Are you Classically Challenged?

Are you someone who reads a lot of classic novels?  Or someone who hated them at school and still can’t face a 19th century novel?  Or are you somewhere in the middle?  Maybe you’ve tried a few classics in the past and you’d quite like to read more, but you just never seem to get round to prioritising them over more modern literature?  Perhaps the thought of struggling through difficult language puts you off!

Wherever you fit in on the classics scale, you might be interested to know about a read-along which has been started up by Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads and AJ of AJ Reads called Classically Challenged!   More

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Book Review: Shakespeare’s Restless World by Neil MacGregor

Shakespeare's Restless World by Neil MacGregorShakespeare’s Restless World provides an insight into Shakespeare and the world in which he lived through the exploration of his plays.  Neil MacGregor, the writer, is Director of the British Museum and has put together this book following the success of BBC Radio 4’s A History of the World in 100 Objects series and his best-selling book of the same name.

I found this to be an extremely accessible and very enjoyable discovery of the Elizabethan and early Stuart age of Shakespeare and his theatre-going audience.  MacGregor shows us objects dating back to this period – objects which would have been instantly recognisable to the people of the time – and uses each one to expand on a particular theme.

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Two nights at Gwydir Castle

I’m aware that I’ve not been blogging as frequently as usual… apologies but I’ve been doing a lot of reading rather than writing!  It’s lovely to indulge in a reading frenzy now and again.  I’ve got lots of books to catch up on and review for you, so watch this space…

The other explanation for being out of action is my recent visit to North Wales’s Gwydir Castle: the setting for the rather wonderful Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett, which I reviewed a few months ago. More

Book review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerShould I start by telling you that I loved this book?  That I hated myself for racing through it to the finish but that I couldn’t stop myself reading page after page?  That it might just be my new favourite novel of the year (and I’ve read a lot of good books this year)?  Is that setting it up for a fall?

I know how annoying it can be to hear someone raving about a book, but seriously, what’s not to love about poetic writing, a passionate race of people, gods interfering with mortal affairs, and riddling prophecies?

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Book Review: The Absolutist by John Boyne vs Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

The Absolutist by John BoyneToday I’m starting my review by presenting The Absolutist to you in the exact same way I was introduced to it.  Right on the front cover is the announcement: “If you loved Birdsong, you’ll love this”.

Now, I did indeed love Birdsong, which I read last year – I’d have to say that it’s one of my favourite novels – so the publishers at this point have really upped the stakes.  What they’re saying to me is that it’s not just a good book, it’s up there in ‘modern classic’ territory.

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Book Review: The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

The Ice Princess by Camilla LackbergIf you follow my blog you may have seen that I reviewed Camilla Lackberg’s The Drowning a while ago.  In the review I mentioned that I loved the book but was confused by the ending.  Some kind readers pointed out to me that actually this book is part of a series based in the same village and featuring the same main characters.  Oops.

Normally I hate the idea of starting a series part-way through and so I was initially a bit put out.  However, in this case I really enjoyed reading The Drowning on its own merits.  With hindsight I can see that there were numerous little hints scattered through the book about the characters’ past lives, which I had assumed were either there simply to add a bit of depth to a minor character (a technique which I actually liked very much) or would be revealed in full later in the book if it was important.  When a lot of these little sub-sub-plots were not revealed at the end of the book, and I was left with an enormous cliff-hanger, no wonder I was mystified.  Once I knew I was dealing with a whole series of novels, I was determined to read the lot.

Having now finished book one, The Ice Princess, I’m pretty sure I’m on to a winner.  More

Book Review: Memoirs of a British Agent by R.H. Bruce Lockhart

Memoirs of a British Agent by RH Bruce LockhartMemoirs of a British Agent became an instant international bestseller when it was published in 1932.  Robert Lockhart, the writer, was a British diplomat at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917.  He candidly reveals his thoughts and actions at this exciting and pivotal point in Russia’s history.

Okay, I’m probably making it sound like a boring history lesson.  But trust me, this is still a really good read all these years after publication.  Lockhart’s friendly, confiding tone gains your trust and makes you want to read on to discover what happened to him next.

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