Invasion of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!

So, hey, hello there, I’m alive!

Some of you may have noticed that my posts have been kind of…..nonexistent for a while besides the Save The Words Saturday posts which loyally appear every lazy Saturday not because I have no life and blog every Saturday, but because I write them in bulk and schedule them for every Saturday. True Story.

Anyway, because I’ve been so busy finishing my Diploma then working (blah blah blah lazy blogger excuses :P) I have not only been neglecting my blogger duties but I also haven’t been reading as much as usual and so haven’t finished any books for ages, which in turn gives me less reason to blog – its a crazy cycle of doom! Part of the cycle is the longer I’m procrastinating or preoccupied the longer the gap is between reading a book and trying to write a review, and that makes for a really hard review writing process and probably a crappy review.

Because my loyal Bookbaggers don’t deserve sub par reviews I decided a while back not to write any of the ones that have piled up and only the ones that I had just finished and posted a list of the “Forgotten Reviews” in case any of you particularly wanted to know what I thought of any of them. Because the ones I had only just finished at the time never got done they formed an imaginary pile of dead reviews on top of the old pile which became a steaming pile of shame and remorse in my saved drafts which is not very fun O.o

So I have made a decision which will protect me from the festering pile while also giving a a fragment of satisfaction to any Bookbaggers who want a review, such as the mysterious commentor known only as “ehm” who commented on my Currently Reading page saying she would wait for my review of American Gods by Neil Gaiman (oops, sorry ehm, I finished American Gods in May and never wrote your review >.<).

Introducing…..

The Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!!!

Here I will do a series of short reviews (only a few choice sentences) that encapsulate my feelings for each book that became lost on the Forgotten Reviews pile of shame! I’m including all the original Forgotten Reviews as well as the newest members: Code Noir by Marianne De Pierres; Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood; City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare; The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadder; American Gods by Neil Gaiman; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare.

Because there are….holy crap 22(!) all up, I’m just going to do a few to begin with in this post and then follow up with continuing adventures of The Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination (or sequels if you will). My regular full-length reviews will start up again with Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins which I recently finished.

So without further ado I present the first installment:

Invasion of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!!!!!!!

(Now with twice the exclamation points for twice the emphasis!!!!!!!!)

The Eddie Dickens Trilogy By Philip Ardagh

Awful End

Eddie Dickens’ parent are ill with a disease that turns them crinkly around the edges and makes them smell like old hot water bottles so he must live with his Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud. As they are quite mad chaos and hilarity ensues in their trip back to Awful End (where Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud reside). A clever and really funny kids book that pokes fun at old English books and the English language in general in a way that acknowledges kids’ intelligence.

Dreadful Acts

Eddie is now living peacefully in Awful End with his mad Aunt and Uncle and Mother and Father (who recovered from their malady but not their insanity). This however doesn’t last for long as he ends up being privy to a escape artists trick gone wrong, falls for a woman with a face like a camel and accidentally gets kidnapped by a band of escaped convicts. More crazy, hilarious hijinks but perhaps not as great as Awful End.

Terrible Times

Poor Eddie has been enlisted to work at the family newspaper (which he never knew existed), Terrible Times and must travel to America aboard a leaky and otherwise highly hazardous boat, The Pompous Pig. Along the way he faces some old foes and new foes and almost certain death. Still very clever and amusing but my least favorite of the trilogy.


Coldheart Canyon
by Clive Barker

Amazing, disgusting, incredibly weird and disturbing but also a fantastic read. Explores the extremes of Hollywood, especially regarding image and staying young, but in classic Barker style also unearths dark mythologies which include graphic sexual perversions and lots of gore. Not for those with a weak constitution or stomach but highly recommended for seekers of a quality horror story as unique as it gets.


A Red Herring Without Mustard
by Alan Bradley

In the third Flavia De Luce mystery my favorite little poison-making detective helps out a mysterious and vaguely malevolent gypsy girl when her grandmother – an old fortune-teller that Flavia allowed to camp on her family’s land – is almost murdered. I love anything to do with gypsies and I always love the Flavia books so this was great fun. I especially liked how more back-story on Flavia’s family was revealed, especially regarding her late mother.

So there you go oh beloved Bookbaggers – not quite as long or as involved as my usual full-length reviews but didn’t a wise person once say “good things come in small packages”? I should find out where that saying comes from….

Keep your eyes peeled (and where does THAT saying comes from? Its actually really gross if you think about it…) for the continuing Micro Review invasions and other regular posting, but for now:

Happy Reading!

The 2011 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to the 1st Annual Book Polygamist Awards! (insert applause and cheering here)

Every year I look back at the books I have read and assign awards to those that have stood out in some way. Before now that acknowledgement has been for my eyes only in my treasured reading journals so I am happy to make them public for the first time!

The awards will be in two parts: the Annual Awards which are ones that I have given to books every year and will likely continue to do so; and the Special Awards which are awards that I have created especially for this years contenders.

I hope you enjoy ūüôā

Annual Awards

Shortest Read:

The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn, at around an hour

Honorable Mentions:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman, at 1 day

Eddie Dickens Trilogy (Awful End; Dreadful Acts and Terrible Times) at 2 days for all three.

Longest Read:

Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two: Lamplighter by D M Cornish, at 27 weeks and 3 days! O.o

Honorable Mentions:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker, at 25 weeks, 3 days!

The Books of Blood: vol 1-3 by Clive Barker at 30 weeks and counting!!

Most Books Read by a Single Author:

 

4 by Kerry Greenwood (Urn Burial; Heavenly Pleasures; Devil’s Food; Trick or Treat)

Honorable Mentions:

3 by Charlaine Harris (Definitely Dead; All Together Dead; From Dead to Worse)

3 by Philip Ardagh (Awful End; Dreadful Acts;Terrible Times)

Best “New” Author Award:

Every year I make a list of authors I have discovered and who I want to read more of, so this year I thought I’d give an award to the author that I was the most impressed with and have since¬†researched several other books of theirs that I’m interested in¬†as well as a few other authors that get honorable mentions.

William Gay (Twilight)

Honorable Mentions:

Marianne de Pierres (Nylon Angel – Book 1 Parrish Plessis series)

Andrew Nicoll (The Good Mayor)

Kathryn Lasky (Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture)

Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)

Catherine Webb (The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

Destiny (Trinity trilogy) by Fiona McIntosh

Honorable Mention:

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman

The Best Start to a Series Award:

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (Horatio Lyle series) by Catherine Webb

Honorable Mention:

The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole series) by Kathryn Lasky

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:

The Travelling Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore

Honorable Mention:

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

The “Graphic Novels are a Legitimate Genre” Award:

This is the first year I have read Graphic Novels and actually treated them like real books (i.e. included them in my book journal; wrote reviews etc.) so I thought the two fabulous Graphic Novels deserve their very own award ūüôā

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons AND V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

The Short but Sweet Award:

This year has included a few short-story anthologies, a format I don’t generally read a lot so I have chosen the best short-story collection as well as the best individual stories.

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

Best stories: Family Business by Jonathan Maberry; The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky by M. B. Homler; The Storm Door by Tad Williams; Second Wind by Mike Carey; Weaponized by David Wellington.

The BRAAIINNS! Award:

This year stood out as the year I started to love zombie stories! It wasn’t the first time I read anything with zombies (in 2010 I read Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner which is about a zombie detective; the first Anita Blake book by Laurell K Hamilton, Guilty Pleasures, which involves zombie raising, and right before the dawn of 2011 I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan which is set in a zombie-apocalyptic world) but after Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead¬† I was hooked so the BRAAIINNS Award goes to:

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

with an honorable mention to Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carrol and Nickolas Cook ūüėõ

The Revisited Award:

This is a new award I came up with, given to a book I re-read and still loved in 2011:

Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn

The About Time! Award:

This award goes to a book that I had been meaning to read for a long time:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

Honorable Mention:

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

The Best Cover Art Award:

The Secrets of the Chess Machine by Robert Löhr

Honorable Mentions:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll

The Misleading Cover Award:

Yearn: Tales of Lust and Longing by Tobsha Learner

(to find out why this cover is misleading see my review)

The “They’ve Still Got It!” Award:

This is another new one that I created purely to highlight two of my favourite authors whose newest releases I read this year and loved just as much (if not more) than previous favourites:

Joanne Harris for Blueeyedboy AND Tracy Chevalier for Remarkable Creatures

2011 has been a fabulous year for me, not just for reading but in many aspects of my life, and I hope for even more great reads and wonderful events now that its 2012!

I hope you all also¬†read some novels in 2011 that deserve awards and you have an amazing 2012 ūüôā

From Flavia to Flowers

About a month¬†ago I received a distressing email….from the library. It seemed one of the books I was reading, A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (the latest Flavia de Luce mystery)¬†was overdue, but fear not! I said to myself and journeyed to their¬†website to renew the book and continue reading in peace. However, to my horror I was denied my relieving renewal because some other Flavia lover had requested it!

I have conquered you, you wily bastard! ūüėÄ

What was I to do? I was already well into the story and who knows whether I could find it at a supplementary¬†library, especially since I had¬†encountered trials with this exact book before. So I did what every sane person would do – I read the shit out of that book so I could return it before getting too many late fees! ūüėõ

Suffice to say, I had a grand ole time in the world of Flavia de Luce for about a week and then returned it¬†for the next person in line to enjoy ūüôā This was around the beginning of November and I had just been gifted a hearty swag of birthday books, so even ‘tho the book I had finished was a library one and I was due to choose my new book from the library pile, I thought the Books-I-Own-But-Haven’t-Read-Yet pile could use some pruning.

It turns out that pruning was an appropriate word, as once I had reached the end of a complicated and exhaustive eeny¬†meeny¬†miney moe¬†(more complicated and exhaustive than usual as there was 13 books on the pile!) I arrived at The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, one of the books my mum gave me ūüôā

Very intriguing already

However, since I had neglected my other books while I was engrossed with my Flavia mission, I’ve been doing some catch-up and didn’t actually start The Language of Flowers ’til¬†the other¬†night. Even ‘tho I was tried I still read a few chapters and am drawn in already, so stay tuned for a review fairly soon.

Also I apologize for my lack of reviews lately. I have¬†quite a few waiting to be started (The Eddie Dickens Trilogy; Coldheart Canyon; A Red Herring Without Mustard; Monster Blood Tattoo Book 2: Lamplighter;¬†and Watchmen)¬†but as each one involves some serious brain-work and my brain is busy with whats left of my assessments/homework for the semester, I’ve had none to spare.

I promise (cross my hard-drive, hope to crash) that once the semester ends (or possibly before if I’m clever and get stuff done early) I will write every damn one of them! ūüôā

Top 10 Female Characters

1. The Hon. Phryne Fisher

Phryne Fisher Mysteries  by Kerry Greenwood

Phryne¬†Fisher is an unflappable flapper in 1920’s Melbourne. She has a beautiful house with loyal attentive staff and a wardrobe of stunning dresses and pant suits. Oh, and she’s a private detective who drives fast and carries a well-concealed gun. I freakin’ love Phryne¬†Fisher! She is such a witty and clever character and she somehow solves crime while looking fabulous and sleeping with an array of beautiful young men. If I could have the wardrobe of any book character it would be Phryne¬†Fisher’s (with the figure¬†to match :P), but besides that and her gorgeous home, she can keep her life – she encounters murder WAY too often! I have read the first 8 Phryne¬†books and so far Kerry Greenwood has written 18, so I have plenty¬†of Phryne fun ahead of me ūüėČ

Even glamorous while taking tea

2. Corinna Chapman

Corinna Chapman Mysteries  by Kerry Greenwood

As I have said before¬†Corinna Chapman is my kinda woman – a plus-size gal who enjoys a good muffin, G & T’s and cats. She also is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which gives us something else in common ūüôā I’m on the 3rd book now (Devil’s Food) and once again loving Corinna’s pop culture references and accidental detecting. There’s only 2 more books published ūüė¶ but since Kerry Greenwood is a machine when it comes to churning out series, I’m sure there’ll be more ūüôā

Corinna on the cover of the first book: Earthly Delights

3. Flavia de Luce

Flavia de Luce Mysteries by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is the coolest 11-year-old I have ever read about! She is a budding chemist with a special passion for poisons and she spends most of her time day-dreaming about poisoning her two awful sisters (or performing practical jokes on them involving chemistry). In the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Flavia develops a new passion – detective work – when she discovers a corpse in the pumpkin patch. By the second book, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, Flavia is quite confident in her detective skills as she rides about town on her trusty bike, Gladys, looking for clues. The novel’s are set in the 1950’s in the English countryside and it is this setting that makes Flavia’s character all the more wickedly funny. She definitely isn’t the typical good little English girl, and that’s why I love her! I look forward to reading the new book, A Red Herring Without Mustard and the upcoming I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.

Flavia on trusty Gladys

4. Sally Lockhart

Sally Lockhart Mysteries by Philip Pullman

Another female detective! Sally Lockhart is another woman who doesn’t fit the mold of her time. Even before her detective work she worked as a Financial¬†Consultant, which is thought to be a job not befitting¬†a Victorian lady, but Sally isn’t an ordinary Victorian lady. She uses her good looks and the fact that she’s an innocent-looking 16-year-old girl to find out things that would be impossible were she a full-grown man, and she does so with her trusty pistol close at hand. I’ve loved Sally’s spunk in the first two books: The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, and I look forward to more adventures in The Tiger in the Well and The Tin Princess.

Billie Piper as Sally in the tv adaptation

5. Sookie Stackhouse

The Sookie Stackhouse Series/Southern Vampire Mysteries  by Charlaine Harris

Regular readers probably saw this one coming! Sookie¬†is a great character both in the books and in True Blood, but mostly in the books. She is a great mix of sweet¬†Southern belle and kick-ass vampire/were-loving part-faerie telepath. She has a hilarious inner monologue, and while she makes some stupid mistakes, mostly she’s quite smart and strong. If you read my recent post¬†you will know that I’m¬†nearing the end of the Sookie¬†Stackhouse¬†series, but once I’ve finished all the current books I will wait patiently for more ūüôā plus I always have the 3rd season of True Blood and seasons after ūüėõ

Not your average waitress

6. Valkyrie Cain (AKA Stephanie Edgley, Darquesse)

Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy 

Valkyrie Cain¬†is the kick-ass¬†partner of skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant.¬†She is an Elemental (which means she can throw fire, control air to lift herself and other neat stuff) and since the 4th book (Dark Days) she is also a Necromancer and stores¬†shadow power¬†in a ring. Her real name is Stephanie Edgley¬†but she had to take another name when working with Skulduggery¬†so that her name wasn’t used to control her, and she chose Valkyrie Cain. Darquesse¬†is her “True Name” and has only been known¬†to her in the last two books.¬†That’s¬†plenty to make her one of my fave female characters, but I also love the back and¬†forth she had with Skulduggery (or any one else that takes her on) and pretty much everything else about her ūüôā Basically, she rocks.

A kick-ass fire-throwin' gal ūüôā

7. Mma Precious Ramotswe

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency¬†series by Alexander McCall-Smith

I’ve only read the first book or this series (which has the same title as the series) but even from that (and I have to admit from the wonderful tv adaptation) I have grown fond of Precious Ramotswe. She is bright and vibrant and larger than life, and she always seems to make solving mysteries look like a piece of cake. I also love how she’s so tricksty¬†when it comes to making criminals spill their guts – it makes me laugh every time! There is currently 12 books in the series with a 13th to come, so I’m sure as I go on I’ll love her more and more.

I think the cartoon her is so cute!

8. Anna

Mister God This is Anna  by Fynn

I’ve already gushed enough over this book in a review¬†and my Top 10 books of all time post so I won’t do it again, but I’ll just say that Anna has to be in this top 10 because she’s such a special, memorable character. I recently found out that there are 2 other books in the Anna Biographies when I didn’t even know it was part of a series! So I will be finding Anna’s Book, and Anna and the Black Knight and will most likely fall in love with her even more. I wish I knew an Anna ūüôā

So cute!!!

9. Sophie Hatter

Howl’s Castle Series ¬†by Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle (as well as the sequels Castle in the¬†Air and House of Many Ways) is a hilariously feisty¬†character that had me laughing out loud many times. I loved the ¬†Hayao¬†Miyazaki animated movie Howl’s Moving Castle but until I saw it in the library I didn’t even know it was based on a book. If you’ve seen the film and thought Sophie was a riot then you must read the book, because she is even funnier on paper and it is such a magical story. She isn’t in Castle in the Air much til the end but every moment that she is, is gold! I haven’t gotten to House of Many Ways yet, but it is in one of my piles so I hope to get to it soon ūüôā

Sophie as she looks in the film (before the spell)

10. Luna Lovegood

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling 

Ever since “Loony Lovegood” popped up in the beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix I’ve thought she was the bees knees! Luna is just so wonderfully weird and a space cadet (which I identify with) and she has come out with some classic lines. I also like her¬†odd¬†accesories such as¬†the butterbeer¬†cork necklace, dirigible plum (radish) earrings, and¬†the Spectrespecs.

Loony is awesome ūüôā