Sunday Brunch #8

Hi everyone!

I know, I know, I have made myself quite scarce these past weeks and have hardly blog and commented on other blogs and now you all hate me (I hope not!)!

I have been quite busy with work where I need to read loads of things (well, I like doing it, it's just that it needs to come before the blog reading!) so I preferred posting less rather than hastily written reviews!

So I have two (actually three with Anne McCaffrey challenge!) giveaways at the moment, but I am not turning in a giveaway machine just yet (or ever!), so don't worry :) 

I have read loads of great books these past weeks and the reviews will hopefully come up soon! I am discovering Historical Fiction with

I have also attended a bunch of truly awesome events:

  • I have been to a screening + a Q&A with author of Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro and the questions were really good and the interview was fascinating!
  • I went to a book slam event (my first but definitely not last!) with David Levithan and Andrea Levy. The night was really good and the venue gorgeous. David Levithan read extracts from his book The Book Lover's Dictionary and I managed to film some of it so hopefully I'll be able to upload it! I also met some amazing book lovers there so yay book geeks!
  • I participated in World Book Night and went to the event in Trafalgar Square!
  • And last but not least I went to an amazing event organised by Random House Children's Books, Teenage Kicks, where a group of teenagers organised a Q&A session with writers Bali Rai, Malorie Blackman and Jenny Downham. The questions from the teenagers were really interesting and the writers had very different personalities, so it was really awesome!

What happened in the bookish world this week?

Loads happened this week and I didn't follow all of it but one of the most interesting piece of news was the announcement of the fourth book in The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.

Now I know what you are all thinking: very Lord Of The Ring etc. I hear you people, but I read the books when they came out, I was 14/15 years old and I had the fantasy literature awareness of a shrimp at the time. They might not have been the best fantasy books of all time, but I really loved the books and the characters.

Now that I am an adult (relatively speaking) and that my fantasy literature awareness has more the shape of a sea lion, I am still excited at this piece of news because Inheritance will be the last book of the series and that it will be the first book Christopher Paolini has written as an adult. So if my literature awareness has developed, his as well (and even more than mine), so I am really excited to see how this book will compare to the others. 


There has been quite a lot of negativity in the blogosphere these past weeks. Loads of authors vs. bloggers feuds and blog posts/tweets here and there to defend each other's opinions. It also comes in the same time where articles pop out about online recommendation and reviews being less important for online shoppers (The Bookseller | March 2011) and doubts over bloggers selling/promoting books. 
I wanted to write a post about this. And I still really do. (As a matter of fact I have deleted the paragraphs I have just written!) But I refuse to let myself be drawn by generalisations over some bloggers' or authors' bad habits. I honestly think it would only fuel a debate in which I don't believe in.  I have never encountered any of the problems quoted in the various articles and I feel really happy to be part of the UK book blogging community as it really feels like being part of a family! There are 'good' and 'bad' people everywhere (yes, I am oversimplifying things) and the great thing with the internet is that you can ignore people you are not a fan of. Life's too short and there just so many books to read!


On a less whining note :) I have found this gorgeous piece of writing on Tumblr about dating a girl who reads. I thought it was beautiful and oh boy do I recognise myself in the description!


Mary Hoffman wrote a beautiful article about Diana Wynne Jones who passed away this weekend.


The wonderful Authors For Japan initiative (started by Keris Stainton) raised 11,000 pounds.


Mostly Reading YA is organising a Translation Month in April where she will be reviewing books from foreign authors translated in English! Anyone can participate and I will review an Italian book called My Brother Is An Only Child by Antonio Pennacchi and a Japanese one Out by Natsuo Kirino! Don't hesitate to take part in this month!


That will be all for this week and I shall try to keep Sunday Brunch  going :)

Have a lovely Sunday evening people!

x Caroline

Dragonsinger - Anne McCaffrey

I am reviewing Dragonsinger as part of the Anne McCaffrey Reading Challenge which I am hosting here.

If you would like more information on the Challenge, check out my post here.


Each Pern novel can be read as a stand alone, but Dragonsinger is the second book in the Harper Hall trilogy so if you want to read the books in the order, head over here and check out my review of the first book of the trilogy, Dragonsong.
Dragonsinger starts where Dragonsong ends with Menolly finally accepted in Harper Hall, the school for harpers, with her nine fire lizards. After spending a lifetime in the remote Sea Hold with her family, she has, in a couple of weeks, Impressed nine fire lizards, met the incredible Lessa, seen a dragon hatching and rode on one.  
When she starts her classes, Menolly has a hard time adjusting to people being nice to her and to people acknowledging her talent. She has alose issues finding friends among the girls because she is the only girl Apprentice (the other girls are just students and mainly think about which son of lord they would want to marry and pretty dresses). This book shows more and more of Menolly's personality and how she only lives for her music (and her fire lizards!) and how she has issues relating to other people and especially girls. Dragonsinger follows the main theme present in Dragonsong about gender inequality.
It's also the first time that Menolly meets strong near-parental figures in Masterharper Robinton and Silvina. They both are patient with her and don't try to restrain her from who she is and what she likes. Obviously, since Menolly has been used to a more strict education, she appears as a very sweet and modest girl, constantly afraid of doing the wrong thing.
I really loved the character of Piemur! He is a very cheeky young boy who befriends Menolly from the beginning and helps her get on with the life in Harper Hall. If there is anything silently whispered in the Hall, you'll be sure that Piemur has heard about it and already started spreading it. He also knows how to bargain and knows how to get what he wants which contrasts with his very young age and size.
Menolly meets several teachers who will refine her talent, and their classes seen through Menolly's eyes are fascinating to read. I really think that people who enjoy music should read this book just as much as people who love dragons and fantasy. We really get into the fire lizards singing along to Menolly and I can't imagine how impressive and beautiful it must be.

There are several new characters appearing in this book and I really loved their different personalities and the relations they have to each other.

With Anne McCaffrey, you start reading a book and you end up walking in Pern with your very own Impressed fire lizard on the shoulder and a (yet undiscovered) ability to sing. I love the power of her imagination, the quality of her writing and the importance of the themes she develops behind her stories.

Thanks to Transworld for the copy of the book!

Dragonsong - Anne McCaffrey

I am reviewing Dragonsong as part of the Anne McCaffrey Reading Challenge which I am hosting here.
If you would like more information on the Challenge, check out my post here.


I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved reading the Harper Hall trilogy. It has been a pure moment of wonder and pleasure and I am definitely an addict by now (had just finished reading Dragonsong in a sitting that I started Dragonsinger!).
Dragonsong starts with a very descriptive foreword explaining the creation of Pern, the dragons and the existence of Threads (deadly things falling from the Red Star) but as soon as the book starts, Anne McCaffrey's brilliant story-telling gets you hooked to the page.

We follow Menolly living in a remote Sea Hold ruled by her father. Menolly has a very strong passion for music and she has been helping the Hold's Harper Petiron during the last years of his life to teach the children the ballads and instruments. Harpers are very important on Pern, not only do they teach children about the story of the planet, but they also spread news and entertain people in the various places of Pern. Menolly has such a strong passion for music that she regularly invents new tunes and songs. Unfortunately for her, being a Harper is reserved to men only and Menolly's strict father forbids her to play and especially to invent new tunes.
She soon finds life in the Hold unbearable as she gets beaten by her father if he hears her play a tune of her own invention. One day where she finds herself outside of the Hold during Threads, she finds refuge in a cave on the beach where she befriends some fire lizards (very small animals looking like dragons) who don't seem to mind her music as much as people in the Hold. 

Menolly is an amazing character to follow, and I thought her fight to live her music was fascinating to read. One of the biggest themes in the book is the fact that women can't be harpers and how they are only allowed to do a few things. The Hold being very small and remote, the mentalities are very set and Menolly's love for music clashes with the very strict way of living. She is prepared to do all it takes to live her passion. The trilogy is an amazing example of woman empowerement.
The music, in this book and in the others of the Harper Hall trilogy, is the second main character of this book. I found that Menolly's talent and her need to play music is brilliantly portrayed and all along the novel I found myself wanting to hum those tunes alongside her. We'll see more in the second book of the trilogy, Dragonsinger, the importance of harpers in Pern.

The fantasy world is so brilliantly built and vividly described that I could picture each scenes in my head. I really love dragons and most particularly the small fire lizards (I want one!). The relation Menolly has with them is simply adorable!
Menolly lives in a Sea Hold where the community survives on fishing and the description of the every day life in the Hold is very detailed and you can nearly feel the salty wind on your face while reading Anne McCaffrey's words. The hardship of living in such a remote setting explains the personalities and organisation of the people living there and how they contrast with Menolly's.

Anne McCaffrey is one of the best fantasy writers of all time and the Harper Hall trilogy, starting with Dragonsong, is a beautiful story of the fight of a musically-gifted girl to play and sing even if it means leaving her family and home. If you are a fan of fantasy, dragons and/or music, this book is definitely for you. Even though the book has been published for the first time in the 1970s, the story hasn't aged one year and readers from all ages will love to discover Menolly and her fire lizards' story.

Thanks to Transworld for providing me a copy of this wonderful book!

An Improper Magick - Stephanie Burgis | Celebrating Wales

The 1st of March is St David's Day so I am celebrating Wales with a review of a book by Welsh author Stephanie Burgis. But March is also Women History Month and how better to kick off that month with the adventures of the very unladylike Kat Stephenson!
All my thanks (and hugs!) go to the lovely Emma @ Asamum Booktopia for organising this great day in the book blogosphere and for lending me her book!

Summary from Goodreads:
"I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.
"I made it almost to the end of my front garden..."
Magic may be the greatest scandal in Regency England. But that's not going to stop Kat Stephenson when there are highwaymen to foil, sinister aristocrats to defeat...and true loves to capture for her two older sisters.


(Apologies: I really loved this book (like really really really) and when I reread my review I realised I didn't make much sense and put way too many exclamation points, so bear with me people - the girl can't cope with so much wonderfulness without getting all fangirly!)

Jane Austen references? Magic? A feisty heroine? An adventure? YES PLEASE!
A Most Improper Magick, The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson is a funny, witty and insanely sweet read. I fell in love with Kat after the first line and I have *loved* the book from beginning to end! I read it in one sitting and can't possibly wait for A Tangle Of Magicks!

The setting of the book is Regency England and you can really feel that Stephanie Burgis is a fan of Jane Austen (God, me too *insane squee*!). But Regency England with one of the most stubborn, incorrigible and adventure-seeking heroine! Kat Stephenson is a girl who has her own ideas on things and will definitely not let anyone convince her otherwise. She is loud, nosy and if there is one foolish thing to do, you can bet your chocolate cupcake (though betting on a chocolate cupcake is a bit of a sin so I wouldn't recommend it...) that Kat will be the one to do it! Kat is my kind of girl for sure! I love her lively spirit and her personality and I have been laughing out loud at her tricks during the entire book! (Can you feel the crazy fangirling yet?)

Kat's relation with her sisters Angeline and Elissa is so amazingly realistic! They are sisters but are nothing alike and even though they don't exactly get along perfectly, they love each other deeply and would do anything for each other! I love that family feeling to the story and no matter what Kat felt, she really wasn't alone any step of the way. Elissa is the perfect Victorian heroine and I loved how Kat kept telling her to stop reading those ridiculous Gothic novels of hers! How very Jane Austen! (yes, all the exclamation points are strictly necessary!)
The characters in general, from the sisters' Stepmama to Mr Carlyle and Mr Gregson, are all very colourful and I really enjoyed the dynamics between them! I really can't start gushing over all the characters but *gosh* I just really love all of them!

The magic element is *awesome* I love how it is woven in the story and how Kat discovers her powers. The storyline about Kat's mother is very adorable and it was great to see Kat only trusting herself and her sisters and give all those adults the brush-off!

The story is told from Kat's point of view - she is such an amazing character to follow! Since she is twelve years old, she has opinions of her age about men (eww) and acting like a lady (so useless when you can go on adventures!). Yes so I am mentally 12 as well apparently! :D

This book will warm your heart and bring huge smiles to your lips! The story is very original and is a great start if you want to bring your kids to get started on Jane Austen (which you should, like right now) and Regency novels! You will fall for the feisty Kat Stephenson who should definitely be hailed as a one of a kind heroine!

The book is perfect for tweens (and older obviously!).

I don't usually comment on covers but *gasps* look at that insanely gorgeous cover!