The Book Lover’s Bucket List: A Tour of Great British Literature by Caroline Taggart (Review)

The Book Lover’s Bucket List: A Tour of Great British Literature by Caroline Taggart

Blurb

Exploring the gardens, monuments, museums, and churches with walks both urban and rural, from the Brontë parsonage in Haworth to Zadie Smith’s North London and Shakespeare’s Stratford, The Book Lover’s Bucket List takes you through some 100 wonderfully described literary sites and landscapes, complete with colour destination photographs and illustrations from the British Library collections.

Start with Chaucer, Dickens, and Larkin in Westminster Abbey. Spend an afternoon at Colliers Wood Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire and take in the lake D. H. Lawrence described as “all grey and visionary, stretching into the moist, translucent vista of trees and meadow.” Venture south to Cornwall and work your way up to the Scottish Highlands, taking detours to Northern Ireland in the west and Norfolk in the east.

There are gardens, monuments, museums, churches, and a surprising quantity of stained glass. There are walks both urban and rural, where you can explore real landscapes or imaginary haberdasher’s shops. There‘s the club where Buck’s Fizz was invented and a pub where you can eat Sherlock’s Steak & Ale Pie. And there’s a railway station where you can stroke the muzzle of one of the world’s most famous and endearing bears.

Wherever you are in the United Kingdom, you’re never far from something associated with a good book.

Review

My best friend bought this book for me and I have been dipping in and reading a few pages a day ever since. I have also been making a big list of the places I want to visit as well which has been worrying my husband. 

This book is divided up into sections for the different parts of Great Britain and each section has places of importance to different authors. The book tells you about the place and its history and what it is like now and whether you can visit it or not. There are also very handy websites listed for the places so you can investigate for yourself about a property. 

There are so many authors from Great Britain mentioned in this book and the places that meant something to them, whether it be where they wrote their great works or places mentioned in their works, or like Lyme Park where a famous adaptation of the book was filmed. Yes, the wet shirt of Mr Darcy was even mentioned in this book. 

Taggart’s writing is informative and funny and regularly made me laugh. There were also extra bits and pieces added about the authors and the books which were added to the different sections that gave extra information and extra places to visit.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am really looking forward to visiting some of the places. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author 

Caroline Taggart worked in publishing as an editor of popular non-fiction for 30 years before being asked by Michael O’Mara Books to write I USED TO KNOW THAT, which became a Sunday Times bestseller. Following that she co-wrote MY GRAMMAR AND I (OR SHOULD THAT BE ‘ME’?) As a result of these books and HER LADYSHIP’S GUIDE TO THE QUEEN’S ENGLISH, published by Batsford, she has appeared frequently on BBC Breakfast and on national and regional radio, talking about language, grammar and Pythagoras’s theorem. Her record is 16 radio interviews in one day on the subject of exclamation marks.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Death of Darkness by Dianne Duvall (Review)

Death of Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Blurb

Seth has led the Immortal Guardians for thousands of years. With them fighting by his side, he has protected humans from psychotic vampires, defeated corrupt mercenary armies, defended military bases under attack, and more. But the latest enemy to rise against the Immortal Guardians has proven to be a formidable one, wielding almost as much power as Seth. His goal is simple. He wants to watch the world burn. And he will use every means at his disposal to accomplish it. Seth and his Immortal Guardians have succeeded thus far in staving off Armageddon despite heartbreaking losses. But they have never before faced such danger. Seth has only one wish: to protect his Immortal Guardians family and ensure the continuation of humanity by defeating his foe. But then Leah walks into his life and sparks a new desire. 

Leah Somerson has suffered losses of her own. It has taken her a long time to rebuild her life and find some semblance of peace. Then one night a tall, dark, powerful immortal with what appears to be the weight of the world on his shoulders stumbles into her shop, and everything changes. Peace and contentment are no longer enough. Now she wants more. She wants to find happiness. She wants to erase the darkness in Seth’s eyes and replace it with love and laughter. She knows he’s different in ways that make most fear him. Even some of his immortal brethren keep a careful distance. But Leah will not. Nor will she shy away when danger strikes.

Review

It has been a couple of years since I have read a book by Dianne Duvall and I’m not sure why because her books are brilliant. 

Each book of the Immortal Guardians series focuses on one main character but the other characters also feature within the story which is always nice because you can keep up to date on the characters you have already met in the previous books. This book is focused on Seth who is the leader of the Immortal Guardians. 

The battle against Gershom is still raging and Seth and his Immortal Guardians are starting to get overwhelmed with the chaos that Gershom is creating and Seth is trying to protect everyone and not looking after himself. Then Leah enters his life and everything begins to change. 

Leah owns the toy shop that Adira loves and because of a chance encounter where Seth takes Adira to the shop instead of Ami, Seth meets Leah and from that moment on can’t stop thinking about her. Leah is an interesting character and takes everything in her stride when finding out the truth about Seth and his Immortal Guardian family. I will be honest she does tend to take everything rather too laid back for me which at times is rather unbelievable. 

I also enjoyed learning more about the origins of Seth, Zach, Jared and the rest of the Others and I hope we will learn even more as the series continues. The humour in the book was also up to its usual standard and I was happily laughing away to myself when reading.

Overall, I enjoyed the book immensely and couldn’t put it down but the reason the book did not get the full 5 Dragons and only 4 was because Leah was just a little too unrealistic for me and at times annoying. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians and The Gifted Ones series. When she isn’t writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she so loves to create in her books.

The Weekly Brief

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far. I played for a wedding yesterday and have two services this morning to do, the rest of the day will be working on my dissertation whilst the husband watches the Grand Prix but hoping to get some reading in as well today.

Posts this Week

Currently Reading

I read all the Lestat books when I was a teenager but I haven’t read this one so I thought it was high time I did.

Acquired Books

I went on a little book buying spree. I can’t wait to get reading all these exciting books.

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

August 2021 Wrap Up

Hello!

August was a good month for me as I got to catch up with friends that I haven’t seen for a long time and go away for a little holiday. I also managed to do some reading which is always good.

Statistics

Books

Pages: 320

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 424

Format Read: Hardback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 30

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲

Pages: 32

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Pages: 416

Format Read: Hardback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 416

Format Read: Hardback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

41/70 Goodreads Challenge

Still behind on the Goodreads Challenge but I am determined to catch up once the dissertation is finished.

Please drop me a comment if you want to chat about any of the books.

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Familiars by Stacey Halls (Review)

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Blurb

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn¹t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong. 

When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye? 

As the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood¹s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake. 

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Review

After reading Mrs England I really wanted to read more of Stacey Halls’ work and thankfully I remembered I had The Familiars on one of my many TBR piles. When I started reading this I struggled to get into it to start with as it didn’t seem to hook me in like Mrs England had but once I was about a third of the way in I couldn’t put the book down. 

This book is based on the real Pendle witch trials that happened in 1612 and the characters are named after real life characters from that period but the story is devised by Stacey Halls. 

Fleetwood is the main character in this book and to start with she comes across as rather immature and a little bit spoiled but as the book goes on you see her grow up and become a strong woman. It is just sad that the reason she grows up so quickly is because of the blows that life throws at her during this book. 

Alice is Fleetwood’s first real friend and her midwife. She is also Fleetwood’s only hope to bring into the world a healthy baby and keep her own life. Alice is a lovely character and clearly a woman who knows her own mind, she is intelligent and knows the way to help people medically with the items available for the time period. She is also lost and needs someone to be her friend and fight her corner. 

Richard is Fleetwood’s husband and to be honest I did not like him. He gives Fleetwood more freedom than most women would have had in the 1600’s but it also seems to come with a price. He comes across as vain and rather big headed. 

The story is really about strong women who are not understood by men and so they are punished because of it. It shows just how tough life was for a woman in the 1600’s and that even wealthy women were not well treated at times. I really enjoyed this book but I did struggle at the beginning so I am giving this book 4 out 5 Dragons.

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Product Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Sistersong by Lucy Holland (Review)

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Blurb

535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.

Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.

Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.

And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain. 

Review

I will be honest I struggled with this book and at least twice I considered not finishing it. However, I am pleased that I did finish it because it did pick up and I really enjoyed the second half. I think my main problem was that I just found the beginning rather slow and to be honest annoying. 

The story is based around the lives of three sisters and two of these sisters at times drove me mad. Sinne was the worst culprit for driving me mad and it was simply because she was a spoiled brat who was very immature and rather heartless. Sinne spends her time dreaming of romance and adventures and not living in the real world and because of this she does not see what is happening around her or that people she loves are hurting. 

Riva is a troubled character, she was terribly burned in a fire when she was young and although she is now healed but left with scars she is clearly not healed mentally. At times I felt sorry for Riva but I also despaired at her naivety and just wanted to shake her at times. 

Keyne was my favourite character and the reason I carried on reading. Keyne was born a daughter but clearly wants to be a son but nobody sees this in her and everyone just thinks she is a silly girl who dresses in boys’ clothes. As the story goes on you see Keyne develop as a character and become what he was meant to be. Keyne can see in people their true worth and also is not so easy to trust people.

Osred was another favourite of mine, he is sworn to serve Tristan and can not speak but he silently watches and is a true friend to Sinne. Tristan however was not a favourite of mine and I did not trust him at all. 

The book is full of magic and wonder but it is also the tale of three sisters who are so different from each other that only love and their parents really holds them together. It is also an interesting telling of how Christianity was starting to be introduced into Britain. Overall, I give this book 3 out 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Lucy Holland works for Waterstones and has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing under Andrew Motion in 2010. Lucy lives in Devon and co-hosts Breaking the Glass Slipper, an award-winning feminist podcast. 

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Mrs England by Stacey Halls (Review)

Mrs England by Stacey Halls 

Blurb

West Yorkshire, 1904.

When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

Review

I thought I was in the beginning of a reading slump but then I started reading this book and the reading slump soon disappeared. I just could not put this down it kept me riveted from beginning to end. 

This book is mainly set in Yorkshire and is a true gothic novel with more than one mystery to solve. Ruby May is a Norland nurse who spends her time keeping busy with her charges and sending all the money she can afford home to help her family but it is also clear that Nurse May has a secret in her past and this secret she keeps locked up in a tin in her trunk but you can tell that the secret weighs heavily on Nurse May and she is never free from it. 

Nurse May finds herself working for the England family but soon realises something is not right with her mistress Mrs England but she can’t work out what it is. Due to Mrs England’s aloofness Nurse May directs all questions about the children to Mr England and  soon finds Mr England to be the perfect master. However, something is still not right about the house and Nurse May can sense this and you soon realise as the reader that there is another mystery to try and work out that surrounds the house.

The setting in the Yorkshire countryside really adds to this book, the wild crags, waterfall and forest all make the characters seem isolated and in danger. The other fact that all doors need to be locked at all times really adds to this fear of something or someone. 

I loved reading this book the atmosphere and the mystery meant that I just could not stop reading the book until I had all the answers I wanted. I will definitely be reading more books by Stacey Halls and I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Weekly Brief

Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far.

I have got my blogging and reading mojo back this week so fingers crossed it continues.

Here is what I have been up to on the blog.

Posts this Week

Currently Reading

I can’t put this down, it is absolutely brilliant so far.

So there is my week on the blog.

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Blurb

A young woman investigates an accidental death at a London tube station, and finds herself on a ship bound for South Africa… Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her – and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails.The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied. After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: ‘17-122 Kilmorden Castle’? 

Review

This is the fourth book in my Agatha Christie challenge and I will be honest it is the first Agatha Christie novel that I actually considered not finishing. The main reason for this was that I just found the lead character Anne Beddingfield ridiculous and extremely annoying. The only thing that kept me reading was the very humorous diary entries of Sir Eustace and wanting to find out who the culprit was. 

Anne has had an odd childhood and spent most her life making sure her genius but eccentric father doesn’t do anything crazy but when he passes away she decides it is time for an adventure and gets the chance to move to London. She then witnesses the death of a man and decides to investigate. This leads to her going off all on her own with barely any money on a ship bound for South Africa. Thankfully she meets Colonel Race and Suzanne who can keep an eye on her but this doesn’t stop her falling into ridiculous traps and just walking into trouble. The amount of times she got into trouble really started to annoy me as the girl really had no common sense. 

Sir Eustace just wants an easy, comfortable life but due to his mysterious secretary Pagett he never gets a moment’s peace from work or the annoying stationary trunk. Sir Eustace, who is also ship-bound for Cape Town, befriends Anne, Suzanne and Colonel Race. Sir Eustace has a very odd obsession for girls with fine legs and liquid eyes and complains a great deal if women do not have these items. 

Colonel Race is a true gentleman who I must admit I felt rather sorry for during this book. Suzanne is the wife of a wealthy man and she delights in travelling without her husband and spending all of his money. She is a rather spoiled character who also drove me a little insane.

Overall, the plot was interesting and had plenty of red herrings to keep you on your toes but sadly the female characters just drove me a little bit mad. I think that with a different lead character I would have been a lot happier with the book. I give this book 2 Dragons out of 5. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

July 2021 Wrap Up

Hello!

July was not a good month for my reading or my blogging sadly but I still managed to read five books and some of those were on the larger side. So here is my month in books.

Statistics

Books

Pages: 144

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 587

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 49

Format Read: EBook

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 448

Format Read: Hardback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 288

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

35/70 Goodreads Challenge

I’m still behind on my Goodreads Challenge but as long as it doesn’t hit double figures I’m sure I will catch up.

Please drop me a comment if you want to chat about books!

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you