New Read: Pyramids

About two years ago, I started to work my way through, from the beginning, the books from the epic Discworld series by Terry Pratchett which my father and I already own between us. Next up was Pyramids the seventh published Discworld novel.

In Pyramids, I was taken to a new-to-me part of Pratchett’s magic, weird and fantastical creation: the tiny kingdom of Djelibeybi (pretty much the Discworld counterpart to Ancient Egypt). This is a land steeped in history; covered in pyramids and obsessed with tradition, which sees its world, quite literally, turned upside down when young Teppic is suddenly thrust upon the throne after the sudden death of his father. It’s bad enough being new on the job, but Teppic hasn’t a clue as to what a pharaoh is supposed to do. And so ensues a boggling, roller coaster ride of mad priests, sacred crocodiles, marching mummies, mathematical camels, a headstrong handmaiden and a monstrous, time and space bending pyramid. Djelibeybi is never going to be the same again!

Our hero Teppic’s ignorance is due to the fact that since childhood he has been away training at Ankh-Morpork’s famed assassins’ school. Now he is a modern stranger in his own backward land. While I often wished he would grow a spine, I certainly sympathised for him as he meets opposition to every change he proposes: from installing plumbing to outlawing the practice of throwing people to the crocodiles! We soon learn the real power lies in the hands of the high priest Dios, who mysteriously seems to have always been there to see tradition is strictly followed. Fortunately along comes the feisty handmaiden Ptraci, who has enough spine, attitude and get up and go for herself, Teppic and the land combined.

Terry Pratchett is a well loved author of mine and I was very sad when he passed. For me the best way to do him tribute is to continue to read and share my thoughts on all his wonderfully fun books. Pyramids is the ninth Discworld novel I have read, but the seventh published, and with my pre-existing love of anything Ancient Egyptian this book was always going to be a winner for me. Although I am now trying to read the books I already own roughly in order, I don’t believe this is a series you necessarily have to read in order, as the stories often follow various different groups of characters. Except for Death, there were no character I recognised in this book so I could have easily read this as a stand alone novel.

Overall, I thought Pyramids was another extremely fun, wacky, Egyptian-inspired instalment in Pratchett’s fantastical Discworld series. I look forward to reading more – the next instalment we own is Reaper Man. Great read.

Have you read this? What are your favourite Discworld novels?

10 Books of Summer 2017 – 3/10

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Meme: The Bookish Time Travel Tag

the-bookish-time-travel-tag

After reading Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock wonderful answers I was thrilled to find I had been tagged at the end of her post. So let’s have a look at the wonderful books and authors which have transported me through time:

What is your favourite historical setting for a book?

I’m not sure I have just one favourite historical setting – I have enjoyed many books that have taken me back to the War of the Roses, Tudor and Victorian times, and the roaring twenties. Plus there are many more time periods I would love to be taken back to too.

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What writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

This is a no brainer for me, I would have to travel back in time to meet C. S. Lewis. Best known for writing the magical children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as some powerful Christian literature. Over a nice cup of tea, I would love to pick his brain on the inspiration for Narnia and his conversion to Christianity.

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What book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

If I had the chance, I would travel back in time to give my younger self a copy of the beautiful and inspiring Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Even though I loved this tale as an adult, I do wonder how much more I would have related with it when at an age nearer to the March sisters themselves.

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What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

If I had the chance to travel forward I think I might give my older self our family’s old, battered copy of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Simply because I really want it to survive!

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What is your favourite futuristic setting from a book?

I think my favourite futuristic setting is Panem from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to visit and I definitely wouldn’t want to live there, but it is a fascinating, intricate and believable setting to read about.

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What is your favourite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

Ooo just one favourite book set in a different time period?! Okay, I will just go for the one that first came to mind which was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Although this novel doesn’t take the reader that far back, I do love how it allows us to glimpse the glamour and freedom of the 1920/30’s.

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Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

I don’t believe I have ever skipped ahead to the end of a book, however when reading Stephen King’s gripping series, The Dark Tower, I often skipped ahead a bit because I couldn’t sleep until I knew the characters would be okay!

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If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

It might seem a bit simple but if I had a Time Turner I would use it to fit in more reading!

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Favourite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

When it comes to multiple/dual time period novels the author I have been impressed by time and again is Susanna Kearsley. One of my favourite novels by her is The Rose Garden which actually involves some time travel as the protagonist moves between two time periods.

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What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

I think this is perhaps the toughest question for me. One of my favourite books/series of all time is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. While I would love to re-discover the magic of the first time I read them, I also love the familiarity and comfort I experience re-reading them too.

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Now here are the fellow bloggers I would like to tag to take part (that weren’t already tagged in Jane’s post). There is no pressure to take part, I would just be interested in seeing your answers:

Have you enjoyed any of my choices? What great books have transported you in time?

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: The Martian

The Martian

I have finally read science-fiction drama The Martian by Andy Weir! As per usual I am late to the party, as this was a bestseller and lit up many of my favourite blogs last year. At the beginning of this year my father lent me his copy so there were no more excuses not to read it.

In the year 2035, the Ares 3 mission to Mars is dramatically cut short as the crew are forced to evacuate during a furious sand storm that batters their base and threatens their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which is their only form of escape. Tragically Commander Lewis is forced to launch the MAV before the crew’s botanist and mechanical engineer, Mark Watney, reaches them. Mark is feared dead and Lewis can’t risk the rest of her crew however against all the odds Mark survives. Now stranded on Mars with no means of contacting Earth or the rest of his crew, Mark’s only hope is to find a way to survive until the Ares 4 missions arrives in 4 years time!

I would never wish anyone to be stranded alone like this but of all the crew Mark Watney really is the best to be. Mark was originally picked for the mission for his good nature, humour and resourcefulness. Also as a botanist he has the best chance to try to grow food and as a mechanical engineer he can fix or bodge together anything. Mark is an awesome protagonist! While the scientific workings of his mind often went over my head, I couldn’t help admiring his knowledge, skill and sheer determination. He is also hilarious which helped to lighten his dark and lonely situation.

The book is told in a diary form as Mark records mission entries everyday or every few days (or sols as they are called on Mars), depending on how busy he is. This technique helps us to have an intimate and personable relationship with Mark. Plus it helps to add tension because when you wait for several sols for an entry you fear what might have happened now! There are also a few chapters that give us a glimpse back to the rest of the crew on their long journey back to Earth, grieving the loss of Mark, and to Earth where NASA discover the shocking truth; due to a satellite coordinator spotting that equipment has been mysteriously moving on the, what should be empty, Mars base.

This is the debut novel of Andy Weir – I was even more impressed when I realised that Weir initially self-published it in 2011 before it was taken up by Crown Publishing and re-released in 2014. While I love to watch science-fiction films and TV shows, I sadly read very few science-fiction books. I must warn this is a scientifically technical and detailed book which isn’t usually for me as it goes straight over my head. There were a few moments I had to do a literary ‘smile and nod’ to what Weir was describing yet I was so gripped from page 1 that it didn’t matter at all. On top of that you just have to find out what happens to the, hilarious and highly likeable, protagonist Mark.

The Martian is a gripping and immersive science-fiction drama which had me on the edge of my seat and, surprisingly, laughing from start to finish. I am now even more excited about watching the film adaptation, starring Matt Damon. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the film?

Top 10 Adaptations of 2014

Blog 2014

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptations watchers. 2014 was a great adaptation watching year for me so I thought I would do my first top 10 list for it. This is a list of adaptations I watched in 2014 not that were necessarily released in 2014. After much thought here are my choices (ordered alphabetically by title):

1. Captain Phillips (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
A heart-racing thriller based on a true life account; recounted in A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips (with help from Stephan Talty). The amazing Tom Hanks takes the title role of Captain Richard Phillips who is willing to sacrifice himself when he finds his ship and crew under attack from Somali pirates. Great performances from the whole cast and an all round beautifully made film.

2. Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
BBC period drama adapted from P D James’ novel which continues Darcy and Elizabeth’s life on after Pride and Prejudice. With beautiful scenery, lavish costumes, a great cast and a good murder mystery, what wasn’t there to enjoy here? I only wish I had watched this mini-series sooner

3. Endeavour (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of ITV crime drama series based on the characters of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels and prequel to the ITV Inspector Morse (1987-2000) TV series. Endeavour takes us back to the Oxford of 1960s where we see the young detective constable Endeavour Morse solve some of his earliest cases. Mysterious, clever and Shaun Evans does a wonderful job of portraying young Morse.

4. Game of Thrones (2014)          Read      TV Series      Television
Lavish fourth series of the epic fantasy drama based on George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Another gripping series of war, intrigue, family, politics, love, lust, lies and dragons! What’s not to love? Again though not for everyone it is jam packed with violence, sex and foul language. (Since watching this I have caught up with the books).

5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
A action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Guardians of the Galaxy created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning which is featured in Marvel Comics. A gang of extra-terrestrial misfits fighting and stealing their way around the galaxy in hopes of saving it from Ronan the Accuser. An exciting and fast paced film with great special effects and a cool soundtrack. I enjoyed this even more than I thought I would.

6. Noah (2014)          Read      Film      Cinema
An epic biblically inspired Hollywood film inspired by Noah’s Ark from the Old Testament of The Bible and other similar ancient tales from around the world. Whether you believe in these tales or not I thought this was a stunning and innovative film with a cool science fiction twist. With great performances from Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson and more.

7. Sherlock (2014)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
The third series of the BBC’s popular show inspired by the tales of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous private detective Sherlock Holmes. An excellent modern interpretation of Doyle’s characters and mysteries which has been highly anticipated for a return since 2012! As before. All I can say is I hope it won’t be long till there is more..

8. Shetland (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of BBC crime drama series based on Ann Cleeve’s novels Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez each novel was covered over three two-part episodes. I thought this series was mysterious and well performed with the isolated, lonely and beautiful setting of the islands of Shetland. I hope there will be more.

9. Thor: The Dark World (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
An action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby who features in Marvel Comics. I thought The Dark World was another fun and action packed adventure this time set in part on Earth and Asgard, which I loved, as Thor, Jane and Loki battle across the universe with the Dark Elves. I was totally sold on this film.

10. X-Men: Days of the Future Past (2014)          Not Read     Film      Cinema
A Hollywood blockbuster about The X-Men superheroes featured in Marvel Comics with a plot loosely based on a story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Exciting, fast-paced, amazing special effects and great performances from the ensemble cast.

It was hard to dwindle my list down to just 10. Honourable mentions must also go out to TV series Fleming (2014), Hannibal (2014), and Inspector George Gently (2014), and films Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and my re-watch of Pride & Prejudice (2005).

What were your favourite films and TV shows you watched in 2014?