New Books: August 2016

New Books - Aug #3

Hello my fellow bookworms, after being so good in July I am now bringing you my second new books post in August, oops! Here are more goodies I have added to my bookshelf:

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

On a recent trip to my hair dressers I had the chance to browse in some of my favourite bookshops. First, in the St. Giles hospice books shop I was pleased to find these two books. I am always looking to add to my Pratchett collection and this is a new-to-me story. And, after enjoying Ibbotson’s lovely young adults novel I have been keeping my eyes peeled for her children’s novels to try.

New Books - Aug #4

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

The Adventures & Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Next, on the same trip I went in the Oxfam bookshop and found another two books. First, I found a nice compilation of Sherlock Holmes stories – I have previously read and loved these but that was on my Kindle; I am now pleased to have a physical copy for my bookshelf. Then, I was thrilled to find Moon Over Soho the second book in Ben Aaronovitch’s fantasy, crime series, because I already have book one and five on my TBR pile.

New Books - Aug #5

Surprised by Hope by Hope by Tom Wright

Finally, in the post arrived a second-hand copy of this Christian non-fiction which is the October required book for my church’s new book club. I am currently reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson for our first meeting in September.

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books with a Fantasy Setting

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:

Top Ten Books With X Setting

This week’s topic is one we can personalise – we could go with books set near the beach, books set in boarding school, books set in England, etc. I am a big fan of fantasy books and fairy tales, so I have decided to share my top ten books set in a fantasy world (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

Set in the merry old land of Oz, where we travel the yellow brick road to the shining Emerald City.

~ 2 ~

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Set in Wonderland – a surreal, dream like place reached through a rabbit hole.

~ 3 ~

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Set in the brutal, dystopian state of Panem where people are separated into strict districts.

~ 4 ~

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Set across All-World – a collection of parallel worlds which have started to bleed into each other as the old magic dies.

~ 5 ~

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

Set in the magical, winter-bound land of Narnia; discovered at the back of an old wardrobe.

~ 6 ~

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Set across the epic Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

~ 7 ~

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Set on the magical Discworld which rides on the backs of four elephants, who in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle.

~ 8 ~

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Set in Camp Half-Blood – a secret refuse for the children of the Ancient Greek Gods from us mundane mortals.

~ 9 ~

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling

Set in the Wizarding World which secretly coincides alongside us muggles (non-magical folk).

~ 10 ~

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Set across the epic, diverse and old Middle-Earth.

What are your favourite books with a fantasy setting? Also, please let me know and link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday rewind.

New Read: Wendy Darling, Volume I

Wendy Darling

After loving her previous novels, I immediately snapped up a copy of Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars by Colleen Oakes, the start of her new, young adult series inspired by J M Barrie’s Neverland. Sadly however this book languished for too long on my Kindle until the 10 Books of Summer challenge finally gave me that push I needed to pick it up.

Wendy Darling and her brothers are part of a wealthy family who live a comfortable and conventional life in a town house in London. One clear, starry night their world is to be turned upside down when they are visited by a wild, magical boy, Peter Pan. Who, with the promise of adventures, lures them out of the nursery window and up, up away into the stars and on to Neverland! A magical land of turquoise seas, beautiful beaches, mermaids, pirates and the freedom of life as a Lost Boy. Wendy finds herself intoxicated by the place and Peter, and yet she is plagued with misty memories of home and an annoying sense that all is not as it appears.

I liked how Colleen Oakes, the author, has chosen to tell her re-imagining of Neverland from the point-of-view of Wendy. A young lady, who at the start of the story, is sad about growing up but is also excited by the prospect of love and womanhood. At this hormonal time Wendy easily falls for this beautiful, wild boy who flies through her window without much thought for consequences. I often wanted to give her a jolly good shake for her naivety and emotional weakness however she is a kind character with potential; I hope to see her develop further. Wendy is joined by her brothers: the adorable Michael and the thoroughly dislikeable John, both are completely  immersed in life on Pan Island and do not share any of Wendy’s misgivings.

While I didn’t particularly always ‘like’ the characters I did find that Colleen Oakes re-imagined classic and new characters are realistic and much better fleshed out than in the J M Barrie’s original tale. I also loved being able to delve deeper into the settings too. While I’m not sure I totally bought Oakes’ Edwardian London – I was completely blown away by her description of Neverland. I really could imagine the turquoise seas, sandy beaches, towering peaks, humid jungle, sinister Skull Rock, and the giant, sprawling tree that constitutes Pan Island.

Previously I have read and loved two of Oakes’ previous novels: Volume 1 and Volume 2 of her young adult series Queen of Hearts which is a re-imagining of Lewis Carol’s Wonderland. I enjoyed them so much that they both made it on to my Top 10 Books of 2014. So my expectations were perhaps too high for this new series, Wendy Darling. This first book in the series was again well written, detailed and imaginative however I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous books/series. I think that was simply down to the characters though – which is just my personal taste and not any reflection on the quality of writing or story.

Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars is an enjoyable fantasy adventure in an expanded, detailed and magical re-imagining of Neverland. I am looking forward to reading Volume 2: Seas to see how the characters develop. Good read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other books inspired by Peter Pan and Neverland?

10 Books of Summer – 5/10

New Books: June – August 2016

New Books - Aug #1

Hello my fellow bookworms, since my splurge in June I have been rather good and new books have come in slowly. Here are the goodies I have been adding to my bookshelf and Kindle over the last couple of months:

Lirael by Garth Nix

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

At the end of June, in one of my favourite charity bookshops I was thrilled to find copies of Lirael and Abhorsen; the second and third books in the Old Kingdom trilogy. I have previously read Sabriel and Lirael but not Abhorsen, so I am looking forward to re-reading and finishing this trilogy.

S5 Uncovered by James Durose-Rayner

Also in June, I was contacted and accepted a review copy from the publicist of S5 Uncovered; a new, dark crime novel.

New Books - Aug #2

Wendy Darling, Volume II: Seas by Colleen Oakes

Fast forward to this month, where I couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Wendy Darling, Volume II: Seas from Netgalley, as at the time I was reading Volume I: Stars. I am looking forward to continuing the series.

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

This month, I was also thrilled to be contacted by the author Rosy Thornton about receiving a review copy of her short story collection Sandlands which I have been hearing such wonderful things about.

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson

And finally this month, I purchased a digital copy of The Circle Maker for my Kindle in eager anticipation of a book club that is starting at my church in September.

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

Re-Read: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts

Later this year, I am really looking forward to returning to the magical ‘Harry Potter’ world with the release of the new film Fantastic Beasts; starring the wonderful Eddie Redmayne. In preparation I thought I would re-read Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander, aka J K Rowling.

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them was originally published in 2001 to raise money for Comic Relief and was written by Rowling under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander; a fictitious adventurer and author from the wizarding world. It isn’t a story but in fact a textbook – that Harry and his friends use in their lessons at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – which is full of magical creatures like mermaids, pixies, dragons, centaurs and many more; where they live; and how dangerous they are! A particularly amusing touch is that Rowling has included Harry’s and Ron’s annotations to the book, which includes: many cheeky comments about Hagrid’s love of dangerous beasts and their own experiences with some of the creatures named.

I first read this as a young teenager when it came out, with its companion Quidditch Through the Ages, right in the middle of the Harry Potter phenomenon – sadly that was quite a long time ago now! Before this re-read, I had only vague memories of this being an amusing read but, if I’m honest, I was struggling to see how it could be made into a film. On re-reading this super slim book in record quick time I discovered it was a lot funnier than I remembered and it has so many interesting (fantasy) facts. I can also now see that there are a lot of ways the film makers could go with this book – the fictitious author, Newt Scamander, must have had so many thrilling adventures researching all the wonderful creatures he writes about.

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them was a quick and fun read for me, and I now can’t wait for the film even more! Before it comes out perhaps I can squeeze in a quick re-read of its companion, Quidditch Through the Ages, too. Good read.

Have you read this? Are you looking forward to the release of the new film?

Once Upon a Time X – #9

The Classics Club: The Story of the Amulet

The Story of the Amulet

After enjoying the two previous books, Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet, in June I returned and completed Edith Nesbit’s charming Psammead series with The Story of the Amulet.

The siblings: Robert, Anthea, Cyril and Jane find themselves at a loose end again after being left in London under the care of their old nurse. Their father is away due to the war and their mother has gone away for her health, taking their baby brother ‘the lamb’ with her. Out one day, trying to amuse themselves, the four older children surprisingly stumble upon their old friend ‘It’ (a sand fairy) in a pet shop! They rescue him but he is not their only magical discovery, they also come across a broken ancient amulet which has the power to take them on many adventures in the past.

It was lovely catching up with and sharing some more adventures with Robert, Anthea, Cyril and Jane; but sadly no ‘Lamb’. The four older children are inquisitive, clever, argumentative and can sometimes be rather naughty; which can make them slightly less likeable, than the Railway Children, but equally realistic and amusing to read about. I was a little sad not to be able to catch up with ‘the lamb’, as he was such a sweetie in the last book, but we did have the old nurse and the professor upstairs to get to know. I particularly enjoyed how the professor joins them for one adventure and thinks it’s all a wonderful dream!

As in the previous books, I really enjoyed the children’s quaint and eccentric adventures which this time arose from their wishes to help them find the complete amulet. I travelled with them to Ancient Egypt where they met a suspicious priest, to Babylon where they sing for the queen and the mythological Atlantis before the cataclysmic wave; the latter of which causes much distress to the cantankerous old ‘It’ who hates water. What was nicer about these adventures was they had a purpose: to retrieve the complete amulet with which the children hoped to be able to wish their parents and baby brother safely back to them.

The Story of the Amulet was another charming, magical children’s classic and a fitting end to the Psammead series. I’m almost a little sad that I’ve finished the series, however there are still other novels to discover by Edith Nesbit. Good read.

Have you read this? What other Nesbit novels would you recommend?

The Classics Club – 44/50
Once Upon a Time X – #8
The Women’s Classic Literature Event – #6

New Read: The Gospel of Loki

The Gospel of Loki

I was so excited when I received a copy of The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris; as I’d heard good things about the author. Sadly though this book languished on my Kindle until last month the Once Upon a Time X event inspired me to put it on my summer TBR pile.

In Harris’ first adult’s fantasy novel we are taken back into ancient Norse Mythology. To a time of gods, ice giants and demons. We see the rise of the All-Father, Odin; his recruitment of the powerful and beautiful to become gods beside him; the golden years of Asgard; to the ultimate betrayal and bloody fall during the Ragnarök. This is those old Norse tales with a twist though…as Harris retells this history from the point-of-view of Loki, the trickster god. Loki tell us he is a seriously misunderstood character and he is taking this opportunity to tell us the true version of events and set the record straight.

Loki, the Light-Bringer and trickster god, describes himself as the misunderstood, elusive, handsome and modest hero of this tale. Whilst we might know Loki best for his notorious reputation for trickery, deception and cruel pranks. I can agree Loki is most definitely elusive and sometimes misunderstood and mistreated too, however he is far from modest or particularly heroic either. Our narrator is in fact vain, deceitful, selfish and his notorious reputation is well-deserved. He wasn’t a nice protagonist to read about but his point-of-view is fascinating and often very amusing too – whether you believe his version is up to you. Personally I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him!

This is the first novel I have read by Joanne M Harris. While I have been tempted by a few of her novels, I was particularly interested in this one because of my childhood love of Norse Mythology. I can’t claim to be an expert on this mythology however as I read this fond memories of stories and the different Gods and monsters came flooding back to me. Then on top of that, you have the inspired choice to pick the unlikely protagonist of Loki. I was really impressed with how Harris made Loki into a well-rounded and believable character. And whether or not you like him or believe a word he says, there really is always two sides to every story.

The Gospel of Loki was an interesting and refreshing twist on the ancient Norse Mythology, which was a pleasure to read and surpassed my high expectations. Now, I am seriously interested in reading more of Joanne Harris’ novels. Great read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? What Joanne Harris’ novels would you recommend?

10 Books of Summer – 1/10
Once Upon a Time X – #7