New Books: May 2016

New Books - May

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

Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

I have enjoyed all of Jamie’s TV cookery shows, particularly his ‘Money Saving Meals’ (which this cookbook accompanies) that was full of simple, wholesome, well balanced and affordable family meals. I thought if I saw this cookbook for about £10 I’d treat myself, then I saw it for £6 – bargain!

Lady on the Coin by Margaret Campbell Barnes

The Early Life of Anne Boleyn by J H Round

Faith and Moonlight 2 by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

I picked up for review from Netgalley, historical fiction Lady on the Coin, which I previously read a great review of, and an early history of the fascinating Anne Boleyn (both from Endeavour Press), plus another instalment from Gelineau and King’s Echo of the Ascended fantasy series.

Murder from the Newsdesk by Peter Bartram

Destined by Jordan Pinkney and Will Lenzen JR

I was then contacted by the authors about these books. First, I accepted a review copy of Destined by Will Lenzen JR; the first book in a new, exciting, young adult series. Then, Peter Bartram contacted me to let me know his new collection of crime stories is currently available for free on Amazon UK and US – I couldn’t help downloading it to find out what it was all about for myself.

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

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Whim Books

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is:

Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim

I can be a sucker for a pretty cover which is the main culprit for my whim book buying, however there are other reasons and it was interesting to see how I came by my 10 choices. Listed alphabetically by author, here are 10 of my favourite whim buys/reads:

~ 1 ~

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

This is a beautiful, emotional charged look into the siege of Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), during WWII, through the jumbled memories of a lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. I came across this completely by chance when searching for books on mental illness for a reading challenge, and boy was I pleased I did!

~ 2 ~

The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson

I snapped up a free e-copy of this Mediterranean suspense from Amazon (UK) just hoping for some mysterious fun in the sun, however I got a whole lot more from this wonderful novel. I would definitely like to read more by this author.

~ 3 ~

Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

Again, I discovered this novel and author when searching for books on mental illness for a reading challenge; plus it has a gorgeous purple cover! I thought it was a beautiful book which led me to reading 4 more novels by Gillard, and I look forward to reading more.

~ 4 ~

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

I used up my scanty remains off an Amazon gift card on this beautiful suspense novel, as I had vaguely heard good things about Kearsley and it had a pretty cover. 4 novels later and Kearsley is one of my favourite authors!

~ 5 ~

For Tibet, with Love by Isabel Losada
(now known as A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World)

I knew nothing about the book, the topic or the author yet this wacky memoir had to come home with me, due mainly to it’s stunning cover and intriguing premise.

~ 6 ~

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

A striking silver and purple Venice-esque  cover, an intriguing alternative, fantasy setting and only £1 in The Works; it had to be bought! Sadly I didn’t go on to read the sequel, something I really must rectify soon.

~ 7 ~

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Obviously, I had heard of du Maurier when I bought this but never read any of her novels let alone a short story collection (something I didn’t really read at this point). Knowing the author and Hitchcock’s classic film, I went for it and wasn’t disappointed. I have since read more du Maurier and more short story collections.

~ 8 ~

Initiate by Tara Maya

When the author contacted me, I had never heard of them or the book. However the pretty cover and an intriguing premise got me to read this Polynesian inspired fantasy tale; the 1st book in The Unfinished Song series. 5 books later…and I want more!

~ 9 ~

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

This was a whim request in the early days of my Netgalley use, as a re-imagining of Wonderland through the eyes of Dinah, the future Queen of Hearts, sounded amazing! I never thought my request would actually be granted.

~ 10 ~

The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian

This was another surprising request granted on Netgalley, this time whilst I was looking for some new and interesting Christian non-fiction. An amazingly, inspiring book – I now pick up and/or request anything I can by Omartian.

What are some of your favourite whim reads? Have you made any whim purchases recently? Have you read any of my favourite whim reads?

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)

Goodbye April, Hello May 2016

April 2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? For me, this month just seems to have flown by! There have been days of glorious sunshine however the month has also lived up to its ‘April Showers’ reputation too. So there have still be some grey days which saw me curling up in a blanket with a good book and a mug of peppermint tea. Here’s what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3     Non-Fiction: 1     Poetry: 0

I am pleased I had another classic time in April. First I read the delightful, small town classic Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I have been meaning to read something by Gaskell for years and now I have, I can’t wait to read more! Then after enjoying the charming children’s classic Five Children and It, this month I decided to return to Edith Nesbit’s Psammead fantasy series with The Phoenix and the Carpet. That’s another 2 books off my Classics Club list this month, while the Nesbit is also perfect for the Women’s Classic Literature Event and Once Upon A Time X.

From the past to the future – this month I also finally got round to reading gripping, science-fiction drama The Martian by Andy Weir. I am late to the party as always, as this was a bestseller and lit up many of my favourite blogs last year. I thought it was a brilliant and surprisingly funny, and I am now excited to watch the film adaptation starring Matt Damon.

Alongside these fictions I also read Christian non-fiction Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong which offers good, practical advice about how a Christian woman can face change – it certainly got me thinking and feeling a little more confident about dealing with change myself.

Pick of the Month: The Martian

That is 4 books completed in April. During the month I have also been dipping in and out of a history of Henry IV by Chris Given-Wilson and Christian devotional Let God’s Word Empower Your Prayers by Stormie Omartian. Then right at the end of the month I started historical-fiction Turn of the Tide by Margaret Skea.

In May I am looking forward to celebrating my little brother’s 18th birthday, catching up on my reviews and more happy reading.

What did you do and read in April? Do you have any plans for May?

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 Villa in Italy

The Villa in Italy

Mediterranean suspense, The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson (A Vintage Mystery) has languished in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for far too long! Finally the What’s in a Name 2016 challenge gave me the push I needed to read it, and I am so pleased it did.

Delia, a successful opera singer, is languishing in boredom and illness when she receives a summons to a will reading. She and three other strangers have been named in the will of the eccentric, wealthy socialite Beatrice Malaspina; whom none of them ever knew. The mystery only deepens as a requirement of the will is that these four strangers must come together at Malaspina’s estate, Villa Dante in Italy. Delia with the encouragement of her, paparazzi hounded, best friend Jessica skips the country and drives down to Italy for sun, sea, good food, friendship, secrets, mystery and resolution.

Delia and Jessica are joined at the neglected but beautiful Renaissance Villa Dante by George, an idealistic scientist; Marjorie, an impoverished author; and Lucius, a banker in personal turmoil. I instantly liked Delia, George and Lucius. Jessica and Marjorie are harder to get to know and hold quite strong prejudices which are put to the test once they are altogether. It turns out Beatrice Malaspina has hidden the final codicil for her will inside the villa. To find it they must work together to find out more about each other, themselves and Malaspina. This search helps them to connect with each other, uncover secrets and to deal with painful and dark memories from their past; by the end I loved them all!

The Villa in Italy is the first novel I have read by Elizabeth Edmondson. I picked it up originally hoping for some mysterious fun in the sun, however I got a whole lot more from this wonderful novel. I found Edmondson’s style descriptive, easy and comfortable, like I’d been reading her for years, so I was immediately swept off to Italy of the 1950s. Where I could feel the warm sun, hear the waves lapping against the bay, smell the delicious food, and picture the Renaissance Villa Dante; with its colourful murals, airy bedrooms, Roman tower and it’s almost tangible secrets. I wanted to go to Italy before – now I really want to go! Then on top of that you have the issues of family rifts, forbidden love, heartbreak, the war, divorce and ethics.

The Villa in Italy was a sweeping, romantic mystery set on the beautiful Italian coast. In the future I would really like to read more by Elizabeth Edmondson. Great read.

Have you read this? Or anything else by Elizabeth Edmondson?

What’s in a Name 2016 – A Country (2/6)