New Read: The Wanderers

The Wanderers

After a wonderful Easter weekend I sadly found myself under the weather for the first week of my holiday. I decided to take comfort in escaping into the fairy tale re-imagining The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney.

The Wanderers introduces us to Jasper a ‘wandering adventurer’ who travels across the land fighting witches, ogres, evil wizards and rescuing young maidens. When we meet Jasper he is singlehandedly taking on an evil wizard who is turning people into stone however he is unexpectantly helped by Tom a talking cat. Jasper and Tom then go on to travel together breaking Jasper’s rule about travelling alone but Tom is a cat not a human so perhaps it doesn’t count. This is only to be the first rule that Jasper breaks. The more rules he breaks the harder his adventures get but perhaps the happier he becomes?

I would call Jasper a hero but he stubbornly prefers ‘wandering adventurer’. Hero to him means all those rich, silly and pompous princes while Jasper is a commoner who does it as a profession. I liked Jasper he is kind and brave, and there is also a lot going on under the surface to discover as well. His life is run by a set of tight, self-imposed rules one of which I have mentioned is to travel alone. Jasper breaks this rule for Tom the talking cat who I just loved. Tom is smart, witty, obsessed with fish but also loving underneath it all. I would really like my own Tom! Jasper also unexpectantly breaks this rule for Julie who he rescues from a witch. Julie is to prove that not all girls that need rescuing are just pretty, dumb and silly.

The Wanderers is the first book I read by author and fellow blogger Cheryl Mahoney. I have really been looking forward to reading this and I am pleased I have The Storyteller and Her Sisters waiting on my Kindle. I thought The Wanderers was a light, fun and well written book which is broken up into different adventures. I loved the fairy tale tropes that Mahoney used and sometimes poked a bit of fun at too; I particularly liked the lucky but useless third son. Also one of the largest adventures was a re-imagining of The Twelve Dancing Princesses which is one of my favourites from my childhood. I simply raced through this book as I enjoyed the characters, the adventures, the humour and the comforting familiarity of it.

The Wanderers is a well written, witty and charming adventure. I highly recommend if you enjoy fairy tale re-imaginings. I am really looking forward to reading The Storyteller and Her Sisters next. Great read.

Have you read this? Or some other fairy tale re-imaginings?

This charming, fairy tale re-imagining is my third read towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

New Books: April 2015

New Books - April #1

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

Guy Martin: My Autobiography by Guy Martin

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I was lent all of these by a book loving, family friend. I have rather a soft spot for Guy Martin having watched and loved several of his TV shows on history, machines and speed so I hope I will also enjoy his autobiography. I have also recently enjoyed the two film adaptations of Veronica Roth’s Dystopian series so I am looking forward to reading these.

New Books - April #2

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Blood on the Bayou by D J Donaldson

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Quarry and The Martian have been passed on to me now my father has read them. I sadly still haven’t read anything by Banks perhaps this could be my first and I’ve heard lots of good things about The Martian. Then I was lent The Miniaturist by my mother with glowing praise for how much she enjoyed it. And finally I received a copy of supernatural, crime Blood on the Bayou for my Kindle from the publishers

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

Re-Read: The Two Towers

The Two Towers

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 it has been over 10 years since I re-read The Lord of the Rings. The start of April saw me reaching for The Two Towers to continue my long over due re-read.

This is the second book of the trilogy so this post may contain spoilers.

The Two Towers  returns us to Middle-Earth after the destruction of the fellowship. Frodo, the ring bearer, has gone on with only his trusted friend Sam. Together they must trust Gollum, an unlikely guide, to find a secret path over and through the mountains into Mordor. Meanwhile Merry and Pippin have been kidnapped by a cruel band of orcs working for the traitor wizard Saruman. Those that remain of the fellowship set out on a dangerous and gruelling chase to rescue them before they reach Isengard, and surely torture and death.

The destruction of the fellowship makes for some really interesting character development and dynamics. Frodo and Sam’s friendship becomes only stronger but they now must contend with the duplicity of Gollum. Merry and Pippin’s kidnap gives them the opportunity to stand on their own two feet and show perhaps they aren’t so naïve and foolish. However it is the journey and camaraderie of the survivors of the fellowship that I found most interesting; Aragorn, Legolas the woodland elf and Gimli the dwarf. I particular loved the unlikely friendship that forms between Legolas and Gimli.

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 as The Hobbit. On re-reading The Two Towers I found it to be another intricate and enchanting tale. Every word is precious to Tolkien and again he uses them here perfectly to really bring Middle-Earth alive. I found The Two Towers a quicker and easier read than The Fellowship of Ring. Introductions have been made and now it is time to get on with the real adventure. However that is not to say new lands, creatures and characters are not introduced but the core characters and background are there to support the reader.

The Two Towers is an intricate, epic, and enchanting tale. I highly recommend to those who enjoy epic fantasy. I look forward to re-reading The Return of the King next. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the films?

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

New Read: Rebellion

Rebellion

In 2013 I read Tudors the 2nd volume of Peter Ackroyd’s The History of England and I found it fascinating. So when I saw the 3rd volume Rebellion subtitled The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution I had to give it a go. In this post I will refer to this book as Rebellion which is the US title because that is the title my copy came with however the UK title is Civil War.

Rebellion chronicles the Stuart monarchs. On the death of Elizabeth I the throne went to James I; previously James VI of Scotland. We probably only know James for the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ so it was interesting to find out more about him. The throne then went to his second son Charles I. Sadly Charles is very well known for the Civil War which he lost and subsequently he also lost his head. Here there is a gap in the Stuart line where Oliver Cromwell rules over England as Lord Protector; a hard-line Puritan reign. No wonder on Cromwell’s death the Stuart heir Charles II was welcomed back. Unfortunately he was a disappointment and his brother James I was even worse. James is a Catholic so is replaced by his daughter Mary II and her husband William of Orange without any bloodshed.

Before reading this I always thought my sympathies lay with the Royalist cause. Mainly because the Puritan reign sounds hellish without any theatre, festivals or fun! On reading more about James I and Charles I though I can totally sympathise why you would want to get rid of them. They spent well beyond their means, and totally disregarded parliament and English common law. However when Oliver Cromwell and the army took power they didn’t come across as any better either. I think really the people were stuck between a stone and a hard place for the entirety of this time period.

This is the second book I have read by Peter Ackroyd and I would like to read more. Ackroyd is a prolific writer so I have plenty to read as well as looking forward to the release of the 4th volume of The History of England.  I thought Rebellion was well written using enough academic language and detail without going off over my head. It has been well researched and I enjoyed the extra references to literature, theatre, art and science of the time period. The structure was a little of a disappointment for me though as a huge chunk of the book is given way to the Civil War which of course was long, complicated and important but that did seem to leave little space to then discuss Charles II and James I. They felt a bit squeezed in at the end.

I thought Rebellion was a detailed and fascinating look into the Stuart monarchs, their downfalls, and the Civil War. I recommend to those interested in English history. Good read.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or anything else by Ackroyd? 

Adaptations: April 2015 (1)

Adaptations

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 watched over the Easter bank holiday in April:

Emma (2009)          Read     TV Series     Television
Four part BBC costume drama based on the classic novel by Jane Austen. I had fond memories of this from when it was first aired and was happy to find it was still as delightful as I remember. Sumptuous costumes and settings, and a wonderful cast including Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller. Perfect for a drizzly Good Friday afternoon. Great watch.

Sense and Sensibility (2008)          Read     TV Series     Television
Three part BBC costume drama based on the classic novel by Jane Austen which I seem to have missed as it was first aired while I was in my final year at university. This was being shown on the same drizzly Good Friday. Again sumptuous costumes and settings, and a wonderful cast. Some changes and additions have been made to story and characters. I don’t feel it quite surpassed the 1995 film but still a Great watch.

Divergent (2014)          Not Read     Film     DVD
Dystopian, action drama based on the young adult novel by Veronica Roth. I was lent this on DVD by a friend to catch up so we can go see the sequel together. I must admit this was much better than I thought it would be. Great special effects, interesting plot and characters, and it was rather amusing in parts too. Good watch.

King of Kings (1961)          Read     Film     Television
Biblical drama following the life of Jesus inspired by the New Testament of the Bible. I think the makers took some artistic licence with the costumes and character profiles however they picked some beautiful and moving quotes from Jesus, and there was even some witty moments too. This was perfect to settle down to after lunch on Easter Sunday. Good watch.

Insurgent (2015)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
Dystopian, action drama based on the young adult novel by Veronica Roth; sequel to Divergent (2014). I think this lost some of the impetus of the first film but it still had great special effects, interesting plot and characters, and some amusing parts too. Ended on something of a cliff hanger. Sadly got to a wait a year now for the next film fortunately my friend has lent me the books. Good watch.

The Ark (2015)          Read     TV Film     Television
Biblical BBC drama based on the story of ‘Noah’s Ark’ from the Old Testament of the Bible. An interesting retelling with in-depth characters played by a great ensemble cast, with special effects, and beautiful cinematography. Really made my father and me think. Great watch.

To have watched six highly entertaining adaptations and we’re not even two weeks into April I think is amazing. The Easter bank holiday really was a bumper time for me. I look forward to what else I manage to watch this month.

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

New Read: Red Rose, White Rose

Red Rose White Rose

As we changed the clocks for British summertime we were unfortunately treated to many gloomy, cold and wet days. In which case I was happy to escape into the past with Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson.

Red Rose, White Rose takes us back to the year 1433 as Cicely Neville the ‘Rose of Raby’ is to become the bride of Richard, the Duke of York. A dynastic marriage to bring together the house of York and Lancaster. While the marriage is a success there is still tension in the land. There is an uneasy and turbulent relationship between the strong Duke of York and the weak Lancastrian King Henry and his French Queen. A relationship which is to break down in 1455 with disastrous consequences sweeping Cicely, her whole family, and the country into a bloody war. What we now know as the War of the Roses.

Red Rose, White Rose is narrated by Cicely and her (fictionalised) half brother Cuthbert. Cicely is a strong and beautiful woman who also has the much deserved nickname of ‘Proud Cis’ from her siblings. While I found it fascinating to read about Cicely I’m not sure I always liked her. I had much more of an affinity for Cuthbert. The illegitimate son of Ralph Neville who is taken in by his father’s new wife and trained as a knight. Cuthbert is down to earth, loving and loyal. He is able to give us a glimpse of the lower classes and the battle field which Cicely is unable to.

Red Rose, White Rose is the first novel I have read by Joanna Hickson. I am pleased to say I also have The Agincourt Bride waiting for me on my Kindle. I thought that Red Rose, White Rose was well written, detailed and very believable; only a few chapters in I was swept away with it all. I think Cicely Neville was a good choice for a protagonist. I have only encountered her once before in the BBC’s adaptation of The White Queen. Hickson has chosen only to show Cicely’s life up to the crowning of her son Edward. I couldn’t help not seeing this as a happy ending though knowing the drama that was still to come. Hickson has of course had to fictionalise some conversations and characters such as Cuthbert. At the end of the novel there is a short  section where Hickson discusses the real historical characters, events and facts she took inspiration from.

Red Rose, White Rose is an interesting look into the earlier life of the mother of Edward IV and Richard III. I recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction and British history. Good read.

Thank you to Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction/Blue Door for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or anything else by Joanna Hickson?

New Read: Beautiful Attitudes

Beautiful Attitudes

As a practicing Christian I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and to hear what other Christians have to say. After finishing The Ancient Path by John Michael Talbot I chose Beautiful Attitudes: Living out the Christian Manifesto by Scott Evans from my Kindle to-be-read folder.

In the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Jesus shared his revolutionary ideas, values and teachings. These were to be some of the founding beliefs of the disciples and the new Christian followers, and those that were to follow them. In Beautiful Attitudes Evans discusses the set of teachings called the Beatitudes which Jesus began the sermon with in more detail and tries to relate them to life today.

Beautiful Attitudes is the first book I have read by Scott Evans; he is not an author I had heard of before. My attention was brought to this work when I saw it offered for free on Amazon. I thought Beautiful Attitudes was well written and interesting with a nice mixture of references and personal stories. I found it a comforting read and it did help reinforce some thoughts I have had myself. I did not find it as profound or as challenging as some of my previous Christian reads.

Beautiful Attitudes is an interesting look into the relevance of the Beatitudes in our lives as modern Christians. You may enjoy this if you are interested in Christian non-fiction. Okay read.

Have you read this? Or other work about the Beatitudes?