Saturday, 1 October 2016

What I Read in September

 
It's October already - I'm not quite sure how that happened! September was a pretty good reading month for me in all - I finished nine books in total and there were some really good ones among them.

Fiction:
 

Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall Smith: This was a very simple story, which was enjoyable, but it was definitely aimed at quite a young audience.
 
Robin Hood by David Calcutt: This was quite enjoyable. The stories were fairly basic retellings of Robin Hood legends, but the illustrations were what made it really.
 
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers: I thought this was really good - there's a link to my review below.
 
Outcast by Rosemary Sutcliff: This is the second book I've read by Rosemary Sutcliff - I didn't particularly care for The Eagle of the Ninth, but after hearing good things about her books for ages I decided to give them another go - which I'm glad I did, because I really enjoyed this book! I will definitely be seeking out more of her books.
 
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows: The alternative story of Lady Jane Grey - with a different ending, and also people turning into animals. It's very entertaining and I would recommend it to all fans of YA and/or historical fiction (although this isn't strictly historical, there are lots of historical delights in store).

Non-Fiction:
 

Behind the Chalet School by Helen McClelland: This was quite an interesting read (as a fan of the Chalet School books), although I didn't feel it was terribly well written.
 
Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians by Chris Armstrong: This was really good - it gave me a lot to think about. I might do a post about it soon.
 
Waking Up by Ted Dekker: This was very short; I think it made some good points, but it would have been better if things were explored in more detail.

Poetry:
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The Illustrated Book of Romantic Verse: This was a delight; I find poetry a bit hit and miss, but I really liked most of the selections in this book, and the artwork was also good - there were some really lovely pictures. If you like poetry, I would recommend this book.
 
Reviews:
 
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
 
Non-Review Posts:

I participated in Top Ten Tuesday twice - sharing ten of my all-time favourite mystery books and ten books I'm hoping to read this autumn.
I also participated in Classic Remarks for the first time - this week's topic was about favourite Jane Austen adaptations
I listed twenty selections for the next Classics Club Spin - come back tomorrow to find out which book I will be reading!

Friday, 30 September 2016

Classics Club Spin!


It's time for another Classics Club Spin! I've had limited success with these so far - I completed the first book a few days late, and have yet to complete the second - but I can never resist this sort of thing so I thought I'd have a go at this one anyway. I've been making pretty slow progress with my list so far so I need something to spur me on to read more from it :)

My Spin list:
  1. Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
  2. The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
  3. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  4. On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  5. In the High Valley by Susan Coolidge
  6. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
  7. The Growing Summer by Noel Streatfeild
  8. The Painted Garden by Noel Streatfeild
  9. The Watsons by Jane Austen
  10.  Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell
  11. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers
  12. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gaskell
  13. Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery
  14. Villette by Charlotte Brontë
  15. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
  16. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  17. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  18. Elizabeth Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin
  19. The Chaplet of Pearls by Charlotte Mary Yonge
  20. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Autumn TBR

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR List. So here are ten books on my physical/Kindle TBR that I'm hoping to get to in the next few months. I'm not very good at sticking to lists, but I'm really excited to read some of these so I hope I can get to most of them soon.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
 
St. Peter's Fair by Ellis Peters
 
Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers
 
Forged in the Fire by Ann Turnbull
  
The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
 
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
 
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
 
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
 
The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay
 
Five Magic Spindles by various authors

Friday, 23 September 2016

Classic Remarks: Jane Austen Adaptations

This week's discussion prompt for Classic Remarks (hosted by Pages Unbound) is Which Austen adaptation is your favourite, and why?

My choice for this would have to be the 1995 (Emma Thompson) Sense and Sensibility, which is on my top five list of favourite films. I really like the story of S&S, and I think it is brought to life really well in this adaptation. Although it isn't the most faithful adaptation to the book, I feel that it captures the spirit of the story very well and I like the additions, such as the much greater development of Margaret's character - she is a very minor character in the book and basically only exists as a plot device in one or two scenes. The acting is also superb as well, and the characters are very well done. I enjoyed the two other versions of Sense & Sensibility that I've seen (the 2008 and 1981 ones), but although they were good they didn't quite manage to captivate me as much as this version did.
 
Honourable mentions have to go to both the 1995 and 2005 versions of Pride & Prejudice, and the Kate Beckinsale Emma, all of which I also greatly enjoyed. I've yet to see the 2009 Emma, but suspect it may make this list when I have done. I'm also hoping to see Love & Friendship pretty soon!!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

1090888This is the first of Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey books that I've read. Although Peter is the series' main character, it takes him a while to appear in this book - the main character is Harriet Vane, a friend of his who has been involved in some of his previous cases, who is called back to her (fictional) old Oxford college, Shrewsbury, to investigate a series of unusual occurrences, including anonymous letters sent to residents of the college and other unsavoury happenings.

I enjoyed the mystery itself; it was unusual (in not being a murder mystery, or a straightforward crime), and I definitely didn't see the ending coming - looking back, there were some clues, so it might have been possible to have had a guess at the culprit, but I obviously wasn't paying enough attention.

I also liked the characters a lot and the development of Harriet's and Peter's relationship was really well done - although this book does rely on some backstory in the previous novels I was able to pick up enough of what had happened to understand what was going on, although I may have missed some details - it would probably be better to have read the previous books in which Harriet appears in first (which I do intend to do). The secondary characters I felt were also very well drawn; although I did find it hard at times to keep track of who was who - since most of the characters are just referred to as Miss ---, it was hard to remember who they all were. But most of them were interesting and felt real.

From a historical viewpoint, it was interesting to get a glimpse of what university life was like for women at that time and what has (and hasn't) changed. By this time the idea of women going to university was accepted by most people (in England they started going in the late 1800s, and were first allowed to get degrees in 1920), but the students and staff at the college still have to face sexism and disapproval from a significant number of people, and preserving the reputation of the college is very important - because if the college is made to look bad then it reflects on women's education in general. This is of course important in the story as it is why the events going on are so dangerous for the college, and why they ask Harriet to investigate, not wanting to attract outside attention by applying to professional detectives or the police.
 
One thing I did find, is that this was a book that you have to pay attention to - it's quite dense, and some of the characters (especially Peter and Harriet) tend to have a habit of speaking in metaphors and saying one thing when they mean another. So you have to pay attention to work out what they actually are saying. There also occasionally say things in Latin (fortunately there is a helpful translation guide here).
 
All in all, reading this book was a very enjoyable experience, although it was more a book for reading slowly and taking time over rather than a suspenseful quick read. It's definitely a book I will be reading again; there are certainly a lot of subtleties and allusions that I missed the first time, and I suspect it is one of those books that you have to read several times to fully appreciate. I will of course also be checking out the rest of the series (most of which are much shorter than this one).
 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Ten All-Time Favourite Mystery Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Ten Favourite X Genre Books. I've decided to go with mysteries - a genre I neglected for quite a long time but have recently been reading quite a lot of.

(Books are listed in no particular order. Where I've read several books in a series, I've just listed my favourite of the ones I've read; I haven't been reading all of them in order.)
 
(Covers link to Goodreads.)

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The Bard's Daughter by Sarah Woodbury

 
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The Matters at Mansfield, or, The Crawford Affair by Carrie Bebris

 
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Monks-Hood by Ellis Peters

 
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Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

 
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A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

 
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The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

 
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The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

 
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Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St. John

 
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The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence

 
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The Silver Pigs by Lindsay Davis

 
Honourable mention: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley; I didn't enjoy this as much as the other books listed but it was still quite enjoyable.

Feel free to leave a comment, and link to your TTT post if you've participated!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Books I've Owned For a Long Time (But Still Haven't Read)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven't Read Yet. I've only been blogging since February, so this has the potential to be a very long list :) Therefore, I've decided to tweak it slightly and list Books That I've Owned Since 2014 (Or Earlier). There are still quite a few more than ten, some of which I have had for quite a number of years :)

(My book buying habits kind of increased a lot in the last couple of years, though, so I have a LOT more unread books acquired in 2015 and 2016. I also didn't include non-fiction in this list, and left out a few books that I own but am not sure if I want to read or not. So that the list didn't get TOO long.)

(Most of these I do really want to read - even the ones I've had for a number of years. I'm just good at procrastinating books (especially if they're long), and tend to be more attracted to shiny new ones.)

 
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
I don't know how many years I've had this book; about thirteen or fourteen, I think. I've started it several times and enjoyed what I've read, but somehow always been distracted before continuing. I literally have no idea why I haven't read it yet.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
I'm kind of reading this ... very slowly. I think this one is kind of excusable though :)

The Light Princess and Other Stories by George MacDonald
I've read the first two stories, but never got around to reading the others

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
I've had this about 8 years, and started reading it twice but got distracted. The writing is gorgeous, and I am totally planning to read it ... sometime.


The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
I've had both of these for years and haven't even started either of them (unusually for me). Mostly because they are both pretty long and thus reading them requires a commitment; I'm a little intimidated by really long books.

Elizabeth, Captive Princess and Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain by Margaret Irwin
These are books two and three of a trilogy that I bought as a single volume. I read book one, Young Bess, in the summer of 2013 and I enjoyed it ... but have I got round to reading the sequels yet? No.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

I bought this a few years ago, but haven't got around to it yet.
 
The Painted Garden by Noel Streatfeild
I enjoy Noel Streatfeild's books and have bought and read several since I bought this ... so I don't know why I haven't read it yet.
 

Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I started reading Great Expectations a couple of years back and got about halfway through. I keep intending to try again. I haven't started the other two because I feel like I should read GE first (I had it first, and have tried to read it already). But maybe I should just read the others since I feel like I might enjoy them more...
 
The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
I've read bits of this. But not all of it yet.

Last Train from Kummersdorf by Leslie Wilson
I bought this years ago and started reading it but never finished it. I keep intending to go back to it but haven't yet.
 

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
I did struggle a lot with the dialect when I started reading this before. Maybe I'll go back to it sometime. (I have seen the film, so I sort of feel obligated to read it.)

The House of Windjammer by V.A. Richardson

This sounded kind of interesting when I bought it, but I haven't been able to get into it yet.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence
The Roman Mysteries series by the same author were basically my favourite books when I was about 13 - so I bought this as soon as it came out. I probably should try to read it soon...

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
This is another book I've had for years and still not read. Hopefully someday :)
 
 
Feel free to leave a comment and a link to your TTT post if you've participated!