New Read: The Mine

The Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re-Read: The Hobbit

The Hobbit

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

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

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

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

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

Have you read this? Watched the films so far?

Monthly Reflection: November 2014

November 2014

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

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 1          Poetry: 1

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

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

Pick of the Month: Equal Rites

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

What did you read in November?

New Read: Equal Rites

Equal Rites

After thoroughly enjoying two re-reads from Terry Pratchett’s epic but fabulous Discworld series this year I thought it was high time for a new adventure. With that in mind I picked up Equal Rites off my father’s bookshelf; Pratchett’s third published Discworld novel.

In Equal Rites we return to Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical Discworld on a dark and stormy night. An old wizard, Drum Billet, is making a lonely journey up into the Ramtop Mountains to the unusually named town of Bad Ass. Billet is dying and wishes to pass on his magical staff to the eighth son of an eighth son before he does. He arrives just as the wife of the town’s blacksmith gives birth to their eighth child. Unfortunately for Billet he didn’t check the gender of the child before passing on his staff and promptly dying. Instead of an eighth son the family’s eighth child is their one and only daughter Esk. This one oversight is to cause ripples throughout the magical world…a girl can’t become a wizard, can they?

Esk the young protagonist of Equal Rites is a likeable little girl who has grown up tough playing with her seven older brothers. Esk has no idea of her magical power and doesn’t show any aptitude for it until one evening she loses herself in the snowy woods. Her danger awakes the magical staff which comes to her rescue. Our little Esk isn’t alone in her adventure though she is joined by Bad Ass’s resident witch Granny Weatherwax ( a character I recognised from Wyrd Sisters). Granny is a weather worn, wise and practical old woman who is not to be put off by the small and trivial fact that no girl has become a wizard before. Together they set off for The Unseen University in Ankh Morpork to fight for a place for young Esk.

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine but scandalously I hadn’t read one of his novels since 2012! To make up for that and to refresh my memory earlier this year I went back to where it all started; reading The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. After enjoying both these re-reads I was ready for a new Discworld adventure so I picked up Equal Rites the third novel from this epic 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. Equal Rites was no exception to this rule short, fun but perhaps not as simple as previous tales I have read. I enjoyed the elements of gender and tradition that Pratchett explored in a way that was interesting and thought provoking but still fun. This is perhaps my favourite Discworld novel I have read so far.

Equal Rites is wonderfully fun, colourful and thought provoking adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy. I am looking forward to reading more adventures in Pratchett’s Discworld. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you read Discworld?

New Books: November 2014

New Books - November 2014

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

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (complete) by L Frank Baum

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson

The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

Four new fictions for me this month. I received review copies of historical fictions Red Rose, White Rose and The King’s Sister from Netgalley both I which I am excited to read. I have loved everything I have read by Daphne du Maurier so when I saw Jamaica Inn in my favourite charity book shop I had to pick it up. While I picked up a free copy of fantasy classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz set from Amazon UK.

Clean Food Diet by Jonathan Vine

The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian

Only two new non-fictions for me this month.  I received a review copy of faith non-fiction The Praying Woman’s Devotional from Netgalley. I read several of Omartian’s work this year and enjoyed them all. Looking forward to reading more. While I picked up a free copy of Clean Food Diet from Amazon UK.

I am pleased I managed to keep my new acquisitions down to a small amount. I am not sure where I’ll start first because I am excited to read all of them.

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

New Read: Queen of Hearts, Volume 2

Queen of Hearts 2

Earlier this year I read The Crown volume 1 of Colleen Oakes’ Wonderland reimagining Queen of Hearts. I enjoyed it so much that as soon as volume 2 The Wonder was available for request I snapped it up!

This is the second volume of this trilogy. This post will contain spoilers for the previous volume.

In the Queen of Hearts 2 we re-join Dinah, the princess of Wonderland, as she weaves her way through the Twisted Wood her only companion is the monstrous stead Morte. Dinah has been forced into this position after the brutal murder of her beloved brother Charles which she was then also framed for. With her gone from the palace the King of Hearts has crowned Dinah’s half-sister Vittiore in her place. Dinah is not left bereft with all her hopes and dreams in tatters. I really felt for Dinah however this is not the end of her troubles. The cruel king now pursues Dinah merciless with his Cards baying for her head. Forcing Dinah to flee deeper into the dangerous and unknown parts of the kingdom. This dark path is to lead Dinah to some unlikely allies. I simply had to keep on reading this to find out what would happen to poor Dinah next.

Our protagonist Dinah began in this trilogy as a young, head strong and rebellious girl. Dinah is still strong and rebellious but through her trials and tribulations she is growing into a woman. While Dinah has escaped the palace she hasn’t escaped all the expectations on her shoulders. The expectations have just changed. Her new allies now look to her to be a strong, wise and victorious Queen. I continued to pity Dinah in this book. Dinah is a strong but imperfect character. While I like her bravery and strength there are still times when I cringed at how far she took her actions and opinions. If only she could hear me shouting stop!

I again really enjoyed Oakes’s reimagining of Wonderland in the Queen of Hearts 2. I like her clever use of classic elements such as the cards, jam tarts and magical food with a new twist and her reimagined classic and new characters which I felt are much better fleshed out than in the original Lewis Carol stories. I thought the Queen of Hearts 2 was well written, detailed and well described. I really could imagine the Twisted Wood, the Yurkei Mountains, and all of Dinah’s trials and tribulations. If you know the original stories you will know how Dinah turns out as the Queen of Hearts. Even so I felt Oakes continued to build Dinah’s character and story gradually, with rising tension and anticipation.

I think the Queen of Hearts 2 is a clever and refreshing reimagining of Wonderland through the eyes of Dinah the future Queen of Hearts. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and would like to see Wonderland in a new way. Great read.

Thank you to SparkPress (a BookSparks imprint) for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any other reimaginings?

New Read: The Lost Duchess

The Lost Duchess

September and October were months full of mystery and horror as I took part in  The R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event hosted by  Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings. All through October though I had my eye upon historical fiction The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden which had been calling to me from my to-be-read pile. After finishing two reads for the R.I.P event I thought I deserved to read it at the end of the month.

The Lost Duchess takes us into the life of Emme Fifield; a favoured lady-in-waiting in the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England. We meet Emme as she is fooled and poorly used by Lord Hertford. A scene I found quite hard to read. The scandal that will surely follow threatens to engulf and ruin Emme’s life. Emme can see no other way out of it; she must find a way to leave court. Then the court comes alive with the arrival of the adventurers Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh who come boasting of the wonders of the new world and appealing to the Queen to mount a new expedition to found the City of Raleigh. The lure of the exotic but dangerous new world is intoxicating but it could also be the perfect opportunity for Emme to escape and a start anew. I must admit I found myself wanting to go too.

I found I liked the protagonist of The Lost Duchess Emme almost instantly. Emme is young, beautiful, kind but naïve. Unlike many of the other courtiers Emme only comes from a moderately well born family. She has only reached the heights of a favoured lady-in-waiting to the Queen due to her father’s hard work and the influence of the powerful but dangerous Secretary Walsingham. I felt this is what gave Emme the imagination and the actual ability to go on this adventure into the unknown. If Barden had chosen a character with a more straight forward entrance into the court I don’t think I could have believed it. Not to say that Emme’s transition from comfortable court life to the hard and trying life of a settler is an easy one. Emme makes many mistakes and has some hard lessons to learn. By the end of it though Emme is a strong woman who I liked even more.

The Lost Duchess is the first novel I have read by Jenny Barden. I enjoy historical fiction and I love a good adventure, and this is what drew me to The Lost Duchess. I wasn’t to be disappointed either. I thought The Lost Duchess was a well written novel with a lovely flow and good detail. I found Barden’s comfortable writing style helped me feel at home and swept me quickly away into the tale; and that was before the true adventure even began. Once away from court Emme and her fellow settlers have storms, starvation, poisonous food, lost souls, attacks, intrigue and relationships to deal with. What I didn’t expect was the level of romance this novel would contain; mainly centred around Emme and mariner Kit Doonan. While the romance is sweet and not thrown in your face I personally could have done with less of the will they won’t they. Emme and Kit are fictional characters but there were real settlers who went out on this expedition to found the City of Raleigh.  Barden has obviously filled in some historical gaps and fictionalised events but I thought she did this well which helped me to imagine what it might really have been like for those brave settlers. At the end of the novel Barden’s author’s notes references the real historical characters, events and facts she took inspiration from.

I thought The Lost Duchess was a lovely, romantic adventure from Elizabethan England across the sea to the dangerous and beautiful new world. I would recommend to those interested in historical romance. Good read.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of The Lost Duchess in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any other adventures across the sea?