Challenge: 10 Books of Summer

10 Books of Summer

Hello my fellow bookworms, June is almost upon us and that will mean the official start of summer (although, here in the UK that might be hard to believe with the recent patchy weather) and that means it is time again for Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer challenge (with the option to read 10 or 15 as well).

Last year was the first year I took part, I made a list of 10 physical books and managed to read 6 of them which I thought was not half bad for my first attempt. This year I have decided to make a list of 5 physical books and 5 e-books – I hope this mixture will help me read all 10! Here are my 10 books (in alphabetically order):

~ 1 ~

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I have read and enjoyed all of the thrilling adventures of Robert Langdon, yet I seem to have missed this one! (Plus I am super excited about the release of the film adaptation of Langdon’s last adventure, Inferno)

~ 2 ~

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

I have heard such great things about this book and then the lovely Lynn sent me her copy – I am super excited to read it.

~ 3 ~

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Sadly this book has been in my Kindle’s TBR folder for too long…even though I heard great things about this book and author.

~ 4 ~

A Feast for Crows by George R R Martin

I am currently watching the amazing 6th series of Game of Thrones and, this summer, I am looking forward to continuing with the books.

~ 5 ~

Wendy Darling, Volume 1: Stars by Colleen Oakes

Another book that has been in my Kindle’s TBR folder for too long…even though I have loved all my previous reads by Oakes.

~ 6 ~

The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien

This is the latest historical fiction from Anne O’Brien, who is rapidly becoming a go-to author for me when I am in a historical mood.

~ 7 ~

Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver

I have enjoyed many documentaries presented by historian Neil Oliver, so I am interested to read his first foray into historical fiction.

~ 8 & 9 ~

Trouble at the Little Village School by Gervase Phinn

The School Inspector Calls! by Gervase Phinn

I actually read the 1st book of this series as part of this challenge last year. A sweet and fun series about a small village school, perfect for summer.

~ 10 ~

A House Divided by Margaret Skea

I recently read the 1st Munro book, Turn of the Tide, by Skea and I am really looking forward to this, the 2nd book.

Are you taking part in this summer challenge? Are there any of these books you think I should read first?

The Classics Club: Monthly Meme #41

The Classics Club

Each month The Classics Club releases a question to get club members thinking, discussing and sharing; either on the official site or their own sites. This month’s question is a rewind from January 2014, originally contributed by club member Ruth (who joined in March 2012):

“Which character from classic literature is most important or influential to you and why? Or which character do you most despise and why?”

I am going to go for an important and influential classic character. It is a toughy though, because there are so many great classic characters out there to choose from. I think for me though a really influential character, a character I have looked up to, is Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Elinor is loving, patient, practical and stoic – if I could be just a tenth of how loving and patient she is, I would be over the moon. I particularly have to admire her when she conceals her own pain to support and comfort her sister, Marianne, who goes into complete meltdown. Don’t get me wrong I like Marianne, but it really does become the Marianne show when she has her heartbroken by Willoughby; yet Elinor’s heart has been broken too. However there is also a touching scene, towards the end of the book, when Marianne realises how her sister has been suffering in silence and Elinor finally gets a little of the credit she deserves; and the all important happy ending!

Which classic character has been most important or influential to you and why?

Adaptations: April – May 2016


Hello my fellow bookworms, adaptation lovers and any of those dropping over from the Book to Movie challenge; here are the adaptations I’ve watched recently:

The Night Manager (2016)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

A gripping, gritty espionage drama from the BBC based on John le Carré’s 1993 novel. Jonathan Pine, the night manager, is drawn into the glamorous, dark and deadly world of his arms dealing guests. A strong production with amazing performances from Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Coleman. Once I started watching, I pretty much watched the whole series in a row!


Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Not Read     Film     Cinema

An action-packed superhero adventure based on Marvel characters created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The UN wish to curb the freedom of the Avengers, a decision which will tear the group apart with Ironman and Captain America leading the opposing fractions. A fun superhero romp full of spectacular effects and epic fights. I warn you though its very long!


 Ant-Man (2015)
Not Read     Film     Apple TV

Another action-packed superhero adventure based on Marvel characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby. A well-meaning thief, Scott Lang, is enlisted to help a scientist protect his shrinking suit technology from falling into the wrong hands. Great special effects and fights and, while not the coolest hero it makes up for it with, a whole lot of laughs.


Graeme of Thrones (12.05.2016)
Read     Play     Theatre

A raucous parody play of George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire book series, which the performers say is apparently how Game of Thrones should have been done! An absolutely hilarious night out, highly recommended for Martin/Game of Thrones fans.


Big Hero 6 (2014)
Not Read     Film     Television

Disney’s 54th animated classic and 1st superhero film, based on Marvel characters created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau. In San Fransokyo, 14-year-old robotics genius Hiro and his new robot friend Baymax must stop a masked-villain. A fun and touching family adventure that put a big smile on my face; mainly because of the amazing Baymax.


Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)
Not Read     Film     DVD

Dystopian, action sequel to The Maze Runner (2014), based on James Dashner’s young adult book series. Thomas and his friend are out of the maze in the dangerous, damaged real-world but can they really trust anyone? A heart-racing adventure with a darker, horror edge to it than the first film; bring on the next one!


I also enjoyed a hilarious re-watch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), in preparation for the release of the sequel later this year; which means I have had an epic superhero time and brings my total up to 7 adaptations. I sadly haven’t been able to see the new live-action The Jungle Book (2016) yet but I am currently watching the amazing 6th series of Game of Thrones!

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

New Books: May 2016

New Books - May

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

Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

I have enjoyed all of Jamie’s TV cookery shows, particularly his ‘Money Saving Meals’ (which this cookbook accompanies) that was full of simple, wholesome, well balanced and affordable family meals. I thought if I saw this cookbook for about £10 I’d treat myself, then I saw it for £6 – bargain!

Lady on the Coin by Margaret Campbell Barnes

The Early Life of Anne Boleyn by J H Round

Faith and Moonlight 2 by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

I picked up for review from Netgalley, historical fiction Lady on the Coin, which I previously read a great review of, and an early history of the fascinating Anne Boleyn (both from Endeavour Press), plus another instalment from Gelineau and King’s Echo of the Ascended fantasy series.

Murder from the Newsdesk by Peter Bartram

Destined by Jordan Pinkney and Will Lenzen JR

I was then contacted by the authors about these books. First, I accepted a review copy of Destined by Will Lenzen JR; the first book in a new, exciting, young adult series. Then, Peter Bartram contacted me to let me know his new collection of crime stories is currently available for free on Amazon UK and US – I couldn’t help downloading it to find out what it was all about for myself.

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

New Read: Turn of the Tide

Turn of the Tide

Earlier this year, I was contacted by the author, Margaret Skea, about her two novels; set in 16th century Scotland – she described them as historical fiction written with Christian values. Enjoying historical fiction and being a Christian, I didn’t wait long to pick up the first book, Turn of the Tide.

On a dark, stormy night in an isolated ravine the Earl of Glencairn and the Cunninghames set a deadly ambush for their long-time rivals, the Montgomeries. The whole retinue, high and low born a like, are massacred which leads to a string of bloody reprisals across the land. Finally, the young James VI must step in to stop the chaos; forcing the leaders of the clans to sign a peace treaty. While they outwardly keep the peace, the rivalry continues as they vie for the favour of the king, the tension grows and the ascendancy of Hugh Montgomerie only antagonises the vicious Cunninghame heir, William, further.

I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this bloody, family drama during the reign of the young James VI in Scotland; a period of history I have never read about before. In fact, it is well documented that the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries did have a long-standing rivalry, with attacks and deaths on both sides. For the purposes of this story though, the author has chosen to portray the Earl of Glencairn as the antagonist and his heir, William, as the villain; and what a villain he makes! While Hugh Montgomerie gets to play the more sympathetic role – he is filled with anger and longs for justice yet he also wishes for the bloodshed to end.

The author cleverly steps out from the real history to narrate the story to us through the fictional Munro and his family. Munro is an honest and hardworking man who has been dragged into this terrible feud due to his forefathers long-standing allegiance to the Cunninghames. He is sickened by the part he played in the bloody ambush, at the beginning of the book, but he felt he had to do it to protect his family. He may respect Glencairn but his dislike and fear of William turns to outright hatred, as he witnesses first hand William’s selfishness and cruelty. Dangerously, Munro and his family also find themselves being drawn towards the true friendship that Hugh and his family offer.

This tale had me on the edge of my seat through out! I found Munro to be a likeable protagonist, William a horrible villain, Hugh an interesting alternative and James VI a vain and silly king. I thought Skea brought her real and fictional characters alive beautifully – I believed in them, rooted for them and feared for them in this dark, hard and bloody time period. A period which was so well evoked through the costume, customs, language and bleak landscape the characters dwelt within and used. In particular, I appreciated Skea’s use of a realistic dialect yet still something we could understand today – if you did become a little stuck there is an extensive glossary to help.

In conclusion, I found Turn of the Tide to be a gripping and fascinating 16th century tale of family, rivalry and death. I can’t wait to read the second Munro book, A House Divided. Great read.

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

Have you read this? Any recommendations for other historical fiction from this time period?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Whim Books

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is:

Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim

I can be a sucker for a pretty cover which is the main culprit for my whim book buying, however there are other reasons and it was interesting to see how I came by my 10 choices. Listed alphabetically by author, here are 10 of my favourite whim buys/reads:

~ 1 ~

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

This is a beautiful, emotional charged look into the siege of Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), during WWII, through the jumbled memories of a lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. I came across this completely by chance when searching for books on mental illness for a reading challenge, and boy was I pleased I did!

~ 2 ~

The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson

I snapped up a free e-copy of this Mediterranean suspense from Amazon (UK) just hoping for some mysterious fun in the sun, however I got a whole lot more from this wonderful novel. I would definitely like to read more by this author.

~ 3 ~

Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

Again, I discovered this novel and author when searching for books on mental illness for a reading challenge; plus it has a gorgeous purple cover! I thought it was a beautiful book which led me to reading 4 more novels by Gillard, and I look forward to reading more.

~ 4 ~

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

I used up my scanty remains off an Amazon gift card on this beautiful suspense novel, as I had vaguely heard good things about Kearsley and it had a pretty cover. 4 novels later and Kearsley is one of my favourite authors!

~ 5 ~

For Tibet, with Love by Isabel Losada
(now known as A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World)

I knew nothing about the book, the topic or the author yet this wacky memoir had to come home with me, due mainly to it’s stunning cover and intriguing premise.

~ 6 ~

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

A striking silver and purple Venice-esque  cover, an intriguing alternative, fantasy setting and only £1 in The Works; it had to be bought! Sadly I didn’t go on to read the sequel, something I really must rectify soon.

~ 7 ~

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Obviously, I had heard of du Maurier when I bought this but never read any of her novels let alone a short story collection (something I didn’t really read at this point). Knowing the author and Hitchcock’s classic film, I went for it and wasn’t disappointed. I have since read more du Maurier and more short story collections.

~ 8 ~

Initiate by Tara Maya

When the author contacted me, I had never heard of them or the book. However the pretty cover and an intriguing premise got me to read this Polynesian inspired fantasy tale; the 1st book in The Unfinished Song series. 5 books later…and I want more!

~ 9 ~

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

This was a whim request in the early days of my Netgalley use, as a re-imagining of Wonderland through the eyes of Dinah, the future Queen of Hearts, sounded amazing! I never thought my request would actually be granted.

~ 10 ~

The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian

This was another surprising request granted on Netgalley, this time whilst I was looking for some new and interesting Christian non-fiction. An amazingly, inspiring book – I now pick up and/or request anything I can by Omartian.

What are some of your favourite whim reads? Have you made any whim purchases recently? Have you read any of my favourite whim reads?

New Read: Henry IV

Henry IV

This political history of Henry IV by Chris Given-Wilson came my way at just the right time. After enjoying historical fiction The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien (about Henry’s sister, Elizabeth) I was thrilled at the chance to read about some of the real history that inspired it.

The first half of the book looks at Henry as the heir to his powerful father, John of Gaunt – Duke of Lancaster (the 4th son of Edward III). Henry grew up in a time where the House of Lancaster was regaining the power and prestige  it had formerly had. Henry enjoyed a good education, a successful marriage, wealth and hands on experience travelling Europe: jousting, crusading, courting foreign dignitaries and he even made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He was shaping up to be a model knight and lord (and possible king). However the family’s re-ascendency and Henry’s success made for an uneasy relationship with his cousin, Richard II, that culminated in his banishment in 1398 and the denial of his inheritance in 1399.

I actually found the second half of the book, Henry as king, less gripping. This is not the author or books fault, but because Henry didn’t really seem to deliver on the promise he’d shown. While Richard II had been a deeply unpopular king, Henry was to find people don’t like usurpers either. To give him his due, he was a fair king who listened and worked with the Commons and Lords. Yet he still suffered with mismanagement, a lack of resources and overspending. His reign was also plagued with rebellions in Wales and Ireland, incursions by the French into Guyenne and Calais, and the Scots raiding the northern borders. The latter half of his reign also saw him suffer terrible health that eventually ended in a slow, painful death in 1413.

The author discusses how he chose to focus on Henry IV because he is a rather forgotten king – other than being the usurper of Richard II and father of the Agincourt hero Henry V, what do most people know about him? I can honestly say before reading this, I knew nothing more. I learnt a lot from this book and I came to appreciate more the longstanding feud between Lancaster and York. The author also warns the reader, so I will too, that this book is a political history; not a personal history. This didn’t bother me because it is surprising how much personality and character you can draw from letters, meetings, taxes, loans, laws and decrees. However if you are less acquainted with reading non-fiction this might not be the best place to start.

I thought this political history of Henry IV was a detailed, informative and interesting read – it has wetted my appetite to read more non-fiction and novels from this time period. 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? Any recommendations for books about Henry IV?