New Books: May – June 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, during May and a little into June I added these goodies to my Kindle and bookshelf:

Wendy Darling, Volume 3: Shadow by Colleen Oakes

By Blood Divided by James Heneage

Watling Street by John Higgs

During May, I was lucky enough to receive these three review copies via Netgalley. By Blood Divided and Watling Street were quite whim requests, however I have been waiting (not so patiently) for volume 3 to finish off Oakes’ Wendy Darling trilogy for a while.

Learn to Knit by Fiona Goble

Knitted Home Crafts by DK

At the end of May, I treated myself to these two beginner knitting books, which were going for a song in The Works. My nan taught me the basics of knitting as a child, but sadly I have never taken it much further – I thought these had some nice, simple home projects I could have a go at.

Death of a Gossip by M C Beaton

Death of a Cad by M C Beaton

Then, just sneaking into June, my dad treated me to the first two books in M C Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series. He’d spotted a book he really wanted in The Works, and we all know you might as well go for the brilliant 3 for £5 deal in there! I really like Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, so it should be fun to try her other famous crime series.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books have you got recently?

New Read: My Cousin Rachel

I have been meaning to read more by Daphne du Maurier for some time (my last was Jamaica Inn back in 2015!), and after getting some feedback from other bloggers, it was pretty conclusive that I should read My Cousin Rachel next. Started back in March, it wasn’t till the sun emerged in May that I found myself really in the mood for it.

Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised solely by his older cousin, Ambrose; a resolutely single man that delights in Philip as an heir. But as a young man, his cosy world is shattered when Ambrose is forced by ill health to leave Cornwall for the warmth of Florence. While there he falls deeply in love and marries – and then dies suddenly. Leaving Philip grief-stricken at his loss, and racked by jealousy and suspicion of his cousin’s widow, Rachel. Despite himself, on meeting each other, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious Rachel like a moth to the flame. And yet… might she have had a hand in his beloved Ambrose’s death?

This is the question that Philip, the narrator, and so in turn us, the reader, comes back to again and again. It a rollercoaster ride for us, as Philip tries to grapple with the prejudices he holds; the damning rumours he has heard and the changing opinions around him, while trying to tally that with how different Rachel seems in the flesh. Is she a money grabbing, man-eater? Or is she the wronged widow? Personally I always felt there was something not quite right about her.

However we, the readers, only ever get to see Rachel through the eyes of Philip, but is he a reliable narrator? He clearly loved his cousin Ambrose very much, and vice versa, however the secluded, privileged bubble that they lived in has allowed Philip to grow up naïve, impulsive and spoilt. Do his suspicions simply come from his jealousy of having to share Ambrose’s love? On the other hand, does Rachel’s strong, emotional affect on him stem from the fact he is uneducated in love and women? I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him! Especially when the advice and opinion of his trusted godfather on Rachel does a full 360 in a matter of weeks too.

Around these two imperfect characters and their intense relationship, Daphne du Maurier has beautifully weaved another captivating, gothic mystery, which is full of secrets, rumours, tension and passion. All set  against the stark, atmospheric coast of Cornwall, that du Maurier loved so much and which she can describe in such vivid, realistic detail. I may have taken a while to be the mood for this book; once I was though I was swept away, gripped firm and finished reading it in a matter of a few days! Might have been quicker if I didn’t need to eat and sleep!

Overall, I thought My Cousin Rachel was a wonderfully atmospheric read, right up there with the pure quality of Rebecca, which is a very strong contender for my top ten reads of the year. I look forward to reading even more from du Maurier – I already have Frenchman’s Creek and The House on the Strand on my to-be-read pile. Great read.

Have you read this? What do you think I should read next?

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My TBR

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

10 Books From X Genre That I’ve Recently Added To My TBR List

This topic was made very easy for me because, between February and now, I have had a large influx of historical fiction onto my to-be-read pile. So here are those new additions, in the order I added them to my TBR:

~ 1, 2, 3, 4 ~

The White Queen

The Red Queen

The Lady of the Rivers

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

by Philippa Gregory

Back in February, I was lucky enough to pick up all of the books from Gregory’s Cousins’ Wars series in The Works’ 3 for £5 deal! These are books I have really wanted to read since watching the BBC’s brilliant TV series, The White Queen (2013).

~ 5 ~

The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle

Having previously loved Fremantle’s The Sister of Treasons, I was really pleased to be accepted for a copy of this, a newer novel about Arbella Stuart, via Netgalley in February.

~ 6 ~

The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien

Similarly, I have previously enjoyed several of O’Brien’s novels, so I was also pleased to be accepted for a copy of this, a new novel about Joan of Kent, via Netgalley in March.

~ 7, 8 ~

The Mistress of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

Also in March, I received copies of Curson’s 18th century mystery and Iggulden’s novel set in Anglo-Saxon England via Netgalley. Both new-to-me authors, although I have heard a lot of good stuff about Iggulden.

~ 9 ~

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

In April, I was back in The Works and this time picked up this; one of the newer instalments in King’s Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series. A series I really must continue with, after reading the first book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, last year.

~ 10 ~

By Blood Divided by James Heneage

Then just last month, I received a copy of this via Netgalley. Heneage is a new-to-me author, but I couldn’t resist this epic tale of the clash of the Roman and Ottoman empires.

Are there any genres you have added a lot of to your TBR recently? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

Tough Travels: Non-Human Heroes

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 ASSASINS. This month’s topic is:


NON-HUMAN HEROES

The Tough Guide assures us that HEROES are ‘mythical beings, often selected at birth, who perform amazing deeds of courage, strength and magical mayhem, usually against all odds.’ Furthermore, ‘if you get to meet a so-called Hero, she/he always turns out to be just another human, with human failings, who has happened to be in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, more likely)’.

HOWEVER. For good or for evil, some of fantasy’s most memorable Heroes are not human at all. Some look human, but aren’t. Others may look monstrous, but be ‘human’ on the inside. Others still never pretend to be anything other than what they are – and why should they? In nearly all cases, we are likely to Learn Something from them – usually that appearances can be deceiving, or that the concepts of both ‘Human’ and ‘Hero’ are entirely subjective’

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. Especially as I love a non-human hero…particularly if they are a cute, furry, talking animal! Here are a few of my favourites (this is by no means an exhaustive list…I could of gone on and on):

Bilbo Baggins
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

If you read this blog regularly, then you probably saw this one coming. I adore this book! Bilbo may look like a small human or child, but he is in fact a hobbit: small, curly-haired, pointy eared creatures, with big hearts and appetites to match. This little hero leaves his comfortable hobbit-hole for a magical adventure to claim back the dwarves’ long lost home from a dreadful dragon.

**********

Reepicheep
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

The Chief Mouse of Narnia is small, furry and rather cute, but don’t be fooled he is famed for his courage and deadly skill with a rapier. We first meet him in Prince Caspian, when he fights for the young prince and later in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when he travels with the now young king to the end of the world, where he bravely continues on alone to Aslan’s Country; the last big adventure.

**********

Remus Lupin
Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

In Harry’s third year at Hogwarts, we are introduced to his third new Professor of the Dark Arts: Remus Lupin. He is a clever, patient, compassionate and highly skilled wizard, however as a child he was attacked and turned into a werewolf. Yet he never lets this stop him. Instead using his curse to infiltrate a dangerous werewolf gang and he is selfless to the end.

**********

Oy
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

Finally but certainly not least, we have Oy the talking billy-bumbler: a small, furry animal akin to a cross between a dog and a raccoon. We first meet him in the third book in the series, The Waste Land, where he quickly steals hearts. He is not just small and cute, but also fiercely loyal and will lay his life down for his friends. I so wish that billy-bumblers were real!

**********

What non-human heroes 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: ADEPTS.

Goodbye May, Hello June 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? May has been a mixed bag of a month. At the beginning, I enjoyed a weekend on the south coast to celebrate my brother’s birthday, but it was followed by miserable late-April showers. While the month ended with a glorious week of sunshine, I managed to cut my finger badly and was left feeling rather sorry for myself! Fortunately my poorly finger couldn’t stop me reading, here is what I read:

Fiction: 4          Non-Fiction: 1

It was a busy time for me at the beginning of May, when I picked up Monstrous Little Voices edited by David Thomas Moore, a wonderful collection of stories with elements of war, romance, magic and deception, which was perfect to squeeze in when I had a moment or two. Then when the weather took a turn for the worst, I indulged in a comforting re-read of Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley by M C Beaton, the fourth book in Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series.

As the sun emerged later in the month, I finally found myself in the mood for the wonderfully atmospheric My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. It was back in March, I actually started reading this, however I read the majority of it in a matter of days! At the same time, I had on the go the lighter read of Class of ’59 by John A. Heldt, a nostalgic, time travel romance. Which also covered nicely the ‘title with a number in numbers in’ for the What’s in a Name 2017 challenge. My full thoughts on these two books are still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions, I also continued my unintentional US president theme by reading the short non-fiction The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Very Brief History by Mark Black.

Pick of the Month: My Cousin Rachel 

Altogether that is five books read, which is a good amount for me. I have also continued to intermittently listen to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and dipped in and out of the memoir Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham. While at the end of the month, I started reading the Italian classic Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem by Emilio Salgari and the short story collection Sandlands by Rosy Thornton.

In June, I am looking forward to a trip to the wonderful Butterfly Farm and going to see Puccini’s opera Madam Butterfly; honestly this butterfly theme was not planned! And, of course, I look forward to more reading, in particular for my 10 Books of Summer challenge.

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

Adaptations: May 2017

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

Goosebumps (2015)
Read     Film     Television

As a kid I was a big fan of the Goosebumps book series by R L Stine, so I was thrilled to finally watch this film. Where we follow Zach as he accidentally opens his reclusive neighbour’s (Jack Black) locked manuscripts unleashing the monsters within! What follows is a funny, jumpy, mad-cap family adventure. Okay this isn’t a ground breaking film, but it is a whole lot of fun!

**


Legion (2017)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

A critically acclaimed new series about Marvel character David Haller/Legion, a powerful mutant diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child, played by Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame!). A visually stunning and refreshing take on the superhero genre, which I enjoyed but it was a bit too trippy for me to love it.

*


I also enjoyed re-watches of historic drama Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), Marvel’s nostalgic Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and the awfully good fun Clueless (1995). Altogether that’s five adaptations watched this month.

As for non-adaptations, I was absolutely gripped by the third series of the BBC’s ‘Welsh-noir’, crime drama Hinterland. I also went on an emotional rollercoaster ride watching two outstanding dramas based on real crimes: first, ITV’s heart breaking Little Boy Blue and the second, the BBC’s powerful Three Girls. On a lighter note, I finally watched Rush (2013), about the rivalry between F1 legends James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

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

Challenge: 10 Books of Summer 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, June is almost upon us which will be the official start of summer and in turn Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer challenge (with the options to read 10 or 15 books as well). Again, I am aiming for the 10 book goal this year. Here are the books, in alphabetical order, I hope to read:

  1. A Dance with Dragons, Part 1: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin
  2. First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson
  3. The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle
  4. The Lioness and the Spellspinners by Cheryl Mahoney
  5. [Re-Read] Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  6. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
  7. Sandlands by Rosy Thornton
  8. Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem by Emilio Salgari
  9. Wendy Darling, Volume 3: Shadow by Colleen Oakes
  10. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

The challenge runs till the end of summer (3rd September), so just after that I will check back in with you all to discuss what I manage to read!

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