Re-Read: The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic

The beginning of July was a busy time for me as I got my portfolio of work ready to hand in for my college course; which left me with little time and brain power left for reading. With that in mind I picked up The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, the first in his epic Discworld series, for a comforting  and easy re-read. With its blend of fantasy and humour I thought it the best medicine for my stretched mind.

In The Colour of Magic we are first introduced to Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical Discworld; a flat disc world which stands on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the shell of giant turtle who swims through the universe. I never cease to be amazed and amused by Pratchett’s wonderful imagination. The story of The Colour of Magic takes us to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork that see’s the arrival of naïve and rich tourist Twoflower; a small man with four eyes from the Agatean Empire. Only thing is the citizens of Ankh-Morpork have no idea what a tourist is. Fearing trouble the city’s Patriarch charges Rincewind the wizard with escorting and keeping Twoflower from coming to harm. Sadly Rincewind is a poor excuse for a wizard. After kidnap threats, fights and a devastating fire Twoflower and Rincewind are forced to flee the city setting them on the path of an unexpected adventure.

The protagonists of The Colour of Magic are Rincewind, Twoflower and his magical walking chest; who even though it can’t speak really does seem to have its own personality and way of communicating. Rincewind is clever but is utterly lacking any bravery, confidence or magic which all in all makes for a very poor wizard. It is very funny to read about his many miss-adventures and forced moments of heroism. Then we have Twoflower the first tourist who longs to see the sights regardless of his health or his safety. Twoflower is not necessarily brave though he is just naïve and far too trusting but things have a way of working out for him. The combination of Rincewind, Twoflower and his magical walking chest makes for a hilarious read before you add any of the other characters and creatures they meet along the way.

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine but scandalously I haven’t read one of his novels since 2012! To make up for that and to refresh my memory I decided to go back to where it all started. The Colour of Magic is the first instalment of Pratchett’s epic Discworld series. This is not a series you necessarily have to read in order as the stories are usually short, fun and simple which also follow many different characters/sets of characters. I felt it would be nice to read the first novel again though so I could have the chance to focus on Pratchett’s first descriptions of the actual world itself to get better sense of it before going on to reading some new adventures. I really enjoyed this re-read not just for the familiar comfort it brought but also for remembering well loved jokes and noticing extra details. It has reminded me all over again why I love Pratchett and how I should get a move on reading more of his Discworld series.

The Colour of Magic is a wonderfully fun and colourful adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy.

Have you read Discworld? Have a favourite instalment?

New Books: July 2014

New Books - July 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s what goodies I have managed to add my Kindle recently:

Heartstones by Kate Glanville

Queen of Hearts, Volume II by Colleen Oakes

Across Great Divides by Monique Roy

Hope’s Rebellion by Jade Varden

The Marriage Game by Alison Weir

I have a really eclectic mix of new fiction this month. I received free review copies of fantasy Queen of Hearts, Volume II and historical fiction The Marriage Game from Netgalley. I read Queen of Hearts, Volume I earlier this year and really enjoyed it so I am really pleased to have got hold of volume two. I was contacted and kindly offered review copies of historical fiction Across Great Divides and dystopian young adult Hope’s Rebellion by the authors which I happily accepted as I thought they both sounded interesting. While I picked up a copy of Heartstones for free from Amazon UK.

Choose Love by Stormie Omartian

In contrast to June I have only one new non-fiction this month. I received a review copy of Christian non-fiction Choose Love from Netgalley. I read The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian earlier this year so I am interested to read Omartian’s new book.

I am pleased I managed to keep my new acquisitions down to a reasonably small amount again this month. They were also all free and digital so no money or physical space used. I am particularly excited about reading Queen of Hearts, Volume II as I want to know what happens next!

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

New Read: A Lifetime Burning

A Lifetime Burning

I don’t generally read a great deal of chick lit or women’s literature but I make an exception for Linda Gillard who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. I had read four of Gillard’s novels but I haven’t read one since last year so I thought it was high time I read another. Luckily for me A Lifetime Burning one of Gillard’s earlier novels was handily waiting for me on my kindle.

A Lifetime Burning follows the Dunbar family, in particular the Dunbar twins Flora and Rory. The twins were born to their parents later in life, seen almost as miracle babies, as both parents had long believed they were never to have children after so many years of marriage. From the start blonde and blue-eyed Flora and Rory were intensely close. We watch as they play and grow but while their personalities and interests begin to differ, Rory being musical while Flora immerses herself in stories and dramas, they are still as close as ever. So close that when they are split by Rory being sent to boarding school Flora refuses to sleep and Rory escapes from school and arrives home on foot weeks later. Both Flora and Rory leave home to study and eventually marry but nothing seems to fill the gap being apart seems to create. They are each other’s other half they feel incomplete without each other. A feeling which is to impact on them, their parents, spouses and even their children.

I think the main protagonist of A Lifetime Burning is Flora as she narrates the majority of the novel and the fact I think I connected with her the most. Flora is beautiful, often naïve and starts out with the best of intentions however Flora is not strong and when she leaves home the reality of life outside in the world seems to corrupt and ultimately destroys her. Rory is also beautiful but he is more worldly and selfish with Flora and his music career being the only two things he really seems to love. While I found him interesting I didn’t like Rory. Flora I had much more sympathy for. Flora and Rory are joined in this tale by their elderly parents and aunt, Flora’s spouse Hugh an older handsome vicar, Rory’s spouse love struck music student Grace, Flora’s son Theo, and Rory’s children Colin and Charlotte. This really could be described as a family drama and as it spans over four decades it could also be described as a family saga too.

I am no stranger to Gillard’s work I have now read five of her novels. Each new read I am not disappointed either. I think Gillard’s writing is beautiful, detailed, but also comfortable and down to earth which is why I enjoy reading her work so much. I always feel her characters and story are realistic and interesting. I especially love all the history she puts into her stories too. A Lifetime Burning was different in the sense that the history was contained to the Dunbar family history really not bigger country or world history. I think this was a pleasant change and over four decades I thought we got some really detailed history of the family; good and bad. I also loved the detail Gillard added to Flora and Rory’s interests. Flora was often discussing the novels, plays and dramas she is reading or has been in. While Rory as an adult becomes a world-renowned pianist and there is plenty details about music and composers. I think this drama and music detail helped create a rich and interesting underlying mood to the story which could be often sad and bleak. The story is told in a disjointed manner flicking backwards and forwards in time which compliments the confused mind of Flora well but also helps to break up the bleakness and builds the mystery. I think A Lifetime Burning  is both heart-breaking and beautiful in equal parts.

A Lifetime Burning is another beautiful tale of the love, life, and death from Linda Gillard. I highly recommend to those interested in women’s literature and family history. I can’t wait to read more of Gillard’s work.

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

Have you read Linda Gillard? What should I read next?

New Read: The World According to Bob

The World According to Bob

Last year I read and adored A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen. Ever since I heard there was a second memoir I have wanted to read it. This year The World According to Bob by James Bowen came out in paperback and my father snapped up a copy for us both. I managed to hold back my impatience while my father read it first then in June it was finally my turn.

The World According to Bob continues the touching and up-lifting tale of James and his cat Bob. When James meets Bob the street cat on the stairs of his sheltered accommodation block he has been addicted to drugs and living rough on the streets of London for many years. Through their friendship James finds himself a job selling the Big Issue, reunites with his family, becomes clean from drugs, and lands the opportunity to write a book about it all. While the book is still a pipe dream James and Bob still have several adventures and misadventures to have. Again I thought The World According to Bob was a charming tale which I found rather hard to put down because I really wanted to find out what happened to the pair next. I found I was really invested in finding out if they were going to be okay. James’s descriptions of his life selling the Big Issue on the streets is a sad one and really makes you think harder about your own life.

Both James and Bob are really likeable characters. James has made many mistakes in his life which he is open and candid about in both memoirs. James is at heart a good guy and has been learning from the mistakes of his past. He has got himself off the streets and clean of drugs which it just great. James starts this second memoir off with more hope than the last but there are still more challenges for his to traverse but alongside him he has Bob which makes everything feel better even in the worst of time. Bob is of course still an intelligent ginger tom with a lot of love and hope to give. I think the pair are pretty much made for each other and I loved reading more about their transformative relationship.

 A Street Cat Named Bob was the brain child of literary agent Mary Pachnos who approached James and Bob while they were selling the Big Issue on the streets of London. James not long after sat down with the writer Garry Jenkins to form his life into a coherent story which is described further in this second memoir The World According to Bob. James may have been surprised to get one book published but with the huge success of the first memoir he now three books published which I think is amazing. Again the style of The World According to Bob is simple and easy; no pretensions are taken with the language used. It felt like James was given the freedom to use his own words as much as possible which meant again the memoir felt natural and contained a lot of the personality of James and Bob. I think their friendship has really inspired me as about a month ago I adopted a black cat called Bonnie from the RSPCA (she is currently curled up in the sun behind me as I type!).

The World According to Bob is another utterly charming memoir of the touching and transformative friendship of James and his cat Bob. I highly recommend to all.

Have you read about James and Bob?

Meme: Six in Six

New Books

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. So here goes six authors/books in six different categories from the last six months:

Six new authors to me:

  1. Lucy Worsley
  2. Anne O’Brien
  3. Jules Verne
  4. Jeanette Winterson
  5. Suzannah Dunn
  6. Daniel Defoe

Six authors I have read before:

  1. Susanna Kearsley
  2. Cassandra Clare
  3. C S Lewis
  4. F Scott Fitzgerald
  5. James Bowen
  6. C S Lewis (again because I have re-read two of his books)

Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of:

  1. Susanna Kearsley
  2. C S Lewis
  3. Cassandra Clare
  4. Suzannah Dunn
  5. Lucy Worsley
  6. Jules Verne

Six historical books I have enjoyed the most:

  1. The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
  2. A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley
  3. The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien
  4. The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn
  5. The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle
  6. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Six fantasy books I have enjoyed the most:

  1. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #3)
  2. The Last Battle by C S Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia #7)
  3. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (Volume 1)
  4. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #4)
  5. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #5)
  6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

Six series of books read or started:

  1. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis (re-read)
  3. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
  4. Oz by L Frank Baum
  5. The Elencheran Chronicles by David M Brown
  6. The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Vaughn Entwistle

This year I have tweaked the categories slightly because I always find it so hard to name six books that disappointed me so instead I have done two categories on books I enjoyed the most split into my two favourite genres; historical and fantasy. Looking over the last six months I have read more new to me authors than authors I have read before. So far I think this has been a good year but I am looking forward to my college course ending in July so I can catch up on a whole lot more reading.

What have you been reading over the last six months?

Monthly Reflection: June 2014

June 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are happy and well? June has been a very busy month for me especially as my college course has been coming to an end and I have been making the final big push to finish off my portfolio; which I’ll be handing in next week! Sadly I have had little time to read let alone write reviews and posts so I’m sorry it has been rather quiet round here recently. Hopefully I have done a better job of keeping up with your blogs. The photo for this month is of my cat Bonnie who we adopted from the RSPCA at the beginning of the month; who’s been curled up like this on my bed as I’ve been working hard on my computer. It has been nice to have some company. So here is what I did manage to read in June:

Fiction: 1         Non-Fiction: 1         Poetry: 0

In June I finished one novel which was The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle. A supernatural mystery set in Victorian England with Arthur Conan Doyle which I had trouble putting down. A great escapist read for my busy mind. In June I also finished one non-fiction which was The World According to Bob by James Bowen. Another touching, charming and amusing memoir from Big Issue seller James and his street cat Bob. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this with you when I have time to do it justice.

Pick of the Month: The Revenant of Thraxton Hall

Sadly I only had time in June to finish two books but I did have other books on the go. I won’t bore you with the text books, articles and reports I’ve been reading for my course but needless to say there has been quite a lot. I have been dipping in and out of non-fictions Overwhelmed by Perry Noble and The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport, and the epic collection Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales for which this month I’ve made really good progress. I was also very close to finishing the novel A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard an interesting and heart breaking family saga. I am looking forward to handing in my portfolio and catching up with a lot of reading in July.

What did you read in June?

Adaptations: June 2014

Adaptations #2

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

As these adaptation update posts seem to be going down well I’ve decided to continue them in 2014. Here are the adaptations I’ve been watching during June:

Northanger Abbey (2007)          Read          TV Film          Television
An ITV period drama based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Northanger Abbey. I had never watched an adaptation of Northanger Abbey before so when I spotted this being shown on ITV3 I just had to give it a go. I thought it was a beautiful and charming portrayal of the season in Bath and the loves and fears of Catherine Moorland; played wonderfully by Felicity Jones. I also thought J J Feild was a perfect Henry Tilney and Carey Mulligan is a perfectly horrid Isabella Thorpe. A lovely watch for a Saturday afternoon. Good watch.

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)          Not Read          Film          Television
An action packed superhero film based on the comic books Kick-Ass 2 and Hit-Girl by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. I thought Kick-Ass (2010) was pretty cool and I think Kick-Ass 2 was just as cool but warning these films are not for everyone. There is plenty of fighting, blood, gore, sex and foul language, I certainly wouldn’t watch this with my mother! Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz both reprise their roles as superheroes Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl who are joined by Jim Carey as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Good watch.

Game of Thrones (2014)          Not Read          TV Series          Television
Lavish fourth series of the epic fantasy drama based on George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Premiered here in the UK on Sky Atlantic. My father and I could barely wait for the new series and we were certainly not disappointed. Another gripping series of war, intrigue, family, politics, love, lust, lies and dragons! What’s not to love? Again though not for everyone it is jam packed with violence, sex and foul language. I have read two books from the series and I will continue reading the series as I wait for the TV show to return. Great watch.

Fleming (2014)          TV Series          Television
Not based on a book but instead a fictionalized telling of the life of Ian Fleming the author and creator of the most famous secret agent Bond, James Bond. In light of which I thought it was worthy of a mention in this post. A four part drama which premiered here in the UK on Sky Atlantic. I thought it was a beautifully made drama looking at Fleming’s philandering ways, role in World War II and his inspiration for his famous creation. Dominic Cooper takes the title role and is surrounding by a stellar British cast. I am only disappointed I left it so long to get round to watching it. Great watch.

Another great month of adaptations and I must say what an eclectic mix! From classic period drama, to superhero action, to epic fantasy, and finally a real life drama. All of which were good to great watches. I look forward to seeing what I watch and finish in July. Again you won’t have to wait long for another adaptation update as I’ve still got plenty recorded to get through.

What have you been watching?

Challenge: Once Upon a Time VIII Results

Once Upon a Time 8

(Art by Melissa Nucera)

Spring has ended and Summer has begun which sadly means we have to say goodbye to The Once Upon a Time event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings. An event where participants are encouraged to read books and watch films that cover the broad categories of  Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. I always look forward to this event as the genres listed above are some of my favourites!

I signed up for The Journey level which means I was aiming to read at least one book for the event. Here’s what I managed to read:

1) City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #4)
2) City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #5)
3) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
4) A World Apart by David M Brown (The Elencheran Chronicles)

I usually sign up for The Journey level which means I only need to read one because even though I usually end up reading more I like the flexibility this level offers especially as I’ve recently been so busy with college coursework. Considering how busy I’ve been I am really pleased to have finished four books for this event and I enjoyed all of them. Through out the event I have also been dipping in and out of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales I have made good progress but still got a long way to go. (Click on the links in the titles to view my full thoughts on each read).

I am now looking forward to Carl V’s R.I.P event in the Autumn and the return of Once Upon a Time next year.

Did you take part in Once Upon a Time VIII?

New Books: June 2014

New Books - June 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s what goodies I have managed to add my shelves and Kindle recently:

The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden

The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson

Two new historical fictions for me this time by two authors that are new to me. I was contacted and kindly offered a review copy of The Lost Duchess from the author which I gladly accepted as I have read two great reviews of it already. While I picked up The Agincourt Bride for free on Amazon.

Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge

Pilgrimage to Iona by Claire Nahmad

Overwhelmed by Perry Noble

Auto Da Fay by Fay Weldon

In contrast to the fiction there are four new non-fictions by four authors that are new for me. I was kindly given a copy of Fay Weldon’s memoir Auto Da Fay by a family friend who gave it high praise indeed. While I received copies of Becoming Myself, Overwhelmed and Pilgrimage to Iona from NetGalley which are all non-fictions on faith and spirituality.

I am pleased I managed to keep my new acquisitions down to a reasonably small amount. They were also all free so no money spent. I must admit I am particularly excited to read The Lost Duchess and I have already started reading Overwhelmed.

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

New Read: The Revenant of Thraxton Hall

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall

June is another busy month for me with college coursework and my placement at college which scarily will be coming to an end in July! While my previous comfort go to has been fantasy this year as the weather has begun to warm up I found myself hankering for a good mystery. So I reached for The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle which has been on my Kindle for a while.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall joins Arthur Conan Doyle the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes in the days after he infamously kills off his creation and the nation’s beloved sleuth. Doyle is shocked by the angry and the some times violent backlash he has received from the general public who believe he is a murderer with many wearing black bands of mourning as if a real person has been killed. While Doyle is trying lay low he receives a most intriguing invitation to join the newly formed Society for Psychical Research (SPR) for a four day retreat at Thraxton Hall. This is not the first time in the last few days that Doyle has heard the name of Thraxton Hall. Earlier in the week Doyle was approached by a renowned spiritual medium who has foreseen their own murder which they believe will happen by them being shot in the chest during a séance at Thraxton Hall. At first Doyle was not inclined to believe this claim but now he has received this invitation he beginning to rethink his first thoughts. Doyle and his close friend Wilde pack their bags and head off to Thraxton Hall to see if they can solve this mystery like Doyle’s fictional sleuth.

Arthur Conan Doyle was the real life creator of the famous private sleuth Sherlock Holmes however this novel is a fictionalised view of Doyle and a period of time in his life. I really liked Doyle he came across as honest, loyal, sensible and kind. Doyle is joined on his adventure by his close friend Wilde which if hadn’t already guessed is the famous poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. If I like Doyle I loved Wilde he is flamboyant, emotional and totally fabulous; and because of the film Wilde (1997) all I could picture him as was Stephen Fry. Together Doyle and Wilde make a great pairing they reminded me of an opposite pairing to Holmes and Watson. While Holmes is an over the top protagonist supported by sensible Watson. Here the sensible protagonist Doyle is supported by the flamboyant Wilde.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall is the first novel I have read by Vaughn Entwistle. I took a chance on this novel because I have been making my way through Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short story collections and novels; and I thought this might be an interesting spin-off story from them. I had always heard that Doyle was as interesting a character as his creation Sherlock Holmes. I thought Entwistle drew an interesting and realistic portrayal of this real life author. Some of the other characters and some of the events were also based on real life. Entwistle very usefully gave a brief summary of his research, inspirations and real life characters and events; giving details about any changes he had made and why. I thought The Revenant of Thraxton Hall was a well written novel with a great mystery and some wonderful passages of description. I could really imagine the dark and brooding wreck of Thraxton Hall and what it would be like to be there with all the interesting members of Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Drafty bedrooms, dusty suits of armour, creepy family portraits, séances and guttering candles. With this sort of detail I found myself gripped after only a few chapters into this novel managing to polish this novel off in only a few sittings.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall is a well written mystery full of murder, twists, turns and the supernatural. I highly recommend this to fans of mystery, the supernatural and Sherlock Holmes.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes?