The Classics Club: The Phoenix and the Carpet

The Phoenix and the Carpet

After enjoying the charming children’s classic Five Children and It in March this year, I only waited till April to return to Edith Nesbit’s Psammead fantasy series with The Phoenix and the Carpet.

The five siblings: Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and their baby brother, the Lamb, are back home with their parents; in a middle-class townhouse in London. Now they are back to the cold, dark and boring routine of home they reflect fondly on their magical summer holiday with the Psammead (sand fairy). Then mother buys them a second-hand carpet for the Nursery, as the carpet unfolds a small, strange egg drops out from which a phoenix hatches! Not only that, but the carpet itself is a magic carpet which will grant them 3 wishes a day. So with the help of the phoenix, the children set off for more magical, absurd and disastrous adventures on their own flying carpet.

I enjoyed catching up with and sharing some more adventures with Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and the Lamb. 5 children which 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 still found that no one sibling stood out from the group – I couldn’t really distinguish Robert from Cyril or Anthea from Jane. However I did feel they have matured somewhat and ‘the lamb’ is even sweeter now he can speak and sing.  Overall still a fun group to read about, especially now they have mother to try to explain strange circumstances away too.

As in Five Children and It, I really enjoyed the children’s quaint and eccentric adventures  that arose from their childish and often spur-of-the-moment wishes. This time they found themselves on tropical islands, in derelict castles, finding hidden treasure, helping those in need, matchmaking and flying above the rooftops of London. And if anything I found myself loving the glorious, preening phoenix more than the ‘It’, the grumpy sand fairy. On top of which the carpet even seemed to have its own eccentric personality, which we find out from what it brings back from its own solo missions.

The Phoenix and the Carpet was another charming, magical children’s classic which I zipped through. I look forward to finishing the series with The Story of the Amulet. Good read.

Have you read this? Or any of Nesbit’s other children’s books?

The Classics Club – 42/50
Once Upon a Time X – #3
What’s in a Name 2016 – An item of furniture (3/6)
The Women’s Classic Literature Event – #5

(Originally I actually picked this book for What’s in a Name 2016 but I have since realised it fits so many other challenges too)

The Classics Club: Monthly Meme #40

The Classics Club

Each month The Classics Club releases a question to get club members thinking, discussing and sharing; either on the official site or their own. This month’s question is a new one contributed by club member, Joseph @ The Once Lost Wanderer (who joined in May 2014):

“What is your most ‘treasured’ book…not the story…the physical book? Maybe a valuable first or early edition, or an autographed copy, or a family heirloom, or a gift, or maybe just the favorite binding or cover art.”

This one is easy for me, my most treasured book has to be this 1979 Unwin paperback copy of the fantasy, children’s classic The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien:

Friday Face-Off #2

This battered and well-loved 1979 Unwin copy of The Hobbit, illustrated with ‘Conversation with Smaug’ by J R R Tolkien, is the copy my father has owned since he was a child. It has, probably not the most attractive, brown background, creases, bent corners and yellowed pages but I love it! While I own a newer, shinier and golden, hardback edition of The Hobbit, it is this old copy I find myself turning to time and time again. Most of the appeal of this copy is the fond memories I have of my father reading this to me, a chapter a night, when I was about 5 or 6 years old. And for that reason this old 1979 Unwin copy will always have a place in my heart and home.

What is your most treasured book?

New Books: April 2016

New Books - April #1

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

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

The lovely, wonderful, amazing, book blogging friend Lynn really kindly sent me her copy of Jane Steele because she thought I’d love it – I am super excited to read this.

Glorious Apollo by E Barrington

Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole

I received these 2 historical fictions from Endeavour Press; the first through their newsletter and the second off Netgalley. Glorious Apollo is about the notorious poet Byron while Eleanor of Aquitaine is the future wife of Henry V and Queen of England. I have not read anything by either author but both books sound interesting.

New Books - April #3

Indiana Belle by John A Heldt
(American Journey #3)

Resthaven by Erik Therme

I was kindly contacted and offered copies of young adult, thriller Resthaven and historical fiction Indiana Belle by their authors. Erik Therme is a new author for me while I have previously enjoyed The Mine (Northwest Passage #1) by John A Heldt.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

I am always on the look out for new-to-me books by Daphne du Maurier and Terry Pratchett. On my last trawl through my two favourite charity bookshops I struck gold: with Lords and Ladies from Pratchett’s hilarious epic Discworld series and du Maurier’s modern classic My Cousin Rachel.

New Books - April #2

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams

On the same visit to my favourite charity bookshops, I also spotted these lovely copies of fantasy The Lies of Locke Lamora and young adult, fantasy Tunnels. I previously read both but lost my copies! I am looking forward to rediscovery these gems and continuing the series.

The Indian Fairy Book edited by Cornelius Mathews

Stories of King Arthur and His Knights edited by Sir Thomas Malory

30 Days of Daal by Pragati Bidkar

Then finally but not least, I picked up, from Amazon, these two short story collections and Indian cookbook free!

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

New Read: Broken Banners

Broken Banners

After reading the engaging fantasy novella A Reaper of Stone by Mark Gelineau and Joe King in February, I was eager to read more. So much so I picked up book 2, Broken Banners, only a month later in March. (This post may contain spoilers for the previous book).

This book continues the story of Elinor, the King’s Reaper, and her loyal friend and royal engineer Conbert. After the bloody reaping at Last Dawn Keep, Elinor is now in disgrace and no knight will follow her. With a small ragtag assortment of loyal engineers and workmen, Elinor travels across the wilds to Heights Ward Keep. Under orders to merge with the Ninety-Fifth Pioneers, led by Janen Aldis. Only instead they come across the grim sight of the massacred bodies of the men and women of Ninety-Fifth Pioneers; seemingly cut down from behind as they fled the very keep they were meant to be reaping.

I thoroughly enjoyed reuniting with the strong, brave Elinor and the fair, noble Conbert. Since abandoning their orders and following Elinor’s instincts at Last Dawn, they have lost their position, power and many men. However Elinor seems to have gained a new power after her encounter with this world’s old magic. The new element to this story is Janen Aldis. The leader of the Ninety-Fifth Pioneers and Elinor’s old Academy friend; although we soon discover why Conbert doesn’t remember him fondly. Janen is strong, charming, ambitious and willing to do anything to achieve his goal. Even so I kind of liked him – he is a likeable rogue who Elinor and me hope can be redeemed!

I was again seriously impressed by how Gelineau and King managed to give the story that epic fantasy feel; with a well-built world and magic system that had a sense of age to it, and good character description and development. This book felt a little shorter and less detailed than The Reaper of Stone, however it was another engaging and highly readable novella. Gelineau and King came together to write this set of series, Echo of the Ascended, in homage to all the classic epic fantasy tales and great heroes of their childhood – of which Broken Banners is just part of 1 or 3 series set in the kingdom of Aedaron. While there are currently no more instalments in Elinor and Conbert’s story I do have other Echo of the Ascended novellas waiting on my Kindle for me.

Broken Banners was another quick and engaging fantasy novella, which I finished in just 2 to 3 short sittings. I hope very soon to read Best Left in the Shadows next. Good read.

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

Have you read this? Or any of Gelineau and King’s other fantasy novellas?

Once Upon a Time X – #2

New Read: The Book of Life

The Book of Life

After reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness earlier this year, I didn’t wait too long to read, The Book of Life, the final instalment in Harkness’ paranormal romance All Souls series.

Having grown in her powers and now pregnant with miraculous twins, Diana Bishop and her husband Matthew must return from Elizabethan England to the present time. However they still have many powerful enemies to contend with; in particular the Congregation are out for blood over their forbidden marriage and they also fear their unborn children. Diana must keep under the radar and surround herself with friends and family. While they look for a way to get their hands on the bewitched manuscript, Ashmole 782, which they hope will finally give them the knowledge to defeating their enemies and prejudice forever.

Through these books it has been nice to see Diana grow as a woman, witch, mother and matriarch. Sadly I am still not that enamoured with Matthew, because of his vampire possessive-ness, so it was great to see them spend some time apart in this book. Giving Diana the chance to shine and she even whoops some ass too! Another powerful element of this book is Diana and Matthew’s return to the present, leaving behind friends and loved ones in the past. While Diana and Matthew’s time walk took only minutes, many of these friends and loved have waited hundreds of years to see them again or have sadly passed away – some really poignant points arose from this.

I continued to love the detailed and immersive style and world Harkness conjured; and all the historical, alchemical, literary and art references and details. I also enjoyed the pace of this book, as the characters whizzed around the world to keep under the radar and to discover the truth. We spent time in the ancient Der Clermont seat at Sept-Tours, France; the eccentric Bishop home in Madison, USA (one of my favourites); Matthew’s grand London townhouse, England; the Congregation’s headquarters in the historical Venice, Italy; and many more fantastic locations. This book truly went international which helped keep me gripped to the end.

The Book of Life was an interesting and satisfying ending to this well written paranormal series; full of history, magic and art. 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 of the previous books in the series?

Once Upon a Time X – #1

Challenge: Once Upon a Time X

Once Upon a Time X

(Art by Melissa Nucera)

Hello my fellow bookworms, I am pleased to announce the start of the 10th Once Upon a Time event; hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings. A fun event which encourages us to read books that cover the broad categories of  Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology. I always look forward to this event as these genres are some of my favourites!

Books I could choose off my bookshelf:

  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
  • A Feast For Crows by George R R Martin
  • Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Books I could choose off my Kindle:

  • Best Left in the Shadows by Mark Gelineau and Joe King
  • Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
  • Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King
  • The Phoenix and the Carpet by Edith Nesbit
  • Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes

The event officially runs from 21st March to 21st June 2016. I have signed up for The Journey level which means I am aiming to read at least one book for the event. I usually end up reading more than one book but I like the freedom this level gives me especially with how much work I have on at the minute. I am look forward to seeing what I will end up reading.

Are you taking part in Once Upon a Time X?

New Read: City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire

Everything must come to an end, and so does Cassandra Clare’s popular young adult series The Mortal Instruments with this; the City of Heavenly Fire. This post may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Clary and her friends must fight their last and most deadly battle yet. Sebastian has launched terrible and bloody attacks on the Praetor Lupus and Shadowhunter institutes all over the world – killing many and turning others into Endarkened Shadowhunters. Now Sebastian’s Endarkened army and his allies threaten the ancient stronghold of Alicante, where the remaining Shadowhunters and their families have taken refuge. Trying to stop this impending apocalypse and save their loved ones, Clary and her friends take what could be a one way journey into the demon realm of Edom; to challenge Sebastian face-to-face.

I have always liked our young protagonist Clary. Watching her grow from a shy, artistic and awkward teenager to a strong, clever and brave Shadowhunter. It also helps that she is short like me – yeah short girls can kick ass to! Clary doesn’t have to face this final battle alone though as, always, she is joined by her ever faithful and brave friends: Jace, Alec, Isabelle and Simon. Who have all grown in their own ways to. Jace, Alec and Isabelle have always been Shadowhunters so it is Simon who has perhaps made the most obvious changes. All these changes is what made the end even more bittersweet for me.

I started reading this series back in 2013 with the City of Bones; perhaps the weakest book in this series. Fortunately for me the intriguing premise kept me reading and I can honestly say I have enjoyed this series more and more each book I have read. The changes and growth in the characters turned them from two-dimensional characters to ones I really liked and could believe in; particularly Clary and Simon. I also feel the action got darker and a bit more adult throughout the series. Now I have finished this series I would be interested in reading Clare’s other series The Infernal Devices – my brother has devoured both series.

The City of Heavenly Fire was another fun and action-packed adventure in a dark fantasy setting, and I thought it was a satisfying ending to the series. Good read.

Have you read this series? Have you read Clare’s other series The Infernal Devices?