Monthly Archives: May 2011

Murder and Mayhem in Hay-on-Wye

If you’ve seen my twitter thingamajig, you’ll know that I spent Sunday at the Hay-on-Wye festival and browsing around the town which is home to numerous second hand book shops, including one which touts itself as the biggest in the world.

I didn’t like the biggest second hand book shop, for me it was a bit too slick and pannelled, which removed the excitement of hunting through dusty shelves looking for treasure. There was one shop which I thought was a genius idea, a  book shop dedicated to crime novels. There were chalk outlines of bodies on the floor and quotes from famous crime fiction on the wall. If you’re ever in Hay-on-Wye I thoroughly recommend a visit to Murder and Mayhem.


36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

If Cass Seltzer wasn’t an atheist, his change in fortunes might be described as miraculous. A professor of the Psychology of Religion at a backwater university, Cass writes a book exploring the 36 arguments believers use in order to prove the existence of God and debunking them. Overnight, a lucrative book deal, a job offer from Harvard and a romantic relationship with a woman who might be described as the rock star of game theory leave Cass almost unable to recognise his own life and prompt him to explore how he came to write the book.

It’s tempting to believe that this book has been published because the title is bound to engender controversy, but I can reassure you that I found this an engaging, entertaining read which treats religion and spirituality with respect and warmth. With would be mystics, French poets, child prodigies, wit, wisdom and the most loveable and hateable array of characters I’ve encountered in a long time 36 Arguments for The Existence of God is a fantastic read- whatever your religious persuasion.

Oh, and if you want to know the arguments, and the counterarguments, turn to the appendix; but be warned you might end up with your eyes boggling in your head- especially if you attempt to understand the game theory!

Lauren Kate Fallen series news

With the release of Passion on June 14th as a follow up to Fallen  and Torment Lauren Kate sent out some question and answers for fans which I’ve copied and pasted for anyone who is interested:

How many Fallen books are you writing? What’s the publishing plan for the series? When is the next book coming out?

Fallen is the first book in the four-book series—though Passion (the third book) will explain many of the things that have happened before the narrative of Fallen began. For those of you worried about the cliffhanger at the end of Torment—don’t! Passion picks up right where Torment left off. It’s told from both Luce and Daniel’s points of view and is going to be SO COOL. The final book, which I’m working on now is called Rapture. It brings back all the characters we’ve met over the course of the series and ends with a stunning climax.

Here’s the publication schedule for the final two books:  Passion in the June 14, 2011, and a final book, Rapture, in the spring of 2012.

What do you have planned after the Fallen series is complete?

Something cool. Stay tuned…

Will there be a movie?

The film rights for all four books were optioned by Disney/Mayhem Productions in December of last year. Mayhem is Disney edgier production company, for anyone who has concerns about Disney being purely for younger kids. I got to have lunch with the Disney people and they seem really excited about getting the movie going. I don’t have any new information yet, but hopefully there is more to come! I will keep you posted on my blog. For those who asked, I love Lucy Hale for Luce, Liam Hemsworth for Daniel, and Emma Stone for Arriane.

She went on to say that she thinks Ed Westwick would make a great Cam. I could not disagree more. He would be awful casting! Just not what Cam is in my mind. And as much as I like Emma Stone, I really don’t see her as Arianne…

Amazing 80th Birthday Present

I recently went to my great-aunt’s 80th birthday party and was presented with these amazing little books.

My cousin had them made for her mother and father who write poems (though my great aunt calls them writings) as 80th birthday presents and they contain 80 poems/writings that they have each written. She had lots printed so they could send them to family and friends. Not only are the poems really impressive, but my great aunts poems contain a lot of family history and remembrances which was just lovely.

My cousin is known throughout my family (and the world!) for being incredibly kind and thoughtful, but I thought that this was just the most amazing present, not just to my Auntie and Uncle but to the family as well.

Sian, we salute you!

Sexy Books at the Victoria and Albert Museum

I had the afternoon off work on Monday after visiting an author in London and before going to watch Penn and Teller Fool Us being filmed (it was amazing) so I popped to the V and A for a browse.

I especially liked the Medieval Europe section which had a massive light filled room filled with Italian and French religious sculptures, huge doors etc. but in a darker room I found these sexy little beasts. Sorry the quality isn’t great,  I took them on my phone and obviously didn’t want to use my flash.

Some nice illumination in these medieval books

I wrote a post the other day about my first favourite book, and I was saying that part of what I liked was that the pictures allowed me to tell myself the stories even before I was able to read. It seems that medieval artists had a similar idea because these ivory carvings show stories from the Bible to help illiterate worshippers access the stories.

Scenes depicting bible stories

But being a bit of a magpie, what really caught my eye was….

 The manuscript dates from 1025-1050 AD and was said to be a gift to Sion Cathedral from the Emperor Charlemagne, so they decided to honour it by blinging it up in this gold, enamel and jewel binding around 1180-1200. Amazing.

How much will one of those set me back?

Day 30 – What book are you reading right now?

I am currently reading Pollen by Jeff Noon, which is the follow on to Vurt. I was telling my friend in work who enjoys fantasy and sci-fi (practically has a library in her house, I’m very jealous!) how much I’d enjoyed Vurt but I hadn’t read any of the other Jeff Noon books. The next morning it was on my desk!

I took it to my hospital appointment with me on Wednesday and got straight into it. His use of language is brilliant but it’s quite difficult to explain what I like so much about it. It’s witty, but the wit is subtle. The description is brilliant, but so far from flowery. It’s bright and sharp, but in a unrelenting way, like chopping up a cartoon character with a razor blade.

Very strange, very good, I love it.

Day 29 – Saddest character death and most satisfying character death

The saddest character death for me was Penelope Aldaya in The Shadow of The Wind. Her death was horrific, there’s no question of that, but what made it worse was that her family stood by and allowed it to happen as a macabre punishment for conceiving a child out of marriage and admittedly unwittingly with her half brother (children being punished for the crimes of the father). The death of the mother and child is crushing and the whole novel stems from this.

The most satisfying character death? Bellatrix Lestrange. “Get away from my daughter you bitch!” Go Mrs. Weasley!!!

Day 28 – First favourite book or series obsession

I remember this quite clearly because even though I was very small, I was quite naughty and it got me into lots of trouble. The book in question was Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and we had borrowed it from the library for me.

I doubt I could even read at the time, but the brilliant bit of the book was the amazing illustrations of characters from fairytale and nursery rhyme which meant you didn’t need Mam or Dad to read you the bedtime story, you could tell yourself it. After a fashion.

This was before my little sister was around so I must have been tiny (three or younger) and I didn’t want my book going back to the library. The others could go, but this was my favourite, so I hid it in the back of my toy cupboard and kept quiet when my parents took back the other books we’d borrowed (myself and my two older siblings) and would sneak it out when no one was looking.

I got in quite a bit of trouble when the library fines arrived. I might actually buy myself a copy of that now. For the memories.

Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it

Erm… words?As I’ve said before, I’ll read most books.

The most important thing for me in terms of enjoying a novel is a distinctive narrative voice, authentic characters and a well constructed story. I prefer it when stories don’t follow generic conventions too closely, because I want to be surprised. To a certain extent I like to have a suspicion of how the book will end, but not to be certain of it half way through. I like to be entertained and surprised.

I think that might be why I like skewed love stories and dystopian fiction. You have an idea of how things are meant to work out and then the whole world is twisted around and shaken into something new. I like worlds that you recognise enough to connect with, but with new dangers lurking all around. Margaret Atwood is fantastic at this.