Feb 14, 2007

Review Index - Authors - N to Z



Vladimir Nabokov

Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita in Tehran

V.S. Naipaul
Miguel Street
In a Free State

Donna Jo Napoli

E. Nesbit
The Enchanted Castle
"The Violet Car"

Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and the Answer
Monsters of Men
A Monster Calls

Virginia Nicholson
Among the Bohemians
Singled Out
Millions Like Us

Juliet Nicolson
The Great Silence

Audrey Niffenegger

The Three Incestuous Sisters
The Time Traveler's Wife
Her Fearful Symmetry

Joseph Nigg

The Book of Dragons

Garth Nix
Across the Wall

Barbara Noble

Danica Novgorodoff
Slow Storm

Naomi Novik


Joyce Carol Oates
The Tattooed Girl

Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

Death Note v1
Death Note v2
Death Note v3

Bryan Lee O'Malley
Lost at Sea
Scott Pilgrim 1-5

Ben Okri

The Famished Road

Mary Oliver

Red Bird

C.J. Omololu
Dirty Little Secrets

Julie Otsuka
When the Emperor was Divine

James A. Owen
Here, There be Dragons


Molly Panter-Downes
Good Evening, Mrs Craven

Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia

Edith Pattou

Philippa Pearce
Tom's Midnight Garden

Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Lady Business)

Mal Peet

Victor Pelevin

The Helmet of Horror

Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss (Lady Business) Lola and the Boy Next Door
<Isla and the Happy Ever After

Ellis Peters
A Morbid Taste for Bones

Elizabeth Peters
Crocodile in the Sandbank
The Curse of the Pharaoh

David Petersen

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152

Susan Beth Pfeffer
Life As We Knew It

Liza Picard
Victorian London

Kate Pickett
The Spirit Level

Daniel Pool
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

Elizabeth Marie Pope
The Perilous Gard

Katha Pollitt
Virginity or Death!
Reasonable Creatures

Tim Powers
The Stress of Her Regard

Tim Pratt
"Old Ones"
"The River Boy"

Terry Pratchett

Wyrd Sisters
Monstrous Regiment
The Last Hero
The Bromeliad
Making Money
The Folklore of Discworld (with Jacqueline Simpson)
"A Collegiate Casting-Out of Develish Devices"
Unseen Academicals
I Shall Wear Midnight
Raising Steam

Chris Priestley
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror

Christopher Priest
The Prestige

Philip Pullman
I Was a Rat!
The Scarecrow and his Servant
Once Upon a Time in the North
The Ruby in the Smoke
The Firework Maker's Daughter (Mini-Review)
The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ

Barbara Pym
Jane and Prudence



Mike Raichtt
The Stuff of Legend

Katherine Ramsland
Cemetery Stories

Alan Rattansi
Racism: A Very Short Introduction

Philip Reeve
Here Lies Arthur

Barbara Reynolds
Dorothy L. Sayers

Anne Rice

The Mummy

Ben Rice
Pobby and Dingan

Hans Rickheit
The Squirrel Machine (mini-review)

Caryl Rivers

The Truth About Boys and Girls

Eden Robinson
Monkey Beach
"Queen of the North"

Jane Robinson

Ellen Bayuk Rosenman
Unauthorized Pleasures

Meg Rosoff
How I Live Now
What I Was
The Bride's Farewell
Just in Case
There is no Dog

J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Sheila Rowbotham

Dreamers of a New Day

Arundathi Roy
The God of Small Things

Juan Rulfo

Pedro Páramo

Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children

Cynthia Eagle Russett
Sexual Science

Sara Ryan
Empress of the World


Joe Sacco
Safe Area Gorazde

Oliver Sacks
An Anthropologist on Mars
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

S.F. Said

Varjak Paw

Laurie Sandell
The Impostor's Daughter

Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis 1 and 2
Chicken with Plums

Dorothy L. Sayers
Strong Poison
Have His Carcase
Gaudy Night
Busman's Honeymoon
Are Women Human?
Whose Body? (mini-review)

John Scalzi
Old Man's War

Mary Seacole

The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands

David Sedaris
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Ekaterina Sedia

The Secret History of Moscow
"The Taste of Wheat"

Shyam Selvadurai
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea

Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale

Dr. Seuss
The Lorax

Anne Sexton

William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Tempest

Rob Sheffield
Love is a Mix Tape

Mary Shelley


Clay Shirky

Here Comes Everybody

Elaine Showalter

A Literature of Their Own

David Small

Ali Smith
The Accidental
Girl Meets Boy

Dodie Smith
I Capture the Castle

Jeff Smith

Zadie Smith

On Beauty
White Teeth

Daria Snadowsky
Anatomy of a Boyfriend

Tom Spanbauer
The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

Muriel Spark
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Elizabeth Speller
The Return of Captain John Emmett

Art Spiegelman
The Complete Maus

Mark Spitz

Too Much Too Late

Nancy Springer
I am Morgan le Fay

Francis Spufford
The Child that Books Built

Stephanie Staal

Reading Women

J.S. Stassen
Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda

John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men

Robert Louis Stevenson
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Treasure Island

Tom Stoppard
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Peter Straub
lost boy lost girl
"Mr. Aickman's Air Riffle"

Noel Streatfeild
Ballet Shoes
Tea by the Nursery Fire

Bill Streever

Julie Summers

Stranger in the House

Kate Summerscale
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

Jiyavu Sun and Guo Guo
The History of the West Wing

Madeleine Swan
A Curious History of Cats


Bryan Talbot
Alice in Sunderland
The Tale of One Bad Rat

Mary M Talbot and Bryan Talbot

Dotter of Her Father's Eyes

Mariko Tamaki
Skim (mini-review)

Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo
Trese: Murder on Ballet Drive
Trese: Unreported Murders

Shaun Tan
The Arrival
The Red Tree

Donna Tartt
The Secret History

Maria Tatar

The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales
Enchanted Hunters

Yoshihiro Tatsumi
A Drifting Life

Sam Taylor
The Amnesiac

Josephine Tey
The Daughter of Time
The Franchise Affair

Emma Tennant

Two Women of London

Doug TenNapel

Dylan Thomas
A Child's Christmas in Wales

Craig Thompson

Jill Thompson
Death: At Death's Door

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Children of Húrin

Su Tong

Binu and the Great Wall

Claire Tomalin
The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft

J. Torres
Lola: A Ghost Story

P.L. Travers

Mary Poppins

Anthony Trollope

Framley Parsonage

Anne Tyler
Breathing Lessons

Jill Tweedie
Letters from a Fainthearted Feminist


Dubravka Ugresic
Baba Yaga Laid an Egg

Catherynne M. Valente
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland on a Ship of Her Own Making

Serena Valentino
Nightmares and Fairy Tales vol. 1 (with FSc)


The Dark Horse Book of the Dead
Nevermore: A Graphic Adaptation of Edgar Alan Poe's Short Stories

Martha Vicinius

Suffer and Be Still: Women in the Victorian Age

Kurt Vonnegut
A Man Without a Country
Breakfast of Champions


Edmund de Waal

The Hare With Amber Eyes

Alice Walker
The Color Purple

Daniel Wallace

The Watermelon King
Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician

Horace Walpole

The Castle of Otranto

Margaret Walters
Feminism: A Very Short Introduction

Jo Walton
Tooth and Claw
Among Others
Half a Crown

Marina Warner

Sarah Waters
The Night Watch
Tipping the Velvet
The Little Stranger

Winifred Watson
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Laurence Watt-Evans
The Turtle Moves!

Jean Webster
Dear Enemy

Alan Weisman
The World Without Us

Eudora Welty

The Robber Bridegroom
The Optimist's Daughter

H.G. Wells
The Time Machine

Rebecca West
The Return of the Soldier

Scott Westerfeld
Parasite Positive

Megan Whalen Turner
The Queen's Thief series

Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome

E.B. White
Charlotte's Web

Elie Wiesel


Ysabeu S. Wilce
"The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror"
Flora Segunda

Bill Willingham

Fables: Animal Farm
Fables: Storybook Love
Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers
Fables: The Mean Seasons
Fables: Homelands
Thesally: Witch for Hire (with Shawn McManus)
Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days)
Fables: Wolves
Fables: Sons of Empire
Fables: The Good Prince
Fables: War and Pieces
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall
Fables: The Dark Ages

Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog
Doomsday Book
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories
Richard Wilkinson
The Spirit Level

Carl Wilson
Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste

Simon Winchester
The Surgeon of Crowthorne

Robert Winder
Bloody Foreigners

Terri Windling
The Wood Wife
Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold (editor)
The Green Man (editor)

Jacqueline Winspeaer
Maisie Dobbs

Jeanette Winterson

Sexing the Cherry

P.G. Wodehouse
My Man Jeeves

Douglas Wolk
Reading Comics

Mary Wollstonecraft

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Jacqueline Woodson
Miracle's Boys
If You Come Softly

Virginia Woolf
Mrs Dalloway
To The Lighthouse

Diana Wynne Jones

Black Maria
Castle in the Air
The Ogre Downstairs
"What The Cat Told Me"


The Good Women of China


Taichi Yamada

Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist
The Curse of the Wendigo

Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese
The Eternal Smile
Avatar - The Last Airbender: The Promise part 1

Banana Yoshimoto

Goodbye, Tsugumi

Jane Yolen

Touch Magic
The Young Merlin Trilogy
Pay the Piper (with Adam Stemple)
The Last Dragon (with Rebecca Guay)

Moira Young
Blood Red Road

Gary Younge
Who Are We


Sara Zarr

Carl Zimmer
Parasite Rex

Jack Zipes

Victorian Fairy Tales (editor)
The Brothers Grimm

Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

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About Me

Oh Hai

Hello, my name is Ana and I'm a twenty-something bookworm. I also work in public libraries. It always feels a bit awkward to just talk about myself, so here's a self-interview to make things easier:

Why do you blog?
I started this blog without quite knowing what I was doing: I stumbled upon the first Once Upon a Time Challenge and needed a place to post my thoughts on the books I was going to read for it. So I blew the dust off my old blogger account, which I only used to comment on a few friend's blogs, and in March 2007 things mean a lot was born.

I was fortunate enough to be immediately welcomed by a community of enthusiastic book lovers who made me feel right at home. I had been looking for a bookish online community for a long while, but for some reason I had never thought to look for book blogs before. Suddenly they were everywhere, and I couldn't be happier. So yes, clichéd though this might sound, the reason why I hooked so quickly was the community. I don't have many bookish friends offline, so I was thrilled to discover people who were as enthusiastic about books as I am. Not only that, but they were also friendly, open-minded, respectful of different opinions, unpretentious and passionate. How could I not stick around?

These days I blog because I like sharing my thoughts on what I read; because I really like the fact that writing here encourages me to read more thoughtfully; because it's a great way to meet fellow readers and make new friends; because it makes me happy to introduce people to books they might love; and because thanks to blogging I can easily stay on top of book-related news and constantly discover wonderful books I probably would never hear of otherwise. My wishlist has more than tripled ever since I started blogging, and I bought more books in the past four years than in any other period of my life. Possibly this last bit isn't entirely a good thing, but the bottom line is: blogging has enriched my life.

Why do you read?
The simplest answer would be something along the lines of, "because it's one of my favourite things to do". But of course, there's a bit more to it than that. I read because I like stories; because I believe they're important. I read because I like language. I read because I'm interested in people, even though I'm a shy person. Reading gives me access to other experiences, other ways of living and thinking and feeling, other realities, other selves. I like to think that it helps me understand other people and the world in general a little better. John Connoly, author of The Book of Lost Things, put it better than I possibly could:
I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity towards the outside world that people who don’t read can sometimes lack. I know it seems like a contradiction in terms; after all, reading is such a solitary act that it appears to represent a disengagement from day-to-day life. But reading, and in particular the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways (…) It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another, which is a precursor of empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being.
As did John Green:
I would argue that books, more than other media, allow us to live inside the lives of others because we have to translate scratches on a page into ideas and make the story ours. We become co-creators of the story, and they allow us to inhabit someone else's body for a while. Books give us the faith that others are real, that their joy and pain should matter to us, and that ours can matter to them. In some ways, this confirms our own existence, because most of our mattering is in the context of one another.
What do you read?
I'm a fan of speculative fiction, fairy tales and mythology, historical fiction, Victorian and neo-Victorian novels, feminist fiction and non-fiction, literature from the early 20th century (particularly the 1930's), Gothic novels, historical mysteries, YA, children's books, almost anything involving metafiction, and comics aka graphic novels. But I'll read pretty much anything as long as it captures my interest. The things I'm the least likely to read are probably romances, thrillers and self-help or inspirational books, but I don't really like the idea of casting a whole genre aside.

I'll read anything that I find enjoyable - and I'm defining "enjoyable" very broadly here. A deeply distressing book can make for a very rewarding reading experience, even if one wouldn't call it enjoyable in the traditional sense of the word. The one thing I don't believe in is forcing myself through a book when every minute of it is agony just so I can say that I've read it, or just because I hope that reading it will turn me into a Better, More Cultured Person. Which is not to say that I don't read difficult or demanding books, or that I don't find these rewarding. I absolutely do, but I completely reject the idea that if a book doesn't take a lot of effort to read, then it must be rubbish. Some books demand a lot out of us, and that's fine. Others don't, and that's perfectly fine too. Reading should never be seen as a bitter pill you swallow because It's Good For You.

I also don't believe in patronizing or looking down on others for their reading tastes. No genre is inherently superior to another, and so on and so forth. I'm sure you've heard it all before. Let me resort to quoting again, this time from Nick Hornby's The Complete Polysyllabic Spree (a book that perfectly sums up my reading philosophy):
If reading books is to survive as a leisure activity – and there are statistics which show that this is by no means assured – then we have to promote the joys of reading, rather than the (dubious) benefits. I would never attempt to dissuade someone from reading a book. But please, if you’re reading a book that’s killing you put it down and read something else, just like you would reach for the remote if you weren’t enjoying a TV programme.


And please, please stop patronizing those who are reading a book – The Da Vinci Code maybe – because they are enjoying it. For a start, none of us know what kind of an effort this represents for the individual reader. It could be his or her first full-length adult novel; it might be the book that finally reveals the purpose and joy of reading to someone who has hitherto been mystified by the attraction books exert on others. And anyway, reading for enjoyment is what we should all be doing.
Where can I contact you?
You can e-mail me at untuneric at gmail dot com. Comments, questions, suggestions, etc. are more than welcome. You can also use my contact form.

Where else can you be found online?
Librarything, Good Reads, Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest and Last.fm. You're very welcome to friend or follow me on any of these sites. I am also part of a feminist group blog, Lady Business.

What do you do besides reading?
I'm afraid I'm a bit of an embodiment of some of the clichés of The Bookworm. I'm a cat lady, a tea and coffee drinker, a somewhat shy person, and very much a homebody. I enjoy travelling, hiking or going for long walks in the city, cooking and baking, making bookmarks, spending time with my boyfriend, watching movies and TV series, and listening to music. Music is in fact by biggest passion besides reading, and I'll happily forego my homebody tendencies to go to concerts or music festivals. If you're curious about the kind of music I like, just click over to my last.fm profile.

Where does the name of your blog come from?
From a Red House Painters song. I explained the whole thing here.

Who are your favourite authors?
Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin, Jeffrey Eugenides, Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, John Green, Douglas Adams, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nick Hornby, Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Barzak, A.S. Byatt, Margaret Atwood, J.D. Salinger, Margo Lanagan, Kij Johnson, Sarah Waters, Dorothy L. Sayers, Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Connie Willis, Patrick Ness, Eva Ibbotson, Stella Gibbons, E.M. Delafield, and probably others that I'm forgetting right now.

What about your favourite books?
In no particular order: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Life After God by Douglas Coupland, Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Other Wind by Ursula Le Guin, Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman AND Terry Pratchett, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Watermelon King by Daniel Wallace, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Nation by Terry Pratchett, Looking for Alaska by John Green, A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle, The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar, Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers, and I'd better stop now, no?

And while we're at it, favourite bands?
In no particular order: The National, Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Rós, Interpol, Modest Mouse, Emmy the Great, Joanna Newsom, The Mountain Goats, Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire, Antony & the Johnsons, Belle & Sebastian, Björk, Wilco, Broken Social Scene, Nick Cave,The Cure, The Smiths, Radiohead, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Tori Amos, Allo' Darlin, Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, Iron & Wine, Jeff Buckley, Kings of Convenience, Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls, Leonard Cohen, Nico, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Frightened Rabbit, Mogwai, Sparklehorse, Owen Pallet, Vampire Weekend, Okkervil River, The New Pornographers, The Magnetic Fields, The Shins, Elliott Smith, Regina Spektor, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Patrick Wolf, Fanfarlo, Jeremy Warmsley, Laura Marling, Neko Case, The Twilight Sad... and so on.

Do you ever write negative reviews?
Here's a question I've actually been asked. Yes, I do. Here's one, and another, and another, and yet another. The thing is, I have pretty good reading instincts, and I'd much rather be reading and writing about books I like than books I dislike, so I tend to avoid books I have strong reasons to suspect I'll dislike. Whether this is a good strategy is up for debate. Blogging and participating in reading challenges have made me become more adventurous, which has resulted in some very pleasant discoveries as well as some not so pleasant but nevertheless illuminating ones.

What you won't catch me doing is saying things like "this book is a total waste of time" or "I wouldn't recommend this to anyone". I wouldn't say that about even Paulo Coelho, tempting though it may be. I'm very much aware of the fact that a book I can't stand could be life-changing for another reader, and I think that to refuse to acknowledge this (or worse, to dismiss and smirk superiorly at fans of a given book you happen to despise) is a sure sign of arrogance and insufferable snobbery, and nothing puts me off as much as that. So if you do catch me saying that, or any other snobbish, dismissive things, please, by all means, call me out for it. I mean it. Or be very, very afraid, because it might be a sign that I was kidnapped and replaced by an Evil Clone. They might be coming for you next.

Why do you link to other reviews at the end of your posts?
The conceptual answer is that I like the fact that it contextualises what I've just written as one reading among many, which is what I believe all reviews to be, even professional ones. There have been countless discussions all over the blogosphere - and outside of it, I'm sure - about what constitutes legitimate intellectual authority and whether or not All Readings Are Created Equal. I don't mean to repeat them here, so I'll just say that I don't want to set up my own writing as the end-all and be-all of book blogging, and that I'm perfectly happy to link to another review even if I disagree with every single word of it.

The more practical answer is that it's useful - it's useful for bloggers to have relevant sites link to them, and it's useful for readers who might have stumbled upon a single review on Google but have no idea of what else is out there. I don't do the snippets from other reviews thing because I believe that context is important, and also because I want readers to click over, read a full review, and possibly discover a new blog that they love. I know that the belief that nobody ever does this and therefore links are useless is pretty widespread, but I've actually had readers thank me for introducing them to new blogs in this way.

Will you link to my review even if I'm a brand new blogger with zero readers?
Sure. Being new doesn't make your thoughts any less legitimate in my eyes. And the same goes for if you're not exclusively or even mostly a book blogger.

Who's the author of the image you use as your header?
Arthur Rackham. It's a detail of this painting. (And yes, it's in the public domain.)

What's this blog about again?
This should give you an idea: a Wordle of my blog, as of March 22nd 2009:

Commercial Affiliations:
I am a member of The Book Depository's Affiliates program, which means that if you click over to their site from my blog and buy a book (any book; not just a book I reviewed), I'll get 5%. I joined because I was a poor recent graduate with a book addiction to support. I don't expect it to make me much money at all, but every bit helps, right? I'm telling you this for the sake of full disclosure; it does not in any way affect what I write here.

Anything else?
things mean a lot attempts to be a feminist and inclusive blog. I promise I won't get defensive if I'm ever called out for failing at the above, though I do of course realise that it's not anybody's responsibility but my own to educate me or help me become more aware. Also, I have been wrong in the past and will surely be wrong again in the future. But I do try my best to listen and learn.

One last thing: I'm not a native English speaker, so apologies in advance for the mistakes you'll no doubt find. I try!

Last updated: October 2012

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.