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

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Laini Challenge - Book 01 - Under The Dome

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The Lainibop Challenge

Under the Dome 
by Stephen King

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* * * * * SPOILERS * * * * *
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The premise of this novel is simple enough, a small town is shaken when one day all of a sudden it becomes surrounded by an impenetrable dome. 

This dome is completely clear and seems to slice down from the sky - straight through anything in its path - trees, animals and even people. 

The town of Chester's Mill is now completely isolated from the rest of the world. Families are separated from
loved ones who had taken trips that day, and the town's second selectman decides that now is his time to shine. 

Unfortunately for the people of Chester's Mill Big Jim is not the most giving person in the town, he uses this opportunity for his own good and doesn't care who he brings down in the process.

This was a ginormous read for me, it is 1074 pages long and yes it does feel that long if not longer.
I'd like to say that I enjoyed it, and I suppose I did in the end, however I noticed a lot of things which annoyed me throughout and left me feeling a bit empty when I finally got through it. 

Firstly, I used to be a big fan of Stephen King, I love all his old works, like The Dark Half, It, and the beginning novels of the Dark Tower series. However I haven't relished his more recent books half as much. 
This book felt to me a little bit like repetition. Ok so he's never written a book about a town trapped under a dome before, but he has written a lot about communities which have to survive the unexpected and compete against those trying to bring them down. Cell for example and even one of his classics The Stand. Apart from the plots, his style of writing is becoming very reiterative. For example he tends to use the following device quite a bit, (my own words here) “They kissed each
other goodbye and that was the last kiss they would ever have....” “As she said goodbye to him, little did she realise that the next time they met, he would be lying in the morgue...” . 

Now while this serves to interest the reader as to how this character will die in the next few chapters, when repeated as much as it is, it becomes old and loses the shock factor a little.

While the story was good in it's own way, I have to say that I really miss the Stephen King of old. I have just found out that he is releasing another book in the Dark Tower series and even though, the first 3 books are amongst my favourite novels ever, I don't think I will be purchasing the latest. For anyone who hasn't read King before, let me recommend you start on the good old classics which, as we all know, they can't be beaten, well at least not by Stephen any more by the looks of things.

Score 6/10

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Say Hello to @Lainibop

Her To Be Read Challenge - The Countdown Begins!

Book 30 - ?
Book 29 - ?
Book 28 - Sexing the Cherries by Jeanette Winterson
Book 27 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Book 26 - Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
Book 25 - Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Book 24 - From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
Book 23 - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Book 22 - Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffery Archer

Find more reviews HERE

If we've used any videos, you'll find them on the LeedsBookClub YouTube Channel - 

Visit LainiBop's playlist HERE 
Visit Fizzy Elephants HERE
The 10 Things I Hate About You playlist is HERE!
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Table of Contents - Guest Stars

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Table of Contents - Laini's Book Shelf

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Friday, 27 April 2012

Guest Post - Death and Suffrage by Dale Bailey

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Mark Swain - friend of Leeds Book Club and writer of short fiction here - is a huge fan of the horror genera, and will be providing us with some reviews!
Feel free to drop him a line on twitter - you'll find him @DemonHeadClash

* * * * * HERE BE SPOILERS* * * * * 

This story is about how a race for the American presidency is deeply impacted by the dead returning to life to cast their vote in the election. It also focuses on the personal story of one of the campaign runners.

This story follows two very distinct arcs but obviously both intertwine with each other on a regular basis. The first aspect deals with how the undead walking among us affect the day to day lives of the living people but also how governments around the world would deal with a non-threatening zombie outbreak.

The other arc follows the main character as he tries to piece together his past but also gives us an insight into the presidential candidate’s campaign to the White House.

This story was originally completed just after the infamous Al Gore and George Bush presidential election; so at the time the presidential run in would have been a very hot topic. I wouldn't say the tale has lost any of its power over the last decade; the issues the author writes about are still being faced today and that is very much the point of the story. Nothing changes in politics.

The zombies demand change in gun ownership laws which is clearly a very American problem, but the point being made by the author is that governments often pass laws based on the opinion of the very vocal minority even if the law is not popular with the majority. I am sure a large percentage of Americans would rather have tighter gun controls but despite almost yearly school shootings and hundreds of gun related deaths nothing changes. It appears only a zombie invasion is the way for a real change to happen.

The main character could also be described as a zombie given he has sold out his own personal ideals to toe the party line. It is only when a voice within him demands the destruction of all guns that he starts to question who he has become and the choices he has made. This is a staple of zombie fiction, as often the living are more dead than the zombies. That being said you do genuinely care about the protagonist and having characters such as his grandmother and aggressive fellow campaign runners around him really does give weight to the personality of the protagonist

The reveal near the end of the story can be pieced together by observant readers before the actual finale but the sequence is well written and delicately handled all the same. I would probably have preferred it if the protagonist dreams had not been entirely explained at the end of the story but that is just me.

This story proves the zombie is a versatile monster, these are not the flesh eating terrors which are portrayed in so many B movies but rather representing the unheard masses especially when it comes to elections where turn out is often between 50% and 60%.

The tale is well written with real, dense characters and the political message never gets in the way of the story being told. The author is fortunate that very few people would be on the opposite side of the gun control debate but it would still have been easy for the author to get bogged down in rhetoric but he neatly avoids this with thoughtful story telling.

Death and Suffrage is available for free online here and is part of 'The Living Dead’ anthology as edited by John Joseph Adams.

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Read more of Mark Swain's writings here!

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Table of Contents - Guest Stars

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Guest Post - The Tenth Kingdom - Part Two

I made this: Unknown at 8:30 am 0 comments

* * * Do you believe in Magic? * * * 

* * *Part Two* * *

A friend of LeedsBookClub (say hello on twitter here!), Marie is writing an EPIC review of The Tenth Kingdom!


Continued from Part One!

(Quick recap - Virginia and her father Tony have fallen through a magic mirror from New York into the nine Magical Fairy Kingdom.  
In the company of a Wolf and an enchanted Prince - currently a Dog - Virginia and Tony must travel through the Kingdoms, seeking the evil Queen. She is the Prince's step-mother and has hidden his real body. 
It is only by helping the Prince that they will be able to find another Magic Mirror to take them home...)


They find the Queen’s cell, but the trolls have gotten there first and imprison Tony and Wendell in the cell and capture Virginia (The Witch).

But not to worry! Wolf is hot on the troll’s trail, to rescue his lovely Virginia.

Tony tries to explain what happened to the prison warden but his story just sounds more ludicrous by the second. He even tried to make a wish only to cough up a dry shrivelled husk that Wendell informs him is a Dragon Dung bean. (Sounds lovely!)

He is thrown into a cell with Clayface the Goblin and Acorn the Dwarf, whilst Wendell is taken away to get a rat poison laced dinner.

Virginia is now a prisoner of the merciless trolls and has been tattooed, and waiting for some iron shoes to heat on the fire.
The Queen has returned to her home - a ruined castle that she reveals belonged to the original Evil Queen who tried to kill Snow White. This Evil Queen had been forced to dance in red hot iron shoes at her wedding. She had dragged herself to a nearby swamp where she waited for her inevitable successor - who turns out is The Queen.

Fortunately Wolf *sigh* comes to the rescue of a captive Virginia, and tricks the trolls into knocking one another out. The intrepid pair then escape into the Beanstalk forest(despite serious misgivings on Virginia’s part).

Back in the Prison Tony is scrubbing the corridors. Wendell just happens to be the other side of the door he is scrubbing near. Recognising Tony’s scent; he calls to him and gives him the
Governor’s master key. Which he tells Tony to make an impression of in the soap.
Now something has always bugged me about the make an impression in the soap plan. Does the person making the impression have more than one bar of soap? Because surely if that person is using that bar of soap it will wear away the key’s impression (just saying)!!!

In the Troll kingdom Relish is having a tantrum, he came to use the shoes on Virginia only to discover she’s gone and his children unconscious, and the shoes of invisibility gone. So he
organises a search party. Virginia and Wolf are escaping through the Beanstalk forest when they come across a statue of a boy inscribed ‘Brave Jack, The First Mayor of Beantown’ (yes the Jack from the story). Wolf is telling Virginia a bit of the local history when she slips on the magic shoes and escapes.

Poor Tony - who still needs his key making - is trying to discover from the other prisoners who he needs to go to, to get something made. They inform him he needs to go to the Tooth Fairy, so a helpful inmate punches Tony in the mouth and he gets sent to the Tooth Fairy where he gets strapped down and his teeth pulled out.

Wolf is able to follow Virginia’s scent and catches her at the base of a beanstalk just as the charge runs out of the magic shoes. They are then forced to climb a beanstalk to escape from
the trolls and their dogs.

Things for Tony are going from bad to worse he is caught outside the Governor’s door with the fake key and given 50 Beanstalk lashes as punishment. The guards have also discovered the cellar door was open during the escape and so the governor assigns a work party to clear it out. Luckily Wendell is able to put Tony’s name onto that list.

During the work detail Tony is handed the mirror they need to get home he is reluctant to throw it onto the boat he has thrown all of the other stuff as he is understandably worried it will break and that they will all be trapped there. Unfortunately or fortunately depending which way you look at it. He throws the mirror onto the boat and it doesn’t break. But for his
refusal to throw the mirror the Governor confines him to his cell for 7 years!

Near the entrance to the prison lurk the Trolls and Virginia and Wolf. Relish is laying a flour trap to catch them returning to the prison to rescue Tony and Virginia has just slipped on the magic shoes and Wolf is hanging on to her as they make their way to the prison. Little do they know that Tony is at this minute discovering Acorn and Clayface’s tunnel and is escaping from the prison!!

Virginia and wolf make their way into the prison to rescue Tony and along the way find Wendell - who they use to find Tony’s cell. Unfortunately they get there and discover it is empty just as the power of the shoes runs out. 

It’s a bloody good job there’s a tunnel. 

And fortunate that as they’re using the tunnel they literally run into Tony who is stuck. Wolf pushes him out and Tony then informs them all that he put the mirror onto a boat. Just at that moment Acorn sails by with said boat.

So Tony and Co., get onto another boat, which the Trolls see them doing and so barrel down the bank to catch them only to fall into the water (three stooges stylee)!

Relish decided to wage war on the fourth kingdom much to the Queens displeasure and demands that Wendell comes to face him within 7 days or he will claim the kingdom for himself.

On the boat Wolf is attempting to use his self help books to bond with Tony who is trying to catch the magic fish of the river. A fish that gives the fisherman who catches it the power to
turn one thing into gold if he throws the fish back! Bet you can’t guess who catches the fish!

Yep, Tony (this is So going to end badly)!

The boat finally arrives in Rivertown, where Acorn has been and gone with the mirror. Wendell dashes off to a ruined castle complaining he feels weird. Tony dashes off in hot pursuit, neither aware that the trolls are there having just been to see The Queen.

The trolls attack and Tony comes back to Rivertown looking for a chisel! Hmm, wonder what happened there!

So to wrap up part 1 Wendell and the Trolls are now gold!

Part 2; Well of Fortune:

Wonder if a well features in this part! The Queen is growing frustrated with everyone’s ineptitude and so has summoned The Huntsman who me thinks she fancies.

Wolf, Virginia and Tony are now heading through the disenchanted forest with Wendell on a little cart. They’ve been informed that somebody is going to kill them.

The Troll King is causing major problems for The Queen and she has sent her Huntsman after the envoy Wendell’s lackeys have sent to his Hunting Lodge.

The gang come across a gypsy camp and are invited to stay the night. When they are escaping the next morning Virginia decides to free the magic talking birds. She is just doing the last
cage when... she slips and alerts the gypsies! Luckily they don’t chase them for very long before the hunt is called off by The Gypsy Queen. Unfortunately for Virginia she has some of her hair from when she told her fortune the night before. So she uses it to curse her. (They sure are having some bad luck).

This cause causes Virginia’s hair to grow, and grow, and grow. It is also uncuttable. Whilst they are trekking through the forest it starts to rain so they seek shelter. This turns out to be the 7 Dwarves Cottage. Still with all the beds made and the mugs waiting for their owners. (Good job it’s not here it would’ve been looted and then probably pulled down by
the local council).

While Virginia and Wolf are drying her LONG hair, Wolf tried to get her to talk about her mother. Virginia goes on the defensive claiming she doesn’t care her mother left them when she was 7 and never got in touch. She then goes on to state that Love is Bullshit made up by people who are scared to be alone.
The next day Virginia’s hair is even longer but luckily for them one of the birds that Virginia frees tells them there is a woodcutter in the forest with a magic axe that will cure the curse.

This is the start of a very busy day for the group. Wolf is forced to hide Virginia, Wendell and Tony so that he can lure The Huntsman away from them. But Virginia sneezes alerting
The Huntsman to their presence. She and Tony try to run away but The Huntsman stands on her hair and catches her. She is then taken to an actual tree house. (Yep, a house inside a

The Tenth Kingdom

Listen to the Tenth Kingdom Soundtrack on Spotify here!
Or watch the videos on YouTube here!

The Tenth Kingdom - Part Six
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Five
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Four
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Three
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Two
The Tenth Kingdom - Part One

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Table of Contents - Guest Stars

Sunday, 22 April 2012

World Book Night 2012 - Podcast!

I made this: Unknown at 3:53 pm 0 comments

Where LeedsBookClub and BookElfLeeds take a closer look at the World Book Night book choices. 

We sing, we dance, we have a giggle!

And might highlight a few World Book Night options In Leeds for you tomorrow night!

- We're actually very restrained. For us. So... the usual warning applies!

- Not so spoiler-tastic, just our thoughts on the World Book Club books!








To assess the podcast on your mobile phone, 
please use the following:

World Book Night 2012

The Travelling Suitcase Library - World Book Night Event!
The Leeds Book Club - Books, Booze and Buns!

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Table of Contents - Podcasts!
Our Podcast Page 
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Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I made this: BookElf at 12:03 pm 0 comments

There were three reasons I read this book as the 'fairytale' part of my Once Upon A Time Reading Challenge.

1) The cover is stunning. STUNNING. It's like a YA Philippa Gregory, but embossed. And I am a massive massive sucker for anything embossed, as Poverty Aid knows to my cost.

2) It got a 4.04 in goodreads. That's amazing. King of the Genre, Twilight, only got 3.65.

3) I've read five murder mysteries and over 1000 pages of A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy gore fest in the last two weeks and fancied something a little more corpse-light.

This is the first in a series of so far four books, set in the land of the Nevernever, an amalgamations of every single fairytale and myth you've ever heard of, with a hefty dose of anti-materialism thrown in.

Meghan Chase is a old white trash school girl growing up on her stepfather's pig farm in rural Louisiana. She lives in second hand clothes, is bullied constantly at school and neglected at home and treasures her only friend Robbie and her hard-won iPod. Her father disappeared without a trace when she was six, but she has a weird memory of him walking into a pond in her local park.

On the day of the sixteenth birthday, her young brother Ethan (points for cute) is exchanged for a changeling faery child, and it is revealed that (gasp) her best friend Robbie Goodfell is actually Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck.

Together, Puck and Meghan journey into the feary world, where you're either the prey or the hunter, and have various adventures before the big reveal that Meghan is the half daughter of Oberon, King of the Summer Court and has magical faery powers.

Meghan travels throughout the different worlds looking for her brother, before discovering he is being held by the Iron King, Machina, who rules over a new part of the Nevernever, the Iron Fey, a scrap-heap waste land created from the technology and progress of humans. Fearies are mortally allergic to iron, and if the Iron Fey continues to expand, the world will end. Together with a mischievous cat Grimalkin, Meghan follows various trods, vanquishing enemies and escaping endless certain deaths, to a final confrontation with the Iron King.

Now, in all honestly, parts of this book are utterly ridiculous. There are purple passages scattered liberally throughout, especially concerning The Love Interest, gorgeous ice-man Prince Ash, the son of Oberon's enemy Queen Mab, and the events of the book also happen rather quickly-we're no sooner introduced to one baffling concept than it is hastily discarded in favour of another equally baffling. The plot leaps about giving us no real time to emotionally connect to any of the characters; there is one really obvious bit where a Grandmother Willow stand in sacrifices her life so that Meghan can fight the bag guys, and this could have been a really solemn and poignant moment if we'd met said Grandmother William earlier than three paragraphs ago. There is also a bit that slightly excuses date rape that almost had me writing a whole different blog post; when some faeries attempt to pick a confused and disorientated Meghan up in a city park posing as handsome college boys, Prince Ash leaps in with a 'this one is not to be touched'-aka 'I own this person, go find some other young girl to rape'. Nice.

Meghan herself is all over the place as a character, but I did like her, and I do want to read the rest in the series. Except for a few occasions of Bad Language this book is for the Y end of the YA spectrum-it's witty and the dialogue is spot on, but there's no real umph and Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is about a billion times better.

My favourite part of reading this book was goodreadsing it afterwards. Highlights of the amazing and often lengthy reviews of this series were the one that complained that Puck is becoming a 'stock character' (bless), though my utter favourite was the Marxist reading of The Iron Fey.

Whatever, it was a fun read, I'm going to read the rest of them, and if you've got a tween who's read all the Eoin Colfer's and doesn't mind the F-Bomb then I'd give these a go.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

TBR 4# Frenchmen's Creek

I made this: BookElf at 12:25 pm 2 comments Links to this post

I bought this book first hand, from Waterstones, with my Christmas book tokens, after a long conversation on Twitter after reading the nonsense that is A Discovery of Witches, about true love and it's representation in fiction. I was recommended reading this by @sianushka, who has such a similar taste in fiction to me for it to be scary, and I loved every single second of the five hours it took me to read it.

Firstly, I am reclaiming this as a feminist love story, so this post is going to upset a lot of people who don't like the whole 'feminist' thing, but hey ho.

On the one hand, this is a simple but heart racing tale of swashbuckling pirates in Restoration England, adventure on the Cornish Coast, and romance abounding. On the other it is a cry for freedom, a treatise on captivity and an exploration of privilege and the role of women within a heteronormative society.


Dona St Columb, rich, beautiful and bored, runs from her simple husband Harry to their ancestral home on the Cornish coast, taking with her her two small children and their trusty nurse. There she finds an almost abandoned house cared for by the solitary William, who it turns out (SPOILERS) is actually the servant of the notorious French pirate who has been sacking the locals along the coast with his motley Breton crew.

Dona meets the Frenchman, Jean-Benoit, and becomes fascinated by him and the pirate way of life, so different from her apparently stilted and repetitive London society one. She signs on to his ship and together they plunder the local gentry's treasure. Dona and the Frenchman fall in love, or rather admit of their love for each other, and have a torrid affair that ends quickly when Dona's husband, accompanied by the detestable rogue Lord Rockingham, who fancies himself Dona's amour.

Harry and the local gentry led by Lord Godolphin (best name in fiction, you Go Dolphin Go!) decide to capture the pirates and set a trap, but the Frenchman surprises them all at dinner and steals their jewellery and swords. During the commotion afterwards, Dona kills Rockingham after he tries to strangle her. Dona faints, and when she awakes discovers her love has been captured and is in Godolphin's castle, to be hanged the following Saturday.

Dona together with the trusty William hatch a plan for the Frenchman's escape by pretending to be the doctor delivering Lady Godolphin's baby, and they all three flee to the coast. Dona realises she must abandon all hope of happiness with the Frenchmen for the sake of her children, and he returns alone to his ship, leaving her to pick up the pieces of her old life.

The writing in this book is incredible. I grew up on a coast line and Du Maurier's description of the cliffs, the cries of the gulls, the smells, the wind, everything is spot on and so evocative of the sea. The sense of place, but also the sense of time in the novel is so well done; like the best historical fiction she doesn't overload you with information obviously gleaned from hours of research and thusly incredibly boring, but creates a believable set up of characters and situations living in a particular place that just happens to be five hundred years ago.

What makes this book stand out more than anything though is the love story. This isn't some stupid patriarch clasping his woman to his chest to make him feel superior; this is a person and another person wanting each other through mutual respect, lust, and passion. The Frenchman doesn't belittle Dona, he doesn't tell her what to do, he doesn't tell her she's been brave, when he helps her he's not showing off or patronising her he's actually helping her. He doesn't even lift her off the ship. All this makes him frankly hotter than Librarian Ryan Gosling.

It's so rare to find an adult love story I can understand and sympathise with. Having never really properly been in love myself though this book made me a little sad. Du Maurier describes Dona's feelings as being one of completeness, like a missing part of her has been restored upon meeting the Frenchman, and I just don't feel like that. I'm whole, I'm a complete thing, I don't feel like my 'other half' isn't here, I'm happiest on my own and always have been. Although this makes me a little sad in a whimsical sort of way, it's also reassuring to know that I'm not spending my life not being "myself" because I don't need a partner.

I loved how the affair between them comes about, the build up to their first 'date', honestly that's twenty pages of the most understated erotic writing I think I've ever read. I love how Dona is in turmoil because part of her wants to throw herself on him whilst the other part is embarrassed about her feelings and is shy. I also love how they are grown ups. I was really looking forward to an adult love story with A Discover of Witches, and in Frenchman's Creek I found one-she is 29, he presumably a similar age and they are Proper Adults with Proper Adult Feelings.

Now, the feminist thing.

This book is about captivity. Dona describes herself to Harry as a bird in a cage, and in London she is, albeit a large and gilded one. Comparatively Dona is incredibly privileged, a fact she never discovers in the novel, and in the first chapter I hated her. She abuses her servants and her horses and upsets her children.

Dona's need for a life outside of the norms of her society shows how 'othering' people creates nothing but bad things. Giving people 'roles' and not letting them be fluid things means Dona is frustrated and possibly depressed. Gender roles are rigid, Dona thinks often of her wish to 'be a boy', though whether this is literal or a reference to her unhappiness with the constrictions placed on her own gender is not properly examined within the text-though she does not recognise that patriarchy is just as constrictive to men as is it to women this again is privilege at play.

Dona's eventual giving up of the love of her life is due to her love for her children, a love she cannot help and acknowledges only when she imagines them dead. It is also restrictive to her youngest child, James, as she rarely thinks about his elder sister. This could be again emblematic of societies' preference for male children, so much ingrained that Dona invests in it herself-maybe showing why she wishes to be 'a boy'-because boys are better? The Frenchman and Dona discuss the limitations of women due to unplanned pregnancy several times-it is one of the main reasons the Frenchman gives for not having a wife because he would never be able to be 'free'. The comparative freedoms of the Frenchman and Dona, he always on the run from the law and she never being able to do what she wants (even though she is...just not in the way she wants. She's a rich titled woman with a million more options than most) are marked and frequently examined in the text. If Dona had access to reliable contraception or safe and stigma free abortion her life would be so incredibly different. She is also unable to divorce Harry. These things though are never even thought about, which is a brilliant device in placing the book in the time-why would a Restoration woman of high birth even consider contraception until she needed it? Amber St Clare is a village girl who procures a miscarriage because that is part of her life, but never would be for Dona St Columb.

This book made me think an awful lot, that is an impressive feat for an historical romance/adventure, and I highly recommend reading it, if only for the beauty of the writing. As unlike Rebecca as it's possible to be, I'll definitely be investigated Du Maurier's other work now!

What I Read During My Holidays Part 2- Why Be Happy When You Could By Normal?

I made this: BookElf at 12:00 pm 0 comments
Now I'm going to sound really dreadful, but I've never read any Jeanette Winterson before. I've heard of her, obviously, and I own quite a but of her, but I've never read any!
I understand this means they want by Feministy Book Blogger badge back but HA HA HA YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BECAUSE IT IS IMAGINARY.

This, her autobiography, tells the story of her life up to leaving home, then skips twenty years of finding fame through her writing, and onto the last few years of finding her birth mother. Parts were very very hard to read, dealing with depression, anxiety and abuse as they did, but parts, especially on how language and literature are such wonderful things and how the library saved her childhood, made me very smiley indeed. I also love love LOVED the description of Northern Town Life in the 1950s (even if she is from Lancashire...) and her stories of her various loves and the wonderful people who helped her along the way, this is one of those autobiographies that is mostly about other people and doesn't suffer for it.

If it wasn't so literary in places, this was be lapt up by my students, because the love 'true life' stories (because happy childhoods don't exist), but I read this in a night, and it's definitely worth a loan from a library. Parts are a bit dragging and skimable, but all in all this is a fascinating incite into an authors' world and the first half is some of the most gripping stuff I've read this year.

Holiday Reads 01 - The Luddites

World Book Night 2012 - fun for everyone!

I made this: Unknown at 10:46 am 0 comments
Last year, BookElfLeeds and the Travelling Suitcase Library organised for a massive book swap and World Book Night giveaway at Arcadia (the LBC Mothership).

It was the BEST CRAIC EVER!!
And did I mention the FREE BOOKS!!

Back by popular demand...

The Travelling Suitcase Library Presents…

A World Book Night Party!
At Arcadia
Monday 23 April from 7 pm
We will be giving away books from the World Book Night selection, as well as the HUGE Travelling Suitcase Library.
Got books to donate/swap?
Registered as a book giver?
Please feel free to join us!

Email: bookelfleeds@gmaildotcom 
Tweet: @BookElfLeeds
#WBN #worldbooknight #ArcadiaWBN

Meanwhile at the White Swan (Leeds City Centre), LeedsBookClub and friends will be organising a night of...


Fancy a free book? Or two?
Like cakes?
Join us at 
the White Swan
Monday, 23rd April from 7 pm

World Book Night titles can be yours for nowt!

A night of chatting
and drinking...possibly singing...
(relax, I'm kidding on that last one...
though there is a piano for the musically inclined!)

And as you've all asked so nicely,
there will be a BOOK SWAP!

Feel free to bring any books to
swap, share, lent, borrow

Registered as a World Book Night book giver?
We'd love to see you there!

Email: leedsbookclub@gmaildotcom 
Tweet: @LeedsBookClub
#WBN #worldbooknight #WSwanWBN

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

What I Read During My Holidays Part 1-The Luddites

I made this: BookElf at 5:07 pm 2 comments
Last week I broke with tradition and spent my holiday lying on my Dad's sofa and reading. And it was, as it always is, utterly blissful.

I took originally three books to read with me, this soon rose to four as I went via my Auntie S, who's always good for a lend, and I managed all but one of them. Then I went to Headingley on Friday and had a bun and very stupidly went into Oxfam Books and came out with a bagfull (this Mount TBR is never going to happen, admit it) so I had to read one of those IMMEDIATELY. Anyway, this is what I read.

Inheritance by Phyllis Bentley.

I inherited three things off my mother; my chin, my hair, and my love of historical fiction.

My obsession with the Luddites started as a child hearing the story of the Dumb Steeple in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, where they gathered on 12 April 2012 (still not established a proper time frame, sorry Father) to march on Rawfold's Mill, run by Mr Cartwright, in protest of the new machines that, as they saw it, were stealing their jobs leaving them and their families to starve. Seeing as it's the 200th anniversary of the Luddites this year, a shed load of activities are happening surrounding them. Myself and Father set off on Thursday on a fascinating and at times quite emotional tour of the route of the Luddites-including the beautiful Norman Church in Hightown, Liversedge, where those that died in the ensuing ambush at the mill were secretly buried, and the site of the mill itself, now Cartwright Street, which houses a liposuction clinic.

Me, next to the Dumb Steeple.

As a personal way of remembering the Luddites this year (I wrote my dissertation on them and also did this talk at Bettakultcha last year on them) I re-read Phyllis Bentley's Yorkshire Classic, Inheritance, that no one but me has ever heard of, and isn't even in print (BUT IS BEING RE PUBLISHED IN AUGUST, THANK YOU BLOOMSBURY*) but was mysteriously part of the Headingley Lit Fest a couple of years ago (I missed that talk and was beyond gutted). Inheritance is basically North and South meets Maureen Lee; a family saga filled with Emotion and Tragedy, but with shit loads of historical references and a really important message about class divide. I love it, and anyone who enjoyed South Riding/The Apple Tree Saga/Gone With The Wind/The Thorn Birds would probably as well. It's also got some cracking examples of Yorkshire dialect, that I always enjoy reading, 'Aye, we're allus thrung a neet' being my favourite line, and was also made into a TV series Back In The Day starring Inspector Morse but YOUNG. Telling the story of the manufacturer and the mill hand, this intermingling of two families, the Bamforths (mill hands, with soft voices and hair like clouds) and the Oldroyds (mill owners, with pulsing veins in their foreheads) over 80 years starts with the old Mr Oldroyd bringing in Frames to him mill for the first time, and the reaction of this by the local community. The characters spend half their time walking about on the moors between their cottages, the mill and the pub, and everything is always incredibly tragic, but if you live in the West Riding (Leeds, I'm looking at you), you need to read this book as the history it contains is IMPORTANT. Just ignore that slightly ridiculous love stories that are mingled in with the cracking descriptions of the wannabe revolutions. There's also not one redeemable woman character in the whole thing, but never mind.

Happy Reading!

BookElf xxx
* as an aside, what is with all these 'ere reprints of amazing books over the past few years? They did Stella Gibbons last year, Dodie Smith just a couple of months ago. Now Phyllis Bentley. Anyone would think that the generation brought up to love these authors by their mothers now were in their late twenties/early thirties with a disposable income...

Holiday Reads 01 - The Luddites

Monday, 16 April 2012

Guest Post - The Tenth Kingdom - Part One

I made this: Unknown at 8:00 am 0 comments
* * * Do you believe in Magic? * * *

* * * Part One * * *

A friend of LeedsBookClub (say hello on twitter here!), Marie is writing an EPIC review of The Tenth Kingdom!


The 10th Kingdom is primarily a TV show but there is also a book based upon the show.

Focusing on the book first of all it is written by two authors under the pseudonym Kathryn Wesley and based on a screenplay by Simon Moore.

Before diving into the book let’s whet the appetite with... 

The Blurb!
“The 10th Kingdom is a contemporary drama, set in a world where fairytales, folklore and traditional myths come to life.
The story follows the fortunes of Virginia, a New York waitress, who unwittingly finds herself in the fantasy world of the Nine Kingdoms, where she must save a prince from the clutches of his evil stepmother, and restore him to the throne.
This is a modern, epic tale of good versus evil that will grip the imagination and leave you spellbound”.

Appetite whetted? Then read on.

The book is split into four parts the first part is entitled ‘The Dog formerly known as Prince’.

The first character that we encounter is Virginia who works as a waitress but dreams of a fairy tale world. She also believes in looking out for number one. She comes across as somebody who is disillusioned with life.

The second character we meet is her Dad, Tony a janitor in a posh apartment building who comes across as a little bit dog like, eager to please, in need of looking after but really wanting to snap and snarl at his employer.

We are then transported to the Nine Kingdoms where we meet Relish - the Troll King - who is breaking his children Burly, Blabberwort and Bluebell out of the Snow White Memorial Prison wearing his shoes of invisibility (which sound very cool).

They are in the process of leaving when they hear a voice belonging to... The Queen...

We are then taken to a carriage en route to the prison in which travels Prince Wendell who seems to be a very spoilt person. (He is our third character).

He is travelling to the prison as his step-mother (The Queen) has applied for parole again. Little does he know that she is now free and waiting for him with a surprise in the form of
a magic Dog. Or that when the dog touches the Prince, Wendell and the dog will change bodies!

After Wendell has become a dog and has run off somewhere inside the prison the Queen needs somebody to catch him. 
This is when we meet our 4th main character - Wolf, a half-wolf-half-man who is also in the prison.

We don’t really get much insight into his character yet other than that he likes food.

Now before you read any further be warned this contains some major spoilers.


Whilst reading the book the reader needs to know one very important thing and that is that every few pages it switches to another characters perspective.

As well as the four main characters of Virginia, Tony, Wolf and Wendell; there is also a fifth central character and that is The Queen.

Her character is revealed slowly over the course of the book. The main thing you need to know is that she is evil, but there is a big surprise coming later in the book.

Obviously being evil she is manipulative and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. That dealt with let’s press on shall we.

As the recently transformed Wendell is trying to escape Wolf, The Trolls and the prison; he comes across a magic mirror in the cellar (for all you US readers it’s a basement). Using this
mirror he travels to the “10th Kingdom” (New York). 

The first thing that happens to him in this wonderful new world is... Virginia hits him with her bike!

Wolf and the trolls soon follow Wendell through the mirror. Both getting slightly distracted by this new world, that the trolls name The 10th Kingdom.
We assume that - while the trolls are busy beating up humans and Wolf is enjoying all the food smells - Virginia has established that Wendell is alive and assessed her damaged bike and
gone to the restaurant where she works.

Now am I the only one that thinks there is something wrong with the sentence... ‘Virginia takes the Dog to the restaurant she works in’!
Do they not have Health and Hygiene rules and regulations in this fantasy world cos in this country someone would have seen you taking a dog into the kitchen and either called the E.H.O or started a rumour the restaurant serves dog!
And don’t get me started on the fact that she wears her uniform to work!!! (Sorry ex-caterer here, I see the world through catering eyes).

Okay back on topic, rant over.

So after taking Wendell to work and locking him in a store room, Virginia starts working until there is a crash from the stock room. Uh-oh what could it be? A bored dog trying to get
at the food? Nope Wendell has knocked over some flour and spelt the word DANGER. (You would so tweet a picture of that wouldn’t you!)

After discovering this and his ability to bark on command Virginia freaks out and heads home with the dog.

While all this is happening with Virginia Wolf arrives and after putting a lady off her food, then goes on to unnerve the waitress Candy with his food obsession.

He also follows Candy into the kitchen (erm again with the random breaking of health and safety rules!), discovers the stock room and manages to get Virginia’s address from Candy (SOME FRIEND)!

Virginia arrives home to discover all the people in her apartment building asleep. Additionally, Trolls are in her flat trying on her shoes.

It turns out the trolls are SO dumb but also have a major shoe
fetish. After threatening Virginia; she tells them Wendell is in the lift and then proceeds to trap them in there. She then takes Wendell and runs off.

Poor Tony wakes up only to discover his front door has been broken and Wolf is there. Wolf manages to get the location of Virginia off Tony in exchange for a magic wishing bean!

Which Tony then eats (the words sweets and stranger spring to mind)! But having said that if he hadn't eaten it this would have been a much different story.

The next time we encounter Tony he’s spent the remainder of the night worshiping the toilet. He emerges from the bathroom to encounter Murray his boss, who proceeds to fire him.

Tony is so enraged by this that he wishes for Murray and his whole family to be his slaves and kiss his ass.

Discovering his wish has come true, he then makes Murray clean his shoes with his tongue.

Tony also wishes for a never ending supply of beer. So the beers in the fridge start multiplying, he then wants something to clean his apartment.

Can’t see those wishes going wrong...!

Virginia meanwhile has spent the night at her horrible Grandmothers house.
Why horrible you might ask? Well when we meet her; she’s drunk and very critical of Virginia.

Then when Wolf arrives she preens at all of his compliments. At one point Wolf observes that she thinks that she is better looking than Virginia.

So yeah horrible.

Wolf is in the process of seasoning a now tied up Granny when Virginia wakes up. He then pulls a Red Riding Hood on her until she pushes him out of a window!

Wolf comes to in an alley and comes face to face with a therapist who assumes he is her next appointment!

Meanwhile Tony is busy ogling Murray’s wife and wishing for a million dollars. (Which appears).

The Hoover is sucking up everything in its path, the never ending supply of beer has
blown up the fridge and SWAT have turned up to retrieve the stolen money!

Uh-oh didn’t see that coming at all!

Virginia and Wendell are now back in the park. Wolf’s therapist has given him an extensive reading list; Tony has been put into the back of a squad car and Murray’s mother has fixed
the lift that the Trolls were trapped in freeing them from their prison (which at one point was
a matchbox).
The Trolls at this point remind me of the three stooges...

Well what do you think happens now? Tony uses a wish of course! Which causes the police car to crash.
Wolf who is in a nearby bookshop sees all of this and gives chase as Tony heads for... The Park. (Hmm, wonder where they are all going)!

So finally all the characters have arrived in the park. Tony bumps into Virginia and Wendell and uses his last wish to understand the dog. They then all make their way through the mirror to where it all began... the Prison.

Wolf who is the last one through and he deactivates the mirror by turning a decoration on its frame.

Tony, Virginia and Wendell travel through the prison to the Queen’s former cell hoping to find a clue as to where she has gone with Wendell’s body.

On the way Wendell shows them a map of the Nine Kingdoms where they see places such as Red Riding Hood forest and Snow White Memorial Prison.
Wendell informs them that the golden age where characters they know only in fairy tales was 200 years ago.

It’s at this point I want to chant Prequel, Prequel. Or possibly tweet #Prequel #Prequel!

The Tenth Kingdom

Listen to the Tenth Kingdom Soundtrack on Spotify here!
Or watch the videos on YouTube here!

The Tenth Kingdom - Part Six
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Five
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Four
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Three
The Tenth Kingdom - Part Two
The Tenth Kingdom - Part One

* * * * *
Table of Contents - Guest Stars

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