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“Let us read, and let us dance;
these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Secret Circle - Book 1 - The Initiation

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As a teenager I was a huge fan of L.J. Smith. My best friend and I worked our way through the Night World* series with great glee! Every book was read a dozen times and we've been waiting for the final one in the series for over a decade now!!

With the The Secret Circle due to be shown on UK televisions soon; I thought that now was as good a time as any to acquaint myself with the books - especially as I totally missed the boat on the Vampire Diaries (which have now been lent to me and will be on my Christmas reading list!).

The afore mentioned bestie has also been recommending them for (several!) years; so it was great to finally be able to text her and say that I'd be giving them a go!

Book One - The Initiation


Seduced by the Secret Circle - a coven of young witches whose power has controlled New Salem for three hundred years - Cassie falls hopelessly in love with the leader's boyfriend and fall prey to dark powers...

Hmm. The most vague blurb in the world doesn't really set the scene or the tone for the first book in the trilogy.


* * * * *
SPOILERS
* * * * *
The Set Up
Cassie is a shy girl who has never quite found her voice socially speaking. She and her mum have a happy and fulfilling life in California - far far away from New Salem and her grandmother. 
While on holiday, Cassie's world is rocked by two events.
Firstly - she rescues a boy on a beach from really committed bullies. (There's an interesting little exchange between Cassie and Portia - one of the bullies...which is followed up in later books.)
Secondly - she is told by her mother that they have to uproot their entire lives in order to look after her ailing grandparent.

Cassie is dreading starting over at a new school; though she does briefly ponder trying to set herself up as a new person - starting from scratch and all. She is surprised to find that her grandmother is approachable and interesting  - if slightly odd. The two bond over gardening - specifically herbs.  Cassie's mother on the other hand definitely struggles with the transition.

However; Cassie's worst fears start to be realised when she begins at the local secondary school. For some reason that she can't fathom; she is quickly ostracised by teachers and pupils alike when they discover where she lives. Her new home has character and is the oldest, weirdest one on the oldest weirdest street in town - Crowhaven Road. As far as Cassie is concerned she has hit rock bottom.

Cassie - it transpires - was wrong.

An unfortunately run in with the sarcastic, beautiful and vicious Faye isolates her from the rest of the inhabitants of Crowhaven Road - a clique known in the school as the Circle, who weld surprising power. Unexpected things start to happen to her - cruel pranks that the staff (faculty - I love that word) refuse to acknowledge or deal with. 

It's quite likely that this story would have a sad and tragic ending if Diane - the ethereal, beautiful and kind leader of the Circle - hadn't taken an interest in Cassie. Before she knows it; Cassie is catapulted into a new friendlier world. After tragedy strikes a potential initiate into the group; Cassie is offered a place in the Circle.
Once in, Cassie discovers that the Circle is involved in more than just pranks - each of the twelve are witches. She learns that she has more to embrace than just her familial roots. 

Oh and the boy...the boy from the beach? Yeah, he's Diane's long term boyfriend.
Things are about to get a leetle bit complicated.

The Review

I really enjoyed this book. The language was very easy to read, in terms of pacing, phrasing and structure, without ever becoming overtly simplistic, monotonous or patronising. 

I also liked that nothing was totally spelled out for you. The interactions with Portia at the beginning of the book were dramatic and full of portent. I was a little disappointed that this wasn't revisited until I realised that it was clearly a set up for later books. The lack of resolution strangely filled me with a certain degree of confidence that - whatever lies ahead - I wouldn't feel condescended by a tidy, neat, wrapped in bow ending.
Except when it came to the identity of the boy. It was not at all surprising that he was taken. If anything; I kinda thought that Cassie was a bit of an idiot not to have figured it out herself. Still; as the emotional leverage, it wasn't too bad.

Given that it's a book about witchcraft; there are very little demonstations of power. Rather it's the implications and hints; little nuances - such as the herb craft and stone lore that leads you to suppose that they are particularly informed about the craft. With regards to their fear factor; this is best demonstrated by their school friends and teachers who have clearly learned that it's best to leave well enough alone. 

All in all - a pretty solid introduction. I read it in under 4 hours, so immediately started on the second! Review up soon!

Score:
6/10



Trailer for the upcoming TV Series


What do you think? Will you be watching?


(*Please note - Night World fans - as of the 12th October 2011, LJ Smith has announced on her fan forum that she has completed Strange Fate which has now entered the editing stage. Fingers crossed!)

The Secret Circle
The Secret Circle - Book 1 - The Initiation
The Secret Circle - Book 2 - The Captive
The Secret Circle - Book 3 - The Power

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Jane Eyre 2011 Film Review

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The second LeedsBookClub film trip - our first being Alice in Wonderland. 


(Apologies for how late I am getting this up. I actually started it an aaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggeeeeeeeeeee ago and became totally distracted by non-essential nonsense like work...and life...)

It was a lovely day out that ended - predictably enough - at the pub. Here we analysed, discussed and opinionated over a pint/glass of wine.

Far more important than the film itself, was the opportunity for some book club bonding (that's bonding...NOT bondage!).
It was great to meet outside of the book club environment and I look forward to hopefully repeating this exercise in the not-so-distant future! Especially as some enthusiastic members were sadly unable to make it on this occasion.

Right. To the film.

The Good

This is my far the most visually orientated Jane Eyre I've ever seen. The countryside; house; lighting - these all contributed towards creating a highly atmospheric film.

The casting seemed fairly spot on. Jane was a young woman with old eyes - exactly as she needed to be - wonderfully portrayed by Mia Wasilkowska.  
Rochester...well...he isn't my Rochester (that would be Toby Stevens from the 2004 BBC version) but Irish actor Michael Fassbender portrayed a very authentic version of our grumpy anti-hero. Sexy, moody, sexy, occasionally downright grouchy, sexy...

Judy Dench brought a warmth and humanity to Mrs Fairfax that was so very engaging. She only has one or two lines not in the original novel, but they make her character very three dimensional - and so much kinder than her literary counterpart. Worth her weight in gold is that one!

Adele was a little charmer. Far more believeable and less silly than previous versions, resulting in Rochester being a litle less cruel, a little more humourous and a little less mean in calling her names to her face. 

Non-linear story telling - I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Strictly speaking, I've never been one of those people who insist on a film version being totally faithful to the book, but it did throw me a tad.
The emphasis is never truly on Jane's horrible childhood or the recuperation period with the Rivers family - it is always on the time spent with Rochester. Which is actually as it should be. (shhhh, don't tell anyone I just said that...)

The Bad

Sometimes it's so atmospheric (read dark) that you couldn't make out what was happening on the screen without doing that squinty thing.

The accents.
I'm not English, so when I'm aware that an accent is wobbiling a bit or more than a bit...well, it was all very annoying to the actual Yorkshire people I was there watching it with. Which was sort of refreshing. I'm usually the one loudly grousing about accents!

Every now and again - not all the time - just for a second here and there - it get a teensy bit dull. Which is a shame.
It's also practically impossible to do with this book. So, bad film makers, bad! Hang heads in shame!!

The Ugly

While I loved the look of Billy Elliot...sorry...Jamie Bell as St-John Rivers; I HATED the way they characterised him. Rivers was not tied by his emotions in the book, but he HAD some.
In this version, St-John is not only cold; he is judgemental and zealot like terrifying. He seems to be driven by a sort of anger or rage that was totally out of place for me.
At one point, it looked like he was going to strike Jane. There was an aura of violence from this character I found very very very very NOT JANE EYRE AT ALL,NOT EVEN A LITTLE TINY BIT.

They cut SOOOO much out. I appreciate that they have to change bits here and there, but it was heartbreaking how much was discarded here.  

I guess, the film was all just a bit too restrained. While the romantic passion was evident; other aspects felt very buttoned down. It's all so...polite.


Our Verdict

Overall we really enjoyed it, but there were definately some touches that rubbed us up the wrong way.


7/10

Settle an argument here - I've often been criticised for liking Rochester.
He is after all a Very Bad Man. One who locked his wife in the attic and kept her a secret and wandered about the place consorting with All Sorts.

See, I've always had this idea that it wasn't until he moved back full time after he adopted/took on Adele that the missus ended up in the 'hidden' wing.
Prior to that I believe that she would have had the run of the place. OR that she did until she started becoming a danger to herself and to others.
I thought that this film really made it feel like this was the case - especially in relation to Mrs Fairfax comments to Jane. What do you reckon?

Watch the trailer here:

Medusa LeedsBookClub!!!

I made this: Avid Reader at 8:43 pm 0 comments Links to this post
Live in or near Horsforth? 
Looking for fun in the New Year?
Love reading?

Then I have exciting news!!!

In 2012, Medusa Bar and Leeds Book Club will be joining forces to provide a fantastic new reading experience - the (imaginatively) named

Medusa LBC

Venue: Medusa Bar in Horsforth
Date: Wednesday 11th January 2012
Time: 7:00pm

Address: 8-10 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 4RJ
Notes: Free Wifi available!


For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub!

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #MedusaLBC


* * * * * 
2012 - MedusaLBC

14 - Mar - Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson
13 - Feb - The Black House - Peter May - Postphoned
12 - Jan - The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - GUEST

11 - Nov - Empire of the Sun - JG Ballard
10 - Oct - Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (not *that* one)
09 - Sep - Before I go to sleep - S.J. Watson
08 - Aug - 9 Lives - Clive Rusher
07 - Jul - Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes
06 - Jun - A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving - GUEST
05 - May - The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
04 - Apr - Diary of a Nobody - George Grossmith 
03 - Mar - We need to talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
01 - Jan - Ragnarok - AS Byatt
An exciting new project! - Medusa LeedsBookClub

* * * * *
Book Club - Table of Contents

* * * * *

Monday, 28 November 2011

Leaving Certificate Poetry - William Shakespeare

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Along with Eavan Boland, we also studied 6 sonnets by the Bard.


I consider myself privileged in that I have always had a very positive relationship with William Shakespeare. My parents had surprised me with comic versions of Hamlet and Macbeth as a youngling. Surprisingly, these retained the majority of the language of the originals and were gruesome and macabre - in other words utterly perfect for me. 


As a family, we sporadically attended plays (the one that really sticks in my mind was A Midsummers Night Dream. Puck released loud firecrackers, which scared the bejeezus out of the very young versions of my brother and I and so sat with us throughout much of the play feeding us little titbits about the characters as they appeared, especially before a scary or loud bit. To this day I am incapable of hearing the name Titania without remembering that 'she'll do anything for you if you take her a cuppa in the morning', or that Lysander could 'sing jingle bells in three different languages') and I was one of the few in the class who had a passing familiarity with both King Lear and the sonnets we were to study. 



Yes. 



I was that girl in school. 



It was tremendous fun really. 



Honestly. 

I very much enjoyed the selection that we read. Shakespeare was a master manipulator and each of these demonstrated his skill at using words to attain something of advantage to himself - be it sponsorship, money or eternal recognition.
   

And Just For The Record, I happen to be a Stratfordian. I don't think that we will ever know for sure who really truly absolutely wrote the poems and plays ascribed to William Shakespeare, all the while acknowledging that the doubt only arose in the 19th Century (out of intellectual snobbery if you ask me). 

However, in the absence of definitive knowledge; I believe that it is important to at least try to believe that Will Shakespeare - a normal everyday man of no especial education or knowledge base - was the author. Allowing for genius in the everyday is essential - it allows us to dream of more; inspiring individuals to achieve beyond external expectations. 



Anyhoo, please find below the sonnets studied. If you get me a little squiffy some night, I can even be persuaded to rather dramatically recite them!

Sonnet 29 - When In Disgrace With Fortune And Men's Eyes

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate:
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,--and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gat;
  For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
  That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
 
Sonnet 30 - When To The Sessions Of Sweet Silent Thought
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
Fro precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
  But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
  All losses are restor'd and sorrows end.
 
Sonnet 60 - Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore
 
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Cooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
   And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
   Praising they worth, despite his cruel hand. 
 
Sonnet 64 - When I have seen by time's fell hand defaced 
 
When I have seen by time's fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage:
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store:
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate--
That Time will come and take my love away.
  This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
  But weep to have that which it fears to lose. 
 
Sonnet 65 - Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
 
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O! how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt'ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
  O! None, unless this miracle have might,
  That in black ink my love may still shine bright. 
 
Sonnet 73 -  That time of year thou mayest in me behold
 
That time of year thou mayest in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
  This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
  To love that well which thou must leave ere long. 
 
And since we're covering sonnets - my all time favourite - 
 
Sonnet 130 - My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun
 
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow oh her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,--
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
  And yet, by heaven, I think my love so rare
  As any she belied with false compare. 
 
* * * * *
School Days Over

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Fancy a Christmas pint?

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As we are not meeting up in December for a book club; we will be meeting up to share the  
Christmas Cheer!



Date: 2nd December
Time: 7pm
Venue: Massey's Bookseller City Bar 
Address: 83 Cookridge Street, Leeds, LS2 8ER

Specialities: Buy-1-Get-1-Free Cocktails

What to expect?
A load of us quietly and demurely sipping cocktails whilst discussing Dostoevsky, Hemmingway and Plath.

There will be no mad drrrrunken rambling...

See Santa - he's about to cart-wheel, not fall over...



* * * * *
Christmas - Table of Contents


Friday, 25 November 2011

New Scandinavian Crush Klaxon

I made this: BookElf at 9:50 am 0 comments Links to this post


The Reading Mojo is BACK baby!

So this Jo Nesbo's a bit good isn't he? Just spent the last two nights gripped in the seedy world of Harry Hole reading the first of his novels chronologically to have been translated into English, The Redbreast.
It takes a while to get into, and they really do like their herrings over there, but once you're inside the frantic pace takes over and BAM, you're running around Oslo with a Smith and Weston (a SMITH AND WESTON???? REALLY????) chasing after killers and thugs. This book gets extra points for making me actually shout out loud "BUT HE'S A NAZI!!!!" in bed, where I was reading this sitting bolt upright, wearing my most comforting cardigan.


Not only is Harry Hole himself a badass (him and Lund, oh God, oh that's going to keep me going for a while...) but he's also a Good Person; nice to his sister, respectful to his colleagues (apart from the corrupt evil ones) and committed to his job. He also has the ability to travel from Norway to South Africa and back IN A DAY. Morse, what Morse? HOLE!


Oh... and the writer... looks like this...



BREAK ME OFF A PIECE OF THAT

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Table of Contents - Children's Corner

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CHILDREN'S CORNER

Poetry all ages can enjoy!



On keeping the fright in children's classics





Horrible Histories - the first part of the post is In Praise Of



Harry Potter - the end is nigh!



Point Horrorween - one for Point Horror fans!


The Green Knowe Books - the creepiest books in the world!


* * * * * Guest Posts * * * * * 

Other Posts by Evan
Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz
Percy Jackson
Interview with Michael Morpurgo
Many thanks for your contributions!



* * * * * Full - Table of Contents * * * * *



Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Anne McCaffrey

I made this: Avid Reader at 4:01 pm 0 comments Links to this post
I have just read that Anne McCaffrey - one of the greatest of the SF Grand Dame's - has passed away from a stroke, aged 85 years.

An author for over 35 years, with almost a hundred titles under her belt; she wrote in a charismatic, imaginative and humorous fashion. Indeed, her first foray into SF was a biting response to the portrayal of women in the genera - she was determined to create an antithesis to the weak, decorative and passive creations that had so dominated the field up to that point.


The first female author to win the Hugo Award (in 1968); she also collected the Nebula Award the following year. She also holds the honor of having created the first SF novel written by a woman to be included in the New York Times Best Seller List - for The White Dragon. The artwork (by Michael Whelan) for this book remains in print today (see below)- so great is its popularity.


For a moment in time she was credited with introducing a female audience into science fiction; however for many years now her audience has been recognised as being both broad and varied. She once noted that dragons are universally popular, appealing to all ages, genders & races equally!


In 2005, she became the 22nd Grand Master of Science Fiction for the Science Fiction Writers of America, while the following year she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.


While she will always be primarily remembered for her magnificent Pern series (it has dragons people, what's not to love!!!); I was always more taken with her Pegasus Series and her books about The Ship Who Sang (the Brain and Brawn Series). From the age of 11 onwards, I would disappear into her worlds for hours at a time; always delighted & enthralled by her books.


My condolences to her surviving family members - two sons, a daughter and (I believe) a grand-daughter - and her collaborators and friends. Her creative spirit has brought much joy and wonder to many people worldwide.

She will be sorely missed.



Anne McCaffrey
1st of April 1926 - 21st of November 2011

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

WHY ARE YOU NOT WRITING AWARD WINNING DRAMA, EH?

I made this: BookElf at 4:06 pm 0 comments Links to this post
Where are all the working class women writers?

1) They are EVERYWHERE. Seriously, go to a spoken word event! Go to one shitting spoken word event in Sheffield, or Bradford, or Manchester, or Leeds and LISTEN to these women’s voices. Listen to the stories of single-motherhood, forced prostitution, being different, being alone. Go to women's events like the Ladyfests, or Feminist Networks, or conferences like Women Up North and TALK to the women there about their experiences. Read the zines. Seriously. Get yourself a cup of tea, sit near the display table and READ THE ZINES. Some of the funniest, most knowing writing I've read this year has been in zines. Read the blogs, Jesus there are some AMAZING blogs by working class women out there, they might not be all about how dreadful everything is, but they are there. Look at tumblr, LOOK AT TUMBLR, and tell me we don't have working class women writers par excellence. They might not be making lots of MONEY and PRESS, but they are THERE!
2) PLEASE stop silencing middle class women. We might have parents that went to university, and we might have grown up with certain aspirations taken as a given, but that doesn't mean we don't know pain! We don't know poverty, or neglect, or abuse! I am getting INCREASINGLY FED UP with feeling not 'working class hero' enough to be deemed acceptable, just because I happen to have had a parent who was a teacher. Yes, I am aware that MASSIVE FUCK OFF PRIVILEGES come with my being middle class, but that doesn't mean my writing has no cultural value! (Yeah, I know, I'm a massive privileged cow bag. I should just go throw myself in the sea. I KNOW.)
3) Stop saying that things working class people actually like to do don't count! Why is it only deemed star worthy if a working class woman writes something that is as good a a middle class woman's writing? Why does everything have to have literary merit? Why take the piss out of Jordan's books, if people enjoy them, and working class women read them, and they therefore get pushed up the best seller's lists, why is that such a MASSIVELY BAD THING? Why is it only remarkable if a working class woman writes something that middle class people (or middle class people who are the children of working class people, like me) can appreciate? Oh, but we must have more work that tells us what it is like to be working class! Really? How about reading one of those misery memoirs you love to scorn? Or is that too real for you? Not enough long words? Too many references to a defunct and abusive system that is RUN BY MIDDLE CLASS PEOPLE?

Grrrrrr
Honestly, sometimes if I didn't blog I would explode.

GCSE Poetry

I made this: BookElf at 3:14 pm 0 comments
I loved AR's memories of her Leaving Cert poetry last week, and it got me thinking about the dreaded English Lit Anthology I lugged about for the two years of my GCSEs. At the time, I wasn't the biggest poetry fan in the world-I loved talking about it in class, and finding hidden meanings within it, but it wasn't until I went to see the poets perform their work that I actually got it.

I remember going to see the poets from out Anthology performing in Manchester at a special event for students and forming a lovely 15-year-old's crush on Simon Armitage-who, to be honest I still have a small spot for. I also remember John Cooper Clark performing 'I wanna be yours' at 100 miles an hour to rapteous applause and thinking at the time for me revolutionary thoughts about how words should elevate and captivate, and how performance has power. I think I learnt more about poetry on that one day than I ever did in the two years of writing 'A, B, A, C, C' next to lines in class.

So here are some of my favourites that I studied, reading them again takes me back to a time my skin still stretched and I still knew all my friend's phone numbers off by heart...

About His Person by Simon Armitage

Five pounds fifty in change, exactly,
a library card on its date of expiry.

A postcard stamped,
unwritten, but franked,

a pocket size diary slashed with a pencil
from March twenty-fourth to the first of April.

A brace of keys for a mortise lock,
an analogue watch, self winding, stopped.

A final demand
in his own hand,

a rolled up note of explanation
planted there like a spray carnation

but beheaded, in his fist.
A shopping list.

A givaway photgraph stashed in his wallet,
a keepsake banked in the heart of a locket.

no gold or silver,
but crowning one finger

a ring of white unweathered skin.
That was everything.


Unrelated Incidents by Tom Leonard
this is thi
six a clock
news thi
man said n
thi reason
a talk wia
BBC accent
iz coz yi
widny wahnt
mi ti talk
aboot thi
trooth wia
voice lik
wanna yoo
scruff. if
a toktaboot
thi trooth
lik wanna yoo
scruff yi
widny thingk
it wuz troo.
jist wanna you
scruff tokn.
thirza right
way ti spell
ana right way
to tok it. this
is me tokn yir
right way a
spellin. this
is ma trooth.
yooz doant no
thi trooth
yirsellz cawz
yi canny talk
right. this is
the six a clock
nyooz. belt up.

I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust,
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust,
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot,
You call the shots,
I wanna be yours.

I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days,
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away,
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere,
I don't care,
I wanna be yours.

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out,
I wanna be the electric heater
You'll get cold without,
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion,
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
That's how deep is my devotion.

Deep deep deep de deep deep de deep deep
I don't wanna be her's
I wanna be yours!

* * * * * 
 

* * * * *
School Days Over

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Chris Nickson - Best Books 2011!!!

I made this: Avid Reader at 2:44 am 0 comments
Chris Nickson has been named as one of the

Cold Cruel Winter has been listed on Library Journal as one of it's must reads of the year.

Well colour us not surprised at all

When we reviewed this book a few month ago (here) we highlighted the authentic and wonderful Leeds setting and superb writing skills of one of 'our' authors!

LeedsBookClub would like to congratulate Chris and raise a glass (of wine, red, preferably Merlot) in his honour!! 
Well done mate! 

A tremendous achievement!!! 

We look forward to reading the next exciting installment in the Richard Nottingham series - The Constant Lovers. 

And to be purely self-serving, we'd like to remind people - an exclusive short story 'Home' is available here!!


* * * * *
Chris Nickson

Richard Nottingham - Book 1 - The Broken Token Review
Richard Nottingham - Book 2 - Cold Cruel Winter Review

Christmas Short Story - Annabelle Atkinson and Mr. Grimshaw

Richard Nottingham - Exclusive - Short Story - Home
Richard Nottingham - Exclusive - December

Chris Nickson - Interview

Follow Chris on Twitter - @ChrisNickson2
Best Book of 2001 - Library Journal Award


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Chris Nickson Table of Contents
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Friday, 18 November 2011

Christmas Read-A-Long - Stave Three

I made this: Avid Reader at 6:58 pm 0 comments Links to this post
Bet you can't believe it's been a fortnight already huh?

Right, back to the book - this stave belongs to the ghost of Christmas Present. 





A Christmas Carol Rough Guide
Stave Three - 18th November
Stave Four  - 2nd December
Stave Five  - 16th December











FREE versions of A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol for Kindles
A Christmas Carol for iBooks

While you can download the whole book here from Project Gutenberg in a number of different formats. 

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Christmas - Table of Contents


Thursday, 17 November 2011

How To Be A (kind of) Woman

I made this: BookElf at 12:41 pm 0 comments Links to this post
I'm not the biggest Caitlin Moran fan in the world, this is born mostly out of jealously; she always reminded me of that girl you went to school with, you know, you went to her house for tea a couple of times, and she was nice and everything, but wasn't you, and you find her fifteen years later on faceache and she's somehow phenomenally successful, and married, and owns her own home, and is pregnant, the bitch, whilst your counting down the twelve days till payday, living in rented hell and eating whatever got Whoopsed that week.

She is, however, very very funny, and current, and it therefore may come as some surprise that I only read the talk-of-the-twitter-summer-best-seller How To Be A Woman this week. These are for two reasons a)The above named jealously issue prevents me from getting behind any bandwagon that supports a woman twenty times more successful than I shall ever hope to be without my coming out in HIVES and b)I was, rather egotistically, awaiting my review copy.
In the end, however, I found the book in my good friend and fellow Tudor feminist admirer R's bathroom, and promptly nicked it. And I'm very glad I did.

It took me two days, on the bus, though I have to admit skimming vast chunks (the bit on fashion especially as it was in no way Relevant To My Interests-I'm the sort of person who thinks £25 for a handbag is excessive; the handbag I'm currently using I rescued from a mate's charity shop clear out, and my 'going out' handbag cost me £15.99 in TXMaxx in 2002.) Parts I found extraordinary-the chapters on giving birth and abortion were poignant and heart wrenching, I found myself nodding my head in agreement especially to her assertion there is an 'abortion hierarchy'-I can't be the only pro-choice campaigner sick of other's constantly pulling out the 'would you make a woman that was raped continue the pregnancy' argument; it's not about 'Good Abortion/Bad Abortion' it's about everyone having autonomy over their own body.
The book also made me laugh out loud-so much so at the 'lovely pie' bit that I might have nearly wee'd on the bus. Her humour isn't subtle, being based mostly on how many words you can think of for vagina, but it is raw, and, when mixed in with a very honest appraisal of the world she lives in, punches you in the gut so you have no option but to laugh very, very loudly.

However...

Parts of this book made me want to throw it at a wall in a way not seen since The Thorn Birds incident last spring. I have no idea how tall she is, but I am now as heavy as Moran was as a teen and also grew up amongst fat people* (though apparently I'm not allowed to call myself fat on the Internet any more as it upsets people. Never mind what my doctor, the woman at the gym and TopShop tell me, I'm not fat, I can't be fat, because I am attractive (apparently). Never mind how incredibly insulting that is to other people, or that it's my body, and I can call it any name I like, I must embrace my loveliness and refer to the extra four points on my BMI as curves...) and I would never, ever, say that fat people don't look human, or that a size 14 woman wearing heels' legs looked like a pig's ending in a point even if I lost weight.

Also, the thing about fat people not talking about binge eating is bollocks. Jesus, some of my friends and I have had competitions! We constantly compare notes on what we are eating, or what we have eaten, that week. My first year at uni, when I went a bit silly and got down to a size ten, resulting in my looking at 18 like Meryl Streep does now, my mother and I had to resort to talking about our feelings because I was no longer eating and we couldn't talk about food. In short; no more levitating parties in the clouds for you, Moran.

This is my main problem with the book; it is based entirely on Moran's experiences, and world view, which is fine as it is after all a memoir. But her style of lauding it up about feminism (her definition of which I also consider bollocks-you're not a feminist if you believe in equality, you're a feminist if you believe in the patriarchy. If everyone who believed in equality was a feminist, the world would have toilet cubicles more than three foot wide, we'd have Yvette Cooper as leader of the opposition already, and there would be no need for the #diversityaudit) makes the whole book preachy, and this I didn't like.

The best thing about the book is her sister, Caz. I spent last night writing a fanfic sitcom called "Wide Open Spaces" in my head, where Caz and Sharon from Bridget Jones meet each other in some hilarious circumstance and decide to run away together to start a ranch in Texas, with a Dixie Chicks soundtrack. Along with a decent film version of Persuasion and the biography of Mary Wollstonecraft being put on the small screen (with a British actress playing Mary. I am available and looks scarily like her...) this is a project that I'm putting on a back burner for now...
The book isn't really written for me (though I suspect that I'm it's target market, as I appear to be for most things these days. Damn you late twenties and your single-girl-who-isn't-looking-to-buy-a-house-yet-but-does-have-steady-work proof recession!) because I already am a feminist. I've read Greer, but I've also read Banyard, Redfearn, Walters and French. If you're just starting out on the path to liberation, then I'd give it a go. If you too have read the above named writers and think they're bollocks, avoid this book like cholera, it will make you angrier than you've ever been.

Be warned though; this isn't an instruction manual for anyone but middle class cis straight woman who occasionally fancy other women but only when they're Lady GaGa, who have Money and Stuff now, but didn't before, and live a fairly straight existence apart from drinking too much these days, and still think Courtney Love was cool. Oh God, it really is marketed for me isn't it? Oh God, I'd better go and DRINK SOUTHERN COMFORT FROM A WINE GLASS!!!!



*(not my sister, before she reads this and gets a complex)
 

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