I rescued this book from my parents attic a few years back. When I say rescued I mean borrowed. When I say borrowed, I mean stole. I don’t really remember being read it, but I do remember the cover and the smell of it. It’s one of my favourite books on my shelves.
“A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth” contains three of Charles Dickens most popular Christmas-time stories. In “A Christmas Carol” we have the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old man who is visited by ghosts prior to Christmas to show him the error of his ways. In “The Chimes” we have the story of Toby Veck, a poor working-class man who has lost his faith in human nature. On New Year’s Eve he is visited by spirits who show him that nobody is born evil, but rather that crime and poverty are constructs of man. In “The Cricket on the Hearth” we have the story of John Peerybingle and his family who have a guardian angel in the form of a cricket who is constantly chirping on the hearth. These classic holiday tales will delight readers of all ages.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S Lewis so what better day to do a Narnia FF post. I’ve loved the Narnia books ever since I saw the BBC’s adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (yes I saw it before I read the books cut me some slack, I was like 8!) and immediately begged for the books.
As much as I love The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, it’s always between The Magician’s Nephew and The Horse and His Boy for my ultimate favourite.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to go for The Magician’s Nephew simply because you get to see the creation of Narnia itself.
The Magician’s Nephew was actually the 6th book in the series that Lewis wrote but was a prequel to the rest. In modern editions, the books are sequenced according to Narnian History and so The Magician’s Nephew is usually listed as book one.
I’ll always remember the first time I read this; I was amazed by the Wood Between Worlds. It’s quite a bit darker than some of the other books (Uncle Andrew is proper sinister), and the idea of being able to visit different worlds – some nicer than others – by going through the different puddles is pretty awesome. Also, watch out for “Queen” Jadis. You aint no Queen of Narnia!
Synopsis: When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory’s peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew’s magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.
Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.
Peter Pan was probably the first book I really loved and I generally read it at least once a year. I don’t even know what it is that I love about it so much, it’s just such a comforting read. It warms me up in winter.
A few years ago the lovely Dianne over at Icefloe gave me this amazing copy for my birthday (or maybe Christmas) and I love love love it.
We are also both big fans of the 2003 live action adaptation mainly because Jeremy Sumpter is the perfect Peter and nailed the arrogant ‘oh the cleverness of me’ side to the character. Leading to the inscription below which cracks me up every time I see it.
Curse you Peter. You totally led poor Wendy on. And put some clothes on!
TTT #2 (Things that make life as a reader/blogger easier) (View Post)
I’ve been really good this month. And when I say good, I mean broke.
1. Pollen by Aaron Lamb (Kindle Edition) A friend of a friend of mine wrote this. Amazon £4.11
2. Fearless – The Story of Samantha Smith by Devon Hartford (Kindle Edition). Currently only £0.74 on Amazon
3. Beginning of a Hero (Legends of Windmere) by Charles E. Yallowitz (Kindle Edition) This was free on Amazon but is now just £0.77
Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll via NetGalley
* MY BOOK OF THE MONTH*
*MY COVER OF THE MONTH*
*MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH*
This was released on the 29th August, but I haven’t been able buy a copy yet so it’s the one I’m most looking forward to in September.
Colin Bateman is a legend. He has a huge amount of books in his back catalogue and the Mystery Man books are my absolute favourite. The first time I read this, I remember being on the tube and finding myself in fits of laughter and getting some very funny looks from the other passengers. I think The Bookseller With No Name is possibly one of the best fictional characters I have read (big statement – I know!).
If you’ve ever seen Black Books, imagine Bernard Black trying to solve a mystery…That!
Blurb: A superbly gripping and blackly funny mystery by the king of the comic crime caper.
He’s the Man With No Name and the owner of No Alibis, a mystery bookshop in Belfast. But when a detective agency next door goes bust, the agency’s clients start calling into his shop asking him to solve their cases. It’s not as if there’s any danger involved. It’s an easy way to sell books to his gullible customers and Alison, the beautiful girl in the jewellery shop across the road, will surely be impressed. Except she’s not – because she can see the bigger picture. And when they break into the shuttered shop next door on a dare, they have their answer. Suddenly they’re catapulted along a murder trail which leads them from small-time publishing to Nazi concentration camps and serial killers…
Many of Bateman’s characters are hilariously inept yet tenacious but Mystery Man is so perfect with his Irish wit and eccentricities. He’s a complete eejit, but you have to love him. He gets himself into the most ridiculous situations, and does some awful things, but y’know, his heart’s in the right place.
There are so many great lines in this book it’s hard to choose, but I have managed it, just for you:
“Bookselling is like prostitution, you sell your wares, you close your eyes, and you never fall in love with the clients. You also keep your fingers crossed that they won’t ask for anything perverted.”
“I gave her my hard look, which is like my normal look but harder. At this point, if she’d had any sense, she should have asked for ID, and I could have shown her my Xtravision card and my kidney donor card and dribbled off into the distance ranting about this or that, but as it happened my hard look proved more than adequate”
He was the type of man women said they hated, they absolutely hated, they absolutely and categorically hated, and then they went to bed with him. I was the type of man women said they hated, and then they went home.”
“Serial Killer Week got off to an inauspicious start when the opening wine and bean evening was invaded by a former prisoner who misinterpreted the poster, but he was at least able to give us the professional’s view of the genre.”
Also, I have a morbid fear of rates, and mice, and nettles and wasps and jagged cans and rotting food and damp newspapers and the unemployed.”
About Colin Bateman
Colin Bateman was a journalist in Northern Ireland before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, DIVORCING JACK, won the Betty Trask Prize, and all his novels have been critically acclaimed. His book Murphy’s Law was adapted for the BBC television series Murphy’s Law (2001–2007), featuring James Nesbitt.
This post has also reminded me that this should be arriving sometime soon- completely funded by Kickstarter.
Colin Bateman’s first collection of short fiction and drama. Dublin Express is a collection of five rare short stories from one of Ireland’s most acclaimed novelists, together with the complete script of his hugely successful first play, National Anthem.
I’ve read some pretty bad reviews of the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome but I’m really intrigued to see it. I used to be a fan of his when I was a teenager but I feel like I kind of grew out of it or something (which is hilarious when you consider which books I love to read now *cough* Twilight *cough* The Selection). So I was surprised by how much I loved Under the Dome. Here’s a review I wrote some time ago for some website or other.
As far as Stephen King fans go, I’d say I’m barely on even the spectrum. I’ve never really trusted him as an author since that part of It when it just goes batshit, (you know the one…right?) or the end of Cell which was such a let-down I wanted to throw the book out of a window and demand the twelve hours of my life back that it took me to read it. He seems to have a problem with endings, that or I just have a problem with his endings.
So when it came to UTD – a mammoth tome even by King’s standard – coming in at over 1000 pages, I was understandably hesitant. I’d given him a wide berth since Cell but one trusted friend plus one enthusiastic book seller convinced me to give it a go, and once I’d got past the quite frankly daunting list of characters that would give George RR Martin a run for his money, the opening chapter had me hooked with a capital H.
UTD is the story of Chester’s Mill, Maine; a small, relatively normal town which is suddenly enveloped by an invisible and seemingly indestructible dome. The dome not only cuts the inhabitants off from the rest of the world but also hacks off a few body parts and slices a woodchuck in two in a suitably bloody fashion as it slams down. As you’d expect, panic ensues and the pages actually fly by.
At its core, UTD is a story about a community and its power struggles, and I almost hate to say it – politics. Like all good microcosms of society there are good guys and bad guys and their varied reactions to the bizarre situation leads to incidents of rape, arson, murder, even a bit of Necrophilia, and thanks to King’s stunning characterisation it’s all entirely believable, enthralling, and disturbing.
I might have to rethink my trust issues; I even enjoyed the ending. A lot.
I’ve only read this once, because y’know- long! but I’ve been longing to read it again ever since I finished it which is a sign of a true favourite.
The first ten lies they tell you in high school. “Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party.
In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
Speak is one of those books that doesn’t blow you away at first. It’s a slow burner but once you have read the final word you are left speechless. It is a dark and frank portrayal of the high-school experience that will speak to many, and move most. It’s harrowing and depressing but also intensely funny.
Anyone who has ever felt like an outcast or a victim can find solace in Speak, and all can learn from it. Pay attention to your kids, World.
Opening line: ‘It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomach ache’.
OUR TEACHERS ARE THE BEST… My English teacher has no face. She has stringy hair that droops on her shoulders. The hair is black from her parting to her ears and then neon orange to its frizzy ends. I can’t decide if she has pissed off her hairdresser or is morphing into a monarch butterfly. I call her Hairwoman.
‘Sometimes I think high school is one long hazy activity: if you are tough enough to survive this, they’ll let you become an adult. I hope it’s worth it.’
When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside—walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know’
You should probably read the book before you watch this video, just sayin.
When Winnie stumbles across a spring which can bestow the gift of everlasting life, she also stumbles across the unforgettable Tuck family. The Tucks, having drunk from this spring, will never age, and will never die. With a calm clearsightedness they have kept the spring’s whereabouts secret, realising the harm and chaos full knowledge of it would bring. But the Tucks need to take grave measures when the spring’s secret is in danger of being revealed…
Disclosure: I think this is the first book I’ve chosen for Favourites Friday that I didn’t give a full 5 stars to on Goodreads and that I have read less than 3 times. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not great! I think one of the main reasons for deducting a star was that it was too short. I wanted MORE.
I discovered this book late. Like really late. It was first published in 1975 (and you can tell…it has that great old whimsical style to it where every word counts) and I probably first read it when I was about 20. If I’d read it when I was younger I know for a fact that I would have fallen in love with it even more than I did then. That weird thing happened on my first discovery of it too, I went to look it up thinking ‘I feel like this should be a film’ only to find out that Disney had released it a few years earlier (2002). And then literally about a week later, it was shown on TV on a Saturday afternoon. I went from being completely oblivious to it being everywhere. Weird how that happens, huh? I LOVE the film too btw…but more on that later.
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of immortality. Vampires are my favourites, obviously, but there’s a lot to be said for just your average boy that can’t grow up. Peter Pan was probably my first ever fictional crush, (does he really count as being immortal? Anyway…) but after reading this Jesse Tuck was a big contender too. He’s quite clearly the cutest thing ever even if he’s a bit aloof initially. He’s funny too.
You mustn’t drink from it. Comes right up out of the ground. Probably pretty dirty” he began to pile pebbles over it again. “But you drank some,” Winnie reminded him. “Oh. Did you see that? Well, I’ll drink anything”
Man after my own heart!
There’s something really sweet in the way tries to discourage Winnie from drinking the water from the spring that has turned them immortal, you instantly realise that maybe living forever isn’t quite the gift that it sounds.
The rest of the book is basically the Tuck family keeping Winnie ‘hostage’ until they figure out what to do, or until they believe that she won’t tell anyone about the spring, and to convince her of that they have to tell her the truth.
Do you understand, child? That water – it stops you right where you are. If you’d had a drink of it today, you’d stay a little girl forever. You’d never grow up, not ever.
It’s heart-breaking really, the whole story is just mega sad, but beautiful too. This is the line that always particularly sticks in my head whenever I’m thinking about immortality (happens a lot):
You can’t have living without dying. So you can’t call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road.
It’s that old chesnut isn’t it? You can’t have good without bad, or how do you know what good is? There’s no good without evil after all.
So, you should definitely read the book. It really reminds me of Alice Hoffman too, it has that magical, sleepy summertime prose to it that makes it perfect for a quick sunny Sunday afternoon read.
But, can we talk about the film for a second? I think I love the book even more after seeing the film, which never happens to me.
Here are some reasons why the film is awesome:
1. They made Winnie older (she’s only 10 in the book, and Jesse is 17) so they could play a bit more on the romantic element between the two characters. In the book they have a beautiful childish and harmless love for one another but in the film they can get down to sexy time (they don’t really, I think they just kiss…but SWOON).
2. Winnie is played by none other than RORY GILMORE…and I’m not being funny but who ISN’T in love with Rory Gilmore, right?
3. Jonathan Jackson. Nuff said. I knew Jesse was going to be hot, and Disney did good. I nearly spat out my coffee a few months ago when I saw him being all hot in Nashville and was like ‘IT’S JESSE TUCK GONE SEXY’ I’m sure he’s been in loads of stuff but that’s just not important.
4. I mean SRSLY, look how hot they are!
5. Sissy Spacek as Mae too, the casting was OWNED.
I’m going to hunt down the film now. Or maybe just watch Gilmore Girls.
Just a quick one today guys as it’s Semi-finals day @ Wimbledon and I am glued to it!!! (Mon the Murray).
Spike Milligan is a hero of mine and this book is the best collection of his ‘nonsense’ poems for young kids. When I look back on my early childhood, this book is what I remember. I remember my mum and dad reading it to me and being in hysterics. I still remember all of the words to my favourites ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ and ‘The Land of the Bumbley Boo’.
Every child who is read to is lucky, but I doubt that every child is as lucky to be read things as fun as this. It is something I will never forget!
In The Land Of The Bumbley Boo
In the land of the Bumbley Boo
The People are red white and blue,
They never blow noses
Or ever wear closes,
What a sensible thing to do!
In the land of the Bumbley Boo
You can buy Lemon pie at the zoo;
They give away foxes
In little Pink Boxes
And Bottles of Dandylion Stew.
In the land of the Bumbley Boo
You never see a Gnu,
But thousands of cats
Wearing trousers and hats
Made of Pumpkins and Pelican Glue!
Oh, the Bumbley Boo! the Bumbley Boo!
That’s the place for me and you!
So hurry! Let’s run!
The train leaves at one!
For the land of the Bumbley Boo!
The wonderful Bumbley Boo-Boo-Boo!
The Wonderful Bumbley BOO!!!
So I went AWOL for a week, sorry about that. I’ve had some evil strand of the common cold, or Man Flu as I like to call it and it really knocked me for six. (Six what??) It also didn’t help that my Mum was visiting and we had loads of stuff planned so I had to man up and get on with it which probably hasn’t helped with the recovery process. But I did manage to have fun despite the feeling of impending death so all was not lost.
I’m just starting to feel a bit more human now. Today was the first day I’ve had chance to pick up a book since last week too…I am officially the worst book blogger ever. Oh well.
That being said, on Sunday, my lovely, crazy Mumsy and I went to the V&A to see the David Bowie exhibition David Bowie is and it was amazing. It also reminded me of one of my favourite books.
A meditation on the relationship between pop star and pop fan, this intriguing and thoroughly entertaining epistolary novel tracks a 30-year, one-way correspondence from devoted music fan Gary to rock icon David Bowie. Beginning as an angst ridden teenager, Gary writes letters to Bowie, sharing his thoughts on everything from Ziggy Stardust and Glass Spiders to his boarding school days and adult life as a husband and father.
I like to think that this book would appeal to anyone, not just Bowie fans. I love how we enter into the world of Gary Weightman – a normal boy who is sent away to boarding school – through his letters to Bowie. He tells Bowie and, therefore us all of his secrets, his worries and his feelings on life and growing up. It’s a great coming of age story which reminds you just how passionate and intense only teenagers can be. And on the other hand it gives someone like me who wasn’t born around the time of Ziggy Stardust a first-hand account of the world’s reaction to David Bowie and the whole glam movement.
The book chronicles all the way through to the release of the film Velvet Goldmine in 1999 (one of my favourite films) in which Gary writes an angry letter to Bowie chastising him for objecting to the film and not allowing his songs to be used. I felt exactly the same way.
To Major Tom is a book of nostalgia and a profound reflection on life in general. Gary himself sums it up pretty well in his introduction:
I could not believe how much of my modern mental furniture was installed by my devotion – musical, cultural and otherwise – nor how hard in recent years it’s become to keep that furniture polished and dusted. Times change, people change, dreams explode and worlds collide. And, if you think it’s foolish to spend your life living in the past, imagine what it’s like to live in somebody else’s. Sometimes I wish Ziggy had played the flugelhorn instead.