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?

New Read: The School Inspector Calls!

The School Inspector Calls!

Last month, I enjoyed reading, the second book in Barton-in-the-Dale series, Trouble at the Little Village by Gervase Phinn. So much so I didn’t wait too long to continue reading this delightful series with the third book, The School Inspector Calls!

Barton-in-the-Dale’s small village school was in trouble, big trouble. In stepped a new head teacher, Mrs Devine, in her red high heel shoes. Who with her hard work and a fresh approach has not only saved the little school from closure but has now been appointed as the new head teacher for the new integrated school; of Barton and the neighbouring Urebank school. Now, in book 3, we get see the hard realities that face Mrs Devine as she tries to amalgamate the two schools and staff. With absolutely no help from her new deputy head Mr Richardson, a self-important and condescending man, who is smarting from not being appointed as head teacher himself.

Mrs Devine, or Elizabeth as we get to know her outside of school, is a well dressed, smart, practical and kind woman; in stark contrast to her rival Mr Richardson. Her presence has not only brought about positive changes in the school but also in the lives of many of the villagers too. For me she was the obvious choice for the job but the demands of her new role do take a toll and really shake her confidence. I was rooting for her all the way through! Again though we are not secluded to just the changes at school – it was lovely to find out about the changes in the lives of some of the villagers, as I think the author has come up with a lovely, colourful collection of characters.

I found this another comforting read with it’s small school and village setting, some touching insights into the lives of the villagers, and some lovely touches of humour. The humour, for me, came mostly from the children – working in a school myself I have heard many of the honest, touching and often hilarious things children can come out with! In this book we have the children’s funny comments to the school inspector and the rehearsals for the school’s performance of The Wizard of Oz. There are also some very touching and sad elements: with the troubled new pupil Robbie but also love is blossoming and wedding bells are ringing for more than one pair!

The School Inspector Calls! is a touching and humorous tale of a small school and village, and a very comforting read. I have heard that there is a fourth book which I will need to keep my eyes peeled for. Good read.

Have you read this? Or any of Gervase Phinn’s other novels?

10 Books of Summer – 6/10

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?

The Classics Club: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

My result for The Classics Club’s 13th Spin feature was Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. I was pleased with this result as I have previously really enjoyed Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth follows the intrepid Professor Liedenbrock on his extraordinary expedition down the extinct volcano Snæfellsjökull in Iceland in search of the very core of the world. The professor is joined on this arduous journey by his long-suffering nephew Axel and their devoted guide Hans – all three are to be pushed to their very limits physically and mentally, and their relationships will be tested to the max as they push further down into the earth through twisting, pitch black tunnels towards an astonishing discovery.

All of this is narrated by Axel who back home in Germany has long-suffered his uncle’s  bad temper and demanding nature. Even he can’t believe it though when a mysterious message in a runic manuscript has his uncle packing immediately and dragging him along on this insane mission. Axel is more even tempered than his uncle but he is also rather gutless – fearing that this expedition at best will come to excruciating, professional embarrassment or at worst that they will never be seen again; either becoming lost or boiled alive by the Earth’s magna core. So not the most likeable protagonists which leaves me admiring Hans, their guide, who suffers it all without complaint!

This is the second novel I have read by Jules Verne. I thought it was another well written and described book with some good drama and again it had Verne’s down-to-earth style – unlike many of contemporary’s more formal style – which I enjoyed so much from my previous read. The story is narrated to us by Axel in a diary like style that helped me to get to know him and feel close to the action, but I also found that it took some of the tension out of the tale; as I knew for Axel to continue the story he had to survive! So overall I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Around the World in Eighty Days but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a classic, science-fiction adventure which I whipped through. I still have Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea on my Classics Club list which I am looking forward to reading. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you read any of Verne’s other adventures?

The Classics Club – 45/50

New Read: Trouble at the Little Village School

Trouble at the Little Village School

Last year, I read the first Barton-in-the-Dale novel, The Little Village School, by Gervase Phinn as part of the 10 Books of Summer challenge. So this year, it seemed very appropriate to continue the series with Trouble at the Little Village as part of the same challenge.

In the first book, Barton-in-the-Dale’s small village school was in trouble, big trouble. In stepped a new head teacher, Mrs Devine, in her red high heel shoes and with her new ideas, hard work and a fresh approach she saved the little school from closure. However education cuts in the county still need to be made so, in the second book, it is proposed that Barton should amalgamate with its neighbouring school at Urebank. Which means that Mrs Devine is now in direct competition with her rival Mr Richardson, a self-important and condescending man, for who will become the newly appointed head teacher of the integrated schools.

Mrs Devine, or Elizabeth as we get to know her outside of school, is a well dressed, smart, practical and kind woman; in stark contrast to her predecessor Miss Sowerbutts and her rival Mr Richardson. Her presence has not only brought about positive changes in the school but also in the lives of many of the villagers too. So to me, it felt like she was the obvious choice for the job but she does have a new dour Minister of Education and an extremely biased councillor to deal with. Again though we are not secluded to just the changes at school – it was lovely to find out about the changes in the lives of some of the villagers, as I think the author has come up with a lovely, colourful collection of characters.

I found this another comforting read with it’s small school and village setting, some touching insights into the lives of the villagers, and some lovely touches of humour. The humour, for me, came mostly from the children. Working in a school myself I have heard many of the honest, touching and often hilarious things children can come out with! In this book we have Bianca’s hilarious recollection of her sister giving birth on Christmas day and Oscar’s suggestion for the boys toilets; to name a few. There wasn’t only humour though there are also some very touching and sad elements to the story. With the blossoming romance between Elizabeth and Dr Stirling and more trouble comes the way of poor, young Danny Stainthorpe.

Trouble at the Little Village is a touching and humorous tale of a small school and village, and a very comforting read. So much so I am already reading the third in the series, The School Inspector Calls! Good read.

Have you read this? Or any of Gervase Phinn’s other novels?

10 Books of Summer – 4/10

Goodbye July, Hello August 2016

Month - July 2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? July has been a hot, busy and emotional month for me. Working in a school I have been clearing out cupboards and folders, sending work home or to secondary schools, preparing the children for the move, rehearsing Year 6 performance and finally saying goodbye to the children I have worked with for the last 2 years!

And, looking to the future I have been planning, gathering resources and moving to a new classroom (I will be working in Year 5 again from September). As you can imagine during that I didn’t get a lot of reading done, however I have made up for that in just my first week of the long summer holiday:

Fiction: 4     Non-Fiction: 2     Poetry: 0

In July, I am pleased to say I have made more progress on my list for the 10 Books of Summer challenge; finishing 3 books. First, I read historical fiction Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver which swept me back to the bloody downfall of Constantinople. Next, I wanted something lighter and  comforting so I read Trouble at the Little Village School by Gervase Phinn, the second book in the Barton-in-the-Dale series. Finally, at the end of the month I read Volume 1: Stars of Colleen Oakes’ new young adult series Wendy Darling; a re-imaging of J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and Neverland. My thoughts on these last two books are still to be posted.

That means I have now read 5 of my 10 Books of Summer and I have already started reading my 6th! During July, I have also read the science-fiction, classic Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, my result for the last Spin feature for The Classics Club. My thoughts on this book is still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions I also read two non-fictions. First, I read the thought-provoking, Christian devotional Let God’s Word Empower Your Prayers by Stormie Omartian. Then I really enjoyed mooching through Save With Jamie a recipe book by Jamie Oliver, which was full of yummy food ideas and tips on how to be a savvy shopper. Look out for me trying out these new yummy recipes in my cookbooks update posts.

Pick of the Month: Save with Jamie

That is 6 books finished in July which I am really pleased about. Throughout the month I have now and again dipped into The Secret Poisoner by Linda Stratmann; a history of poison and murder. And I started reading The School Inspector Calls! by Gervase Phinn and Mr Harrison’s Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell.

In August, I am looking forward to my best friend’s birthday, visiting my mother on the south coast, helping with our church’s summer club, and taking advantage of the rest of the long summer holiday to read lots of lovely books.

What did you do and read in July? Do you have any plans for August?