Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Let's talk about: Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

"Christ Church, Oxford is the location of this tale of the Leigh family, set in the days of Queen Elizabeth I.
In her notes about the origin of the book Elizabeth Goudge writes: "It is impossible to live in an old city and not ask oneself continually, what was it like in ages gone by? Who were the men, women and children who lived in my home centuries ago, and what were their thoughts and actions as they lived out their lives day by day in the place where I now live mine?" (Goodreads)

I picked up this book at the beginning of the year after hearing about it on YouTube.
I planned on reading it before our trip as I knew that it contained history of Oxford.
But I never got the chance to read it before we went. I took advantage of the read-a-thon week to spend a couple of days devouring it.
And I did devour it.
I LOVED this book.

 "The first gray of dawn stole mysteriously into a dark world, so gradually that it did not seem as though day banished night, it seemed rather that night itself was slowly transfigured into something fresh and new. 
So shall I be changed, whispered a dirty, ragged boy who lay on a pile of dried bracken, two books beneath his head for a pillow, within a gypsy tent, and he sat up and grinned broadly at the queer gray twilight that stood like a friend in the narrow doorway." (first paragraph of the book)

This is the first book I have ever read by Elizabeth Goudge and I am now going to search my library for anything and everything by her. She writes beautifully and weaves the history of Oxford into the life of one particular family and those that surround them so well.
I love the characters although I feel like Oxford is the main character... if that makes sense.
We basically get a look through a window to the past of Oxford and how it came to be, how those who lived there in the 1500's lived, and how they interacted.
She also includes real life figures into the story such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Philip Sidney, and Queen Elizabeth the first.

There were times in this book when I had to re-read a sentence because I loved it so much... like when she was describing the ugly cuteness of one of the characters:

" The Creator, when He thought good to take Faithful out of eternity and cast him upon the earth, had taken him out of the same box as the baby donkeys and the penguins..."

While this book was the longest of the read-a-thon I loved every minute of it and almost wished it was longer.
I think my love of Oxford also helped to nurture my feelings for the book as it was set at Christ Church which was one of the places we explored. As it talked about the history there and about the buildings I could picture it and knew exactly what she was talking about. I loved that. I also loved learning things about Oxford that I didn't know before reading it.
I really can't say enough about this book.
I loved it.

"It is the dreams that are died for that live."

I highly recommend this book to anyone.

Read-a-Thon Wrap Up!

I loved doing the Scones and Crackers read-a-thon last week. I hope that any of you that joined in enjoyed it as well. 
I plan on trying to do another one around the beginning of 2017. 
So keep that in mind and I will announce that sometime in December or January. 

I was able to get a lot of reading done last week! I picked quite a few shorter books that only took a couple hours to read so I was able to get done even more than I thought I could. 

I will briefly share what I read but I will go into more detail about each book in individual reviews to come! I will link each one to the reviews as they are posted.

I was able to mark off each of the challenges: 

1) A book by one of your favorite British authors: 


For this one I read Stancliffe's Hotel by Charlotte Bronte. 
2) A non-fiction book:

For my non-fiction category I read C. S. Lewis' autobiography, Surprised by Joy.
3) A book of poetry: 

I read The Golden Store, an illustrated selection of poetry by William Wordsworth. 

4) A play:

I read Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. 
5) A book that takes place in your favorite British location: 
 Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge takes place in Oxford which was one of my very favorite places we visited in England. 
6) Extras:  
I still had a couple of days left and so I was able to read two more books. 
First I read Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher. It was a bit longer but it was a really easy read so only took a couple of days. 

I had one more C.S. Lewis book and another Jane Austen book that I was hoping to get to but we ended up having a really busy weekend where I didn't get very much reading done. 
I had a little time on Saturday and Sunday so I grabbed Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen adapted into a graphic novel by Nancy Butler and Sunny Liew. 
Because it as a graphic novel it only took a couple of hours. 

Overall it was a great reading week. There weren't any that I hated and only two that I didn't love. 
More to come!

What did you read?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Read-a-thon TBR

It's time!
Next week is my Read-a-thon. 
For a reminder, what do I do during the British Read-a-thon?
I read books that are written by or about British people or have British locations. 
It can be pretty much anything. 
This year I want to add some more fun to it in the way of challenges. 
You can choose to do one, none, or all of them!
I am setting five challenges for the books. 


                                                1) A book by your favorite British author
                                                2) A non fiction book
                                                3) A play
                                                4) A book of Poetry
                                                5) A book that takes place in your favorite British location. 

That's it!
I am setting myself an extra goal of reading 7 books because that is how many books I was able to read during my first experience doing Ariel Bisset's booktubeathon this summer. I have a few very short books that shouldn't take long to read so I am hoping to reach that goal or even more!

I will also be doing a photo challenge on Instagram every day. 
I will post my picture every morning with the theme and if you are on Instagram and want to participate you can use the hashtags I will include so we can all see the pictures! 
It should be really fun!

I will wait to tell you which book I am reading for which challenge and why until my Read-a-thon recap but I will share the picture of my To Be Read list: 

There it is! My seven books I hope to read next week! 
Let me know in the comments if you plan on reading along and if you want to- share your TBR pile on Instagram, the comments here, or your own blog!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Let's talk about: On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

"A love story like no other, this is the debut novel from Carrie Hope Fletcher, author of the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller All I Know Now.

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It's the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she's become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won't open.

Evie's soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it's too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . .
" (Goodreads)

I pre-ordered this book through Book Depository months ago so that I wouldn't have to wait for it to be released in the United States. 
As I have mentioned before, Carrie Hope Fletcher is one of my favorite YouTubers. She is adorable, talented, and seems like a very nice person. I read her non fiction book for teenagers, All I Know Now, last year and enjoyed it. You can read all of my thoughts on it here.
I wasn't sure what to expect from her debut fiction novel. 
First of all, the book is beautiful. The dust jacket is beautiful and the hard cover underneath it is just as pretty. I love a pretty book. 
I gave it four stars on Goodreads but really it was more of a 3.5 star review for me (when are they going to start having half stars!?) and there were moments in the book that would have only been three stars. But there were also four star (and more) moments for me as I found it to be very unique and engaging. I thought about it when I wasn't reading and I really enjoyed the story. 
It is strong on the magical realism which I didn't realize going in so that caught me off guard at first and there were times when I had a hard time with staying engaged through the "magical" elements. 
I compared it to Alice in Wonderland meets Somewhere in Time mainly because there were times when reading Alice that I asked myself, "What the?" and I did the same with this book. And there were things that reminded me of Somewhere in Time that I won't go into because... spoilers. 
If you are looking for diversity/ representation in a book this is a good one to go to. There are three characters that are LGBTQ+ (one bisexual, one pansexual, and one gay). 
I think that, just like her first book, this story will really appeal to her teenage and early twenties audience but it really is for all ages.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I think that Carrie is a strong writer and I think she will only improve over time. 
3.5 stars ***