Classics Club Spin #9

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I had only just been thinking that it had been a while since the last Classics Club Spin, when along came Number 9. And then I debated whether or not to joining in this time as it is coming up to a busy time at work with the exam period looming and I have to move flats. However I like the unpredictable nature of the spin and I do need to read more books from my list as before I know it my pretend deadline will be here. So I a, changing the rules slightly for me and giving myself until the end of May -not May 15th – and I will see how it goes. The lucky number will be announced next Monday, so fingers crossed.

My list is below and doesn’t follow any kind of structure.

1. The Beautiful and the Damned – F.Scott Fitzgerald

2. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

3. Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary Elizabeth Braddon

4. East Lynne – Ellen Wood

5. Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

6. Emma – Jane Austen

7. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

8. Women in Love – D.H. Lawrence

9. A Room with a View – E.M. Forster

10. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

11. The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan

12. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

13. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

14. The English Patient – Michael Odaantje (not spelt right I know)

15. Persuasion – Jane Austen

16. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien

17. The Forsyte Saga – John Galsworthy

18. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

19. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

20. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

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Withering Tights

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Title: Withering Tights
Author: Louise Rennison
Published: 2010
Challenges: TBR Pile 2015, Reading England
Rating: 2 and a half out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Talulah Casey – cousin of Rennison’s famous female protagonist, Georgia Nicholson – is off to a drama summer school in Yorkshire. At 14 she is completely obsessed with fitting in, changing her insecurities and having her first snog with a boy. The school is set in the wild Yorkshire countryside and because of this their summer performance is inspired by Bronte’s Wuthering Heights . Tallulah, after spending a few weeks feeling like the least drama-y (not a word I know) person at the school is offered the lead role of Heathcliffe. Will she put on a performance to ensure she passes the course and returns to the school as a pupil, or will her performance be memorable for all the wrong reasons?

My Thoughts
As a teenager I devoured the Georgia Nicholson series of books and loved the main character and all her crazy antics, so when I saw Withering Tights for 99p on the Kindle I knew I had to buy it. And there it remained, languishing on the Kindle until I decided to add it to my TBR Pile 2015. When I picked it up recently I was expecting to be transported back to my teenage years and the enjoyment I found in the Georgia Nicholson books. This was my first mistake. I forgot that I was no longer a 14 year old girl; I’m 27 years old. I couldn’t relate to the character at all. Yes, I vaguely remember worrying about whether or not anyone was EVER going to kiss me and panicking because I was so much taller than all the boys I went to school with, but at some point I grew up. I’m not saying I don’t worry about things anymore, but now it is more along the lines of money, work, where will I live (my flat is being sold so I need to move out *sob*) and if my boyfriend’s friends will like me. Ok, I’ll admit the last one is a little bit like the teenage characters in Rennison’s books, but at least I’m not spending hours fretting about how to snog someone.

I can’t put this slight negativity down to the fact I am now adult as I have read other books aimed at teenagers and enjoyed them. I guess I was hoping for something a bit meatier and full of scandal and secrets (Pretty Little Liars style). That being said, I can fully appreciate how Withering Tights appeals to teenage girls, whose biggest worries are often fitting in and kissing boys, so for the target audience it’s great, just not a book that I feel crosses the teen-adult reading barrier.

Challenges
Withering Tights counts towards two of my reading challenges, one I didn’t even think about. It is the fourth book in my TBR Pile 2015 and ticks Yorkshire off the list for Reading England.

A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust

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Title: A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust
Author: George. R. R. Martin
Published: 2011
Challenges: None
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust is the fifth instalment in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series and this is Part One of the novel. It is very confusing when I try and explain to people that I am reading book five in the series but it is the sixth physical book I have read (I think!). This novel focuses on The North and the lands beyond Westeros, which means it focuses on some of my favourite characters, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. Jon has been made the 998th commander of The Wall and is torn between his fellow Brothers, the Wildings who survived the battle at The Wall and King Stannis and his Red Woman. Tyrion has added ‘kinslayer’ to the list of names he has hurled at him and has fled to the East. Here he meets various characters-most of whom see through his disguise- and makes an interesting and potentially game changing discovery about the Targaryens. However when he is captured by Ser Jorah Mormont and knows he will soon be before Dany he isn’t quite as pleased. Dany is struggling to keep control of the cities she has freed from slavery, beginning to realise that freeing so many slaves and stopping trade has only served to make people angry. To add to matters her dragons are growing and getting uncontrollable. Plans are also afoot in The North with Roose Bolton being wed to ‘Arya Stark’ and planning to take control of Winterfell, with the help of Theon Turncloak. Beyond The Wall Bran and co have made it to the Three Eyed Crow and Bran, realising he will never walk again, discovers he can fly. And the book ends there, with only Jon appreciating the threat the wights have on the Kingdom and no one making any dramatic moves for The Iron Throne.

My Thoughts
It’s really hard to summarise the plot of any novel in A Song of Fire and Ice as they are so complex and you need to read them in order to fully appreciate and enjoy them. Add to that the fact I don’t want to drop any spoilers, especially as I loathe them whenever the TV series is being aired, you are left with an incredibly wooly synopsis of what happens. When I read A Feast for Crows at Christmas I moaned about the missing characters and wanting to know what they were up to and I felt much happier about this in this book. I feel a bit more understanding as to whyMartin divided the books in this way and because I knew what most of the characters around Kings Landing were up to I could fully enjoy this book.

Everything I want to say about this series I have already said. I’m not completely convinced where I think Martin is going with this, but I have one more (published) book in the series to read before I can properly think about this. I know my friend has already read all the books and has her own theories, so I’m looking forward to discussing it with her. A good read and now I’m debating whether or not to read the next book soon, or should I wait? Especially as Martin has revealed the next book will not be published in 2015.

End of February

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Books read: 4
Challenges: Four (TBR Pile 2015, Reading England, The Classics Club and Reading the Twentieth Century)

I quite like February for many reasons. It marks the halfway point in the school year, the seasons are beginning to change and it marks my annual visit to London and the theatre with my mummy. This February was no different and mum and I ventured up for a night in London and to see a show of her choice. It was between The 39 Steps and War Horse; I was inclined towards the former, however as it was mum’s Christmas present I kept my mouth shut and we went to see War Horse. I read the books years ago and I wasn’t overly fussed about going to see the stage production,however within the opening ten minutes my mind was completely changed. It was a fantastic show and the puppets were simply amazing. Luckily I brought tissues with me, but it is certainly a show I would recommend as it is cleverly staged and just amazing.

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No trip to London is complete without a visit to Persephone Books and I added three more to my bookcase (The Blank Wall, The Persephone Book of Short Stories and Because of the Lockwoods). I had only intended to buy one but my mum persuaded me and by that I mean she said ‘Are you getting three for £30?’ I love the Persephone Shop as it is so quaint and the books are beautifully displayed; if you haven’t been I certainly recommend it. We did lots of shopping and we also went to the London Aquarium, which was good, but not quite as good as I expected. Although we did see this guy…

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On to the reading:
The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley
A Different Class of Murder by Laura Thompson
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Challenges:
I read a book for all four of my challenges this month, which I didn’t realise until just then.
The Camomile Lawn, The Great Gatsby and The Phantom of the Opera all count towards Reading the Twentieth Century.
The Camomile Lawn ticks Cornwall off the Reading England list.
The Great Gatsby is another book from my Classics Club challenge.
Finally The Phantom of the Opera is book three from my TBR Pile 2015 so I am making good progress with this challenge for the year.

Favourite Read:
This is an easy one for me and The Camomile Lawn was definitely my favourite read of the month. It was recommended by a friend and I am so glad I took the time to get it transferred to my local library so I could enjoy it and I am sure I will be reading more from Mary Wesley before the year is out.