Archive for July, 2012

1. The last book I’ve read is … “Zeina” by Nawal el Saadawi

2. The book(s) I’m currently reading… “H10N1″ by M.R. Cornelius, and “The Queen’s English” by Bernard C. Lamb

3. The last bestseller I’ve read is… “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James

4. The last book I’ve bought/received is… “Starcrossed: Dreamless” by Josephine Angelini (ebook)

5. The book(s) I’ll be buying soon is/are… “Moranthology” by Caitlin Moran

6. My favorite children’s book is … “The Valley of Adventure” by Enid Blyton

7. My favorite Shakespeare piece is… “Romeo and Juliet”

8. Best period of literature: … The Victorian era

9. Emily Brönte or Jane Austen?… Jane Austen

10. My favorite poet(s) is/are… Gerard Manley Hopkins

11. My favorite literature character is… Cassandra Mortmain from “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith

12. A book I could reread a thousand times is… The Harry Potter series!

13. A book I hated is… Never really hated a book, it’s more the characters!

14. If my life were a book, it would be… “Little Women” by Lousia May Alcott

15. My ritual when reading a book is… find a quiet corner and read it

16. Best places to buy books: Waterstones and Amazon.

17. The language(s) I read most of my books is… English.

18. Do you write? If so, what?: Occasionally, mainly poems, but sometimes stories.

19. Recommend a book: “Replica” by Lexi Revellian

I have just finished reading “Starcrossed: Dreamless” by Josephine Angelini, the second book in her “Awakening” trilogy.

Starcrossed:Dreamless - Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed:Dreamless – Josephine Angelini (via Amazon)

The story picks up after the cliffhanger of the first book “Starcrossed” in which Helen and Lucas discover they are actually cousins (although the reader knows this isn’t true because Helen’s mother lied about it), thus ruining the blossoming romance between them.

Helen has accepted her role as the Descender – the immortal who can descend into the Underworld – and spends her sleeping hours wandering around the dangerous and deserted Underworld alone, without any of her superpowers and unable to stop herself dying each night. She spends her waking hours exhausted from her nocturnal excursions through Hell, trying to keep her mind off Lucas but struggling to forget him.

Her friends try to help her in her task to free the Scions from the Furies, but the one person who can help her is the mysterious stranger Scion who suddenly appears in the Underworld, and together they attempt to find a way to complete Helen’s task.

Other evil forces are at work, trying to help and hinder Helen in her task, creating a new set of problems on top of her existing burdens. As she gets more and more exhausted, she stops dreaming and becomes more vulnerable. She gets closer to the mysterious Scion Orion, who shares the same experiences in the Underworld, while all the while missing Lucas, who is secretly shadowing her to protect her. A sort of love triangle starts to appear with Helen’s supposedly wrong feelings for Lucas and her growing friendship with Orion.

I really hated how Helen’s mother lied about Helen and Lucas being cousins and don’t understand why no-one has twigged that she isn’t telling the truth when it’s obvious! They are clearly meant to be together! Orion is an interesting character, with his beautiful but dangerous superpowers. He is strong enough without his powers in the Underworld to protect Helen while she tries to figure out a way to complete her task. Helen feels very lonely in her task in the Underworld and Orion is friendly face who she can share this with, now that Lucas is off-limits.

The ending is really good, with a proper showdown and yet more shocking attacks and injuries which no normal person could recover from. Also, Helen’s friends really try to help her and also start learning to protect themselves with all the Scions around them. Claire and Jason’s relationship is starting to blossom, and one old friend struggles with the strangeness of Scion world which he is unwillingly sucked into, at great cost.

I give it 9/10 because it is so full of Greek mythology, amazing superpowers and fights, great characters and a great plot. The tension is built up well, and this second book in the trilogy is really stepping the story up a gear ready for whatever happens in the third book, where hopefully Helen’s mother’s lie will be found out! I had been waiting for this book to come out since i read the first one back in February and i wasn’t disappointed! Well worth reading if you liked the first book!

Note – I read this on my Kindle.

I have just finished reading “Zeina” by Nawal El Saadawi (translated from the Arabic by Amira Nowaira).

Zeina - Nawal El Saadawi

Zeina – Nawal El Saadawi (via Amazon)

The book description reads as follows:

 “Bodour, a distinguished literary critic and university professor, carries with her a dark secret. As a young university student, she fell in love with a political activist and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Zeina, whom she abandoned on the streets of Cairo. Zeina grows up to become one of Egypt’s most beloved entertainers, despite being deprived of a name and a home. In contrast, Bodour remains trapped in a loveless marriage, pining for her daughter. In an attempt to find solace she turns to literature, writing a fictionalised account of her life. But then the novel goes missing. Bodour is forced on a journey of self discovery, reliving and reshaping her past and her future. Will Bodour ever discover who stole the novel? Is there any hope of her being reunited with Zeina?”

The plot sounds quite interesting and i was intrigued by the social and cultural issues which affect the characters in this book.

Bodour is quite likeable as a character, particularly when she is young and in love. I felt sorry for her having to abandon her daughter on the streets, unable to acknowledge her because she is illegitimate and has no father. Bodour is constantly haunted by the event of abandoning her child, and in her dreams she searches for the lost child. Her waking life revolves around writing and her loveless marriage. She secretly writes a novel about her life and her lost daughter, and her fictional self seems to be a stronger and more confident character than she. At times through the book, it gets confusing who is talking, Bodour or Badreya, her protagonist. It is a shock for Bodour when her novel is stolen, the one thing that was keeping her sane in her unhappy life.

Bodour has another daughter, from her marriage: Mageeda. Mageeda has grown up with her parents fighting in private, and has grown up through school alongside her mother’s lost daughter, although she is unaware of this fact. She follows in her parent’s footprints and becomes a writer herself, although she secretly hates writing. She represents the next generation and is a contrast to her half-sister, Zeina: Mageeda is short, plump and from an affluent background, with a talent for writing from her parents, despite her dislike of it.

Zeina is the abandoned daughter, brought up on the streets by a woman she called her mother – Nanny Zeinat, a servant of Bodour and her family. Zeina is described as having her father’s blue-black eyes, which have haunted her mother Bodour ever since she was born.She is clearly more like her father than Bodour, as no-one seems to associate her with her real mother. Zeina is a musically gifted child and grows into a beautiful woman, untouchable by any man, yet touches the heart of all who hear her sing and play music.

Zakariah al-Khartiti is Bodour’s husband, and he is a unpleasant character in my opinion. It is clear to see why Bodour is repulsed by him in the way he is described physically and by his behaviour. He cheats on her constantly, and finds sex in many places, from prostitutes to even raping young boys and girls. He writes a column in a newspaper and has an egotistical pride in his writing.

The book gets confusing, switching from one character to the next every couple of paragraphs, from the points of view of the characters i have described above, to other characters such as the psychiatrist, Bodour’s best friend, and Bodour’s cousin. I find there are many repetitions of the same scenes over and over again, and the repetition of the same lyrics of the song sung by the street-children. These get annoying after a while. I find this book very hard to read because it goes around in circles and goes off on a tangent every now and then, and doesn’t seem to go anywhere. We don’t really find out answers to our questions throughout the novel, and what could be classed as an answer is hard to decipher as being real or not. Each character thinks about themselves all the time, which gets boring after a while, although the exception is probably Zeina, who we don’t hear much from: we only hear about and see her through other people, be they kind or cruel.

The only thing i like about the book is the contradictions between the religious, social and cultural beliefs of the Arabic world: the outsider thinks that everything is black and white, with men acting a certain way, women acting another, and certain things being unacceptable, when actually things happen in the Arabic world just the same as the Western world, except they are hidden from public view. Everything on the surface is a lie.

I give this book 5/10 because it doesn’t answer the obvious questions, it is confusing, and most of the characters, while they are believable and well-written, are just too self-absorbed and self-loathing. I have never read anything so repetitive. It’s not boring by any means, it’s just got no obvious direction, and i can’t imagine what would happen next.