Adaptations: February 2015


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 the adaptations I have been watching during February:

Ivanhoe (1952)          Read     Film     Television
Classic Hollywood film based on Sir Walter Scott’s classic novel. After watching Ivanhoe (1982) I was interested to see what this earlier adaptation was like. A sweeping and colourful historical adventure, filmed on a grand scale, starring Robert Taylor, Joan Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor. Lacked the historical accuracy of more modern films. Okay watch.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
An action, spy adventure based on the comic book The Secret Service written by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar. A bloody and quirky film from Matthew Vaughn director of Kick-Ass (2010). Good performances from Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and relatively new face Taron Egerton. Good watch.

Saving Mr Banks (2013)          Film     Television
This is not an adaptation but a worthy mention here as it looks into how P L Travers’s books were adapted into the Disney musical Mary Poppins (1964). A wonderfully touching look into the relationship and process Travers and Walt Disney went through to make this classic family film. Starring in these roles the amazing Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. Great watch.

Wolf Hall (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
Historical BBC drama based on Hilary Mantel’s highly praised novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. A sumptuous, realistic and interesting look into the work and rise of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s court. Beautiful settings, costumes and great ensemble cast. Great watch.

A mixed month of novel and comic inspired adaptations. Sadly a much lower  month of adaptation watching but that is perhaps not fair. I have only finished watching 4 adaptations but I am also currently watching 3 TV adaptations they have just not finished yet. Plus anything was going to look low compared to my mammoth 11 adaptations in January!

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

Meme: Top 10 Literary Heroines

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I have never taken part in the weekly Top Ten Tuesday meme which is organized by The Broke and the Bookish before but I saw this week’s topic: Top 10 Heroines and just had to give it a go. Here are my choices (in alphabetical order):

1. Arya Stark – The Song of Ice and Fire series
Arya is a young and spunky tom boy more interested in swords, fighting and revenge rather than dolls and dresses.

2. Elinor Dashwood – Sense and Sensibility
Elinor is loving, patient, practical and stoic. I particularly admire how she conceals her own pain to support and comfort her sister.

3. Emma Woodhouse – Emma
Emma is young, beautiful, rich and witty. Amusingly Emma doesn’t always make the right decisions but I feel that in her heart she usually has the best intentions.

4. Eowyn – The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Eowyn is a young and beautiful princess who is able to care, tend and govern her people but when needed can also fight for them.

5. Hermione Granger – the Harry Potter series
Hermione is clever, hard working and loyal. Best at home in the library but still prepared to defend her friends, family and those weaker than others when the going gets tough.

6. Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games trilogy
Katniss is not perfect but she is tough and hard working, and fiercely loyal to her family; sacrificing herself to the games to save her little sister.

7. Lisbeth Salander – the Millennium trilogy
Lisbeth is a young, alternative loner. Tough, strong, clever and resourceful Lisbeth needs nobody and isn’t someone to mess with!

8. Lucy Pevensie – The Chronicles of Narnia series
I like all the Pevensie siblings but Lucy is definitely my favourite. She is kind, loving, loyal and full of faith. If it wasn’t for Lucy they wouldn’t have found Narnia.

9. Lyra Belacqua – His Dark Materials trilogy
Lyra is another tom boy more interested in fighting, climbing and adventures rather than dolls, dresses and washing!

10. The March sisters – Little Women
I know its cheating but I can’t choose between the sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. I love them all for different reasons.

Do you love some of my choices too? What are your favourite heroines?

New Read: Our Zoo

Our Zoo

Last year I watched the BBC’s charming drama series Our Zoo (2014) which dramatised the life and work of George Mottershead and his family who created Chester Zoo. At the end of the series though I was left wanted more so it was fortuitous for me when I spotted the memoir Our Zoo by June Mottershead.

Our Zoo chronicles the up and downs, successes and failures of the Mottershead family. George Mottershead is a determined and hardworking man who has the vision to create a zoological garden for the people, not just the rich, to enjoy where the animals would live in comfortable enclosures without bars. George decides to create his vision at Oakfield Manor in Upton but it is to face many obstacles; funding issues, protests from villagers, sickness, bombing raids, rationing, escapee animals and death. George and his family never give up though and Chester Zoo is still going to this day.

The family consists of George, his wife Lizzie, and their daughters Muriel and June. George’s parents Albert and Lucy also move to Oakfield Manor to help. They are a nice, strong family unit. June our narrator was only 4 years old when they made the move to establish the zoo so has never known any other life. There is a large age gap between June and her sister Muriel, who is virtually an adult and becomes the first keeper at the zoo. Meanwhile June’s friends and playmates become the animals themselves, in particular the cheeky chimpanzee called Mary. I enjoyed hearing from the innocent perspective of June and found it interesting to see how she grew physically and emotionally.

I picked up Our Zoo by June Mottershead because I had enjoyed the BBC’s drama so much. I am pleased to say I enjoyed this just as much. It was wonderfully nostalgic to see what it was like to work in Britain of the 1930’s and 1940’s, touching to see the troubles and deaths they endured but still never lost hope, and inspiring to see how this working class family finally built their dream. There are differences between real life and the TV drama but mainly to do with scope, the real life story is much longer and more intricate than I think the TV drama could have ever covered. I am pleased to have got to know the Mottershead family more closely.

Our Zoo is a nostalgic, touching and inspiring memoir of June, her family and their zoo. I recommend to those interested in memoirs, family, animals, and history. Good read.

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

Have you read this? Did you watch the BBC drama?

Meme: The Ultimate Book Tag

Blog Post #1

I was tagged by the lovely bookarahma to do this ultimate book tag meme. I’m afraid 25 questions was a bit too much for me but I was keen to take part so I’ve edited it down to my favourite 10 questions:

1) Do you get sick while reading in the car?

Sadly yes. If I read for longer than about half an hour I start to feel dizzy although fortunately never got bad enough to throw up. Rather not push it though.

2) Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

It is hard to pick just one author with a unique style. I am going to choose one of my favourite authors J R R Tolkien. I love how every word is precious to Tolkien and how he uses them perfectly to bring his characters, places and adventures alive.

3) Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books…)?

I don’t necessarily carry a book bag. My day-to-day bag however is a satchel so there is always plenty of room for purse, phone, keys, tissues, lip balm, food, drink, umbrella, a shopping bag, and of course a book or my kindle. I am often teased for being like Mary Poppins!

4) Do you smell your books?

Yes…don’t all book lovers?

5) Books with or without little illustrations?

I am happy with or without illustrations. If there are going to be illustrations though they need to be good and appropriate to the story.

6) What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

I think the thinnest book on my shelf is the play The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe dramatised by Adrian Mitchell which I used for my dissertation at university.

7) What is the thickest book on your shelf?

I think the thickest book on my shelf is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling.

8) When did you get into reading?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated with books and reading. I come from a family of readers, although I do seem to have overtook them in my passion for it.

9) What is your favourite classic book?

Again it is hard to pick just one but I think I will have to go with the children’s classic The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. I have fond memories of this book from my childhood and now I’m an adult too.

10) In school was your best subject Language/Arts/English?

My best subjects when I was at school were Drama, Food Technology (cooking) and English Language. Not English Literature though I think perhaps because I disliked picking novels apart which is still reflected in my simple blog posts today.

I am not going to tag anyone specifically. I will instead leave the tag open to anyone who would like to take part. If you do take part please come back and share a link.

Re-Read: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring

With the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Peter Jackson’s epic film franchise based on J R R Tolkien’s novels has sadly now come to an end. While I regularly re-read The Hobbit I haven’t read The Lord of the Rings in over 10 years! So the start of February saw me reaching for The Fellowship of the Ring as I thought it was high time for a re-read.

The Fellowship of the Ring takes us back to Middle-Earth 60 years after Bilbo Baggins’s original adventure to the Lonely Mountain. In the quiet and beautiful Shire, Bilbo and his heir Frodo are celebrating landmark birthdays. Frodo now comes into his inheritance which includes Bilbo’s magic ring. Some troubling information has come to light about the ring though that sets Frodo on a dangerous mission in a fellowship with men, hobbits, elf, dwarf and wizard. Bilbo didn’t just find any old ring he has in fact found the one ring of power that Sauron himself forged in Mount Doom, and only there can it be destroyed.

What I particularly love about Tolkien’s work is the unlikely protagonists of hobbits. Small creatures with curly hair, pointy ears, large hairy feet and brightly coloured clothes; who live comfortable lives full of food, walks and routine. In The Fellowship of the Ring we have 4 hobbits Frodo, his gardener Sam, and his cousins Merry and Pippin. They are joined later on by Gandalf the Wizard, Legolas a woodland elf, Gimli a dwarf, and two men Boromir and Aragorn. I love the mixture and diversity of the members of the fellowship, and find it compelling how they journey and interact with each other.

The Hobbit is my favourite book from childhood and I have read it more times than I can count! However I have only previously read The Lord of the Rings trilogy twice and while I have enjoyed them they don’t quite hold the same sort of place in my heart. On re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring I found it to be an intricate and enchanting tale. Every word is precious to Tolkien and again he uses them here perfectly to really bring Middle-Earth alive. The Fellowship of the Ring is probably the longest of the reads from the trilogy because there is a lot of characters to introduce, history to relay, and adventure to establish. I found on this re-read though the slowness and familiarity of it to be very comforting.

The Fellowship of the Ring is a slow but intricate, epic, and enchanting tale. I highly recommend to those who enjoy epic fantasy. I look forward to re-reading The Two Towers next. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the films?

New Read: The Book of Jonah

The Book of Jonah

January was a month of art, history, love, adventure, the old world and even a little magic. Looking to mix my reading up I turned to The Book of Jonah by Joshua Max Feldman, a contemporary fiction based in the USA with an Old Testament twist.

The Book of Jonah introduces us to Jonah Jacobstein a corporate lawyer living the high life in Manhattan. Jonah is working every hour God gives to become a partner in one of the largest law firms in New York by doing the dirty work of a large pharmaceutical company. Whilst also juggling between the affections of two beautiful women; one a long-term girlfriend and another who is sexy and fun. Life couldn’t get any better, then Jonah has a chance encounter with a Hasidic Jew who tells him God has other plans for him.

Jonah Jacobstein is young, handsome, ambitious and not likeable at all. He is the author Feldman’s modern equivalent of Jonah from the Old Testament; who was swallowed by a giant fish (whale) when he tried to run away from God’s mission for him. So predictably it takes a lot of trouble and strife before Jonah Jacobstein begins to pay attention. As Jonah begins to change his life it is to become entwined with Judith. A young, attractive and highly ambitious woman who has been hurt and has utterly lost her faith in life. Jonah and Judith are not easy characters to read about but I was interested in the transformations they go through.

The Book of Jonah is the debut novel of Joshua Max Feldman. I don’t read a large amount of contemporary fiction but I was intrigued by the idea of a modern retelling of the well known tale of ‘Jonah and the Whale’ from the Old Testament. I think Feldman has done a clever and imaginative job of transplanting characters, events and places to the modern world. For example Jonah’s journey in the belly of the whale has become a drug fuelled stay on a canal boat in Amsterdam and instead of God sending Jonah to Nineveh he is sent to Las Vegas. This was a slow read for me as half way through I lost my impetus for it because inevitably this is a dark, gritty and sad tale which depressingly highlights many of the negative, cruel and selfish aspects of modern society. After a break though I returned and finished this novel, and I am pleased I persevered.

The Book of the Jonah is a modern and imaginative retelling of an Old Testament story. I recommend to those interested in contemporary fiction and Biblical retellings. Okay read.

Thank you to Henry Holt and Co for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Have you read any other Biblical retellings?

New Books: February 2015

New Books - February #1

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

The Curse Keepers Collection by Denise Grover Swank
(including 3 novels and 3 prequel novellas)

The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland

Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton

I received this really interesting mixture of fantasy and supernatural novels, novellas and short story collection for my Kindle from Netgalley.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling

My father picked these up for me from an antique shop as they are first editions with the original cover art. My Potter books currently have several different covers which my OCD nature doesn’t like. These two books help me along to making one complete, matching set.

New Books - February #2

The Hairy Dieters: Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers

The Hairy Dieters: Good Eating by Si King & Dave Myers

For a while I have been keeping my eyes peeled for these cookbooks so when I saw them for only £8 each I had to get them. These are from the nation’s (UK) beloved ‘Hairy Biker’ chefs. I am not looking to lose weight particularly but I love how down to earth and well balanced these recipes are.

Elizabeth I and Her Circle by Susan Doran

I also received this historical non-fiction for my Kindle from Netgalley. I just couldn’t resist clicking download as it’s about one of my favourite historical characters.

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