Saturday, 26 June 2010

Winning Dido

Katherine is very excited because she has just won a copy of “Dido” by Adele Geras in the Bookette’s draw. It arrived in the post today, making a change from bills and leaflets advertising local supermarkets.

She’s delighted to win this one because:
She loved Adele Geras’s other books set in the same period “Troy” and “Ithaka”
She doesn’t know the story of Dido (yet!)
She’s met Adele!!!

…Pause for small prod with my glittery horn to remind her of her manners…

Katherine would like to thank:
Random House and David Fickling (who published the book),
the Bookette for doing a wonderful week of interviews with Adele Geras,
and of course Adele herself for writing the story.

The Muse's review of this book will be posted in July.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

June Reading

Katherine has been working hard rewriting her Genghis Khan novel, but still found time to read a few books this month. Starting with the spooky…

Crybbe – Phil Rickman
This book is set in the border country between England and Wales, where Katherine used to live. The town of Crybbe is fictional but could be any small market town of the area cut off from the rest of the world by lack of transport links, with the result that the locals view anybody from more than twenty miles away as a foreigner. In addition to this, Crybbe is overshadowed by a strange hill with a curse that sucks the life out of its residents. When millionaire music tycoon Max Goff buys Crybbe Court and tries to turn the town into a New Age centre by reinstating the old standing stones, he wakes a vengeful ghost in the shape of Black Michael, a previous sheriff infamous for his dark experiments that involved hanging innocent people to feed the power of the ley lines. Against this supernatural backdrop, local radio journalist Fay and author Joe (who wrote a book about the power of the border country) fight to untangle the mystery to save their families and themselves from Crybbe’s curse.

This is a horror novel, so there are plenty of grisly murders and ghostly scenes, but the Muse enjoyed the interesting cast of characters and the atmosphere of the familiar setting (the border country is a bit like the enchanted mists!). Phil Rickman’s books are a bit like an English version of Stephen King’s... fast paced, spooky, and a good read for all fans of the supernatural, particularly if you live in the UK and like to read books with settings other than America.

Glitter rating: 4

Next up is a re-read, which the Muse has Kath Langrish of Steel Thistles to thank for its inclusion here.

Beauty – Sheri S Tepper
This book is the journal of Beauty, daughter of the Duke of Westfaire, a 14th century kingdom where the world of Faery is not far away and magic still works. Beauty is half fairy (from her mother, who vanished after the famous christening where Beauty is cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an enchanted sleep on her sixteenth birthday). But Beauty is no fool and sidesteps the curse. When the castle falls asleep around her, she hacks her way out through the rapidly growing enchanted hedge and encounters some time travellers from the 21st century who are making a documentary about magic. Surprised by her appearance, they kidnap her and take her to the future, where all beauty has been used up to feed the starving millions and magic is dead.

Time travelling with her new friends back to the 20th century, where the last glimmer of beauty survives, Beauty is attacked by one of them and raped. Pregnant, she escapes with the help of her cloak of invisibility, a pair of seven league boots and her faithful cat Grumpkin, and travels through various worlds – real and imaginary – trying to find her fairy mother and also the way back to Westfaire to rescue her friend Beloved, who was struck down by the curse in her place. On the way, she gives birth to a daughter Ella (who becomes Cinderella) and meets her granddaughter Snowdrop (Snow White), all the while growing older herself so that she must take the role of fairy godmother in the later tales.

This book won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel back when it was first published in 1991, and has dated only slightly. It is both a fairytale for our time, and also a novel about beauty and how it fades and dies and is born again. It is definitely a book that requires reading more than once to fully appreciate the deeper layers of the story, and the Muse thinks different parts of Beauty’s journey will appeal to different readers, depending on how old you are when you read it. (Katherine first read this one 20 years ago, when she was in her twenties, so says it was interesting to come back to it as a more mature reader!)

Glitter Rating: 4.5 (not quite 5 since there is a slightly boring bit in the middle)

You and Your Money – Alvin Hall
This is a non fiction book, written by finance guru Alvin Hall of the popular TV show “Your Money or Your Life”, for all those who have ever felt confused, anxious, or guilty about their finances… which is most of you humans, it seems! The easy to read chapters with accompanying questionnaires about the financial aspects of your parents, your siblings, your career, etc. help you to explore your relationship with money. Essentially, it asks the old question: are you willing to sell your soul to the devil for large amounts of cash? I think you all know where the Muse stands on that one (though Katherine says unicorns don’t have bills to pay, so it’s fine for me to talk…)

Glitter Rating: 4.5 (not quite 5, since it doesn’t have a chapter on where to get hold of money in the first place?)

And finally…
Unfollow – Nicholas Royle
This one is a short story from the British Fantasy Society Yearbook 2009, clearly written with the new generation of bloggers in mind. The lonely narrator posts his cat’s kills online and begins a cyber relationship with someone called “taxigirl” who claims to be a taxidermist. He posts her dead birds and becomes obsessed with her online profile, only to find that one day she meets a real man and “unfollows” him. Set against a backdrop of a street where all the neighbours follow each other up and down without ever really knowing anyone, it gives us a brief and bleak sketch the 21st century, which is interesting when compared to the more detailed tapestry woven by Sheri Tepper’s Beauty.

What have you been reading this month? Let the Muse know.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Great Pyramid Robbery - pirated!

The Muse is proud to report that The Great Pyramid Robbery is Katherine’s first pirated book! It appears on several sites for download (I won’t encourage the pirates by listing them here) and downloads appear to run into the thousands. Katherine of course receives no payment for these copies and nor does her publisher, which means no golden oats for me… so why is my horn glittering?

1. Because it proves people want to read this book, even if they can’t afford to buy a copy or can’t find one. The latter is understandable, since the GPR does not (as yet) have an American edition so all of its 30,000 sales so far have been in the UK or export markets. It’s also been nine years since its first publication so libraries might have cleared out old copies as they fall apart and not been able to replace them.

2. Because it's free advertising! If people enjoy the pirated version then they might want to get hold of the much more beautiful print edition produced by HarperCollins with a spooky cover showing the magical scarab opening to release its curse.

3. Because GPR is the first book of a series based on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. So if people enjoy this one, they might be tempted to seek out the (so far unpirated) other six books. See Katherine's website if you're curious.

In addition, the Great Pyramid Robbery has the honour of being Katherine’s most popular book loaned from libraries, and has been translated into ten languages, so gets the glitter award for being her Most Travelled Book.

The latest edition is Greek – The Great Pyramid Revenge - translated by the wonderful Anna Vasileiadi-Dardalis and produced by Chatzilakos, who published “I am the Great Horse” last year and will be publishing the remaining Seven Wonders books soon. (If you visit Anna's site but don't read Greek, click on the English flag at the bottom to perform a magical translation).

In which format and/or language have YOU read this book? Did you buy it or was it a gift? Or did you pirate it? I’ll only give you a tiny poke with my horn if you did…

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Daria's Echorium Sequence Artwork

Following her winning entry in the Song Quest cover contest, the talented Daria has been busy working on two more covers for the other two books in the Echorium Sequence, Crystal Mask and Dark Quetzal. The Muse is very excited to post them here, along with her original winning entry.





Thanks Daria… I am sending you a Glitter Award!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Introducing the Unicorn Glitter Award

The Muse has created this special Glitter Award for bloggers who post in the spirit of the enchanted mists. So if your blog includes...
fantasy & science fiction (books, films, games)
fabulous artwork
poetry
spiritual stuff
magic
myths and legends
enchanted creatures
anything else mysterious, beautiful or otherworldly
...you might see one come your way!

If you accept this Award, the Muse’s rules are:

1. Tell us your favourite
Book
Film
Poem or song
Myth or legend
Enchanted creature

2. Add this award to the sidebar of your blog with a link back to this blog/post.

3. Recommend another blog you think would make my horn glitter. If you don't want to pass it on, that's fine - but the magic dies if you keep it under your bed for too long!
(I will then add this blog to my list of nominations and send an award over to those that make my horn glitter the most when I next do a round up).


Katherine’s favourites are
Book: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Film: Gladiator
Poem: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Legend: King Arthur
Enchanted creature: unicorn (absolutely nothing to do with the Muse’s glittery horn at her throat…)

And the first blogs to be offered a Glitter Award are
The Bookette - for the Song Quest campaign
Seven Miles of Steel Thistles - for championing myths and legends.

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