Meme: The School Subjects Tag

At the end of February, I spotted this fun meme, created by Not-So-Modern Girl, at FictionFan’s wonderful blog, who kindly tagged anyone who fancied giving it a go. So without further ado here is my go at it:

1. Maths – What’s a book that left your head spinning in circles?

I recently read Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright, for my church’s book club, which certainly left my head spinning, as it went into some deep theology on death, heaven, forgiveness and the resurrection.

2. English – Which book do you think has beautiful written expression?

The novel with the most beautiful written expression for me has to be Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – I was totally swept away by it all and I felt nearly every line could make a good quote!

3. Physics – Who is your favourite scientifically minded character from a book/film?

I suppose that would have to be Victor Frankenstein, a mad scientist that re-animates a man’s body in Mary Shelley classic, gothic novel. While I can’t say I necessarily ‘like’ him as a person, he is fascinating to read about.

4. Biology – Who is your favourite book/film/series character?

As there are so many great characters to choose from, I am just going to go with my first thought which was Samwise Gamgee. He is kind, brave, loyal and probably the best friend you could ever have, and he’s in a wonderful series of books and films.

5. Chemistry – Who is your favourite literary couple?

Again I can think of so many lovely couples (in fact recently I did a top ten list) however I need to narrow it down. Personally I think Jane Austen’s couples are still some of the very best you can read about, so I am going to choose Emma and Knightley because they are so funny and sweet together.

6. French – What is your favourite foreign book/film/programme?

I haven’t read a great deal of foreign literature but one I have and that I love is The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Plus I love the 1973 film and I have been enjoying the BBC’s current TV series too.

7. Art – Have you ever judged a book by its cover, even if you weren’t meant to?!

I am always judging books by their covers! A bad cover wouldn’t stop me reading a book, but on the other hand a pretty cover would definitely encourage me to buy/read a book.

8. History – What was the last historical book you read?

The last historical book I read was the classic A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens which took us back to the bloody ‘Reign of Terror’ in Paris during the French Revolution.

9. Drama – What’s a book that you think has a lot of over-dramatic hype?

Sadly I think The Shack by William Paul Young has been dramatically over-hyped. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy many parts of it but I was left feeling disappointed when all of it didn’t live up to my high expectations.

10. Geography – Which literary destination would you really like to visit? (They can be real or fictional!)

As FictionFan already chose The Shire (and promised I could go with her), I am going to choose my second favourite destination in Middle Earth which is Rivendell, the last friendly home of the Elves before the Misty Mountains.


Like FictionFan did, I tag anyone who fancies having ago either in the comments below or in a post on their own blog. Just let me know!

Do you agree with any of my choices? What books would you choose for these subjects?

The Classics Club: A Tale of Two Cities

a-tale-of-two-cities

During the Christmas holiday, with the end of my Classics Club challenge in sight, I finally picked up A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens which I have long wanted to read. Not even realising that as well as being a classic it is also a historical fiction; another of my favourite genres.

In this novel, Dickens takes us back to the late and turbulent 1700s. Paris at that time is brewing with the rumbles of revolution, as the peasants fear turns to anger against the nobility. Amid this, after eighteen years without trial or sentence, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released from the infamous Bastille and reunited with his daughter, Lucie. Only her sweet presence seems to bring the Doctor’s ravished body and mind any peace, so together they travel to London to try to start anew and find some happiness at last.

In London the beautiful and good natured Lucie attracts the suit of two similar looking but in character very different men. The first is Charles Darnay, a noble self-exiled French aristocrat. The second is Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer. Though the Manettes live happily for many years, they eventually find themselves pulled from their tranquil lives in London and find themselves drawn against their will back to the streets of Paris, which are now stained red with blood at the height of the Reign of Terror, where they will fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

I found that I flew through the first section of this book, where we meet poor Doctor Manette, the lovely Lucie and their devoted friend Jarvis Lorry. As well as the larger-than-life agitators Monsieur and Madam Defarge. I could feel the tension building and was fascinated by the secrets and intrigues of it all. In the second section, I found the pace slowed as we saw the relatively quiet life the Manettes had in London; surrounded by their friends and the formidable Miss Pross. Sadly for the characters but excitingly for the reader this peace is dramatically broken when they return to Paris. I am not morbid (honest!) however this third section was where the pace, tension and twists really came in this story. Once at this part I could barely put the book down!

This is now my eighth Charles Dickens’ novel I have read –   I really think Dickens can weave a wonderful story and this was no exception. In fact I was so swept away by this story, I can’t say I even noticed his usual rather over convoluted and highly detailed writing style. Instead that high detail brought to life vividly for me the rising anger; the sorrow and suffering; the blood-stained streets and the palpable fear in the air. Added to this there was a wonderful cast of memorable characters, though they were perhaps more toned down and serious than usual. If you’re not a fan of Dickens’ trademark colourful, over-the-top characters then I can see how you would enjoy this novel more than others, which is maybe why this is such a popular choice with readers.

Overall, A Tale of Two Cities was a moving and vividly detailed look at the bloody French Revolution.  I look forward to reading more by Charles Dickens; in particularly I still have Little Dorrit on my Classics Club list. Great read.

Have you read this? What Dickens’ novel do you think I should read next?

The Classics Club – 49/50

Goodbye February, Hello March 2016

month-feb-2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? Is it just me or did February just fly by?! To be fair though I have had a busy month, although I did still make time for home cooking and watching adaptations, including a trip to the theatre. As well as reading:

Fiction: 4          Non-Fiction: 2

At the beginning of the month, I read internationally bestseller The Shack by William Paul Young for my church’s February book club meeting. Not a great book but it is a gripping mystery with some beautiful reflections. Interestingly, apart from the vicar, the rest of the group enjoyed it a lot more than me. On a completely different tangent, I next read fantasy novella Faith and Moonlight, a new young adult thread to Mark Gelineau’s & Joe King’s Echo of the Ascended series.

Then I read dual time period, mystery The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans, which my mum had recommended to me as she knows I love a big, historical country house setting. I also finished reading the classic A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, off my Classics Club list, that I stated reading during the Christmas holiday. My full thoughts on these latter two books are still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions, I also read these two short non-fictions: The Early Life of Anne Boleyn: A Critical Essay by J. H. Round, an academic history and The Servant Queen by Mark Greene & Catherine Butcher, a charming tribute to Elizabeth II and her faith.

Pick of the Month: A Tale of Two Cities

So altogether I’ve read six books which is a really good amount for me. During the month, I have also been re-reading/listening to my Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone audiobook. While at the end of the month, I started reading Faith and Moonlight 2 by Mark Gelineau & Joe King, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (my March book club read) and My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell (my fiftieth and final book for the Classics Club).

In March, I am looking forward to celebrating my father’s birthday and Mothers’ Day, as well as another trip to the theatre this time to see Waiting for Godot.

What did you do and read in February? What are your plans for March?

Adaptations: February 2017

blog-adaptations-update

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

Endeavour (Series 4)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

The 4th series of ITV crime drama based on Colin Dexter’s characters and a prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse series. In 1960’s Oxford, we re-join young detective constable Endeavour Morse, as he throws himself into three new investigations and one cold case in the hopes of forgetting his broken heart. Another gloriously atmospheric and nostalgic watch.

***


Frankenstein (2017)
Read     Play     Theatre

As one of my favourite novels, I was thrilled to find that Blackeyed Theatre’s new production was coming to my local theatre. The gothic tale of Victor Frankenstein and his monstrous creation was brought to life very effectively, with a strong, small ensemble cast and a fantastic use of an eerie life-sized puppet to represent the creature.

***


Terry Pratchett: Back in Black (2017)
TV Documentary     Television

Not technically an adaptation however I think this docu-drama about Terry Pratchett – the international best-selling author best known for his Discworld series – is definitely worth a honorary mention. A funny, poignant, fascinating and in parts heart breaking tribute to a wonderful author and man.

***


I also re-watched two of the wonderful Lord of the Rings films and XMen: Days of Future Past. So altogether that’s five adaptations and one honorary mention watched; another good amount I think. Also this month, I started watching new series The Emerald City, an adult re-working of L Frank Baum’s ‘Oz’.

As for non-adaptations, I watched the BBC’s new gothic Taboo series, starring Tom Hardy as the scary but weirdly likeable James Delaney. As well as going to the cinema to see CGI spectacular The Great Wall and amazing war drama Hacksaw Ridge.

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

Cookbooks: February 2017

blog-cookbooks-update

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, the recent weather here in the UK has been cold and miserable. This sort of weather calls for some hearty, comforting recipes so I tried these:

Leek & Potato Soup
Save with Jamie – Bonus Recipes – Page 263

A simple and easy to make recipe that serves two, although I doubled up on all the ingredients to make sure I would have extra portions to freeze. I served it as suggested with toast and a poached egg on top, which made for a filling and warming week day meal.

**


Rich Beef and Ale Casserole
Hairy Dieters 1 – Stews – Page 106

Using lean meat and only one tbsp. oil, Dave and Si have created this healthier version of a classic stew. Not having a large enough pot made this a little fiddly for me to make, however it was well worth it because it was delicious. Serve alone or with leeky mash, yum!

***


Turkey Chilli
Hairy Dieters 3 – Family Favourites – Page 48

I love these guys’ regular chilli recipe and I now regularly make it, so I decided to try this turkey version with chipotle paste in for a change. It was simple to make and it made for a delicious change.

***

Over the month, I have also re-made The Hairy Biker’s scrumptious Chilli Con Carne, Red Lentil and Bacon Soup and Very Easy Thai Chicken and Coconut Curry .


Then in contrast to those big hearty dishes, I had a go at making my own hummus:

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Hairy Dieters 1 – Lunchboxes & Snacks – Page 197

I love hummus but bought pots can be really high in fat and salt, so I was thrilled when I spotted this recipe. There is a few steps to making this: preparing the peppers, onion, chilli and spices, however then it is whizzed altogether with the chickpeas in a food processor. Serve with vegetable sticks or, as I like, on top of a rice cake…or two.

**


Again, I am really pleased with all the recipes I have tried over the last month. I also have new-to-me cookbooks: Jamie’s 30-minute Meals By Jamie Oliver and Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka still to read.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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

New Read: The Servant Queen

the-servant-queen

Last year, I went to a special service and tea party at a local church to celebrate the 90th birthday of our Queen Elizabeth II, where I received a free copy of The Servant Queen by Mark Greene & Catherine Butcher; a unique tribute published by Bible Society, HOPE and The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).

The Servant Queen – and the King She Serves is a short and interesting look into the life and reign of Elizabeth II and her strong Christian faith that has helped her to serve her people all her adult life, with an amazing consistency of character; a touching concern for others and a honest dependence on Christ. Which means this book had a double appeal for me as I am a Royalist, with a strong affection for our queen, and I am also a practicing Christian.

There are chapters on: the secret of her long successful reign; her piece in ‘The King’s Speech’; her coronation and the vows she made; her working service; the celebrities and leaders she has met; her Christmas speeches, where she finds strength against adversity and the more fun side to her personality. All of which contain beautiful photographs; inspiring quotes about the queen and from herself; and examples of poetry, art and parables that have inspired her.

As soon as I received this I placed it on my bedside table ready to start immediately, but sadly it sat there for a long time because for one reason or another longer Christian and other non-fiction works took up my time. When I did finally start reading it though, in early February, I was instantly hooked and read it in just two short sittings! I found it to be an utterly charming read for a Royalist and an inspiring read for a practicing Christian.

Overall, The Servant Queen was a quick, interesting and inspiring read – my only niggle would be that I wanted more! Good read.

Have you read this? Any recommendations of other books about the Queen?

Top Ten Tuesday: Disappointing Books

blog-top-ten-tuesday

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:

Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would

I am going to have to go with books I loved less than I thought I would because I wouldn’t start reading a book if I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it, so a lot harder to think of books then that a love more than I thought. Here is my list of ten books I was a little disappointed with:

~ 1 ~

The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

I loved Northern Lights; I loved The Subtle Knife and while I enjoyed the third book, it did get a bit bogged down in the theological debate for me.

~ 2 ~

The Dark Tower VII by Stephen King

This is an epic seven book series which I loved, then I got to the warning one chapter from the end of the final book. My gut instinct was to stop reading as warned but my dad urged me on…I should have stopped!

~ 3 ~

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Being set in the roaring twenties, I thought this was a dead set for me loving but I found the characters just too unlikable to love it.

~ 4 ~

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

Don’t get me wrong I adore this series, however when I first read this book I was really annoyed with how moody and whiney Harry is.

~ 5 ~

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

After being blown away by The Time Traveler’s Wife, I had very high expectations for this one…which was perhaps its downfall.

~ 6 ~

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Controversial choice I know! I loved the gothic setting and the beautiful writing, but sadly I found Jane’s self-deprecating behaviour really annoying.

~ 7 ~

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Similar to His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, I loved The Hunger Games, I loved Catching Fire and while I enjoyed the final book in this trilogy, it lost the impetus and structure of the previous books.

~ 8 ~

The Shack by William Paul Young

This book started so well for me then I reached the big reveal…and most frustrating of all is I can’t tell you why I was disappointed because that would ruin the surprise for you!

~ 9 ~

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This book suffered from not living up to the film for me which I watched first, where was Captain Shakespeare?!

~ 10 ~

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

I loved the magical and more adult Oz that Maguire created but I found the story a bit too political for me.

What books disappointed you? Also, please link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.