New Books: April 2015

New Books - April #1

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

Guy Martin: My Autobiography by Guy Martin

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I was lent all of these by a book loving, family friend. I have rather a soft spot for Guy Martin having watched and loved several of his TV shows on history, machines and speed so I hope I will also enjoy his autobiography. I have also recently enjoyed the two film adaptations of Veronica Roth’s Dystopian series so I am looking forward to reading these.

New Books - April #2

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Blood on the Bayou by D J Donaldson

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Quarry and The Martian have been passed on to me now my father has read them. I sadly still haven’t read anything by Banks perhaps this could be my first and I’ve heard lots of good things about The Martian. Then I was lent The Miniaturist by my mother with glowing praise for how much she enjoyed it. And finally I received a copy of supernatural, crime Blood on the Bayou for my Kindle from the publishers

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

The Classics Club: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

I have become quite a fan of short story collections and I hope to continue reading more in 2015. Starting as I mean to go on I picked up The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle the fifth and sadly the final collection.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is a collection made up of another twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published in The Strand between 1921 and 1927, much later than previous stories. I think this is perhaps the less well known collection of stories although The Sussex Vampire is probably the most notable story just for its title.  I very much enjoyed The Sussex Vampire, The Creeping Man and Thor Bridge. That being said as usual there were no adventures in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the three I have named though particularly captured my imagination.

Like previous collections I have read I thought The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes had a good range of stories which were varied and well-balanced. There was again the wonderful chemistry between the two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. The difference with this collection was that two of the stories was told by Holmes himself not, as is usual, by Watson. While this made an interesting change I still find myself most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson. As much as I love the mind and foibles of Holmes it is his down-to-earth companion Watson that I find I really connect with.

This is certainly not my first foray into Sherlock Holmes. I have loved the Adventures, Memoirs, Return of Sherlock Holmes and His Last Bow short story collections. I again enjoyed the shorter length of the stories which means I could easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. Sadly though this is the last collection. I shouldn’t be despondent though because I do still have three novels to read.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. I highly recommend to those interested in classic crime. This is my 30th read off my Classics Club list. Good read.

Have you read this collection? Do you have a favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

New Books: March 2015

New Books - March 2015 #1

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

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

I picked up these lovely copies of these classics in a recent trip to my favourite charity bookshop. I have read Little Women and A Study in Scarlet before, and I am looking forward to reading The Hound of the Baskervilles for The Classics Club.

New Books - March #2

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Bringing Narnia Home by Devin Brown

The Rise of Thomas Cromwell by Michael Everett

I received paranormal fiction The Book of Life, non-fiction Bringing Narnia Home and historical non-fiction The Rise of Thomas Cromwell for my Kindle from Netgalley. I am really looking forward to all three. Especially the latter as I have not long finished watching the BBC’s Wolf Hall series which has wetted my appetite to find out more about Thomas Cromwell.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling

Then last but certainly not least I picked up this Harry Potter first edition with original cover art from another antique shop. I just couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted it. I now have a full set of the series with the original cover art, sadly not all first editions but they do look great on my bookshelf.

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

Top 10 Adaptations of 2014

Blog 2014

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptations watchers. 2014 was a great adaptation watching year for me so I thought I would do my first top 10 list for it. This is a list of adaptations I watched in 2014 not that were necessarily released in 2014. After much thought here are my choices (ordered alphabetically by title):

1. Captain Phillips (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
A heart-racing thriller based on a true life account; recounted in A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips (with help from Stephan Talty). The amazing Tom Hanks takes the title role of Captain Richard Phillips who is willing to sacrifice himself when he finds his ship and crew under attack from Somali pirates. Great performances from the whole cast and an all round beautifully made film.

2. Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
BBC period drama adapted from P D James’ novel which continues Darcy and Elizabeth’s life on after Pride and Prejudice. With beautiful scenery, lavish costumes, a great cast and a good murder mystery, what wasn’t there to enjoy here? I only wish I had watched this mini-series sooner

3. Endeavour (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of ITV crime drama series based on the characters of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels and prequel to the ITV Inspector Morse (1987-2000) TV series. Endeavour takes us back to the Oxford of 1960s where we see the young detective constable Endeavour Morse solve some of his earliest cases. Mysterious, clever and Shaun Evans does a wonderful job of portraying young Morse.

4. Game of Thrones (2014)          Read      TV Series      Television
Lavish fourth series of the epic fantasy drama based on George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Another gripping series of war, intrigue, family, politics, love, lust, lies and dragons! What’s not to love? Again though not for everyone it is jam packed with violence, sex and foul language. (Since watching this I have caught up with the books).

5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
A action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Guardians of the Galaxy created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning which is featured in Marvel Comics. A gang of extra-terrestrial misfits fighting and stealing their way around the galaxy in hopes of saving it from Ronan the Accuser. An exciting and fast paced film with great special effects and a cool soundtrack. I enjoyed this even more than I thought I would.

6. Noah (2014)          Read      Film      Cinema
An epic biblically inspired Hollywood film inspired by Noah’s Ark from the Old Testament of The Bible and other similar ancient tales from around the world. Whether you believe in these tales or not I thought this was a stunning and innovative film with a cool science fiction twist. With great performances from Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson and more.

7. Sherlock (2014)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
The third series of the BBC’s popular show inspired by the tales of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous private detective Sherlock Holmes. An excellent modern interpretation of Doyle’s characters and mysteries which has been highly anticipated for a return since 2012! As before. All I can say is I hope it won’t be long till there is more..

8. Shetland (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of BBC crime drama series based on Ann Cleeve’s novels Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez each novel was covered over three two-part episodes. I thought this series was mysterious and well performed with the isolated, lonely and beautiful setting of the islands of Shetland. I hope there will be more.

9. Thor: The Dark World (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
An action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby who features in Marvel Comics. I thought The Dark World was another fun and action packed adventure this time set in part on Earth and Asgard, which I loved, as Thor, Jane and Loki battle across the universe with the Dark Elves. I was totally sold on this film.

10. X-Men: Days of the Future Past (2014)          Not Read     Film      Cinema
A Hollywood blockbuster about The X-Men superheroes featured in Marvel Comics with a plot loosely based on a story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Exciting, fast-paced, amazing special effects and great performances from the ensemble cast.

It was hard to dwindle my list down to just 10. Honourable mentions must also go out to TV series Fleming (2014), Hannibal (2014), and Inspector George Gently (2014), and films Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and my re-watch of Pride & Prejudice (2005).

What were your favourite films and TV shows you watched in 2014?

The Classics Club: His Last Bow

His Last Bow

I have been ploughing on with my love for short story collections in 2014. I have so far read and adored the Adventures, Memoirs and Return of Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t read any since last year however I have been very keen to get my hands on more Sherlock Holmes stories. I was lucky enough to download the complete and free collection of Sherlock Holmes to my Kindle. So at the beginning of September with the R.I.P event going on I delved into His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle his fourth collection of Sherlock Holmes stories.

His Last Bow is a collection made up of another eight Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published in The Strand between 1908 and 1915; much later than the stories I have previously read. Probably the most famous adventure from the collection would have to be the Bruce-Partington Plans where we see Mycroft calling on Sherlock to find stolen plans for a secret submarine project. I instantly recognised this story as it was adapted for the dramatic finale of the first year of the BBC’s Sherlock series. I very much enjoyed Bruce-Partington Plans as well as the adventures of The Dying Detective and Lady Frances Carfax. However that being said as usual there were no adventures in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the three I have named though particularly amused me.

Like previous collections I have read I thought His Last Bow had a good range of stories (although a smaller collection than the previous ones) which were varied and well-balanced. There was also the wonderful chemistry between the two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. The difference I like about this collection is you get to see Holmes and Watson as they start to age and reflect back on old adventures. I did again find I was most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson in this collection. As much as I love the mind and foibles of Holmes it is his down-to-earth companion Watson that I find I really connect with. I think it is a very clever device of Doyle to have Watson narrate the stories even though Holmes is the main protagonist. I just don’t think these stories would be as popular if the poor reader had to be literally in the mind of Holmes!

While the length of each story varied quite dramatically in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes for His Last Bow the length was a standard length which I much prefer. I am still really enjoying reading the short story collections of Sherlock Holmes. As the shorter length of the stories means I can easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. I do now however have all of Doyle’s Holmes novels and I would like to read them in the not so far future too; especially The Hound of the Baskervilles. For now I look forward to reading the next and final short story collection The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.

His Last Bow is another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. I highly recommend to those interested in classic crime. This is now my 26th read off my Classics Club list. Good read.

Have you read this collection? Do you have a favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

I am also counting His Last Bow as Mystery for the R.I.P IX event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

New Read: A Very British Murder

A Very British Murder

One of my continuing aims in 2014 is to continue to read more non-fiction. I had previous to picking up A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley watched some of the TV series it was written to accompany but I didn’t get to watch it all. What I did see I found really interesting which made me really keen to get hold of this book to find out more.

A Very British Murder follows the British developing macabre love of a good murder mystery which started in the early days with wanting to know all the details of a local murder to reading the weekly ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ which went on to become a booming literary crime market that is still going today. Worsley in particular looks at the influence and popularity of newspapers, novels and other forms of written coverage of murder and crime both fictional and real. Worsley also looks at the other forms that this obsession spawned such as plays, puppet shows, public hangings, wax works, games, songs and the macabre trade in murder souvenirs. And our obsession is still going in novels, plays, films and TV shows today.

A Very British Murder is the first book I have read by Lucy Worsley though I have watched a few of her TV shows. I’m really glad I requested a copy because I thought A Very British Murder was an excellently written and perfectly fascinating book. I had trouble putting it down! Worsley splits A Very British Murder into three main parts. Part One: How To Enjoy a Murder looks at how the British first got a taste for a good murder with the gossip, trial and hanging that would follow it and how this started to influence journalists, authors and other entertainers. Part Two: Enter the Detective looks into the first famous detective Mr Whicher and how he went on to influence some of the best known literary detectives and private sleuths. Part Three: The Golden Age looks into the inter-war years where the popularity of crime and its authors was at its height; including probably our best known crime writer Agatha Christie. I thought each part was well written and structured, flowing well into each other and full of interesting quotes, examples and references.

A Very British Murder is an interesting and enjoyable look into the British obsession with a good murder mystery. As a fan of the murder mystery myself I found it all fascinating and would highly recommend to those who are also murder mystery fans whether British or not. Not sure what other historical non-fiction that could follow this for me at the moment. Great read.

Have you read and/or watched Worsley?

I received a copy of A Very British Murder via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Classics Club: The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

I have been ploughing on with my new-found love for short story collections in 2013. I read and adored The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes at the end of 2012 and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes at the beginning of this year. Since which time I have been very keen to get my hands on more Sherlock Holmes stories. I was lucky enough to download the complete and free collection of Sherlock Holmes to my Kindle. Not long after I started reading the next short story collection The Return of Sherlock Holmes as I’d been rather missing the adventures of our famous sleuth.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes is a collection made up of another thirteen Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published in The Strand between 1903 and 1904. These were the first stories since 1893 when in The Final Problem Doyle killed off his popular creation. The most famous adventure from the collection would have to be The Empty House as this is where we see the ‘return’ of Sherlock Holmes and his explains where he has actually been. I very much enjoyed The Empty House as well as the adventures of The Priory School, Charles Augustus Milverton, and The Six Napoleons. That being said again there were no adventures in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the four I have named though particularly captured my imagination.

Like previous collections I have read I thought The Return of Sherlock Holmes had a good range of stories which were varied and well-balanced. There was also the wonderful chemistry between the two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. I did again find I was most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson in this collection. As much as I love the mind and foibles of Holmes it is his down-to-earth companion Watson that I find I really connect with. I think it is a very clever device of Doyle to have Watson narrate the stories even though Holmes is the main protagonist. I just don’t think these stories would be as popular if the poor reader had to be literally in the mind of Holmes!

While the length of each story varied quite dramatically in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes for The Return of Sherlock Holmes the length had returned to the more standard length like those found in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which I much preferred. I am still really enjoying reading the short story collections of Sherlock Holmes. As the shorter length of the stories means I can easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. I do now however have all of Doyle’s Holmes novels and I would like to read them in the not so far future too. For now I look forward to reading the next short story collection His Last Bow.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes was another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. I highly recommend to those interested in classic crime. This is my 15th read off my Classics Club list. On finishing this collection I started reading Unfinished Tales by J R R Tolkien to keep things diverse. Although I do hope to return to the adventures of Holmes and Watson again very soon.

Have you read this collection? Do you have a favourite Sherlock Holmes story?