Summer Reading Challenge: Actually Want to Read

Well everyone, will this rain ever stop?

All I want to do this gloomy Saturday is curl up with a mug of tea and a good book, however the house work has been calling. But I have taken a break to work out another book to read for the Summer Reading Challenge.

This prompt is: Actually want to read: read a book that has been on your Want To Read Shelf for more than a year. 

My Want to Read shelf on Goodreads started in 2012 so there are rather a lot of books to choose from.

I have decided to pick one from each year and choose from there.

2012: The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

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In the dark recesses of the Bastille, a young prisoner known only as Phillipe has spent eight years of his short life. When Aramis, posing as his confessor, bribes his way into the prison, the truth about the man’s identity is brought to light. It is a secret which, if revealed, could bring down the King of France, Louis XIV, whose corrupt rule is destroying the well-being of his country.

The ensuing jailbreak and the consequent struggle for power brings the musketeers into swashbuckling action, taking us back to the days of chivalry and making The Man in the Iron Mask one of the most enthralling historical romances in literature.

I love Dumas so would be very happy to read this book over the summer, but it is very weighty and maybe be a bit on the long side for a summer read.

2013: The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

15849910The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

One of the rare Gregory novels I have not read, a definite contender.

2014: Jaws by Peter Benchley

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Smashing together, they crush bones and flesh and organs into jelly.

The jaws of a giant killer shark that terrorizes a small holiday resort on Long Island.

Private feuds, lusts and jealousies take second place to a relentless duel, almost unbearable in its suspense and danger…

 

 

 

 

What a good book to read on the beach? I must admit I do want to go snorkeling whilst away, but this might make me change my mind.

2015: The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

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1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men. In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted. But defiance can come at a price. 1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confident to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice. Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death. Sister. Wife. Traitor. She holds the fate of England in her hands.

I have owned this book for a very long time. I met the author and had it signed when I bought it. Anne O’Brien was taking part in a book day at Berrington Hall a National Trust property and she was a lovely lady who I had a very long chat with.

2016: While you were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

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Yesterday your life was perfect. Today you’ll find out that was all a lie.

Tara Logan adores her perfect little family: husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her happiness is shattered when she wakes up one morning in her neighbour’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them. And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee and scared of losing everything she cares about, Tara flees home and stays silent, holding her breath as the investigation grips the neighbourhood.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara starts to wonder if someone in her life knows what really happened that night. When the police turn their questions towards her, Tara realises she has to find out.

But what will it take to uncover the real story, and can she survive the truth?

This has been sat on my Kindle for far too long and needs to be read.

2017: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

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Yvonne Carmichael has worked hard to achieve the life she always wanted: a high-flying career in genetics, a beautiful home, a good relationship with her husband and their two grown-up children.

Then one day she meets a stranger at the Houses of Parliament and, on impulse, begins a passionate affair with him – a decision that will put everything she values at risk.

At first she believes she can keep the relationship separate from the rest of her life, but she can’t control what happens next. All of her careful plans spiral into greater deceit and, eventually, a life-changing act of violence.

Apple Tree Yard is a psychological thriller about one woman’s adultery and an insightful examination of the values we live by and the choices we make, from an acclaimed writer at the height of her powers.

This book has been sat on my bookshelf for way too long and another strong contender.

2018: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

I won this book on a Goodreads giveaway at the beginning of 2018 and it has been sat on my TBR shelf ever since. Really like the sound of the storyline and was very pleased to win the book.

 

So that is my list to choose from, I will have a good think and see what I come up with. If anybody has any advice about the books it would be gratefully received.

The List so Far:-

Good as Gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

The Book is Better: – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Short and Sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

On the Bandwagon:- The Handmaid’s Tale

 

Happy reading!

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The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Review)

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

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About the Author

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Sara Collins studied Law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years. In 2014 she embarked upon the Creative Writing Masters at Cambridge University, where she won the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize for Recreative Writing and was shortlisted for the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Prize for a book inspired by her love of Gothic Fiction. This turned into her first novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

Blurb

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

Review

I must admit I was really excited to get this book and read it after seeing it on Facebook with rave reviews. I was also really pleased to get a signed copy from Waterstones. So it was moved to the top of my TBR pile. Sadly, I was very disappointed.

I found this book really annoying, when I first started it I was happily reading away, however it then began to get on my nerves and I was reluctant to keep going. I even stopped reading it for about a week but did return because I wanted to know what happened at the end.

I’m not entirely sure what it was that got on my nerves so much but I think it was the writing style. It just made me reluctant to pick the book up and read it. I also did not like the fact that the blurb pointed that there would be more of a trial being featured and sadly there was hardly any of the trial in the story, it just felt like an afterthought added at the end.

This book includes many themes, slavery, drug abuse, abuse, depression and much more and I think overall there are too many themes covered and it makes the story murky. I also found that certain elements of the story were highly predictable and that made it rather dull to read at times.

Overall, I felt no sympathy for the characters especially Frannie and some of them really got on my nerves, mainly Madame. I felt no real love for the story and will not be reading it again. Most people I am sure will enjoy this book but sadly it was just not my cup of tea. I have given this book 2 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase links

Waterstones

Amazon

Kindle

Book Depository

 

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Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge

Hello my fellow Book Dragons!

I have a confession to make.

I have never done a reading challenge before, other than setting myself a certain number of books to read every year on Goodreads. So this year I have decided to give this a go as I have a very long flight coming up in the summer to go on my holibobs and sadly come home back to work. Will also probably be doing quite a bit of reading whilst on holiday as we have a beach right next to our hotel.

There are two challenges, the beginner one and the expert level one. I will be sticking with the beginner one as it is my first challenge and do not want to set myself up for a fall.

The Beginner Challenge has the following prompts:-

  •  Good as gold: Read a book that won a Goodreads Choice Award.
  •  The book is better: Read a book being adapted for TV or film this year.
  •  Short & sweet: Read a book with less than 100 pages (or a book you can finish in one sitting).
  •  On the bandwagon: Read one of the “most read” books right now on Goodreads.
  •  Actually want to read: Read a book that’s been on your Want to Read shelf for more than a year.
  •  Not from around here: Read a book set in a different culture from your own.
  •  In the friend zone: Read a book that a friend has recommended.
  •  It takes two: Read a coauthored book.
  •  Wheel of format: Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read in (a graphic novel, poetry, a play,
    an audiobook, etc.).
  •  New voices: Read a debut novel.
  •  Past love: Reread a book you loved when you were younger.
  •  Armchair traveler: Read a book set in a destination you want to visit.

I must admit I am excited to start the challenge and also rather nervous, I really want to complete the challenge and not let myself down. The first day of summer is Friday 21st June but I am not entirely sure I can wait that long to start but I will try, I will plan my books to read on the run up. I think I will most likely do most of this challenge whilst on holiday, the question is do I do the challenge in order?

I would love to hear about the reading challenges my fellow book dragons have completed or attempted, please let me know. Also any advice would be most welcome on my challenge.

I will keep you posted.

Happy Reading and have a glorious bank holiday weekend.

Down the TBR Hole #5

Back again!

I hope you have all had a good weekend, full of books and relaxation.

Down the TBR Hole was the brain child of Lost In A Story. The idea is to reduce the length of your Goodreads TBR.

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads want to read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added
  • Take the first 5 or 10 books.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go

The TBR is currently at 486, lets see if we can get that to shrink a little.

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot

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Taking place in the years leading up to the First Reform Bill of 1832, Middlemarch explores nearly every subject of concern to modern life: art, religion, science, politics, self, society, human relationships. Among her characters are some of the most remarkable portraits in English literature: Dorothea Brooke, the heroine, idealistic but naive; Rosamond Vincy, beautiful and egoistic: Edward Casaubon, the dry-as-dust scholar: Tertius Lydgate, the brilliant but morally-flawed physician: the passionate artist Will Ladislaw: and Fred Vincey and Mary Garth, childhood sweethearts whose charming courtship is one of the many humorous elements in the novel’s rich comic vein.

 

I tried to read this book many years ago and to be honest I gave up. However, I do plan on giving this book another go as I now have a better copy as the copy I tried to read previously had extremely small print.

KEEP

 

2. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

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This is Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, a widely acclaimed work based on the actual murder, in 1831, of a progressive mill owner. It follows Mary Barton, daughter of a man implicated in the murder, through her adolescence, when she suffers the advances of the mill owner, and later through
love and marriage. Set in Manchester, between 1837-42, it paints a powerful and moving picture of working-class life in Victorian England.

 

 

 

 

Another book I own and ashamed to say I have not read yet. I will keep this book on the list, I have been a bit lax recently on reading the classics so I will put this on my classic list to get reading.

KEEP

 

3. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

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Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books–but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

I remember seeing the film of this in the cinema and thinking I must read this book so it went straight on the list. However, I am no closer to reading it and to be honest feel like I might have out grown the story so I will take this one-off the list.

GO

 

4. The Warden by Anthony Trollope

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The Warden centers on Mr. Harding, a clergyman of great personal integrity who is nevertheless in possession of an income from a charity far in excess of the sum devoted to the purposes of the foundation. On discovering this, young John Bold turns his reforming zeal to exposing what he regards as an abuse of privilege, despite the fact that he is in love with Mr. Harding’s daughter Eleanor. It was a highly topical novel (a case regarding the misapplication of church funds was the scandalous subject of contemporary debate), but like other great Victorian novelists, Trollope uses the specific case to explore and illuminate the universal complexities of human motivation and social morality

 

I’m not entirely sure why I chose this book by Trollope as he wrote so many, there are a lot to choose from. I do not actually own this book so I think I will also remove it off the list.

GO

 

5. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

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George Eliot’s final novel and her most ambitious work, Daniel Deronda contrasts the moral laxity of the British aristocracy with the dedicated fervor of Jewish nationalists. Crushed by a loveless marriage to the cruel and arrogant Grandcourt, Gwendolen Harleth seeks salvation in the deeply spiritual and altruistic Daniel Deronda. But Deronda, profoundly affected by the discovery of his Jewish ancestry, is ultimately too committed to his own cultural awakening to save Gwendolen from despair.

 

 

 

 

I love the sound of this book so it definitely stays on the list and I will be buying a copy soon. Very excited to read this book.

KEEP

 

Only two books to leave the list this week but that has got the total down to 484. Slowly but surely it is shrinking.

I would love to hear if anybody has read any of these books, or if you are also doing the same book tag. Please feel free to drop me a comment.

Lady Book Dragon.

Another New Bookmark

Today was my day off and we went out for the day at Harvington Hall.

We haven’t been to Harvington Hall in a few years so it was nice to visit it again and on such a beautiful day. Harvington Hall is a moated manor with the largest surviving series of priest hides in the country and a rare collection of original Elizabethan wall paintings. Many of the priest hides were designed by Saint Nicholas Owen who was a Jesuit lay brother during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and James I, he was eventually captured and tortured to death in the Tower of London. He was canonised by the Catholic church in 1970.

My favourite part of the house is the chapel. I love the wall paintings in there and found it interesting that it was a symbol closely associated with Catherine of Aragon. This currently links in really well with the book I am reading about Henry VIII and his wives.

After going around the hall and garden and having a lovely lunch we went into the gift shop and I found a very cute bookmark of a wooden donkey.

I just couldn’t resist and had to buy it. I am also quite worried that I am getting a slight bookmark addiction as this is the second bookmark this month! But if they are cute who is complaining?

So here are a few snaps of the Hall and of the cute bookmark. I finished the day by having a nice read in my reading den. The perfect day!

 

p.s we also met a very nice cat!

Lady Book Dragon.

New favourite reading room

My new favourite room, as you can probably see is the conservatory. We moved into our house in 2017 and have since pretty much ignored the conservatory. Anyway a few weeks ago we got some furniture and since then I have thoroughly enjoyed curling up on one of the sofas and having a good read.

The lack of a TV in there has been a big help as it is so easy to switch the TV on and reading goes to the wayside. The main appeal is that the furniture is very comfortable and when it is a nice day it is really enjoyable having so much light.

The only problem at the moment is that due to being extremely tired I read a few pages and then go to the land of nod for a while or two hours like earlier. However, I am hoping once I catch up on sleep I will get some serious reading done in this room.

Anyway that is my new reading space, may many a happy book be discovered there.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Lady Book Dragon

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Down the TBR Hole #2

Down the TBR Hole was the brain child of Lost In A Story. The idea is to reduce the length of your Goodreads TBR.

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads want to read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added
  • Take the first 5 or 10 books.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

Another week to reduce my TBR pile. If I also own the book I remove from the list I am also getting rid of the book either to family and friends or charity.

 

1. The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

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Spies, poison, and curses surround her…

Is there anyone she can trust?

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters, Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker’s daughter will achieve her father’s greatest ambition.

This will remain on the list because I love Philippa Gregory’s books, seeing it has prompted me to get reading the series.

KEEP

 

2. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

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A young woman caught in the rivalry between Queen Mary and her half sister, Elizabeth, must find her true destiny amid treason, poisonous rivalries, loss of faith, and unrequited love.

It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of “Sight,” the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward’s protector, who brings her to court as a “holy fool” for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires.

Teeming with vibrant period detail and peopled by characters seamlessly woven into the sweeping tapestry of history, The Queen’s Fool is another rich and emotionally resonant gem from this wonderful storyteller.

In 2013 when these books were added I obviously had a theme going. Another Gregory book that will stay on the list.

KEEP

 

3. The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

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The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

I have this book sat upstairs I actually moved it from downstairs yesterday. Another must read! Oh to have more reading time.

KEEP

 

4. Tuck by Stephen R. Lawhead

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“Pray God our aim is true and each arrow finds its mark.”

King Raven has brought hope to the oppressed people of Wales–and fear to their Norman overlords. Deceived by the self-serving King William and hunted by the treacherous Abbot Hugo and Sheriff de Glanville, Rhi Bran is forced again to take matters into his own hands as King Raven.

Along the way Friar Tuck has been the stalwart supporter of the man behind the legend–bringing Rhi Bran much-needed guidance, wit, and faithful companionship.

Aided by Tuck and his small but determined band of forest-dwelling outlaws, Rhi Bran ignites a rebellion that spreads through the Welsh valleys, forcing the wily monarch to marshal his army and march against little Elfael.

This epic trilogy dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood as Stephen R. Lawhead conjures an ancient past while holding a mirror to contemporary realities. Filled with unforgettable characters, breathtaking suspense, and rousing battle scenes, Stephen R. Lawhead’s masterful retelling of the Robin Hood legend reaches its stunning conclusion in “Tuck.”

I bought the first one in this series at the Greenbelt Festival years ago and I remember readiing it and instantly wanting to read the next ones and so I put them on my TBR pile, being a poor student at the time I couldn’t buy them straight away. However I clearly did nothing about it. To read the next ones in the series I feel I would have to read the first one again and to be honest it is rather long and I don’t think I have the energy so I think I will remove this one from the list.

GO

 

5. Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead

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After losing everything he owns, forester Will Scarlet embarks on a search for none other than King Raven, whose exploits have already become legendary. After fulfilling his quest–and proving himself a skilled and loyal companion–Will joins the heroic archer and his men.

Now, however, Will is in prison for a crime he did not commit. His sentence is death by hanging–unless he delivers King Raven and his band of cohorts.

That, of course, he will never do.

Wales is slowly falling under the control of the invading Normans, and King William the Red has given his ruthless barons control of the land. In desperation, the people turn to King Raven and his men for justice and survival in the face of the ever-growing onslaught.

From deep in the forest they form a daring plan for deliverance, knowing that failure means death for them all.

Scarlet continues Stephen R. Lawhead’s riveting saga that began with the novel Hood, which relocated the legend of Robin Hood to the Welsh countryside and its dark forests. Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, Lawhead’s trilogy conjures up an ancient past and holds a mirror to contemporary realities. Prepare for an epic tale that dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood.

For the same reasons as Tuck this book will also be leaving the TBR list.

GO

 

Another 5 books assessed and 2 have been removed. The list has now reduced to 496! This may take a while, I hope the next week to tackle ten books, but today has been too long a day.

Lady Book Dragon.