currently reading – but currently have on hold – is Shogun by James Clavell, which clocks in at around 1200 pages. But most recently, I think it was probably IQ84 Books 1 & 2 by Haruki Murakami, which was amazing and very, very odd – true to his style. Oh, and I can’t be forgetting A Song of Ice and Fire – each book is at least 500 pages long. I’ve read plenty of thick, door-stop books: it comes with being a fan of the fantasy and science fiction genres.
 
Major book hangover because of:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I received a free copy a while ago, but was preparing myself for it because of all the reviews I’d read, people saying they bawled and bawled. Well I finally got round to reading it a few months ago, and I started off like this:
 
 
“Oh I’m so happy to be reading this book, I’ve heard such great things about it from everyone; it’s easy to read and actually quite funny – I was not expecting that. And yeah, it’s quite sad but there’s a lot of humour injected into it, why were people bawling their eyes out?”
 
Then, about three quarters through, just one tiny little moment did this to me:
 
 
“Oh. That’s why.”
 
And from there on out, I was sobbing and bawling until the end of the book, and after. Thanks, John Green. Thanks. (but seriously though, it was amazing)
 
Number of book cases you own:
I myself own two, plus a big shelf for archaeology/ancient history related books, and now the books are escaping onto the mantelpiece… but as for my family – well… look here.
 
One book you have read multiple times:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. I’ve read it at least once every year since I was eleven (apart from last year actually…). So around ten times, I think.
 
Preferred place to read:
 
Quote that inspires you:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

This is something that Jojen Reed says in A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin. 

Reading regret:

Not reading much at all during the first two years of university. I felt kind of guilty for reading non-archaeology related books. But I had so much free time! Think of all the books I could have crossed off my ‘to read’ list

Series you’ve started and need to finish (all books are published):

The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons and The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. I just need to read the last book for each of them!

Three of your all-time favourite books:

Ah, this is a hard one! Okay… I’ll pick each from different genres. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (fantasy), Hyperion by Dan Simmons (sci-fi) and The Secret History by Donna Tartt (thriller/mystery). There’s so many more I wish I could add to that.

Unapologetic fangirl for:

J.R.R Tolkien and anything to do with Middle-earth. My first foray into website creation was at the age of 13, and I owned several Lord of the Rings related fansites from that age until I was about 17 or 18. I would quite happily live in the Shire.

Very excited for this release more than others:

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, because of the wonderful feelings the first two books give me. I hope it lives up to the hype!

Worst bookish habit:

Reading several books at once because I want to hurry up and review them, and thinking that reading several at once will help that. But it doesn’t. Because I flit between them constantly and often pick up another book.

X marks the spot: go to the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Your latest book purchase:

Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks.

ZZZ-snatcher: book that kept you up WAY too late:

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss. I read it for my book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, and we pretty much all loved it. I kept thinking ‘one more chapter…’ but it has really short chapters, so I felt cheated and would read one more… then rinse, and repeat.

Thoughts

Thoughts #5: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels

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This post will contain spoilers for the Sookie Stackhouse series, up to Deadlocked (book twelve).

I’ve been reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels for a few years now. I made sure to read at least the first book before watching the series, because I’m the sort of person who likes to do that.

Recently, I finished book twelve, Deadlocked. There is one more left to go, it was published this May but I haven’t managed to get a copy yet. And despite the fact that, from about book eight or nine, the series has gone steadily downhill, I will be reading it. I have to know what happens!
 
Do you ever have that with a series? You’ve stuck with it for so long, had so many ups and downs, that even though it’s getting so repetitive and things have happened that you’d rather forget about, you just have to finish it.
 
It all began with the brilliant first book, Dead Until Dark. We are introduced to Sookie, a waitress from Louisiana who is a bit… unusual. She happens to be a telepath, which has resulted in some people thinking she is a bit crazy. Charlaine Harris sets the background of the story up nicely: vampires have recently ‘come out’, that is they have revealed their existence, timed with the creation of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists. This means that they can live on this synthetic blood, without having to feed from humans. But some still do, and some humans enjoy it – they are known as fangbangers. And so the darker side of the story is revealed.
 
Sookie really is a great character. She’s strong, independent, hard-working, intelligent. When she meets Bill, she is intrigued but she doesn’t instantly fall for him, she’s not a swooning damsel in distress. In fact, she saves him. This is a character who has so many death threats,  attempted murders and injuries throughout the series, that combined with her telepathic ability, it’s a miracle that she is still sane.
 
And it’s not just Sookie that’s a bit of a badass. There are so many fantastic characters through the series (so many characters in fact, that I have forgotten some…). There are vampires, werewolves, weretigers, werepanthers, shapeshifters, maenads, fairies, elves, witches – all cleverly entwined into a modern world. But of course, with that many amazing characters, there’s also some heartbreaking deaths. Claudette, Sookie’s fairy cousin, was quite possibly the one that got me the most.  
 
To round this little section up: I love the series because it is just pure fun, fantastical creatures in the modern world, plus some sex and gore to make it just a little bit spicy!
 
Accurate representation of the series.
 
Charlaine Harris doesn’t hold back on any of that, which is what makes the series a true adult vampire series. In a world full of vampire books where the vampires are a bit… wimpy, it’s nice to have some proper vampires.
 
I’m also a fan of books set in the Southern US states. I now have a fascination with Louisiana and its history, thanks to Sookie.
 
So, why do I feel let down by the series recently?
 
When Charlaine Harris started writing the series, a quota was set down for thirteen books. I don’t know if that was when she actually wrote it, or when HBO picked the books up for TV, but now it really just feels like she is writing to fill that quota. And what other number but thirteen?
 
For me, the series really started to fall flat at the end of book nine (Dead and Gone). The Fairy War was a big event, and it feels almost like that should have been the culmination of the series, or close enough. I felt pretty hollow after that book, a bit like Sookie. 
 
 
And from then on, it feels like Charlaine Harris is writing just to fill the pages. Sookie, I do not  want to know every detail of your day. I did not need to know that you shaved your legs, or put out the rubbish. I don’t think the events of the Fairy War changed her from Sassy Sookie to Boring Narrator Sookie… I think the author just ran out of ideas.
 
Which brings me to Deadlocked. What an anti-climax! The whole plot with the cluviel dor, and Claude plotting against Niall – and it’s solved so quickly, without much fuss, that I couldn’t believe that was it. No big fight, no major drama. Just… a sudden end.
 
I don’t know what book thirteen holds. Eric is annoyed at Sookie, he’s disappeared off, possibly to hook up with Freda. I have no idea how Charlaine Harris plans to resolve everything (it better be action packed).
 
All I know is that despite not enjoying the last few books that much, I have to know how it ends.
 
 
 

Have you read the Sookie Stackhouse novels? What do you think of them?