Quote

Notable Quotable # 118

“Perhaps,” she said. “Perhaps. Birds sing in the trees, find their food, mate, build nests. They don’t know anything else.” She looked up at him, drawing the cloth slowly from side to side across the back of her neck. “It’s a narrow life for birds. But you catch one and put it in a cage and you’ll soon find out whether it values what’s it’s lost.”

Short Stories and Secret Shame September

Fáilte my fabulous, fascinating Bookbaggers!

Oh my gosh hello! It must seem that I have been away more than not this year and that I am a terribly neglectful blogger since I last posted near the end of August! I hate making stupid excuses like work and sickness and a social life because really I know that life gets in the way for all bloggers at some point, and I never judge the bloggers I follow for being absent, but this time I actually have a pretty interesting excuse. My absence over September was a self-imposed necessity to keep my lip zipped because on the 1st I had jury duty and was picked for a three-week-long case.

I did think about posting a quick note to let you know that I would be on a hiatus, but as we were instructed not to post on social media what we were doing, I thought blogging would also be a big no-no. When the case finally finished on the 22nd I thought “Huzzah! I can finally blog!” but I did not factor in that I would be going from listening to people talk while sitting on my butt, back to my regular job where I would likely have a pile of work to catch up on and would be exhausted once I got home.

Then I had the very strange experience of doing just four days of work before we were on term break and I had a week off! Logically this would be a perfect time to catch up on the blog, but I found that once I was able to relax I just wanted to unwind after the bizarre month I had and try to do things I hadn’t had time for like doing my tax return, catching up with the grandparentals after their trip to Bali and shopping for summer pajamas before our Australian weather devolved into the 7th circle of hell (my hometown of Perth especially doesn’t seem to understand what Spring is if the mix of hot days and freak thunderstorms are anything to go by).

I returned to work Monday and since we’re now in the final term of the year it has calmed down enough that I have the time, energy and motivation to finally tell you about my September 🙂

Firstly, I never got around to introducing my new pile which gives a second life to the Short and Sweet challenge, so that’s a good start.

As I said in my last Challenge Update I no longer had any books under 200 pages to continue Short and Sweet, but I did have a large number of short story collections which I have made its own pile. I think that means that Short and Sweet will at least go until the end of the year, but if I enjoy having an anthology of short fiction on the go all the time then I’ll make it a regular thing like I did with comics 🙂

At the moment I have 13 books of short stories that I have put together in the pile (mostly my own, but two borrowed from my mate Scott – the Richard Matheson’s since I loved I Am Legend):

The book of the dead
edited by jared shurin
The Book of the DeadGrimm Tales: For young and old
by Philip Pullman
Grimm Tales Philip PullmanThe Complete Illustrated Lewis Carroll
by Lewis Carroll
The Complete Illustrated Lewis CarrollLiving With The Dead
by Martin Livings 
Living With The Dead by Martin LivingsUnder My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
edited by Jonathan Strahan
Under-My-Hat Fantastic Wonder Stories
edited by Russell B. Farr
fantastic-wonder-storeis The Girl With No Hands
by Angela Slatter
The Girl With No Hands by Angela SlatterThe Lady of Situations
by Stephen Dedman
The Lady of SituationsMatilda told such dreadful lies
by Lucy Sussex
matilda-told-such-dreadful-lies-webFearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome
edited by Stephen Jones
illustrated by Alan Lee
Fearie-Tales-Stories-of-the-Grimm-and-GruesomeThe Powerful Owl by Candida Baker
powerful owlButton, Button by Richard Matheson
button.tifDuel by Richard Matheson
duelLooking for jake and other stories by China Miéville

looking for jake

I’ve been really slack with reading any stories from The Living Dead zombie anthology lately because I have been reading some cracking books (more on that later) and in fact I haven’t read any since the last update, so I have re-set myself the challenge to read at least one story a week and then maybe I might actually get to pick a new one before the end of the year!

In addition to the revamped Short and Sweet Challenge I also set myself a special challenge for September which I meant to announce at the end of August and then when I didn’t finish in time I though “Well I probably will only have jury duty for a week tops so early September should be fine”….yup, that worked out well past me :/

The challenge involves reading a single book that I call my Secret Shame to friends and family that I have admitted my secret too. I think if you look deep enough every avid reader has one Secret Shame – maybe it’s a genre of books that they don’t want to be associated with, or a bad habit such as dog-earring pages that they don’t want to admit to, and I think for many it would be that sad book at the bottom of their TBR pile or pushed to the back of their groaning shelves.

Mine would be in the latter category:

Secret shame september

Back in 1997 when I was a shy, odd and exceptionally nerdy 11-year-old in Year 6, I had a brilliant teacher called Mr Stein – a sort of aging hippy who was passionate about books, music and the environment and was by far my favourite teacher throughout school. However, at the start of the year I did not have this opinion. All of us new Year 6s had been told by the older kids that Mr Stein was the worst – really strict, grumpy and a man who would not put up with mucking about – and being the nervous little mite I was, I was terrified that I would be in the class with this monster instead of with the second Year 6/7 class. When I saw my name on his door my heart sank, but it took maybe a day to realise that the older kids had greatly exaggerated and while Mr Stein was strict and certainly wouldn’t suffer fools, he was a fair and engaging teacher and only made trouble for kids who attracted trouble in the first place.

Because I was such a shy and nervy kid I often did badly at the start of the year before I got my confidence up and even if my work was top-notch I was always behind in social interaction and class participation, but Mr Stein – unlike some teachers before him – endeavoured to break me out of my shell by encouraging me to get involved in areas that interested me, like creative writing and environmental issues. By the end of the year I had improved noticeably, so much so that I won the “Most Improved” award for my class. Mr Stein chose the books for my prize – a dictionary of nature, and Watership Down by Richard Adams which if you are a Bookbagger from way back you will know is still one of my favourite books. Since, as he predicted I adored the book and it hadn’t been too much of a struggle despite being a little above my age level, he loaned me his own copy of another Richard Adams novel called Shardik.

Shardik was a different kettle of fish than Watership Down as it was an adult fantasy, but I gave it a go anyway. I never really got past the first few chapters as the language was more advanced and I hadn’t quite gotten into Fantasy at that point (at least beyond children’s fantasy/adventure), but every time I asked Mr Stein if he wanted it back, he told me to keep trying. Somehow in the midst of Year 7 I not only gave up trying to read it, but I forgot to give it back and Mr Stein never reminded me. For years after I kept meaning to read it and then return to my old primary school to give it back, but it never happened and eventually in resided at the very back of my bookshelf, behind another layer of books – out of sight, but not forgotten. If I was close enough to someone and the subject of old books on TBR piles came up, I would spill my Secret Shame and swear once again that I would read it, but again it never happened.

Then a few months ago I acquired a small additional bookshelf from what my mum calls Le Verge (that often magical collection of odds and sods people put by the road in front of their house for pickup by the council or perusal by treasure-hunting locals) to help tame the overflow from my other shelves, and during a cull I found Shardik again, tattered, musty and forlorn amongst dozen of past op-shop and library discard purchases, many of which went in the donation box.

ShardikAt that point I decided that I would finally read the poor thing (even though I may not be able to find Mr Stein and return it to him after) and since September was approaching I thought Secret Shame September had a great ring to it – my love of alliteration at play once more 😛

Since the book has a little under 60 chapters I set myself the very ambitious goal of reading two chapters a day, but since it is so fragile it is a purely read-at-home-while-cradling-gently-so-it-doesn’t-disintegrate sort of book and thus I’m still making my way through. I’m about half-way now (chapter 32) so not doing too badly. Like I said above I have been distracted by some pretty awesome books recently (which I may even share with you in a separate update-ish post since I don’t want my returning one to be too giant) so I haven’t read any for a little less than a week, but I’ll try to read a bit more sometime this week.

I think that’s sufficient for now Bookbaggers, but I’ll leave you with a few fun things to make up for my disappearance 🙂

Firstly I took this quiz during Banned Book Week and posted it to the Book Polygamist Facebook page:Which banned book are youI got Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut which I had never read, so I thought why not buy it and read it for Banned Book Week? I didn’t end up getting it until the last day of Banned Book Week and I didn’t start it until the 1st of October, but it was so good and such a short read (177 pages) I polished it off over one weekend.

This leads onto my next bit of fun which is another Thug Notes video:

Lastly, it’s Mental Health Week here in Oz and our public broadcast station the ABC is doing an initiate called Mental As…, showing a series of programs related to mental health in an effort to promote awareness, stop the stigma of mental illness and raise money for mental health research. As I have an anxiety disorder and most of the people in my life have struggled with mental illness at some point in their lives or have loved ones that have (and don’t we all really?) this event is important to me and I was keen to watch the programs, particularly Felicity’s Mental Mission, a doco by Felicity Ward which aired Monday. There are a few short clips on YouTube from the show, but I thought I’d share with you the hilarious, but poignant song by comedic musical duo Sammy J and Randy:

If you are in Australia (or elsewhere but you know how to get around all the technical stuff which stops you from watching geographic-specific videos) you can watch the full show on iView until the 5th of November.

I think that’ll do for now, O wonderous Bookbaggers 🙂

Stay tuned for a run-down of all the books I’ve read since I last posted (at some point soon) and some Notable Quotables which I’ve been collecting, but until then:

Don’t be afraid to ask somebody R U OK? even if you think they’ll give a stupid answer…

don't be lasagna

or have a extreme reaction…

post-51047-Doctor-Who-shut-up-gif-Imgur-s-Puqd

and a hug is always nice, even if it may be one-sided at first…

doctor-who-deep-breath-peter-capaldi-clara-hug

And if you or someone you know are struggling with mental health issues there are tonnes of organisations and associations out there that can help such as Lifeline and Beyond Blue (Australia), Mental Health America or NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness (USA) Mind or Rethink (UK). These are only a couple of examples of organisations in the countries that most view this blog, but other international organisations can be found on The Centre for Global Mental Health website or by Googling something like “mental health help *insert country/city/town/desert island/etc.*”.

Cya next time Bookbaggers!

tumblr_inline_mnbnqwxr2A1qz4rgp

Top 10 Books I Think Everyone Should Read

This was on one hand a really fun list to make as I had to think of the books that I thought were must-read material and on the other hand a really hard one to compile as I have read a lot of really great books!

Eventually I went with ones that I felt added to the reading experience in some way or were important life experiences for me.

Hopefully you guys will enjoy my choices and feel free to share your own must-reads in the comments 🙂

1. Watership Down by Richard Adams 

It won’t be a surprise to regular readers that I think everyone should read this book, because I’ve certainly raved about it enough! The reason this is the first book I think everyone should read at least once isn’t just because Its one of my favourites, the story is classic or I have read it 4 or 5 times already (although those are all good reasons to recommend it!). The reason its a must-read is that although it is a seemingly simple children’s tale about rabbits, it actually is quite a complex examination of society in general. It explores family and community bonds; societal structure from its starting point to more complex societies and even fascism; and important issues that arise in society such as power, security, organisation of a vast number of individuals, governing, language and even war. It even introduces such concepts as immigration, mental illness and the cycle of life and death to children. And since I have read it as an adult and as a child I can vouch for it as a satisfying read at any age 🙂

More than just fluffy bunnies

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

This is another one I read as a child and then again as an adult (there is a few of those on this list!) and although I did understand some of its significant themes as a 12 year-old I understood the deeper layers of meaning when I was older. The Giver is a classic children’s book that I think should still be in primary school curriculum as it gives kids some real perspective on the freedom they take for granted. Especially in this age of technology where it is so easy for kids to find out info on almost any subject at the strike of a keyboard, the press of a button and the swipe of a finger, a book like this where the characters are so sheltered and controlled and one boy learns all the world have to offer, is such a gift. When I reread this book not that long ago the themes hit me a lot harder and I felt quite ill in certain parts. It really is like 1984 for kids and just like 1984 it is a chilling look at what society could become and so in my opinion is a must-read.

A touching little book that stays with you long after the last page

3. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell 

This wonderful book was the inspiration for reality TV, in particular the Big Brother concept that has incarnations all over the globe, but in this case the imitation doesn’t do the original justice. If Big Brother had been true to Orwell’s bleak and claustrophobic vision of the future it would not have been legal or ethical for it to be televised – I’m shocked at what they get away with on reality TV as it is! Even ‘tho Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty Four over sixty years ago (in 1948) and the year it was meant to be set in is now over twenty years past, it is still a scary glimpse into where society is heading, and to some extent where we are now. The world has become a much more monitored place in those sixty odd years, what with CCTV in virtually all public places; telephones being taped for illegal activity; and personal details being freely accessible online. This book is a huge eye-opener, especially to young-adults and is a fantastically gripping read.

Big Brother IS watching

4. Mister God This is Anna by Fynn

This will not come as a surprise to regular readers as I’m a bit of a cheerleader for this beautiful little novel (as seen in ALL these posts :P) The reason this is a must-read in my opinion is it is filled to the brim with philosophical tidbits that will really exercise your mind and make you think beyond your sphere of understanding. And the philosophies aren’t purely religious or spiritual but are a blend of religion/spirituality and science/mathematics which examine huge ideas such as the meaning of life; why the world works like it does and other mysteries that only a child would question. But the main reason I would recommend it is that it ignites that childlike curiosity in you and makes you ask that big question: why? Which I think people are afraid to do after a certain age.

Why? Because. But why? Because I say so 😛

5. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

This is a book I would mainly recommend to women, or men who aren’t too squeamish about menstruation (Period/”That time of the month”/Aunt Irma :P) as with a title like The Red Tent you can probably gather that it will be mentioned a fair bit. For those that can get beyond the fact of biblical age women congregating in a tent for a few days every month, as well as some fairly graphic ancient midwifery, this book is a really interesting look at the background of key bible characters such as Jacob, but also highlights lesser characters such as his daughter Dinah and the traditions of the time. It is also a fine example of possible alternative endings to bible stories, which pop up in literature a lot. While having a knowledge of bible stories or actually reading the Bible would help with understanding what is behind this story and many other allusions in literature I personally can’t tell you all to read The Bible as I have never gotten through the whole thing, and I’m Pagan so quite a bit of it makes me uncomfortable, but as a book it is the biggest influence to modern literature (followed closely by the works of Shakespeare, which I have also left out as I haven’t read all of his plays, just a selection of ones that I came across :)).

Don’t let the image deter you – its worth it!

6. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss 

This one may be a surprise to you all as it is not a grand piece of literature, but it is one of the most inspirational books that I’ve ever read and a perfect send-off gift to kids/young adults/adults entering a new phase of their lives such as a graduation. It promotes a “The World is Your Oyster!” mentality for any individual who has started a new path in life with Dr Seuss’ catchy whimsical rhymes enthusiastically announcing all the wonders the world can offer while not hiding the darker times in life.

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

7. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

I was given this by a friend of the family who insisted I had to read it and without her and this book (as well as other contributing factors) I wouldn’t have struggled through a difficult time in my life as quickly as I did. The book explores a few key spiritual and philosophical ideas that have been ingrained in the religious and mythological ideals of many civilisations for generations. While it is obvious that the book was written to illustrate these key ideals and so the plot isn’t that strong on its own (kind of like Dan Browns books but in a different way) It is a much more palatable format to learn about these ideas then in a classic New Age or Self Help book. While I didn’t agree with every aspect of the ideals, there is some sound concepts there that make a lot of philosophical, spiritual, psychological and even scientific sense. I wouldn’t recommend it to strict sceptics (except those rare ones that really want to open their minds to new things) but I would to anyone that has even the slightest interest in ancient beliefs and self-improvement. The book has been expanded into a series with two sequels published a while back ( The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision (1996) and The Secret of Shambhala: In Search of the Eleventh Insight (1999)) and a third (The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision) released this year, but I haven’t read any of those as I was quite content with the general idea I received in the original (especially as I was already somewhat aware of the ideas from my love of mythology and world religions).

Not gospel but definitely worth a look-see

8. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I have talked about this wonderful book in the past and I will probably talk about it again in the future as It has made an impact on me both times I’ve read it (at school and a couple of years ago). I think this is a must-read especially for intelligent literary types who may take basic abilities such as being able to read, write and understand the world around them for granted, or may act superior because of their intelligence. The protagonist of Flowers for Algernon, Charlie Gorden puts a lot of this in perspective as we follow him from blissful ignorance through frustration, elation and finally depression at the world at large and helplessness as he reverts back to his original IQ. It is a heartbreaking and insightful book that is timeless and also warns us against the ramifications of “playing God” with scientific developments. Overall a pivotal read that I would recommend to anyone.

9. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

This is another influential childhood read of mine that won’t come as a surprise to regular readers (past posts mentioning it can be found here). This is a great little book that makes you think about what you would do in survival situation, no matter what your age, but I think it’s a must-read especially for pre-teens that are wrapped up in all the conveniences of the modern world. Theres no use for an iPod, a Smartphone, Facebook or video games when you’re stuck in the Canadian wilderness with no food or shelter and I think kids these days need to get some perspective on what life use to be like before technology and learn about the basic skills people need to survive. I know that makes me sound like a nana (kids these days with their rock and roll music!) but it is important and in this book (and the sequels to a lesser extent) the message is hidden in a really entertaining adventure story so kids won’t feel like its being forced down their throats. I’ve read it at several points over my 25 years and I can say it still is the same great read (if a little quicker :P) at 20-odd as it was at 12 🙂

10. Mythology/Fables/Fairy Tales by Various

(namely Greek Mythology, Aesop’s Fables, Brothers Grimm)

This is not so much a book as a general recommendation of mine to read mythology, fables and fairy tales from all over the world as they are the basis of so many literary ideas. Every story is a retelling of an old one (at least in part) and the oldest archetypal stories and plot devices come from ancient Mythology, fables and fairy stories from the basics of good vs evil to ideas on creation and the underworld to morals and thinly veiled life lessons. I have loved Mythology, fables and fairy tales as long as I can remember and I am instantly drawn to any book that is a re-imagining of a classic tale. To narrow it down I have highlighted Greek Mythology, Aesop’s Fables and fairy tales by the Brother’s Grimm as these are the ones I have seen referenced the most.

Greek Mythology has always fascinated me because the Gods were described as flawed and often cruel characters with a complicated and convoluted family hierarchy and an endless stream of fantastical beasts and events. Other Mythology that I think is really interesting and has been referenced in literature is Norse, Celtic, Native American, Eastern (especially from Japan and India) and Eastern European but I would encourage anyone to look into Mythology from all over the world as it is an insight into another culture and the similarities between different Gods and creation myths really shows how a culture is affected by many others and the parallels that occur between very different races.

One example of the plethora of books on Greek Mythology in print

I love a good fable because they are the essence of a good story: clear, simple characters and settings that are usually symbols for more thorough concepts; a clear beginning, middle and end; and a moral to tie it all together. My mum introduced me to Aesop’s fables and other fables from the Middle Ages very early on, integrated with classic fairy tales and I loved them so much that I use to come up with my own that mum dutifully transcribed while I provided the scribbled illustrations. Fables along with mythological stories perfectly illustrate how storytelling began: simple tales that people used to explain the world around them and why things were they way they were, that could easily be passed down from generation to generation and I think us modern readers need to be reminded of the origins of stories sometimes.

A beautiful old volume of Aesop’s Fables

Fairy tales are the next progression of Mythology and fables, and in turn they have created some of the most recognizable archetypal characters and plot devices in the literary landscape. The Grimm Brothers (Jacob and Wilheim) were the creative minds behind classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin (one of my personal favourites) and were responsible for taking them from folklore and popularising them all over the world. There is a immense collection of other fantastic fairy tales out there, but the Brother’s Grimm collected some of the greatest (and often the scariest and downright distressing) folklore stories out there that are now a huge part of popular culture.

One of countless Grimm’s Fairy Tales books out there in Bookworld 🙂

So there you go Bookbaggers – a nice full list of recommendations from me to you 🙂 Hopefully there’s something in there for everyone for a bit of holiday reading.

In the new year I will take a break from themed Top 10s to do my top reads of 2011 as well as some book awards that I always do so that should be fun, and then the next one will be Top 10 “Classics” and Top 10 Classics I Want to Read as that received the next highest number of votes 🙂

Happy Reading and I hope you all had a wonderful festive season and have an excellent 2012 to come!

Top 10 Book to Screen Adaptations

Hiya Bookbaggers! Welcome to the second set of Top 10s voted by you 🙂 This has been a fun list to compile because there is so much to choose from. Movie and tv adaptations of books (and graphic novels) have grown over the last few years to the point that almost every movie that comes out seems to be a reincarnation of a famous book, and it looks to be a strategy that film-makers won’t be abandoning anytime soon.

So how was I to pick the top 10 out of this sea of candidates?  Well, first I gave myself some guidelines: they all had to be movies/shows I had seen based on books I had read (obviously), and they had to be adaptations that I felt did justice to the original. In my opinion an adaptation doesn’t have to be exactly like the book – it some cases that would be nigh impossible, and besides, film is a very different beast to the novel so it is bound to be different. The adaptations I enjoy are ones that are reasonably faithful to the original while adding their own unique charm, but overall they capture the spirit of the book rather than trying to fit in ever detail.

I still have lots of movies to see that are based on books I’ve read and vice versa so this list may be a bit lacking for some of you, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway 🙂

1. Coraline (2009) 

Based on Coraline (book and graphic novel) by Neil Gaiman

I knew I wanted to see this dark fairy tale directed by Henry Selick (who also directed Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and James and the Giant Peach) as soon as I saw the trailer, and at that point I didn’t even know that Neil Gaiman wrote the original tale. When I did go see it with my little bro, I was in love with the style and spooky/quirky story from the moment the opening titles started and I knew that I had to read the book asap! However it wasn’t until early this year that I finally got around to reading Coraline and realised how great the movie was. The movie achieved something that most adaptation don’t even come close to: it embraced the feel of the book and enhanced it with added detail. A film has a unique opportunity when recreating a story from print – it can visually show elements of the story previously only available in the imagination of the reader – and this can be done badly if the creators assume too much. I personally thought Coraline showed a love and real understanding of the book – its whimsy and darkness and humor – and using stunning visuals and talented voice actors created a cracker of an animated film.

2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Based on Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I have said several times before that I saw the movie Howl’s Moving Castle well before I even knew there was a book, and it still remains one of my favourite anime films (along with several other Hayao Miyazaki films). When I read the book by Diana Wynne Jones I realised that the movie was quite different – it was a bit less creepy and a bit more cute, as can be expected from an anime motion picture – but the differences made it a better movie than if it had been a carbon copy of the original. Miyazaki created a grand anime fantasy saga that showcased the magic of the book, while also showing his brand of humor and a different fantasy element. The steampunk inspired flying machines in Miyazaki’s film were completely his own creation, as was the wartime setting but these elements wove together to make a great film. If Diana Wynne Jones can love it despite its differences (quoted here) then I certainly can 🙂

3. Chocolat (2000)

Based on Chocolat by Joanne Harris

This movie was a rare one that I saw after reading and loving the book. Normally my prefered order is adaptation then book, because the book is usually better so that way I will be pleasantly surprised rather that possibly really disappointed. In the case of Chocolat I thought the movie looked really well done and in the right vein as the book so gave it a go. Yes, there were some differences, such as the Mayor and vicar being separate people in the movie when he was one commanding character in the book, but the differences didn’t really bother me because at the heart of it, it was the same magical, delicious tale. Chocolat was asking for a visual representation – there was something about the sensual mixing of the chocolate and the descriptions of the quaint french town that needed to be on film, and the way that it was shot definitely didn’t disappoint. On top of this I thought the actors, namely Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and  Johnny Depp were perfect choices for the characters (they looked almost exactly like I imagined them) and the music was a atmospheric finishing touch.

4. Watership Down (1978)

Based on Watership Down by Richard Adams 

You’d think with how much this book has come up in my Top 10’s I would be sick of it, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon 😛 I made a terrible mistake when I borrowed this on video (video!) when I was a kid. Not because it wasn’t amazing – because it was. Not because it was too scary for my age group – hmm maybe a little. No, it was a mistake because I saw it when I was a chapter or two away from finishing the book and it kinda ruined the end for me. That’s the problem with book-to-screen adaptations – no matter how good it is, if you see it before you read the book, be ready for spoilers…and vice versa really. Anyway, despite my bad timing I was glad that I watched Watership Down because it was amazing. The movie is very true to the original story, including the harsher realities that easily could’ve been omitted so as not to scare the kiddies, and a good thing too! I was young when I saw it and I would’ve been able to smell the bullshit if those horrible parts from the book had been glossed over. The movie was so well done that to this day, scenes from it come to mind when I think of the book…as does Bright Eyes playing heartrenchingly in the background.

5. James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Based on James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl 

The first time I saw this movie was when I was at an adult party with no other kids, so my mum put me in a quiet room with a tv and played the only kids video that was there. I can’t remember If I had already read the Roald Dahl book, or just other stories of his, but I do remember that I was quite underwhelmed about being on my own watching a film I wasn’t interested in. That is, until the movie really started and I got so into it that I didn’t even notice when other kids arrived and wanted to play (play? are you serious? This movie is way too awesome!). What I loved most about the movie (besides the generally awesome story of a young boy flying across the world in a giant peach pulled by birds, with a cast of colourful bug characters) was the style of animation – those rough scratchy looking stop motion figures that can found in most Tim Burton related animations. The style just fit Roald Dahl’s work so well, especially since I was so used to the sketchy illustrations by Quentin Blake that adorned all his books. Whenever it was that I read the book (maybe I even read it again after seeing the film?) I also noticed that the film was quite faithful to the original, but at that point it didn’t even matter. I just knew that I loved it, and it is still one of my favourite “children’s” movies.

6. The Colour of Magic (2008)

Based on The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett 

This is the only tv adaptation on the list and also the only miniseries! The “movie” is actually in two parts and covers the plot of the first two Discworld books. It was coincidently only a little after I read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic that I saw the DVD for this in my local rental place (which I never go to anymore since I get all my DVDs from libraries or Quickflix) and I was pretty excited to watch it as I loved Hogfather, which is another Terry Pratchett adaptation by the same creators. The miniseries is missing some details from the books (it’s just too hard to put some of Pratchett’s crazy words into a visual format) but the uniqueness of Discworld was left intact, and what I really liked was some of the actors that were chosen. David Jason was a perfect Rincewind, Sean Astin was surprisingly spot-on as Twoflower, Tim Curry was great (as always :)) as the evil Trymon, and Christopher Lee was born to be the rumbling voice of Death. I would’ve also included Hogfather, as I think it was a better “film” in general, but since I’m not up to that book yet (I’m being pedantic and reading them in order even ‘tho they don’t really need to be) it doesn’t meet my guidelines 😛

7. Oliver! (1968)

Based on The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

This musical classic was one of my favourite movies when I was a child. I didn’t really realise it at the time, but it was pretty amazing that a cheery musical extravaganza could be made from a story that’s quite bleak and depressing. When I did read the book (In a bumper classics collection that also included Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows!) I saw how sad the story of little Oliver Twist was and I was impressed with how close the movie got to the original story while adding some happiness and colour in the form of song and dance 🙂

8. Alice in Wonderland (1999)

Based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll 

There has been many adaptations of this classic story that remains one of my favourites, and while I enjoyed them all to some extent this one was the closest to the book and is also an entertaining film in general. The movie covers all the important parts of the book, including parts that are often omitted (i.e. when Alice encounters the Griffin and Mock Turtle) with a bit of Through the Looking Glass thrown in for good measure. The costumes and special effects are accurate without being too flashy giving the movie a nice literary feel rather than looking like a big blockbuster like other adaptations (being a Tim Burton fan I did like his version, but it often strayed into blockbuster territory). I also thought the characters were well cast, with Tina Majorino playing the wonderfully sweet (and brunette!) Alice; Miranda Richardson as the bossy and self-important Queen of Hearts; Martin Short as the quintessential Mad Hatter; Gene Wilder as the melancholy Mock Turtle; and the fabulous Whoopi Goldberg grinning away as the Cheshire Cat.

9. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

Based on Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

This is a beautiful film that fully captures the original story – a fictional telling of Dutch painter Vermeer during the period when he painted his famous work Girl with a Pearl Earring and the relationship he formed with the maid that posed for him. The movie perfectly illustrated the tension between Vermeer and the other characters; the beauty of Delft; and the intricate process of mixing paints in that period – all the elements that I loved in the book but in a visual form! I also thought the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the beautiful maid Griet was flawless as she looks remarkably like the girl in the original painting and played the coy but curious character very well. I especially liked the effect in the movie where a shot of a famous Vermeer painting would start the scene and then would blend into a live action shot which mirrored the painting – very clever, and emphasised how well they recreated everything.

10. The Hedgehog aka Le Hérisson(2009)

Based on The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery 

I told you a while back that this movie may get on this Top 10 list – and this was before I had even seen it! As soon as I was a few minutes in to watching, I knew that It would get in even if that meant that another selection was knocked out (that selection was True Blood, the series based on the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I figured since I had expressed my love for both the book and tv series many times before it could afford to be bumped off :P). The thing that really endeared me to this movie was how it was adapted. The book is told in first person through the eyes of two main characters, and one of these characters – Paloma Josse – communicated solely through a series of journal entries, so I was wondering how they would do that in a movie, and do it well. The clever way that the creators got around this story-telling device was changing the format in which Paloma told her story – instead of her recounting what she planned to be her last days and a final examination of mankind around her, the Paloma in the movie was shooting a film where she narrated her thoughts about the world. I found this very clever and sophisticated of the film-makers – instead of forcing the written form into the film they embraced their own format and it fit really well. Another element that was added that I really dug was these little sketches and collages that Paloma creates that transition into quirky little animations that were the perfectly at home in this movie.

Well there you go you guys – I had heaps of fun compiling and writing this list and I’m glad you voted for it 🙂

And sorry it’s a tad late – I almost finished it on the 29th of October and was planning to post both lists before November began but then I was overwhelmed by study and work. I will post the second half asap but as I’m still pretty busy, it may not be up for up to a week. But stay tuned – I hope to do a small post or two soon also, as well as a few reviews that have backed up, so my recent absence will be rectified!

Top 10 Animal Characters

1. Cloot

Trinity series  by Fiona McIntosh 

I bought the first book in the Trinity series, Betrayal, randomly at an op-shop years ago, because I thought it looked and sounded interesting. Once I started it I was totally hooked, but couldn’t find the second book, Revenge no matter how hard I looked and had actually read Betrayal several times before I finally found Revenge in a second-hand bookstore. The third book, Destiny, was even more of a battle and there was actually a gap of a couple of years between reading Revenge and Destiny, which is very confusing with a fantasy trilogy! One of the reasons I persevered was the quality of characters such as Cloot. Cloot was originally a crippled man who the hero of the books, Torkyn Gynt, rescues from a pack of men torturing him. When Tor and Cloot travel to the Heartwood, Tor finds out his true destiny and the significance of Cloot appearing in his life, and  Cloot is transformed into a Peregrine Falcon. Cloot is a great character both as a man and as a falcon (tho he’s much more majestic as a falcon). He’s like Tor’s conscience because he’s always at his side giving advice and stopping him from getting a big head or loosing his temper, especially because he can only talk inside Tor’s head. He also has some of the best one-liners!

Cloot in the flesh 🙂

2. Fiver

Watership Down  by Richard Adams

The character of Fiver was what drew me into Watership Down at the beginning. As a weird little kid I loved that he was the runt (the fifth in the litter) and that he ‘knew’ things that the other didn’t. I rooted for the little guy all the way through, and was thrilled whenever Hazel (the main character in the book and Fiver’s brother) stood up for Fiver or helped him go on and he grew stronger as the tale went on. Also to this day whenever I think of Watership Down I see Fiver’s poor little face from the very dramatic (and at the age I was, traumatic!) scene in the movie when he has a violent prophetic episode 😦 poor Fiver!

Oh Fiver, you adorable little weirdo 🙂

3. Warren

Rhubarb and The World According to Warren by Craig Silvey

Warren the golden lab provides a healthy dose of humour in Rhubarb, a book that could easily become depressing, and he must have been universally popular because shortly after Rhubarb Craig Silvey’s publishers produced a picture book all his own 🙂 I haven’t found The World According to Warren yet, but I’m sure it is very cute because Warren is such a unique character. For a guide-dog he’s kind of lazy and easily distracted, but his devotion and love for Eleanor is so clear from the start and he has a definite pride in his work.

I would love to see the world through his eyes

4. Horatio

Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood 

It was hard to pick a singular pet from this series as the books are filled with a host of colourful cat characters, from Belladonna the elegant companion to resident witch Meroe; to the insane ginger kitten, Lucifer who is quickly running out of nine lives; to the Mouse Police, Heckle and Jeckle who diligently catch vermin in the bakery in exchange for noms. But I just couldn’t go past Corinna’s tabby and white tom, Horatio, who quietly rules the whole lot of them, including all humans 🙂 Horatio is the quintessential princely cat. His perfect day would consist of waking to a dish of milk lovingly poured by his mistress, followed by a leisurely morning of snoozing and fur maintenance until his adoring public started to flow through the bakery, at which point he takes his place by the cash register to receive sufficient worship, and then ending by retiring to the roof as his mistress sips a G & T and strokes him to blissful slumber. Oh! and exquisite fish for dinner of course!

I imagine Horatio to look something like this 🙂

5. Hedwig

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Weirdly enough it wasn’t all the cool magic and flying on broomsticks and stuff I envied in the Harry Potter books or movies it was the fact that owls brought their mail!! If I was going to Hogwarts I totally would’ve gotten an owl rather than a toad or rat (didn’t work out so well for Ron!) or cat (even tho I love cats) because, come on, when else can you have an owl except when you’re a witch/wizard?! Hedwig is (was :() such a beautiful owl and even tho she couldn’t speak and wasn’t involved in much action, she played a very important part and is one of the most memorable parts of the books to me.

I want a goddamn owl!

6. Maruman

Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody 

Maruman is the grumpy, one-eyed and somewhat insane feline companion of Elspeth Gordie, the main character in the fabulous Obernewtyn Chronicles. From the first book (Obernewtyn) Maruman is by Elspeth’s side communicating with her telepathically and cryptically predicting her future. As the books go on it is also revealed that Maruman is the Moonwatcher and as such is destined to protect Elspeth on the dreamtrails. Maruman is a very ancient, often cantankerous and quite loony cat, and that is why I like him 🙂 I don’t think the Obernewtyn Chronicles would be the same without him. I am still waiting for the next  book in the series – The Sending – whose release keeps being delayed 😦 The latest date that has been announced is November 2011, but I’m not holding out hope that this is correct as there has been many dates announced before, but even still I will be waiting with bated breath until it is released.

Come on already!

7. The Doorman

The Messenger by Markus Zusak 

The Doorman is the faithful companion of Ed, the protagonist in The Messenger. He is a huge, old and smelly Rottweiler, German Shepard cross that enjoys a good long snooze and sharing a coffee with his master. The Doorman is the comic relief in The Messenger, providing Ed with perspective as he lives through some very strange happenings. He is non-judgemental and almost immobile most of the time but he has a quiet, unashamed dignity. He doesn’t care that he stinks to high heavens and is surprisingly unfazed when Ed’s mate has to kiss him after loosing a bet. But most of all he is a loving, loyal dog – the classic man’s best friend 🙂

A fine likeness of The Doorman

8. The Librarian

Discworld series by Terry Pratchett 

The Librarian is an interesting character to be on this list as when he is introduced in the first Discworld novel – The Colour of Magic – he is human, and only becomes an Orang Utan in the second book – The Light Fantastic – when the powerful magical book, the Octavo, erupted with a beam of magic. Despite being an Orang Utan the Librarian remains at his post caring for the unpredictable and sometimes volatile spell books at the Unseen University and actually finds that his new form is perfectly suited to climbing the high shelves. The Librarian’s vocabulary consists of the single syllable – Ook – (with the occasional Eek! at times of panic or anger) but it is amazing how many emotions or phrases can be conveyed in that syllable and most of the wizards at the University have no problem understanding him or are phased but the fact that an ape is running the library.

I would certainly welcome an Orang Utan Librarian 🙂

9. Gylfie

The Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky 

Gylfie was one of my favourite characters in book one of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series – The Capture – and in the movie. She has so much spunk and bravery for such a small and young owl and she always seems to know how to put the main character, Soren, in his place. She is very sharp and intelligent in both the books and movie as well as having a dry sense of humour, but she is not tolerant to jokes about her size and can be quite self-conscious. Plus, being an Elf Owl she is very adorable!

Gylfie in the movie - Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

10. The Great A’Tuin

Discworld  series by Terry Pratchett

The Great A’Tuin, Sky Turtle, is much more than an animal character as she carries the whole Discworld (perched on four elephants) through space on the back of her shell. When the series begins it is made clear that the sex of the Great A’Tuin is not known but many adventurers and scientists have tried to discover it by venturing over the edge of the Disc, with unsuccessful results. However it is discovered that the Sky Turtle is female (or at least assumed so) at the end of The Light Fantastic when A’Tuin travels to the hatching site of her eggs which all contain little Sky Turtles with their own elephants and Disc. I personally think that having a Disc-shaped world on the back of four giant elephants who in turn stand on the shell of a gigantic turtle swimming through space, is one of the most unusual and creative ideas in literature and is a real testament to Terry Pratchett’s imagination.

"Great A'Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters."

Top 10 Books About Animals

I’m a big animal lover and I happen to read a lot of books that feature animals, so I thought why not do an animal themed Top 10 this month 🙂 Sooooo first I present my Top 10 books about animals and then the Top 10 animal characters.

Enjoy 🙂

1. Watership Down  by Richard Adams

Lovers of my previous Top 10’s will know that I’m quite fond of the rabbit epic, Watership Down, but it had to be in this list because, basically, it’s awesome 🙂 It may have been the first book with an entirely non-human character base that I loved as a kid, but made me feel grown-up. It’s an excellent story with a wealth of details about the rabbit’s social structure – Adams even created a rabbit language, political and social hierarchies and other clever little tidbits that make the story really rich and believable. Even if you don’t really like books about animals, I would recommend it.

2. Redwall  series by Brian Jacques

Another book (or series of books) that showed me animal stories didn’t need to be boring! I read a fair few of these when I was in primary school (tho I can’t remember which ones exactly) and I thought it was so cool that someone wrote a series of books about mice and other woodland creatures that battle with tiny swords and protect little castles! One day I hope to read the series again from the start, especially because it’s still going with the 22nd book being released earlier this year 🙂

To battle!

3. Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH  by Robert C O’Brien

I think I was given this book for a present when I was a kid, and I still own the original (and very well-read) copy. It’s another book about rats and mice but very different to the Redwall series. instead of mice with swords the story revolves around a field mouse called Mrs Frisby and her family who have fallen on hard times since their father was killed by the farm’s cat. When her son Timothy falls ill and their home is threatened by impending plowing, Mrs Frisby seeks the council of a wise owl who on hearing the name of her late husband refers her to the Rats of NIMH. The rats are former lab rats from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) which are highly intelligent due to the testing they underwent there. The book is a classic of children’s literature and received the Newbery Medal in 1972. Robert C O’Brien’s daughter Jane Leslie Conly (O’Brien’s actual name was Robert Leslie Conly) also wrote two sequels after her father’s death: Rasco and the Rats of NIMH and R-T, Margaret and the Rats of NIMH which I don’t think I have read and there was two animated films made based on the books.

This is what happens when you experiment on lab rats people!

4. Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky

So far I have only read the first of this series – The Capture – but even from the first book I was attracted to the detail Kathryn Lasky went into when describing owl culture and behaviour. The book showed some real research into the anatomy and day-to-day life of various owl species, while telling an exciting and emotional story that acknowledges kids intelligence by using real scientific names of species and not shying away from harsh realities – after all, owls aren’t really cute and fluffy, especially in the world of these books! I look forward to reading more of the series (there is 15 in total!) and in fact the second book – The Journey – is on one of my “to read” piles just waiting to be picked up 🙂

I ❤ owls ^-^

5. Promise of the Wolves  by Dorothy Hearst

This was a book that I ordered off my bookclub a few years ago for a few reasons: 1. I had to buy at least one book each month; 2. It was cheap; and 3. The cover was cool and the blurb sounded pretty interesting. The story follows Kaala, a young wolf who barely makes a place for herself in the Swift River Pack as she is a “mix-blood” and is almost killed at birth for this reason. Kaala and her litter mates are given a chance at life when their mother is banished instead, but they are constantly trying to prove their place in the pack. On top of all this, one day Kaala saves a drowning human child when the number one wolf law is to stay away from humans. From then on Kaala’s curiosity over humans grows as does an inexplicable bond to the girl she saved and she has to evaluate the reasons behind the promise of the wolves: Never consort with humans. Never kill a human unprovoked. Never allow a mixed-blood wolf to live. The book is set in Northern America at the time of the earliest native Americans and is a very interesting look at how the human-canine bond may have formed. The series (the second book of the Wolf Chronicles – Secret of the Wolves – apparently comes out this month and the third – Spirit of the Wolves – is due early 2012) were meticulously researched over many years and it certainly shows. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

It was the eyes that drew me in

6. Aspect of Crow series by Jeri Smith-Ready

I only started this series in 2009 and it has become one of my favourite fantasy trilogies. While the characters are all human, animals play an integral part as each person has an animal aspect that gives them certain abilities. The first book – Eyes of Crow – starts with the main character, Khia, coming up to the time when a Spirit will choose her and already there has been signs that she will be Crow, namely the fact that she can tell if someone or something near death will die or not. The books weave such a rich mythology based on the Spirit animals paired with spirituality similar to that of the native Americans, which makes the plot and characters much fuller and more believable. If you’re a lover of quality fantasy, I’d definitely recommend you give them a go 🙂 As I said before the first book is Eyes of Crow followed by Voice of Crow and ending with The Reawakened.

I wonder what my Spirit animal would be? 🙂

7. Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce

This is a great little young adult fantasy series that follows Daine (full name Veralidaine Sarrasri) a young orphan who finds out she has Wild Magic enabling her to speak with animals as well as other abilities that are developed throughout the books such as healing animals, inhabiting animal’s bodies and shape-shifting. The first book – Wild Magic – was given to me by one of my mum’s friends when I was in my teens and I loved it so much that I went looking for the second book – Wolf Speaker – at my local library and soon after also borrowed the third book – Emperor Mage – and the last in the series – The Realm of the Gods. Tamora Pierce is one of those fantasy writers that churns out series’ like a machine so there is actually a few other series’ she has written that are set in the same universe as the Immortals quartet – the Song of the Lioness quartet; the Protector of the Small quartet; the Daughter of the Lioness duo; and the Provost’s Dog trilogy but I have yet to read them.

Daine - queen of the beasts 🙂

8.  Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Many people wouldn’t consider these classics of absurdist children’s literature to be books about animals but there are so many great animal characters in them (namely the White Rabbit; the Cheshire Cat; the March Hare; Dormouse; Dodo; the Caterpillar etc etc) that they had to be mentioned. I’ve been a huge Alice fan since I was a child and still can’t go past a remake or reimagining (The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor and the mini-series Alice are particularly good). I even had an Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass themed party for my 22nd where me and my friend made jam tarts, hedgehog balls and other themed nibbles; and we played pin the tail on the mock-turtle and a special version of pass the parcel 🙂

Curiouser and curiouser...

9. The Wind in the Willows  by Kenneth Grahame

This book is the first chapter-based book I remember being read when I was little. All my picture books and collections of nursery rhymes had been on constant rotation by the time I was about 3 or 4 so mum decided to try reading a little bit of Wind in the Willows to me on nights when I didn’t really feel like a particular story. I was so enthralled by the antics of Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad of Toad Hall that soon it was the only book requested at bedtime. When I was a bit older I also loved the puppet-based tv show. Badger was my favourite ^-^

Nothing beats animals in dapper little coats and waistcoats 🙂

10. The complete works of Beatrix Potter

In my opinion Beatrix Potter was the Queen of children’s stories about animals. She has created classic characters like Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten and Jemima Puddleduck that are still known of today, which is pretty impressive considering she wrote her stories more than a hundred years ago and she’s been deceased for almost 70 years. Since I was really young I’ve owned The Complete Adventures of Tom Kitten and his Friends; The Tale of Peter Rabbit; The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (one of my personal faves) and a few in the miniature collection, and I still treasure them. I also was very fond of the tv series.

Nawww! look at em in their little clothes! ^-^

Keep your eyes peeled over the next day or two for my other Top 10 – the Top 10 Animal Characters 🙂

Happy Reading!

Top 10 Books of All Time

Yes, I left the best for last 🙂 For those of you who haven’t been reading over the last few days, I’ve been writing a series of “Top 10” lists. First my “Top 10 authors” , then my “Top 10 Books from Childhood” and now my last “Top 10” (perhaps :P) – my “Top 10 Books of All Time”! This was surprisingly the easiest to come up with, because the really good ones stick in your head. It would take a lot for a new novel to knock any of these off their pedestal!

1. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

If you read  my previous post about Craig Silveythis won’t be a big surprise as I waxed lyrical about both his books – and for good reason! I can’t recommend this book enough, and If you don’t like it…well frankly, we can’t be friends anymore 😛

The sweetest peach

2. Rhubarb by Craig Silvey

Like Jasper Jones this is a book I wax lyrical about, but unlike Jasper Jones I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Rhubarb is a very unusual and poetic book, so If you’re willing to read something a bit different then it’s perfect, but If you like traditional writing styles then It’s probably not your cup of tea.
*If you want to read more about Rhubarb or Jasper Jones then check out my post on Craig Silvey and his work: Craig Silvey: Jewel of the West*

Winner of the most non-sensical title award

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

A beautiful book set in Nazi Germany with a unique narrator – Death (or the Grim Reaper). I love an anthropomorphised Death (like the one in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series) so that point initially drew me in, but it’s when you get into the meat of the story that it really shines. It’s hard to explain how much I loved this book when I read it – I laughed, I cried – read it! Also this interview with Markus Zusak about writing the book is really enlightening.

Ironically I had to re-purchase this book because my first copy went missing...stolen perhaps?

 4. The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Hmmm I seem to be going in twos don’t I? The Messenger is a very different book to The Book Thief (a bit like Jasper Jones is a very different book to Rhubarb…is anyone else seeing a pattern here?) but made as much of an impact on me, if not more because its more relatable. The book is set in Australia (where Markus Zusak is from) and is broken up into four parts named after the four suits in a deck of cards (Clubs, Diamonds, Spades, Hearts). I won’t give away why the parts revolve around the suits, but Its a really interesting and unique story idea. Like any good book (in my opinion) this made me feel sick to my stomach in parts, but also unwilling to stop reading, and then pages later I would find myself bursting into fits of laughter.

Protect the Diamonds, Survive the Clubs, Dig deep through Spades, Feel the Hearts

5. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

I borrowed this book off a friend of the family and read it while I was studying Art and Written/Oral Communication at TAFE. For one of my Written/Oral Communication assessments I had to write a review and I wrote a glowing review of The Red Tent which the lecturer commented on, saying It was obvious I greatly enjoyed the book. That is an understatement. I LOVED The Red Tent. That love was even more pronounced because before I started it, I didn’t think I’d like it at all! The book is set in biblical times and tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob, and deals with many traditions of women in that time. The “Red Tent” refers to a tent where all the woman of the household would retire to during menstruation. At that time in my life I had very little interest in books based on Bible stories (being a newly devout Pagan) and anything that I perceived as feminism was a pet hate. But I was forced to re-evaluate a few beliefs with this book, because it was such an engaging story. I now am drawn to “religious” fiction and am slower to judge something as a feminist work.

Proved me wrong

6. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

If you read my first Top 10 post you would know about my mixed feeling for Jeanette Winterson’s books, but there is no mixed feelings about The Passion, just passionate ones. The Passion is set in France and revolves around two young people – a young man who is sent to fight in the Napoleonic wars and a young woman in Venice who dresses as a man. It’s an amazing little book – strange and evocative like a fairy tale, but unlike any fairy tale ever written. If you are going to read just one book by Jeanette Winterson, read The Passionbecause it’s truly a brilliant story.

Everyone wears a mask

7. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is truly a master to have created a world as rich as the Barcelona in The Shadow of the Wind. This is a novel that is fully immersive – when you love the characters you truly love them, when you hate them you truly hate them, and most of all you want to know what happens to them. I cried and gasped far too much while reading this book – If it was all documented I’m sure I would’ve looked like a nutcase – and that’s what really makes a book great. I have heard that the sort-of sequel The Angel’s Game is not as good, and I can see why it wouldn’t be – it would be very hard to recreate the magic of The Shadow of the Wind. Hopefully one day Carlos Ruiz Zafón will recreate that magic and then he too will get a double spot on my Top 10 🙂

A world all its own

8. Mister God this is Anna by Fynn

I could go on and on about this book, but since I happened to write a review about it this month, I would just be repeating myself 😛 So go read the post to see why I love this book so much 🙂

A lot of food for thought

 9. Watership Down by Richard Adams

This is the only book that is on the Top 10 Books from Childhoodas well as the Top 10 Books of All Time, because, well it’s wonderful 🙂 Check out the Top 10 Books from Childhood to read why it has remained a fave of mine, or go read it – and remember, bunnies can be exciting!

Bright eyes, burning like fire...Oh stop it you'll make me cry!

 10. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Cloudstreet is one of those intricate family sagas that appears once in a blue moon, written by an equally rare and precious author. It revolves around two working class families (the Pickles and the Lambs) who move from rural Western Australia into “the city” (Perth) and live in two halves of a giant old house – No.1 Cloud Street. It spans the 1940’s and 50’s as it traces the many ups and downs of the two families and how they are both affected by an old run-down home. The book has recently been turned into a mini-seriesthat played on Showcase, and was also adapted for the stage and toured in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, London, Dublin, New York and Washington DC.

I can't wait til the miniseries is released on DVD 🙂

So there you have it, my last “Top 10”, I’ve written exactly 10 posts a month again and all is right in the world 🙂
So far I haven’t had any comments saying I should make this a regular feature but I’ll give you all a bit more time, just in case 😉 if there is still no feedback proclaiming yay by the end of June, I’ll take it as a collective nay and it will only be reviews, new books and other random crazy from now on 😛