New Books: October 2014

New Books - October 2014

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

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (The Farseer Trilogy)

The Storyteller and Her Sisters by Cheryl Mahoney

Just three fictions for me this month. Quite a few years ago now I borrowed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from the library and thought it was wonderful. I recommended it to my father who bought a copy and quickly read it. He has now passed it on to me because I think its high time for a re-read. I then picked up epic fantasy Assassin’s Apprentice for free from Amazon.co.uk. I heard many good things about Robin Hobb and thought this was the perfect chance to finally try some for myself. I then received a free copy of The Storyteller and Her Sisters from the author. Cheryl Mahoney is a good book blogging friend of mine so I am excited to read her second fairy tale retelling.

Tolkien by Devin Brown

Our Zoo by June Mottershead

Love So Amazing by Pam Rhodes

The Ancient Path by John Michael Talbot (with Mike Aquilina)

In comparison to fiction I have a good mixture of four new non-fictions this month. I received a review copies of biography Tolkien, memoir Our Zoo, and faith non-fictions Love So Amazing and The Ancient Path from Netgalley. They’re all by new authors for me and they all sound rather good; I am not sure what to start first!

I am pleased I managed to keep my new acquisitions down to a reasonably small amount again this month and they were also all free.

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

Adaptations: October 2014

Adaptations #3

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.

Hello fellow bookworms. As these adaptation update posts seem to be going down well I’ve decided to continue them in 2014. Here are the adaptations I watched during September and October:

Thor: The Dark World (2013)          Not Read          Film          Television
An action-packed superhero film set in space based on Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby who features in Marvel Comics. I last saw Thor in Avengers Assemble (2012) which I thought was a fun and action packed adventure. I thought The Dark World was another fun and action packed adventure this time set in part on Earth and Asgard, which I loved, as Thor, Jane and Loki battle across the universe with the Dark Elves. I was totally sold on this film. Great watch.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)          Read          Film          Television
A sumptuous period film based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. I spotted this being reshown on ITV3 one Saturday morning and just had to tune in. I hadn’t seen this film since I went to the cinema when it was first released. While I remember liking it at the cinema; I appreciated it far more on this second watching. A beautifully made film with some lovely performances from the ensemble cast; I particularly loved Matthew Macfadyen, Keira Knightley, Claudie Blakley and Rosalind Pike. Great watch.

Penny Dreadful (2014)          Read          TV Series          Television
A new fantasy, horror series inspired by the characters of classic horror novels Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. A gory, different and well made adventure into the darker side of Victorian life that premiered here in the UK on Sky Atlantic. Includes a good ensemble cast including; Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Billie Piper and Timothy Dalton. Probably not a show for everyone though as it contains fighting, blood,  sex, foul language, and distressing scenes. It is said it will return for a second series. Good watch.

September was still interesting but a slow month for adaptations for me; it wasn’t till the end of October beginning of September that I watched the above. All of which were good to great watches. All very different watches though. From space adventure, to charming classic, to fantasy horror. Now I don’t seem to have any adaptations recorded so we will have to see what adaptations I manage to watch during October and November for my next update.

What have you been watching?

New Read: A Storm of Swords book 1

A Storm of Swords book 1

I was ever so lucky to be gifted with a full set (to-date) of the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin last Christmas. I had not long finished watching the fourth series of the blockbuster TV adaptation Game of Thrones when at the beginning of July I reached for A Storm of Swords: 1 Steel and Snow; the third instalment in Martin’s epic series.

A Storm of Swords: 1 Steel and Snow is the third instalment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The next two paragraphs will contain spoilers for the previous instalments.

A Storm of Swords: 1 returns us to the action of The Seven Kingdoms to find them still in chaos with bloody war raging across the land. King Robert’s heir apparent Joffrey is still upon The Iron Throne but the kingdoms are filled with terrible rumours that he is not actually Robert’s. That instead he is the product of his mother’s incest. This has led to the rise of other claimants to the throne. Both Robert’s brothers Stannis and Renly laid claim to the throne and in their struggle for it Renly has been killed in mysteriously; dark magic is being whispered among the people. This leaves Joffrey with one less enemy and the opportunity to betroth himself to Renly’s beautiful young widow Margery Tyrell. This is a popular move among the people leaving Stannis and his new religion less popular than ever yet Stannis is still a threat. There is also Robb Stark, King of the North, the eldest son of Lord Eddard Stark who seeks justice for his land and family. Then across the sea Daenarys Targaryen the only remaining descendant of the Targaryen Dragon Lords still has her eyes upon the throne too. Meanwhile unbeknownst to them all evil is stirring beyond The Wall and there isn’t enough Brothers of the Night Watch left to hold it back much longer. Winter is coming. Oh that phrase continues to send a shiver down my spine! A Storm of Swords: 1 was another action and intrigued packed adventure which I needed my wits about me to keep up with. There is still a lot going on in this series and I could hardly be parted with this instalment because I couldn’t wait to find out more.

The adventure of A Storm of Swords: 1 is peopled with a whole host of interesting characters too.  So many I couldn’t possibly discuss them all here so instead I am going to focus on the four remaining protagonists vying for The Iron Throne. First of course we Joffrey the apparent heir to King Robert and his wife Cersei Lannister. Joffrey is beautiful, cruel, and vain. I can’t say there is any winning feature about him. He really is a character you love to hate. Next we have Stannis Baratheon the brother of King Robert. Stannis is proud, loyal, fair, but not the most charismatic of characters unlike both of his brothers. After his defeat at the Black Water and the mysterious murder of his popular brother Renly; Stannis is more unpopular than ever. Then we have Robb Stark son of murdered Eddard Stark. Robb is young, clever, brave, and yet humble. Unlike those named above he did not set out to be a King it was his men that proclaimed him King of the North because of their love for him. Robb and his men are causing a lot of trouble to Joffrey and the Lannisters which I love. Finally over the sea we have Daenarys Targaryen the only remaining heir of the Targaryen Dragon Lords who were banished by King Robert. Daenarys is the only female claimant. She is young, beautiful, and ambition yet she is kind and fair with it. Of all the claimants the only two I still truly like are Robb and Daenarys. Actually Daenarys is still one of my favourite characters since the first book. Even though the four remaining claimants are all fascinating to read about.

While I have watched the television series, A Storm of Swords: 1 the book is new for me. What put me off reading this series for some time now has been the sheer length of these books. A Storm of Swords book 1 is just under 600 pages so is actually the smallest instalment I have read so far but to me that is still a pretty long book!My fear has always been that the stories would be slow and drag but no fear on that count has been needed. I couldn’t put this book down and had the reached the end before I knew it. Like the previous instalments A Storm of Swords: 1 is jam-packed with action, adventure, intrigue, love, war, lies, fighting, secrets, and shocks! Martin’s writing is detailed and compelling, and love his choice to break these books up into bite-size chapters shown through the eyes of different characters. As a reader I find myself completely immersed in the Seven Kingdoms as I get to explore different cities, castles, and lands from the view-point of the different characters. There are a lot of names, places, and events to remember in this series but I didn’t find it that hard to keep track especially as there is maps and a fantastic appendix to help.

A Storm of Swords: 1 is an excellent epic fantasy adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and historical literature. This series does contain sexual and violent content so not recommended for younger readers. I am eager to start reading the next instalment A Storm of Swords: 2 Blood and Gold. I may have to hold off for a bit though to make the long wait for the start of the fifth series of the blockbuster TV adaptation Game of Thrones next year.

Are you reading this series? Are you watching the TV series?

Previous instalments of A Song of Ice and Fire series:
1. A Game of Thrones
2. A Clash of Kings

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?

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 Read: A World Apart

A World Apart

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. To do this I chose A World Apart by David M Brown  part of The Elencheran Chronicles which had been languishing on my kindle gathering dust for too long.

A World Apart takes us to the island state of Himordia which is ruled by the all powerful Order. All citizens of Himordia are born, work, marry, reproduce, fight and die for the Order. In the quiet town of Dove’s Meadow the legendary war hero Granicus settled down and started a successful farm and wool business which his son Lacuna will inherit. Unlike him though Lacuna is no fighter and prefers the solitary life in the hills with the sheep. His quiet life is to be unexpectantly changed when he has brush with a woman and the crew of the infamous pirate the Black Iris that leaves him with his own son Demetrius. Things are never to be the same again. Demetrius has his grandfather’s strength, Lacuna’s hardworking nature and a taste of adventure from his unknown mother. Demetrius becomes fast friends with Halcyon and Eleyna. The three grow up together playing dares, having adventures and planning their glorious futures. As adults Demetrius goes off to join the army while Halcyon and Eleyna settle down to lives of work and marriage; all for the Order. But things are not to turn out as they all planned. I really got into this book when Demetrius, Halcyon and Eleyna grew up and set off on their own paths which were to lead to murder, betrayal, death, imprisonment, magic, the highs seas, new lands and the infamous pirate the Black Iris.

The three protagonists of A World Apart are Demetrius, Halcyon and Eleyna. Even when they aren’t all together anymore their lives are inextricably linked and they are always in each other’s minds. Demetrius is a good blend of Granicus, Lacuna and his unknown mother. Of the three I found Demetrius the most likeable as he is honest and loyal but he is naïve especially to the corruption of the Order and to the true natures of people. Always seeing the best in people will lead him into a lot of trouble. Halcyon on the other hand is cocksure, loud and mischievous boy who will also lead him as a man into a lot of trouble. Then we have the girl of the group Eleyna who is beautiful, clever and fiercely loyal but she has an image and strength complex from having two boys for best friends which (if you haven’t guessed) will lead her into trouble but also massive changes. I thought all three were interesting characters and liked hearing about them and their adventures. Now being best friends the three have similar language and ideas. So similar though that I found I was often unsure whose point of view I was looking from until their name was mentioned. I know it can be hard for authors but I would have preferred if they had their own unique voices.

A World Apart is the first novel I have read by David M Brown and while it is part of The Elencheran Chronicles I was assured that he can be read as a stand alone novel. When I read a fantasy novel I am looking for magic, adventure and an intricate new world to find out about. Brown delivered all of this in bucket loads in A World Apart. I found Himordia and the Order were well explained and fleshed out with detail, people, culture and its own history. I also found the secondary countries, islands and the ships on the high seas were detailed and realistic; I found I could picture everything perfectly. Trying to be as detailed as possible though I did find Brown had a tendency to a little excessive use of adjectives and to repeat details such as character’s thoughts and feelings. This I think is my personal taste though it might not bother other people. The element of magic is a smaller but integral part to the latter half of the novel which I thought was handled well and didn’t overpower the other elements of oppressive rule, adventure and piracy. I spent most of May immersed in A World Apart as it is a long novel and I wanted to take my time over it.

A World Apart is an adventure on the high seas filled with corruption, suffering and magic. I recommend to those who like their fantasy a little on the dark side.

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

Have you read this? Enjoy darker fantasy?

I’m counting A World Apart as Fantasy for the Once Upon a Time VIII event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

The Classics Club: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

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. I had a copy of it waiting on my Kindle and it is a nice short novel which I thought would make an easy read for my busy mind.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz joins little Dorothy as a tornado sweeps her away from her aunt, uncle and the life she knows in Kansas off on a magical adventure to a wonderful new land named Oz. As wonderful as this new land is to Dorothy it isn’t home and so she must make the journey to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz to send her back to Kansas. Along the way she will meet many magical creatures and have many dangerous adventures all with her dog Toto and her new friends a man of straw, a tin woodsman and a cowardly lion. It is very hard not to know this story what with the huge success and continued love of the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) starring the wonderful Judy Garland. Now having read the novel I think the film is a good adaptation but like most films has cut out a lot of the detail and simplified the tale. I was pleasantly surprised to discover more creatures and places that Dorothy visited.

Dorothy the protagonist of this adventure is young, bright, kind and open-minded which she will need to be in this new and unusual land. There are many things in the land of Oz that are unusual and contradict the life that she knew back in Kansas. While Dorothy is a nice character and liked reading about her she is a little two-dimensional. What really made the novel for me were the new friends that she made along the way. First we have the man of straw that Dorothy releases from a field in munchkinland he isn’t very bright but he is friendly and brave. Next we have the tin woodsman who they rescue from the woods where he has frozen solid with rust he isn’t loving but he is strong and clever. Then finally they are joined by the cowardly lion he isn’t brave but he is loyal and kind-hearted. All three want something too so they travel with Dorothy to ask the Wizard of Oz for help.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the first novel I have read by L Frank Baum after reading this though I would like to read more of his Oz series. I thought The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was well-written with a realistic childlike voice and wonder. I loved all the magical characters and colourful places of Oz. I felt I really got to know Oz and many of its inhabitants on this journey. The pace of the journey was good I only wished that sometimes I could have spent more time in some of the locations but that is only a small personal niggle.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a short and magical children’s classic. I highly recommend to those who enjoy the classics and fantasy novels. This is my 22nd read off my Classics Club list.

Have you read this? Enjoyed the film?

I’m counting The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as Fantasy for the Once Upon a Time VIII event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.