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)

New Read: The Book of Life

The Book of Life

After reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness earlier this year, I didn’t wait too long to read, The Book of Life, the final instalment in Harkness’ paranormal romance All Souls series.

Having grown in her powers and now pregnant with miraculous twins, Diana Bishop and her husband Matthew must return from Elizabethan England to the present time. However they still have many powerful enemies to contend with; in particular the Congregation are out for blood over their forbidden marriage and they also fear their unborn children. Diana must keep under the radar and surround herself with friends and family. While they look for a way to get their hands on the bewitched manuscript, Ashmole 782, which they hope will finally give them the knowledge to defeating their enemies and prejudice forever.

Through these books it has been nice to see Diana grow as a woman, witch, mother and matriarch. Sadly I am still not that enamoured with Matthew, because of his vampire possessive-ness, so it was great to see them spend some time apart in this book. Giving Diana the chance to shine and she even whoops some ass too! Another powerful element of this book is Diana and Matthew’s return to the present, leaving behind friends and loved ones in the past. While Diana and Matthew’s time walk took only minutes, many of these friends and loved have waited hundreds of years to see them again or have sadly passed away – some really poignant points arose from this.

I continued to love the detailed and immersive style and world Harkness conjured; and all the historical, alchemical, literary and art references and details. I also enjoyed the pace of this book, as the characters whizzed around the world to keep under the radar and to discover the truth. We spent time in the ancient Der Clermont seat at Sept-Tours, France; the eccentric Bishop home in Madison, USA (one of my favourites); Matthew’s grand London townhouse, England; the Congregation’s headquarters in the historical Venice, Italy; and many more fantastic locations. This book truly went international which helped keep me gripped to the end.

The Book of Life was an interesting and satisfying ending to this well written paranormal series; full of history, magic and art. 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 of the previous books in the series?

Once Upon a Time X – #1

Goodbye March, Hello April 2016

March 2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? The weather has been rather hit-and-miss here in the UK, my sinuses have played up and I gave meat up for Lent, however I have hardly noticed because there has been so much to celebrate in March!

First we had Mothers Day (spent with family on the south coast), then my father’s 50th birthday, World Book Day (we went as characters from Alice in Wonderland), and finally but not least Easter! Plus the England rugby union squad won the Six Nations, Formula 1 returned with the Australian Grand Prix, and after our big Easter feast we were able to settle down to watch The Boat Race. Phew! And I still found some time to read these books:

Fiction: 5     Non-Fiction: 1     Poetry: 0

I had quite a classic time in March. First I read the charming, British children’s classic; The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. A colourful adventure along the river, chock full of eccentric, furry talking animals – that put a smile on my face. After enjoying that so much I moved onto another children’s classic, Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit. A magical tale of 5 siblings and a grumpy sand fairy which I just flew through. So that’s 2 books off my Classics Club list in one month and Nesbit will also go towards the Women’s Classic Literature Event.

I spent the largest part of the month reading the epic, final instalment in the paranormal romance All Souls series: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. For a change of pace, I then dived into the Mediterranean suspense The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson. I then kept the pace up with fantasy novella Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King; book 2 in the Reaper of Stone series. My full thoughts on these 3 books is still to come.

Alongside these fictions I also read Christian non-fiction The Salvation of Doctor Who by Matt Rawle; a quick, fun and interesting read for a Christian, Doctor Who fan.

Pick of the Month: The Villa in Italy

That is 6 books completed which is a really good amount for; I am happy. During the month I have also been reading Christian non-fiction Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong, and I started reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell off my Classics Club list.

I am currently half way through the schools’ Easter break, in April I can look forward to another week off work and then starting a new term on Monday 11th.

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

The Classics Club: Five Children and It

Five Children and It

Last year (2015), I took a wonderful trip down memory lane when I read The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. So this year I decided to read another of Nesbit’s children’s classics: the magical Five Children and It.

In this tale Nesbit swept me back to the Victorian, English countryside. This time to follow siblings; Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and their baby brother, the Lamb. Who are left alone during their summer holiday, while their father is working and their mother goes to care for her sick mother. As the weather is fine and the maid wants them from under her feet, they got out to play almost everyday. On one such day, they mistakenly dig up  a cantankerous Psammead (sand fairy), in a gravel pit.  They return each day as ‘It’ will grant them a wish that lasts until sunset, but often these wishes have absurd and disastrous consequences.

In The Railway Children I really liked middle-class siblings Roberta, Phyllis and Peter, and I enjoyed watching them grow as characters. So I was interested to read about another (larger) set of siblings. The 5 children that discover ‘It’ are inquisitive, clever, argumentative and can sometimes be rather naughty. Making them slightly less likeable but realistic and rather amusing at times. Sadly though no one sibling stood out from the group, except for ‘the Lamb’, I couldn’t really distinguish Robert from Cyril or Anthea from Jane. Still a fun family to read about but I couldn’t help comparing with Nesbit’s well-drawn railway children. If I’d read the books the other way round I probably wouldn’t have noticed so much!

Unlike The Railway Children I haven’t seen the film of Five Children and It; although I vaguely remember a TV series when I was a young child. By vaguely I mean I remember little to nothing about it so this was a completely fresh story for me. I really enjoyed the children’s quaint and eccentric adventures that arose from their childish and often spur-of-the-moment wishes. I particularly enjoyed the day they had wings but fell asleep atop a bell tower and when they awoke their wings were gone! Then when they found themselves in a besieged castle or another when surrounded by red Indians. And as for ‘It’, the grumpy sand fairy, I thought he was wonderful and rather naughty (I swear he knew what trouble those wishes would cause!).

Five Children and It was a charming, magical children’s classic for me. I didn’t love it as much as The Railway Children, however I do look forward to reading the next in the series: The Phoenix and the Carpet. Good read.

Have you read this or watched any of the films/TV series?

The Classics Club – 40/50
The Women’s Classic Literature Event – #3