Goodbye January, Hello February 2016

January 2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? I think I blinked and missed January; it seemed to go by so quickly! This month I enjoyed a trip to Birmingham to see the Staffordshire Hoard; even though it was a grey, wet day I was perfectly snug inside with all that glistening Saxon gold. I also celebrated my birthday this month with friends and family at a local restaurant; where we had a Cantonese feast. As for reading, it began a bit slow but I seemed to get my mojo back by the middle of the month:

Fiction: 2     Non-Fiction: 1     Poetry: 0

My reading this month has had a mysterious flavour to it. First I read Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. This 2nd book in Harkness’ All Souls trilogy was a mixture of magic, mystery and romance, which took us and the characters back to Elizabethan England. I hope to read the last book in the trilogy soon. Next I read Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley; who is now one of my favourite comfort authors. I thought it was a fascinating mystery set in the stunning landscape of Pembrokeshire, South Wales which is steeped in history and Arthurian legend. I couldn’t put it down!

Alongside these fictions I also read the candid and inspiring Christian memoir, Out of Darkness by Stormie Omartian. I have enjoyed everything I have read by Omartian and this was no exception – I hope to read more from her this year.

Pick of the Month: Named of the Dragon

I am a little disappointed with 3 books because I feel I’ve read a lot more than I’ve finished! Throughout the month I have continued to read my result from the 11th Classics Club’s Spin; which was David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I also started reading The Romanovs by Virginia Cowles and I am so close to finishing The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King; my first read for What’s in a Name 2016.

In February I am looking forward to some lighter days, a visit to Hagley Hall, and more time for reading!

What did you do and read in January? Do have any plans for February?

New Books: January 2016

New Books - January

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

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

My father has just finished reading this and passed it straight on to me. We have both enjoyed all of the Robert Langdon adventures, but we seemed to have missed this one out. I’m hoping to read this really soon.

The Hairy Dieters by Si King & Dave Myers

I already have book 2 and 3 of this cookbook series, from the nation’s beloved ‘Hairy Biker’ chefs, and for about a year I have been keeping my eyes peeled for this original book; that accompanied the TV show. When I saw this for only £4 it had to be bought! I am not looking to lose weight particularly but I love how down to earth and well balanced these recipes are.

A Reaper of Stone by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Monstrous Little Voices edited by David Thomas Moore
(including stories by Jonathan Barnes, Emma Newman, Kate Heartfield, Foz Meadows and Adrian Tchaikovsky)

Then I received these two fantasy novellas and Shakespearian short story collection from Netgalley. I heard good things about A Reaper of Stone over at BooksbyProxy so when I spotted it was available to read now I went for it; and then I was successfully in requesting the next instalment Broken Banners at the same time. I was also sorely tempted by Monstrous Little Voices too then I heard great things about it from Lynn at her blog after which I just had to go back to request it!

Have you read anything by these authors? What new books have you got your hands on recently?

The Women’s Classic Literature Event: January Check-In

Women's Classic Literature Event

Hello my fellow bookworms and classic lovers, it is time already for the first check-in for The Women’s Classic Literature Event. I decided to start taking part straight away, so I’ve had a month or so head start and here’s what I managed to read so far:

  1. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  2. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

I started off with a pre-set list of sorts as I have simply taken the great female authors and their works I still have to read off my Classics Club list; which is where The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit came from. I also had Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier and two of her other novels on my TBR pile which I thought would be perfect for this event. So as I find suitable reads for this event I am happy to just add them too.

Now it is time for our first group question which is: “Without revealing spoilers (obviously), describe how the opening of your current read for this event draws you in. Is it the language? the suspense? the voice? Why are you compelled to keep reading?”

I’m not currently reading a book for this event so I am going to use my most recent read that began with:

“They were not railway children to begin with. I don’t suppose they had ever thought railways except as a means of getting to Maskelyne and Cook’s, the Pantomime, Zoological Gardens, and Madame Tussaud’s. They were just ordinary suburban children, and they lived with their Father and Mother in an ordinary red-brick-fronted villa…” The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

Isn’t it just so charming? And while I have never read the book before this was also like a trip down memory lane for me; as I grew up watching the 1970 film with my mother. Just like any beloved story I was instantly comfortable with the story and wanted that feeling to continue. My full thoughts on this will be posted soon.

Have you read any of these? What have you been reading for the event?

New Books: Christmas Treats 2015

Christmas Treats #1

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I have already discussed the bookish Christmas presents I received – since that post I have had a belated present and spent some of my Christmas money too. Here’s what I got:

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

During the holidays I made a special trip to a local Cathedral town where my favourite charity bookshop is. There I saw these lovely copies of these two classics. North and South is on my Classics Club list while Mansfield Park I have previously read on my Kindle. I have been on the look out for this cover to add to my Austen collection; I only need Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility now.

Christmas Treats #2

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

On the same trip I picked up the 12th instalment in Terry Pratchett’s hilarious Discworld series. From looking at the title I can see it has my favourite bunch of characters in so I am super excited to read it. Then I received No Country for Old Men from a friend; who I was able to catch up with once I was home after Christmas. I have previously read The Road by McCarthy which I found great if not rather harrowing – I am interested to see what I think of this.

Christmas Treats #3

(Yes, you can see a cat – Bonnie decided to come give my new books a sniff while I was taking the photo)

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden by M C Beaton

Through a combination of The Works and my favourite charity bookshop I got my hands on 5 more instalments (in order) of cosy crime series, Agatha Raisin, by M C Beaton; now I have 9 I can read in a row!

Have you read anything by these authors? What new books have you got your hands on recently?

Top 10 Reads of 2015

Blog 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, 2015 was a great reading year for me where I finished 62 books. It was hard to dwindle it down to 10 but after much thought here are my choices (ordered alphabetically by author):

  1. Inferno by Dan Brown – another gripping thriller that follows Professor Robert Langdon through the history, art and symbols of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. I loved the historical settings of Florence, Venice and Istanbul.
  2. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – a creepy and atmospheric mystery set out on the foggy, lonely moors with a diabolical hound! A cosy and comforting read which I simply loved.
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – I have fond memories of watching the film as a child. A charming children’s classic with a sweet moral and physical transformation for the little orphan Mary.
  4. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley – a beautiful dual time period novel of life, love and history; all with Kearsley’s comforting, beautiful and familiar writing style.
  5. The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney – a well written, witty and charming adventure that pokes fun lovingly at well-known fairy tale tropes. This was my first read by author and fellow blogger Cheryl.
  6. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier – a dark and gothic historical-tale which had me gripped, fascinated and repulsed in equal measure from the start. I can’t wait to read more by Daphne du Maurier.
  7. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit – I again have fond memories of watching the film as a child, so this was another charming trip down memory lane and a perfect read in the lead up to Christmas.
  8. Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton – an enchanting collection of fairy tales from some well loved classic authors; some of my favourites stories were by William Makepeace Thackeray, George Macdonald, Mary de Morgan and Edith Nesbit.
  9. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (re-read) – Pratchett’s madcap and hilarious take on Macbeth, which is a wonderfully theatrical, fun and hilarious adventure; and a really comforting re-read. I’d forgotten how good this was!
  10. The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien (re-read) – an epic, intricate and enchanting adventure that again swept me off to the stunning, magical Middle-Earth. Re-reading this was like catching up with some old friends; particularly the adorable Samwise Gamgee.

With so many great reads in 2015 honorary mentions must also go to novels: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley, The Storyteller and Her Sisters by Cheryl Mahoney, The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien, The Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart and Allegiant by Veronica Roth. And non-fictions: The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian, Elizabeth I and Her Circle by Susan Doran, and My Autobiography by Guy Martin.

Have you read any of these? What was your favourite reads of 2015?

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

Blog 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, Happy New Year! It is time to say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016. Let’s end the year with a few reading stats:

Books Read: 62           New Reads: 57              Re-Reads: 5

Fiction: 41                Non-Fiction: 21             Poetry: 0

In 2014 I finished 56 books so I am up this year! The lack of studying and coursework, and a steady job have definitely helped. I also managed to up my re-read and non-fiction reading. Now for some fun meme categories to help me reflect on what I’ve been reading in 2015:

  • Best Fiction Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier and Inferno by Dan Brown.
  • Best Non-Fiction Elizabeth I and Her Circle by Susan Doran.
  • Best Classic The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Best Re-ReadThe Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien, although Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett was a worthy runner-up.
  • Best Series You Discovered Divergent by Veronica Roth, the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, and Beyond the Tales by Cheryl Mahoney.
  • Favourite New-To-Me Authors – Frances Hodgson Burnett, Cheryl Mahoney, Edith Nesbit, Jessie Burton, Veronica Roth and Susan Doran.
  • Most Memorable Character – The honest and loyal Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien.
  • Most Read Genre – Fantasy (17) and Classics/Modern Classics (16).
  • Multiple Reads of an Author – Mark Black (3), Devin Brown (2), Arthur Conan Doyle (3), Susanna Kearsley (2), Cheryl Mahoney (2), Terry Pratchett (2), Veronica Roth (3), J R R Tolkien (3).
  • Ambitions for 2016: I hope to continue to make good progress through my Classics Club list, as I will be going into my final year! I would also like to continue to make time for re-reads and favourite authors.

Coming up I have some more in-depth posts looking into my favourite books and adaptations of 2015.

How was 2015 for you? What are your aims for 2016?

Goodbye December 2015

December 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well and had a wonderful Christmas? I spent most of December buying gifts, writing cards, wrapping gifts; attending Christmas performances, special church services and Christmas parties; and didn’t it all fly by so quickly?! I then headed to the south coast to spend a couple of days and Christmas day with my mother, step-father, brother and Dandi the dog. I was lucky enough to receive some lovely bookish Christmas gifts and spent some quality time with my family.

While I have been very busy I did get to spend some down-time reading or watching films/television snuggled up in a blanket. December has been a bumper adaptations month and here are the books I’ve finished:

Fiction: 2     Non-Fiction: 0     Poetry: 0

I started the month off by finishing the children’s classic The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, off my Classics Club list. A charming and comforting moral tale, which was perfect for the lead up to Christmas. Next I read the epic, historical fiction Kingmaker: Broken Faith by Toby Clements, the 2nd book in Clements’ Kingmaker series – I read the previous book Winter Pilgrims last year. My full thoughts on both of these are still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: The Railway Children

Only 2 novels completed but I have been reading a lot more; I just seem to have been reading some real chunksters. I have been reading Shadow of Night, the 2nd book in Deborah Harkness’ supernatural All Souls trilogy; and Christian memoir Out of Darkness by Stormie Omartian. In December I also took part in The Classics Club’s 11th Spin which randomly chose David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for me. I had to start it almost immediately and over Christmas it has dominated my reading time.

In January and the new year I am looking forward to catching up on my reviews, finishing off some of these chunky books and starting a new term at work. Plus I have my birthday to look forward to.

What did you do and read in December? How was your Christmas? What are your plans for January?