New Read: The Mine

The Mine

The days are dull and cold, and the nights are dark and frosty. Once my day of Christmas carols, buying presents, and cooking hot dinners is over. I am ready to tuck myself in bed with a comforting read. With this in mind I picked up The Mine by John A Heldt hoping for a cosy mystery.

The Mine introduces us to Joel Smith who in 2000 mere weeks from graduation takes a short road trip to Montana with a college friend. Curiosity gets the better of Joel while there and ignoring his friend’s protests Joel enters a deserted, old mine. After an encounter with a snake and a bump on the head Joel manages to find his way out of the mine only to find it is not 2000 anymore but instead he has been taken back to 1941. I must admit I was not expecting time travel when I started this but it was a pleasant surprise. Joel must now find a place within this strange time, handle the knowledge of the looming war and try to not alter the future.

Joel the protagonist of The Mine is not an instantly likeable character. He comes across as cocky and spoilt. The travel back in time does him some good though. As he encounters the simpler and more innocent 1940s his character softens. To reveal a kind and humble side to him. In the 1940s Joel is taken in by a kind couple and makes good friends with a group of college students. I liked meeting all these characters. My only issue would be that Joel seemed to come to terms with his situation and blend into his new life a little too easily. There was very little upset over the loss of his old life, friends and family which I thought would be a more natural reaction.

The Mine is the first novel I have read by John A Heldt. I was contacted by the author about this novel and decided to take a punt on it. I went into reading this thinking it was a mystery. While there is the mystery of how Joel time travels the novel felt more like a historical romance; albeit more recent history. I liked the setting though. Heldt has created a nostalgic and charming setting inhabited by interesting characters. The Mine might not have been a mystery but it was a cosy and slow paced read which was easy on a tired mind.

The Mine is a nostalgic romance with a pinch of mystery and time travel. You may enjoy this if you have an interest in 1940s America. Since finishing this I realised it is part of a series. I am not sure I will read more. Okay read.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Recommendations for other 1940s literature?

Re-Read: The Hobbit

The Hobbit

Looking forward to the release of the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s epic film trilogy I thought it was time for a re-read of The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. Jackson has extended and added to the story extensively so I wanted to refresh my memory of the simpler original story. Plus the fact the dark nights and bitingly cold days of winter are upon us a comfort read was most welcome.

The Hobbit takes us to Middle Earth for the first time. To the quiet and beautiful Shire where we meet Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, in his comfortable hobbit hole. Bilbo’s quiet existence is to be turned upside down by the arrival of Gandalf the wizard and twelve dwarves. Who sweep him away on an adventure over hill, under hill, through the air, through dark woods and across water. With the aim to regain the dwarves long lost home and treasure from the great dragon Smaug. I have re-read this adventure more times than I can count but I find myself as easily swept away with Bilbo on this adventure as the first time.

What really makes this classic fantasy tale for me is the unlikely protagonist Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is a hobbit; a small human like creature with curly hair, pointy ears, large hairy feet and brightly coloured clothes. Bilbo lives a comfortable life full of food, walks and routine. He is not adventurous or brave, or so he thinks. We the readers are there every step of the way with him as he suffers from hunger, cold, aching limbs and frequent danger and fear. I love seeing Bilbo grow in strength, courage and to finally reach his full potential through his trials. It makes you feel there is a little hero in all of us.

The Hobbit is my favourite book from childhood. I have also read Tolkien’s, what was originally meant to be The Hobbit 2, epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy but while I enjoyed them too they don’t quite hold the same sort of place in my heart. In The Hobbit Tolkien has created a simple but enchanting tale  Every word is precious to Tolkien and he uses them here perfectly to really bring Middle Earth alive. Combine that with an amazing imagination and great characters makes for me the perfect fantasy adventure. If you are daunted by The Lord of the Rings or haven’t tried Tolkien at all yet I highly recommend reading The Hobbit.

The Hobbit is an enchanting adventure for all the family. Whether you read it for yourself or read it to a child like my father did for me (from this exact copy!). After finishing this I am very tempted to re-read The Lord of the Rings, perhaps in the new year. Great read.

Have you read this? Watched the films so far?

New Read: Seeing Through the Fog

Seeing Through the Fog

I am a relatively new Christian having come to faith in my late teens. Now in my twenties I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and to hear what other Christians have to say. I like always having a piece of faith non-fiction on the go so after I finished reading Choose Love by Stormie Omartian I was keen to pick something else. I chose Seeing Through the Fog by Ed Dobson from my Kindle to-be-read folder.

The author of Seeing Through the Fog Ed Dobson in 2000 at the age of fifty had the devastating diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). A degenerating disease where the neurons in the nerves die which leads to individual losing the use of their muscles. Ed a preacher for many years at Calvary Church knew he would eventually lose his ability to walk, eat and talk but decided to not let this be the end. While this has not been an easy journey Ed has used his faith to cope with his disease, to help others with the disease too, and to learn to be thankful for what he does still have. While Seeing Through the Fog sounds like it could be a sad and depressing read but I didn’t find it so. I thought it was insightful, inspiring and touching read. Ed wrote this book to be a story of hope.

Ed Dobson is a new author for me in 2014. I have again been well supplied with new Christian non-fiction in 2014. Sadly Seeing Through the Fog lay idle in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for far too long. I did finally get round to it after being inspired by my read of A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada; actually I started this book to find that Joni has written the introduction for it. Like Joni I found Ed’s style to be very open and honest; letting the reader into his life, history, thoughts, and prayers. This was quite a short book however I took my time with this making sure I had time to reflect on what Ed shares and discusses. I didn’t want to miss out on any of the detail or inspiration this book had to offer.

Seeing Through the Fog  is a touching and inspirational read about Ed’s acceptance and journey with ALS. I recommend to those interested in Christianity and the effect of ALS. Good read.

Have you read about Ed? Any recommendations for other faith literature?

Meme: A Year in First Lines

Blog 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, I can’t believe it is the last month of the year! I have had an enjoyable year of reading but also blogging:

Take the first line of each month’s post over the past year and see what it tells you about your blogging year.”

This idea was started by The Indextrious Reader. When I spotted this idea, which I’ve never seen before, being done by Jane @ Fleur in her World I thought what an interesting way to look back on my reading and blogging over the year.

January

“Happy New Year!”

From Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

February

“I absolutely love adaptations.”

From Adaptations: January 2014

March

“One of my continuing aims in 2014 is to continue to read more non-fiction.”

From New Read: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

April

“I am a relatively new Christian having come to faith in my late teens.”

From New Read: Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful

May

“For a lighter tone after The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald I picked another American classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum off my Classics Club list.”

From The Classics Club: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

June

“May was a busy month for me with college coursework and my placement at college, and when the rain and storms returned to the UK all I wanted to do in the evening was tuck myself in bed with a fantasy read that would transport me somewhere else.”

From New Read: A World Apart

July

“This meme is the brain child of Jo @ The Book Jotter and I am joining in again as I think it is a fun and easy way to reflect on my reading half way through the year.”

From Meme: Six in Six

August

“After a busy June and first half of July I was so very grateful when my college course finished, the schools broke up for the Summer holiday and the sun came out.”

From New Read: Sisters of Treason

September

“At the end of July looking forward to my two week holiday in France I picked up Zaremba, or Love and the Rule of Law by Michelle Granas as something a little bit different.”

From New Read: Zaremba, or Love and the Rule of Law

October

“I am a relatively new Christian having come to faith in my late teens.”

From New Read: A Place of Healing

November

“The eighth Classics Club Spin has arrived.”

From The Classics Club: Spin #8

December

“As you probably know 2014 has been the centenary of the start of World War I.”

From New Read: Some Desperate Glory

I had to tweak the rules a little in this post because if I had literally quoted the first line of the first post of every month…you would have got the same line twelve times! That is because I always start the month with a monthly reflection post on the previous month’s reading. I thought you’d find that rather boring so I opted for the first post after my reflection post.

Even after doing that I can see that I still love a bit of reflection either on books read in the previous month or through memes and adaptation posts. Leaving me with time to read at the beginning of the month. I am also pleased with the diversity of subjects and books this has shown me.

How has your blogging and posting gone this year?

Meme: Reading Habits

Hello my fellow bookworms. I spotted this fun and short meme being done by Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous and thought I’d give it a go.

1) Do you have a certain place for reading at home?

I tend to read in bed before I go to sleep and also lazy afternoons I like to prop myself up on my bed as well. In my second home at my mother’s there is an arm chair in the conservatory I love to curl up in. If cold then both on bed and arm chair require a hot drink and a blanket too.

2) Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?

I always use a bookmark. I have an extensive collection of bookmarks; all of which I couldn’t possibly use at once. I have to switch them round on a sort of rota.

3) Can you just stop reading or does it need to be at the end of a chapter or a certain number of pages?

I could just stop reading if I have too but I prefer to get to the end of a chapter. It all feels so much neater.

4) Do you eat or drink while reading?

I pretty much always have a drink when I read; usually a nice cup of tea or a hot chocolate. I might have a biscuit too but on the whole I don’t eat while I’m reading. Not really mastered the knack.

5) Do you read one book at a time or several at once?

Several at once which tends to be one fiction, one non-fiction and one collection of poetry or short stories.

6) Do you read out loud or silently in your head?

I generally read silently in my head. I have been known to read out loud a particularly funny or fond part of a book to myself though.

7) Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?

I never skip pages but I have been known to read ahead before when I just couldn’t stand the tension anymore! It is very rare I do though.

8) Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I apologise now to all those cringing or grimacing at the thought but I have to confess I am a spine breaker. No two ways about it I love to read a book that is open dead flat. I also love to see the breaks on the spine of a well loved book. They almost tell you a story themselves.

9) Do you write in your books?

Never! Even when I was studying books I would write on post-its and stick them in. If forced I would write in pencil so I could rub it out again.

10) What are you currently reading?

I have several books on the go at the moment. My main read though would have to be the epic Shirley by Charlotte Brontë my result from The Classics Club Spin #8.

What about you? Also let me know if you have done/or do this meme on your blog.

New Read: Some Desperate Glory

Some Desperate Glory

As you probably know 2014 has been the centenary of the start of World War I. As my own small commemoration at the beginning of November, just before Remembrance day, I started reading Some Desperate Glory by Max Egremont.

I originally picked up Some Desperate Glory believing it was a collection of World War I poetry but it is actually more than this. Egremont has broken this collection down into chapters on the years before, during and just after the war. Focusing on in each year what events happened, how the poets took part, and what poems and collections were created. Each chapter is then rounded off with a selection of poems from that year. While I always enjoyed the selection of poems at the end of each chapter. I was a little disappointed to find less poetry than I’d hoped.

The history and lives of the poets was very interesting though. I got to discover more about well known World War I poets such as Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke. Then I was also introduced to many poets I had not heard of before such as Edmund Blunden, Julian Grenfell, Isaac Rosenberg, Charles Sorley, Edward Thomas, Robert Nichols and Ivor Gurney. Although in many cases when I read examples of their poems at the end of the chapters I found they were familiar even if the poet’s name hadn’t been. My only issue with all these poets though was keeping up with them all and remembering who was who.

Some Desperate Glory is the first book I have read by Max Egremont. I found the style of the book to be detailed, it flowed well and it is extremely well researched. As I have noted above this book is crammed full of events, history, poets and publications. This would be perfect for those already well acquainted with World War I poetry however for me who knows only a little it sometimes all became a bit overwhelming. The layout of the novel didn’t help me either. Each chapter being on a year meant I couldn’t focus on one poet at a time. Instead I had to try to keep a number of life threads going at once. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not! I think this is one book I really could do with a re-read of once I am better acquainted with poetry from this time period.

Some Desperate Glory is a detailed and extremely well researched look at the events, poets and poems of World War I. I recommend to those who are interested in finding out more about well known war poets and the war itself. Okay read.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Do you have a favourite World War I poem?

Monthly Reflection: November 2014

November 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are happy and well? November has been a mixed month; starting rather barmy for Autumn but the last week or so has seen the temperature plummet. It is finally time for hot drinks, blankets and putting the fire on. Work is going well for me, and so is my dance classes and my puppet group. Even though some evenings I don’t want to go out for either. Instead I would like to curl up in my pyjamas with a good book. Here’s what I’ve managed to finish this month:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 1          Poetry: 1

At the beginning of the month I finished the fantasy Queen of Hearts, Volume 2 by Colleen Oakes a much anticipated book for me as I read volume 1 earlier this year. Queen of Hearts is a clever and refreshing reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. I am really enjoying this trilogy so far. I am looking forward to the release of volume 3. Being in a similar mood I next picked up the fantasy comedy Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett the third book in Pratchett’s epic Discworld series. After enjoying two Discworld re-reads I was ready for a new adventure. Equal Rites is wonderfully fun, colourful and thought provoking adventure. I am again looking forward to reading more from this series.

During the month I also finished two non-fiction books which is great for my goal of continuing to read more non-fiction in 2014. At the end of October I picked up Christian non-fiction Choose Love by Stormie Omartian. The third work by Omartian I have read this year. A detailed and thought-provoking look into how choosing to love can change our lives. Also throughout the month I dipped in and out of the WWI poetry and history collection Some Desperate Glory by Max Egremont. A detailed and extremely well researched look at the events, poets and poems of World War I. Perfect for those well acquainted with World War I poetry but a little overwhelming for me. (My full thoughts still to be posted).

Pick of the Month: Equal Rites

And those are just the books I finished during November. This month has seen me with a taste for a variety which means I have had several books on the go. While I have read just as much with my time spread between more books sadly I finished less but that’s life. During the month I have been dipping in and out of faith non-fiction Seeing Through the Fog by Ed Dobson, fiction The Mine by John A Heldt, and comforting re-read The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. I have also started and made good progress through the epic Shirley by Charlotte Brontë my result from The Classics Club Spin #8.

What did you read in November?