New Read: Wendy Darling, Volume 3: Shadow

After devouring Volume 1, last year, and Volume 2, earlier this year, I was very keen to get my hands on this: the third and final volume in Colleen Oakes’ young adult Wendy Darling series, inspired by J M Barrie’s Peter Pan. (If you are unfamiliar with this author or series you may instead want to check out my thoughts on the first book: Wendy Darling, Volume 1: Stars).

At the beginning of this series, Wendy and her brothers were whisked away by the wild, magical Peter Pan to Neverland; a fantastical land of turquoise seas, glimmering beaches, mermaids, pirates and freedom. However, Wendy soon discovered all was not as it seemed and she was forced to take shelter with the dreaded Captain Hook. Together they have hatched a dangerous plan to bring down the blood-crazed Peter for good, but it will involve Wendy returning to Pan Island and the clutches of Peter. The fate of her brothers, her beloved Booth and the whole of Neverland is in her hands.

It was wonderful to see this interesting re-imagining from the point-of-view of Wendy, and she was again joined by a host of colourful characters, including: the adorable Michael; the thoroughly dislikeable John; the big-hearted Smith (Smee!) and, my personal favourite, the infamous Captain Hook. While I haven’t always ‘liked’ Colleen Oakes’ re-imagined characters I do think they are realistic and much better fleshed out than in J M Barrie’s original tale. I also loved being able to delve deeper into the settings too, which Oakes’ brought vividly to life through her beautiful descriptions.

Sadly I did have a small issue with some of the language used in this final instalment – considering the main protagonists are meant to be from Edwardian London. There was the more harmless use of the Americanised ‘toy store’ instead of toy shop, but then there was the far more dubious use of ‘f*nny’ … Now, I believe in America this is slang for ‘ass’ or ‘bottom’. Here in the UK though, it means a much more intimate part of a lady! Fortunately, Oakes weaved such a wonderful tale of adventure, danger, magic and love with so many twists and turns, that the small slips in language didn’t majorly affect my overall enjoyment. Plus what an ending – I didn’t see that coming!

Overall, I thought Wendy Darling, Volume 3: Shadow was another enjoyable fantasy adventure and a satisfying end to this interesting re-imagining of Peter Pan. Previously I have read and loved another of Colleen Oakes’ series, Queen of Hearts, and I really, really hope the final instalment of this comes out soon! Good read.

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

Have you read this? Or any other books inspired by Peter Pan?

10 Books of Summer 2017 – 5/10

(Coincidentally, Wendy Darling, Volume 1 was also my 5th read for last year’s 10 Books of Summer!)

Cookbooks: June – July 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, with the exception of one wet week the temperatures have been soaring here in the UK, so it was the perfect time to try out these summery new recipes:

Veggie Bean Burgers
Hairy Dieters 2 – Family Favourites – Page 58

Even though I do eat meat, I do love a good bean burger, so for a recent home BBQ I gave this recipe a go. I found them a little messy but easy to make, and they were enjoyed by meat eaters and vegetarian a like. To be cooked in the oven I adapted for the BBQ. While they did stick, more the one use BBQs fault than recipe, they still turned out yummy which is of course the most important thing.

**


Tuna Salad with Red Onion and Beans
Hairy Dieters 2 – Snacks and Salads – Page 156

The Hairy Bikers’ take on the Italian classic tonno e fagioli: a filling salad made with tuna, beans, red onion, lettuce, parsley and olives with a tangy dressing. I made the full batch of this and portioned it out in tubs for work lunches when it was far too hot for soup! Not sure about the parsley but everything else worked for me.

**


Now this next recipe isn’t technically from a cookbook, however the Co-op Food magazines have some wonderful recipes in that are worth sharing:

Tuscan Bean Soup
Co-op Food – July Edition – Page 11

A light but filling soup that is packed full of the good stuff, including: onion, carrot, red pepper, tomatoes, beans, kale and broccoli. A delicious and simple to make, one pot of joy which was perfect for an easy comforting meal on one of our cooler weekends.

***


Finally you may be wondering where is the obligatory curry recipe? Well never fear I certainly didn’t go without curry, however I didn’t try a new recipe. Instead I chose to remake our new favourite Keralan curry. I have also already remade the delicious Beef Stroganoff.

Overall, I think I have had a great month of cooking and I look forward to more. I still have the Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka and Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver to read too.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

New Read: Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem

After enjoying several swashbuckling classics, I was thrilled to be offered the chance to read another, Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem by Emilio Salgari, by its translator Nico Lorenzutti. So I put it on my 10 Books of Summer 2017 list to make sure I got to it at last.

Sandokan, the feared “Tiger of Malaysia”, and his loyal band of rebel pirates are the scourge of the colonial powers of the Dutch and British empires in the South China sea. Mercilessly they roam the seas attacking ships and islands seeking vengeance, wealth and the destruction of their Western oppressors. Then return with their bounty to the safety of their fortified island of Mompracem, where they have lived happily and untouched for many years. But the fate and fortune of Sandokan and his “tigers” is to suddenly change when they learn of the lauded “Pearl of Labuan”.

While on the surface our protagonist Sandokan appears to just be a blood thirsty villain, as we read on we come to discover he is actually a prince, who was brought low to piracy after the British and their local allies murdered his family and stole his throne. Since then Sandokan has sailed the seas in righteous anger. With his faithful friend Yanez De Gomera, a Portuguese wanderer and adventurer, by his side. Yanez is a more charming and cool headed character, who is a more instantly likeable character. But the love and devotion Yanez and the “tigers” have for their leader helps to show a more likeable side to Sandokan.

However everything is to change when Sandokan hears of the extraordinary “Pearl of Labuan” and risks a trip with two of his ships to the island of Labuan in hopes of catching sight of her. Yes her, as the “Pearl” is not the type of treasure you may have first imagined, but instead she is a young Western woman; famed for her beauty, golden hair and her kindness to the natives of the island. Pretty much on first sight Sandokan falls in love with the “Pearl” and decides to move heaven and earth to obtain her. In the process selfishly risking the lives of all his men and their home of Mompracem, although if he didn’t we wouldn’t have an exciting story to read.

Apparently since Emilio Salgari wrote this adventure novel in 1900 it has been, for more than a century, Italy’s second most famous love story. As a modern reader though I couldn’t help thinking the love was all a bit quick and while we are assured it is a mutual feeling, we get to know little about how the lady thinks or feels. In fact she sadly proves to play a small, passive role in the adventure, except for crying and fainting quite a bit. This is a reflection of the time period is was written in though. Fortunately I didn’t pick this up for love. Instead I was looking for adventure and boy did Salgari give me that in spade loads. With battles at sea, deadly storms, jungle ambushes, clandestine meetings, disguises, sharks, faked deaths and impossible odds! And it is this that kept me wanting to read more.

Overall, I thought Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem was a rip-roaring adventure (and love story) that swept me back in time and across the seas to an exotic dangerous land. Good read.

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

Have you read this? Or any of Sandokan’s other adventures?

10 Books of Summer 2017 – 4/10

Meme: Six in Six 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I can’t believe it but we are already half way through the year! Good news though, this means it is time for the sixth Six in Six meme, the brain child of Jo at The Book Jotter, which is a great way to reflect on our reading at the half-way mark of the year. So here are my six authors or books in six different categories from the last six months:

Six new authors to me:

  1. John Ortberg
  2. William Paul Young
  3. Harriet Evans
  4. Richard Foster
  5. Geoffrey Trease
  6. Rosy Thornton

Six authors I have read before:

  1. Louisa May Alcott
  2. Charles Dickens
  3. Elizabeth Gaskell
  4. Cheryl Mahoney
  5. Daphne du Maurier
  6. Joanna Hickson

Six books I have read on my Kindle:

  1. 90 Days Through the New Testament by Ron Rhodes
  2. Flower Fables by Louisa May Alcott
  3. Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau & Joe King
  4. Seven Stages by Geoffrey Trease
  5. The People the Fairies Forget by Cheryl Mahoney
  6. Monstrous Little Voices edited by David Thomas Moore

Six physical books I have read:

  1. If You Want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg
  2. The Shack by William Paul Young
  3. The Servant Queen by Mark Greene & Catherine Butcher
  4. The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans
  5. Sandlands by Rosy Thornton
  6. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past:

  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  2. My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt
  4. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  5. First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson
  6. Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem by Emilio Salgari

Six series of books read, continued or started:

  1. A Very Short History by Mark Black
  2. Echo of the Ascended by Mark Gelineau & Joe King
  3. Agatha Raisin by M C Beaton
  4. American Journey by John A. Heldt
  5. Beyond the Tales by Cheryl Mahoney
  6. Discworld by Terry Pratchett

What books and authors have you enjoyed so far this year? Please let me know if you have taken part in this meme too.

New Read: Pyramids

About two years ago, I started to work my way through, from the beginning, the books from the epic Discworld series by Terry Pratchett which my father and I already own between us. Next up was Pyramids the seventh published Discworld novel.

In Pyramids, I was taken to a new-to-me part of Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical creation: the tiny kingdom of Djelibeybi (pretty much the Discworld counterpart to Ancient Egypt). This is a land steeped in history; covered in pyramids and obsessed with tradition, which sees its world, quite literally, turned upside down when young Teppic is suddenly thrust upon the throne after the sudden death of his father. It’s bad enough being new on the job, but Teppic hasn’t a clue as to what a pharaoh is supposed to do. And so ensues a boggling, roller coaster ride of mad priests, sacred crocodiles, marching mummies, mathematical camels, a headstrong handmaiden and a monstrous, time and space bending pyramid. Djelibeybi is never going to be the same again!

Our hero Teppic’s ignorance is due to the fact that since childhood he has been away training at Ankh-Morpork’s famed assassins’ school. Now he is a modern stranger in his own backward land. While I often wished he would grow a spine, I certainly sympathised for him as he meets opposition to every change he proposes: from installing plumbing to outlawing the practice of throwing people to the crocodiles! We soon learn the real power lies in the hands of the high priest Dios, who mysteriously seems to have always been there to see tradition is strictly followed. Fortunately along comes the feisty handmaiden Ptraci, who has enough spine, attitude and get up and go for herself, Teppic and the land combined.

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine and I was very sad when he passed. For me the best way to do him tribute is to continue to read and share my thoughts on all his wonderfully fun books. Pyramids is the ninth Discworld novel I have read, but the seventh published, and with my pre-existing love of anything Ancient Egyptian this book was always going to be a winner for me. Although I am now trying to read the books I already own roughly in order, I don’t believe this is a series you necessarily have to read in order, as the stories often follow various different groups of characters. Except for Death, there were no character I recognised in this book so I could have easily read this as a stand alone novel.

Overall, I thought Pyramids was another extremely fun, wacky, Egyptian-inspired instalment in Pratchett’s fantastical Discworld series. I look forward to reading more – the next instalment we own is Reaper Man. Great read.

Have you read this? What are your favourite Discworld novels?

10 Books of Summer 2017 – 3/10

Adaptations: June 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, here are the adaptations I watched during June:

Wonder Woman (2017)
Not Read     Film     Cinema

After enjoying Batman vs Superman last year, I have been looking forward to this 4th instalment in the DC Extended Universe, which focuses on the Amazonian princess Diana who, believing it is her destiny, sets out to end World War I and in doing so becomes Wonder Woman. This is a CGI spectacular however what really makes it is Gal Gadot: she is perfect as the sensitive almost naïve Diana as well as the super, kick-ass Wonder Woman! You go girl!

***


Return to Cranford (2009)
Read     TV Series     Television

A Christmas special of the BBC’s popular period drama, inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford Chronicles, which sees Judi Dench and a wonderful ensemble cast return to the small, rural town of Cranford for more nostalgic and touching stories. While there are a lot of changes and additions from the original, this series does capture beautifully the mood and atmosphere.

**


Sleepy Hollow (Series 4)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

This is the fourth and final series of this supernatural crime drama, which is loosely based on Irving Washington’s short story. Even more loosely based than usual as this series saw the action move to Washington DC. While I still loved our hero Ichabod Crane and all the different monsters and myths he faces, I was less keen on his new companions. I missed Abi! Looks like I wasn’t the only one because the fifth series has been cancelled.

*


Also ITV3 have been re-running the nostalgic crime series Endeavour, so I have been able to enjoy re-watches of the pilot episode, series 1 and 2. On the same channel, I was also able to finally watch one of the illusive episodes of crime series Lewis that I missed first time around. While on the BBC I enjoyed a brilliant re-watch of Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale (2006). Altogether that’s seven and a bit adaptations watched this month!

As for non-adaptations, I watched the heart pounding 6th series of US political drama Homeland and the rollercoaster 10th series of Doctor Who, which is the final run for the 12th Doctor: Peter Capaldi. Now, the big question is who will step into the Time Lord’s shoes next?!

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

Tough Travels: Adepts

Tough Travels is a monthly meme hosted by Fantasy Faction, which, inspired by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, spotlights each month a different fantasy trope for us to compile lists and have fun with. Last month we discussed NON-HUMAN HEROES. This month’s topic is:


ADEPTS.

The Tough Guide defines an Adept as ‘one who has taken what amounts to a Post-graduate course in Magic. If a Magic User is given this title, you can be sure he/she is fairly hot stuff. However, the title is neutral and does not imply that the Adept is either Good or Evil.’

Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland


This is another topic that I missed the first time round, therefore it is great to have another chance to have a go at it. In particular, I like how magical Adepts can be good or evil, so I have broken my choices down into goodies and baddies:

***** GOODIES *****

Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

To give him his full name, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is the greatest headmaster that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has ever known. If that’s not impressive enough he is also the only wizard that Lord Voldermort has ever feared (more to come about him).

Gandalf
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

At the beginning of this classic trilogy we meet Gandalf the Grey and his fabulous fireworks, but don’t be fooled he is a very powerful wizard. Who will pass through fire and death to return as Gandalf the White; the most powerful wizard in Middle-Earth.

***** BADDIES *****

Queen Jadis/The White Witch
The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis

Queen Jadis is the sole survivor of powerful race of giant people from a dead world, however she is best known as the evil White Witch that subjugated the creatures of Narnia and trapped them all in an ever-lasting winter – always winter, never Christmas.

Lord Voldermort
Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

Finally we return to the magical world of Harry Potter for the opposite of Dumbledore and Harry’s archenemy: the dark lord himself, Voldermort, who is a brilliant….terrible….yes….but brilliant wizard.

What magical adepts can you think of? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.

Come back next month for: STRONGHOLDS.