Whimsical Reading – Family Relationships

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As I mentioned when I was talking about my aims and intentions for 2014, this year I’ll be continuing with my whimsical reading challenge, if you need a refresher of the rules, check out this page.  Today I thought I’d share some suggestions for the ‘Family Relationship’ category; there are tons you could pick, but here are a few I would recommend:

Mama Rose’s Turn by Carolyn Quinn

This fabulously written biography tells the story of Rose Thompson, the infamous stage mother of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee and actress June Havoc. Rather than mulling over the already well publicized lives of her daughters, Quinn looks into the wild and controversial life of the woman who shaped their destiny.

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

Most people say their favourite Dickens novel is Great Expectations, but this is mine. I’d never been that interested in reading his work before I was given this as a set text, but I have definitely been converted! Check out my review (link above) for more ramblings.

Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler

Feiler’s memoir documents his battle with an aggressive form of cancer, and the way he chooses to deal with it – by putting together a group of men to help raise his twin daughters after his death. I know I’m making it sound quite morbid, but it’s more of a celebration of all the men that have influenced his life.

The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

This was one of my favourite books read in 2013. I first decided to read it when I start the Richard and Judy Summer Book Club challenge, and I’m so glad I did – I absolutely loved it. The story starts as Katie finds out that her sister has died while travelling of what appears to be a suicide. Overtaken by grief, she uproots her life and follows in Mia’s footsteps, with only her journal as a companion. It’s indescribably well written, hugely emotive so unbelievably worth reading.

Granny is my Wingman by Kayli Stollak

Granny is my Wingman is based on the blog of the same name, and tells the story of Kayli and her Grandmother’s experimentations with online dating. It’s a fun light-hearted read.

Mother’s Curse by Thaddeus Nowak

This is the first instalment in a fantasy series by Thaddeus Nowak, which follows the quest of Stephenie, a princess with a curse, attempting to flee her evil mother and find her brother. Throw in a lost city, a ghostly love story and a few big betrayals and you have a recipe for fantastical excellence. Enjoy!

There really are soo many you could pick for this category… what would you go for?

D x

 

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Whimsical Reading – Geological Formation

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I have a confession to make… over the past few months I’ve been neglecting my whimsical reading challenge. Good job there’s no time limit, eh? To celebrate my renewed efforts I’ve made a button (above), so if you’re playing along feel free to grab it!

Today I wanted to share a few more whimsical reading suggestions, this time for the category of ‘geological formation’. If you’ve already picked your book for this category, or just have an idea that would work, leave me a comment below… but here are mine:

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

I’ve got almost a full set of Alexandre Dumas novels sitting between my shelf and my Kindle library and I’ve never read a single one! I’ve adored all of the film adaptations though, so I’ve promised myself I’ll start reading them soon.

Island beneath the Sea – Isabel Allende

This is probably my favourite of all the books I’ve read this year, and by a new-to-me author too… I’m now in the throes of collecting all her other books!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin

Another book on my ‘to be read’ pile, described on GoodReads as ‘fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore’ it sounds like a nice light-hearted treat.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun – Christopher Moore

The premise of this book is utterly ridiculous but so much fun, if nothing else it has the best title ever!

Remember to leave me a link to any whimsical reading challenge posts and I’ll come check them out!

D x

Whimsical Reading – Birds

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We haven’t talked about it in a while, but I’m still plodding away at the whimsical reading challenge (for more info, click on the tab above)… and today I thought I’d share a few more reading suggestions with you, this time on the theme of ‘birds’.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is one of those ‘must reads’ I’ve had on my shelf for a good long while… and my bestest friend in the whole wide world is always raving about it, so it’s inevitable I’ll get there one day!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Number#5 in the Harry Potter series seems to get a bit of a slating… but I love it! It’s not my favourite (that honour goes to the Prisoner of Azkaban) but it is far, far superior to the last two… call me crazy but they were just disappointing!

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

I’ve wanted to read this for years, ever since I saw the film adaptation starring Helena Bonham Carter (who I’ve always adored), I don’t really know why I haven’t got to it yet… especially considering I have a copy on my shelf and on my Kindle. I read another James novel this year, and I found it equally fabulous and frustrating, for my review of Portrait of a Lady click here.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

This is the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. I rarely fall in love with book that gets loads of hype, but I just had to make an exception here!

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

Every single charity shop I’ve walked into seems to have a copy on the shelves… and every single time I see it I think ‘hmm, I’d like to read that…’ – I love history, and Chinese history is something I really haven’t read a lot about… I just haven’t got to this one yet. Sometimes I think there aren’t enough years ahead of me to fit in all the books I’d like to read.

So have you picked your ‘bird’ book yet? Any recommendations?

D x

The Hunger Games

This trilogy satisfies three categories of the whimsical reading challenge… Toy or Game (The Hunger Games), Things You Don’t Like (Catching Fire) and Birds (Mockingjay).

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To to say that I enjoyed these books would be an understatement. It took me about three days to polish off the lot, and considering I’m out of the house about eleven hours a day that’s pretty speedy reading!

Experiencing the unexpected is key to your enjoyment of this trilogy, so I’m going to vague my review up because I really, really don’t want to ruin anything!

Basically, a dystopian world is divided into 12 districts and each year, these twelve districts donate two teenagers to a televised gaming event that combines Castaway and Gladiator (both the film and the ’90s TV show). The game ends when there’s only one survivor. That’s all I can tell you about the content, because I just need you to read it for yourself, and I’m trying not to give anything crucial away!

I’m not going to lie, when these first erupted onto all the bestseller lists I didn’t want to read them. I usually avoid reading the things that ‘everyone’ reads, because these books tend to be underwhelming. Also, YA is not really my genre of choice.

However, I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who ever considers listening to me, you will not regret it!

Because I read the three books continuously, as though they were all one novel, it would be hard for me to pick out a favourite. I love the story, and the landscape that gets set up in The Hunger Games, but as I’d already seen the film I knew what was going to happen every step of the way. Catching Fire had more of the ‘shock factor’, and I really enjoyed that aspect. Mockingjay was good, but probably my least favourite because

a) it didn’t have the gradual build-up of the first two, it was more of a high-speed snowball rolling down a hill forgetting to explain itself properly and

b) it marked the beginning of the end… I was running out of Hunger Games books 😦

Possibly the best thing about reading these books was that I really didn’t expect to like them. They were given to me as a gift, so I gave them a try, and I’m so glad I did. Next time I won’t be so quick to judge a book just because of its genre.

Have you read anything recently that you didn’t expect to love so much?

D x

Whimsical Reading – Countries

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Today is the tenth day of Rosalilium’s BEDM challenge and the theme is travel dreams. If you remember, one of the topics of the reading challenge I’m hosting this year is books with a country in the title, so today I decided to share a few reading suggestions that feature countries I dream of travelling to:

Arabesque: a Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon by Claudia Roden.

This is one of the cookery books I’ve downloaded onto my kindle and I can’t wait to have the time to experiment with some of the recipes! I’ve never been to Morocco, Turkey or Lebanon but I adore the food from all three; I spent the night of eighteenth birthday stuffing my face at a teensy Lebanese restaurant in Norwich. Sooo yummy!

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

TO READ. Another kindle purchase of mine. I’m in love with idea of travelling across America so what could be better than a book about travelling across America PLUS the author comes with Grandma’s stamp of approval.

My Life in France by Julia Child

TO READ. There’s something innately glamorous about France. I’ve been a couple of times and I’d love to go again soon. This book tells the story of the timeless Julia Child’s love affair with all things French, a must for anyone who adored Julie and Julia.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

Another three countries I’d love to explore someday. Apparently I went to Italy when I was three, but the only thing I remember is my mum trying to make me a cup of tea out of Typhoo tea granules. Ick. To see my review of Eat, Pray, Love click here.

5. Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa

TO READ. I want to read this both because it sounds good and because it has a gorgeous cover. In a nutshell it’s the coming of age story of a half Polish, half Cuban teenager living in America. Also, I’ve been dreaming of visiting Cuba for years… very possibly because it’s such a good Bond location!

6. The Bolter: Edwardian Heartbreak and High Society Scandal in Kenya by Frances Osborne

TO READ. The true story of Idina Sackville, written by her great granddaughter, it has all the ingredients of greatness; the 1920’s, decadence, Africa and scandal. Can’t wait to sink my teeth in!

So, have you come up with any other books with a country in the title? Don’t forget to leave me a link if you decide to take part in my little reading challenge!

D x

Whimsical Reading – Precious Stone

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Today I’m sharing a few more reading suggestions for the whimsical reading challenge, this time on the topic of ‘precious stone’:

1. The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

TO BE READ. One thing that I absolutely adore is a good period drama, and so I watched the film based on this book as soon as it came out. Despite the slightly not-nice characters, it had a really enjoyable story, so I acquired the book. It’s still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, but I’ll get there one day!

2 . The Jewel Box by Anna Davis

To read my review of this book, click on the link above.

3. Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming

TO BE READ. Watching old James Bond movies is a secret guilty pleasure of mine… I love to curl up in the middle of winter with a giant packet of crisps and a bit of Sean Connery on the screen… and I have almost a full set of Bond novels (I think they may have come from my Grandma) but I’ve never read a single one. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really read a single spy novel that wasn’t by Anthony Horowitz.

4. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

This is the third in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, and I would definitely recommend giving these a whirl. I didn’t actually read them in book form, I was given the audio books, but as far as I’m concerned it still counts. I loved them so much I think I listened to the CD’s continuously for about three months!

5. The Emerald City of Oz by Frank L. Baum

TO BE READ. Number six in the ‘Oz’ series, and again I have to admit that I’ve never read a single one! HOWEVER I have downloaded the whole lot onto my Kindle, and as I’ve wanted to read them for such a long time, I feel that they’ll become ‘bus books’ before too long.

Now, I’m off to make a cup of tea and crack open the custard creams, but if you can think of any more books with a precious stone in the title, leave me a comment below!

D x

TO BE READ.

March

This is the book I chose for the ‘month’ category of the whimsical reading challenge

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Even though in this case March actually refers to the surname of Meg, Beth, Jo and Amy. Yes, this book is based on the beloved Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but instead of girly escapades Geraldine Brooks tells us the story of their absent father.

One of the things I truly loved about this book was the amount of historical detail. The American Civil War fascinates me, but growing up in the UK and Spain, my exposure was limited to books and films. Contextually she seems to have done an excellent job, you can really tell that a lot of research has gone into the weaving of this tapestry…

Except when it comes to the protagonist. Mr March is portrayed as a hippy in Unionist uniform, and I just didn’t find it convincing. I’m very surprised that this vegan, caffeine-free, non-smoking old man managed to survive any amount of direct combat. I think perhaps that 21st century ideals may have allowed to creep in a little too much here.

Although I’m not his biggest fan, I did enjoy his mismatched marriage. The narration is divided between both of their perspectives so we get insight into what both are thinking. It’s quite amusing to see how out of sync they are! March pretty much does everything he does just to impress his wife, and Marmee only endures everything he does out of womanly duty. I can’t help but wonder if there’d have been any novel at all if they had a functional relationship…

Because Brooks incorporates a series of flashbacks into the narrative, we see a lot of character development. She really does explain how and why each character came to be the way they are. This backstory to the March family provides additional context to Little Women, and depth to the character of the little women themselves, which made me think that these two novels could be read in conjunction with each other…

Until the UNTHINKABLE happened. Brooks gives a slightly revisionist account of certain key plot events which I just cannot condone. I, as much as anyone, understand the appeal of a happy ending, but any author who bases their work on a classic should not alter the integrity of the original. In other words, they can add to the story, but taking anything away is unforgivable.

In general I enjoyed the book, and I probably wouldn’t be so critical if I wasn’t such a diehard Alcott fan. But I think that’s the danger when you write anything based on something so well-loved!

D x