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?

Sense and Sensibility Poster

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!