Wednesday, 23 December 2015

My Year of Reading (2015)

Hello again, my dear readers :) Since 2015 is about to end I thought I'd include a list of all of the books that I read this year just like I did last year (click here if you want to read the 2014 post). I've also included a few "stats" in this post. Some of you might be thinking that it's still a bit too early to be putting this post up but I'm very unlikely to read any other books this year since I've just started Tolstoy's War and Peace. So without any further ado here are the books that I read in 2015:

  1. Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer (1935)
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)
  3. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908)
  4. N A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins (2011)
  5. Richard III by William Shakespeare (1600)
  6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2012)
  7. An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott (1870)
  8. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (2011)
  9. City of Thieves by David Benioff (2008)
  10. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920)
  11. R The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1894)
  12. An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (1937)
  13. R Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)
  14. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
  15. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (2011)
  16. Summer by Edith Wharton (1917)
  17. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  18. Paper Towns by John Green (2008)
  19. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (1936)
  20. Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (1957) *abridged audiobook read by Richard Armitage*
  21. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)
  22. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling (2001)
  23. Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling (2001)
  24. DNF Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (1857)
  25. R The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1905)
  26. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  27. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)
  28. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher (2014)
  29. Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn (1991)
  30. DNF Star Wars: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn (1992)
  31. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (1926)
  32. The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (1914)
  33. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (2013)
  34. The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer (2012)
  35. R Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814)
  36. His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (1917)
  37. The Odyssey by Homer (c. 750BC)
  38. R Emma by Jane Austen (1815)
  39. DNF The Martian by Andy Weir (2011)
  40. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1927)
  41. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (2011)
  42. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (1994)
  43. Cress by Marissa Meyer (2014)
  44. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008)
  45. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers (1923)
  46. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2001)
  47. The Little Android by Marissa Meyer (2014)
  48. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)
  49. Fairest by Marissa Meyer (2015)
  50. R Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon by Jane Austen (1871)
  51. Sylvester by Georgette Heyer (1957) *unabridged paperback*
  52. Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones (1990)
  53. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (2008)
  54. R And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)

R = Re-read
N = Non-fiction
DNF = Did not finish

Amount of books read
As you can see I read 54 books this year. I didn't reach my target of 60 books but I did manage to beat my total of last year which was 52. Of the books I read this year there were 43 new reads and 11 re-reads.

Amount of DNF books
I'm not quite sure if I should put books on my list that I didn't finish so I might not include them next year (what do you guys think?) There were three books that I gave up on this year though: Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn, and The Martian by Andy Weir. Little Dorrit wasn't bad at all but looking back I think I was really after something lighter at the time and wasn't in quite the right mood for the book. I loved the 2008 BBC adaptation of the book so I do plan on going back to it at some point. Dark Force Rising is the second book in the Thrawn Thilogy (a Star Wars tie-in series): I found the first book in that series extremely boring and overrated and gave up on the second when it didn't look as though it was going to be any better. And finally I started The Martian because I wanted to read it before the film came out but then gave up on the book, because I got so fed up of all of the in-depth science and maths which made me feel like I was back at school. There's only so much potato counting that I'm willing to take in a story! I still saw the film and found it a lot more enjoyable than the book although I didn't think it was quite the sci-fi masterpiece that it had been hyped up to be. *shrugs*

Most-read author
Arthur Conan Doyle. I read seven of his books this year: all of his Sherlock Holmes books from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes onwards. I read A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four last year.

Most-read genre(s)
I understand that Goodreads has a handy tool that you can use to work this out but I haven't updated my account in years so this was a bit tricky. I think the genres that I read the most of were Adventure, Romance and Fantasy.

Oldest book read
The Odyssey by Homer which is believed to have been written at around the year 750BC. The classics don't come much older than that.

Newest book read
Fairest by Marissa Meyer which was released in January this year.

Longest book read
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. The hardback version of this book has 1040 pages.

Shortest book read
Summer by Edith Wharton at a scanty 127 pages (and it was one of the best books I read this year). Marissa Meyer's The Queen's Army and The Little Android were both shorter than this (they came in at 18 and 35 pages respectively) but since they're short stories I'm not sure if I should count them.

Best books read
See this Top Ten Tuesday post :)

Worst books read
There were a few books I read this year that didn't live up to their hype and a few books that I just didn't like very much but thankfully there weren't any books that I really, truly hated. I guess the top three worst books that I read this year (and actually finished) were...

A Dance with Dragons - The last two books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series have been lacklustre and unsatisfying to say the least. I did find some parts of this book interesting and enjoyable (the Jon Snow, Bran Stark and Davos Seaworth chapters) but I really missed Sansa Stark and Jaime Lannister's characters, the Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen chapters bored me beyond belief, and the new characters and storylines that were introduced in this book have made this already complex series far too unwieldy. I'll only read The Winds of Winter if I'm told that the pacing has significantly picked up and that some of the storylines have actually been resolved.

The Odyssey - I didn't hate this book as much as The Iliad (which I read last year) because I did enjoy some of the more adventurous parts of the story. However, I then completely lost all interest in this book once Odysseus got back to Ithaca. In terms of their overall contribution to literature The Iliad and The Odyssey are obviously completely deserving of their classic status but when it comes to my own personal enjoyment, well, Homer and I just don't get on!

Paper Towns - I was really looking forward to this book because John Green's The Fault in Our Stars was one of my favourite books from last year. But sadly I found all of the characters in this one extremely annoying :(
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And that's that! This post will also be my last of 2015 because I've decided to take a little hiatus over the Christmas holidays. I will definitely, definitely be returning in January 2016 though and there are a few posts that I'm working on in the meantime. I just want to wish all of my readers a truly wonderful Christmas and I hope you'll all find and read fantastic books in 2016! Thank you all so much for reading my posts, guys! It means so much to me that people might actually enjoy reading all of my various thoughts on books! :) xxx

One more thing, to close this last post of the year I thought I'd include some literary-themed Christmas images. Aren't they lovely?! You can find them all here on this Etsy page.

The Bronte Sisters' Parsonage

Jane Austen's Chawton

John Keats' house in Hampstead

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

'Sylvester' by Georgette Heyer (1957)

Synopsis: Sylvester Raine, the Duke of Salford, is a wealthy, handsome and elegant bachelor. Having now reached his 28th year, Sylvester has decided that the time has finally come for him to find a wife. Not being at all romantic, he then makes a short-list of five highly eligible young women and asks his mother for her advice on which of them he should marry. However, Sylvester's mother is aghast at the passionless way her son is going about his search for a bride and recalls that during his childhood she had hoped that he would marry a girl called Phoebe Marlow, the daughter of her deceased best friend. Intrigued, Sylvester travels to London to consult his godmother Lady Ingham on the matter (as she is also Phoebe's grandmother) and then makes his way to Phoebe's home so that they can be better acquainted. Meanwhile, when Phoebe's spiteful stepmother tells her that the Duke of Salford is intending to make her an offer of marriage she couldn't be more horrified. Because although Sylvester doesn't remember her, he and Phoebe were previously introduced in London the year before. And Phoebe took such a dislike to Sylvester that she's even based the villain of her gothic romance novel on him! Phoebe and Sylvester's second meeting isn't any better than their first: Sylvester finds Phoebe insipid and sulky and Phoebe thinks no better of Sylvester than she did in London. Not knowing that Sylvester has now decided against proposing, Phoebe panics and runs away to her grandmother's house in London with help from her childhood friend Tom Orde. The very next day Phoebe's home is in an uproar and Sylvester thankfully makes his way back to London. Due to the snowy weather Sylvester is then forced to stop at a remote country inn where he finds Phoebe and Tom. Sylvester and Phoebe are then forced to spend time with each other when the snow leaves them stranded at the inn for a week. During that time Sylvester discovers that Phoebe is a much more interesting woman than he had previously believed and Phoebe is shocked to find the Duke so amiable. The pair then renew their acquaintance in London. The pair are falling in love and all seems to be going well until Phoebe's novel The Lost Heir is published. The book is an immediate best-seller and it isn't long before London society begins to work out that its villainous Count Ugolino must be based on Sylvester...

I've read just over a dozen of Georgette Heyer's novels now but even though I now consider her as being one of my favourite writers I tend to find her books a bit hit-and-miss. There have been certain books by Heyer that I've found utterly charming and delightful (Venetia, Cotillion, The Talisman Ring) but then there have been other books by her that I've found downright tedious (An Infamous Army, Friday's Child).

For me Sylvester falls somewhere in the middle. I had mixed feelings about this one because even though it was still a fairly enjoyable read I found its pacing rather slow and draggy at times and there were even some occasions when the book made me feel a little uneasy. Phoebe and Sylvester have some really intense and bitter arguments in this book which actually made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. But there were still things that I enjoyed about Sylvester. It is well-written and I did really like the snowy winter setting and some of its characters. I especially liked Phoebe's friend Tom Orde (who reminded me a little of Freddy from Cotillion) and Sylvester's amusing and adorable little nephew Edmund :)

Rating: a 3/5 for the story itself but I'd give an extra star to the abridged audiobook version read by Richard Armitage. I listened to that audiobook earlier in the year and I actually preferred it to the unabridged paperback. The abridgement improves the story's pacing and Armitage is a wonderful narrator.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Best Books I Read in 2015 (you can do it by only 2015 releases, overall, by genre (top ten fantasy books I read in 2015), etc. however you choose to make your BEST list)

I'm in a very good mood today! The first trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was released this morning and on Thursday night I'm going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens! :D

 Today I'm also going to name my overall favourite books of 2015. My choices shouldn't be much of a surprise to my regular readers who'll probably recall my flailing over them earlier in the year :) 

In their alphabetical order:

  1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1920, REVIEW)
  2. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (1926, REVIEW)
  3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2001, REVIEW)
  4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953, REVIEW
  5. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (2011, REVIEW)
  6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2007, REVIEW)
  7. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908, REVIEW)
  8. Summer by Edith Wharton (1917, REVIEW)
  9. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (1936, REVIEW)
  10. William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher (2014, REVIEW)

Honourable Mentions: I loved The Wise Man's Fear (the sequel to The Name of the Wind) but not so much that I had to include it in my list. I also started The Lunar Chronicles this year and although I have mixed feelings about that series I did really love the second book, Scarlet. Finally, I wanted my top ten list list to only include new reads but I did re-read some of my old favourites this year and loved them just as much as ever: Jane Austen's PersuasionNeil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle, and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon. 

Now for some questions: Has anyone read any of these? What books made it onto your list? And based on the books that I've chosen what books would you recommend I read next year? :)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

The topic of the day is really Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels We're Looking Forward To but instead I've just picked one of the later TTT topics and wrote about it early as I might be busy later on in the month. I couldn't really answer the genuine topic of the day either as I never bother to find out about the books which are tipped to be the "next big thing". I actually tend to be very suspicious about books which receive a lot of hype before they've even been published (although having said that some of the books that the other bloggers have mentioned do sound quite interesting).

So instead of some 2016 debuts, here are some books that I'm planning on reading during the next year. I'm really looking forward to them all and I would be very happy to find them under my Christmas tree! :) So in no particular order...

1. Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz.
This is the sequel to The House of Silk which is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel. I thought that book was fantastic so I'm really looking to this one! Unlike The House of Silk, I've heard that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson don't actually appear in Moriarty. The book is merely set in the Sherlock Holmes universe and focuses on original characters. When I first found out about that I was pretty disappointed because Horowitz did such a stellar job with Holmes and Watson's characters in The House of Silk. However, the reviews for Moriarty have still been very positive and some have even said that it was better than The House of Silk!

2. Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
This book has been on my radar for ages but the upcoming Tim Burton adaptation has finally spurred me on to reading it. To be honest I don't think I've liked any of Burton's films since The Corpse Bride but I'd still like to see this film because of its cast. It's starring Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench  :)

3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.
I loved LMM's The Blue Castle when I read that book earlier this year so now I'm planning on reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series in 2016. I never actually got to read any of the books when I was growing up so they'll all be new to me!

4. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.
This is the first book in a high fantasy series and, out of all of the books in this list, is probably the one that I'm most looking forward to! I've heard such great things about it and it sounds like something I would absolutely love! :D

5. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham.
This is a fairly recent addition to my TBR list but I've heard a lot of great things about this book and its recent film adaptation (the one starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts). 

6. The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
This is a classic in the Arthurian fantasy genre (and in the fantasy genre in general) and the Disney film The Sword in the Stone was based on the first part of the book. I haven't seen that film in many years but it was one of my favourites by Disney when I was a child and it was basically my introduction to Arthurian mythology. After that I didn't really encounter the stories again until about three years ago when I started to watch the BBC's Merlin. I fell in love with that show and it re-ignited my interest in the mythology :)

7. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.
I'm not really a huge reader of non-fiction but I'm pretty interested in this book because Joseph Campbell's writings on storytelling and the monomyth were a massive influence on George Lucas, Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon.

8. Attachments OR Eleanor and Park OR Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
I've heard a lot of great things about Rainbow Rowell's works but at the moment I'm not sure which of her books I should be starting off with. I'll definitely be reading at least one of these books in 2016, I'm just not sure which one of them it will be!

9. The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer (Audiobook).
I love Richard Armitage, I love Georgette Heyer, and Richard Armitage has recorded three audiobooks of Georgette Heyer's novels :D I've listened to two of the audiobooks so far (Venetia and Sylvester) and have really loved them but I've still got The Convenient Marriage to look forward to.

10. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.
This book is another fairly recent addition to my TBR list. It was written by an Australian author but is a historical novel set in Iceland. It's about Agnes Magnusdottir who was the last woman to be executed in the country. Its reviews have been wonderful!

And now for some questions! Have you read any of these? What books are you looking forward to reading next year? :)

Saturday, 28 November 2015

'Fairest' by Marissa Meyer (2015)

Synopsis: Fairest is the prequel to The Lunar Chronicles. The story is set on the Moon (now called "Luna") and takes place about twenty years before the start of the first book, when Queen Levana is only 15 years old and is still a princess. Both of Princess Levana's parents have been recently assassinated and her older sister Channary is now about to take the throne. Levana is bitterly resentful about this as she's much more intelligent and politically engaged than her cruel and spiteful older sister, who cares more about making sexual conquests than ruling. Levana is also extremely lonely and has developed an intense infatuation with a kind and handsome Royal guard called Evret Hayle. Levana becomes determined to have Evret for herself even though he's ten years older than her and is deeply in love with his beautiful, pregnant wife Solstice...

I'll keep this short. I've enjoyed the previous books in The Lunar Chronicles but this book was a huge disappointment. It adds very little to the series and could have been quite easily edited down into a short story and put on Marissa Meyer's Wattpad page. The book tells us practically nothing about the Moon's history and culture and (although we do get to learn more about her relationships with Cinder's mother and Winter's father) tells us very little about Levana that we didn't already know. This book certainly didn't need to be over 200 pages long and I feel annoyed that I had to spend as much time cringing over Levana and Channary's behaviour as I did :(

The only two things that I liked about Fairest were: 1) the brief glimpses that we got of Cinder, Winter and Jacin and 2) the fact that Meyer doesn't try to excuse Levana's behaviour in it. Yes, terrible things were done to Levana but that still doesn't excuse all of the terrible things that she then went on to do to other people. She's still an unrepentant murderer and rapist who deserves to be punished for everything that she's done.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, 26 November 2015

'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde (2001)

Synopsis: The Eyre Affair is the first novel in the Thursday Next series and takes place in an alternate universe. The year is 1985. England is still fighting Imperial Russia in the Crimean War and its government is being heavily influenced by the powerful and morally shady Goliath Corporation. Wales is a socialist republic, cloned dodos are popular pets, certain individuals can travel through time, and literature is taken deadly seriously. Thursday Next is a woman in her mid 30s, is a Crimean War veteran, and is now working as a literary detective. Thursday's job is usually rather dull and mainly involves checking copyright. However, Thursday's life then becomes considerably more exciting when a powerful super villain called Acheron Hades steals the original manuscript to Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. Thursday is then recruited to track Hades down and retrieve the book. To complicate matters even further, Thursday's ex-fiancĂ© Landen re-enters her life and she finds herself being tailed by an obnoxious man who walks for the Goliath Corporation. Meanwhile, after faking his death, Hades then kidnaps Thursday's aunt and eccentric uncle Mycroft in order to get his hands on her uncle's new invention "the Prose Portal" - a device which allows one to travel into the world of books. Hades then brutally dispatches a minor character from Martin Chuzzlewit, imprisons Polly in a William Wordsworth poem, and has one of his henchmen travel into the original manuscript of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre to kidnap Jane. Thursday must then team up with Jane Eyre's Mr Rochester in order to rescue Jane, prevent literary homicide, and keep the ending of the novel intact.

I bought The Eyre Affair sometime last year and I'm kicking myself for taking as long as I did to finally read it - because it's got to be one of the funniest and most inventive books that I've come across in years! The book is set in this delightfully fun and quirky world in which everyone is obsessed with literature. If it wasn't for the Crimean War and the Goliath Corporation I think every book-lover would want to visit its world! And I don't think I've ever come across another book which spans as many genres as this book does either. It's a sci-fi novel, it's a fantasy, it's a police procedural, it's a thriller, it's a comedy and it's a literary satire. There's also a little bit of a romance and even a slight horror element to the story (since vampires and werewolves exist in its world and there's a pretty suspenseful scene where Thursday has to confront a vampire).

The characters are a lot of fun in this book too. The main character, Thursday, is clever, resourceful, funny and badass and I really enjoyed her exchanges with her uncle Mycroft and her work colleagues Bowden and Victor. Having said that I'm not sure if she was my favourite character in the book, I think that might actually have to be Hades because he was suave and smooth and got some of the most hilarious lines in the whole book :D He actually reminded me a little bit of Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber from Die Hard.

And finally yet another great thing that this book of course is its connection to Jane Eyre! To enjoy this book a love of Jane Eyre is by no means essential but it will certainly enhance your enjoyment of the story. Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favourite books and although neither Jane or Rochester got a huge amount of page-time in The Eyre Affair I still thought Jasper Fforde portrayed both of their characters extremely well. Unlike some authors out there I could care to mention (glares in the direction of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea), Fforde clearly loves and respects Charlotte Bronte's book.

This book was hilarious, clever, imaginative, suspenseful, and a lot of fun. I loved it :)

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, 19 November 2015

'Whose Body?' by Dorothy L. Sayers (1923)

Synopsis: Whose Body? is the first book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Lord Peter Wimsey is the middle child of the Duke and Duchess of Denver and lives in an expensive new flat just opposite London's Green Park. Peter enjoys dining out, playing the piano, collecting expensive rare books, and solving crimes. He does the latter with the assistance of his personal valet Bunter and his best friend Charles Parker who works for Scotland Yard. Peter's mother then telephones to say that Alfred Thipps, an architect hired to do some work at her local church, has found a naked male corpse in his bath. Mr Thipps is a timid man and has no idea who the corpse is or how he could have possibly come to be in the bathtub. But since a wealthy financier called Sir Reuben Levy has also gone missing, the bullish Inspector Sugg of Scotland Yard suspects a possible connection. Both Thipps and his maid Gladys are then arrested on suspicion of murder. However, Peter and Charles both believe that there is far more to this case than meets the eye and decide to investigate the matter...

After finally finishing off the Sherlock Holmes canon, I've now decided to make the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries my next detective series project. I've read one of the books in this series before (The Nine Tailors) and I remember quite enjoying it but that was many years ago and for some reason I just never got around to reading any of the other books.

Although I've read a few reviews from people who have said that Whose Body? is fairly weak in comparison to the later books in the series, I still really liked this book for the most part. Sayers' descriptions are excellent and the mystery is decent but I enjoyed the book more for its deliciously witty dialogue and characters than anything else. Lord Peter himself is a hugely interesting and loveable character! He's warm, cultured, witty and sarcastic and is fiercely intelligent and endearingly vulnerable (he's suffering from PTSD). His friends Bunter and Charles are wonderful characters as well and I loved Peter's bromances with them! :D

I wouldn't class Whose Body? as being one of the very best mystery novels that I've read. There are a couple of very jarring and confusing switches from third to second-person narration and the book loses it way towards the end. Not only is the murderer obvious, their method of getting the body in the bath is extremely far-fetched and their written confession pretty tedious. But, again, I did still really like this book overall and I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series which I hear are better. Rather than going reading the entire series in a year (as I did with the Sherlock Holmes canon) I've decided to give myself up to 18 months to finish off these books - simply because there are more books in this series than there are in the Sherlock Holmes canon.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So

Here are quotes from some of the books that I've loved reading this year :)

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W. I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.”  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
*sigh* The most romantic love letter in fiction! If anyone's failed to be moved by it, well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that you're dead inside but are you quite sure that you're alive?!

"It isn't possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal”
2. A Room with View by E.M. Forster

“Each time you happen to me all over again.”
3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

"[he was] bursting with the belated eloquence of the inarticulate.”
4. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
I tried to include only one quote for each book but I couldn't help myself here! I love this quote, I often feel this way.

“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.” 
5. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Kvothe is an absolute badass!

"Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“Love you! Girl, you're in the very core of my heart. I hold you there like a jewel. Didn't I promise you I'd never tell you a lie? Love you! I love you with all there is of me to love. Heart, soul, brain. Every fibre of body and spirit thrilling to the sweetness of you. There's nobody in the world for me but you, Valancy.”
7. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

“A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.” 
8. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
9. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

“You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”
10. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
So... do any of those quotes speak to you? Are you a fan of any of these books?

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Friday, 13 November 2015

'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman (2008)

Synopsis: The Graveyard Book is a middle-grade fantasy novel and coming-of-age story that was inspired by Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. The story begins with a man called Jack who has just murdered a family in the middle of the night - apart from the boy toddler who had climbed out of his cot to do some exploring. The toddler then ends up slipping out of the front door of the house and into the local graveyard where he's found by a ghostly married couple called the Owens. Wanting to protect the child from Jack, the Owens decide to adopt the boy and name him Nobody which they then shorten to "Bod". Bod is then granted the Freedom of the Graveyard, which gives him some supernatural powers, and a mysterious man called Silas (who is heavily implied to be a vampire) is appointed to be his guardian. Bod then spends the rest of his childhood in the graveyard and has many wondrous and eerie adventures. He gets tutored by a Hound of God, is taken into the creepy realm of Ghulheim, witnesses a danse macabre, and befriends the ghost of a witch called Liza Hempstock. But meanwhile Jack is still out there and still wants to kill Bod. And Bod finds himself torn between wanting to stay with Silas and his adopted parents and wanting to go out into the land of the living where he really belongs...

Regular readers of this blog should probably already know that Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors. I love his prose, his characters, and the wonderful, fantastical worlds he creates. I've read almost all of Gaiman's adult novels by now and have loved most of them very much but my personal favourite of Gaiman's works is this magnificent children's book of his. I love it so, so much! :) I re-read it recently and I loved it even more than I did during my first read. The synopsis probably makes it sounds like a rather gruesome and macabre book and not at all suitable for children - but it won both the Newbery Medal and the Hugo Award and it's absolutely delightful! It's charming, funny, sad, suspenseful and beautifully-written. I don't often cry while reading books but I had tears in my eyes while reading its final chapter... it was just so wonderfully bittersweet and moving :')

The characters in this book are a delight. Bod is bright, resourceful, inquisitive, quiet, funny, brave and sweet - an extremely likeable and well-developed main character. His guardian Silas is also fascinating as he's stern, brooding and deeply mysterious but clearly loves Bod very much and as though he was his very own son. The Owens, Liza and the character of Miss Lupescu are all very endearing as well. In fact I think the only non-evil character that I didn't much like in this book was Bod's human friend Scarlet who I found quite bratty, but thankfully she wasn't so annoying that she dragged the book down for me in any way.

Of course another great thing about reading this book are its fun and interesting parallels to The Jungle Book. I've never actually read Kipling's novel and have only seen the classic Disney film adaptation (which is one of my favourites by Disney) but it's obvious that Bod is based on Mowgli, the ghosts on the wolves, Silas on Bagheera and Jack on Shere Khan. Re-reading The Graveyard Book has definitely made me want to read The Jungle Book even more as I'm sure that there are even more parallels between the two books that I've missed. And then there are those two upcoming Jungle Book adaptations that are coming out in the near future: the new Disney version starring Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba and Bill Murray and the Warner Brothers version starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. Yep, it definitely seems like a good time to be reading The Jungle Book alright...

The Graveyard Book is an absolutely beautiful book, is definitely a favourite of mine, and I would strongly recommend it. The book has some sinister scenes and deep, mature themes so I wouldn't say that it's suitable for very young children (i.e. children under five) but it would be a wonderful book for older children to read and I would love to give it to my own hypothetical children some day.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. 10 is just a suggestion to aim for if you can hit it -- do a list of 3 or 5 or 20 on your list. Your post, your choice!

Today's Topic: Top Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I'm Looking Forward To or Ten Book To Movie Adaptations I Still Need To Watch.

My first Top Ten Tuesday post! I've been wanting to do another book blogging meme/challenge for a while now (in addition to the Classics Club and Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts). And since I'm very fond of making lists and have seen quite a few of the bloggers that I follow do TTT posts in the past I thought this particular meme would be fun to do. I'm not going to be doing these posts every single Tuesday though, I'll only be doing them when the particular topic of the day happens to interest me as today's did. To anyone who's reading my blog for the first time: Hello! :)

I thought I'd tackle both of the questions in today's topic but to split them in two. To start with I'm going to do Eight Book to Movie Adaptations that I'm Looking Forward To. I've cheated a bit though by including miniseries adaptations! In no particular order:

1. War and Peace. This is a miniseries adaptation of Tolstoy's novel which has been written by Andrew Davies and co-produced by the BBC and the Weinstein Company. I haven't actually read the book yet but it's been on my TBR list ever since I read and loved Anna Karenina and I'm hoping that I can at least make a start on the book by the time the miniseries comes along. Nevertheless I'm really looking forward to this one! The trailer looks stunning, the cast is great (Lily James, Paul Dano, James Norton, Gillian Anderson, Jim Broadbent, etc...) and some of it was even filmed on location in Russia! It looks like it's going to be sooo much better than the recent big-screen Anna Karenina adaptation (which I found extremely disappointing).

2. My Cousin Rachel. This is going to be a big-screen adaptation of the excellent Daphne du Maurier novel and it will be starring Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz. There was a previous film adaptation made in the 1950s with Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland starring but du Maurier wasn't happy with the film because she felt that de Havilland was completely miscast ("too wholesome") and because of that I've never bothered to seek it out. So I was very happy when this new adaptation was announced! Rachel Weisz should make a terrific Rachel (Hey! A Rachel playing a Rachel!) and after seeing Claflin's acting in The Hunger Games I now think much more highly of him as an actor than I used to :)

3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A Harry Potter spin-off, this will be the first in a film trilogy and will feature the adventures of Newt Scamander (the author of one of Harry's text-books) in 1920s' New York! :D I am so ridiculously excited about this one! I'm not expecting this film to be on a par with the Harry Potter books but I'm confident that I'm going to like it much more than the film adaptations. J.K. Rowling has actually written the script for this one, it's got an amazingly cool setting, it's starring Eddie Redmayne (who I love and was J.K. Rowling's first choice for the role), and it will hopefully, hopefully lead to other Harry Potter spin-offs! I'm still holding out for Marauders and Hogwarts Founders spin-offs, J.K!

4. And Then There Were None. This is a new miniseries adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel by the BBC to mark the 125th anniversary of Christie's birth. The book is awesome and the cast for this new adaptation is brilliant! Charles Dance, Aidan Turner, Miranda Richardson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sam Neill, etc... :D

5. The Kingkiller Chronicle. This high fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss looks well-set to be the next Game of Thrones as it's recently landed both a film and a TV series adaptation! Some of you may recall my flailing about The Kingkiller Chronicle earlier in the year. The first book in the series, The Name of the Wind, is an amazing novel and although its sequel The Wise Man's Fear wasn't quite as good (as it dragged in places) that book was still pretty darn awesome as well. It's fair to say that I'm excited!

6. Beauty and the Beast. Disney's new adaptation of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. I know that there are a lot of people out there are unhappy with Disney right now because of their current phase of re-making some of their old classics and I can understand why - but that still doesn't change the fact that I flat-out adored their new version of Cinderella (such a wonderful film... so much heart and sincerity and so beautifully-acted!) and that I'm extremely excited about their new version of Beauty and the Beast! Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Emma Thompson, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra MacDonald, Stanley Tucci, Hattie Morahan, Adrian Schiller... the cast is incredible!

7. Oliver. Two years ago I wrote a post about my excitement about this project (and ended up making a great blogger friend out of it - massive result! :D) Now it looks like this project is finally going to happen! Cameron Mackintosh has spent the past two years trying to make a new adaptation of Oliver the Musical (which is of course an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist) and now it's recently reported that Toby Haynes has been approached to direct. I really hope this happens! Haynes is a brilliant director and if he does end up directing a new adaptation of Oliver I imagine it's very likely that Bertie Carvel will have a role in this film somewhere! And since Mackintosh would be involved in this production as well, Samantha Barks would probably be playing Nancy!

8. Brooklyn. This is an adaptation of a book that I haven't actually read but the trailer for it looked so wonderful that I knew I had to see it. In fact I'm seeing it tonight! :)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And now, Two Book-to-Movie Adaptations That I Still Need to Watch. These are two adaptations of books that I love very much but just haven't got round to watching yet.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). I can't believe I haven't seen this film yet! Not only is it one of my dad's favourite films, the novel by Harper Lee is one of my favourite books and I've read it multiple times. But, yeah, I just haven't got round to this film yet...

2. David Copperfield (2000). David Copperfield is probably my favourite Dickens novel (well, it's either that or A Tale of Two Cities) but up until recently I hadn't even seen an adaptation of it. Then I saw the 1999 BBC adaptation. Even though that version was fairly accurate to the book and had an absolutely superb Dame Maggie Smith as Betsey Trotwood I still found it disappointing. I just found it pretty dull and, honestly, Ciaran McMenamin was a block of wood as adult David. This adaptation looks more promising though I think - I love Hugh Dancy! :) - and I'm planning to watch it once I get round to re-reading the book.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - And that's my list for this week! So, what are the adaptations that you're looking forward to? Are there still adaptations that you want to see but just haven't got round to yet? Does my list have any thing in common with yours?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

'Cress' by Marissa Meyer (2014)

Synopsis: Cress is a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale and is the third book in The Lunar Chronicles. Crescent Moon ("Cress") Darnel is a 16 year old girl who has spent the past seven years of her life imprisoned in a satellite orbiting Earth, forced into hacking the planet's computer systems on the orders of Queen Levana. The only thing that's broken up Cress's isolation have been the monthly visits from Levana's sinister henchwoman Sybil. With nothing but her netscreens for company, Cress has become a considerably talented hacker, has developed a highly romanticised vision of the world, and has formed a massive crush on the fugitive Captain Carswell Thorne. Recently Cress has been given the task of tracking down the Rampion - the spaceship carrying the fugitive Linh Cinder and her fellow team of rebels. Appalled, Cress has instead been doing everything she can to hide their signal from Levana. Meanwhile, the crew on-board the Rampion have been drifting through space trying to avoid getting captured and work out a plan to overthrow Levana. Cinder then decides that their best option is to question the girl who warned her about Levana's plot to assassinate Kai and conquer Earth - Cress. When they then manage to make contact, Cress tells them everything she knows and the group offer to rescue her. Cress is elated at the thought of being finally free but the rescue mission then goes catastrophically wrong when Sybil makes an unexpected visit. Scarlet Benoit is captured, Wolf is shot, and Thorne and Cress crash-land in the Sahara. The pair of them are then forced to trek across the desert so that they can find their way back to Thorne's crew and prevent Levana's wedding to Emperor Kai and her invasion of Earth.

Cress isn't my favourite book out of The Lunar Chronicles so far (which is Scarlet) but I still found it to be a fun and enjoyable book overall. Like the previous two books in the series Cress is a clever and imaginative take on a classic fairytale, the story is full of adventure and suspense, and I really enjoyed the development of some of the characters. Cinder continues to go from strength-to-strength, Dr Erland comes back in this one (with his story being unexpectedly sad and touching), and I loved Iko's expanded role in this book. Kai gets some great character growth in this one as well (his decision to end the Cyborg draft) and I loved the fascinating glimpses that we got of Princess Winter and her love-interest Jacin Clay.

There's also the new heroine called Cress who comes into this story and, on the whole, I quite liked her. Cress is a very different character to Cinder and Scarlet as she's much more shy, naive and socially awkward than those two girls are - which makes a lot of sense given her extreme isolation for so many years. Cress's squeaking did get on my nerves at times (it was annoyingly repetitive and helped to make her come across as even younger than her 16 years), and I had a few reservations about her relationship with Thorne, but I did really like how intelligent and imaginative she was.

As I've already mentioned, Cress isn't my favourite book in The Lunar Chronicles. I enjoyed it slightly more than I did Cinder but definitely not as much as I enjoyed Scarlet. Scarlet and Wolf are by far my favourite couple in the series and neither of them got nearly as much page-time in Cress as I would have liked. The two of them had better have major roles in Winter to make up for it! And the other main reason for my not enjoying this book as much as its predecessor was because Cress's relationship with Thorne just isn't working for me yet. I didn't sense any of the chemistry between them that I sensed between Scarlet and Wolf and, well, I don't like Thorne as much as everyone else seems to. Yes he's dashing, gets some funny lines, and has a daredevil attitude towards life but apparently Marissa Meyer based his character on both Han Solo and Firefly's Malcolm Reynolds - and in those characters I see a level of depth and substance that I simply can't in Thorne. I want Thorne to be more.

The final book in The Lunar Chronicles, Winter, will be a retelling of the Snow White fairytale and will be coming out in less than two weeks. I might not be getting round to that book straight-away though because I want to read Meyer's prequel novel to the series and some of her short stories before then and there are a couple of other books that I want to get through fairly soon as well - but nevertheless I'm still looking forward to finding out how the series will end.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

'The Beekeeper's Apprentice' by Laurie R. King (1994)

Synopsis: The Beekeeper's Apprentice is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel and is the first book in the Mary Russell series. The year is 1915. Mary Russell is a 15 year old Jewish-American, proto-feminist and genius and is also fascinated with Old Testament theology. Having been recently orphaned, Mary has moved to a house in the Sussex Downs and is living with her spiteful aunt and guardian. One day Mary then almost literally stumbles across the great detective Sherlock Holmes while out on a walk. Holmes is now studying bees and is semi-retired (as he will still take on the odd case every now and again). Impressed with Mary's intelligence, Holmes decides to take Mary on as his apprentice. He then allows her to assist him in a few odd cases over the years whenever Mary comes home from Oxford university. When the daughter of an American senator is then kidnapped in Wales, Holmes and Russell go investigating and find signs of a master criminal at work. Although they manage to rescue the child, attempts are then made on not only their lives but the lives of John Watson and Mycroft Holmes. It seems that the criminal is out to kill Holmes and everyone he loves...

I really, really wanted to adore this book. I want to enjoy every single book that I read of course but I especially wanted to love this one: partly because it's generally considered to be one of the better Sherlock Holmes pastiches out there but mostly because it was highly recommended to me by a couple of blogger friends and now they'll going to be disappointed when they read this and find out that I didn't much care for it.

Before I'll get onto why this book didn't work out for me I'll just make it clear that I certainly didn't hate it. It has a very intriguing premise and there were definitely some parts of the book that I found interesting and enjoyable (e.g. the Wales section). The prose itself is lovely and there's some genuinely funny banter between Holmes and Mary. But unfortunately I just couldn't get past King's treatment of John Watson. He's barely in this book and Mary condescendingly dismisses him as a kind-hearted but bumbling old fool, which Holmes doesn't even attempt to defend. But what was even more frustrating than either of these things was that at one point Holmes forgot - forgot! - to warn Watson that his life was in danger! I'll be in my grave before I'll believe that Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes could be capable of that!

In the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Watson is portrayed as being a very efficient doctor and soldier and although not a genius is still intelligent in his own right. He even managed to solve a subplot in The Hound of the Baskervilles all by himself! And it's clear that Holmes loves and respects Watson very much and that Watson is important to him. Yes, there are times where Holmes clearly thinks Watson is being slow on the uptake but nevertheless he does often praise Watson for his intelligence and resourcefulness. I can't help but wonder if King based her book's Watson on Nigel Bruce's Watson from the Basil Rathbone films rather than the Watson of the canon. Either way it's certainly made me even more grateful for Jude Law and Martin Freeman's excellent portrayals of Watson.

To the people who recommended this book to me, I'm sorry, I did enjoy some aspects of this book but ultimately I just couldn't get past the characterisations of Watson and Holmes in this one and I doubt I'll be continuing with the rest of the series. Also, another reason for that is because I know that Mary and Holmes eventually become lovers and marry. The age gap between Holmes and Mary is 38 years! Which makes Holmes almost old enough to be Mary's grandfather! I've come across May-December romances in novels before and haven't minded them (Jane EyreRebecca, etc) but this is just too extreme for my liking.

Rating: 2/5