New Books: May 2015

New Books - May 2015

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

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Kingmaker: Broken Faith by Toby Clements

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris

5 new fictions for my Kindle this month. The two Agatha Christie mysteries were being offered for free on Amazon (UK) so I obviously had to download them! Then I received Welsh historical/mythological Lamp Black, Wolf Grey, historical fiction Kingmaker: Broken Faith, and epic fantasy The Gospel of Loki from Netgalley. I am excited about all of these books. In particularly I have heard great things about The Gospel of Loki and I am looking forward to continuing Clements’s Kingmaker series.

The Faith of a Mockingbird by Matt Rawle

Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London: The Making of Harry Potter (The Official Guide)

I also received faith non-fiction The Faith of a Mockingbird for my Kindle from Netgalley. I was intrigued by the links the author has made to To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Then slightly randomly my mother picked up The Making of Harry Potter (The Official Guide) from the Education Show. Where Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London had a stand to promote school trips. I loved my visit to the studios, and would love to go again now they have The Hogwarts Express there.

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

Re-Read: The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment

Battersea Park Road

I first read inspirational memoir, The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment by Isabel Losada, more years ago than I can or wish to count. Needless to say I thought it was high time for a re-read to see if I still enjoyed it.

In The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment Losada chronicles her search for love and acceptance, from herself and others. So starts her slight obsession with going on courses and looking for new experiences. To name a few Losada tries T’ai Chi, colonic irrigation, a weekend retreat with nuns, an Insight seminar, a past lives session, an Astrological reading, and even naked inner Goddess workshops. While I don’t fancy trying even half of the things Losada tries I did find it inspirational how open and brave she was. Losada’s journey is honest, funny and emotional.

I love Losada’s down-to-earth and honest writing style. It didn’t feel like reading a book but instead an informal chat with a friend over a cup of tea. Although in the case of ‘Starbuck’s addict’ Losada, she would perhaps prefer a coffee. Also when I say honest, I mean really honest. Losada’s honesty is often hilarious, sometimes heart-breaking and sometimes painful but I truly appreciated it. I was originally drawn to The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment because I adored From Tibet with Love a previous read by Losada. For my re-read I decided to read them in publication order to see how Losada’s experiences and writing progresses. I look forward to re-reading From Tibet with Love next as I have fond memories of enjoying that even more than this.

The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment is a funny and inspirational memoir. It is hard to know exactly who to recommend this too, as it covers so much! I do highly recommend though. Perhaps you will enjoy this too if you like memoirs, new experiences, and inspirational and faith literature. Good read.

Have you read this too? Have you perhaps tried some of Losada’s experiences?

Hinton Admiral Gardens (The New Forest)

Hinton Admiral 2015 #05

The second weekend of May I headed down to the south coast to celebrate my brother’s birthday. It just coincided perfectly that this was the weekend that the beautiful gardens of Hinton Admiral House were open to visitors.

Hinton Admiral 2015 #09

The gardens are only open for a couple of days each year, as the house and estate are still in private hands. The present owners, Sir George and Lady Meyrick, are still in residence. On the open day the gardens, a plant and flower shop, and a small café selling homemade cakes were available. All money raised goes to local causes which I thought was lovely.

Hinton Admiral 2015 #31

Although I couldn’t go inside it was still interesting to walk round the outside of the house. The current house was built in 1720, and was extended and repaired in 1790 after a fire. The present owners have undergone major renovations since they took ownership of the house, gardens and grounds; to bring them back to their former glory.

Hinton Admiral 2015 #01

The tour started on the left hand side of the house which first took us into the small Millennium garden with exotic flowers and a beautiful summer house in it. Then we went into the Old Kitchen Garden that led through to the Walled Butterfly Garden. Both these old walled gardens brought The Secret Garden to mind.

Hinton Admiral 2015 #30

Round the back of the house was a traditional terrace which overlooked a pristine lawn. At the bottom of which were two large ponds that we took a casual stroll down to. The smaller of the ponds was full of lily pads and tadpoles.

Hinton Admiral 2015 #44

As you walk around the guest wing of the house there was a Romanesque section to the garden. Resplendent with its own Venus statue. Out the front of the house there is also a stunning tree-lined avenue, carpeted in thousands of beautiful blue bells.

Hinton Admiral 2015 #63

The name Hinton Admiral made me instantly think of the navy. In fact Admiral was derived over time from the French name of the family that were bequeathed the land after the Norman conquest.

Hinton Admiral 2015 #52

I really enjoyed this visit, it worked up a perfect appetite for my Sunday roast dinner. If you are in the area when it is open I highly recommend a visit. You can take your dogs too.

Have you visited Hinton Admiral? Where have you visited recently?

New Read: The Lady of Misrule

The Lady of Misrule

April was a fantasy fiction filled month for me. To change things up a little at the beginning of May I picked up historical fiction The Lady of Misrule by Suzannah Dunn.

The Lady of Misrule takes us back to 1553 as Elizabeth Tilney arrives at The Tower of London to chaperone Lady Jane Grey. Jane reigned as Queen of England for only 9 days before she was overthrown by the supporters of her Catholic cousin Mary, the eldest daughter of Henry VIII. Now Jane and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, are to be imprisoned in the Tower as traitors. Elizabeth while only there to attend goes on to form an unlikely friendship with Jane and Guildford in the last few months of their young lives. The quiet and isolation is to also give Elizabeth time to reflect on her own life and beliefs.

With all of the action being confined to the Tower, The Lady of Misrule really is a character driven story. Elizabeth is rebellious, naïve and Catholic, though truly she has no real belief system and only follows what is expected of her. In stark contrast we have Jane who is well-educated and has a strong Protestant faith, which she is willing to die for.  I found the forced closeness of these polar opposite young girls and the ensuing fragile friendship interesting, however I’m not sure I liked either Elizabeth or Jane. In fact I think I preferred Guildford. He begins off pompous and all for show, but underneath it I think he is perhaps the most honest and down-to-earth.

The Lady of Misrule is the 2nd novel I have read by Suzannah Dunn. Last year I read The May Bride, which went on to be one of my favourite reads of 2014. I was eager to read more by Dunn. I didn’t quite enjoy this as much. I think this was mainly due to Elizabeth and Jane who I just wasn’t as fond of as young Jane Seymour from The May Bride. However I again found Dunn’s writing style comforting and familiar. Dunn’s beautiful description swept me off  and immersed me into the confined, daily life in the Tower. The repetitive routine of rising, dressing, eating, reading, praying, watching from the window, and then retiring to bed was all brought vividly back to life. To achieve this Dunn has obviously filled in some historical gaps and added some fictionalised characters; I thought it was all well done though. Then the brutal ending, even though I knew it was coming, really wrenched at my heart and felt so real.

The Lady of Misrule is a well written, interesting and intimate glimpse into the final months of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. I highly recommend to those interested in historical fiction and English history. I would still like to read more of Suzannah Dunn. Good read.

Thank you to Little, Brown Book Group UK  for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read Suzannah Dunn? Any recommendations?

New Read: Mort

Mort

At the end of last year I started to work my way through, from the beginning, books from the epic Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, which between us my father and I own. With the sad passing of Sir Terry in March I thought it would be fitting in April to pick up Mort; the fourth published Discworld novel.

In Mort we return to Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical Discworld, to a farm just below the Ramtop Mountains. Where a boy is madly running through a field trying, ineffectually, to scare away birds. Mort tries hard but he is, well, pretty useless. So think his uncle and father too as they plan to apprentice him off. Surely someone could train him or be fool enough to try. In steps Death with an unusual job offer and when Mort is reassured that being dead or skeletal is not compulsory he accepts. New clothes, three hot square meals a day, and perhaps the oddest, on-the-job training are to be Mort’s new life.

I have always loved Pratchett’s dark humoured and cat loving character Death, who pops up regularly in other Discworld novels. This is the first time I’ve read a novel where he has been a main part though. Death is having something of a mid-life crisis and so wanting some time off decides to train up Mort to take some of the load. As I said though Mort is pretty useless. When allowed out on his own for the first time his teenage crush fuelled, rash decision is to end, funnily for us, but disastrously for the time line continuum, Death, and the small kingdom of Sto Lat. Mort is the main protagonist and while I think he is an interesting vehicle for change and chaos. I sadly didn’t grow particularly fond of him. Unlike Death who love even more now!

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine and I was very sad to hear of his passing. To me the best way to do him tribute is to read and share all his wonderful books. Mort is the sixth Discworld novel I have read although I haven’t read them in any particular order before. I don’t believe this is a series you necessarily have to read in order. The stories often follow various different characters. While I already knew Death. Mort, Death’s adopted daughter, and the inhabitants of Sto Lat were all new characters for me. Mort is a relatively short, funny, fantastical, and simple adventure to follow. My grandmother always said Mort was her favourite Discworld novel. She always remembered fondly Death falling over and uttering ‘Oh, bugger’. So I am really pleased to have finally read it. I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be amazed and amused by Pratchett’s wonderful imagination.

Mort is a darkly funny Discworld adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy. I am looking forward to reading more adventures in Pratchett’s Discworld. Good read.

Have you read this? Or other Discworld adventures?

This classic, comedy, fantasy is my fourth read towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Adaptations: April 2015 (2)

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.

Here are more adaptations I watched during April:

The NeverEnding Story II (1990)          Not Read     Film     Television
Fantasy sequel inspired by the second half of Michael Ende’s novel. I watched all three films as a child but I feel the first film is by far the more superior hence why it is the only one I own on DVD. This sequel was easy, fantasy fun which passed a lazy Saturday afternoon. Okay watch.

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2014)     Not Read     Film     Television
Fantasy adventure based on the Mariah Mundi novels by G P Taylor. A young man is thrown into a world of treachery, magical antiquities and steampunk machinery. I totally missed this when it was released at the cinema, where it sadly received poor reviews. I thought it was a bit of fun though, with a good ensemble cast including plenty of well known faces. Okay watch.

The Maze Runner (2014)          Not Read     Film     DVD
Dystopian, action thriller based on the young adult novel by James Dashner. I thought the concept of a group of young men being tested in a lethal and mind-boggling maze was fascinating; with great special effects and interesting characters. I am so pleased I was lent this on DVD by a friend and I look forward to the upcoming release of the sequel. Good watch.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)          Not Read     Film     Television
Science fiction blockbuster based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. A soldier relives a brutal battle over and over again in a sadistic, Groundhog Day style, loop to find a way to destroy the aliens. I thought this would be good but I got so much more with this twisted, brilliant concept. Amazing special effects, interesting time cuts, and great performances from Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Great watch.

Poldark (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
BBC costume drama based on the first two novels from the Poldark series by Winston Graham. Ross Poldark returns home to try to resurrect his family’s mine. A stark and often heart breaking portrayal of life in Cornwall in the late 1700s, brought to life by a good and rather attractive ensemble cast, in stunning scenery and beautiful costumes. I look forward to series 2. Good watch.

That’s another 5 adaptations watched which when added to the previous 6 makes the grand total 11 adaptations for April; a great month which has only been matched in January. The Easter bank holiday really helped bump up my numbers. I am looking forward to seeing what adaptations I watch in May, as I have 3 TV adaptations on the go and I really must go see the new Avengers film at the cinema.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching?

Goodbye April, Hello May

April 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? This year seems to be flying by. Happily though April has been a warmer and sunnier month here in the UK. I had a wonderful Easter weekend, did a couple of puppet shows for my church, and started going for short runs; all positive. Sadly I did also get sinusitis which saw me reaching for lighter, comfort reads. Here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 4     Non-Fiction: 1     Poetry: 0

I started the month off by finishing historical fiction Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson. An enjoyable, escapist read into the early life of Cicely Neville and the events leading up to the War of the Roses. Next I plunged into a comforting re-read of The Two Towers by J R R Tolkien, the 2nd book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. An intricate and enchanting tale which was a much easier read than it had been previously.

This is about the time my sinuses began to hurt so I next picked up the fairy tale re-imagining The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney, hoping for a lighter, fun read. I wasn’t disappointed either. I simply raced through this witty and charming adventure. Then at the end of the month I squeezed in comedy, fantasy Mort by Terry Pratchett, the 4th novel from the epic Discworld series; my full thoughts are still to be posted. The Two Towers, The Wanderers and Mort now takes my reading count for the Once Upon a Time IX event up to 4 which I am really pleased with.

Alongside these fictions I also read historical non-fiction Rebellion by Peter Ackroyd, the 3rd volume of The History of England. An interesting read which looks into the Stuart monarchs, their downfalls, and the Civil War.

Picks of the Month: The Two Towers and The Wanderers

And those are just the books I finished. Through out the month I have been dipping in and out of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, for The Classics Club, and inspirational, Christian non-fiction The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian. I am also close to finishing a  re-read of humorous and inspirational memoir The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment by Isabel Losada.

In May I am looking forward to more good reading, my brother’s birthday, and half term at work.

What did you do and read in April?