New Books: May 2015

New Books - May 2015

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

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Kingmaker: Broken Faith by Toby Clements

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris

5 new fictions for my Kindle this month. The two Agatha Christie mysteries were being offered for free on Amazon (UK) so I obviously had to download them! Then I received Welsh historical/mythological Lamp Black, Wolf Grey, historical fiction Kingmaker: Broken Faith, and epic fantasy The Gospel of Loki from Netgalley. I am excited about all of these books. In particularly I have heard great things about The Gospel of Loki and I am looking forward to continuing Clements’s Kingmaker series.

The Faith of a Mockingbird by Matt Rawle

Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London: The Making of Harry Potter (The Official Guide)

I also received faith non-fiction The Faith of a Mockingbird for my Kindle from Netgalley. I was intrigued by the links the author has made to To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Then slightly randomly my mother picked up The Making of Harry Potter (The Official Guide) from the Education Show. Where Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London had a stand to promote school trips. I loved my visit to the studios, and would love to go again now they have The Hogwarts Express there.

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

New Read: Mort

Mort

At the end of last year I started to work my way through, from the beginning, books from the epic Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, which between us my father and I own. With the sad passing of Sir Terry in March I thought it would be fitting in April to pick up Mort; the fourth published Discworld novel.

In Mort we return to Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical Discworld, to a farm just below the Ramtop Mountains. Where a boy is madly running through a field trying, ineffectually, to scare away birds. Mort tries hard but he is, well, pretty useless. So think his uncle and father too as they plan to apprentice him off. Surely someone could train him or be fool enough to try. In steps Death with an unusual job offer and when Mort is reassured that being dead or skeletal is not compulsory he accepts. New clothes, three hot square meals a day, and perhaps the oddest, on-the-job training are to be Mort’s new life.

I have always loved Pratchett’s dark humoured and cat loving character Death, who pops up regularly in other Discworld novels. This is the first time I’ve read a novel where he has been a main part though. Death is having something of a mid-life crisis and so wanting some time off decides to train up Mort to take some of the load. As I said though Mort is pretty useless. When allowed out on his own for the first time his teenage crush fuelled, rash decision is to end, funnily for us, but disastrously for the time line continuum, Death, and the small kingdom of Sto Lat. Mort is the main protagonist and while I think he is an interesting vehicle for change and chaos. I sadly didn’t grow particularly fond of him. Unlike Death who love even more now!

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine and I was very sad to hear of his passing. To me the best way to do him tribute is to read and share all his wonderful books. Mort is the sixth Discworld novel I have read although I haven’t read them in any particular order before. I don’t believe this is a series you necessarily have to read in order. The stories often follow various different characters. While I already knew Death. Mort, Death’s adopted daughter, and the inhabitants of Sto Lat were all new characters for me. Mort is a relatively short, funny, fantastical, and simple adventure to follow. My grandmother always said Mort was her favourite Discworld novel. She always remembered fondly Death falling over and uttering ‘Oh, bugger’. So I am really pleased to have finally read it. I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be amazed and amused by Pratchett’s wonderful imagination.

Mort is a darkly funny Discworld adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and comedy. I am looking forward to reading more adventures in Pratchett’s Discworld. Good read.

Have you read this? Or other Discworld adventures?

This classic, comedy, fantasy is my fourth read towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Adaptations: April 2015 (2)

Adaptations #3

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.

Here are more adaptations I watched during April:

The NeverEnding Story II (1990)          Not Read     Film     Television
Fantasy sequel inspired by the second half of Michael Ende’s novel. I watched all three films as a child but I feel the first film is by far the more superior hence why it is the only one I own on DVD. This sequel was easy, fantasy fun which passed a lazy Saturday afternoon. Okay watch.

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2014)     Not Read     Film     Television
Fantasy adventure based on the Mariah Mundi novels by G P Taylor. A young man is thrown into a world of treachery, magical antiquities and steampunk machinery. I totally missed this when it was released at the cinema, where it sadly received poor reviews. I thought it was a bit of fun though, with a good ensemble cast including plenty of well known faces. Okay watch.

The Maze Runner (2014)          Not Read     Film     DVD
Dystopian, action thriller based on the young adult novel by James Dashner. I thought the concept of a group of young men being tested in a lethal and mind-boggling maze was fascinating; with great special effects and interesting characters. I am so pleased I was lent this on DVD by a friend and I look forward to the upcoming release of the sequel. Good watch.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)          Not Read     Film     Television
Science fiction blockbuster based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. A soldier relives a brutal battle over and over again in a sadistic, Groundhog Day style, loop to find a way to destroy the aliens. I thought this would be good but I got so much more with this twisted, brilliant concept. Amazing special effects, interesting time cuts, and great performances from Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Great watch.

Poldark (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
BBC costume drama based on the first two novels from the Poldark series by Winston Graham. Ross Poldark returns home to try to resurrect his family’s mine. A stark and often heart breaking portrayal of life in Cornwall in the late 1700s, brought to life by a good and rather attractive ensemble cast, in stunning scenery and beautiful costumes. I look forward to series 2. Good watch.

That’s another 5 adaptations watched which when added to the previous 6 makes the grand total 11 adaptations for April; a great month which has only been matched in January. The Easter bank holiday really helped bump up my numbers. I am looking forward to seeing what adaptations I watch in May, as I have 3 TV adaptations on the go and I really must go see the new Avengers film at the cinema.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching?

Goodbye April, Hello May

April 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? This year seems to be flying by. Happily though April has been a warmer and sunnier month here in the UK. I had a wonderful Easter weekend, did a couple of puppet shows for my church, and started going for short runs; all positive. Sadly I did also get sinusitis which saw me reaching for lighter, comfort reads. Here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 4     Non-Fiction: 1     Poetry: 0

I started the month off by finishing historical fiction Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson. An enjoyable, escapist read into the early life of Cicely Neville and the events leading up to the War of the Roses. Next I plunged into a comforting re-read of The Two Towers by J R R Tolkien, the 2nd book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. An intricate and enchanting tale which was a much easier read than it had been previously.

This is about the time my sinuses began to hurt so I next picked up the fairy tale re-imagining The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney, hoping for a lighter, fun read. I wasn’t disappointed either. I simply raced through this witty and charming adventure. Then at the end of the month I squeezed in comedy, fantasy Mort by Terry Pratchett, the 4th novel from the epic Discworld series; my full thoughts are still to be posted. The Two Towers, The Wanderers and Mort now takes my reading count for the Once Upon a Time IX event up to 4 which I am really pleased with.

Alongside these fictions I also read historical non-fiction Rebellion by Peter Ackroyd, the 3rd volume of The History of England. An interesting read which looks into the Stuart monarchs, their downfalls, and the Civil War.

Picks of the Month: The Two Towers and The Wanderers

And those are just the books I finished. Through out the month I have been dipping in and out of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, for The Classics Club, and inspirational, Christian non-fiction The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian. I am also close to finishing a  re-read of humorous and inspirational memoir The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment by Isabel Losada.

In May I am looking forward to more good reading, my brother’s birthday, and half term at work.

What did you do and read in April?

New Read: The Wanderers

The Wanderers

After a wonderful Easter weekend I sadly found myself under the weather for the first week of my holiday. I decided to take comfort in escaping into the fairy tale re-imagining The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney.

The Wanderers introduces us to Jasper a ‘wandering adventurer’ who travels across the land fighting witches, ogres, evil wizards and rescuing young maidens. When we meet Jasper he is singlehandedly taking on an evil wizard who is turning people into stone however he is unexpectantly helped by Tom a talking cat. Jasper and Tom then go on to travel together breaking Jasper’s rule about travelling alone but Tom is a cat not a human so perhaps it doesn’t count. This is only to be the first rule that Jasper breaks. The more rules he breaks the harder his adventures get but perhaps the happier he becomes?

I would call Jasper a hero but he stubbornly prefers ‘wandering adventurer’. Hero to him means all those rich, silly and pompous princes while Jasper is a commoner who does it as a profession. I liked Jasper he is kind and brave, and there is also a lot going on under the surface to discover as well. His life is run by a set of tight, self-imposed rules one of which I have mentioned is to travel alone. Jasper breaks this rule for Tom the talking cat who I just loved. Tom is smart, witty, obsessed with fish but also loving underneath it all. I would really like my own Tom! Jasper also unexpectantly breaks this rule for Julie who he rescues from a witch. Julie is to prove that not all girls that need rescuing are just pretty, dumb and silly.

The Wanderers is the first book I read by author and fellow blogger Cheryl Mahoney. I have really been looking forward to reading this and I am pleased I have The Storyteller and Her Sisters waiting on my Kindle. I thought The Wanderers was a light, fun and well written book which is broken up into different adventures. I loved the fairy tale tropes that Mahoney used and sometimes poked a bit of fun at too; I particularly liked the lucky but useless third son. Also one of the largest adventures was a re-imagining of The Twelve Dancing Princesses which is one of my favourites from my childhood. I simply raced through this book as I enjoyed the characters, the adventures, the humour and the comforting familiarity of it.

The Wanderers is a well written, witty and charming adventure. I highly recommend if you enjoy fairy tale re-imaginings. I am really looking forward to reading The Storyteller and Her Sisters next. Great read.

Have you read this? Or some other fairy tale re-imaginings?

This charming, fairy tale re-imagining is my third read towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Re-Read: The Two Towers

The Two Towers

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. The start of April saw me reaching for The Two Towers to continue my long over due re-read.

This is the second book of the trilogy so this post may contain spoilers.

The Two Towers  returns us to Middle-Earth after the destruction of the fellowship. Frodo, the ring bearer, has gone on with only his trusted friend Sam. Together they must trust Gollum, an unlikely guide, to find a secret path over and through the mountains into Mordor. Meanwhile Merry and Pippin have been kidnapped by a cruel band of orcs working for the traitor wizard Saruman. Those that remain of the fellowship set out on a dangerous and gruelling chase to rescue them before they reach Isengard, and surely torture and death.

The destruction of the fellowship makes for some really interesting character development and dynamics. Frodo and Sam’s friendship becomes only stronger but they now must contend with the duplicity of Gollum. Merry and Pippin’s kidnap gives them the opportunity to stand on their own two feet and show perhaps they aren’t so naïve and foolish. However it is the journey and camaraderie of the survivors of the fellowship that I found most interesting; Aragorn, Legolas the woodland elf and Gimli the dwarf. I particular loved the unlikely friendship that forms between Legolas and Gimli.

I have only previously read The Lord of the Rings trilogy twice and while I have enjoyed them they don’t quite hold the same sort of place in my heart as The Hobbit. On re-reading The Two Towers I found it to be another intricate and enchanting tale. Every word is precious to Tolkien and again he uses them here perfectly to really bring Middle-Earth alive. I found The Two Towers a quicker and easier read than The Fellowship of Ring. Introductions have been made and now it is time to get on with the real adventure. However that is not to say new lands, creatures and characters are not introduced but the core characters and background are there to support the reader.

The Two Towers is an intricate, epic, and enchanting tale. I highly recommend to those who enjoy epic fantasy. I look forward to re-reading The Return of the King next. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the films?

This classic fantasy is my second read towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Adaptations: March 2015

Adaptations #2I 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.

Here are the adaptations I watched at the end of February and during March:

1984 by George Orwell (2015)          Not Read     Play     Theatre
Amateur stage production of George Orwell’s modern classic; adapted for the stage by Matthew Dunster. A simple and effective performance which I thoroughly enjoyed. Good watch.

The Lone Ranger (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
Western adventure inspired by The Lone Ranger franchise which has included a radio series, books, a TV series, comic books and several films. Rather cheesy but good visual effects, music, and ensemble cast; most notably Johnny Depp. Could have been great just all the elements didn’t quite gel right. Okay watch.

The Casual Vacancy (2015)         Not Read     TV Series     Television
Three part drama based on J K Rowling’s novel. I didn’t fancy reading this however I thought I would give the series a go. This is not a happy watch but a gritty, small village drama. Peopled with some pretty despicable characters played by a great ensemble cast including Michael Gambon and the wonderful Keeley Hawes. Good watch.

The Musketeers (2015)          Read     TV Series     Television
The second series of the BBC’s swashbuckling adventure based on the characters of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel. I had been looking forward to the return of this show. Another fun, interesting and gripping mixture of adventures with great camaraderie and beautiful costumes. Good ensemble cast; with the addition of one of my favourites Marc Warren as the dastardly Rochefort. Good watch.

The Great Ghost Adventure (2011)          Read     Film     Television
Ghostly adventure based on Eva Ibbotson’s children’s novel. A light comedy for all the family. There are a great deal of changes to characters and plot. I can understand the need to modernise the story but I was surprised how much was changed considering its such a short book. Okay watch.

Five adaptations watched in March I think is a good amount. There was an interesting mix of TV, film and stage adaptations; mainly based on novels. I finished two TV series, The Casual Vacancy and The Musketeers, I am continuing with Grimm and Sleeping Hollow has just returned. Plenty more adaptation fun to look forward to in April.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching?