Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Frenchman’ s Creek (Daphne du Maurier)

Maurier, Daphne du - Frenchman's Creek

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Frenchman’s Creek
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: 1941
Edition: paperback, published by Virago Press in 2006

Bored and restless in London’s Restoration Court, Lady Dona escapes into the British countryside with her restlessness and thirst for adventure as her only guides.

Eventually Dona lands in remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds the passion her spirit craves in the love of a daring French pirate who is being hunted by all of Cornwall.

This was my first foray into this author’s books and I was not disappointed. Despite the fact that in the end the book did not blow me away, I really enjoyed the writing.

Our main character Dona is multifaceted and is neither good nor bad, but somewhere in between, with her desire for adventure getting her into trouble. You could feel how she was torn between the life she had and the life she longed she had. Sometimes I found her incredibly selfish, but I always understood her reasons.

I did feel the rest of the cast of characters were somewhat underdeveloped and much more could have been done with them. Of course this kept the focus on our main character, but I kind of wanted a bit more from the novel in that respect.

The plot and the ending were somewhat predictable, but overall I enjoyed this one and made me want to read more Du Maurier in the near future. I guess starting with one of her lesser known books was not a bad thing. I have all those amazing books to look forward to.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Towers of Midnight (Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson)

Jordan, Robert - The Wheel of Time 13 Towers of Midnight (with Brandon Sanderson)

★★★★★★☆

Title: Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time #13)
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
First published: 2010
Edition: mass market paperback, published in 2011 by Orbit

The sun has begun to set upon the Third Age.

Perrin Aybara is now hunted by specters from his past: Whitecloaks, a slayer of wolves, and the responsibilities of leadership. All the while, an unseen foe is slowly pulling a noose tight around his neck. To prevail, he must seek answers in Tel’aran’rhiod and find a way–at long last–to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it forever

Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The creatures beyond the stone gateways–the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn–have confused him, taunted him, and left him hanged, his memory stuffed with bits and pieces of other men’s lives. He had hoped that his last confrontation with them would be the end of it, but the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. The time is coming when he will again have to dance with the Snakes and the Foxes, playing a game that cannot be won. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost.

Dovie’andi se tovya sagain – It’s time to toss the dice.

These final books in The Wheel of Time series are an absolute triumph. Whether it is Jordan’s plot or Sanderson’s writing I am not sure, but they are incredible.

The characters we have been following throughout this series start to intersect and the plot seems to magically come together in the most glorious way. I have enjoyed every page of this tome of a book and this being a re-read somehow helped piece things together.

Mat and Perrin’s storylines show so much strength and character and Rand finally feels like Rand again, even if I feel we do not quite get enough time with him to get to know him again in this book. What we do get is some resolutions to a number of story arcs and a clearer picture of what is to come.

I know how hesitant people tend to be about reading The Wheel of Time series because it is rather sprawling in size, but in my opinion it is worth every single page, even the slower ones.

I am wholeheartedly looking forward to re-reading the final book in a couple of months’ time, especially since this one ended on a number of cliffhangers and I can’t quite remember how it continues.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Dress Shop of Dreams (Menna van Praag)

Praag, Menna van - The Dress Shop of Dreams

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Dress Shop of Dreams
Author: Menna van Praag
Genre: Fiction / Magical Realism    Pages: 263
First published: 2014
Edition: Kindle e-book

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passers-by, but the colourfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel- toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

It took me a long time for this novel to grow on me. I am happy to say it did eventually, but it was too late to unequivocally say I loved this tale.

The characters did little for me for the first third of the novel, but in the end I did really like Cora and Etta’s characters and stories in particular. Unfortunately, I still did not quite manage to feel engaged by Walt, the male lead.

The novel is magical realism, a love story and a mystery rolled into one. Although I had not quite predicted the mystery all the love stories were pretty predictable and unexciting. The writing was a little distant somehow and I just failed to fall in love with the characters. 

That may sound like I did not like this novel, but honestly I think it was quite charming and I was happy to read it. There was no point at which I was bored, but neither did the plot or story excite me. It was okay for me.

4 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Children's Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: How To Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell)

Cowell, Cressida - How To Train Your Dragon (audio)

★★★★★☆☆

Title: How To Train Your Dragon
Author: Cressida Cowell     Audio Narrator: David Tennant
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
First published: 2003
Edition: Audio book

Hiccup Haddock Horrendous III was a truly extraordinary Viking hero. The warrior chieftain and awesome sword fighter was known as ‘the Dragon Whisperer’, on account of his power over these terrifying beasts. But it wasn’t always like that, and this is the story of his rise to fame, in his own words.

This was a quick fun time. My daughter adores the movie and series and when I saw the audio book was narrated by David Tennant, I decided to give it a listen. It was a fun story and I enjoyed it, even though it really is very different from the movie. Once I let go of preconceived notions, this story made me smile.

The tone of the book is light and there is a whimsy to it I definitely enjoyed. David Tennant’s narrating style suits the story very well and I think he really helped bring it to life. He especially managed to give the dragon Toothless a lot of amusing sass!

The one thing that I did think was rather odd is the fact that there are hardly any women in this, apart from a rare appearance of main character’s Hiccup’s mother! No women, no girls, nada – just a bunch of boys and men. Oh, there may be a few female dragons, but apart from that, there is mostly a gaping hole! It did not bother me exactly, but I did notice it.

I am not continuing this series, as it is clearly meant for children, but I did have fun with it. It’s a delightful story.  My daughter will love it, so I will listen to it again with her.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 5 February 2020

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WWW Wednesdays’ home is at Sam’s blog Taking On A World of Words. Check it out!

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?

***

What am I currently reading?

I am listening to the audio book of How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. It’s a fun easy listen narrated by the fantastic David Tennant, who suits the story to a tee!

I am reading Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, book 13 in The Wheel of Time series. It’s a 950 page book and I have just crossed the page 600 mark, so I am reading at a reasonable clip. It’s just means it takes a while to finish my first book of the month! I am enjoying it quite a bit. 🙂

Finally, I am reading The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag on my Kindle, which I am enjoying ok. It’s not blowing me away, but I am curious to see what happens. Kind of.

Kay, Adam - This Is Going To HurtVuong, Ocean - On Earth We're Briefly GorgeousWhat have I recently finished reading?

Since last week I finished This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. The first one was great, the latter was good, but not amazing for me, though I can absolutely understand why someone would absolutely love it. It is just one of those books. I am glad to have read it though…

What do I plan on reading next?

My next listen will be H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald. My next physical book will likely be Vixen by Rosie Garland or maybe Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier, whichever I will be in the mood for at that time!

Please link me your WWW!

Books · Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Predicted 5* (GR) TBR Books

It is late on a Tuesday evening and I finally found some time and energy to have a think about this!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. Check it out!

So, I had a look through my (owned on e-book or physical!) TBR and these are the books I am looking to read this year that I expect to be 5*. This is using the Goodreads rating, which translate to 6* or 7* in my own rating system.

1. The Song of Sirin (Nicholas Kotar) 

The Raven Son series has been on my TBR for ages and I do want to read this one pretty soon – maybe next month? This is an ‘epic fantasy retelling of the Russian fairy tale Prince Ivan and the Grey Wolf’ and sounds amazing!

2. The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson)

Clearly, I am going to love the Mistborn series! Planning to read this one next month.

3. Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel)

Another one that has been on my TBR for ages. The only reason I have not read it yet is that it is so big! I need to be in the mood for a book set in tudor times, but I think I will end up loving this one.

4. Exit West (Mohsin Hamid)

This one sounds so interesting and right up my alley!

5. The Secret History (Donna Tartt)

Again, this just sounds like something I would absolutely love. Should be amazing! I found this in a charity shop last year and I am surprised I haven’t picked it up yet…

6. H Is For Hawk (Helen MacDonald)

I love non-fiction centered around animals and nature and this one sounds really good. I have the paperback, but I will be listening to the audio book of this once I have finished the current one. I fully expect to love it!

7. Autoboyography (Christina Lauren)

I have heard lots of good things about this one and I hope I will love it.

8. Clean (Juno Dawson)

I will either love this or hate this. I hope it’s the first!

9. Feathers (Thor Hanson)

I loved Hanson’s book ‘Buzz’ which was about bees. This one all about the science of the humble feather sounds strangely fascinating!

10. Deerskin (Robin McKinley)

I have been wanting to read this author for a while and I found this in a shop last year. I have a feeling about this one!

***

Fingers crossed I will get a chance to read all of these soon!

 

 

 

Books · Reading Diary

(Reading) Diary: 3 February 2020

200203a

MONDAY, 3 FEBRUARY 2020

10.31 – Man, I feel crap. I was sick over the weekend – a mild flu only, but I still feel like death warmed up. My daughter started with a temperature late on Thursday and stayed home from school on Friday and by the end of Friday I knew I was going to be next. So, yes, sore throat, feverish and a cold were all part of the fun. Now I am mainly blocked up, which is just making me feel horrible! I am not good at being sick, I must admit.

Anyway, not being able to much, did let me do a fair bit of reading. Not as much you would think, as my eyes were tired quickly, but I still managed to get a good chunk into Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (book 13 of The Wheel of Time series). I love these last three books in the series that were finished by Sanderson. There is more urgency to them and really elevate the series. It’s worth reading the whole series just to get to them.

I am listening to How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, read by David Tennant. It is the audio book that I have owned the longest, so it’s about time! It’s only short and I had a few days to bridge until I could purchase a new one. I imagine I should finish 200203blistening to it in the next few days. I love listening to David Tennant – he has a fine voice for audio books!

Finally, I started Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag last night. It has been on my Kindle a couple of years and I wanted something not too taxing for when I went to bed. I think it fits the bill. I am only about 10% in. It’s a bit whimsical and the characters are a bit stilted so far. I think I will enjoy it, but I doubt I will end up loving it. It could surprise me though!

On a non-reading note, I have started using the idea of modules in my wardrobe. Each module consists of one top layer (cardigan or jacket), two bottoms (skirt/trousers) and three tops. You can also add some shoes or bags if it helps finish an outfit. I was finding I wore the same stuff all the time, because it is simply easiest to grab a pair of jeans and a jumper in the morning. Hence, I was not fully utilizing my clothes. It was not even about comfort zones, but simply about laziness. I am finding the visuals useful. Even just having created them is enough, because I remember….

For example:

Module 2 (yellow trousers)

I am quite a visual person, so these do help me know what it is in my wardrobe and which items I can wear it with.

I need to create some more!

15.19 – Blegh – still feeling rubbish! I did manage to read about 60 pages of Towers of 200203cMidnight and I listened to a bit of How To Train Your Dragon as I struggled with my daily animal chores. I am about to go and feed the ponies outside, so maybe five minutes of fresh air will do me good.

I took my little girl (not so little anymore – she’s 7!) to the dentist today for a check-up and she was very good despite being nervous. I am very proud of her as she has been known to freak out at stuff she is worried about.

Once I have taken the hay out I will have a cup of tea and read some more.

I have been binging Next In Fashion on Netflix the last few days in the evenings and I am looking forward to watching some more this evening once Ro is in bed. It’s a bit like Project Runway, but without the added drama, and I think I actually prefer it that way. It’s a great mindless show to watch when your brainpower is incapacitated.

21.57 – I did manage to read over 100 pages of Towers of Midnight – yay! I spent a few minutes with my ponies Freda and Pippin, but I left them to their own devices most of the time today. Freda is the piebald gypsy vanner and Pippin is the Shetland pony.  They are both grumpy at the moment, so argue a lot. I don’t think they like winter that much. Or just grey weather…. They always much happier and less grumpy when the sun is out. They are also both very shaggy and dirty at the moment, especially Freda, as she liked to lie in her poo at night – yuck!

200203d

I did finish watching Next in Fashion, which was fun and now I feel exhausted, so I will be off to bed soon. I HATE being ill!!!!

This was a bit of a crappy reading diary – I will try again on better day!

xx