The Classics Club: The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

My result for The Classics Club’s last, wonderful Spin feature was the children’s classic The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I was really pleased with this choice, but sadly it took me a long time to get to. As first I needed to finish the epic The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.

I was particularly pleased with the choice of The Jungle Book as I love Disney’s animated film and in the first half of the book, lovers of the film will recognise the story of Mowgli. Although the chapters are not in chronological order. First Mowgli is found and adopted by the wolves after Shere Khan, the tiger, snatches him from his village. Later he is kidnapped by the monkeys, and rescued by his friends Baloo, the bear, and Bagheera, the panther, with the unlikely help of Kaa, the deadly python. For some time he also goes to live in a human village and it is here that Mowgli finally gets his revenge on Shere Khan.

This is the story I pretty much expected. What I didn’t realise was the other half of The Jungle Book is made up of other short stories. First we had ‘The White Seal’ Kotick who travels the oceans to find a safe home for him and the other fur seals away from humans. Then ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’ a mongoose who defends his adopted, human family from a pair of deadly, king cobras. Then ‘Toomai of the Elephants’ which tells how a little boy called Toomai is able to see the mysterious elephant dance. Finally ‘Her Majesty’s Servants’ looks into a discussion between all the different animals which work for the British army. I was confused at first, as not sure what fur seals have to do with the jungle? However I enjoyed all these stories and my favourite would have to be ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’.

I have fond childhood memories of the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling so it was nice to discover some more of his short stories. However when The Jungle Book was chosen as my Spin result I was really looking forward to finally reading a novel by Kipling. Sadly of course that still hasn’t happened! While Mowgli’s story was half of the book, it was really still a story not a novel. Therefore I also didn’t get some of character depth I was hoping for but enough of the negative; this was still an enjoyable read. Plus I still have Kim on my Classic Club list, please tell me that’s a novel?

The Jungle Book is an enjoyable collection of short stories, set in the beautiful and deadly Indian jungle. I recommend if you love children’s classics. This is my 32nd read off my Classics Club list. Good read.

Have you read this? Are you a fan of the Disney film?

Goodbye June, Hello July 2015

June 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? June is another month which has just flown by for me…no seriously it has flown by. There is now a mere two and half weeks till my school breaks up for the summer holiday.

During June I know I have done several puppet shows for various churches in the area. My own church had a wonderful Renewal Night and the local ladies choir came to do a performance; both of which I attended. I held a yummy barbecue to celebrate Father’s Day for my dad and granddad. Then near the end of the month I squeezed in a visit to Calke Abbey with a friend, on a glorious day (photo above and I hope to share more soon). When it comes to work and my general life though it has been a blur.

Both my reading and my adaptation watching have been slow. I spent most of June watching long TV series and the majority of my reading didn’t happen till the end of the month (I have a lot of reviews to catch up on). Here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3     Non-Fiction: 2     Poetry: 0

I spent a good chunk of the month completing the long, slow, and rather epic classic The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens; 31st read off my Classics Club list. A frivolous and lighter tale but it just didn’t grip me or have the drama of previous Dickens’ novels. Looking for a lighter and quicker read I picked up The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn, and it delivered everything I hoped for. Plus it my 1st read towards the 10 Books of Summer challenge. Then at the end of the month I finished children’s classic The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling; 32nd off my Classics Club list. My full thoughts still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions I also read 2 non-fictions. First I read My Autobiography by Guy Martin. A fascinating, funny and very candid account of the famous road racer, truck fitter and TV presenter. Then at the end of June I flew through Titanic another instalment from Mark Black’s A Very Brief History series. My full thoughts still to be posted for these.

Pick of the Month: My Autobiography by Guy Martin

That’s my consistent 5 books finished again; although 3 of them I finished right at the end of the month. Through out June I have continued to dip in and out of inspirational, Christian non-fiction The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian. I have also made a good start to Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton.

In July I am looking forward to more good reading, my friend’s hen do, and of course the start of the school summer holidays.

What did you do and read in June? Any plans for July?

New Read: The Little Village School

The Little Village School

At the beginning of June, hoping to get my 10 Books of Summer reading off to a good start, I picked up The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn; a Barton-in-the-Dale novel. I have fond memories of Miss Read’s Village School and hoped this would be a similarly comforting read.

Barton-in-the-Dale’s small village school is in trouble, big trouble. The school is old, tired, unloved and poorly managed. Her Majesty’s Inspector’s have given the school a damning report and parents are beginning to take their children elsewhere. In steps the new head teacher Mrs Devine, in her red high heel shoes, with new ideas and a fresh approach. As the tag line says: change is coming… But Mrs Devine won’t have an easy job though. With a sour former head teacher, nervous staff, a grumpy care taker, duplicitous governors, and village gossips to contend with.

Mrs Devine is a well dressed, smart, practical and kind woman. In stark contrast to her predecessor Miss Sowerbutts; a domineering and stubborn woman. Sower by name, sour by nature. Mrs Devine’s presence is not only to bring about positive changes in the school but also in the lives of many of the villagers too. I enjoyed finding out about the school as well as the lives of some of the villagers. Including Mrs Devine, deputy head Miss Brakespeare, Mr Stainthorpe and his grandson Danny, Dr Stirling and his son James, Reverend Atticus and his wife, and village gossip Mrs Sloughthwaite. I think the author has come up with a lovely, colourful collection of characters.

I found The Little Village School did have a similarly comforting feel to Miss Read’s Village School. With the small school and village setting, 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. The difference would be that Phinn, the author, has brought a more contemporary and up-to-date setting, style and humour to The Little Village School. There wasn’t only humour though there are also some very touching and sad elements to the story. I must admit near the end I got a little teary.

The Little Village School is a touching and humorous book, and a comforting read. I recommend to those interested in small village life in England and perhaps those looking for a more modern Miss Read. Good read.

Have you read this? Or Miss Read’s village series? If you have any recommendations for other village books, please let me know.

10 Books of Summer – 1/10

New Books: June 2015

New Books - June 2015 #1

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

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

The Collected Works of Charles Dickens

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Journey by John A Heldt

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Added to my Kindle this month are 7 novels, and a large collection of novels and short stories. Mansfield Park, Agnes Grey, North and South, A Little Princess, Kim and several Dickens novels are on my Classics Club list. I technically already have a Charles Dickens collection, but this new one is more extensive. Whilst I decided to download The Journey (Northwest Passage Book 2) after I read The Mine (Northwest Passage Book 1) last year and enjoyed it. All these I picked up for free from Amazon (UK). Then finally I received a copy of Named of the Dragon through Netgalley; I love Kearsley’s books so couldn’t resist this.

New Books - June 2015 #2

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Then I added modern classic Frenchman’s Creek, and comical fantasies Going Postal and Hogfather to my bookshelf after a visit to my favourite charity bookshop. I love Daphne du Maurier and Terry Pratchett, and it is a personal goal of mine to read all of their books.

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

New Read: The Storyteller and Her Sisters

The Storyteller and Her Sisters

In April I read and adored The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney. I only just managed to wait till May to read Mahoney’s second novel The Storyteller and Her Sisters. A re-imagining of my favourite, childhood fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, seemed just what my over-worked brain needed.

The Storyteller and Her Sisters takes us back to the last adventure our heroes encountered in The Wanderers. There is no need to have read the previous book though, because now we look at the story from a different perspective and in more detail.

Twelve princesses are mysteriously wearing out their dancing slippers every night, whilst locked in their bedroom. The king has proclaimed whom ever solves the mystery can choose one of the princesses to be his wife. However fail to solve the mystery after three nights, and off with your head! A charming fairy tale…or is it? What if the princess chosen doesn’t want to marry the champion? Or what if there is an important reason to keep dancing each night? What if the king has a darker, alternative motive? This is the story that The Storyteller and Her Sisters tells.

Our storyteller is in fact Alyra, better known as Lyra by those who matter, the ninth dancing princess. To their father, his court, and the numerous champions though Lyra and her sisters are all the same. Something the princesses encourage as there is safety in numbers. Yet really they have their own names, personalities, tastes, hobbies and unique traits. Likewise the corresponding twelve cursed princes (no there not demons or anything else nasty) are all different too. Together they need to dance for a year and a day to break a cruel curse upon the princes’ kingdom.

I have really been looking forward to reading this and I wasn’t to be disappointed. I thought Mahoney brought the princesses, the princes, the world, and the secret curse to life beautifully. Okay I probably can’t say I got to know every princess and prince as a perfect individual. However I loved getting to know Lyra, Vira the eldest princess, Talya the baby of the group, and Lyra’s closest sister Mina, and their prospective love interests (yes they have a choice!). This story had a slower pace to the previous but I still loved  the fairy tale tropes that Mahoney used and sometimes poked a bit of fun at too. It was also lovely to see the heroes from The Wanderers return near the end; especially Tom, the talking cat! It was clever of Mahoney to flip the story this way.

The Storyteller and Her Sisters is another well written and charming adventure. I highly recommend if you enjoy fairy tale re-imaginings. Great read.

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

Have you read this? What other fairy tale re-imaginings should I try?

This charming, fairy tale re-imagining is my 6th read towards the Once Upon a Time IX event, hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Goodbye May, Hello June 2015

May 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? May is another month which has just flown by for me.

At the beginning of the month we celebrated my little brother’s birthday and I had a lovely trip to Hinton Admiral Gardens, in The New Forest. Work has been busy and hard recently though, and we had a visit from Ofsted (school inspectors) too. I think staff and children alike were all relieved to reach half term. Our last day we had a trip to The Butterfly Farm, Stratford-Upon-Avon which was a special way to end a hard term.

May has been a good month for adaptations. I watched 3 films and 3 TV adaptations. I often find when I’m tired that I am drawn to watching more television as it takes less brain power. I was still reading through out the month but it felt like I made slow progress. Here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3     Non-Fiction: 2     Poetry: 0

I started the month off by finishing historical fiction The Lady of Misrule by Suzannah Dunn. I was really looking forward to this as I enjoyed The May Bride by Dunn last year. This was a beautifully described and intimate look into the final months of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. Next, hoping for an easier read, I picked up Divergent by Veronica Roth; the first book in Roth’s dystopian, young adult trilogy. Earlier this year I watched the film adaptation Divergent (2014) so I already knew the story. A well written, taut, and immersive adventure.

In April I read and adored The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney. I only just managed to wait till May to read Mahoney’s second novel The Storyteller and Her Sisters. I was tired and a re-imagining of my favourite, childhood fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, is just what I needed. My full thoughts still to be posted. Plus this and Tolkien (discussed below) now takes my reading count for the Once Upon a Time IX event up to 6!

Alongside these fictions I also read 2 non-fictions. First I re-read funny and inspirational memoir The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment by Isabel Losada. I love Losada’s down-to-earth and honest writing style. I hope I will be able to squeeze in a re-read of her other book this year too. Next I read Tolkien by Devin Brown, a biography which looks into the life and inspiration of beloved, fantasy author J R R Tolkien. My full thoughts still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: The Storyteller and Her Sisters

That’s 5 books finished again; I am becoming rather consistent. Through out May I have continued to read the epic The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, for The Classics Club. This is a big novel while the end is nearer, I still have a long way to go! I have also continued to dip in and out of inspirational, Christian non-fiction The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian.

In June I am looking forward to more good reading and hopefully more time spent outside.

What did you do and read in May? Any plans for June?

Challenge: 10 Books of Summer 2015

10 Books of Summer

Cathy over at 746Books is hosting her 20 Books of Summer challenge for the second year. I found out about this from TJ at My Book Strings, who is doing the slightly more manageable 10 Books of Summer challenge. I think like  TJ 10 books is enough of a challenge for me!

The challenge runs from the 1st June 2015 to the 4th September 2015. I’ve taken more inspiration from Cathy by deciding to focus on physical books, I already own, that I really would to like to get round to this summer. Here’s my list:

  1. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  2. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  4. The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley
  5. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  6. The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn
  7. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (re-read)
  8. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  9. The Return of the King by J R R Tolkien (re-read)
  10. The Martian by Andy Weir

I think this is a good, eclectic mix of genres and books. I don’t really think I’ll manage to read all 10, but I am really looking forward to seeing what I do read. I will check back in with you to share how well I did on or just after the 4th September. Wish me luck!

What are you hoping to read in summer? If you are also taking part in this challenge please let me know.