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Classics Club Spin

It's time for another Classics Club Spin! You can find out about it here. My list:
The Watsons by Jane AustenLorna Doone by R.D. BlackmoreAgnes Grey by Anne BrontëThe Pilgrim's Progress by John BunyanMy Antonia by Willa CatherThe Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. ChestertonIn the High Valley by Susan CoolidgeA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth GaskellCotillion by Georgette HeyerElizabeth, Captive Princess by Margaret IrwinThe Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonaldFurther Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. MontgomeryPat of Silver Bush by L.M. MontgomeryHamlet by William ShakespeareThe Painted Garden by Noel StreatfeildLark Rise to Candleford by Flora ThompsonThe Chaplet of Pearls by Charlotte Mary Yonge Hopefully, this will help me to make a bit of progress with my list, of which I've been rather neglectful of late.

October Books

I haven't done a monthly recap post for a while, but I haven't posted much lately so I thought I'd do a summary of what I've read this month. Firstly, I finally finished Lord of the Rings! I think it's been round about a year, perhaps just over, since I first picked up The Fellowship of the Ring. I tend to be very slow about reading long books - I need to take breaks to read other things in the middle - but I didn't quite expect to take so long to finish. I did enjoy it, and am partly tempted to start over again with FOTR, since it feels like an age since I read that. At any rate, I can now say that I have read it.
I made some progress with Mount TBR this month; I'm still hopelessly behind my goal of 24 books, but I did get a few off: The Return of the King (as mentioned above), Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, and Forged in the Fire by Ann Turnbull. Scarlet was a disappointment - despite having really enjoyed Cinder (last year), I found this a bit of a chore to …

Footnotes: October 2017

Footnotes is a monthly link-up hosted by Ashley and Emily. It's all about sharing quotations. Just in time, I'm joining up with the October prompt, which is: a quotation from a poem. There were quite a few quotations I could have shared this month, but I've chosen a short quote from Charlotte Bronte's poem "Gilbert":
            For words oft give but echo faint             Of thoughts the mind conceives. I've definitely experienced thoughts and feelings that I wasn't able to express in words; sometimes this might be because I don't have the words or don't understand my thoughts well enough, but other times it does seem like language is inadequate. However, one of the joys of collecting quotations is that sometimes you find that others have said things that express your thoughts perfectly, when you weren't able to do so yourself.

A Little Re-Organisation

You may have noticed that I've redesigned my blog look. I've changed things around several times lately but this is the most dramatic change, and I'm intending to leave it alone for a bit now! I've also taken the opportunity to move some things around and to add an "About" page and an "Archives" tag where you can access my non-book-review posts. Hopefully it'll be easier to find your way around now! Let me know what you think.

Weekly Poem: Psalm 13 by Mary Herbert

How long, O Lord, shall I forgotten be? What? ever? How long wilt thou thy hidden face from me Dissever?
How long shall I consult with carefull sprite In anguish? How long shall I with foes triumphant might Thus languish?
Behold me, Lord, let to thy hearing creep My crying; Nay, give me eyes and light, lest that I sleep In dying;
Lest my foe brag, that in my ruin he Prevailed; And at my fall they joy that, troublous, me Assailed.
No! no! I trust on thee, and joy in thy Great pity: Still, therefore, of thy graces shall be my Song's ditty. Mary Herbert

Book Review: The Bookseller's Tale by Ann Swinfen

SummaryThe Bookseller's Tale is the first in a series of mysteries set in 14th-century Oxford. The book takes place a few years after the population has been decimated by the Black Death, the effects of which are still widely felt. Nicholas Elyot, the main character, is a bookseller who lost his wife to the plague. One day he finds the body of a student in the River Cherwell, and discovers that his death was not due to natural causes. The town authorities don't seem to have any interest in investigating the murder, but Nicholas and his friend Jordain Brinkylsworth, a member of the university, feel they owe it to the victim to find out. Thoughts  One of the big things I liked about this book was the historical detail - we find out quite a bit about medieval Oxford, the university, and particularly about Nicholas' work as a bookseller, which I found really interesting. Some readers might not enjoy these details as they mean there is a little less focus on the mystery, but I…

Weekly Poem: She walks in beauty, like the night



She walks in beauty, like the night    Of cloudless climes and starry skies, And all that's best of dark and bright    Meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus mellowed to that tender light    Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,    Had half impaired the nameless grace Which waves in every raven tress,    Or softly lightened o'er her face, Where thoughts serenely sweet express    How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow,    But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below,    A heart where love is innocent.
Lord Byron

Mini-Reviews #7: Classic Adventures

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaProfessor Arronax is on an expedition to find what is believed to be a large whale which has been attacking ships. However, his trip takes a surprising turn when he and two companions find themselves trapped on board the submarine Nautilus - the real culprit. Until they can find a way to escape, they must travel along with Captain Nemo and his men, exploring the underwater realm, and attempting to reach the South Pole, facing adventures and dangers along the way.
This was quite good. I didn't enjoy it as much as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, but I still found the adventures for the most part enjoyable, and I liked the character of Captain Nemo - he is a bit of an ambiguous character, someone who has suffered a lot and does some bad things, but he is an interesting character and I can't help liking him at least a bit. The descriptions of things seen under the sea were also interesting. I also liked the scientific details - there is en…

Weekly Poem: Let me not to the marriage of true minds

So, I was thinking a while back that it might be nice to share some of my favourite poems on here, and decided to try doing a weekly post. Despite getting a few posts together I didn't get round to actually posting anything, but I found this in my drafts recently and thought I might as well give it a go. How long I will keep it up I cannot say, but I have a few poems lined up for the coming weeks at least.
This was originally meant to be posted back in February, and I chose the poem in honour of Valentine's day and of I Love Austen Week (since the poem is quoted in the 1995 version of Sense & Sensibility and always makes me think of Marianne & Willoughby). It doesn't really fit quite so well now, but I've decided to share it anyway.  Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds     Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds,     Or bends with the remover to remove. O, no! It is an ever-fixèd mark,     That looks on tempests and i…

Mini-Reviews #6: School Stories

The Manor House School by Angela Brazil The girls of Winterburn Lodge are not looking forward to another dreary term at their London boarding school. So they are rather excited when it is announced that, due to an issue with the drains which necessitates extensive maintenance work in the school building, the school will be moving to a country manor house for the summer term. As well as providing lots of opportunities for outdoor games and pursuits, the manor naturally comes with various associated legends and mysteries; in particular, a horde of hidden treasure which is rumoured to be somewhere within the grounds. Lindsay and Cicely, the two heroines, determine to find this treasure, which leads to some adventures - and misadventures. Throw in a few half-term excursions that don't go according to plan, and you get a very action packed book! I quite enjoyed this book. It was entertaining and there was a lot going on. It seems to be aimed at a younger age group than most of Angela …

Footnotes: September 2017

I'm linking up again with Footnotes, a monthly quotation link-up hosted by Ashley and Emily. This month's prompt is: a quotation that makes you laugh. I've recently read Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers; one of her series about Lord Peter Wimsey, who is trying to prove the innocence of a young women convicted of murder. It's a brilliant book, so of course I couldn't just limit myself to one quote. "I have already carefully explained to you that this time I am investigating this business. Anybody would think you had no confidence in me." "People have been wrongly condemned before now." "Exactly; simply because I wasn't there." "I never thought of that." ***** "I say - I've thought of a good plot for a detective story ... You know, the sort that people bring out and say, 'I've often thought of doing it myself, if only I could find time to sit down and write it.' I gather that sitting down is all that i…

Top Ten Tuesday: Forgotten Classics

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's theme is Ten Hidden Gem Books in X Genre. I've decided go for classics, so I'm listing ten older books that have been mostly forgotten or that I think should be better known:
A Cathedral Courtshipby Kate Douglas Wiggin A sweet romantic tale combined with a tour of English cathedrals
The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte Mary Yonge A tragic Victorian bestseller
White Boots by Noel Streatfeild A story about family, friendship, and ice skating
The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit Six children determine to restore their family's fortunes - but things don't really go according to plan
Seven Sisters at Queen Anne's by Evelyn Smith Seven sisters go off to school for the first time,
Half Magic by Edward Eager A magic coin that only grants half of what you wish for - what could possibly go wrong?
Jane of Lantern Hillby L.M. Montgomery I've reviewed this recently here.
Young Bess by Margar…

Footnotes: August 2017

Today I'm excited to be joining in with Footnotes, a new link-up created by Emily and Ashley. This involves posting about a quote each month, based on a prompt they supply. As an avid collector of quotes this sounds like a great idea to me! This month's prompt is a quote from an author. Although there are of course many quotes I could supply, I've gone with the first to spring to my mind, which I like a lot and is from one of my favourite books, Anne of Green Gables: This is a quote that always makes me happy; it's a reminder that you don't need lots of money or possessions, that there are more important things like friendship, happiness, and imagination. I love Anne's way of putting it, and I love the description of the sea, too, "all silver and shallow and visions of things not seen"; it does describe very well what it looks like in the evening.
There, I don't think my explanation has really done justice at all, and there are so many other good…

Top Ten Tuesday: Mystery Recommendations

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's theme is Ten Book Recommendations for ______. Since I've been reading a lot of mystery/detective books lately, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of mystery recommendations. Then I realised I already made a similar list last September ... however, I've read quite a few new ones since then and I think this list is different enough for it to be worthwhile. So, here are ten books I recommend to people who like mysteries (especially of the classic or historical variety.


A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson (mini review) This is one I've read recently. Set in a small town in 1950s England, featuring a mysterious death which occurred seven years earlier.
One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters This is the second in Ellis Peters' Cadfael series, and one of the best that I've read so far, although I'd recommend the series as a whole.
Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens The sec…

Mini-Reviews #5: The Selchester Mysteries

I've recently enjoyed three books from the Selchester Mysteries series by Elizabeth Edmondson, so I thought I'd combine my reviews into one post. These are a series of mysteries set in 1950s England, featuring a castle, a cast of eccentric characters, a few puzzling murders, and some Cold War intrigue. I found them very enjoyable. A Man of Some Repute This was a good book, although not outstanding. The mystery aspect was very intriguing, and well done, and there was at least one twist that took me by surprise. The writing was good enough; there were no bits that stood out particularly, but it wasn't bad.
It took me a while to get invested in the characters; I think because the author had two many points of view, and would often move slightly away from the main characters to have a little bit from the viewpoint of another, more minor character. I guess this was partly to show how characters were seen by other people, but I wish she had stuck to just Hugo and Freya, so that…

Book Review: Jane of Lantern Hill (1937)

(minor spoilers follow)
Jane and her mother live in Toronto with her grandmother, who loves her mother but bullies Jane. She has always believed that her father is dead, so she is shocked to find that he is in fact alive and living in Prince Edward Island, and  that he wants her to spend the summer with him. Jane goes determined to hate him, but instead she spends a glorious summer keeping house for her father and making friends with the locals. As time passes, both during and after the summer, Jane finds she has much to learn about herself and about life. She also tries to learn about the reasons for her parents' separation, and dreams that perhaps one day they might all be able to live together... I liked Jane. She is perhaps more ordinary than most of Montgomery's heroines; although she is still imaginative, she's not in the same class as Anne or Emily. However, this doesn't stop her from having plenty of good qualities; she is caring, brave, and determined. Althou…

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time (1962)

Despite its popularity in the US, this book isn't particularly well known (as far as I can tell) over here in the UK, so I never came across it as a child. This is a shame, because I think I would have loved it had I read it as a child. However, I still enjoyed it very much, and I'm glad I've finally got around to reading it.
Summary (Goodreads): It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. Bu…

Six in Six 2017

Six in Six is an annual meme hosted by Jo at The Book Jotter. The idea is that you pick six categories which relate to your reading in the first half of the year, and list six things for each category. I enjoyed participating in this last year, so I thought I'd join in again this time.



Six new authors to me Madeleine L'Engle (A Wrinkle in Time; A Wind in the Door) Anthony Hope (The Prisoner of Zenda) Mavis Doriel Hay (Death on the Cherwell) Marguerite de Angeli (Thee, Hannah!) John Buchan (The Thirty-Nine Steps) Elisabeth Grace Foley (The Mountain of the Wolf; The Silver Shawl) Six historical novels The Thunder Omen - Caroline Lawrence Raider's Tide - Maggie Prince The Silver Shawl - Elisabeth Grace Foley A Plague on Both Your Houses - Susanna Gregory The Little Duke - Charlotte Mary Yonge St. Peter's Fair - Ellis Peters Six series I read or started Brother Cadfael - Ellis Peters (St. Peter's Fair; The Leper of St. Giles) Lord Peter Wimsey - Dorothy Sayers (Unnatural …

Recent Highlights

It's been rather a long time since I last posted, so I thought I'd do a recap of some recent reading highlights.

Fiction I've been enjoying quite a few mystery/detective stories recently. I really enjoyed Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay, a murder mystery set in 1930s Oxford. St Peter's Fair and The Leper of St Giles, books four and five in Ellis Peters' Cadfael series, were also very good. Unnatural Death, the third Lord Peter Wimsey book by Dorothy L. Sayers, didn't quite live up to the others in the series I've read, but it was still enjoyable. A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory, set in medieval Cambridge, was good, but not really to my taste; it was a bit more thriller-y than the other books I've mentioned here, with lots of twists and turns and not knowing who to trust, which is not really my sort of thing, although it kept me reading to find out what would happen.
I've also read several lesser-known vintage novels: I rea…

My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Ten Books on My Spring TBR. I'm very much of a mood reader and usually not very good at sticking to lists, so there is a good chance my reading over the next few months will be completely different to what I've listed below! That said, I really do intend to read most of them soon - we'll see!

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (my Classics Club Spin book) Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (after I finish The Two Towers, which will hopefully be this week) Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery (for the Old School Kidlit reading challenge) Once by various authors A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle Thalia by Frances Faviell The Oxford Inklings by Colin Duriez Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think of them? And what are you looking fo…

Classics Club Spin #15

It's time for another Classics Club Spin! I've quite enjoyed participating in these so far, and it's definitely a good incentive to get another book crossed off my list. The idea is that I list twenty unread books from my Classics Club list, and then on Friday a number will be announced, which is the book I have to read and post about by May 1st. The Watsons by Jane AustenLorna Doone by R.D. BlackmoreAgnes Grey by Anne BrontëMy Antonia by Willa CatherThe Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. ChestertonA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleSylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth GaskellThe Little White Horse by Elizabeth GoudgeCotillion by Georgette HeyerElizabeth Captive Princess by Margaret IrwinThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisTill We Have Faces by C.S. LewisAt the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonaldFurther Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. MontgomeryIvanhoe by Walter ScottHamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William Shak…

Quote of the Week


"It is the small temptations which undermine integrity, unless we watch and pray, and never think them too small to be resisted." - Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott

Photo from Unsplash

Book Review: The Tanglewoods' Secret (1948)

Summary (from Goodreads): Ruth and her beloved brother Philip find solace in the expanse of the Tanglewoods' property. There they escape into bird watching, climbing, and general misadventures with their friend Terry.

But life with their Aunt is harsh, and Ruth suffers from an incorrigible temper. Just when she thinks she can't take it anymore, she learns a very special secret about a very special Shepherd. When a dreadful accident hurts one they love, Ruth and Philip learn that the Tanglewoods' Secret isn't meant to be kept a secret.
I read this for the Old School Kidlit challenge: a book you loved in childhood. I read this at the age of about six or seven and enjoyed it, but had never revisited it, so I didn't remember much except for a few details. I found that it didn't quite live up on rereading. I think my main problem was that it was just too simplistic. Of course it was written for quite young children, so that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but rere…

Monthly Review: February 2017

What I Read I re-read two books, Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay and (for the Old School Kidlit challenge) The Tanglewoods' Secret by Patricia St. John. The first of these I enjoyed much more than I did the first time around, the second not as much. I also read quite a lot of other books; mostly classics. I really enjoyed A World of Girls by L.T. Meade, The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, and Half Magic by Edward Eager, and also quite enjoyed The Thirty-Nine Stepsby John Buchan and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. In terms of modern books, Alice-Miranda on Holiday by Jacqueline Harvey turned out to be just about as good as the first book in the series; St Grizzle's School for Girls, Goats and Random Boys was quite enjoyable, although a little bit silly, and I felt that A Quiet Kind of Thunder, although not in a genre I read much, presented a good representation of a character struggling with anxiety and sele…

Quote of the Week

Back to the Classics 2017

So I'm a little bit late to the party, but I've decided to sign up for Back to the Classics 2017, hosted by Books and Chocolate. The aim is to read (up to) twelve books from different categories. I'm not sure whether I'll get all twelve of them completed, but I'm going to give it a go! Below is my rough list of what I plan to read (which will probably change). I've left a couple blank as I'm not sure what I'm going to read for them (suggestions welcome). There's still a few days to sign up if you'd like to participate but haven't yet! 1. A 19th century classic: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
2. A 20th century classic: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. A classic by a woman author: Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell
4. A classic in translation: The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
5. A classic originally published before 1800: a Shakespeare play
6. A romance classic: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
7. A Gothic or horror classic: Franke…

Books I Didn't Expect to Like as Much as I Did

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Books I Liked More/Less Than I Thought I Would. I've decided to go with Books I Liked More Than I Thought I Would, as I decided I'd rather compile a list of books I really enjoyed than ones I didn't like as much.

The first four books are ones I read at school because they were shortlisted for an award, and I had pretty low expectations for some of them, but they all turned out to be pretty good. The others are ones I chose myself and expected to enjoy, but they exceeded my expectations. Airman by Eoin Colfer I read this because it was on the Carnegie shortlist one year, which I was reading through with some others at school. I didn't expect to enjoy it because it looked quite sci-fi-y which wasn't really a genre I enjoyed then. But actually, I really enjoyed it! (It's really more historical than sci-fi; now I'd probably class it as ruritanian). Creature of the Night

Book Review: The Thirty-Nine Steps

Summary: Richard Hannay, recently returned to London after some years in the British colonies, is bored of his life and fed up of English society - until one day a mysterious man turns up in his flat with a rather sensational story. He claims to have uncovered a secret plot, with potentially huge ramifications, and that there are men trying to kill him to prevent him from revealing their secret. When the man is murdered several days later, it seems that his story is indeed true, and Hannay realises that, not only will the men now be after him, but so will the police, as there is strong circumstantial evidence that points to him as the murderer. So he flees to Scotland, where he must try to survive, evading capture by either of the parties after him, long enough to be able to relate the man's story to the relevant authorities - but will they even believe him? I saw the film of this a while ago and enjoyed it, but I didn't remember that much about it. Probably this was a good th…

I Love Austen Week Tag!

Hamlette at Hamlette's Soliloquy is hosting I Love Austen Week this week - a week dedicated to all things Jane Austen! Be sure to check out the festivities here if you feel so inclined. Here are my answers to the week's tag. 1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one? My first proper experience with Jane Austen was the 2005 Pride & Prejudice film. I didn't know much about the story beforehand and wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I LOVED it. So I quickly started searching out other film adaptations, and of course the books themselves. I think I had seen at least one film version of each book before reading it.
2.  What is your favourite Austen book? Until a few days ago I would have said Sense & Sensibility, but I've recently started rereading Pride & Prejudice and suspect that it is about to take over. There are just so many good bits that I'd forgotten! 3.  Favourite heroine?  Why do you like her best? This is…