Wednesday, 26 December 2007

A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly

(British title for "A Northern Light")

This one must be one the most gripping book I’ve read this year. If you’re looking for something extremely hard to put down at night (or on the bus/train/at work/while cooking…) read this. I’m not sure what made it so interesting, because when I talk about it at customers in the shop they never seem impressed. In fairness it didn’t appeal to me either at first (before I started reading it), but it is a Carnegie Medal winner and I knew it had to be good. Its charm relies on the simple, or better, the old fashion style of the narration. It doesn’t try to allure you with skilful or fancy techniques, but the story and the characters are interesting enough to get you hooked in few pages. That, and the fact that it deals with a smart and determined girl’s passion for books, reading and writing. During the sexist and conservative America of the 1900’s. I believe this could have been enough to make me love it. But the book had much more to offer.

Set at the beginning of the 21st century in North America, it’s told by the 16 year old protagonist Matt, on two time levels: the present - July, 1906 - when Matt is working at a hotel, at the time of Grace Brown’s death, who drowned mysteriously in the nearby Big Moose Lake. And the very recent past, when Matt is living in a farm with her father and her sisters, while trying to find a way to escape her life and become a writer in the Big City. Therefore, the true story of Grace Brown’s murder is intertwined with Matt’s fictional one in an unlikely but completely absorbing way. On one hand we get to know Matt closely, and we learn to love her. An aspiring writer, with lots of talent, but no support from her family, who need her more in the farm than in school. We get to live in a farm and understand how hard it was to make a living out of it, while trying to feed the children, keep the house clean and your father happy, without a mother to take care of it all. We meet the minor characters who are almost as interesting as Matt’s herself, especially her teacher, who is so important for her self-esteem and for feeding her dreams of freedom and independency.
At the same time we get to know another girl, Grace Brown, through the letters that she gave Matt before dying, and we slowly begin to understand the chilling truth that lies behind her death. Although I didn’t know anything about the case of Grace Brown before reading the book, I knew it was about a murder. But finding out why and how she was killed is not the key point. While reading her letters, Matt establishes a connection with the girl, she suffers for her, hopes for her, feels pity for her. Until she realises something very important that helps to change her life completely.
Like many young adult novels, this one is about finding out one’s real self and realising one’s dreams. But its deep yet simple story is so enthralling, it makes it unique. A book to treasure, and to recommend to anyone, always.
Once again, with the “Something about me Challenge”, I found a beautiful book that will remain a favourite for many years. Thanks to Diane for choosing it, great choice!

other blog reviews:
Megan at Leafing through life
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Book Muncher

Friday, 7 December 2007

I got my present!

...last night! That was just the best way to end a great day. I was off so it was already a good day. But also:
- I had a most-needed haircut.
- I bought myself a pair of 70's style FUN-TA-STIC rollerskates, yellow and blue that I can't wait to try on a sunny day (when??)
- I went to see "The Golden Compass". Did I like it? Yes and No. I felt it was a bit rushed, but some parts well really well done, so I need to watch it again. I liked the deamons, Nicole, Lyra, and Iorek. But some of the characters weren't fully developed. I'm not sure it will be a big hit, but I hope so, cause I want to see the other two!!

and then I came home and found a parcel for me! It was a great surprise, because it came very early and I wasn't waiting for it.
My Secret Santa was.....Ana/Nymeth! And she got me the perfect present: a copy of "I was a Rat!" by Philip Pullman. Also included was a lovely card, a minty candy stick and a chocolate Santa (which didn't last long I must say:P).
Again I need to say how happy I am to be part of this, it's such a great idea.
And thanks to Ana for organising it. I feel very lucky to have had her as my Secret Santa. Unfortunately I can't show you any pictures due to the lack of digital cameras...
I've sent my present to my "santee" today. I know it's very late, but I hope it will arrive safely and not too late anyway.
Happy Christmas to everyone, I'm so in the mood this year!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The Advent Calendar Blog Tour : the toys, the movies, the memories...

Welcome to the Advent Blog Tour 2007 day 4!

Ok,today is revival day. Since Christmas is all about children and childhood I'd like to focus on that, namely *my* childhood and christmas memories. Having divorced parents since the age of 5 has meant for me spending Christmas day in various places. In my father's house, my mum's, my uncles, my grandparents... So I don't really have a tradition that has been going on for years. It has always been different.
But something was always there:
1) the toys!
Man,I loved toys, and since some of them are now kind of forgotten I'd like to pay a tribute to some of my favourites, the wonderful toys of the 80's!
Rainbow Brite

I don't remember getting her for Christmas, but since I got one once and lost it straight away, it has always been very coveted ever since.


She was He-Man's cousin, or something. I was so happy when I got her castle for Christmas, she was very cool.


I'm a girl so unfortunately I never got these for Christmas,but luckily I had cousins and half-brothers who were happy to let me play with theirs! Sometimes boys toys were much much better...


You could never have enough legos...

This list could go on and on. But if you click here you'll find tons and tons of 80's toys to freshen up your memory. I'm afraid I'm gonna spend hours looking at all of them now..

The second main features of Christmas were...
3)The movies!

I'm talking about the films on tv, not at the cinema. Those films that are always on every year, and that we all look forward to watch even if we know them by heart!
I've come up with my lists of favourites:

The Neverending Story

Probably my favourite kids film ever, I watch it every year around Christmas and still gives me the shivers. Now I have the dvd, but as a child, I was always hoping to find it on tv.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory

Obviously I'm choosing the 1971's version, because that's what I used to watch,but also because I think it's way better!

Mary Poppins

Christmas holidays wouldn't be complete without my favourite nanny on tv.

This also could go on forever, but I'd like to mention some more that give me an instant Christmasy feeling:
The Wizard of Oz (wonderful Judy Garland)
The Sword in the Stone (it's always on on Christmas Eve or day, dunno why, but I love it)
Willow (80's fantasy, not very famous, but still christmasy for me)
E.T. (the cutest alien!!!!)
Herbie (and all the rest of the Disney family movies, cheesy but unmissable)
The sound of music (of course!)
Who framed Roger Rabbit (it's linked to Christmas to me because when it came out in the cinema I was on Christmas holiday but I couldn't go to see it cause I was really sick. My cousins brought me sweets after they went to see it, to compensate)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (such a classic).

I'll leave you with my favourite Christmas memory. I must had been 7 or 8. I was playing with Fragolino and Fragolina (Mr and Mrs Strawberry: I couldn't find them in the list,I'm pretty sure it wasn't Strawberry Shortcake. They were tiny, and had a strawberry as a hat, and a strawberry van) in my granny's house in Sicily. Now, my granny was really religious and she would always set up a nativity near the Christmas tree. She had this tiny figures who represented the Holy Mary, and The Baby Jeesus, the Magi etc... Only the Baby Jesus was horrible looking. Really. He had a serious angry face which I didn't like at all! So I thought of replacing the baby Jesus with my Fragolino,who was much cuter:) I didn't think anybody would mind...but my granny went wild!!! As soon as she saw it she screamed at me "what have you done? What's this? where did you put the baby jesus? heresy!".
I was mortified, but my dad only laughed and thought I had a great idea :D

Now, keep opening this little windows of memory by visiting each day of the Advent Blog Tour!:
5 December - Melissa (Book Nut)
6 December - Laura (Musings)
7 December - Wendy (Caribousmom)
8 December - Nymeth (Things Mean A Lot)
9 December - Raidergirl (an adventure in reading), Chris (Stuff as dreams are made on)
10 December - Dewey (The Hidden Side of a Leaf)
11 December -Suey (It's All About Books)
12 December - Chris (Book-a-rama)
13 December - Jill (The Well-Read Child)
14 December - Robin (A Fondness for Reading)
15 December - Alyssa (By The Book)
16 December - Rachel (A Fair substitute for heaven)
17 December - Literary Feline (Musings of a Bookish Kitty)
18 December - Dev (Good Reads)
19 December - Callista S.M.S. (Book Reviews)
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian (Tiny Little Librarian)
21 December - Carla (Carla Nayland Historical Fiction)
22 December - Carolyn Jean (The Trillionth Page)
23 December - Booklogged (A Reader's Journal)
24 December - Kailana (The Written World) / Carl V. (Stainless Steel Droppings)

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Golden Compass controversy

Read this article!

It hasn't been released yet, but "The Golden Compass" and its author Philip Pullman have already been accused of atheistic propaganda, vicious hidden messages aimed at children before Christmas,of secretly campaigning to overthrow the power of the Christian Church...
I knew this was going to happen. It's a big American production and you can't do or say anything against the Church there without being eaten alive (metaphorically of course), especially if children are involved. But when I read this article I HAD to say something in my own little blog. BECAUSE THIS PEOPLE HAVEN'T EVEN READ THE BOOKS! It makes me so angry that they can stir such a commotion, promote a a boycott, tell so so many people not to judge with their own minds, when they don't even know what they're talking about. This subject really touches me, because since I read it, His Dark Materials trilogy became one of my absolutely favourites. So I know that (and don't read on if you don't want to spoil the plot...) it's untrue what they say about God being killed by a child. In The Amber Spyglass God is dying because of his own frailty. the children don't have anything to do with it. They notice an old man on a litter passing by and they even feel pity for him but they can't do anything. They have their own mission to accomplish.

There is a message in the book,of course there is. And it's a message of love, and tolerance, and friendship. For century the Church, in all its forms, have been the denial of all this. I'm speaking about the Church with a capital C, which involves power and repression. If the books are anti-religious is because religion is always been accompanied by this. But it's in no way immoral, or even anti-spiritual. Think about what Dust is: a self-aware flow of energy that keeps the universe together and speaks to us of only we know how to listen. I love this idea, it's always been my idea of how the universe works, with or without a God, and Pullman managed to use it so beautifully in the best form: storytelling.
Unfortunately, in our world, people don't want to be challenged. Who has power wants to hold on to that power. But it's sad that they feel that they can be threatened by a film, or a book.

I hope the Golden Compass will be a success despite of or thanks to all this (and I'm REALLY looking forward to its release this week!!!).
But it is disappointing that in order to reach Hollywood books still have to go through this kind of censoring sieve.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Rolling

There hasn't been much going on here lately, I have some reviews to write but so little time...So that's when "Booking through Thursday" comes in handy:)
This week question is:

Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors…

Not really. Not that I know of. I do sometimes look for books on the same topic but not for fiction. As a child or teenager I would usually become obsessed with a particular thing (an actor/actress, places, films) and I would read anything about it, as well as collecting pictures, posters, stickers. But that's off topic.
So, no, I don't roll. In fact, I don't usually try to find the same things or themes in books. It might happen that I read books that have things in common but it's never intentional. Because if I like a certain book that's set in Paris and I really really loved it, if I read another book set in a Paris right after that, I would only keep comparing them, and I'm afraid I won't enjoy the second one for what it is.
Now that I think about it, most of the reading challenges are based on a roll, isn't it? I haven't joined a proper "themed" one yet, and I think I've just found out why!

-Edited after reading some other answers-
I completely forgot that few months ago I deliberately decided to read some Carnegie medal winners, so much that I was thinking of hosting a Read All the Carnegie Medals project, but I never did it cause I'm so busy all the time:(
Also I should be reading the Booker Prize winners too,but I'm not doing that much,really!:P
And what about my other commitments to 3 books for the Book to Movie challenge? I only read one, and I'm not sure I'll read the other 2 by the end of the year if I keep going at this deprecable speed!
Nah, I'm definitely not a reading roll girl.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Two Great Christmassy Ideas: Secret Santa + The Advent Blog Tour

I love presents. It's my favourite part of Christmas. I like making them with my hands, allow myself to be creative not just for the sake of it but to make a friend smile. I have some ideas for this year and I should start now if I want to be ready for the big day:) I can't wait to go back home and have a big party with my friends, not to mention the comforts of being fed and cuddled again by my lovely mum :P

I also like receiving presents. The more the better!
That's why as soon as I read about Nymeth's "Blogger Christmas exchange" idea I signed up immediately. Sounds like a lot of fun, why didn't I think of that?:D

Each participant is randomly assigned as another participant’s Secret Santa, and they are also assigned as somebody else’s “Santee”. What you have to do is send your person a little something – it can be a book, a pretty journal or bookmark, a box of homemade Christmas cookies, a Christmas mixed CD, or whatever else you can think of. Nothing pricey, of course. Second hand books are perfectly acceptable, as are homemade gifts. And of course, it should be something light, so it doesn’t cost a fortune to mail. Each person won’t know who their Secret Santa is until they get their package in the mail.

Click here for the full story and to sign up. I can't wait to send and receive my presents!

The second idea comes from Kailana's written world and Marg at Reading adventures. Just click on one of the links to find out everything about the 2007 Advent Blog Tour.

Each day anyone who wants to participate could take turns sharing a little treat with our friends here in blogland. For example it could be something about a holiday tradition, or a recipe, or a picture of a hot guy dressed as Santa, or a favourite Christmas memory, movie, song...anything you like. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas we would like to hear about what your family does during the holiday season, whether it be celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or anything!

As I'm writing there's still 3 days free so hurry up if you want to be part of it!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Love, Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli

I don't know why it took me so long to review this, cause it's actually the best books I've read in months. It wasn't a masterpiece, or the most original book around, even if the main character might as well be, but it warmed my soul. Reading it gave me so much energies. It made me feel good about the world, without being cheesy or soppy. It's Stargirl we're talking about, after all. I could read about Stargirl every day and never get tired of her. I wish she were my friend. I wish I lived in her world. "You do!" Stargirl would say. True, but I'd need someone like her to make me see it, to make the boring/depressing/sad reality seems full of surprises. I'm happy, though, that I can pick the book up anytime and absorb some of that magic.

This sequel was very unexpected to me. The end of the first one (see review ) didn't leave much room for a follow up, since Leo's grown up voice informs us that he never married and still hopes to meet her again one day. Nevertheless Stargirl had still something to say and didn't leave Jerry Spinelli alone till he continued writing her story. This time from her point of view. We get to hear her thoughts, and suddenly she doesn't seem so crazy or out of this world anymore. She's shy sometimes. She's self-conscious and unsure of herself like the rest of us. And she's not at her best either, cause despite having left Mika with a bang ( or with a hop...) she still loves and misses Leo (why??He doesn't deserve you!but anyway). So she decides to write him the longest letter in the world, in the form of a journal.
New year, new town, new people. Back to home-school with lots of time to dedicate to her shadow curriculum (with subjects like Element of Nothingness, Principles of swooning, Life under Rocks and Beginner whistling) and to get to know the locals. She will leave her mark in this town too,spreading the magic wherever she goes, but they will leave something to her too. She'll actually become part of the community, of this weird yet so ordinary group of people, and not a strange creature belonging to another planet.
As soon as I closed the book after reading the last page I knew I was going to miss 5-year-old attention-seeker Dootsie, agoraphobic Betty Lou, grumpy Alvina and everyone else. And instantly I knew I had added this to my all-time favourite list already.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Young Adult Challenge!

New year, new Challenge...
I've already seen tons and tons of challenges all over the places and I'd love to join them all because they're great fun, but since I'm not that good at reading books that I *have* to read, I've decided to keep the number of challenges for 2008 very low, meaning no more than 2 or 3! This at The Thoughts of Joy seems like the perfect one to start with. I do read a LOT of young adult novels anyway, and hopefully it will help me through the ever-growing pile of TBRs!(yeah, another rule that I will introduce this year is DON'T JOIN CHALLENGES WITH BOOKS THAT I DON'T HAVE ALREADY!, given the enormous amount of unread books that I keep accumulating).

So, for this challenge you have to choose 12 YA books to read during 2008, so it's 1 a month. I do read more than one a month usually, but I plan to read "adult" books too:P
They also can overlap with other challenges which is nice.

Here's the list:
(If by any chance I'll read any of these before 2008 I'll replace them with some others)

1) A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd

2) Epic by Conor Kostick

3) Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce

4) Raven's gate by Anthony Horowitz

5) Secret of the Fearless by Elizabeth Laird

6) Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce

7) Holes by Louis Sachar

8) The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

9) The Wish House by Celia Rees

10) The Year the Gypsies Came by Linzie Glass

11) Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

12) Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper


Tuesday, 30 October 2007

My Dad's a Birdman - David Almond

David Almond, author of the Carnegie medal winner "Skellig", is back with this delightful new story aimed at young children and beautifully illustrated by Polly Dunbar. Almond shows once again his love for birds with this surreal tale of a dad who's determined to learn how to fly in order to win the Great Human Bird Competition! Everyone thinks he's crazy, including his little and wise daughter Lizzie. But is he really? Probably. But he's also full of hope and dreams. He believes that faith and courage will be enough to make his body leave the ground and reach for the sky. So much that he manages to involve Lizzie in his funny and absurd plan. For an adult reader Lizzie's dad will maybe appear at the beginning as the worst example of fatherhood. He is so obsessed with his idea that he doesn't even dress in the morning. He hangs around in his dressing gown waiting for Lizzie to make breakfast and go to school. Then spends all his time practising and sewing his feathery wings. He even eats worms and flies just like a bird. What kind of dad is that? That's exactly what Auntie Doreen says when she visits her poor niece. Sensible and practical Auntie Doreen who knows what really matters for a young girl: sums and spelling, and dumplings. But is it really?

I love this book. It uses light and humourous tones to deliver a great message for children (and grown ups who forgot how it's like to be children). That the best time you can have is the time you spend fulfilling your dreams, together with the people you love. Lizzie's dad has his mind elsewhere, but as soon as he shares his project with his daughter, she embraces as her own, no matter what the outcome will be. Together they have a great time creating the most beautiful wings ever seen, and soon enough they become "The Crows", ready to jump and take off.

"Nothing fancy for the crows. No machines or engines, or slings or elastic bands. Wings and faith and...dare I say it?!"

I hope parents will read this together with their children, and that they will let themselves go crazy sometimes, just for the fun of it!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Spooky Bookworms Carnival is up!

The new edition of the Bookworms Carnival is up at This is the life. This month is all about Halloweeny stuff. If you're looking for something to read to get you in the spooky mood, look no further! Lots and lots of reviews (including mine:P), one author interview and much more. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Anne Enright winner of the Booker Prize!

Read the article on the official website.

I was very happy this morning to hear that Anne Enright won . I was hoping she did, even if I haven't read her book yet. She's Irish (a Dubliner!) and a woman, so that was enough for her to earn my preference. I hope I'll be able to read her book soon even if it sounds like a fairly depressing read. Anyone read her yet? Should I run and get it now? what about my never-ending pile of books still sitting there?
Ah well, I guess they'll have to wait a bit more. The next century probably.

I'm aware I haven't been updating my blog much lately, but not having internet connection at home, house-hunting (yes!! I have to move - AGAIN, i can't believe it), and being very stressed at work, doesn't really help my writing let alone my reviewing of other people's books...
Anyway, I hope to post new review soonish:)

Friday, 5 October 2007

I'm not scared - Niccolò Ammaniti

Michele Amitrano is a 9 year-old boy. He loves cycling with his bike named “Crock”, playing Subbuteo with his friend Salvatore, and imagining he is Tiger Jack, his Navajo Indian hero from the comics. Until one day he doesn’t need to pretend to live a dangerous adventure anymore, because he has a real one to deal with. It’s the day he discovers something that should have stayed hidden. Something that will show him that what his father had been telling him – “Monsters don’t exist. It’s men you should be afraid of”- is dreadfully true.

This could have been a perfect pick for the “something about me challenge”. It reminds me so much about my childhood in Sicily. The heat, the golden wheat fields, the running competitions, paying the forfeit after losing a race, the discovery of an abandoned house far away from home and the thrill of going inside, looking for some kind of treasure. The carob tree that we loved to climb. The dry river at the end of the field. The fights over who had to go and feed the dogs/wash the dishes/lay the table.
I was afraid of ghosts and my grandfather told me the same thing as Michele’s father once. He lived with Mafia all his life. He knew that men could be a lot more dangerous than monsters or ghosts.

That’s why maybe it felt authentic to me. The way children’s world is re-created is so true. Their funny logic, their rules, their stories, their fears are just like I remember them. If you can’t, then it means you have to read this book. It’ll help understand how kids’ minds work. It’ll remind you that they are always watching and listening, trying to make sense of our crazy logic.
Parents in this story are angry, frustrated, mostly poor and desperate to go far away, to the “North”. They don’t have time to listen to Michele, who has a secret bigger than him and would like to share it with his father. He’s sure that he will sort everything out, that he will make the monsters go away. But in the end, when grown-ups fail him, Michele will have to face his fears all by himself.

I’ve read this as part of the Movie Challenge. I’ve seen the film before reading the book and I loved it very much. It’s visually and emotionally stunning, the actors are perfect, the tension well built. For once I can’t say “the book is better” because both have something to give to the story. Through the book we get to hear Michele’s thoughts, while the film gives us the power of the visual emotion. Both are highly recommended!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Life updates and writing progresses...

Ahhhhhhhh!!!I'm so exhausted!!!!So much is going on in my life at the moment I don't know where to start! I've recently:
1) Moved out for the 4th time this year.
2) moved in into a beautiful new apartment, hope it lasts this time.
3) started a as senior bookseller (yay!promotion!!) in another, much bigger bookshop of the same company and
4) last but not least, I've tried to keep that resolution going....BUT, obviously, with so much going on, I haven't had much time. Or energy.

Last night was the first proper writing session I had since I posted my definitive resolution. And it ended up being an editing session, actually. How come anytime I re-read what I've written months ago, it sounds like crap??? I keep changing expressions and sentences to try and make it simpler. I don't like boring, long sentences, but, for some reason I write them a lot. Maybe I should wait till the first draft is finished and then start editing.
Anyway, I think I'm getting somewhere. Re-reading had made me want to write more so I think I'll do some tonight.I have some notes scattered around so I'll write them down properly and see how they sound.
The big problem is that I don't have internet at home yet!!!TRAGEDY!!!
I hope I get it sorted soon. Now I'm writing at work and my break is just over, so I better get going:)
...It's chaos outhere!!!!!!!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

The God of small things by Arundhati Roy

I have mixed feelings about this one. I had hoped to loose myself in it and be completely absorbed by the story, but that never happened really. At first, I was intrigued by the use of the language, so experimental and new. But after a while it started to be an obstacle, it didn’t let me enjoy the story freely. I had to stop many times to actually figure out what she meant and what was going on. It didn’t help that the timeline was mixed up constantly, making it hard at the beginning to follow the narration. The first chapters were hard to get into because of all the Indian names and words I didn’t know. There were so many characters and each seemed to have a story of their own. I normally like these family sagas, so I stopped and started reading it again from the beginning. That helped. Soon though, her style became somewhat annoying. Not because it didn’t sound beautiful. It did. But it was overdone. She kept repeating some words and phrases like a chant, or a refrain. And if that’s good in a song, I found out it doesn’t sound as pleasant in a novel. It stopped the story from flowing into me.
However, I kept reading. Partly because I was hoping that I would gradually accept her style and then just enjoy it. But mostly because I liked the story, I liked the little twins, who embodied the real meaning of the word “soul-mates”. I just wanted to know was going to happen to them. You can sense since the beginning that something had happened to this family, something terrible, unspeakable. How did the little cousin Sophie Mol died? Why had Estha, one the twins, been returned, like an unwanted parcel? Who is this Velutha that’s mentioned at the beginning, and what was his role in the tragedy? The author keeps the suspense on till the end, when in few chapters everything unravels and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Normally stories like this would depress me. I’d feel powerless in front of the inevitability of faith. But the way the author decided to end it, twisting the timeline again, leaves you with a happy, tender feeling, even if it’s a hopeless one. So I’m glad I read it and I made till the end. I’m not sure if I could handle another book with the same style, but it was interesting at least. It took me an awful lot of time to read, which is never good. But it left me some beautiful metaphors (she really has a talent for them) like this one:
He began to look wiser than he really was. Like a fisherman in a city. With sea-secrets in him.
New verbs like smiling out loud.
And a Banana Jam recipe that I might try one day!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


I've recently finished reading Love, Stargirl...I think I could read about Stargirl and live in her world forever! This book, like the first one, gave me so much energies and will to do things that I came up with THE DEFINITIVE resolution of the year. I've decided that I have to finish the story I'm writing. I never talk about it. It's my secret dream, to be able to finish it and say "I've written a book", and "let's start with something else!". I always find an excuse for not sitting down and write . There's always a better book, or I'm always tired or not in the mood. But as of today there won't be anymore excuses. Reading books is forbidden within the house. I can read on the train, on the bus, on my lunch break, fifteen minutes break, and MAYBE, if I've written something during the day, I can read before sleeping, in bed. I won't have another lazy day off when all I do is reading. Extra artistic activities are allowed since they help the mood, but only after I've started writing. I don't know why, but the hardest thing it to actually sit down and start. Once I've overcome this first step , I start creating and I have fun. But I guess I'm just lazy. And insecure.
So, since my mother and my best friend both want to read the end of it, I'm going to ban books till I'm finished!!
I'm very proud of this resolution. And I'm writing it on my blog to make it more definite, to take a commitment.
Now, don't ask what the story is about. I will tell you more when it's finished. Let's just say it's for children, it's a fantasy and it's written in Italian, obviously. I hope I will be posting LESS reviews and MORE updates on my writing progresses. Wish me luck!:)

This doesn't mean I won't post reviews at all. I have loads to write!
Upcoming reviews include:
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- Boy by Roald Dahl
- Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
and the latest by David Almond, author of Skellig "My dad is a birdman", his first book for younger readers, illustrated by Polly Dunbar and out on 1 October. It's brilliant!

Photo taken by Marta Starosta, 2005

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Skellig - David Almond

I chose to read this because 1) it’s a Carnegie medal winner, and 2) it was in the library. So, despite my neverending piles of books to read, I checked it out. I wanted to prove that I could do it. That “the reading” is what matters, and not “the keeping”. And it worked!

It was also worth it because it’s a great book. Strange in many aspects, with an unusual theme and no easy answers.
It’s the story of Michael, a boy who finds a strange creature in his new house’s garage. Is he a man, a bird, or what?
It’s also the story of Michael’s deep link with his newborn sister’s little heart, so fragile, and yet so present next to his own heartbeat. I was moved by the very real reactions of Michael and his father, by how they clung to each other, how they fought but in the end cried and hugged each other. It’s hard to find such a display of emotions in a relationship between father and son.
Michael’s fears are eased by his friendship with the mysterious creature and by Mina, a slightly annoying home-schooled girl, who lives next door and loves William Blake and birds. Mina shows Michael her secret place and teaches him how to observe the hidden life that goes on around us, the small extraordinary things that we usually never notice. In exchange Michael offers her his friendship and his own secret.

“Skellig” is a tale filled with love: of Michael for his sister and for “the man in the garage”, of Mina for nature and poems and drawings. And of Skellig for his little saviours.

A short novel that feels like a little treasure, special and rare.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Third Edition of the Bookworks Carnival is On!

And this month looks especially great! Check it out at BookNut.

Since September is back-to-school time, Melissa has creatively decided to post the links as in a college course catalog, so go there, choose your course and leave a comment:)
I'll try and read every single submission this time!!

If you haven't participate yet, you have a chance to be included in the next edition, which will be hosted next month at This is the Life. The theme will be "Thrills and Chills: Spooky Books That Keep You Up at Night". Go blogging! The form to submit your post is here or just send an e-mail to the host.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Comfort food

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

(Any bets on how quickly somebody says the Bible or some other religious text? A good choice, to be sure, but to be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of fiction…. Unless I laid it on a little strong in the string of catastrophes? Maybe I should have just stuck to catching a cold on a rainy day….)

I'm just back from my holiday in Italy, and I feel a bit guilty for leaving my poor little blog all alone for so long so I thought it deserves a new post, and what's better that a "Booking through Thursday one"? :)

So, for the weekly question...hmm, I don't think I'm one for reading when I feel down and everything is going bad. I usually prefer the lazy and degrading option of watching TV, when I have a TV (now I don't!) and eat some junk food. Or watch some episode of Buffy for the 10th time. Or go to the cinema or around town for some window-shopping. But mostly if I feel REALLY bad, I just curl up in bed and cry. It makes me feel better after a while. Then I might cook myself a butternut squash soup to bring to bed.
But, if I feel like reading something I think I'd choose a comic, preferably a manga. If I were in Italy I would just drive to my manga shop, load up on back issues of my favourites, maybe buy some new ones, then stop at the bakery nearby and by "schiacciata" bread and lemon ice-tea. Then I would go back home and spend the afternoon or the whole day, depends on how down I feel, reading them.
When I'm really sad I can't face a proper book. It takes too much concentration. Also, I never re-read books as a comfort measure. Now that I think about it, I might be able to re-read Harry Potter. Yes, definitely Harry Potter or manga for comfort reading. Nothing else. Oh, I forgot gossip magazines. But that's not real reading is it? It's crisps for the mind :D

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The Giver - Lois Lowry

I'm so grateful to the "Something about me" challenge because it gave me the chance to discover some of the best books I've read this year and maybe ever. "The Giver" is one of these.
I don't know about "Brave new world" or the film "Pleasentville" and I've never read "1984" by George Orwell, only excerpts in school. But as far as children's literature is concerned this is an extraordinary book. It kept me glued to it for hours. I had to know how this world worked, what were its secrets, what would happen to its protagonist. It was a real page-turner. It wasn't a simple read though, like others have said. It was quick, but it made me think about it for days. It was scary in a deep, subtle way. It raised strong, elementary emotions, and it made me shiver trying to imagine how a world like that would be possible.
The story is set in an indefinite far future, where society is organised in small communities, all designed with the same scheme: everything and everyone have to be up to the standards of the community. Everything is regulated by fixed and almost unchangeable laws. Individuality is not an option and neither is free will. This is the price that humanity have chosen to pay to avoid hunger and violence and war.
Families, called family units, are not decided by love or anything else but a Community Council which finds the right match for every person, thus creating the perfect harmony in the unit. Children are also regulated by a scheme: one boy and one girl, born by a group of birth-mothers, are allocated to one family who requests them.
At first this system seems to be the most organised way of living. There's no struggle for survival because everything is provided, everyone is kind and equal, though some "assignments"( not jobs) are less honourable than others. Everything is tidy, and quiet and peaceful. But there's something eerie is this peacefulness.
You can feel that something is not quite right. Hints are given here and there: people being mysteriously "released" (and you can guess pretty quickly what that means), an impersonal Voice that speaks through a microphone and gives orders and warnings. Even a rule that might sound positive and open-minded, the sharing of dreams in the morning and of feelings in the evening, has something mechanical and disturbing about it.
And then you start asking questions: where are the books, the writers, the artists? Will there be an assignment specifically for them? Because certainly they can't live without them.
"Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all.” said Philip Pullman and so I kept reminding myself.
But it's not till Jonas, the boy who's the main character, has his first wet dream, or the Stirrings, as his parents would call it, that you realise how controlling and de-humanising this society is.
Shortly after Jonas' life changes completely when he is selected as the new Receiver of Memory. And here I stop. I've already said too much. I'll leave it to you to find out what that means. If you've never heard of it, like me before, then you shouldn't be spoiled with more informations. If you've read it, I'll like to discuss it with you in the comments!
Thanks to Sarah Miller for choosing it. Here she says why. I think I would relate to her very well. Like her I was amazed by it and somehow shocked, and I also believe in happy endings, always:)

other blog reviews:
Jill at The well-read child
Kristi at Passion for the page
Stephanie's confessions of a book-a-holic

Friday, 24 August 2007

Lucky Star - Cathy Cassidy

I don't know what to think about Cathy Cassidy's books. A part of me thinks they try too much to be kids-friendly. They are filled with cute drawings, trendy music and clothes. Plus the author introduces every book herself and she sounds like a teenager, using words like fab and fave. I don't know if I like this attitude. But again, her books are not written for me, but for someone more than ten years younger. Darla's post on her blog Books and other thoughts made me rethink about this a lot. I know Cathy Cassidy is popular and most of the kids who read her will find her cool and friendly.
So, the other part of me really enjoyed Cassidy's latest novel. The only other book I've read by her is "Driftwood". I liked it, and I was actually surprised by that. I still had that feeling that she pushed the niceness too far, but overall, I would recommend it to 10 to 13-14 year-old kids.
Lucky Star was way better though. It helped that it featured the cutest literary stray ever: a little white dog with a pirate patch and a bandana, called lucky. That's what made me go on reading.
Also, for a change the main character was a boy, Mouse, who at 14 already has a troubled past which he would like to forget. His graffiti art helps him to escape the grey reality of his school and of the rough estate flat where he lives with his ex-junkie mother. His life is destined to change the day he meets confident, posh and pretty Cat. This is the lovely, romantic story of their friendship, of their picnics on bus-stop rooftops, of star maps and fireworks. But it's also a story about painful memories and lies, about injustices, and about the importance of fighting back against them.
I liked the characters and their unlikely relationship, I liked how the story was very real but also full of hope and positive thinking. And I just adored Lucky the pirate dog:)
Read it if you want a quick, cute and easy read. Or if you have kids (not just girls) give it to them, I'm sure they'll like it.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Indoctrination

When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)

I was very well nurtured as a child. Both my parents are big readers, and all my houses (cause I've changed lots) have always been full of books. I remember when I started school the first thing I wanted to learn was reading. And sure enough I was the fastest reader in my class. Big books in our library were only for me:D

I don't remember my parents reading me bed-time stories. But they must have, 'cause at age 4 I knew my favourite picture-books by heart. I know that one day I let my granny think I could read, because I knew every single word in them! I still have all my favourite books as a child. One actually belonged to my dad so it's really old!and almost destroyed. I don't know why I loved it so much, it was so sad. It was about a girl with white hair who was living with an evil step-mother. One day she meets a circus boy and decide to run away with the circus people in their caravan. I only remember the ending, where the two kids die of cold in a hollow tree. I remember asking my mum to read me that book over and over. She must have been sick of it.
Then came the feminist picture books, about a girl, Isolina, who wanted to see the world. Or about the little mermaid who decided that all that pain wasn't worth it for a man and decided to go back to the sea with her sisters. Those were wonderful.

After 5, when my parents split up, I had two different experiences with books. In my dad's house in Sicily I read almost all of my dad's childhood books, like Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, the Paul street boys (wonderful, I'm not sure if it's well known in the English-speaking world) and Peter Pan.

My mum instead used to buy me lots and lots of books, first picture books than novels. She had an open account in our local bookshop, and she used to spend way to much money there. So I don't remember a time in my life where books weren't present.

One of my fondest memory is in my dad's girlfriend house where I lived for few years as a teenager. Girlfriend was also a huge reader and had this MASSIVE living room with 3 or 4 couches, and shelves full of books. We kids weren't allowed in but I often used to sneak inside just to choose another book. I discovered Remarque, and Maugham, and other Italian authors. I had so much time for reading!
Those were the times *sigh*

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

The Complete Booker Project

The Complete Booker

I've joined this VERY ambitious project, whose aim is to read every single book that won the Man Booker Prize. The good thing is that there's no time limit, and that it's shorter than the other Pulitzer project :P
I really like the idea of reading all those books that are supposed to be the best in their year. I don't read enough adult books, many people could say, so this way I'd be able to say, proudly "Hey, I don't read only children's stuff, I've read this and this and they all won The Booker Prize!"

The first book I'll read is Paddy Clarke ah!ah!ah! by Roddy Doyle, which I guess is a compromise between adult and children's fiction. I also loved The Barrytown trilogy by Doyle so I'm sure I'll enjoy this one too.

But I was wondering, is there anyone who started the same kind of project for the Carnegie Medal or the Newbery? That'd be great too, I might start one of the two,if nobody does before me...

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Chocolat - Joanne Harris

I'm not a huge fan of chocolate. I knew it already. I'm more into those very unhealthy and very artificial pick 'n mix sweets, or cheesecakes or apple crumble, or ice-cream. But you don't have to love chocolate to enjoy this book, and I'm the living proof. I didn't crave for truffles or for easter eggs while I was reading it. In fact, it took me a while to get into it, but it won me eventually.
At first I was annoyed by Harris' use of the past and the present tense at the same time. I would have preferred if she sticked to one of the two. I know I'm a bit fussy, but I really tried not to be bothered by it. In the end, it was Vianne and her little daughter that made me love the book. Vianne is such a charming character, I was really fascinated by her, and even more maybe by her daughter Anouk, so wild and confident and understanding, the way only 6 years-old kids can be.

The story is a well-known one: Vianne, a traveler, decides that Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, a small town in the French countryside, with its sad and grumpy faces, is in serious need of a bit of magic. But young Father Reynaud doesn't think so. It's just the beginning of Lent and he feels that the opening of a tempting Chocolate shop will tackle his authority and control over his "herd". Vianne Rocher is obviously ready for the challenge. All she needs is time, cause she has more than a special gift. She can read into people's soul and tastes, guessing exactly which one is everyone's favourite. Her kind and welcoming manners will do the rest. Slowly she manages to break the wall of hostility bringing a whole new approach to life for many people in the community, which involves cherishing pleasure, joy and friendship.

It's crazy how much the book is different from the movie. I thought I knew what to expect, but I was wrong. The movie was a light fairy tale. The book is much more complex than that. It tells us of Vianne's past, of her fears and nightmares and of her pagan beliefs, so brave to be shown in such a small and religious community. It also tells the story from the opposite perspective of the priest, which didn't do him any good, anyway! To those who might be offended by Harris's description of a Christian priest, I might say that she didn't invent anything. Yes, she chose one of the worst examples that could be, but it serves the story so well and it's also so true. Life is supposed to be enjoyed. Chocolate (or cheesecake for me) is there to help!

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Monogamy

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?

(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)

Mainly I'm a monogamous. But occasionally I do cheat and read other books, leaving the other behind for a while. I don't like it, and I wouldn't do it as a general rule. I used to do it a lot and I would end up leaving some of the books unfinished, cause I was too engrossed by the others. If my attention is grabbed by one I might lose interest in the other, even forget about it. Also I think the best way to enjoy a book is to be totally absorbed by them. Something that can only be done once at a time.
That said, it happens sometime, of course. When you're a bookseller and see new books every day, shiny and tempting, it's hard to say "you stay there and wait for your turn". So what I do is try and be quick, so I can move on to the next. If I really can't wait, then I read it in the shop, without buying it, or even bringing it home. So I know that my current reading is still in charge and that one is only a distraction, a whim, that won't last long...

Monday, 13 August 2007

Second edition of the Bookworms Carnival is On!

Check it out! It's hosted by Reading is my superpower HERE
It's got plenty of interesting articles and new blogs to discover:)
The theme this time is "Surviving the dog days of summer". I personally LOVE my summer, when it's hot and the only thing you can do is swim in the sea and lie on the beach. Or alternatively drive your moped around town going to eat an ice-cream, or ice-yogurt which is even better. I love summer nights, when you can forget about coats and scarves and enjoy the breeze, and maybe visit one of the thousands festivals around Italy, celebrating all sorts of food.
But THIS summer I couldn't live all this, except for three very short weeks. Because I'm stuck in fecking Ireland, where summer is not a proper summer and where it rains all the bloody time!!! What the hell?? Anyway, I can't do anything about it. Good thing is I also like reading in bed so that's my summer reading:P

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Witch Baby - Francesca Lia Block

I'm falling in love with Francesca Lia Block! "Witch Baby" is just as refreshing and magical as "Weetzie Bat". Even if Witch Baby is not as care-free as her almost-mother, her story is written with the same fairy tale-y touch. Light as a feather and full of meaning at the same time.
Witch Baby doesn't feel she belongs anywhere. Her almost-family love her but they don't understand her. She doesn't understand herself either, because she doesn't know who she is. She keeps asking everybody the ultimate questions ("What time are we upon and when do I belong") but nobody has the answers she is looking for. She tries to capture the world in her photographs. She never cries but she always wants to. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, but she is only a baby, a black lamb without a herd, expressing everyone else's anger and pain. But she is also a pancake dancer stowawitch, and the most slinkster-cool jamming drummer girl ever.
Franscesca Lia Block has a talent in mixing the words and playing with them, creating a dazzling flow of colours and feelings I'm never tired of. Her characters are such an unlikely group of friends,but also so real. Her stories are about finding ourselves and our true love, about family and death and friendship. Universal themes told with a unique style that is like a bowl of cherries: addictive.

Monday, 6 August 2007

"Book to movie Challenge"

When I started this blog I had no idea of what challenges were, didn't even know they existed! But now I'm hooked, and I'm afraid I'll get addicted like so many bloggers:P
Now this is my second only, but I can see it coming! This one is easy enough, just choose 3 books that have being made into a film and read them between September 1 and December 1 (three months). It's hosted by S.M.S. Book reviews. I have checked my TBR list and I found 3 books perfect for this challenge:

1) Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - Film by Alan Parker (1999)

2) I'm not scared (Io non ho paura) by Niccolò Ammaniti - Film by Gabriele Salvatores (2003)

3) Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson - Film(tv) by Beeban Kidron (1990)

If I'm allowed to pick books that haven't been made into films yet I also would like to read
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and
- Percy Jackson and the Lightning thief by Rick Riordan
before they come out:-)

Saturday, 4 August 2007

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

I picked this book from Soleil's list for the "Something about me" challenge, because I had a vague notion of Sylvia Plath being a famous feminist poet of the "second wave", studied in universities courses and worshipped by many. I don't usually read poetry so I thought her only novel might be a good way to know her.I thought the story of her life might be inspirational. But her life have been so depressing that I had a hard time finishing the book. Every situation, setting, atmosphere, was so gloomy and unwelcoming. If that's how she perceived life, I understand why she took hers. I'm glad I finished it though. The most interesting part is the last one, when her "insanity" brings Esther/Sylvia in different asylums and shows us the way doctors used to deal with "madness" at that time. It was obvious to me that she wasn't in any sense mad. She was depressed, insecure, unhappy, living constantly under a bell jar, feeling trapped. But all they could do was giving her electroshocks and injections. Not one of the doctors tried to listen to her, or even understand her. That was irritating, discouraging and very disturbing.
I felt it was a necessary read to do, but I didn't enjoy it, and I'm happy I'm done with it.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block

We've had the Dangerous Angels series in the shop, unsold, for more than 3 years! How could that happen? I never even considered reading them, but I'm happy I gave it a go, thanks to Soleil, who picked Weetzie Bat for her "Something about me challenge". This book was a short but charming read, a urban fairy tale about love, strange names and magic wishes. Honestly I was a bit put off at the beginning with all those names of places and shops in L.A. that I don't have a clue what they look like, but after a while I just gave up and enjoyed the story. It's about Weetzie Bat, the (real) name of a quirky young woman, who wears "old fifties' taffeta dresses covered with poetry written in glitter or dresses made of kids' sheets printed with pink piglets or Disney characters", has a dog called Slinkster Dog, and has a father who reminds her of a cigarette . Weetzie's best friend is Dirk, who is handsome, cool, and gay. Together they're determined to find the "Duck" of their dreams. I assume Weetzie and her friends are over 18 because they drink, smoke and have casual one night stands while still going to high school. But despite the daring themes that the story touches (including a threesome, Aids and pregnancies) all is told with such delicacy and tact, almost with ingenuity, that I wouldn't be afraid to give it to any teenager, and of course adults, if anything for the ease it shows in dealing with homosexuality and love.
Franscesca Lia Block writing is quick but poetic and musical. She managed to create a world and a way of being in barely 100 pages. Here's one of my favourite quotes:

"In Jamaica there is a night life like nowhere else - your body feels radiant, like orange lights, like Bob Marley's voice, when you dance in the clubs there. In Jamaica we climb the falls holding hands and the water rushes down bluer than your eyes. In Jamaica. In Jamaica it is hot and wet, and the people are hot and wet, and the shells look like flowers and the flowers look like shells, and when you drive down some roads men come out of the bushes wearing parrots on their shoulders and flowering bird cages on top of their heads"
Weetzie said, "Maybe in Jamaica I could find My Secret Agent Lover Man. I can't seem to find it here".

Now I'm in trouble though: I promised I won't be buying/reading anymore books beside those from my "Books I have to read before buying anymore!" list. But I'm afraid I won't be able to resist the next three books in the series for too long!

ps: I've seen another book by F.L. Block on Amazon. It's called "Ruby". I've ordered it for the shop. Has Anyone read it?

pps: I'm proud to say that the book has been finally translated in Italian. look at the cover,isn't it beautiful?

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Brief comment on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Spoilers Free!) and a book meme.

So, I finished it,yes. It took me longer than many other people. So I found out I'm not that fast, and I'm glad I'm not. I like to live with the books a bit longer than few hours, I like missing them while I do something else, and come back to them with anticipation, I like knowing that there's still something to find out. And I'm happy I lived with this last Harry Potter for at least three days. It was so worth the waiting. The only thing I can say is "brilliant!". It has definitely become my favourite HP, replacing, at last, The Prisoner of Azkaban.
I won't say anything else, but if you want to discuss what happens in the book I suggest you visit this blog: Discuss Deathly Hallows

So instead of giving you an unnecessary review of HP7 I'll do this meme which I've been wanting to do in a while :-)
I stole it from Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Dragon. Oh if you want to steal it too, please post a comment with your answers here!
so there you go:
Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror? Fantasy! I can barely stand horror on screen. I'm not a fan of scary books, even if sometimes creepy is good. I'm interested in science fiction, but I haven't read enough to choose it over fantasy.
Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback? Few days ago I would have said "Mass Market Paperback!" with no doubt, but now, even though I still don't like the Trade paperback because they look too big and ugly, I sometimes enjoy the good old Hardback. I decided it while I was reading HP7. It gives a feeling of reading something really important, to treasure. I'd still go for pocket sizes most of the times though!
Amazon or Brick and Mortar? Er, what's Brick and Mortar? I like buying books in bookshops anyway, and on second-hand stalls if possible.
Barnes & Noble or Borders? I don't live in the States, so neither of those.
Hitchhiker or Discworld?Hitchhiker. But only because I haven't read any Discworld books. YET!
Bookmark or Dogear? I like Bookmarks, I have a very cute one at the moment,with Piglet from Winnie the pooh on it, but I tend to loose them very often, like I do with most of my belongings, so I'm not against dogear at all. It makes the book more used, and more mine. I really don't like random bookmarks though, for some reason, like a piece of paper, or anything you find at hand-reach. Don't know why!
Asimov’s Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction? Fantasy & Science fiction, like Bradley's Darkover series for example.
Alphabetize by author, Alphabetize by title, or random? In my house? none of the above. They are divided by To be read and read. That's it. In the shop though, is a completely different matter. Chapter books and picture books HAVE to be by author. The rest by subject OR publishers. No excuse.
Keep, Throw Away or Sell? Before I discovered Bookcrossing I was all for keeping books. Now I just released them in the wild.
Keep dust-jacket or toss it? Oh keep it,I don't like them without, they look naked and anonymous. I tried to read HP without its cover,but it didn't do, it had to be on!
Short story or novel? Novel. I don't like short stories.
Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? I read the first two books of Lemony Snicket series, but even though I enjoyed them, I didn't find them great. Harry Potter is good, but His Dark Materials even better!
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? when tired...if I have time. Otherwise when lunch break is over, when I reach my stop on the bus, when 15mins break is over...
"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time? hmm, what about "Once upon a time it was a dark stormy night..."? can't choose.
Buy or Borrow? Buy. I want to be able to keep the book if I liked it.
Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse? Usually browsing, but I take recommendation every now and then. I like reviews also.
Lewis or Tolkien? Tolkien.
Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?Not a fan of any of those, but maybe Collection.
Tidy ending or Cliffhanger? Tidy tidy ending. even if it's a series.
Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading? whenever I can, but I prefer quite afternoons.
Standalone or Series? Both. I like standalones, but when I really loved a character is such a pleasure to read more about them in the next books.
New or used? Both again. There's something good in both. I loved the smell of new books, but I like used books history.
Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Hmm,hard question. can't think of any...
Top 5 favorite genre books of all time? Norther lights, The tiger in the well, A wizard of Earthsea, Momo, Thendara House.
Favorite genre series? Let's mention something else than Philip Pullman: The Renunciate's Trilogy by M.Z.Bradley.
Oh also Daniel Pennac's Malaussene books. But hardly any English speaker knows Pennac. He's great!
Currently Reading? Just finished HP7 so technically I'm not reading anything at the moment.
Uhhh it's done. Longer that I thought!

Friday, 20 July 2007

The Book quiz!

Oh I love these things, especially when they make me find out about a book I should read. Apparently I'm like "The giver" by Lois Lowry. I'm pretty sure it's a book chosen by someone on the "something about me challenge" so I'll have to add it to my list!

You're The Giver!

by Lois Lowry

While you grew up with a sheltered childhood, you're pretty sure
everyone around you is even more sheltered. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, you were
tapped on the shoulder and transported to the real world. This made you horrified by
your prior upbringing and now you're tormented by how to reconcile these two lives.
Ultimately, the struggle comes down to that old free will issue. Choose

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Setalux - Simona B. Lenic

I’ve bought this in Italy because I wanted to check what is going on in the Italian literary scene at the moment, and because the cover was beautiful. It also helped that the book was advertised as “The Italian Harry Potter”! It turned out to be a delightful read, but nothing to do with Harry Potter, except that both are fantasy fiction. This is definitely written for young adults, and surely for adults as well, but not for children. The writing is not as simple as in Harry Potter. It’s almost poetic, dreamy in its descriptions of the Salty Land, of the silky beams of Setalux, of the first meeting between two of the main characters. It really shows that the author, at her debut, made an effort to find her own special style. It could have done with a bit more of proof reading though (so many typing mistakes!). Unfortunately this book only exists in Italian. I’m writing the review hoping that one day it will be translated, and also because it was such an excellent read.
It’s the story of four kids in the mid teens, Sfaira the ballerina, Leon the brave, Matt the knowledgeable and Joshua the artist, in a world that could be our own but it’s not. The four of them are destined to bring back the Setalux, an ancient source of wisdom, made of light and silk, that used to fill the humans' lives and bodies, and bring full consciousness of themselves. “The Setalux was the only way to happiness, knowledge and true joy in life”. The source died mysteriously and now the four teenager are the only hope for the legend to become true again.
This is not a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy. Yes, it has its adventurous and dangerous moments, but the story takes its time to develop the characters’ relationships, their fears and their strengths, the bond that links them, the tensions, the crushes, their everyday lives. Not to mention the important part played by a strange and funny group of concerned adults, that instead of being annoying and stupid as usually in YA fiction, they really bring something to the story.
I particularly loved the way Simona B. Lenic described all the lovely food that the characters have: cherry-foamed cappuccinos, water-melon ice cubes and all sorts of incredibly yummy delicacies are mentioned throughout the book. This, and the fact that all the main characters are really likeable, made me lived their story with pleasure. Needless to say, the story is an allegory of our world, filled with “mortivì” (dead-alive people) who can only think about their own greed and don’t believe in true happiness. So, where is our Setalux source? Let’s hope someone finds it soon!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The first edition of the Bookworms Carnival is on!

Just go here: Bookworms Carnival.
This edition's theme is "novels". Make sure to check it out and maybe think about submitting a post for the next edition! I'm going to browse all those blogs very soon (well, I've already looked at a few). Enjoy.

Friday, 13 July 2007

New Poll! Which character do you think will die in "Harry Potter and the deathly Hallows"?

Ok, I know it's not the most original of the questions, but I wanted to try out the new poll feature and this is the first question that came to my mind. I went to see Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix yesterday and I quite liked it, even though I'm not a big fan of the films. And it's only 7 days to go now!!! So the Harry Potter feaver has officially starte for me! I've had a debate with my friends. Some think Harry will die for sure, but I don't think so. Wouldn't it be too obvious? What do you think?
ps: Luna Lovegood is now officially my favourite character!

pps: I've taken the Harry Potter personality test and I'm disappointed to say that I'm like....HARRY POTTER!!!???Maybe I should take the quiz again....

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Bookworms Carnival

I first read about this blog carnival on Metaxu Café. I had never heard of a Blog Carnival but it sounded like a good idea. This one is obviouly about books and since the only thing I had to do is choose a post about "novels" I've submitted one of my reviews immediately. Check the link on the sidebar for more information on how to take part. The first blog host is The hidden side of leaf.I can't wait to see the actual carnival and maybe take part in the next editions (one for every month)!

Monday, 9 July 2007

The last elf - Silvana De Mari

I’ve read this in two days, lying on the beach and enjoying the sun on my skin. It was a perfect summer reading. Not those silly, frivolous books that people associate with summer. But something that can keep you glued to it, for hours and hours, except for a quick dip into the sea to freshen up a little. Summer reading means pure, undiluted pleasure. And this book was all of this.
Imagine “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” mixed with a classic fantasy tale, all spiced up by irony and intelligence. This is “The last elf”.
I’ve read this in Italian, because I know it has been translated recently into English and wanted to check if it was worth it for the bookshop where I work. I will definitely order in some copies, hoping that the translation will be just as good.
It’s the story of Yorsh (short for Yorshkrunsquarkljolnerstrink), the last elf in a fantasy world where elves are despised, feared and deported, just like the Jews were. The reference to the Jews is more than obvious when the author mentions their ability with trade, and also, at the end, when Yorsh leads a group of slaves through a land of freedom and peace (yes, I’m telling you the end, but you’d better read it all anyway!).
However, this is not a simple retelling of Moses and his journey. It’s an extremely funny adventure that involves an old annoying dragon who loves sentimental fairy tales, a brave little girl in a “oliver twist” sort of orphanage, and a prophecy engraved on a wall.
It’s mainly a condemn of any kind of dictatorships and racism. A hymn to freedom, friendship and love. It’s a fairy tale that speaks to children but with a wittiness that should appeal to adult as well.
Some scenes are so hilarious that made me laugh out loud. Especially the meeting between the little ingenious elf and the big bad troll (“You’re beautiful!"), or the funny, old way the dragon speaks, a kind of medieval Italian. But the whole book is full of these great comic scenes entwined with a moving story of loss and pain, poverty and hate. Silvana De Mari is a true storyteller.

Monday, 2 July 2007

The tygrine cat - Inbali Iserles

The first thing I noticed while I was reading this book is the way it flew so easily without me even noticing it. It's the kind of story that grabs you from the beginning and won't let you go till the end. Even though I never thought it was that short, it was over before I knew it.
The whole novel is told from a cat perspective. Humans are there but they have never a big role. Of all our domestic pets, cats are the most mysterious. We all know that they are independent, free spirits, hunters, that they don't belong to anyone. After reading this, you might start looking at your kitten in a different way. Humans, or "hinds" in the cat language, are actually owned by domestic cats, who provide protection and company in exchange of food and shelter. For Inbali Iserles, cats live in a world of their own. They have tribes, hierarchy, mythology, superstitions, culture. Some can even perform magic. All under the unaware eyes of humans.
The story takes place in a market square, where the cats of Cressida Lock have established their home. Life is relatively easy among food stalls and the nearby catacombs. But when young Mati arrives at the market things start to change. His different look is not welcome and he struggles to be accepted in their community, but he has no choice. He doesn’t know where he comes from, he doesn’t remember his past. His ruddy fur, long pointy ears and gold eyes are looked at with suspicion. Different is not always easy to accept. However, he is given a chance to prove he is trustworthy and he tries eagerly to be a part of the group. What happens next is out of his control though. He finds himself trapped, accused of murder and exiled. Someone is after him, Mati has enemies that are trying to kill him. And to defeat them he will have to discover his past, find out who he really is and save not only himself, but also every cat on earth.

Full of inventiveness and completely absorbing, this is a very enjoyable read that will leave you wanting for more. Its simple story is engaging, its main characters are easy to love and the writing is skilful and confident. For readers aged 9+. And for all cats lovers. To be published on 6 August 2007.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

"Something about me" challenge

This is my first challenge ever! ( Something about me challenge).I thought it was a really cool idea and I joined immediately. I haven't figured out yet how to post my list, so in the meantime I'll post it here. These are not my all time favourite books. Some of them are, but I chose them because they really say something about the way I am:

- The Neverending story by Michael Ende

Because I believe in the power of dreams and imagination.

- The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Because I love Jane Eyre, I love fantasy/science fiction, I would love to be able to step into books and meet the characters. And I'd love to have a dodo.

- Fairies, real encounters with Little People by Janet Bord

Because I believe in fairies.

- A Room of one's own by Virginia Woolf

For my feminist side.

The tiger in the well by Philip Pullman

For my political and adventurous side.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Verdigris Deep - Frances Hardinge

When a book surprises you it's always a good thing. With "Verdigris Deep" I never knew what to expect, what was coming next. The whole idea of the story is original in itself: three kids steal some coins from a wishing well and find themselves trapped in a curse that oblige them to fulfil the wishes of the people who threw those coins. Hardinge manages to develop the idea and explore it in ways that i woud have never thought of.
The best definition for it would be "supernatural thriller for children, with a hint of horror in the mix". The back cover of my proof copy recommends the book to 9+ years old. But I would have been scared to death if I read this when I was 9, and would have had nightmares for weeks. Nightmares involving a terrifying witch with fountain eyes, wart eyes on my hands, creepy old women that try to kill me and my best friend that turns into a killer maniac.
But I know that kids like to get scared and face their fears so this book should definitely be a hit.
The whole story seems to depict a very unwelcoming and hostile world for the kids as well as for the adults, even before the curse. Ryan and Chelle are two shy and bullied kids. Ryan's parents are always fighting, his father barely notices him, while his mother seems to be obsessed with appearance and with ruining famous people's lives. Chelle talks too much and not even her friends listen to her ramblings. Josh is their hero, but as the story unravels we learn that even he has problems he can't talk about.
How will the three of them deal with the curse that has fallen upon them? At first they act as a group, enjoying their new "super powers" and feeling like angels, fulfilling people's dreams. But in this story nothing is what it seems and everything has a double side. Friends can turn into enemies, enemies can turn into friends and dreams can turn into nightmares.
So for once, I wasn't disappointed by the great premises, maybe because there weren't any, not knowing what the writer was capable of. I had few problems here and there understanding what was going on because of the peculiar way of the author to describe things and actions. But this is only maybe a consequence of her inventiveness. Weird ideas need weird writing style. And you don't usually find much creativity in children's writing.
I'm looking forward to reading her previous and first work, hoping it'll be as good and this one.

other blog reviews:
Rona Books
Fields of Gold
Vulpes Libris