Goodbye March, Hello April

March 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? March has just flown by me! It was a mixed month for weather; with some extreme days of rain and days of bright sunshine. I did spend a lovely weekend on the south coast to celebrate Mother’s day with my mom and family, and took my dad to a great show for his birthday. With all that going on here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3     Non-Fiction: 2     Poetry: 0

I started the month off by finishing urban fantasy The World Below by Mike Phillips. A fun and light adventure underground which was a soothing read for my over worked mind. To keep my reading easy I next read the short story collection The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, my 30th read off my Classics Club list. Sadly the final collection of interesting short adventures for me to discover. A slower and more detailed read for me was paranormal romance A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I am not a huge romance fan but I loved all the historical and magical references. This is also my first read for the Once Upon a Time IX event.

Alongside these fictions I also read two non-fictions. First Napoleon Bonaparte: A Very Brief History by Mark Black, a short and interesting read about the infamous French general. Then to round the month off Christian non-fiction Beautiful Attitudes by Scott Evans, full thoughts still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

And those are just the books I finished. Through out the month I have been dipping in an out of epic historical non-fiction Rebellion by Peter Ackroyd. I’ve made good progress but still a long way to go. To continue my aim to always have a classic on the go after finishing Sherlock Holmes I picked up The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. I am also very close to finishing historical fiction Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson.

In April I am looking forward to more good reading, celebrating Easter, and getting two weeks off work.

What did you do and read in March?

Adaptations: March 2015

Adaptations #2I 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 the adaptations I watched at the end of February and during March:

1984 by George Orwell (2015)          Not Read     Play     Theatre
Amateur stage production of George Orwell’s modern classic; adapted for the stage by Matthew Dunster. A simple and effective performance which I thoroughly enjoyed. Good watch.

The Lone Ranger (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
Western adventure inspired by The Lone Ranger franchise which has included a radio series, books, a TV series, comic books and several films. Rather cheesy but good visual effects, music, and ensemble cast; most notably Johnny Depp. Could have been great just all the elements didn’t quite gel right. Okay watch.

The Casual Vacancy (2015)         Not Read     TV Series     Television
Three part drama based on J K Rowling’s novel. I didn’t fancy reading this however I thought I would give the series a go. This is not a happy watch but a gritty, small village drama. Peopled with some pretty despicable characters played by a great ensemble cast including Michael Gambon and the wonderful Keeley Hawes. Good watch.

The Musketeers (2015)          Read     TV Series     Television
The second series of the BBC’s swashbuckling adventure based on the characters of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel. I had been looking forward to the return of this show. Another fun, interesting and gripping mixture of adventures with great camaraderie and beautiful costumes. Good ensemble cast; with the addition of one of my favourites Marc Warren as the dastardly Rochefort. Good watch.

The Great Ghost Adventure (2011)          Read     Film     Television
Ghostly adventure based on Eva Ibbotson’s children’s novel. A light comedy for all the family. There are a great deal of changes to characters and plot. I can understand the need to modernise the story but I was surprised how much was changed considering its such a short book. Okay watch.

Five adaptations watched in March I think is a good amount. There was an interesting mix of TV, film and stage adaptations; mainly based on novels. I finished two TV series, The Casual Vacancy and The Musketeers, I am continuing with Grimm and Sleeping Hollow has just returned. Plenty more adaptation fun to look forward to in April.

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

New Read: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of WitchesA Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness have sat on my to-be-read shelf for far too long. Earlier this month I received The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness which is the final instalment in the All Souls trilogy. So I had no excuse not to start reading them.

A Discovery of Witches introduces the reader to Dr Diana Bishop. An American scholar who has come to the historic Oxford University, England to study old and rare alchemical volumes held in the library. Diana is no ordinary scholar though she is also a witch who comes from an old and famous family; a fact that Diana tries to ignore. Unbeknownst to Diana  she recalls the bewitched Ashmole 782 from the library’s ancient stacks. Once she touches it a string of unusual and dangerous events are to unfold which will see her thrust into the world of witches, vampires and daemons she has been trying so hard to ignore.

Diana our protagonist comes from a long line of powerful Bishop witches yet has never shown any aptitude or urge to use magic herself. Diana is full of anxiety and fear since the brutal death of her parents when she was only a child. I enjoyed watching Diana grow in strength emotionally as a woman through her trials but also to see her start to release her magical power. Diana is joined by a large cast of paranormal characters. The other we really get to know better is Diana’s love interest Professor Matthew Clairmont; an ancient vampire. Matthew is a good mixture of the negative and positive of his race. He drinks blood, and has anger and possessive issues. Then again I love how he has so much history and experience.

A Discovery of Witches is the first novel I have read by Deborah Harkness, and is the first instalment in the All Souls trilogy. From what I’ve read so far I am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. A Discovery of Witches is a well written novel with a detailed and immersive style and world. I simply loved all the historical, alchemical, literature and art references and details that were included; Harkness has clearly done a lot of research for this novel. The only down side for me was the romance. I am not a huge romance fan and this had more romance in it than I had expected. The romance element is strong in this fortunately though there is just enough other things going on that I still enjoyed it. This has dropped it down from a great to a good read.

A Discovery of Witches is a detailed and well written paranormal romance with an interesting measure of history, magic and art. You might enjoy this if you like romance, fantasy, paranormal and/or historical fiction. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you enjoyed other paranormal romances?

A Discovery of Witches is full of magic so I am counting it towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Meme: Top 10 Childhood Books

Blog Post #2

This week over at the Broke and Bookish the theme for Top Ten Tuesday is ‘Top 10 Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit’ . I liked this topic and had to give it a go. Here are my choices:

1. The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton
While I read The Famous Five and some of The Secret Seven it was definitely this less well known fantasy series that caught my attention as a child.

2.The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

3. The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
My father has copies of these which are from Brooks’ Original Shannara trilogy. While I enjoyed them as a child I spent too much time comparing them to Lord of the Rings. I would like to see if I would enjoy them even more now, and perhaps want to read more of the Shannara series.

4. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
I remember in primary school dressing up as Katy Carr for World Book Day but other than snippets I don’t have the greatest memory of this novel and it’s sequels which so captured me.

5. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
An eccentric and delightful short story collection. I have found a real love for short stories recently so this could be a great re-read for me.

6. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
I have fond memories of my favourite primary school teacher reading this delightful novel to my class.

7. Johnny Maxwell trilogy by Terry Pratchett
My love for Pratchett started young. I believe this was the first series by Pratchett I read which includes my favourite Johnny and the Bomb. I loved the mixture of family drama, fantasy, science fiction and history.

8. The Nome trilogy by Terry Pratchett
I loved the funny adventures of Truckers, Diggers and Wings. This is the series which most reminds me of Pratchett’s adult Discworld series. I borrowed both these trilogies from the library as a child. I would love to re-read and own my own copies of them now.

9. Village School by Miss Read
I have fond memories of my mother reading this to me at bedtime. A simple and detailed tale of day-to-day life which was wonderfully comforting before bed. I have read other novels from this series as an adult but I haven’t revisited this one.

10. Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
I have read all the instalments of this series as they came out, and while I have watched the films many times and even listened to some of the audiobooks I haven’t re-read any of the novels. I think this is because I adore the stories and characters but didn’t love Rowling’s writing style. I definitely will re-read them perhaps just need a bit more time.

Honourable mentions must go to The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis, and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien. I loved all of these as a child but I have also regularly re-read them as an adult too.

Do you love some of my choices too? What childhood favourite would you like to revisit?

Challenge: Once Upon a Time IX

Once Upon a Time 9

(Art by Kimberly Kincaid. Used with Permission)

Hello my fellow bookworms I am pleased to announce the return of the Once Upon a Time event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings. Participants in this event 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!

Books I could choose off my bookshelf:

All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches (currently reading)
Shadow of Night

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin
A Feast For Crows
A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust
A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast

Books I could choose off my Kindle:

The Curse Keepers Collection by Denise Grover Swank
The Curse Keepers
The Curse Breakers
The Curse Defiers

All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness
The Book of Life

The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney
The Storyteller and Her Sister by Cheryl Mahoney
The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland
The Amethyst Fairy Book by Michelle McLaughlin
The Diamond Fairy Book by Michelle McLaughlin
The Emerald Fairy Book by Michelle McLaughlin
Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton

Once Upon a Time IX officially runs from 21st March to 21st June 2015. I have signed up for The Journey level which means I am aiming to read at least one book for the event. I usually end up reading more than one book but I like the freedom this level gives me especially with how much work I have on at the minute. I am look forward to seeing what I will end up reading.

Are you taking part in Once Upon a Time IX?

The Classics Club: Three Years Gone

The Classics Club #1

Start Date: 19th March 2012

End Date: 19th March 2017

I joined The Classics Club back in March 2012 which means three years have gone by! Here’s what I have read off my list in the last year:

1. The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
3. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
4. Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales
5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
6. His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle
7. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
8. Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald
9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
10. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

(click on the titles to see my full thoughts)

Read: 30/50

I am so pleased with my progress so far. 10 books is the average I need to read each year to keep on track to read 50 books altogether. A list of books/links though isn’t that interesting so I decided to use these meme questions to reflect on what classics I have been reading:

Most Anticipated: The Three Musketeers
Most Beautifully Written: The Secret Garden
Most Surprising (In A Good Way!): Shirley
Most Memorable Character/s: Sherlock Holmes and Athos (Musketeer)
Most Recommended-to-Others: The Three Musketeers and The Secret Garden
Favourite New Authors Discovered: Alexandre Dumas and Frances Hodgson Burnett
Multiple Reads of an Author: Arthur Conan Doyle (2) and F Scott Fitzgerald (2)

Ambitions for 2014/2015: Pretty much to continue as I am. I have been impressed with the amount I have read over the last three years. I am looking forward to reading more by Doyle, Dumas and Hodgson Burnett, also I must get back to Austen and Dickens too. Plus who knows what new authors I will fall in love with. Wish me luck!

What classics have you enjoyed over the last year?

The Classics Club: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

I have become quite a fan of short story collections and I hope to continue reading more in 2015. Starting as I mean to go on I picked up The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle the fifth and sadly the final collection.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is a collection made up of another twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published in The Strand between 1921 and 1927, much later than previous stories. I think this is perhaps the less well known collection of stories although The Sussex Vampire is probably the most notable story just for its title.  I very much enjoyed The Sussex Vampire, The Creeping Man and Thor Bridge. That being said as usual there were no adventures in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the three I have named though particularly captured my imagination.

Like previous collections I have read I thought The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes had a good range of stories which were varied and well-balanced. There was again the wonderful chemistry between the two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. The difference with this collection was that two of the stories was told by Holmes himself not, as is usual, by Watson. While this made an interesting change I still find myself most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson. As much as I love the mind and foibles of Holmes it is his down-to-earth companion Watson that I find I really connect with.

This is certainly not my first foray into Sherlock Holmes. I have loved the Adventures, Memoirs, Return of Sherlock Holmes and His Last Bow short story collections. I again enjoyed the shorter length of the stories which means I could easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. Sadly though this is the last collection. I shouldn’t be despondent though because I do still have three novels to read.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. I highly recommend to those interested in classic crime. This is my 30th read off my Classics Club list. Good read.

Have you read this collection? Do you have a favourite Sherlock Holmes story?