Hello my fellow bookworms this is just a quick post to let you know I am currently away for two weeks on holiday in France. I want to give myself the time to truly relax with my family and some good books so I’ve decided to give blogging a break while I am away. It will be quiet on The Bookworm Chronicles until I return; although I will hopefully return with plenty of books and adventures to tell you all about. I am sorry this will also mean I won’t be on your blogs for a while too but I will endeavour to catch up on all your interesting posts (let me know if there is anything you’d really like me to see).
I hope you all have a lovely Summer and holidays wherever you are in the world. I look forward to speaking and sharing with you all again soon.
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. Finding myself with glorious weather and time on my hands half way through July I decided to throw myself into the political and power intrigues of the Tudor period in Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle.
In Sisters of Treason we join the infamous Grey family during the Tudor period. The young Jane Grey has been overthrown from the English throne by her cousin Mary Tudor after the death of King Edward VI which left the succession in doubt. Poor Jane is put death along with her husband Guilford Dudley and her power hungry father leaving her mother Frances and two younger sisters Katherine and Mary to the mercy of the new Queen Mary and her re-instated Catholic regime. Frances is able to remarry and as a favourite cousin of Queen Mary is allowed to live away from court but Katherine and Mary are not to be so fortunate. Katherine is now the Grey heir and with her looks and royal blood she could become the figure head for the Protestant rebels during Queen Mary’s reign and for the Catholic rebels during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. For which she is kept close at court under suspicion during both Queens’s reigns. Then there is the youngest Mary who is small with a crooked spine who is not seen as much as a threat because who would wish to marry her and it is believed she wouldn’t be able to bear a child but her traitor’s blood still keeps her at court for most of her life. While Katherine and Mary are two very different young women they will both find themselves on the wrong side of Queen Elizabeth I as they seek the lives and loves they so yearn for.
The narration of Sisters of Treason is told from three perspectives. There is Katherine (as spelt in this novel) Grey a beautiful and spirited young woman who is less worried about the monarch or religion but longs only for love and marriage. While I found Katherine’s motive innocent I think she is often selfish and rather naïve to individuals and the dangers around her. Then we have her younger sister Mary Grey while she might be small with a crooked spine Mary is intelligent, witty and loving. I really liked Mary she certainly wasn’t perfect but I always felt she tried her hardest and thought of others with her only wish being to live a quiet life away from court; which doesn’t seem that much to ask really. I did sympathise with both sisters plights though as it was other people’s actions which has left them tainted with treason no matter what they do. The third narrator is Levina Teerlinc a Flemish artist who makes miniatures for the royal court. In this novel Levina is a close friend with Frances Grey and is often like an Aunt to the young Grey sisters. I liked reading about a woman with a career and artisan skills in the Tudor period. Levina also gives a perspective from someone outside of royalty and the aristocracy which I thought gave a good balance to the story.
I had heard of Elizabeth Fremantle before but Sisters of Treason is the first novel I have read by her. After reading positive reviews of Fremantle’s debut novel Queen’s Gambit I snapped up the opportunity to read her second novel Sisters of Treason. I thought Fremantle’s writing style was detailed and easy to read with the story flowing really well and smooth transitions between the three narrators. The action and tense of the story is firmly set in the present which means that tension can be built about the retribution for the sisters acts even though if you know anything of English history you already know what is going to happen. Last year I read a couple of short histories that looked at the three Grey sisters and yet I was so drawn into this story I didn’t find myself thinking back to the facts but waiting instead for the novel to unfold the story. After finishing Sisters of Treason I realised how little I thought about the actual feelings or personalities of the Grey sisters when reading those short histories. Even though this was fictional it really did help me to think of these young women as really people. Fremantle has obviously filled in some historical gaps and fictionalised events and people in this novel which I thought she did really well. I totally believed in her characters and the Tudor world she created with her words. At the end of the novel Fremantle also references the real historical characters, events and facts she took inspiration from.
Sisters of Treason is a well written and fascinating look into the intrigues and lives of those living under the shadow of treason in the Tudor period. I highly recommend to those interested in historical fiction and English history. I would really like to read more by Elizabeth Fremantle.
Thank you to Penguin Books (UK) for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read this? Or anything else by Elizabeth Fremantle?
Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are happy and well? July started as a busy month for me but then I handed in my college portfolio and did my review the first week which was a huge relief. Then I was busy for another week after that finishing off the term with my placement school and sorting out my car MOT, insurance and breakdown cover; but after that I found myself with whole lot of time on my hands which is a real novelty for me! So I decided to spend the second half of July catching up on my sleep, reading and blogging. Here is what I managed to finish in that time:
Fiction: 4 Non-Fiction: 2 Poetry: 0
Right at the beginning of the month I finished reading A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard which I had started reading in June but I was so busy I had less time to throw myself into till July. I don’t generally read a great deal of chick lit or women’s literature but I make an exception for Gillard’s work. I just love all the detail and history Gillard puts into her family dramas which is topped off with a beautiful writing style and A Lifetime Burning was no exception to that. Next I went for a completely different choice; picking up the fantasy comedy The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett the first book in Pratchett’s epic Discworld series. This was a re-read for me as I originally read The Colour of Magic many years ago now. I loved going back to where it all began giving myself the chance to hear well loved jokes again and to spot some extra detail which meant I found my re-read just as enjoyable if not more so.
Next with the free time I now found myself with I decided to throw myself into the intrigue of the Tudor court with Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle*. I heard positive things about Fremantle from other bloggers but this is the first novel I have read by her. Sisters of Treason was a moving, detailed and well written look into the lives of Katherine and Mary Grey. I was lost in the glamour, intrigue and fear of it all right to the end. Still having plenty of time on my hands I decided to throw myself into A Storm of Swords book 1 by George R R Martin* the third instalment of Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. I finished watching the fourth series of the TV adaptation Game of Thrones in June. The wait for the fifth series next year will be just too long so reading this helped me to get my fix of Westeros and give me lots of extra detail, characters and intrigue.
During the month I also finished two non-fiction book which is good for my goal of continuing to read more non-fiction in 2014. In June I started reading Overwhelmed by Perry Noble a Christian/faith non-fiction which again with that month being so busy I didn’t finish till July. I was drawn to Overwhelmed because I was myself feeling rather overwhelmed with all the college work I was doing. A friendly and concise look at how God supports us through stressful and worrying times which I got some real comfort from. Then near the end of the month I picked up The 7-Day Prayer Warrior Experience by Stormie Omartian* another Christian/faith non-fiction which is exactly what it says in the title. A short and simple look at seven themes over seven days that we can use in our prayer to make us stronger humans and Christians. This is the second book I have read by Omartian this year and I have another, Choose Love, on my Kindle which I am really looking forward to reading too.
*My full thoughts on these books are still to be posted.
Picks of the Month: A Lifetime Burning and Sisters of Treason
And those are just the books I finished during July. Through out the month I have continued to dip in and out of the epic collection Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Talesfor which this month I’ve made good progress but still a long way to go! I have also been dipping in and out of historical non-fiction The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport. Near the end of the month I started reading Zaremba, or Love and the Rule of Law by MichelleGranas a fictional drama set in Warsaw, Poland; something a little different for me but I am enjoying it so far.
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 a re-read of Mere Christianity by C S Lewis I was keen to pick something else. I plumped for Overwhelmed by Perry Noble a recent acquisition which seemed perfect as I was feeling little overwhelmed getting my college portfolio ready for submission.
In Overwhelmed Noble discusses the situations, feelings and stress that can leave us feeling overwhelmed and without hope. Noble says however if you have a faith in God then you are never alone in these overwhelming times and that God is not letting you suffering needlessly he always has a plan. I have an anxiety disorder and so can often feel worried and overwhelmed by some of the smallest things let alone the big things. I thought the best advice Noble gave was not to worry about the things you cannot change because it is pointless just worry about the things you can change. So simple and obvious but often something I completely forget to do yet if I followed it my life would be so much easier. I also loved how Noble used the stories of Daniel and Job from the Old Testament to help explain his points. Two great stories about being overwhelmed but staying true to your faith.
Perry Noble is a new author for me in 2014. I was really well supplied with new Christian non-fiction in 2013 and it appears to be continuing this year too. I was drawn to Overwhelmed because of the bold title and cover which seemed to be speaking to me at a time where I was feeling rather overwhelmed myself. I am pleased to say the content was really relevant and helpful for me too. I thought Noble’s style was friendly and informative. I enjoyed how Noble started each chapter with an anecdote from his own life but I don’t think I felt I learnt about him as much as perhaps as I did about other authors I have read this year. This is not a criticism just a reflection there was enough of personal touch to this to give a down to earth and honest feel to this non-fiction.
Overwhelmed is an interesting and supportive book on the overwhelming situations individuals may find themselves in. I highly recommend to those interested in Christian non-fiction.
Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read Noble? Any recommendations for other faith literature?
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 July:
Grimm (2014) Read TV SeriesTelevision
The third series of the American supernatural crime show with characters and adventures inspired by The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. This is not a series to be taken too seriously however it is fun and quirky. There are some great characters, creatures and adventures, and in this series in particular a lot of twists and turns. I really hope they will make more of this show. Good watch.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)ReadFilmTelevision
A Greek mythology adventure film based on Rick Riordan’s novel The Sea of Monsters the second instalment in the PercyJackson & the Olympians series. I enjoyed the first film PercyJackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) a fun film but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the book. Sea of Monsters was an equally fun film full of adventure, monsters, fights and humour again though not quite as good as the book. Good watch.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)Not ReadFilmCinema
An action packed sci-fi adventure film based on the Transformers franchise; which has included a line of toys, comics, books, games, cartoons and more recently films. I have enjoyed previous films from this franchise so I have been looking forward to seeing this. Age of Extinction is set 5 years on from the last film and has a new cast of characters but it still full of action, adventure, amazing special effects and some great performances from Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci. Warning though this film is almost three hours long I ended up with a numb bum and a dead leg! Great watch.
Another great month of adaptations although I watched a little less and this month I seem to have stuck to the similar fantastical genres; supernatural, mythology and science fiction. All of which were good to great watches. I look forward to seeing what I watch and finish in August. Again you won’t have to wait long for another adaptation update as I’ve still got plenty recorded to get through and upcoming releases that I fancy seeing.
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 TheColour 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 TheColour 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 TheColour 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. TheColour 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.
TheColour of Magic is a wonderfully fun and colourful adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy.
Have you readDiscworld? Have a favourite instalment?
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?
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?
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.
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:
Six authors I have read before:
C S Lewis
F Scott Fitzgerald
C S Lewis (again because I have re-read two of his books)
Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of:
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?