Monthly Reflection: July 2014

July 2014

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 Tales for 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 Michelle Granas a fictional drama set in Warsaw, Poland; something a little different for me but I am enjoying it so far.

What did you read in July?

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?

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?

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?

The Classics Club: June Meme

June Meme

May brings another meme question for The Classics Club. After a gap of a few months I am keen to get back into doing these questions even though I’ve found this one rather hard!

I really can’t think of a classic novel I have read which portrayed racism or sexism as perfectly acceptable within society. Or I haven’t read a classic that portrayed anything that overtly racist or sexist that it sticks in my mind. Glancing down my Classics Club list at the books I have read so far there was only one that jumped out to me and that was Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I don’t necessarily think that racism or sexism is portrayed as acceptable within society in this because they are fairy tales so are not really set in the society of the times but the choice of characters did feel a little sexist to me:

“There are only three types of women in all of the stories. The first is of course the witch and/or evil mother  who may prosper at first but will ultimately meet a sticky end. Secondly there is the jealous and usually ugly sister, step-sister, and/or love rival these also usually meet an unkind end. And then finally there is the beautiful maid or princess who will finally prosper their only reward being to get married off.”

While there aren’t a huge amount of male characters either I did think they got far more interesting roles to play in the tales. Grimm’s Fairy Tales was written a long time ago and many of the tales within it are even older:

“I was not surprised to find the stories were archaic in style and sentence structure, and contained many prejudices pertaining to class, gender and race of the time they were written in. These are faults that I can overlook because these are faults I expect from such an old work.”

I think when you read a work this old you will find morals and opinions that are not the norm or are not acceptable today. However I think there is still huge benefit to reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales as it gives a glimpse into the minds of those in the past as well of course of showing us the origins of many favourite fairy tales we still enjoy in many forms today i.e. books, films, TV shows.

What racist and/or sexist classics have you read?

Adaptations: May 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 May:

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)          Not Read          Film          Cinema
A Hollywood blockbuster film about the superhero Spider-Man (alter ego of Peter Parker) created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko who features in Marvel Comics. I only recently watched The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) because for me it didn’t feel that long ago since they released Spider-Man (2002) starring Tobey Maguire but with an offer to see this I got on with it. I thought this was another fun and action packed adventure. I loved the extra humour that Peter/Spider-Man had but I still slightly prefer the slower story pace of the previous films. Good watch.

Jamaica Inn (2014)          Not Read          TV Series          Television
A BBC period drama based on Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel Jamaica Inn. A gritty and realistic portrayal of the life for those living on the Cornish coast making their living off smuggling and ship wrecking. A beautiful production with stunning scenery and costumes, and great performances from the cast including Jessica Brown Findlay in the leading role. There has been much controversy over this series with a record amount of complaints to the BBC about the dialogue/sound. Other than a bit of mumbling now and again though I didn’t have an issue. Good watch.

Jane Austen’s Emma (1996)          Read          TV Film          Television
An ITV period drama based on Jane Austen’s classic novel. I adored the BBC’s series Emma (2009) starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller so I was interested to watch this earlier adaptation starring Kate Beckinsale. I thought this a faithful and well made film with good performances from Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong and Samantha Morton. I think I still prefer Emma (2009) perhaps because that feels like the adaptation for my generation but I still found this earlier adaptation a charming film. Good watch.

X-Men: Days of the Future Past (2014)          Not Read          Film          Cinema
A Hollywood blockbuster film about The X-Men superheroes featured in Marvel Comics with a plot loosely based on a story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. I loved all the previous X-Men and spin-off Wolverine films and this new film was no exception. Exciting, fast-paced, amazing special effects and great performances from the ensemble cast. Great watch.

I think another great and eclectic mixture of adaptations. Spring seems to be just as bountiful as Winter when it comes to adaptations on the big and little screen. You probably won’t have long to wait for another adaptation update as I’ve still got plenty recorded and even more films are due for release.

What adaptations have you been watching?

New Books: May 2014

New Books

Hello my fellow bookworms, can you believe I haven’t done a new books post since March?! For once I seem to have been able to stick to reading books that are already on my shelves or kindle. We all know that I wouldn’t be able to stay away from new books completely though so let’s have a look at what’s new:

The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson

The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip

Three new fictions to add to my kindle by three new authors to me. I was contacted and kindly offered a review copy of The Reflections of Queen Snow White from the author which I gladly accepted as it sounded right up my street. I picked up The Villa in Italy and Peach Blossom Pavilion for free on Amazon.

Some Desperate Glory by Max Egremont

I received a free copy of this World War I poetry collection from NetGalley. I haven’t read any poetry in a long time so I am really looking forward to getting round to this.

 I am pleased I managed to keep my new acquisitions down to a small amount. They were also all free and are digital so no money or space used.

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

The Classics Club: May Meme

May Meme

May brings another meme question for The Classics Club. After a gap of a few months I am keen to get back into doing these questions.

There are some classics I am not just avoiding but actually I think I will never want to pick up. Monsters such as Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Not only are these long but the fact they are translations makes me run to the hills at the mention of reading them. Likewise, although not translations, works like Moby Dick by Herman Melville and Ulysses by James Joyce I have no urge to read these either due to their length and topic. I know many people could argue these are great classics that are worth the effort and perhaps they are but I read for pleasure as soon as I hear the word effort you’ve lost me. Hence why I put none of these novels on my Classics Club list.

There isn’t necessarily any novels on my list that I am dreading or I am daunted by but I do think there are a few I am avoiding. After reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and being disappointed by it I think I have been avoiding Charlotte’s other novels on my list which is a shame. I think if I hadn’t had the hype that surrounds Charlotte’s most famous novel I think I wouldn’t have been so disappointed. There is not hype around The Professor, Villette and Shirley so I could be missing out on novels I could really enjoy.

Are there any classics you’re avoiding?