A.C. Swinburne: A Poet's Life
by Ricky Rooksby
A relatively brief and disciplined biography. The book makes liberal reference to Swinburne's own creative output and thus gives insight into not only the life of the poet but importantly into his work. A unique and eccentric figure his life makes for interesting reading. Swinburne's involvement with other leading figures of the age such as the Pre-Raphaelite circle, Monckton Milnes and Richard Francis Burton means this book offers insight into the avant-garde culture of the time. If this book has a flaw it is in its heavy dependence on biographical criticism making it perhaps to academic for the merely curious reader. This book has fuelled my curiosity about Swinburne and his work.
by Maile Meloy
This was another school/work related read. I do try to keep up with new young adult fiction and I must admit to being drawn to the cover of this title. Essentially the premise of the novel revolves around Janie an American girl having to move to London with her parents who have left the McCarthy fuelled hysteria of cold war America. Once in London Janie discovers magic and mystery in unexpected places as well as friendship in face of threat and challenge. Much of the story involves an ancient and magical book the Pharmacopoeia, a book that contains the means to achieve some magical results including the ability to turn into birds. This book certainly sounded and looked as if it would be a great read but I must admit that while it was a diverting enough read it has not proved particularly memorable. Certainly the setting of 1950s post war, cold war Britain was novel but not particularly convincing or compelling. I suspect this novel would have had greater appeal to a younger reader, it was well executed and the historical setting may have been more convincing and more interesting for a younger reader.