Top Ten Tuesday . Books That Surprised Me

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish. But now lives over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you can check out her post here.

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Books that surprised me is this week’s prompt and I can’t think of many books that surprised me in a bad way so I’m going to talk about books that I was surprised by in a good way.

1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

So this is a book that I have never ever mentioned on my blog (insert eye roll here) but I discovered last year that I had read a smaller number of quality books than I had realised and this was one of the books that made me realise that fact. So I have never really been into ‘adult’ classics. I grew up reading the free children’s classics on my Kindle and the classics that I was given as gifts and loving them but my only experience of ‘classics’ until last year was a failed attempt at reading A Tale of Two Cities (to be honest I didn’t get past the first page). The middle was incredibly slow, but this was one of those books that I just struggled to put down.

2. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I started reading an Agatha Christie book once, wasn’t engaged and so I put it away. But then I had two friends who both raved about Murder on the Orient Express and I loved it (My previous blog posts might have given that away . . .). This book and the subsequent Agatha Christie’s that I have read have definitely surprised me because of how much I enjoyed them.

3. Facing the Flame by Jackie French

This book was sooo good. Whilst the last few books in the Matilda Saga have been good, this one was outstanding and definitely in my top three of this series. I loved seeing the connection that all the characters felt to the land and how they shaped and were shaped by the land.

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The writing is good and it might actually have been the first adult fiction book that I have ever read. It is on my re-read TBR and I’m hoping that I’ll get to it before the end of the year.

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It took me four reads to appreciate this book (and I only read it that many times because I was studying it . . .). But the language in this book is beautiful. The book itself is still really depressing, but I do appreciate the writing.

6. Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I never really understood or liked poetry until I read her poems and they are gorgeous. I read them over Valentine’s Day (because you know, love poetry) and was just struck by her skill and narrative ability under the constraints of structure that a sonnet has.

7. Comparing To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

So apparently Go Set a Watchman was the draft and To Kill a Mockingbird the finished product but the only similarities between the two are the characters and their themes of racism. I can’t quite decide which one is more effective and I want to re-read them both together before I make any kind of judgement, but both books make me stop and think about racism and its impacts and break my heart over history.

8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

So this is one of the few cases where I saw the movie before the book (in my defence I didn’t know of the book when I was watching the movie) but I was struck by how close they are to each other. Normally when books are adapted into movies they wind up being quote different creations but this one was pleasingly quite close to the book. (I mean they didn’t include a giant hunting maze but I guess you can’t have everything).

9. Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner

So I had started The Sultan’s Eyes but thought I was missing something and discovered that there was a previous book in the series. I wasn’t too keen on the writing of it, but I am one of those people who after borrowing a book will read it (unless the library is about to start charging me overdue library fees) so I thought, ‘it’s just two books, I’ll survive’. But the writing in Act of Faith was gorgeous and I do not regret picking it up. If you are interested in Europe, historical fiction, books or being an educated female in a world of men go read it.

10. Authors who write non-fluffy contemporary (think Sophia Bennett and Fleur Ferris)

So contemporary YA is my second favourite genre, but as a general rule of thumb I hate romance. Whilst both these authors have used relationships within their works, what I was left with was not how much I hated that love triangle but how slavery still exists (The Castle by Sophia Bennett) and the dangers of social media and the internet (You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett and Risk by Fleur Ferris). Whilst a lot of my reading is for my entertainment, I do want a little bit of brain engagement and thought-provokingness in it.

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Top Ten Tuesday . Favourite Book Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish. But now lives over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you can check out her post here.

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So this post comes to you courtesy of Evernote because I am in a rush. It has dozens of quotes from the past two years although I have a ton written down elsewhere.

1. Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

“But somehow or other, the posts had a way of making death both awful and beautiful.”

It’s so true, but I guess you need some kind of maturity and awareness to notice the beauty and truth in this line.

2. A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French

“‘Forget about green,’ he said suddenly.

She stared at him. ‘What?’

. . . ‘It don’t have to be green to be beautiful.'”

Jackie French always makes me appreciate Australia more and want to learn more about it and the land I walk over every day.

3. Invisible by Cecily Anne Paterson

“You have this thing called a life. It’s only you that gets to live it and you only get to do it one time.”

This whole book is full of quotes and inspiring words. It’s worth your while to read.

 

4. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

“History is that which is agreed by mutual consent.”

I love history but I keep this quote around to remind me that all is not as it seems. And that to some extent ‘truth’ isn’t always true.

5. Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner

“Dear Reader,

“This book you hold is a treasure of sorts, as is every book I have ever known.

“I have made it for you – especially for you – for reasons you will understand as my words unfurl before your eyes.

“Turn these pages tenderly.

“You hold my life in your hands.”

Books are treasure and I forget that all too easily. This book was beautifully written and I want to re-read it again. It is all about the power of words and writing.

6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë

“But, if we may never meet, and never hope to meet again, is it a crime to exchange our thoughts by letter? May not kindred spirits meet, and mingle in communion whatever be the fate and circumstances of their earthly tenements?”

Loved this idea of writing letters. I am part of the generation that grew up on stories of pen pals but never got the pleasure of actually having them.

7. In the Shadow of the Banyan – Vaddey Ratner

“When I thought you couldn’t walk, I wanted to make sure you could fly. … I told you stories to give you wings, Raami, so that you would never be trapped by anything – your name, your title, the limits of your body, this world’s suffering.”

I loved this because it recognises the power of stories. This whole book was just beautiful as well if you have never read it.

8. The Portrait by Ian Pears

“To get what you want – exactly the effect you have in your mind and no other – you have to have mastery, otherwise you are like a man trying to speak English with only a limited vocabulary.”

I liked this because it reminded me that words have a purpose so I need to use them in my writing.

9. All That I Am by Anna Funder

“I am a vessel of memory in a world of forgetting.”

This is almost poetry and it is something that someone said once. And I like this idea that the world is forgetting whilst you are trying to remember.

 

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”

It’s true and this was a great book. And I never really realised how much bad literature there is around until last year (having said that I do have occasional cravings for it and that is fine too).

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday . Books I Could Re-read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish. But now lives over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you can check out her post here.

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I think that this is possibly one of the easiest prompts that there has been and the hardest thing I had to do was to only pick ten (and hence there are a whole lot of series below).

1. Anything by Enid Blyton

This author is the reason why I read so much today. I fell in love with reading through her books (I mean maybe there were a few other factors in play but she gets the credit) and that is why I love re-reading her stuff. I haven’t seriously sat down to re-read her books for a while but her books are definitely not going to be unhauled from my shelf any time soon.

2. Anne of Green Gables (the series) by L. M. Montgomery

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you might have seen that I’ve been re-reading the entire Anne of Green Gables collection and loving catching up with old friends. This is something I used to do every year but haven’t for a while but these have stood the test and are books I have and will continue to read over and over again.

3. Anything Biggles by Captain W. E. Johns

I first met Biggles through my Dad’s old hardcover short story collections and loved the action in them. These are perhaps the only male war stories I ever really liked and I am still trying to collect the entire of this series.

4. The Matilda Saga by Jackie French

I think the Matilda Saga is the reason why I fell in love with Australian history and Jackie French the reason why I love historical fiction. I’m reading the latest book (Facing the Flame) at the moment because Jackie French is the only author who I’d put on par with L. M. Montgomery.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I want to curl up with this book this winter by a fire and re-read it, for the first time in paperback. Listening to it in audio made me appreciate Zusak’s skill and if I find a worn out second-hand copy I might even feel the need to annotate my books again.

6. Wonder by R. J. Palacio

This book is one I have raved about before and is one I think is worth the investment of time for reading and re-reading all over again. You will pick up more each time and be struck with empathy every single time.

7. Invisible trilogy by Cecily Anne Paterson

I’m yet to actually read all three together but these books have a habit of being exactly what I need to hear at the time I am reading them.

8. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

I’ve re-read the second but not the first and if you were here a few weeks ago you might have seen this on my list of books I loved but don’t remember. But the one thing I do remember was how easy it can be to twist someone from good into evil and the tragedy which results and that is why I will forever re-read these two.

 

9. A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

I have only deliberately re-read a handful of books within a month of between the two readings and this was one of them. I’m hoping to re-read it again this year but the story was incredibly powerful and raised questions about the cost of human life.

 

 

 

10. Anything by Agatha Christie

Given enough time between readings to forget who actually committed the murders, Agatha Christie would be brilliant to read over and over again and to be struck each time at her genius.

 

The Saturday Stack . 14

Welcome to my blog and the Saturday Stack. Here I give you an update on my reading life.

BOOKS I’VE ACQUIRED

Nothing, I haven’t seen anything I want to read. And have been avoiding libraries.

BOOKS I’M READING

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

I’m currently in the middle of this and I’ve enjoyed seeing Anne again. She is currently my favourite character.

BOOKS I’VE FINISHED

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
It had a little bit of that timeless air that classics have but definitely was not an Anne style of writing. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.

I did love having Anne’s childhood expanded though.

My Rating  💭/2 engagement  💭/2 enjoyment

Overall Rating  3.5/5 stars

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

So this week has been a week of books based on other books. I love World War I fiction but it’s strange to think of that characters of my childhood were old enough to have fought in the Great War.

I think this book departs far enough from Edith Nesbit’s classic to be original but remains close enough to be recognisable. Would definitely re-read again after I’ve re-read the original (and the sequels because apparently they exist . . .).

My Rating  💭/2 originality  💭engagement  💭/2 enjoyment

Overall Rating  4/5 stars

BOOKS ON MY TBR

Continuing the Anne of Green Gables series although I start Pride and Prejudice on Tuesday for the #austen18 challenge. So back to reading two books at once (despite how I dislike doing it unless one is an audio).

Top Ten Tuesday . Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish. But now lives over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you can check out her post here.

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Very rarely will I DNF books (I think that there are literally about five books which I have DNFed) so a book is not good if I’ve finished it, only if I’d re-read it. So this week’s prompt Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading can’t be about those books. So today’s post is going to have two different categories.

Reasons Why I Will DNF (Please bear in mind that these are my personal preferences and don’t hate me for them.)

1. Sex

If I wanted to read about it there are plenty of other places I could look. It’s just not helpful for me.

2. Swearing

This is personal preference but I think swearing is rather unnecessary and am surrounded by heaps of people who basically don’t ever swear. So if people can get through life without swearing, is it really too hard for authors to avoid it?

3. Stopped

I really don’t like doing this, but sometimes I am just not getting anywhere with a book so I put it down fully intending to come back to it again but I um just never get round to it again (and please stop staring at me I’ll get back to you, I promise).

 

Reasons Why I Won’t Pick Up a Book in the First Place

4. It’s Fantasy

I’ve tried, and I do get into the occasional fantasy which is about people with wings but if you told me ‘I love fantasy, here go read my favourite book’, my gut instinct is to go *nervous laugh* ‘sorry, I don’t read fantasy’.

5. It’s Sci-fi

Yes I’ve read the Illuminae files and they did get pretty high ratings, but I wouldn’t re-read them. I had no idea that they were sci-fi and read them because I liked the idea of a book told by files rather than stories but they reminded me that sci-fi is so not my thing.

6. The Author

Last year I was given a book to read that sat on my shelf for ages. But before I got round to reading it I discovered that it was by an author who I had read years ago and did not enjoy their book. This meant that I really did not want to read it, but pushed through because it was historical fiction.

7. The Thickness

You’d laugh if you saw the number of big books on my TBR but it’s not my fault, I reserved them online only to discover too late how big they really were. It’s a time thing. I feel as though I have less time than ever to read books. And I like the satisfaction that comes when you finish five books in a week which is just not possible if they are the size of Kosciuszko (I would have said Everest, but that’s the size of my TBR). I hate DNFing so if I’m committing my time into a book it had better be worth it or be over incredibly quickly.

8. The Cover

I borrow books from libraries, so the spine has to grab my attention.  Although it shouldn’t be this way, it can’t be denied that everyone judges books by their covers. And when there are hundreds of books out there competing for my attention, you had better believe that the one with the most intriguing title or most beautiful cover is the one I’m going to be taking home with me.

9. The Blurb

My TBR is huge, I’m more selective than ever. If the blurb doesn’t make me go ‘ahh could I possibly rearrange my reading schedule to read this tonight?’ it will go back on the shelf. If it’s lucky, it might make it on to Goodreads but if not I won’t be devastated.

10. I’m Over It

There’s only so many books about teen lovers separated by their families that I can bear to read. I know who it is going to end, I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, so if you are taking a classic trope, I’d better have heard that there was a twist not that the ending was predictable by the copyright information page.

 

I’ve never realised how judgemental I am when it comes to books, but maybe I should keep this in mind next time I’m browsing books.

The Saturday Stack . 12

Welcome to my blog and the Saturday Stack. Here I give you an update on my reading life.

BOOKS I’VE ACQUIRED

From Libraries:

Facing the Flame by Jackie French  This is my favourite series but I’m not buying this until I can get a matching set with the rest of my series.

Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz  I discovered that there was an eleventh book in the Alex Rider series so I’ll read it next month.

BOOKS I’M READING

Nothing for one week of my life. Although I am starting Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson sometime today.

BOOKS I’VE FINISHED

Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I read a few of these last year but I wanted to read the rest and see them in context (and they two much more of a story in context). I broke my habit of never annotating books and want to re-read them soon Ave annotate some more.

The forty-four sonnets which make up Sonnets from the Portuguese seem to tell the story of Elizabeth Barrett falling in love with Robert Browning and I’d love to read more of their story and their letters between each other one day soon.

I love poetry that tells stories and when poetry is limited by its structure, I become so much more in awe of the poet’s ability to create meaning in so few words.

My Rating  💭/2purpose  💭/2originality  💭engagement  💭writing skill  💭/2enjoyment

Overall Rating  4.5/5 stars

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (narrated by Freddie Jones)

I mentioned last week that I loved this narrator and I need to find out what other audiobooks he had narrated. I enjoyed seeing Sherlock and John as old bachelors and loved how both are intelligent.
I did feel like I missed part of Sherlock’s reasoning but I think that was just my multitasking.

At the moment I’d pick Poirot’s brain over Sherlock’s but I do want to re-read/re-listen to all of Sherlock’s books before I make that judgement.

My Rating  💭originality  💭/2engagement  💭/2enjoyment

Overall Rating  3.75/5 stars


Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I’ll stand by my judgement that the first and third third of classics are the best. The middle is invariably slow but the edges are where I can’t put it down. Our maybe I just need a few more years to appreciate them.

I loved Elinor (because she was like me) and Marianne’s love of books and Colonel Brandon is currently my Mr Darcy of all Austen books (aside from the age gap).

My Rating  💭/2 engagement  

Overall Rating  3.75/5 stars

BOOKS ON MY TBR

I’ve given myself one week to re-read the entire Anne of Green Gables series. So basically no pressure right? (I mean it’s possible if I do nothing else . . .)

Top Ten Tuesday  . Love Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish. But now lives over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you can check out her post here.

I am not generally a shipper. I don’t match up characters together unless the author explicitly spells it out. However I do have a whole lot of OTPs because of the way they’ve treated each other and they’re the people who I’ll be sharing with you today. (By the way there are a whole lot of spoilers so here are the books I’m referring to and if you want to read them, maybe skip this week’s post.)

Elsie Dinsmore by Martha Finley

Anne of Green Gables (basically the entire series) by L. M. Montgomery

The Roman Mysteries (most of the series) by Caroline Lawrence

A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

To Love a Sunburnt Country by Jackie French

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte


1. Horace Dinsmore and Rose Allison
This was an early one. I just loved the whole idea of a half-orphan whose father married her favourite person in the world. I loved how unsure Horace was and how much he cared that Elsie (his daughter) and Rose would both be happy from his decision to remarry.

2. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe

Okay pulling a girl’s hair is no way to get her attention and unlike Diana I didn’t ship them from then. When I first began to ship them as friends was the afternoon they spent talking in the snow. I never forced them together but I was incredibly excited when they finally admitted their love for each other.

3. Miss Lavendar and Stephen Irving

Childhood sweethearts who end up together eventually? Sign me up. Miss Lavendar might have a lot I’d trouble remembering names but I’m glad she remembered how to love.

4. Owen Ford and Leslie West

Initially I was on Miss Cornelia’s side, Owen Ford should have left Leslie Moore well alone. But there was something in the race of Joseph that connected both of them and so I had no complaints that the two eventually wed.

5. Rilla Blythe and Kenneth Ford

It  was only by re-reading this last year that I realised how much I love how Ken and Rilla’s relationship because it is just so adorable. And to be honest I would have cried more than Rilla did if Ken had died.

6. Flavia Gemina and Gaius Valerius Flaccus

No I did not agree with them at first. They were both too stuck up for them to have worked well with anyone. But in the final book where Floppy sacrifices everything to go in to exile with Flavia, that’s when I finally boarded the ship to Britain.

7. Matilda O’Halloran and Tommy Thompson

Yes they were best friends and yes for once I did see this relationship coming. But Matilda was right, they both needed time to figure out who they were as individuals before they were married. So did not mind them waiting at all (and it really wasn’t that long when you put the chronology in).

8. Liesel Meminger and Rudy Steiner

I only paired these two up on my second read through. It wouldn’t have worked for another five years but we can’t have everything I suppose so I’m left crying in a corner.

9. Nancy Clancy and Michael Thompson

Maybe as I’ve got older I ship people more because I shipped this couple as soon as they met.  Or maybe it was because it was a war romance so there wasn’t actually that much romance (which is what turns me off) and it was just about two people who you wanted to survive the war so they could spend their lives together.

10. Helen Graham and Gilbert Markham

They were perfect for each other. And I loved how Gilbert respected Helen’s boundaries when she told him ‘no’. I loved how he recognised his fallacies and wasn’t pompus. Would definitely re-read this book just for their relationship.