We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Survivor - Sharon Osbourne

One of the people I truly admire is Sharon Osbourne. She is a versatile, talented woman who has achieved so much despite struggling through so many things. She is the woman behind Ozzy Osbourne, is responsible for OzzFest and works on numerous tv shows. She is someone that I aspire to be like.

In Survivor, Sharon tells it all like it is - nothing less could ever be expected from her- and one truly gets the sense of the crazy train that Sharon's life has been. Sharon speaks of her relationship with her father before he died, Ozzy's career, celeb feuds and fights which generally start because Sharon is so protective of her family. Sharon also touches on things that most of us can relate to such as her struggle with her weight and her problems with ageing.

This book is brutally honest and whilst reading you can truly hear Sharon speaking off the page. Definitely something that you have to read, because Sharon's life has simply been too fascinating to not share!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Who was Queen Victoria?

Reading Kate Hubbard's Who was Queen Victoria was a delightful thing to do after watching the movie The Young Victoria. Of course being of British decent and living in South Africa makes me adore British history and culture so much more than anything South African.

This book gives a lot of information about Queen Victoria - and it is written in a manner which enables one to remember a lot of what one has read even a time after reading the book. The book tells of Victoria and Albert's relationship as well as Victoria's difficulties with her difficult mother and fighting against regency. One sees what a great personality Victoria had and how strong her character was.

I think that this book is a perfect tribute to the woman who ruled the world!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

100 Treasures of Buckingham Palace

Blogging about the book 100 Treasures of Buckingham Palace is a bit out of the ordinary considering the books that I generally write about, but in trying to keep with the theme of English things this month, I thought that I would write about one of the most English things of all - the treasures that belong to the Royal Family.

In 100 Treasures of Buckingham Palace, Tom Parsons writes about the extensive collection housed within Buckingham Palace which ranges from little ornaments to jewellery to furniture and exquisite portraits. Being a scholar of Classical Studies, many of the pieces greatly intrigued me, but I also found that I enjoyed describing to myself the details that I saw on each of the pieces and trying to guess where they came from before reading the description.

This book has increased my desire to one day see Buckingham Palace and go on a tour to see the myriad of treasures housed there.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Paris in July

I stumbled across another reading challenge - this one is called Paris in July. It is hosted by Book Bath and Thyme for Tea. It will run for the month of July.

The aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through reading, watching, listening, observing, cooking and eating all things French!

There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of this experience – just blog about anything French and you can join in! Some ideas might include;

  • reading a French themed book – fiction or non-fiction,
  • watching a French movie,
  • listening to French music,
  • cooking French food,
  • experiencing French, art, architecture and travel

Go here to read more about Paris in July!!!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - the final book of the Harry Potter Series is riveting. I could not put it down, I had to find out how it ended. When Harry discovers that he is one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, things become all the more complex. But when it comes to the destruction of Voldemort, love truly does conquer all as that is the thing that protected Harry from Voldemort in the first place, and what sets Harry apart from Voldemort.

This series has kept me enthralled, and with the open ending that it has, Rowling definitely has to write some more books soon. Maybe she could even write about the Marauders and their adventures at Hogwarts?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Bridget Jones' Diary

I adored the Bridget Jones Diary movies, and expected that the book would be even better, because the books are always better than the movie. But I have to say that I really did not like the book Bridget Jones' Diary.

Whilst I can see how they derived the movie from the book, I really think that the book is over-rated. So maybe I should hire the dvd and see the gorgeous Colin Firth in action!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Atonement by Ian McEwan is one of the greatest books that I have ever read. Written in 3 parts, it tells the story of misconception, and how the perception of a situation from afar is vastly different from the experienc of the situation.

The story is Briony's attempt to Atone for her big faux pas when she accused Robbie of raping her cousin. Of course on the pages of the book she fixes things, and makes them into what they could have been had she fixed the mistake she made when she made it.

Atonement changed the way I look at things, and made me realise how dangerous misconceptions and assumptions can be. If I did ratings, I would give it 5 stars.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Reading Jane Austen

I have been busy reading Jane Austen's Emma for more than a month now, what I learned is that you cannot read Jane Austen quickly, as their is just so much to consider and to take in. Hopefully I will soon finish Emma - I am presently busy reading chapter 22 of Emma. So much has already been covered. Emma tries to fix up her friend Harriet with Mr Elton who it turns out, is actually interested in Emma. Emma finds this to be quite a problem as she now has to find someone else for Harriet, because she encouraged Harriet to turn down a farmer.

Jane Fairfax and Mr Churchill have been mentioned - and I cannot wait to see what the two of them will bring to the plot of Emma. It presently seems that something could happen between Emma and Mr Knightley, though with Emma having her mind set on staying unmarried - quite a bit would have to happen to get that to change I think.

Well, I shall post a bit more as the story unfolds, and the story of Emma Woodhouse becomes more dense.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Always speak the truth, think before you speak, and write it down afterwards.
Lewis Carroll

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Japanese Literature

Keeping to the whole idea of the Japanese Literature Challenge, I thought I would do a post on Japanese Literature. Japanese literature spans a period of almost two millennia. Early works were heavily influenced by cultural contact with China and Chinese literature, often written in Classical Chinese. Indian literature also had an influence through the diffusion of Buddhism in Japan. Eventually, Japanese literature developed into a separate style in its own right as Japanese writers began writing their own works about Japan, although the influence of Chinese literature and Classical Chinese remained until the end of the Edo period. Since Japan reopened its ports to Western trading and diplomacy in the 19th century, Western and Eastern literature have strongly affected each other and continue to do so.

Before the introduction of kanji from China,there was no Japanese writing system. At first, Chinese characters were used in Japanese syntactical formats, and the result was sentences that look like Chinese but are phonetically read as Japanese. Chinese characters were further adapted, creating what is known as man'yōgana, the earliest form of kana, or syllabic writing. The earliest works were created in the Nara period. These include Kojiki, a work recording Japanese mythology and legendary history; Nihon Shoki, a chronicle with a slightly more solid foundation in historical records than Kojiki; and Man'yōsha, a poetry anthology. One of the stories they describe is the tale of Urashima Tarō, which has been identified as the earliest example of a story involving time travel.

Haruki Murakami is one of the most popular and controversial of today's Japanese authors. His genre-defying, humorous and surreal works have sparked fierce debates in Japan over whether they are true "literature" or simple pop-fiction: Kenzaburō Ōe has been one of his harshest critics. Some of Murakami's best-known works include Norwegian Wood (1987) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994–1995). Another best-selling contemporary author is Banana Yoshimoto.

Although modern Japanese writers covered a wide variety of subjects, one particularly Japanese approach stressed their subjects' inner lives, widening the earlier novel's preoccupation with the narrator's consciousness. In Japanese fiction, plot development and action have often been of secondary interest to emotional issues. In keeping with the general trend toward reaffirming national characteristics, many old themes re-emerged, and some authors turned consciously to the past. Strikingly, Buddhist attitudes about the importance of knowing oneself and the poignant impermanence of things formed an undercurrent to sharp social criticism of this material age. There was a growing emphasis on women's roles, the Japanese persona in the modern world, and the malaise of common people lost in the complexities of urban culture.

Popular fiction, non-fiction, and children's literature all flourished in urban Japan in the 1980s. Many popular works fell between "pure literature" and pulp novels, including all sorts of historical serials, information-packed docudramas, science fiction, mysteries, detective fiction, business stories, war journals, and animal stories. Non-fiction covered everything from crime to politics. Although factual journalism predominated, many of these works were interpretive, reflecting a high degree of individualism. Children's works re-emerged in the 1950s, and the newer entrants into this field, many of them younger women, brought new vitality to it in the 1980s.

Manga (comic books) have penetrated almost every sector of the popular market. They include virtually every field of human interest, such as a multivolume high-school history of Japan and, for the adult market, a manga introduction to economics, and pornography. Manga represented between 20 and 30 percent of annual publications at the end of the 1980s, in sales of some ¥400 billion per year.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Japanese Literature Challenge

This is the first time that I heard of the Japanese Literature Challenge - and I am very excited about it, as I have some books by Japanese authors on my TBR list. So what is the Japanese Literature Challenge? The challenge is to read at least one book by a Japanese author between June 1st 2010 and January 30th 2011. It's as easy as that!!

The Japanese Literature Challenge was started in 2006 and is in its 4th year! I think that it is a wonderful idea and gets all avid readers to broaden their book horizons!! I think that for the challenge I will read Norweigan Wood by Marukami for the challenge - as a starting point. I'll be looking for more reading challenges and will post them as soon as I have found some more interesting ones.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.
Virginia Woolf

Thursday, 17 June 2010

New Book!!!!

I am very excited, as today my copy of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner arrived!!!!!!! I cannot wait to start reading it, so it will move towards the top of my TBR list. I have been busy reading another of Stephenie Meyer's offerings - Midnight Sun- which is Edwards rendition of Twilight. I shall be blogging on Midnight Sun soon, so look out for that.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

I have been reading some other book blogger's blogs, and found that they were fascinating and that they tend to bounce off of each other, with similar books and trends. I thought I would try to do the same - and endorse something like 'Bloggers of the World Unite'. So here is my picture that summarises my reading tastes; if a picture paints a thousand books, then here is the picture that paints mine...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Books Read so far in June

Daddy's Girl - Margie Orford
Midnight Sun - Stephenie Meyer
Geisha of Gion - Mineko Iwasaki

I have no idea why I have just not been super motivated and reading a lot this month, hopefully I'll finish at least 1 of the 4 books I am reading at the moment this weekend.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Wild Swans at Coole

THE TREES are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones 5
Are nine and fifty swans.

The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount 10
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, 15
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold, 20
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water 25
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away? 30

Sunday, 13 June 2010

My latest book acquisitions

Yesterday I went to the local Save a Pet shop and browsed through their second hand books section, and found a few good books to add to my burgeoning collection -

  • The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemmingway
  • The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
  • King Lear - William Shakespeare

I just love second hand book shops, you can find absolute gems for a steal!!!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In the penultimate installment to the Harry Potter Series, Harry comes much closer to killing Voldemort than before. Snape shows his true colours, - Snape who Harry finds out is the Half-Blood Prince - and Malfoy is given a difficult task. This book is action packed, and nearly got me crying when Dumbledore dies. As a reader you wonder what more can be taken from Harry by the Dark Lord. Definitely one of those books that keeps you in suspense as Harry inches closer to destroying Voldemort.

Harry and Dumbledore set out to destroy the Horcruxes that have helped Voldemort to become immortal. Harry learns a great deal about Voldemort through memories that he and Dumbledore examine in Dumbledore's pensieve. Harry sees that he and Voldemort are not that different in the circumstances of their lives.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

This fifth installment in the Harry Potter series sees Harry being rescued from the Dursley's by the Order of the Phoenix. Since the Ministry of Magic vehemently denies the return of Voldemort, the only ones doing anything to try and stop him are the Order of the Phoenix.

Harry's life becomes yet more complicated as he starts to see Voldemort's actions as visions. Which turns out to be both a blessing and a curse. He manages to save Mr Weasley, but falls right into Voldemort's trap, retrieving the prophecy at the Ministry of Magic. Bad things start to happen at Hogwarts when Delores Umbridge is recruited to be the new High Inquisitor at Hogwarts - releasing decrees left, right and centre that changes Hogwarts for the worse. Harry starts Dumbledore's Army which he trains in the Room of Requirement. Dumbledore's Army goes on to fight Voldemort's Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic. Sadly Sirius does not make it through the battle at the Ministry, and falls behind the veil.

My favourite scene in this book is when Fred and George Weasley take their leave of Hogwarts. I could see it so vividly in my minds eye and laughed for a good while.

Umbridge: "You two are about to learn what happens to wrong-doers in my school."
Fred: "You know what? I don't think we are. George, I think we've outgrown full-time education... Time to test our talents in the real world, d'you reckon?"
George: "Definitely."
Turn to page 597 in The Order of the Phoenix to read this amazing scene.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


A SUDDEN blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

In this fourth installment of the Harry Potter Series, we see Harry being a hero once again. It is also the first Harry Potter book in which a character dies on the page. In this book we see the return (in the flesh) of Lord Voldemort.

Harry's life becomes more complicated as he is -unbeknownst to him- entered into the Triwizard Tournament. His name is expelled from the Goblet of Fire and he has to take part in the challenges that await him. As we have come to expect of Harry, he excells in all the challenges. Whilst during the final challenge he is intercepted by Lord Voldemort and his minions who used a portkey to transport Harry to them - showing us who was behind Harry's entry in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry is part of the reincarnation of Lord Voldemort, and witnesses Cedric's murder. When he returns to the maze, he tells of Voldemort's return, but will he be believed?

Monday, 7 June 2010

Super Excited!!

So I am very excited because Stephenie Meyer's newest offering The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner has officially been released, which means that I will be getting my pre-ordered copy soon!!!! But, if you like me can't wait for the book to arrive mosey on down to breetannerbook.com where you can read the book for free online!!! But this can only be done from June 7th to July 5th, so hurry on and get reading!!!!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

So far of all the Harry Potter books, this one has had me in the greatest suspense. Not knowing whether the Prisoner of Azkaban is actually trying to kill Harry or what is going on. Faced with Dementors, Harry's life at Hogwart's becomes a lot more strained, also because he has not gotten permission from his aunt and uncle to be able to go into Hogsmead, not to mention the escaped prisoner from Azkiban who is trying to get Harry.

A lot about Harry's family is learnt in this book. There is a lot of plot and suspense, and the Harry Potter books just seem to get better as they progress!!! J.K. Rowling definitely outdid herself with this one!!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This second book in the Harry Potter series, shows us a slightly more grown up Harry, who is still treated appallingly by his muggle family. He is rescued by his best friend Ron and his brothers Fred and George who come to fetch him with a flying car!

But before he is rescued, Harry is visited by Dobby a house elf who warns Harry not to return to Hogwarts. Ron and Harry are forced to take the flying car to get to Hogwarts. A whole lot of strange things happen at Hogwarts, threatening the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. Harry discovers that he can talk parseltongue. And saves Ron's sister Ginny from Voldemort.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone, is written so vividly that you can actually see the words on the page in your mind's eye as though you were watching the movie.

Harry learns that he is a wizard and has been trapped in the world of muggles by his aunt and uncle who despise him. The adventure starts when Harry gets a letter telling him that he is to start at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A whole new world opens up to Harry - with both good and bad things.

Harry learns that his parents did not die in a car crash, but that Lord Voldemort - he who must not be named- killed them and wanted to kill Harry too. Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione, learn that someone has attempted to steal something from Gringott's and that it is linked to Nicholas Flamel. In trying to go after the person who wants to steal the Philosopher's Stone, Harry encounters his enemy Voldemort and beats him, but unfortunately Voldemort does not die, but Harry manages to protect the Philosopher's Stone from him. Quite an adventure which has to be read!!!

A brilliant first novel by J.K. Rowling, which is so well written that it leaves nothing to be desired.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is a British author best known as the creator of the Harry Potter fantasy series, the idea for which was conceived whilst on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies.

The Harry Potter series has become the greatest English literature export of this decade at least. I shall be reviewing all 7 Harry Potter books over the next week, and at a later stage will blog about the Harry Potter fan fiction out there.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Noteworthy English Authors

  • Enid Blyton
  • Roald Dahl
  • Ian McEwan
  • Oscar Wilde
  • William Shakespeare
  • Charles Dickens
  • The Bronte Sisters
  • J.R.R. Tolkien (I know he was born in South Africa, but still)
  • Beatrix Potter

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Jane Austen

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction set among the gentry have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature.

She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to Austen's development as a professional writer. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of
Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it. Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the eighteenth century and are part of the transition to nineteenth-century realism. Austen's plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security.

During Austen's lifetime her works brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews. Through the mid-nineteenth century, her novels were admired mainly by members of the literary elite. However, the publication of her nephew's A memoir of Jabe Austen in 1869 introduced her to a far wider public as an appealing personality and kindled popular interest in her works. By the 1940s, Austen had become widely accepted in academia as a "great English writer". The second half of the twentieth century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship, which explored many aspects of her novels: artistic, ideological, and historical. In popular culture, a Janeite fan culture has developed, centred on Austen's life, her works, and the various film and television adaptations of them.