New Books: August 2015

New Books - August 2015

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

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit

The Phoenix and the Carpet by Edith Nesbit

The Story of the Amulet by Edith Nesbit

First I picked up these free classics for my Kindle from Amazon (UK). The Railway Children and Five Children and It are both on my Classics Club list. While I downloaded the other two because they were free, so why not complete Nesbit’s Psammead series?!

The Romanovs by Virginia Cowles

90 Days Through the New Testament by Ron Rhodes

I received these historical and faith non-fictions from Netgalley. These are not authors I have heard of or read before. I was particularly drawn to The Romanovs because last year I loved The Romanov Sisters /Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport, which made me want to read more.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Then I found these two classics in a rummage in a charity shop. I have a feeling I did read The Wind in the Willows as a child, however except for the characters I remember nothing about it. So I popped it on my Classics Club list. While I have read and remember Dracula. It is nice to now have my own copy.

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

Meme: Tough Traveling – Forbidden Love

Tough Traveling

Nathan, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, runs the weekly meme Tough Traveling, where readers are encouraged to tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is FORBIDDEN LOVE

“Even in Fantasyland parents are not always happy with their children’s choice of partners”

Well my fellow bookworms and tough travellers this really got me thinking! Here are my picks for this week’s topic:

The Dark Tower by Stephen King – Roland, the last gunslinger, reflects back on his first, true love Susan Delgado. Forbidden because Susan’s family have already promised her to another. Theirs is to be a young, innocent and ill-fated love affair.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin – I don’t think you can get more forbidden love than twin sister and brother, Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Then again as Jaime points out the Targaryens married their sisters; and no one said anything to them.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire – Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, has a forbidden and doomed love affair with her married, old college friend Fiyero.

Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien – Aragorn and Arwen is perhaps not a forbidden love, but more a discouraged love. Arwen’s love for a man means her Elven brethren must make the difficult decision to sail for the West without her.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Diana  and Matthew begin a tentative and complicated romance, which is both dangerous and forbidden because she is a witch and he is a vampire.

Can you think of a literary, forbidden love? Please let me know if you’re taking part in this week’s topic too.

Re-Read: The Return of the King

The Return of the King

Peter Jackson’s epic film franchise based on J R R Tolkien’s novels has sadly now come to an end. While I regularly re-read The Hobbit it has been over 10 years since I re-read The Lord of the Rings. July saw me reaching for The Return of the King to complete my long, over due re-read.

We return to Middle-Earth on the brink of war. Saruman and his Uruk-hai army may have been defeated, but now Sauron, the dark lord himself, is ready to unleash the hoards of Mordor. Gandalf and Pippin ride to the fortified city of Minas Tirith; to bring aid and advice. This time round I found the sections in the besieged city as the most fascinating. With the tense atmosphere, palpable fear, and the madness of Lord Denethor.

Meanwhile Merry is left with King Théoden and the horse-lords of Rohan. After the battle against Saruman’s Uruk-hai army, at the ancient fort of Helm’s Deep. The Rohirrim have very little time to re-organise and muster a larger force to ride to the aid of Minas Tirith.  Defying the wishes of the king. Merry and Lady Eowyn secretly ride out too. Here Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli also depart to the Paths of the Dead too. Seeking to raise an army of the dead to stop an unseen threat coming from the sea.

Finally but certainly not least we have Frodo and Sam. They must now make the torturous journey across Mordor, a smoky, desolate expanse, to reach the fires of Mount Doom. This is the most emotional thread of the story. Seeing the physically and mental deterioration of Frodo. As the burden of the ring becomes almost unbearable. Luckily Frodo has Sam, and a more loyal and strong friend you could not find. I wish I could have my on Samwise Gamgee! As much as Frodo and Sam pull the heart-strings. What I most enjoyed in this was seeing the two younger hobbits, Merry and Pippin, have more time in the lime light; as individuals.

I do it every time, but I am still surprised how much shorter this is to the two previous books. Just over a quarter of the physical book is actually appendices, and this is the first time I’ve ever read any of them. I found in them some interesting time lines and family trees. Yet as you can see from my description above Tolkien has fitted a whole lot in. Every word is precious to Tolkien and again he uses them here perfectly to really bring Middle-Earth alive. This was an emotional and action packed adventure, and a fitting end to an enchanting series. An epic read and appropriately this is becoming quite an epic post.

The Return of the King was a comforting read, that took me back to a familiar and enchanting world. I highly recommend to those who enjoy epic fantasy. I am a little sad it is all over! Great read.

Have you read The Lord of the Rings? Do you like the films?

10 Books of Summer – 3/10

Meme: Tough Traveling – New Beginnings

Tough Traveling

Nathan, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, runs the weekly meme Tough Traveling, where readers are encouraged to tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is NEW BEGINNINGS

“A new leaf, a new life, a complete change of pace for a character in fantasyland is how most stories start.  Bad people get a second chance, farm kids leave the farm, or a soldier gets a new post.  From there adventure awaits!”

And it really is true. Pretty much every fantasy book and series I’ve read has begun…with a new beginning of some sort. I have decided to stick with some beloved authors and classic new beginnings. Here are my picks for this week’s topic:

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien – poor, little Bilbo Baggins has a dramatic change of pace. When he is whisked away, from his comfortable hobbit-hole, on one of those “nasty disturbing uncomfortable” adventures!

Harry Potter by J K Rowling – 11 year old Harry’s new life, or true life, begins when he receives his acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis – After Edmund betrays his family Aslan sacrifices himself to give Edmund a second chance. Edmund then goes on to play a brave, honest and practical part in several more Narnian adventures.

Mort by Terry Pratchett – useless, young Mort is forced out of the family farm to seek an apprenticeship. Who could imagine he would be taken on by Death!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – I know this is straying into science-fiction, but I couldn’t not mention Arthur Dent. Whose life goes from grey to crazy, technicolour. When he discovers that his best friend, Ford, is an alien and that he is now the only human being left!

What is your favourite literary new beginning? Please let me know if you’re taking part in this week’s topic too.

Meme: Tough Traveling – Flying

Tough Traveling

Nathan, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, runs the weekly meme Tough Traveling, where readers are encouraged to tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is FLYING RIDES

“Because honestly?  Horses just got boring.
(Thanks to author Anne Leonard for the suggestion)”

I could think of plenty of flying examples, trouble was trying to limit the amount of dragons I featured! Here are my picks for this week’s topic:

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien – when Bilbo, the dwarves and Gandalf find themselves in hot water, or in this case trees, the eagles of the Misty Mountains carry them away to safety.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini – Eragon, a young peasant boy, finds and bonds with a rare dragon egg; unknowingly becoming a dragon rider. Together Eragon and his dragon Saphira must learn how to fly and fight as one.

Harry Potter by J K Rowling – Harry and his friends during this series fly by many means including; on broomsticks, thestrals, a hippogriff, a dragon and even in a magically modified, Ford Anglia!

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke – A dragon named Firedrake is seeking the safe refuge of the Rim of Heaven. He takes Ben, an orphaned boy, along with him as a companion and map reader.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman – Lyra and her friends travel in Lee Scoresby’s hot air balloon, towed by Serafina Pekkala and her fellow flying witches.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C S Lewis – The Pevensie’s obnoxious cousin Eustace Scrubb learns a hard but valuable lesson, when an enchanted bracelet turns him into a dragon!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum – And perhaps the award for most inventive, flying journey goes to Dorothy. Who flies in her house. during a storm, to the magical land of Oz.

Can you think of some fantasy, flying journeys? Please let me know if your taking part in Tough Travels this week too.

New Read: Hope’s Rebellion

Hope's Rebellion

For much of July my reading has taken me into the past. I decided it would be fun to go the opposite way; to go into the future with my next read. So I picked up Jade Varden’s dystopian, young adult novel Hope’s Rebellion.

Godenor is a bleak and desolate land, with few resources which must be strictly dealt out to the population. Due to this the population is segregated. At just 3 years old children are either taken to work camps to learn how to serve as Dinwas or work in the mines. Or, the more fortunate children, are taken to education camps to learn a craft. At the end of their education the Allocator decides where they will be assigned. The premise is nothing new but I did think it was well crafted. There is one more thing that can determine your fate; your hair colour. Those children with golden hair are prized above all others.

We find out about this world through the eyes of 3 very different girls. First we have Drexi. Initially assigned to a work camp her bravery earns her a transfer to an education camp. Sadly the stigma of her black hair and her golden-haired mother’s failure is a constant battle for her. Then we have small, quiet, mousey haired Prelly. Accidentally taken to the education camp when she became lost and was found by a kind soldier. Finally but not least we have Rinna, or Rinna of the Gold as she is known. As she has the prized golden hair Rinna’s life was planned out from the day she was born. She is to become a wife and mother. In the education camp these 3 girls become fast friends. A friendship that will be truly tested when they are allocated and become adults.

This is the first book I have read by Jade Varden. I came to know of it when the author contacted me about it. I am really pleased I took a chance on it. As I thought it was a gripping, young adult adventure in an authoritarian, fantasy world. While Drexi, Prelly and Rinna were at school I didn’t really think of it as a dystopian world. The world before and any whiff of rebellion is not discussed until the girls are allocated. The pace of the novel is fast and I found myself flying through it. There were a few moments where the wording jarred a little with me and others where I wish there had been a little more detail. I totally understand that sometimes too much detail would have taken us away from the action and tension that was building though, so was a necessary cut.

Hope’s Rebellion was a gripping and fast read for me, this is an author and world I would like to read more of. I recommend to those who enjoy young adult, fantasy and dystopian books. Good read.

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

Have you read this? Have you read a good dystopian novel I should try?

Meme: Tough Traveling – Climates

Tough Traveling

Nathan, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, runs the weekly meme Tough Travels, where readers are encouraged to tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is EXTREME CLIMATES

“Perhaps the handsome prince lives in a castle surrounded by green countryside and sunny days.  The rest of the land is forced to deal with freezing cold, searing heat, and every other extreme climate mother nature can throw at you”

Well my fellow bookworms and tough travellers this really got me thinking! Here are my picks for this week’s topic:

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin – Up in the far north of Westeros there is a permanent winter. Where the Night’s Watch make their cold, lonely vigil on The Wall; a giant barrier of ice and stone.

The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien – Frodo and Sam make a perilous journey across Mordor, a hot, smoky, desolate expanse, to reach the fires of Mount Doom.

Closer by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams – Book 4, in the subterranean Tunnels series, sees our protagonists discover a world with its own sun in the centre of the Earth. This has reminded me I need to get back to this series!

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis – During the long, evil reign of the White Witch the land of Narnia is permanently covered in snow and ice. Always winter, but never Christmas!

Discworld by Terry Pratchett – Discworld by its very nature is extreme, due to the fact it is flat and round. The Hub at the centre of the world is made up of icebound mountains, being permanently furthest from the sun’s orbit. While the lands on The Rim, the edge of the world, are warm and tropical.

Can you think of some extreme weather and climates in books? Please let me know if you’re taking part in this week’s topic too.