Adaptations: June 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, it is time for an update on the adaptations I have been watching over the last month:

A Very English Scandal (2018)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

On the BBC iPlayer, my dad and I binged watched this new British three-part drama, based on John Preston’s book, which dramatizes the political scandal that rocked Britain in the 1970s. In which Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant), the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was tried and acquitted of conspiring to murder his former lover, Norman Scott (Ben Wishaw). With a gay love-affair, a bungled murder plot and a dead dog… this really has all the ingredients for a very funny yet chilling English scandal! Great watch.

That is one new-to-me adaptation and as I have not re-watched any adaptations either, that’s just one adaptation finished over the whole month! However I am also still watching The Handmaid’s Tale (Series 2) and Poldark (Series 4), so will hopefully have more to share with you next month.

As for non-adaptations, after finishing the gripping final series of The Tunnel, I thought I would go back to check out the original Scandinavian series, The Bridge (Series 1). Even with the subtitles this was just as gripping and I can now see how well The Tunnel’s makers transposed the original story and characters. I also went to the cinema to see the super fun Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Then right at the end of the month, I finished watching the often brilliant but also baffling and bonkers Westworld (Series 2).

Have you watched any of these? What did you watch in June?


New Books: May & June 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I have another combined post here for you. In May and June, here are the goodies I have added to my Kindle and shelves:

Queen of the North by Anne O’Brien

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson

At the end of May, I was lucky enough to have my requests for these three historical fictions granted. After recently enjoyed The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien, The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland and First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson, I am super excited to read these new books of theirs.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Moving on into June, I downloaded the discounted Collins Classics’ Kindle edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress and ordered a bargain, second-hand copy of The Return of the Prodigal Son from World of Books. Both for my church’s book club.

The Black Corsair by Emilio Salgari

The Queen of the Caribbean by Emilio Salgari

Then I was thrilled to be contacted again by the translator, Nico Lorenzutti about two more Italian classics. After enjoying Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem, I am looking forward to more swashbuckling adventures. As these are classics too, I have added them to my Classics Club list too.

Knowing Max by James Long

Finally, through Endeavour Press’ weekly e-newsletter, I snapped up a free copy of this historical fiction, because some years ago now, I loved Long’s bestselling time-slip novel Ferney.

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

Re-Read: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Audiobook)

Over the last couple of months, I have been re-immersing myself into J.K. Rowling’s wonderful ‘Wizarding World’, by listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, read by Stephen Fry. Listening to one or two chapters at a time has made my chores speed along and re-awoken my childhood love of audiobooks.

For those who don’t know, the Chamber of Secrets, is the second book in the series, where we continue to follow the adventures of the famous boy-wizard, Harry Potter, with his lightning scar. Now in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry delights in his magical studies and playing as Seeker for the Gryffindor house Quidditch team. But even after banishing Lord Voldermort for a second time, more trouble lies ahead for Harry and his good friends, Ron and Hermione. When Salazar Slytherin’s fabled ‘Chamber of Secrets’ is said to have been re-opened and ‘mud-blood’ students find themselves the targets of whatever monster lies within!

Being several years since I read any of this series – although I have watched the films many times – it has been great to rediscover all the extra details of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s adventures in this light, fun book. In particular, what I have always loved most about this series is the whole host of colourful, memorable characters and creatures that Rowling has created – All of whom I thought were brought to life brilliantly by Stephen Fry, who cleverly uses subtle changes in tone, pace, pitch and accent to give each character their own distinct voice. Hermione’s voice is particularly funny!

All in all, I found listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets extremely comforting and fun. I am looking forward to starting the next audiobook in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban soon. Great read.

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Have you tried any of the audiobooks?

New Read: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Back in March, I took part in The Classics Club’s 17th Spin event, which chose The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë for me. I was thrilled with my result as I love Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and I enjoyed Jane Eyre and Shirley by Charlotte Brontë, so I was looking forward to finally reading something by the third Brontë sister.

Through the eyes of local farmer, Gilbert Markham we see the excitement, gossip and rumour that is generated in his small, rural community when a mysterious tenant unexpectantly moves into the dilapidated Elizabethan mansion, Wildfell Hall. The tenant is revealed to be the young widow ‘Mrs Graham’, with her small son, Arthur and faithful servant, Rachel. However their secluded life soon sees them the victims of slander, but refusing to believe anything scandalous about the lovely widow, Gilbert befriends her and finally she reveals the painful past that forced her to seek refuge in this isolated place.

Most of the novel is framed as a series of letters written by Gilbert to his friend and brother-in-law about the arrival of ‘Mrs Graham’; their growing friendship and the subsequent scandal. While in the middle, we switch to Helen’s (Mrs Graham) diary, which she entrusts to Gilbert to reveal the heart-breaking marital strife she suffered and her desperate attempts to save her son – topics that must have reverberated through Victorian society when this was published. I thought this style was really effective, because it meant I was able to intimately get to know the main protagonists, Gilbert and Helen.

And as I came to slowly know Gilbert and Helen better, I became very fond of them both. Gilbert is a practical, hardworking and honest young man – who, at first, is prone to idle flirtation and terrible tantrums, however as the story progresses he does grow and mature. While Helen, at first, comes across as aloof and cold, but it is revealed later that she is a good-hearted, pious and sophisticated woman – whose bad treatment has taught her to hide her true feelings and to hold herself back from people. I was rooting for both of them!

Now you may be wondering – considering I started this back in March – why it took me so long to read?! Well it certainly wasn’t down to the quality of the writing or story. In fact, I found Anne’s writing talent to be equal to her extremely talented sisters. Instead it took me so long because I simply found this was a story that I wanted to take my time with – Savouring the beautiful descriptions, each subtle new nuance; and each new character and plot revelation; especially in the first half of the novel, where we are as in-the-dark as poor Gilbert. Once the major revelations have been revealed, I found myself ripping through the last half to discover how it would end!

Overall, I thought The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë was a beautifully written classic, with engaging characters, which cleverly explores the societal troubles, strifes and wrongs of the time. Sadly this is one of only two novels Anne wrote, so only Agnes Grey left to look forward to. Great read.

Have you read this? Or Anne’s other novel Agnes Grey?

This is book 2/50 for my Classics Club II reading challenge.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10… Books on My Summer TBR

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:

Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach
(This can also serve as your summer TBR)

There are many wonderful books awaiting me on my bookshelf and Kindle, however here are ten books, ordered alphabetically, I am looking forward to reading this summer, as part of my 10 Books of Summer challenge:

  1. Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir – After loving Katherine of Aragon, I look forward to continuing Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series.
  2. Cauldstane by Linda Gillard – I have three of the wonderful Gillard’s women’s fictions on my Kindle. Of those three I fancy this the most.
  3. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole – I am looking forward to this, the first book in Nicole’s historical saga about this famous queen.
  4. Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt – I am hoping for another light, time-travel romance from Heldt – Perfect for the summer holidays.
  5. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier – In your kind comments this seemed to have the edge on Frenchmen’s Creek for me to read next.
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I look forward to starting a re-read of this thrilling YA trilogy, preferably in the sun please.
  7. Lives of Notorious Cooks by Brendan Connell – This set of fictional biographies of famous chefs through the ages sounds fascinating.
  8. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J. M. Nouwen – This highly acclaimed book is the next read for my church’s book club.
  9. Seven Sovereign Queens by Geoffrey Trease – After reading Seven Kings of England, I am interested to find out more about some famous queens.
  10. Sourcery by Terry Pratchett – Simply because a summer TBR without Pratchett and his madcap Discworld doesn’t seem right!

Have you read any of my choices? What books are on your summer TBR? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s TTT topic too.

Cookbooks: May 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, I am sorry this is a little late! I am pleased to announce the weather, here in the UK, did improve dramatically over the month, which saw me trying out these simpler, lighter recipes:

Ham Salad Wraps
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Meals On The Move – Page 140

Instead of making my standard, rather boring sandwiches, I gave these fresh, juicy salad wraps a go. These are simply large tortillas generously filled with lettuce, sliced pepper, cucumber and carrot, good-quality, thin ham slices and a low-fat creamy dressing, which made for a lovely, satisfying lunch without too much stodge. I have made these several times already and I can see myself making them many more times. Great recipe.

Cottage Pie
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Pies – Page 90-91

With my granddad coming round, one particularly busy Sunday, I decided to try this new recipe for this classic British dish, as I could prep it all in advance and then just pop it in the oven just before lunch. By using lean beef mince, no oil and bulking out the mash topping with leeks, this is much lower in calories, but you’d never know it! It made for a delicious, comforting meal, which we enjoyed out on the patio with some steamed greens. Great recipe.

Pregnant Jools’s Pasta
Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
The Meals – Page 32

One evening, to feed his pregnant wife’s instant craving for a sausage ragu, Jamie created this quick cheat’s recipe. Packed with springs onions, carrots, chillies and sausages (blitzed for speed), tomatoes, garlic and balsamic vinegar, this delivers the rich, comforting flavour of a ragu, but is cooked in about a quarter of the time! I don’t think I got the consistency of the sauce quite right though – a little practise needed! Good recipe.

Chicken Stir-Fry
The Hairy Dieters (3) Good Eating by Si King & Dave Myers
Friday Night Suppers – Page 72

After filming in Asia, King & Myers put their discoveries to good use in this healthy recipe. A stir-fry with some traditional Chinese flavours and packed with veg, so you can have generous servings! And as I learnt from their fake-away Chicken Chow Mein recipe, I used double the bean sprouts as a lighter alternative to noodles. Took some time to prep, but it was then super quick to cook and delicious. However I need to practise the golden coating on the chicken… mine didn’t really stick! Good recipe.

Spring Risotto
The Co-operative Magazine

After loving the Co-op’s light, summery Scottish Salmon Risotto, I thought I would try another of their risotto recipes, which I had cut out and saved. This is a more traditionally cooked risotto, where the rice is simmered slowly, bit-by-bit, in white wine and stock, with leeks, spring onions and pancetta, although I used bacon instead, and finished off with spinach and parmesan cheese. It took longer to make, but it was well worth it. Great recipe.

That’s five tasty, new recipes tried over the last month. As I said before, the weather has warmed a fair bit over the month, so along with trying the Ham Salad Wraps above, I also made up batches of The Hairy Dieters’ Simple Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Salad (Book 1) and Prawn Pasta Salad (Book 2) for more, lighter work lunches.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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

Adaptations: May 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, it is time for an update on the adaptations I have been watching over the last month:

Hercules (2014)
Not Read     Film     Television

First I was pleased to find this fantasy adventure, based on Steve Moore’s graphic novel, finally making its terrestrial premiere on ITV2 in May. In this telling Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is the leader of a band of legendary mercenaries, however he finds his conscience pricked when he takes a job from Lord Cotys of Thrace. So this is not a ground-breaking film, but it is fun, action packed and has a whole cast of famous faces. Okay watch.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Not Read     Film     Cinema

Then I went to the cinema to see this superhero bonanza – the third film based on the Marvel Comics’ hero team. This time the Avengers must join forces with newcomers Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy to attempt to stop Thanos from uniting the powerful infinity stones. Another visually stunning, action-packed film, with plenty of laughs, but at times I felt there was just too many characters and too much going on. Good watch.

The City and the City (2018)
Not Read     TV Series    Television

On BBC iPlayer, I binge watched this gripping, four-part science-fiction/crime noir drama, based on China Miéville’s award-winning novel, starring the brilliant David Morrissey.. Set in the fictional twin cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma, we follow Inspector Tyador Borlú as he investigates the murder of a young woman, who may have illegally ‘breached’ from one city into the other. You need your thinking-cap on for this one, but it is worth it. Great watch.

Puss in Boots (2011)
Not Read     Film     Television

One lazy afternoon, during the half term break, I tuned in to ITV2 for this family, computer-animated adventure – a spin-off film from the Shrek franchise, based on William Steig’s picture book. Which takes us back to see Puss grow-up and with his friends Humpty-Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws, take on villainous outlaws, Jack and Jill in search of the legendary magic beans. Adorable, laugh-out-loud fun. Good watch.

Deadpool 2 (2018)
Not Read     Film     Cinema

Finally, I made another trip to the cinema to see this sequel to the highly successful, mould-breaking Deadpool (2016), based on the Marvel Comics’ X-Men character. After working for two years as a mercenary, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself the unlikely protector of an angsty teenage mutant, against the time-traveling soldier Cable. What follows is another crazy, odd-ball, joke-laden blood bath. I feared they couldn’t match the first film, but I was proven very wrong! Great watch.

That’s a fabulous five new-to-me adaptations. I also had a good cry re-watching the heart-breaking and beautiful Finding Neverland (2004), which brings my total up to six adaptations watched over the month.

As for non-adaptations, I finished watching the gripping US political thriller, Homeland (Series 7) and I thoroughly enjoyed Dr Alice Roberts presenting the new six-part documentary series, Britain’s Most Historic Town; both on Channel 4.

Have you watched any of these? What did you watch in May?