October Roundup

October was a funny month, certainly with the weather and now looking back at the books I read in the month I think they were a very eclectic mix and I seemed to have jumped all over genre wise.

Normally there is some sort of a pattern in my reading, there is generally some sort of comfort reading in the month, the only one this month I could say that fitted into that category along with a bit of murder (the only one as well) was Carola Dunn and Requiem for a Mezzo, the third book in the Daisy Dalyrmple Series. A good bit of escapism and I must get on and read some more as there plenty to catch up on.

Going back to some childhood reading could be seen as a comfort and I had recently downloaded onto my kindle four Roald Dahl books because they were going cheap and after having reread Matilda I wanted to remember some of my other favourites. So it was George’s Marvellous Medicine, I am sure this was never read to me as a child, it must have been when I was old enough to read for myself that I discovered it and my love for it was set in stone when it was regenerated onto the screen when it featured on Jackanory. I loved watching that after having come in from school. Shame there is no Jackanory for adults now…..

I rarely set myself challenges in terms of reading as I find it takes the fun out it of somewhat, but I did say at the end of September that I wanted to take part somehow in the Discovering Daphne month being held by Simon and Polly. I was going to read My Cousin Rachel, then I saw that one of the books mentioned was The Loving Spirit so I found it on my mum’s shelf and thought I will read this. I somehow could not get into it, so it has gone back on the shelf for another time. I know it was not the book, but this whole month has been a bit of a struggle getting into books. So this challenge remains incomplete.

Talking of books that I have struggled with this seems like the perfect opportunity to mention the two that I did read in October. The Taker by Alma Katsu (review to follow in the coming days) was a love story with its depth in immortality. Fantasy and Paranormal are certainly not my cup of tea, but I felt as I had been sent this book to review I should give it a fair hearing. It took the whole month to read, because it was easy to put down when other books more interesting to me came along. However, I did finish and yes I am glad I did because there are lots of great historical passages which did grab my attention.  That said, fantasy and paranormal are still not my cup of tea, but this was a little sip that did not taste all that bad.

I also struggled with Caitlin Moran and How to be a Woman. Although technically finished in October I actually started this months ago when I acquired a copy. There is a review to follow, but I think it must be one of the shortest I have written. I skimmed read a lot of the book, because although it grabbed my attention in parts, and did make me laugh, it also annoyed me in a lot of others.

I am glad to say I did not struggle with all the books I read in October, some I just flew through because they were so fun, intriguing, exquisite and interesting. Interesting was the non fiction I read on my kindle Mark Stevens and  Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum. I have rather a macabre, warped mind that has a fascination into crime and institutions. I always have had but probably because I work in an institution of sorts that its make up and day-to-day workings fascinate me. This was really interesting and I learnt a lot and if anyone does share the same interest in me then please do try this out.

Two intriguing books for me this month was The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. If you love books and Shakespeare and also the wonderful way families function then this is a book for you. For my last book in the Transworld Challenge I chose Louise Douglas The Secrets Between Us, a new author to me and I hope to read more of her work. This book really had me hooked, mysterious and dark with strong female characters.

The fun book for me this month was The Magic of Christmas by Trisha Ashley, which has got me in the mood for some more Christmas and Winter themed reading. This was a bargain book available on the Kindle earlier than the publication date of the paperback so I could not resist. It was a good read, and there is something very homely and comforting about Trisha’s books especially with all the delicious food that is mentioned. It does the diet no good I can tell you. I have more Winter and Christmas themed books to read though I might have to wait until the weather turns a bit more colder again. Wish it would just make its mind up.

The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley is the exquisite book for October for so many different reasons. I loved her first Hothouse Flower, but this goes further. There is a wonderful tale woven and it has you hooked from the beginning. Great book for losing yourself in with endless cups of tea and chocolate biscuits to provide you sustenance whilst you are with the characters and the places. The best book of the month without a doubt. And currently out of stock at Amazon. Though your local supermarket may have a copy.

Right enough of the endless plugging how have I ended October reading wise; actually reading two books Anne Perry and Brunswick Gardens on my kindle, this is much handier at work sometimes. Then there is Veronica Henry and The Birthday Party which I said was the book I wanted to read next, it has a real glossy gossip magazine quality to it. Neither of these will be finished in October so they will appear in November with what else, well no challenges for this month so it could be anything.

How was your October reading? Any good recommendations?


George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl

I have spent some of this year with my reading, revisiting favourite children’s authors. One of those was Roald Dahl and in fact probably still is a favourite. Having read Matilda earlier in the year I wanted to venture back and read one of the others. So why George’s Marvellous Medicine? Jackanory that is why.

I remember having read the book and thinking it thoroughly delightful in a disgusting sort of way. George Kranky is an 8 year old boy who lives on a farm with his mum, dad and grandmother and life would be alright if was not for the grandmother! George is treated like a suspicious, sneaky slave by Grandmother and like all 8 year old boys (and girls) secretly plots his revenge. Given the opportunity one day to give her a taste of her own medicine.

…He found another jar of creamy stuff labelled HAIR REMOVER.SMEAR IT ON YOUR LEGS, it said AND ALLOW TO REMAIN FOR FIVE MINUTES. GEorge tipped it all into the saucepan. There was a bottle with yellow stuff inside it called DISHWORTH’S FAMOUS DANDRUFF CURE. In it went.

George starts to create the marvellous recipe which has decided effects on his dear old grandmother, and a chicken, and a pony…..

Grandma yelled ‘Oweeeee!’ and her whole body shot up whoosh into the air…Up she went like a jack-in-the-box…and she didn’t come down…she stayed there…

George’s father, Killy Kranky thinks they can solve all problems, their own financially and the worlds by producing large animals and subsequent produce. Trying to recreate the said marvellous medicine has some disastrous effects and the Kranky household is changed forever.

But what did Jackanory do? * Simple they brought the story to life with the help of Rik Mayall who went round the house recreating the medicine. The YouTube clip below is a bit shaky and unclear but I think you get the gist.

I am sure that someone has analysed these books and they have some moral undertone and meaning. But I think this book is simply cashing in on every child’s dream of making potions, mixing mud with water and whatever else is to hand to create something magical. For George it became true, although it could not solve world hunger, which is where the message perhaps lies. As an adult reflecting back, solve the things you can solve that are manageable, though I do not suggest blowing grandparents up with a rather dodgy medicine, there are some which are just beyond our means but not necessarily our imagination.

*Jackanory is a BBC children’s television programme that has been running since the mid sixties and was where a famous actor, actress would read out children’s stories over the course of a week in five, fifteen minute episodes. Enough to hold a child’s attention.

Books · Witterings

Wonderful Wednesdays #7 (Favourite Authors)

Wonderful Wednesdays is a meme about spotlighting and recommending some of our most loved books, even if we haven’t read them recently.  Each week will have a different genre or theme.

This weeks theme is favourite authors.

This is such a difficult topic because I could come up with a number of names. Daphne du Maurier springs to mind, but that is because Rebecca is one of my favourite books and I only have read this and Jamaica Inn. There are many more I could be reading, and I have yet to participate fully in Discovering Daphne which is running this month.

I thought I would go and look on Goodreads as it comes up with some silly statistics and I see under ‘ most read authors’ comes Mary Jane Staples and I have read 32 of her books. I have not read any for many years, but I went through a stage of reading them one after the other. She is an author of the genre ‘aga saga’ and I loved reading about the Adams Family from the turn of the twentieth century through the wars. For some reason though I tailed off from reading them. The author is no longer with us but her books still seem to be being printed and I have read that some of her books written under pseudonyms are being reissued. Perhaps this favourite author should remain a memory of the past.  Aga saga and ‘village’ story authors feature in my most read authors on Goodreads. But does most read equal favourite. No I do not think so.

I would still from a children’s book perspective say that Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl are favourite authors. I have revisited various different Enid Blyton books this year and I am currently on a bit of a Dahl binge as well. More about that in a later post.

Most recent favourite authors include Patrick Gale, Notes of an Exhibition is an excellent book and I recommend it. I have not read all of his back catalogue (no doubt I will at some point) but I would certainly be interested in his future books. Linda Gillard and Lucinda Riley are new authors to me this year and they have some fantastic books which everyone should read. Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard is a book which explains much about mental health issues but also helps with those who suffer or know someone who suffers. Lucinda Riley’s Hothouse Flower is a great novel to escape into and her new novel The Girl on the Cliff  is great and I am over 100 pages in and hopefully Lucinda will pop onto this blog for a chat soon. Other authors that pop into my head; Sharon Owens, Kate Atkinson, Phillipa Gregory, Deanna Raybourn to name a few who write very differing genres.

Oh I could go on (do not worry I will not!) but I think mention has to go to Agatha Christie as she is up there as a favourite author without a doubt. For that passion I thank my mum.

In conclusion I am not sure I have a favourite author and actually I think if I answered this question a year a go it would be a very different post with different names that pop up. As more books are let loose on readers like us all, more authors are discovered and favourites come and go.

Do join in if you want to here and leave link to your post so we can all pop along and read and perhaps pick up some new favourite authors along the way.


Matilda – Roald Dahl

I  have had an urge recently to revisit my childhood reading and within the look back I have found myself back at Roald Dahl. Thankfully they have not been tampered with as Enid Blyton’s have, I will you refer you back to a previous post of mine and not get on that soap box again!

I loved Roald Dahl books as a child, they were and are now having revisited this one delightful, well written, inspiring, strange and macabre as well as funny and poignant. You know there was good and bad in them, and everything was made into order by the end. You could tell who was good and bad by their names Miss Honey speaks volumes of someone soft and sweet, whilst Mr Wormwood is someone who is slimy and creepy getting into things he should not be. I think Dahl used his characters names for that purpose and they are just amusing to an adult who can see other meanings, than to a child who has not had the experience of meeting such people in real life.

I chose to reread Matilda. Why? Because of the love of books that Matilda and I both share. Here enjoyment of reading just jumps off the page and for someone so young (genius or not) she knows the best way to read a book

…Her own small bedroom now became her reading-room and there she would sit and read most afternoons, often with a mug of hot chocolate beside her…

Obviously there is the case when people do not understand what pleasure can be had with reading

…Perhaps his (Mr Wormwood) anger was intensified because he saw her getting pleasure from something that was beyond his reach…

When I read this as a small person, I remember being in the library and really excited at seeing this hardback version (exactly like the one pictured at the top of this post)  of the book on a high shelf just waiting to be read. Telling my mum that I had a book from the library that had only just been published or to me was just new was as exciting. I devoured the book. I cannot be sure as memory does funny things, but it must have been on Jackanory at some point as well. Even better seeing the book brought to life and hearing it read. I will gloss over the film adaptation.

My review for the book can be found here on Amazon. I wanted this post to be about everything that the book brings to mind and an Amazon review is not always the best place to do that.

I think mention also has to go to Quentin Blake for his illustrations something, for me they brought exactly what I was imagining and Dahl was describing to life.

Matilda surrounded by books

I have read this book on my kindle and the illustrations are on there as well – and they are just as effective. The one I have shown here probably resembles my flat at times, me sat there trying to choose what book to read next.

Miss Honey & Matilda

Obviously on the kindle they are not in colour. I am looking forward to picking up another Roald Dahl book with illustrations by Quentin Blake knowing everything has been captured correctly.

I will finish the picture of the kindle version which nicely bookends the first time I read Matilda and the last time.