Top Ten Tuesday: My Top 10… Recent TV Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Page to Screen Freebie

As I am currently gripped by the eighth and final series of the brilliant Game of Thrones, I thought I would share with you ten other great, recent TV shows based on books.

  1. Sherlock (2010 – ) – An amazing, modern twist on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. From the brilliant minds of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, and starring the equally brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson.
  2. Endeavour (2012 – ) – Long-running, nostalgic ITV crime drama, based on Colin Dexter’s characters and prequel to the Inspector Morse series, which follows the young Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse in the 1960’s.
  3. Killing Eve (2018 – ) – A thrilling, cat-and-mouse drama, based on Luke Jennings’ thriller series, as a low-wrung MI5 officer, Eve Polastri chases down the deadly female assassin, Villanelle. This had me gripped, scared and laughing in equal measure!
  4. Shetland (2013 – ) – Long-running, atmospheric BBC crime drama, based on Ann Cleeve’s characters, that follows Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and his team as they solve gripping, dark and twisting cases, all set against the beautiful, rugged, isolated islands of Shetland.
  5. Inspector George Gently (2007-2017) – A much-loved, nostalgic crime drama, inspired by Alan Hunter’s novels, that follows incorruptible Inspector George Gently and his sergeant, John Bacchus as they solve crime and tackle corruption in Northern England in the 1960’s.
  6. The Last Kingdom (2015 – ) – An epic, gritty historical drama, based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon novels, that follows Uhtred (son of a Saxon nobleman, raised by a Viking lord) as he tries to protect his family and win back his title and lands, during a bloody time in British history.
  7. The City and the City (2018) – Gripping, four-part science-fiction/crime noir drama, based on China Miéville’s novel. Set in the fictional twin cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma, Inspector Tyador Borlú as he investigates the murder of a young woman. Thinking-cap required, but it is worth it.
  8. A Very English Scandal (2018) – A British three-part drama, based on John Preston’s book, about the 1970’s political scandal of Liberal Democrats leader, Jeremy Thorpe’s trial for conspiring to murder his former lover, Norman Scott A very funny, yet chilling watch!
  9. The Miniaturist (2017) – A sumptuous two-part, period drama, based on Jessie Burton’s bestselling debut novel, which takes us back to 1680’s Amsterdam, where me meet young Nella Oortman, her doll’s house and the web of dangers she finds herself within.
  10. Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling & The Silkworm (2017) – Crime drama, based on the novels of Robert Galbraith aka J K Rowling, following detective Cormoran Strike and his capable, new assistant Robin; as they tackle two dark, complex mysteries: first, the apparent suicide of a young model and second, the disappearance of a controversial writer.

Have you watched any of my choices? What recent TV adaptations would you recommend? Also, please share your link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s TTT topic too.


Cookbooks: April 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as we have moved further into spring and enjoyed some milder weather (plus a mini-heatwave over the Easter weekend), I tried these comforting but lighter recipes:

Jool’s Sweet Pea & Prawn Pasta Shells
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Fish – Page 240

Perfect for a busy, weekday this can be easily rustled up last-minute from store cupboard and freezer essentials: dried pasta, tomato puree, frozen peas and frozen prawns. The only fresh ingredients called for are garlic and one red chilli, although I think you could probably substitute for dried chilli flakes. So a super quick, super tasty dish, which I served up with a lightly dressed green salad. Yum! Great recipe.

Cheddar & Pea Omelette
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Bonus Recipes – Page 260

I love an omelette because let’s face it, it is like the best, healthy fast food. For this one, you simply soften half a finely chopped onion, add some frozen peas, mix in your beaten eggs, and finish with grated cheddar cheese, fold and serve! Simple, quick and tasty. I served with a side of salad and pickles, which made a lovely meal for one. Great recipe.

Home-Made Fishcakes
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Family Favourites – Page 52

After making the White Bean and Tuna Fishcakes, I thought I would try these more traditional ones made with white fish, smoked haddock and potato. With more fish and less potato these are less calorific and even tastier. Win, win! There are quite a few steps to making these, but they are relatively simple. However one of these wouldn’t satisfy our larger appetites, so I cheekily made two each. Good recipe.

Garlicky Green Beans
Save With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
Beef – Page 150

As I invited my grandad round to celebrate Easter Sunday, I thought this might be a nice, new accompaniment for my favourite, stress-free One-Pan Lamb Roast. And this kept things easy, as it only involved me frying green beans (from frozen) with some garlic! It went well with our roast, which we enjoyed al fresco on the patio in the stunning Easter sunshine. Good recipe.

So altogether that’s four tasty, new recipes tried. I also remade The Hairy Dieters’ Veggie Bean Burgers and Sausages and Rich Onion Gravy (both from Book 2). All in all another good month of cooking and eating.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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

New Read: Love Wins

As a practicing Christian, I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and I am very lucky that my church has it’s own book club to help me with this. In April, we read The Death of Western Christianity by Patrick Sookhdeo, although I was unable to make the club’s meeting to discuss it, it was still an important read for me. Next up to read was Love Wins by megachurch pastor Rob Bell.

In Love Wins, Bell ambitiously addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith: hell and the afterlife. In doing so he challenges many long-held beliefs and tries to answer some big, troubling questions, which have long troubled millions of Christians – troubled so deeply that in many cases they have lost their faith. For example, would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever? I would say no and so does Bell, who with searing insight, puts hell on trial with the hopeful message of eternal life doesn’t start when we die, it starts right now and that ultimately, love wins.

Bell, as an author, pastor, and innovative teacher, uses his considerable bible knowledge and charisma to present his distinctive thoughts on heaven, hell, God, Jesus, salvation, and repentance. Personally, while I didn’t agree with everything, I did find Bell’s arguments refreshing and thought-provoking, but I could also see how his ideas have courted controversy in more orthodox Christian quarters. In particular, his thoughts on no fiery pit of hell or heaven in the clouds, and instead we can start building heaven right here on Earth and there are people living in hells of their own making right now, rang very true to me.

There were other ideas that I found difficult to get my head around completely. Now the reason for this was two-fold: 1. Bell is offering up some pretty big, radical ideas, but also 2. the style Bell uses isn’t always the easiest follow. In his passion, he loses himself in longer, racing sweeps of detail, which gives us swathes of ideas and evidence to process. While – in stark contrast – he also uses bullet point style lists of short, sharp words and phrases, which hit home his key ideas. Both are great techniques if you are on board and keeping up with him, sometimes though I got a little lost in it all and found I needed to go back and re-read sections.

Overall, I thought Love Wins was an in-depth, insightful examination of some of the more challenging aspects of the Christian faith. Many of Bell’s ideas chimed with my own inklings and others really got me thinking! My group will be meeting later this month and I think this is shaping up to be a very interesting discussion. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you read anything else by Rob Bell?

Adaptations: April 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, here is what I watched in April:

Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Not Read     Film     Television

Finally I caught this 2017 science fiction film, based on the Japanese manga by Masamune Shirow, as it made its network premiere. In the near future, Major (Scarlet Johansson) is cyber-enhanced to be the perfect soldier, devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals, but events will have her questioning who is the real enemy? This film has received much criticism, however, while perhaps not great, I thought it was cool. Good watch.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Not Read     Film     Cinema

Then madly I found myself at the cinema, opening weekend, to see this highly anticipated fourth superhero bonanza, based on the Marvel Comics’ hero team. Five years after the terrible consequences of the Infinity Wars, the remaining Avengers must figure out a way to do the impossible: to go back to defeat Thanos and bring back their lost friends. A visually stunning, whirlwind adventure, that made me laugh, made me cry, and was a brilliant return to top form for Marvel. Great watch.

That’s two new-to-me adaptations watched and I enjoyed a comforting re-watch of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of Ring (2001), which brings my grand total up to three adaptations watched over the month. However that’s not all, I also started watching American fantasy drama Once Upon a Time (Series 1), the German war drama Das Boot (2018), and the long awaited finale of the epic fantasy Game of Thrones (Series 8).

As for non-adaptations, I watched two fascinating BBC documentaries that re-examined the evidence and investigations into two of the most notorious murder cases in Britain: Jack the Ripper – The Case Reopened (2019) and The Case of the Yorkshire Ripper: A Very British Crime Story (2019).

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

Goodbye April, Hello May 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? April has been another super busy month with a rainy school residential trip, an Agape Meal on Maundy Thursday, a gloriously sunny Easter Sunday, a St George’s Day extravaganza in our castle grounds and a lovely trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Where did my two weeks off go?! Even with all that though, I enjoyed some great reading, especially in my garden in the mini-heatwave we had. Here’s what I read:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 1

First, I lost myself in the historical fiction The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson, which continues Hickson’s War of the Roses story from the brilliant The First of the Tudors. I didn’t love it as much as the first book, however it was still a fascinating glimpse into the lost history of Henry Tudor’s exile. Then I moved on to the riotous fantasy Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, the eighth instalment in Pratchett’s fantastical Discworld series and the first book following Captain Vimes and his ramshackle Night’s Watch. With magic, a secret society, mysterious goings-on, incompetent policing and dragons, what is not to love?!

Alongside these fictions, I also read the Christian non-fiction Love Wins by Rob Bell, which challenges the old presumptions of heaven and hell, and offers courageous, provocative alternative answers. My church’s book club will meet to discuss this at the end of May.

Pick of the Month: Guards! Guards!

Altogether that is three books read. During the month, I also read a little more of Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley  and the turn-of-the-century classic Howards End by E. M. Forster. I also started reading historical fiction By Sword and Storm by Margaret Skea: the eagerly anticipated conclusion to her Munro Scottish trilogy.

In May, I look forward to celebrating my brother’s special birthday and to a short term and so another week off very soon! A quieter month, with hopefully even more time for reading.

What did you do and read in April? What are your plans for May?

New Read: The Tudor Crown

I absolutely loved Joanna Hickson’s brilliant First of the Tudors, about the often neglected Jasper Tudor, but I was left wanting more! So I have been looking forward to this second historical fiction, The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson, which continues the same story from the point-of-view of Jasper’s nephew, Henry Tudor.

In September 1471, we join the fourteen-year-old Henry Tudor, as he flees for his life across the channel to seek asylum in France, with his uncle Jasper Tudor and Lord Jasper’s young half-brother Davy, his mistress Jane Hywel and their youngest daughter Sian. Henry is the only son of Lancastrian heiress, Lady Margaret Beaufort, which – with the return of the Yorkist king, Edward IV to his throne after the dubious deaths of Henry VI and his son, Edward – puts Henry’s life in danger, because he is now one of only two remaining Lancastrian male heirs.

Blown seriously off course, in a perilous crossing, they eventually land safely in Brittany, where Henry is promised the protection of Duke Francis II. He then spends the next 14 years being raised in a style befitting a lord, but always as a relative prisoner. These years give us plenty of time to get to know Henry and see him grow into a strong, pragmatic man. Like Jasper in the previous novel, I had never read a novel solely about Henry – in Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen, Henry is portrayed as an old, fickle and penny-pinching king – so it was interesting to see him as a young man in exile.

Through all these years his young half-uncle Davy becomes his constant companion, when he is sadly separated from his uncle Jasper and his childhood governess, Jane is sent back to England with her daughter. Again Hickson has cleverly pieced together the little that is known about Henry’s exile and believably filled in the gaps. Even creating a love interest for Henry in the form of the mysterious Catherine de Belleville, based on the historic fact that once king, Henry granted a position and pension to an unknown Roland de Belleville (which caused suspicion he was his illegitimate son).

Meanwhile the real drama is unfolding back in England with the sudden death of Edward IV, Richard III usurping the throne and the princes in the Tower. All of which we learn about through the eyes and letters of Henry’s mother, Margaret. Hickson continues her more sympathetic portrayal of Margaret – very different to that in The Red Queen – even showing the love and care she had for her ‘nestlings’: young wards she took in and raised in her own household. While this was an interesting, new side of her for me to see, I am not sure I completely believed this softer Margaret could have survived, thrived and ultimately put her son on the throne in this turbulent time.

All in all, I thought The Tudor Crown was a fascinating glimpse into the lost history of Henry Tudor’s exile, but sadly I just didn’t love or believe in Henry and Margaret like I had Jasper and Jane in the previous book. 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 read anything else about Henry Tudor?

Re-Read: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

I rounded off a wonderful month of reading in March with Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, which completed my planned re-read of Collins’ highly successful, young adult dystopian trilogy, The Hunger Games. That spawned an equally successful film franchise. After enjoying the films a lot, I was excited to remind myself of the extra details in the books. (Warning: this will contain spoilers for the previous two books).

Against even worse odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived a second Hunger Games, after being dramatically rescued from the arena by the rebels from the believed to be destroyed District 13. However she awakes from her drug induced sleep to be confronted with the devastating news that in retribution for her perceived rebellion, The Capital has utterly destroyed her home, District 12, killing almost all of its poor, innocent inhabitants. Also the rebels were unable to save Peeta and so he is now a prisoner of the ruthless President Snow, who can use him as a tool to hurt and threaten Katniss.

Feeling betrayed, guilt-ridden and bereft Katniss finds it hard to settle with the small group of District 12 survivors – which thankfully includes her mother, sister and best friend Gale – into the strict, unfamiliar life in District 13. Often shirking her responsibilities by hiding and losing herself in the sweet oblivion of sleep. The first time I read this I really struggled with Katniss’ apathy, lack of action and bitterness, however I sympathised much more this time. Reading these books closely together I have better followed Katniss’ character arc and perhaps love her even more. Although there were still moments I was hurt by her lack of patience for a certain character.

All in all though who could really blame her, being desperate to save Peeta, she made a secret pact with their mentor, Haymitch, only for him to help District 13 rescue her instead. There is also the fact a rebellion has been started in her name, which she neither wanted or was asked about, and now Peeta is being punished for it. However if she wants to make all this loss and suffering mean something, she will have put aside her anger and distrust to become the ‘Mockingjay’ and head a rebellion to topple the tyrant President Snow and destroy the Capitol’s stranglehold on the downtrodden districts.

What I did still struggle with on this second reading was the pace and flow of this final instalment. This is heightened by the fact book one and two just gripped and swept me away in the drama and tension of the arena. While this book with the loss of the arena feels a little slow, sluggish and clunky, as Collins tries to fit everything in and tie up all the loose ends. Except for a small section, where Katniss is finally released to fight alongside the rebels facing some nasty traps, akin to the arena scenes in the previous books.

Even with the pacing issues however The Hunger Games: Mockingjay is still a powerful, gritty, dystopian adventure, that has lost none of its edge or shock on re-reading it, and it is a fitting end to this brilliant trilogy. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the films?