Not Enough Women

Amelia always watches in fascination as I read, and then gets angry when she can’t turn the thick cardboard pages of her own books.  This got me thinking that much of the literature I read is by male authors, and in the future, I will be wanting to introduce Amelia to a good blend of both men and women.

Winter reading with Amelia, she made sure I was pronouncing all the words correctly.

As most of my readers are of the female variety, this is where your expertise would be greatly appreciated.  I would love some recommendations for good authors, especially beyond the women who wrote the classics.  I have a bit of list of books gathered already but would love to add to it and have a richer reading list.

I am already a huge fan of Virginia Woolf, Irène Némirovsky as well as the recently read Marguerite Yournecar, and Daphne Du Maurier, and plan to read some more Barbara Kingsolver, Dava Sobel, Eowyn Ivey, and Enid Blyton. Continue reading “Not Enough Women”

The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

Whisked away from his comfortable, uncomfortable life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.  Although quite reluctant to take part in this quest, Bilbo surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and his skill as a burglar!

By now, I am assuming that The Hobbit is well known to pretty much everyone, so I won’t go too in-depth into the book. After the terrible film adaptations, it was always going to be a bit of time before coming back to this story. Now, with the memory of the stretched-out trilogy dulled enough to appreciate the prose again, the road well-travelled, was once again traversed.

The tale is rich in detail and full of adventure. Middle Earth is full of song – interestingly most are Dwarfish – and feels ancient, it’s impressive for a world to be established so quickly in the reader’s mind.  As the journey continues on through the seasons, and months are counted off, it feels appreciatively real, and the characters’ weariness becomes a lot more believable.  For a short book, it really does a stand-up job of an exhausting, if pleasurable trek.

The best part for this reader were the tantalising hints at things happening in distant locations, those were stories I wanted to hear, as well.  The world felt vast and lived in, and this is enhanced with the addition of maps.   I’ve always hankered for those stories Tolkien never wrote about, the ones suggested by places mentioned on his maps.  This sense of mystery always keeps the world pleasingly incomplete and open to my imagination’s wondering. Continue reading “The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien”

Smugglers’ Cove – Pat Coleman

Seb, Mike, Peter, and Fiona are a successful team for exploring.  But will they succeed in tackling a problem which seems too big for them – How to help Peter escape from his past and find a new future.

I picked this book up purely for the nostalgia trip.  I remember owning a pristine copy decades ago, and looking again front cover before reading commenced, there was a faint recollection of a child on a swing.

After more study of the front cover, appreciating the details my young eyes studied so long ago, I have to ask, is anyone bothered by the placement of the apostrophe?

This is a flimsy book at only 96 pages, which was somewhat surprising but as memory is not what it used to be, not altogether shocking.  The appeal of the book, as I recall, was more to do with the idea of secrets and smuggling.

Finishing this in one sitting, there is little in the way of illicit goods and the secrets are fairly standard, in fact the whole story doesn’t have much impact at all, which is a shame as the setting has plenty of scope for adventure and mystery. Continue reading “Smugglers’ Cove – Pat Coleman”

Catching the Wind – Nils-Johan Jørgensen

Thomas is aboard no ordinary boat in ‘Catching the Wind’. After hoisting the Spinnaker, a flying parachute, and running before the strongest of the four winds, the magic sail lifts the boat towards the sky and moves it to a different time and place. Thomas is hurtled through the sky, past a magnificent array of colours. He must start a new adventure in the North Pole…

‘Laura’ loved her school. Her teacher introduced her to an ancient Greek writer known by the name of Homer. He lived far away from her midnight land and Laura wondered if he had heard stories about her land, dominated by summer light and winter darkness…

It is sixty-five meters long and half a metre wide. It is an embroidery of woollen thread, red, yellow, two shades of green and three shades of blue, on a grey linen backing. ‘A Living Tapestry’ follows Pani’s escapades to the Tapestry Museum in Bordeaux, Normandy. Standing in front of a very old masterpiece, Pani considers the history behind the design…

These three beautifully crafted but very different stories will delight imaginative children everywhere.

An unexpected but most welcome addition to the Wind series,  once again Jørgensen has crafted an excellent and imaginative selection of stories which are satisfying, inspiring, and gently instructive for those with an adventurous spirit.

In this latest collection the reader is heartily welcomed to the delights and magic of the aurora borealis, introduced to Homer’s The Odyssey, through the eyes of a child, and a study of the details of the bayeux tapestry.  These jaunts into history and culture are fantastic jump off points for the excavation of the human journey. Continue reading “Catching the Wind – Nils-Johan Jørgensen”

chuffa chuffa choo choo – Emma Garcia

Jump on board the little red train as it chugs along the seaside and through the forest. Can you count the noisy birds along the way?

When I think of widening my reading, this isn’t the first book that comes to mind but with a flair for the dramatic actions and voices – and a baby – this can be an incredibly fun book to engage with.

This came into my possession from a free reading pack given by the NHS, and so naturally I grabbed it for myself, curled up in a corner and took my time to savour the feel of the thick card pages and bright drawings.  It’s still my go to book for Amelia purely for selfish reasons.

There is plenty of colour and things to point out and talk about, as well as the number and type of birds, there is variety in the settings from city to farmyard, and Amelia and I often find ourselves going off on tangents such as which farmyard animal smells worse. Continue reading “chuffa chuffa choo choo – Emma Garcia”

Windy in These Parts

On Christmas Eve a thud resounded out in the hallway and an expected package arrived at an unexpected time of the morning.  As an early Christmas present you can’t beat a book, and one by blog favourite Nils-Johan is always a joy to receive.

An unanticipated addition to the Wind series of children’s books, I look forward to indulging in this one, as I’ve loved every other book in the collection and have been enchanted by the qualities and themes of each story.

Whichever way the wind may blow this year, one constant is that the reading will continue across many genres, and with a return to the Philippines on the cards, a sun tan will also be a predictable outcome.  I hope your year will be a good one.

The Snowman – Raymond Briggs

The cartoon version of The Snowman is a true Christmas tradition. Spying Briggs’ book version – and this being the season –  I had to borrow it from the library and see what the differences were.

The reader not familiar with this story is in for a wonderful, gentle journey told not with words but purely in images.  When a boy makes a snowman who magically comes to life, comical and exciting adventures are bound to happen.

A gently humorous adventure ideal for all ages, this is a fun and funny book.  The cartoon followed suit with the illustration style and the  pencil shading is still beautiful to look at today, as you can see at the end of the post.

An endearing and enduring tale which speaks – to me at least – of the shortness of life and the urgent need to enjoy the company of the people we have in the now.  This is a story that transcends cultural boundaries and can be enjoyed by anyone, not just those versed in English.

I do prefer the cartoon version still even after spending time with the book. The hunting quality of the music, especially, enhances the experience. The flying journey is also longer and more eventful in the cartoon, which I recommend to all!  If you have  a spare twenty-five minutes here it is in full HD.