my soul is dark

book & fic recommendations

Charlaine Harris - Dead And Gone
Helena Bonham Carter

Excellent edition in The Southern Vampire Mysteries books. Sookie is a likable heroine and the story is wonderfully executed and rattles along at a breakneck speed. I loved the fact that there was more Eric in this one as he's a fascinating character and having a bit of back story was a good thing.

I had one of those flashes of fantasy. Eric would walk over to her, bow to her, give her a reverent kiss on the cheek, ignore her prettier friends. This gesture would make every man in the bar wonder what the vampire saw in her that they couldn't see. Suddenly the plain girl would be overwhelmed with attention from the men who witnessed the interchange. Her friends would give her respect because Eric had. Her life would change.

None of that happened, of course. Eric forgot about the girl as soon as I'd finished speaking. I didn't think it would work out like fantasy, even if he did approach her. I felt a flash of disappointment that fairy tales didn't come true.

Four out of five. The series itself is consistently good and a pleasure to read.

Link: Charlaine Harris' official website

Jenny Nimmo - Charlie Bone and the Red Knight
Jean Shrimpton 2

I've loved Jenny Nimmo's Children of the Red King series and this final book in the series was typically excellent. They have memorable characters, intriguing and labyrinthine family connections and I've always loved Charlie's Uncle Paton!

The huge Sea Globe now stood in the centre of the ballroom. The white cladding had been removed but the globe was enclosed in a large glass box. Behind the glass, blue-green water could be seen, rippling over the surface of the glowing sphere: the World, mapped out in oceans and continents. The land appeared a dull brown colour, while the water glowed with countless shades of blue and green, grey and silver.

I would recommend reading the series from the beginning rather than dipping in to one or two of the books; it can be a bit confusing to remember who everyone is and the pace is so fast that there isn't time for an explanations!

Four out of five. I would rate the series overall as a four out of five.

Link: Jenny Nimmo's official website

lj communities #2
Illustrator: Audrey K: Prim
An essential lj community:


From their user info:
This community reunites people with the books they've lost! We were featured in the lj_spotlight in October 2006. As a result, this is by far the largest community of its kind here on LiveJournal. We have a good success rate, thanks to the tireless assistance provided by and for our many members.

If you've lost a book (short stories, plays, or poems are also fine), post an entry about it. Most entries follow this basic format:

I read this book a long time ago, and it was about [a unicorn and a maiden/a boy who discovers he's a wizard/a cat who solves a mystery]. [Then follows as many details of the plot as the poster can dredge out of their memory.] Does anyone know what book I mean? Thanks!

The more details of the plot and/or characters you can provide, the better, and it also helps if you know when and where (including country) you read it. Even things like 'it may have been published by Scholastic' or details of illustrations or cover art can be useful! Try not to say 'I read it in sixth grade' without letting us know how long ago that was - we don't know how old you are. :)

lj communities #1
Jean Shrimpton 2
A livejournal community that is well worth investigating:


From their user info:
Welcome to bookfails! There are so many book communties on here that do reviews on great books. But what about the books you DON'T like? This is what bookfails is for. Save money from buying crappy books and warn others about books that just fail. Post books you have read or have tried to read that you hated or disliked. Do reviews on books that you don't think others should read. Just join and follow the rules.Questions about certain authors/books are also welcomed. Dear Author Day takes place on the first Friday of every month.

The 5 Worst Books Of The Decade
Jean Shrimpton 2
The books that were, in the opinion of our panel, the most egregious examples of the author's art.

5. Dylan’s Visions of Sin by Christopher Ricks (2003)

It’s not that Dylan’s lyrics aren’t worth studying, or that Ricks lacks the intellect for the job. It’s just that this “love letter to Dylan” is as embarrassing to read as any adolescent epistle if you’re not in the relationship yourself.

4. Vernon God Little by D. B. C. Pierre (2003)

This ugly, lazy debut about a school massacre in Texas won the Man Booker Prize in 2003: the judges said that it was a “coruscating black comedy reflecting our alarm but also our fascination with America”; we beg to differ.

3. Being Jordan by Katie Price (2004)

The book that made possible not only her “literary” career, but also those of such figures as Jade Goody and Kerry Katona. Highly influential, but not in a good way.

2. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (2006)

Telling us that we need to think positive thoughts, we could accept. But to dress up the advice with inadequately assimilated quantum theories, along with references to Jesus, Newton, Beethoven and Einstein: this was unbearable.

1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)

“Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere . . .” not the intro to a tabloid news story, but to the bestselling adult novel of the decade. The irrelevance of prose quality to sales has surely never been so starkly revealed.

From here

The 100 Best Books of the Decade
X-Men: Gambit
The 100 Best Books of the Decade (from Timesonline)

Described by Nicholas Clee, Kate Saunders, Tom Gatti, Erica Wagner, Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Paul Dunn and Richard Whitehead

90 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005)

Meyer’s books about the schoolgirl Bella Swan and her passion for Edward Cullen, the tortured “vegetarian” vampire (doesn’t bite humans), have taken the world’s pre-pubescent females by storm. Basically, he’s a fanged Mr Darcy, with all sexual threat surgically removed.

62 Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (2002)

You sometimes feel that Waters is busking the period detail but her world of Victorian thieves’ kitchen, Gothic houses and lunatic asylums becomes wholly convincing. The illicit passion between the two heroines grows stealthily while the plot twists keep you surprised right up to the final page.

Sarah Waters on Fingersmith "Fingersmith grew out of my mania for a certain kind of Victorian novel: namely, the ‘sensation’ novel, with its madly convoluted plots and melodramatic characters. It was a wonderful book to write, and seems to be the novel of mine that readers most enjoyed. I wish I could have the pleasure of writing it all over again".

61 The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (2004)

A brilliantly plotted tale of an outsider who finds himself sitting at the high table of Thatcherism. His young turks have a high — and gay — old time while the twin shadows of Aids and of being found out loom over them.

Charlie Bone and the Shadow of Badlock by Jenny Nimmo
Jean Shrimpton 2

The seventh book in Jenny Nimmo's Children of the Red King series. Wonderfully realised fantasy world with characters that you root for. Ideally you should start from the beginning of the series as otherwise it could be a it indecipherable. Great characters and an intriguing plot.

4 out of 5

Tommy Sullivan is a Freak by Meg Cabot

Very much in the vein of her Princess Diaries books this story by Meg Cabot is fun and has enough twists and turns and dramatic moments to pad out the rather inconsequential plot.

3 out of 5

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Lemony Snicket: Baudelaires

Enchanting, beautifully written and absolutely charming. The edition I read has the original Peggy Fortnum illustrations which perfectly suit the book:

5 out of 5

2008 in review (part three)
HotB: Watson = love
Hari Kunzru

Joseph O'Neill's Netherland is a melancholy and controlled novel about cricket. There aren't many of those around. JG Ballard is also a cricket fan, and his volume of autobiography, Miracles of Life, provides a key to his strange, hallucinatory fiction. I'm living in New York, and the only thing that's made me feel homesick is a photography book called No Such Thing As Society: Photography in Britain 1967-1987 (Hayward Publishing). It shows a world I remember from growing up, a world that now feels very far away in time, as well as space.

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