Top Ten Tuesday: My Autumn TBR

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Books On My Autumn TBR List

For me, Autumn means we can look forward to cooler days, golden leaves, darker nights and taking part in the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI reading event. So my reading is bound to dominated by mysteries, thrillers and other books on the darker and creepier side. Here are the 10 books I would like to get to this Autumn (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Acqua Morta by Adam Bane

A crime, thriller that has been hidden away in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! It sounds like it could be great for this time of year.

~ 2 ~

Blood on the Bayou D J Donaldson

A supernatural, crime novel which has also sat hidden away in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! Again, it sounds like it could be great for this time of year.

~ 3 ~

Civil Blood by Mark Gelineau & Joe King

I loved Best Left in the Shadows and I am looking forward to continuing this crime noir thread to the Echo of the Ascended series.

~ 4 ~

The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank

The first book in a supernatural series which sadly has also sat hidden away in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! Again, it sounds like it could be great for this time of year and if I enjoy it, I have the whole series ready to read.

~ 5 ~

Drood by Dan Simmons

This historical mystery has been on my RIP and Autumn to-be-read lists more than once, but I haven’t got round to it – I think the size of it puts me off! Hopefully, this is the year!

~ 6 ~

Innocence by Dean Koontz

A mysterious horror/thriller that my father loved and passed on to me. If I end up reading this it will be my first novel by Koontz; who I have heard so much about.

~ 7 ~

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

I have a couple of du Maurier’s novels on my to-be-read pile but after hearing so much positivity about it this one – it feels like it is the one I should read next.

~ 8 ~

The Quarry by Iain Banks

A contemporary mystery that is another book my father loved and passed on to me. If I end up reading this it will be my first novel by Banks; who I have also heard so much about.

~ 9 ~

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

The first book in Aaronovitch’s supernatural, crimes series set in London which I am really looking forward to reading.

~ 10 ~

The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sadly, the last classic Sherlock Holmes mystery I have left to read!

Have you read any of these? What are you hoping to read this Autumn? Also, link in the comments if you have also taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic.

Visit: ICE 2016 – Britain’s Coolest Comic Convention

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My fellow bookworms – last weekend, I was lucky enough to head to Birmingham, our country’s second city, with my father and family friends for this year’s ICE comic convention. Last year, my father and his friend also attended this convention as it had a Judge Dredd theme which they both grew up reading in 2000AD. I must admit I have never read a comic however I have loved so many films adaptations that I feel I should get to know the source material better.

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We had early bird tickets so could arrive before the crowds and we received a goodie bag. My bag contained copies of Marvel’s Civil War II: The Accused 1, New X-Men (#114-116) and Secret Wars (#7), and Valiant’s Faith (#1-2). I am particularly excited to have got volume one and two of Faith, as I’ve heard good things about it from Bina.

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The extra time was needed as well because there were three floors of stalls to browse where you could buy comics, graphic novels, artwork and memorabilia; as well as an interesting talks running through out the day. We attended three talks: one on a new comic and TV series about chimeras; another one on all-age comics; and finally, one on diversity (it’s not all about superheroes).

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After a good browse, a yummy lunch and a think we headed back to the stalls to make some purchases. I bought three of Nicki Andrews’ steampunk postcards of Disney characters: Maleficent, Ariel and Princess Jasmine. They are so cool and I have already bought a frame for them. I also bought a copy of the Word for Word Bible Comic: The Book of Ruth created by Simon Amadeus Pillario. While my father bought some very cool/scary Judge Dredd artwork.

Have you read any of the comics I got? Have you been to a comic convention?

New Read: The Queen’s Choice

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After reading The Forbidden Queen in 2014 and The King’s Sister last year, Anne O’Brien is rapidly becoming one of my go-to authors for my historical fix. Her latest offering is The Queen’s Choice which was released earlier this year.

This time O’Brien swept me back to 1398 to meet Joanna of Navarre (also known as Joan). She is the daughter of the hated Charles II of Navarre and the wife of John IV, Duke of Brittany. Whilst at a wedding at the French court she meets Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt. There is an instant connection between them which grows into true affection during Henry’s exile, but they are torn apart just as quickly when Henry returns to England to confront his cousin, Richard II. For several years life continues for Joanna, during which time she loses her husband and becomes the regent of Brittany for her young son. Then, just as she is emerging from her mourning she receives a surprising and audacious proposal from England: Henry wishes her to become his wife and queen.

Joanna is not a character I have read about before. O’Brien portrays her as a strong, intelligent and proud woman. If you know your history, you will know she does become Henry IV’s wife and the queen consort of England – to reach that though she will have to sacrifice a lot, including: the regency of Brittany and heartbreakingly the custody of her sons. Then, she faces much hostility in her new home as there is a long-standing feud between the English and Bretons. While I could often sympathise for Joanna I could also see how much her pride made situations for herself and those around her ten times worse!

A character I really enjoyed getting to know better was Henry. He was a background character in O’Brien’s The King’s Sister and I recently read a history of him by Chris Given-Wilson. This book reinforced the idea of Henry as a wise, brave and fair man, who had so much potential as a king but sadly never reached it due to arguments with parliament, constant war and finally, poor health. It was lovely to read about Henry on a more personable level – seeing him as a loving husband and father, although O’Brien also portrays him with a fiery temper. I found it particularly touching how Joanna nurses him through his long and painful illness.

Sadly, the death of Henry is not the end of the troubles for Joanna as we also see her trials and tribulations during the reign of her stepson Henry V. And, really that was the issue with this book for me – there was almost too much drama, and doom and gloom. I was left feeling a little bereft by it all. Now I totally understand that O’Brien can’t really help that historically Joanna’s life was full of trouble and so this not a reflection on her skill as a writer at all. In fact, that I felt bereft shows that O’Brien very realistically brought it all to life for me. Just for my personal taste, I just wished there had been a bit more happiness!

Overall, The Queen’s Choice is not my favourite of O’Brien’s books but it is still a well-crafted story of the lives of Joanna and Henry IV; two interesting figures in history. I still very much look forward to reading more by Anne O’Brien. Good read.

Thank you to the publishes for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Have you read any other books about Henry IV and Joanna of Navarre?

New Books: September 2016

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Hello my fellow bookworms, I had such a splurge of new books in August that some books have had to be carried over into this month’s post. Here are those other goodies I have added to my bookshelf:

Dreaming Spires by Laurie R. King

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King

Jingo by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

At the end of August, I had another chance to browse in some of my favourite bookshops. In the St. Giles Hospice bookshop I snapped up four books. First, two more of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries which I have been keeping my eyes peeled for, after enjoying The Beekeeper’s Apprentice earlier this year. Secondly, I am always looking to add to my Pratchett collection and this time I found two books; both of which are new-for-me.

The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans

Then at the end of the long Summer break from work, I went to visit my mother who asked if I fancied reading this. I have never read anything by Evans before but the synopsis mentions a big, country house with a mystery; how could I not give it a try?!

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

New Read: The Circle Maker

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As a practicing Christian, I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith, so I was thrilled when the vicar proposed to create a church book club. Our first book to read was The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears  by Mark Batterson.

The Circle Maker starts with the story of Honi the circle-drawer. Who when Israel was plagued with a drought went out, drew a circle in the dust and stepped inside to pray; vowing not to move until it rained. When it began to rain softly, instead of being satisfied and leaving the circle, Honi stayed put and prayed for harder rain! Many thought him mad but Honi’s big prayer was answered because of his strong faith and dedication. Mark Batterson believes using Honi as an example has vastly improved his own prayer life, with him and his church reaping the rewards and so in this book he aims to share how we can do it too.

To do this Batterson breaks down the circle making method to three key factors. First, dream big – Honi didn’t just want light rain he wanted hard rain. We may think the simpler request is better however the bigger it is the more pleasure and honour it will bring God to answer. Second, pray hard – even in the face of mockery Honi kept praying. We will all face mockery, adversity, pain and hard times but we must pray through it all. And thirdly, think long – that rain didn’t come for Honi in five minutes. We may have to wait days, months or even years for our prayers to come to fruition; Batterson recommends keeping a prayer journal to keep track.

As well as being an author, Mark Batterson is pastor at the National Community Church in Washington, D.C.. In this book, he shares the ways in which using this method of prayer has helped the church to grow in numbers, acquire new premises, raise money and set up new initiatives; while also sharing with us more personal stories about himself and his friends and family. I found his style to be positive and very accessible. Although, sometimes I did want a bit more raw emotion in the recall of hard times. I can see stylistic why he may have chosen not to bare all, as it enabled the mood to stay positive and inspiring for the reader.

Overall, I found The Circle Maker to be an inspiring and worth while read – I will certainly be taking up his advice about a prayer journal. It also made for a great discussion piece for our first book club meeting. Next up for the club, we will be reading Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright. Great read.

Have you read this? Or anything else by this author?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Gothic Books

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books Of X Genre

As the leaves turn gold, the weather cools and the night’s draw in it is the perfect time for an atmospheric, gothic novel, so here are 10 of my all time favourites (ordered alphabetical by author):

~ 1 ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I found it so amusing to follow the young heroine, Catherine, as her imagination runs a mock with decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes and tyrannical fathers. A witty and satirical twist on the gothic novel.

~ 2 ~

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

A stark, wild and passionate tale of Catherine and Heathcliff’s destructive love – set out on the cold, isolated moors. What could be better than curling up in a blanket with this as the wind howls outside?

~ 3 ~

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

I wouldn’t class all of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales as gothic but this novella takes us out to an isolated house on the misty moors with a legend of a diabolical hound. Gothic brilliance!

~ 4 ~

We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

A slow and creeping tale of ‘Merricat’ and her sister Constance who live an isolated life after a family tragedy; hated and feared by their neighbours. Just describing it to you sent a little shiver up my spine!

~ 5 ~

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

While at university, I read this chilling novella, about an isolated country home with a dark past, in one sitting. Are there ghosts or is the young governess losing her sanity?! I emerged from this gripping tale to find it had gone pitch dark around me!

~ 6 ~

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The new Mrs de Winter is swept off her feet by dashing widower, Maxim, and brought to his country estate, Manderley. Only to find reminders and memories of his dead wife, Rebecca, everywhere; she almost seems to haunt her very steps! I long to return to Manderley…

~ 7 ~

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Perhaps my favourite of them all! This is chilling, scientific horror that tells the tale of Dr Frankenstein and the creature, some would say monster, he creates. All told in some of the most beautiful language.

~ 8 ~

Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart

Tourists at the idyllic Camasunary Hotel on the quiet Isle of Skye are dragged out of their restive vacation by a series of brutal murders. A much lighter option than the rest on this list, however I think the beautiful descriptions of this old, isolated community and the rugged scenery means it is still very worthy of the label of gothic.

~ 9 ~

Dracula by Bram Stoker

This book hardly needs any introduction, as it is the first and probably best known vampire novel. From Castle Dracula in Transylvania to the storm whipped, coastal town of Whitby with the Abbey perched on the cliffs…pure gothic settings!

~ 10 ~

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The dazzling and repulsive tale of Dorian Gray, who sells his soul for eternal youth, beauty and good health – his dark secret only revealed in his portrait which he hides away in the attic

Have you read any of these? What is your favourite gothic novel? Also, link in the comments if you have also taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic.

New Read: Jane Steele

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I had heard wonderful things about the Charlotte Brontë inspired Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye and I thought it sounded just my cup-of-tea. The lovely Lynn from Lynn’s Book Blog thought I would love it too so kindly sent me her copy!

Jane Steele, like the heroine of her favourite novel Jane Eyre, is orphaned at a young age, suffers at the hands of her spoilt cousin, her cold aunt and her vindictive schoolmaster, watches young friends die at school and finally becomes a governess in an isolated house with a capricious master and a big secret. However, this is where the similarities end because Steele is a very different creature to Eyre. Whilst Eyre wrote ‘Reader I married him’ – Steele writes ‘Reader I murdered him’!

While I thought Jane Eyre was a beautifully written gothic tale, I really struggled with the self-deprecating character of Jane herself. So I was intrigued to find out how, the author of this book, Lyndsay Faye’s twist on Jane’s character would play out. I am happy to say I loved her twist on this classic character. Steele, while not beautiful, is a striking and intelligent woman who has never stood for any nonsense; even as a child. Whilst the cruel upbringing and many mistreatments turned Eyre to faith instead the same experience sees Steele become stronger, more cunning and steely. Both were accused of being wicked but Steele knows that in her case, this is true.

When I first picked this book up, I made a slow start as I found the language rather convoluted and disjointed which hindered me getting into the flow of the story – the book also has a slow, steady pace to it so it takes a while to get anywhere. However, once Steele returned to Highgate House I found myself completely swept away! I was fascinated with this isolated, cold house’s transformation with colourful, exotic furnishings; the spicy, rich food; deadly secrets and mysterious goings-on in the basement; and the new, unusual inhabitants, including: Mr Thornfield, his ward Sahjara, the butler Mr Singh and other Sikh servants. All previous problems with style were forgiven and forgotten.

Overall, I found Jane Steele to be a refreshing and cool twist on Jane Eyre with a beautifully described setting; an interesting cast of characters and a gripping mystery. Great read.

Have you read this? How did you think it compared to Jane Eyre?

10 Books of Summer – 8/10