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.

New Books: April 2015

New Books - April #1

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

Guy Martin: My Autobiography by Guy Martin

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I was lent all of these by a book loving, family friend. I have rather a soft spot for Guy Martin having watched and loved several of his TV shows on history, machines and speed so I hope I will also enjoy his autobiography. I have also recently enjoyed the two film adaptations of Veronica Roth’s Dystopian series so I am looking forward to reading these.

New Books - April #2

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Blood on the Bayou by D J Donaldson

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Quarry and The Martian have been passed on to me now my father has read them. I sadly still haven’t read anything by Banks perhaps this could be my first and I’ve heard lots of good things about The Martian. Then I was lent The Miniaturist by my mother with glowing praise for how much she enjoyed it. And finally I received a copy of supernatural, crime Blood on the Bayou for my Kindle from the publishers

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

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.

Goodbye March, Hello April

March 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? March has just flown by me! It was a mixed month for weather; with some extreme days of rain and days of bright sunshine. I did spend a lovely weekend on the south coast to celebrate Mother’s day with my mom and family, and took my dad to a great show for his birthday. With all that going on here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3     Non-Fiction: 2     Poetry: 0

I started the month off by finishing urban fantasy The World Below by Mike Phillips. A fun and light adventure underground which was a soothing read for my over worked mind. To keep my reading easy I next read the short story collection The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, my 30th read off my Classics Club list. Sadly the final collection of interesting short adventures for me to discover. A slower and more detailed read for me was paranormal romance A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I am not a huge romance fan but I loved all the historical and magical references. This is also my first read for the Once Upon a Time IX event.

Alongside these fictions I also read two non-fictions. First Napoleon Bonaparte: A Very Brief History by Mark Black, a short and interesting read about the infamous French general. Then to round the month off Christian non-fiction Beautiful Attitudes by Scott Evans, full thoughts still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

And those are just the books I finished. Through out the month I have been dipping in an out of epic historical non-fiction Rebellion by Peter Ackroyd. I’ve made good progress but still a long way to go. To continue my aim to always have a classic on the go after finishing Sherlock Holmes I picked up The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. I am also very close to finishing historical fiction Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson.

In April I am looking forward to more good reading, celebrating Easter, and getting two weeks off work.

What did you do and read in March?

New Read: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of WitchesA Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness have sat on my to-be-read shelf for far too long. Earlier this month I received The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness which is the final instalment in the All Souls trilogy. So I had no excuse not to start reading them.

A Discovery of Witches introduces the reader to Dr Diana Bishop. An American scholar who has come to the historic Oxford University, England to study old and rare alchemical volumes held in the library. Diana is no ordinary scholar though she is also a witch who comes from an old and famous family; a fact that Diana tries to ignore. Unbeknownst to Diana  she recalls the bewitched Ashmole 782 from the library’s ancient stacks. Once she touches it a string of unusual and dangerous events are to unfold which will see her thrust into the world of witches, vampires and daemons she has been trying so hard to ignore.

Diana our protagonist comes from a long line of powerful Bishop witches yet has never shown any aptitude or urge to use magic herself. Diana is full of anxiety and fear since the brutal death of her parents when she was only a child. I enjoyed watching Diana grow in strength emotionally as a woman through her trials but also to see her start to release her magical power. Diana is joined by a large cast of paranormal characters. The other we really get to know better is Diana’s love interest Professor Matthew Clairmont; an ancient vampire. Matthew is a good mixture of the negative and positive of his race. He drinks blood, and has anger and possessive issues. Then again I love how he has so much history and experience.

A Discovery of Witches is the first novel I have read by Deborah Harkness, and is the first instalment in the All Souls trilogy. From what I’ve read so far I am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. A Discovery of Witches is a well written novel with a detailed and immersive style and world. I simply loved all the historical, alchemical, literature and art references and details that were included; Harkness has clearly done a lot of research for this novel. The only down side for me was the romance. I am not a huge romance fan and this had more romance in it than I had expected. The romance element is strong in this fortunately though there is just enough other things going on that I still enjoyed it. This has dropped it down from a great to a good read.

A Discovery of Witches is a detailed and well written paranormal romance with an interesting measure of history, magic and art. You might enjoy this if you like romance, fantasy, paranormal and/or historical fiction. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you enjoyed other paranormal romances?

A Discovery of Witches is full of magic so I am counting it towards the Once Upon a Time IX event which is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

The Classics Club: Three Years Gone

The Classics Club #1

Start Date: 19th March 2012

End Date: 19th March 2017

I joined The Classics Club back in March 2012 which means three years have gone by! Here’s what I have read off my list in the last year:

1. The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
3. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
4. Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales
5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
6. His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle
7. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
8. Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald
9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
10. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

(click on the titles to see my full thoughts)

Read: 30/50

I am so pleased with my progress so far. 10 books is the average I need to read each year to keep on track to read 50 books altogether. A list of books/links though isn’t that interesting so I decided to use these meme questions to reflect on what classics I have been reading:

Most Anticipated: The Three Musketeers
Most Beautifully Written: The Secret Garden
Most Surprising (In A Good Way!): Shirley
Most Memorable Character/s: Sherlock Holmes and Athos (Musketeer)
Most Recommended-to-Others: The Three Musketeers and The Secret Garden
Favourite New Authors Discovered: Alexandre Dumas and Frances Hodgson Burnett
Multiple Reads of an Author: Arthur Conan Doyle (2) and F Scott Fitzgerald (2)

Ambitions for 2014/2015: Pretty much to continue as I am. I have been impressed with the amount I have read over the last three years. I am looking forward to reading more by Doyle, Dumas and Hodgson Burnett, also I must get back to Austen and Dickens too. Plus who knows what new authors I will fall in love with. Wish me luck!

What classics have you enjoyed over the last year?

The Classics Club: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

I have become quite a fan of short story collections and I hope to continue reading more in 2015. Starting as I mean to go on I picked up The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle the fifth and sadly the final collection.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is a collection made up of another twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published in The Strand between 1921 and 1927, much later than previous stories. I think this is perhaps the less well known collection of stories although The Sussex Vampire is probably the most notable story just for its title.  I very much enjoyed The Sussex Vampire, The Creeping Man and Thor Bridge. That being said as usual there were no adventures in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the three I have named though particularly captured my imagination.

Like previous collections I have read I thought The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes had a good range of stories which were varied and well-balanced. There was again the wonderful chemistry between the two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. The difference with this collection was that two of the stories was told by Holmes himself not, as is usual, by Watson. While this made an interesting change I still find myself most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson. As much as I love the mind and foibles of Holmes it is his down-to-earth companion Watson that I find I really connect with.

This is certainly not my first foray into Sherlock Holmes. I have loved the Adventures, Memoirs, Return of Sherlock Holmes and His Last Bow short story collections. I again enjoyed the shorter length of the stories which means I could easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. Sadly though this is the last collection. I shouldn’t be despondent though because I do still have three novels to read.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. I highly recommend to those interested in classic crime. This is my 30th read off my Classics Club list. Good read.

Have you read this collection? Do you have a favourite Sherlock Holmes story?