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What I'm Currently Reading

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
The Wombles by Elizabeth Beresford


Cape Town, South Africa

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about Gillian Rubenstein 2007-12-25 12:07:05

Gillian Rubenstein is an Australian author best known for the "Tales of the Otori" series, written under the pseudonym Lian Hearn.
The series consists of a trilogy (consisting of "Across the Nightingale Floor", "Grass for His Pillow" and "Brilliance of the Moon") which follows the hero, Takeo, from when he is 16 until when he is 19. The fourth book, "The Harsh Cry of the Heron", takes place 16 years later. The final book, "Heaven's Net is Wide", is actually a prequel and covers the events before the trilogy opens, focusing on Shigeru, who is the rightful ruler of the Otori in "Across the Nightingale Floor".

about John Galsworthy 2007-10-17 15:26:39

John Galsworthy is probably best known as the author of the Forsyte Saga, which consists of three trilogies and a few short stories and 'interludes'.

The first trilogy, simply called "The Forsyte Saga" consists of:
The Man of Property,
In Chancery, and
To Let

The second trilogy, called "A Modern Comedy" is:
The White Monkey,
The Silver Spoon, and
Swan Song

The third trilogy ("End of the Chapter") consists of:
Maid in Waiting,
Flowering Wilderness, and
Over the River

about Khaled Hosseini 2007-06-30 13:58:43

I loved "The Kite Runner". It's beautifully written and the characters are very well-developed. It's a fantastic book and should be read by everyone.
However, I've just read "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and I can honestly say that it's even better! So start with either one but make sure you read the other one too.

about Susan Cooper 2007-06-30 13:54:50

Susan Cooper is best known for "The Dark is Rising", a children's fantasy series set in contemporary England and Wales.

The order is as follows:
*Over Sea, Under Stone
*The Dark Is Rising
*The Grey King
*Silver on the Tree

Of these I enjoyed the second and fourth books the most when I read the series as a child (I actually never read the first book and I didn't feel like I'd missed anything). I'm going to reread the series soon as it's currently being made into a movie.

about C.S. Lewis 2007-06-10 11:46:31

The Narnia series in the order they should be read are:

* The Magician's Nephew
* The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
* The Horse and His Boy
* Prince Caspian
* The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
* The Silver Chair
* The Last Battle

However, if you like you can skip "The Magician's Nephew" and start with "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", as Nephew is more of a prequel than a beginning.

about Edith Pargeter (aka Ellis Peters) 2007-06-09 06:21:28

Edith Pargeter wrote under a number of pseudonyms. The most well-known of these was "Ellis Peters", under which she wrote the Cadfael series, about a medieval monk who used his medical knowledge to solve murders and other crimes during a time of great political unrest in England.

Title Comments

about Wicked by Gregory Maguire 2007-09-24 06:31:12

I really enjoyed this book. At first I was put off by Maguire's style, but once I got used to it, I got entranced by the plot and the characters.

It's basically the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, from the day of her birth until her death (as described in "The Wizard of Oz"). It gives an entirely new perspective on who she was and on her actions during the time of Dorothy's journey through Oz.

She had the misfortune to be born with bright emerald green skin. The negative reactions of most people to her strange appearance led her to become rather withdrawn and cynical. However, she did make a few good friends during her university years, one of which was Glinda who would later become the "Good Witch of the North".

What I absolutely loved about this book was the backstory that Maguire creates. There's a whole mythology in Oz and two or three major religions (I'm not sure if these were actually created by Maguire or by Baum, but Maguire uses them very effectively). There's a strong political element, which different factions and forces, and even an underground resistance movement against the Wizard's tyranny. All of these factors play a role in the story - Elphaba doesn't become the person we recognise from "The Wizard of Oz" in a vacuum - she is in many ways a product of her environment and of her experiences.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who's willing to try something a bit out of the ordinary. If you're bothered by Maguire's style at the beginning, just stick with it, you'll probably get used to it, and the story's definitely worth the effort.

about Westmark by Lloyd Alexander 2007-07-29 11:12:48

The first book of the "Westmark" trilogy for young adults.

Theo, a young orphan, works as a printer's apprentice in a small town. When his master's business is ruined by the men of the power-hungry chief minister, Cabbarus, and the printer himself is killed, Theo flees into the countryside. He meets up with a travelling salesman, Count Las Bombas, and his dwarf assistant Musket. Realising that the Count is a con-man, but having no one else to turn to, Theo travels with them and takes part in their schemes. They meet a young beggar girl, Mickle, who has an extraordinary ability to mimic voices and is a skilled ventriloquist. The Count uses her skills in another of his money-making plots, presenting her as an oracle capable of communicating with the dead. Theo starts to care for Mickle, but cannot live with the dishonesty of the Count's lifestyle, and chooses instead to leave the group and find his own way. When he meets Florian, a rebel leader intent on bringing down the monarchy, Theo once again joins a group whose principles he's not sure he agrees with. But when he discovers that the Count, Musket and Mickle have been arrested by Cabbarus, Theo needs Florian's help to rescue them.

I quite enjoyed this book. Although I don't really like Alexander's style and his characters tend to be two-dimensional and stereotypical stock characters, I found the plot of this book gripping and the setting (a sort of pseudo-European country of the 1700s or thereabouts) very well-realised.

It is probably aimed at 12-16 year olds, but anyone who enjoyed Alexander's Black Cauldron books will enjoy this too.
It is followed by "The Kestral" and "The Beggar Queen".