Top Ten Tuesday (20)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where you can list any kind of top 10 that is related to books, authors, and reading in general.

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Well I guess this is my first and last TTT of October. I’ve been away for most of the month, but I’m back just in time for a great one, because this week’s topic is: Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit. Now we don’t traditionally celebrate Halloween the way they do in North America, but in the past few years it’s become pretty popular all around Europe, and I have to say I quite like it as well. So here are my favourite books to read and films to watch to get into that spooky Halloween spirit.

Books

  • Bram Stoker – Dracula
    I guess this one’s a bit of an obvious choice, but I just really love it and for me it’s the only vampire novel that matters. Just spooky enough to get you in the right mood.
  • Emile Brontë – Wuthering Heights
    Perhaps this one isn’t spooky in any Halloween-y kind of way, but its gothic character gives it the right kind of atmosphere in my opinion.
  • Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
    It’s not so much the atmosphere of the book in this case, but it might give you some pretty cool ideas for a costume!
  • Henry James – The Turn of the Screw
    It’s been a while since I read this, but it’s a pretty scary one so perfect for Halloween.

Halloween-Hero-1-H

Films

  • Hocus Pocus
    This is possibly my favourite Halloween film. I loved it as a child and I still love it a lot. A must-watch for Halloween.
  • Addams Family Values
    Or any of the Addams family episodes/films. Again this is something I used to love as a child and still enjoy watching.
  • Harry Potter
    Any of them, or have a marathon and watch them all. I don’t think this needs any further explanation.
  • Scary Movie
    Again, any of them. They’re silly, but a lot of fun.

Or you could of course watch a proper scary Horror film this Halloween. It’s not for me, but I know loads of people who would enjoy that.

Do you have any particular books or films to get you into the spirit of Halloween? Let me know and leave a comment down below.

 

Review: The King’s Curse (The Cousins’ War #6) by Philippa Gregory

15849910Title: The King’s Curse
Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: August 14th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd.
Pages: 610
ISBN: 0857207563

Synopsis
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. (Goodreads)

Review
It’s hard to believe that this is already the 6th and last book of the Cousins’ War series, because it doesn’t feel like all that long ago when I bought and read The White Queen, the first book in the series. And once again Gregory has delivered a stunning book. It’s a captivating read, well researched, and I love how it neatly wraps up the Cousins’ War series, as well as establishes the final connections to her Tudor Court novels. I do think that it was wise to leave it at 6 novels, because Gregory does start to get in danger of repeating herself. Each of the novels is told from a different perspective, and they span the period from the reign of Edward IV up until Henry VIII, which is a relatively long and turbulent period. Yet throughout the 6 novels there are quite a number of recurring characters, and some key events are therefore told several times but seen through the eyes of different people. Initially this was very interesting, but I did feel in this last novel that a lot of old plot lines were being rehashed, and I was frankly starting to get a bit bored of it. This bears no reflection on Gregory’s ability to write or tell a story, but it’s just that the events of the time have been discussed at great length and I think by the end of the last novel she was definitely done telling the story.

Having said this, I enjoyed reading about the period through the eyes of Margaret Pole, daughter of Isabelle Neville and George, Duke of Clarence. As the last Plantagenet and rightful heir to the throne of England, she would always be a threat to the Tudor monarchs, and was therefore married off into relative obscurity, while her brother Edward spent most of his younger years in the Tower before finally being beheaded. You follow the rise and fall of Margaret Pole, and see how her change of fortune is tied to the whims of Henry VIII and his increasing paranoia as he grows older. What is most important to Margaret is to ensure that her children are safe and are successful in life, and for a while everything seems to run relatively smoothly. But in the end her luck runs out, and her biggest fears that have haunted her all her life unfortunately come true at last.

I would definitely recommend this novel, especially to those who have been following the series since the beginning. Since it’s historical fiction you could read it as standalone as well, though I think readers would enjoy it more with some knowledge of what has gone before. I’m looking forward to see what Gregory will bring us next, and which period she will focus her writing on.

My rating: heartheartheartheart

Top Ten Tuesday (19)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where you can list any kind of top 10 that is related to books, authors, and reading in general.

TTT3W

This week’s list is: Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More. Now I’ve got quite a few of these. Either because I just haven’t had time to read any of their other books, or sometimes simply because subsequent books haven’t been published yet. Either way, I definitely want to read more by these authors soon. As usual, these are in no particular order.

  • Elizabeth Chadwick
    So far the only book by her that I’ve read is The Summer Queen, which is the first part in her Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy. The second volume, called The Winter Crown, came out a few days ago, so hopefully I’ll get to that one soon!
  • Deborah Rodriguez
    I read her book The Little Coffeeshop of Kabul over Christmas, and I absolutely adored it. I definitely want to read more from her.
  • Markus Zusak
    Like most people I’ve read and loved The Book Thief, but I’ve not read any of his other novels. I’ve heard that I Am The Messenger is quite good as well, so naturally it’s on my to-read list.
  • Sara Farizan
    I was so impressed by her novel If You Could Be Mine that I ended up using it as one of the case studies for my Master’s dissertation. I could hardly believe that it was her debut novel! So here’s to hoping she’ll publish another novel in the near future, because I would love to read more from her.
  • Laura Andersen
    Last year I read this book that I requested through Netgalley, called The Boleyn King. This novel centres around the idea of what would’ve happened if Anne Boleyn had given birth to a live son rather than a stillborn baby. Super interesting and again the first part of a trilogy, so I’m eagerly awaiting the other instalments.
  • John Green
    I’ve only read The Fault in Our Stars, and unlike many people I wasn’t very impressed. But I do really like John Green as a person, so I definitely want to give his books another go. Maybe TFiOS just wasn’t for me.
  • Stephen Fry
    It’s no secret that I’m a huge Stephen Fry fan, but so far I’ve only read one of his books. Making History was brilliant, very cleverly written, so I would love to read more of Stephen’s books. I do still have his autobiography, which I started reading some years back but still haven’t finished. Perhaps I should start that one again.
  • Orhan Pamuk
    I read My Name is Red a couple of years ago, and people are right to call it a masterpiece. It’s so well written and engaging, which is why I was so disappointed when I tried to read The Silent House and it just didn’t manage to hold my attention for more than a few pages. But I do want to read more of his works. I might give The Museum of Innocence a go next.
  • Azar Nafisi
    After reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I loved, here’s to hoping she’ll write more!
  • Dawn French
    She’s one of my favourite comedians, and her debut novel A Tiny Bit Marvellous was, for lack of a better word, marvellous. So funny, and it left me wanting more. Dawn has since published another novel, Oh Dear Silvia, which is still on my wishlist.

 

Which author(s) would you want to read more of?

Book Haul (14)

It’s been months since I last did a book haul, and even though I didn’t buy that many books over the summer, I’ve still amassed enough to show them to you now.

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Philippa Gregory – The King’s Curse
Kader Abdolah – The King
Randa Abdel-Fattah – Does My Head Look Big In This?
Alaa Al-Aswany – The Yacoubian Building
Ruby Wax – Sane New World

I’ve already finished reading The King, and a review of that will be up soon on the blog. What I can say about it right now is that it’s an absolutely beautiful novel. This is also the first of Abdolah’s books that I’ve read in translation, and the translator’s done a wonderful job because they’ve really managed to capture his unique and poetic style of writing, and in my view it works just as well in English as in the original Dutch.

I’m currently reading The King’s Curse, the last of Gregory’s Cousin’s War series of books. I’m about halfway through and, as with all her books, I’m enjoying it immensely. The events described in this book aren’t new to me, but they’re told from a different perspective which is really interesting.

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Does My Head Look Big In This is still waiting to be read, but my mum’s already finished it and she absolutely loved it. And since we’ve got a pretty similar taste in books I’ll take her word for it, so that’s one I’m definitely looking forward to reading.

I’ve heard a lot about The Yacoubian Building, but not everyone I know who’s read it has been very enthusiastic about it. So we’ll see. I’m definitely intrigued though.

And last but not least, I saw Ruby Wax’s show Sane New World as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it was just amazing. Really funny, but serious and very informative at the same time. After that I just had to have her book and read all about it, so I’m hoping to get to that soon.

So this is my latest book haul. Have you bought any new books recently?

Top Ten Tuesday (18)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where you can list any kind of top 10 that is related to books, authors, and reading in general.

TTT3W

This week’s list is Top Ten Underrated Authors or Books in X genre. So for my list I have chosen ten underrated – in my opinion – authors and books in the category of Middle Eastern fiction. As usual, they are in no particular order.

Kader Abdolah – The King

19162459

Elif Shafak – The Gaze

The-Gaze

Jenny White – The Sultan’s Seal

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Andrea Busfield – Born Under a Million Shadows

6361937

Sara Farizan – If You Could Be Mine

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Dalia Sofer – The Septembers of Shiraz

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Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya – The Storyteller of Marrakech

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Zoë Ferraris – The Night of the Mi’raj

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Frances Kazan – The Dervish

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Sulaiman Addonia – The Consequences of Love

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So this is my week’s top ten. What’s yours?

A Return to Blogging

So I said I would be on semi-hiatus because of university. That was about a year ago. And my last blogpost was well over three months ago (oops). Due to everything that was going on in my life it turned into a full-on hiatus instead, and for a while I wasn’t sure I even wanted to continue blogging at all. I spent all summer in Edinburgh writing my Master’s dissertation, which took up most of my time, and caused me to read so much that I couldn’t bring myself to read anything for pleasure. But now that I’ve been back home for nearly two weeks my entire outlook on reading and blogging has changed again, you could say it has reverted back to normal, and I’m ready to get back to blogging regularly and, most importantly, reading for fun again! In the short time that I’ve been home I’ve already finished three books, and this is only just the tip of the iceberg. 

As you can see I’ve changed the blog’s theme, and I’m ready for a fresh start! So stay tuned for new book reviews, random book ramblings, and stories of this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival!

xox Philippa

Book Haul (13)

Okay so it’s been a while since I last bought any books. I have that thing that most other book addicts have, which is OCBB (obsessive compulsive book buying), but I have been forced to resist this most of the time in the past nine months since I’ve been away at university abroad. Knowing that I will ultimately need to fly home with a maximum of two suitcases has stopped me from buying books, because I just won’t be able to take them all home with me. And also the fact that I’ve been insanely busy with hardly any time to read for fun has been an important factor in all this. It’s a bit disappointing, especially because Edinburgh has so many wonderful small bookshops and I would love to explore them all. I’ve even got this very lovely app on my iPhone which is called ‘Edinburgh Bookshop Trail’, which uses GPS to tell you the location of the nearest bookstore at all times. Pretty useful for a book geek like me. So a few days ago I went for a nice walk through the city centre of Edinburgh and decided to stop off at a secondhand bookshop that I’ve been passing on the bus for months now, but had never actually visited. It’s so crammed full of books that the council has threatened to close it down several times now, and it is absolutely wonderful. It’s just shelf upon shelf full of books, and there were so many that it actually made my head spin. I could’ve easily left with a whole pile of books, but I decided to be sensible and limit myself to just two. I’m not sure how long I was in there, but it must’ve been at least half an hour. I went back and forth looking for titles and authors that are still missing from my collection and it was so difficult to decide which ones to buy. In the end these were the ones I picked up:

 

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Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris
A View From the Bridge/All My Sons – Arthur Miller

I’m a big fan of Joanne Harris’ books and I’m slowly but surely trying to collect and read all of them, so I was really happy when I saw this one and it was only £2 so an absolute bargain. The other one contains two plays by Arthur Miller, and although I don’t actually read plays because they only really come to life when they’re performed on stage. But at the beginning of the month I went to see a production of A View From the Bridge at the Young Vic theatre in London and I was blown away by it. It was so well put together and brilliantly performed by the entire cast, but it was a lot of information to take in in just two hours with no interval. So I love buying scripts of plays that I’ve seen, so I can read back through it and relive some of the moments. This one was only £3 so again a bargain, and then on top of that I got a 20% discount so I ended up paying just £4 for both books. It’s been a few days since I bought them but I haven’t had time to read either of them yet, so I’ve got something to look forward to.

Did you buy any new books recently? Leave a comment and let me know.

Top Ten Tuesday (17)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where you can list any kind of top 10 that is related to books, authors, and reading in general.

TTT3W

The topic this week is one I really love and can definitely relate to. Book covers are very important to me, and some of them are just so breathtakingly beautiful that I wish I could decorate the walls of my bedroom with them. Which is why this week’s topic is perfect, as it is Top Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art. As usual they are listed in no particular order.

the-summer-queen-by-elizabeth-chadwick shadow-of-the-wind 17345741

2049640 DIVERGENT_B_Format_UK.indd 17832311

1618 lollipop 9780670918805 houseofmosque

Would you ever considering framing book covers and putting them on your walls? If so, which one(s)?

Top Ten Tuesday (16)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where you can list any kind of top 10 that is related to books, authors, and reading in general.

TTT3W

It’s been a while since I last did one of these! This week’s topic is an interesting one, and one that really forced me to think about which books to recommend: Top Ten Books If You Like X tv show/movie/comic/play etc. I chose a top ten of books you’d probably love to read if you like historical period dramas such as The Tudors, The White Queen, and The Other Boleyn Girl. In no particular order:

  • Philippa Gregory’s Tudor Court novels (which includes The Other Boleyn Girl. Much better than the film!)
  • Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War novels (includes The White Queen)
  • The Summer Queen – Elizabeth Chadwick
  • The Lady Elizabeth – Alison Weir
  • The Boleyn King – Laura Andersen
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel (which I haven’t actually read yet, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it)
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier

Have you ever recommended books to people based on their taste in films/tv series etc? Let me know in the comments below!

My excitement knows no bounds

When I was casually scrolling through Twitter a few days back there was one thing that stood out and made my little bookish heart beat a little faster: Elif Shafak is coming to Edinburgh this month! Not only is she one of my favourite authors, which is enough to make me really excited about this, but it also gives me something to look forward to that’s wholly separate from this constant grind of studying, going to classes, and essay writing. I know it sounds like something insignificant to get so excited about, but when your life revolves pretty much around studying non-stop, something like this can really take the edge off. Sometimes it’s the little things, and we need to appreciate them more I think.

6542440In case you’re thinking: wait, who is this, and why are you so elated? Here’s a brief summary:
Elif Shafak is a Turkish novelist and political scientist, and has written 13 books including 9 novels. She writes both in Turkish and in English. Her novels include The Forty Rules of Love, The Bastard of Istanbul, The Gaze, The Flea Palace, and Honour.

 8322746 The-Gaze 2049640 honour-elif-shafak 9780670918805

She’ll be giving a talk on Politics, Women, and the Art of Storytelling at the University of Edinburgh on the 25th of March, and later that day she’ll be doing a reading at the Looking Glass Bookstore as part of their Istanbul Review Night. And best of all? Both events are free! (yes this is my inner student coming through right there). If it wasn’t already clear from my rambling I am BEYOND EXCITED, and will be blogging about it in detail afterwards.

And I will definitely be bringing my copy of The Flea Palace,  so I can (hopefully) have it signed.

Excited fangirl signing off now. More about this towards the end of the month :D

 

Have you ever met any of your favourite authors? What was it like, and was it anything like you expected it to be? Share your experiences below.