Book of the Week, Children's books, Classics, Fantasy, Young Adult

Book of the Week: Howl’s Moving Castle

Two children’s books in a row as BotW? This is totally within the normal range of what I do and what you expect from me. And this is another book that I started during my weekend at boo conference and then got distracted away from by the purchase of more books at said book conference and then by other books on the kindle. So sue me!

cover of Howls Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle tells the story of Sophie, a teenage girl who is turned into an old lady by a witch while she is working in her family’s hat shop. One of the conditions of the curse is that she can’t tell people that she’s been cursed and Sophie doesn’t want her mother or sisters to see what’s happened to her, so she runs away to the hills, where she runs into the moving castle belonging to the Wizard Howl and makes it her new home in the hope that the curse can be lifted. Howl is a temperamental, vacillating young man who is on the run from something and only seems to do things that help himself but Calcifer, his fire demon promises to help her if she can help him with the curse that ties him to Howl. Also living in the castle is Michael, Howl’s apprentice, who, it turns out is in love with one of Sophie’s sisters. And so they move around the countryside, and Sophie tries to figure out how to get her old (young) body back.

That’s the short version of part of the story and doesn’t really do it justice. Before I read the story, I was actually worried that I wouldn’t like it as much as I liked the film of the book which I saw in the cinema back in my high-cinema visiting university days. Now the two are the same basic story: about a teenager who is cursed to look like an old lady and who seeks help from the wizard with the moving castle, but beyond that there are a fair few differences. The movie has a design aesthetic that leads to some differences from the book and it is missing some of the subplots from the book, but it turns out I really liked them both.

I don’t often read the book after I’ve seen the movie, but this time it worked out really well. In fact, this is the opposite experience to what usually happens with me, books and movie adaptations – because quite often I really hate the movie versions of books I’ve loved, so maybe I need to do this more often?! There are a couple more books featuring Howl, which are now on my reading list – and I’m trying hard to work out if I read any Diana Wynne Jones books back when I was the right age for them because I really liked her writing and the style felt somewhat familiar to me.

I bought my copy of Howl’s Moving Castle on Kindle, but it’s also available on Kobo (and it’s 99p on both platforms at time of writing) and in paperback (from Amazon, Book Depository or places like Big Green Books) and audiobook. I think it should be easy enough to buy from a bookshop with a good sized children’s section (not a supermarket because it is no where near new) I suspect it will also be available at some libraries too. And if you haven’t seen the film, you really should watch it too.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: August 6 – August 12

Actually did quite well this week.  Finished one from the long runners and a couple of others that had been going for more than a week, so I’m getting there.  What I need to do now is have a proper sit down with the Templars and get that finished…

Read:

Together We Rise by the Women’s March Organisers

If Only They Didn’t Speak English by Jon Sopel

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Whatever’s Been Going on at Mumblesby by Colin Watson

Vinyl Detective: Victory Disc by Andrew Cartmel

Miss Bunting by Angela Thirkell

Lumberjanes Vol 8 by Shannon Watters et al

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys

Started:

The Birth of Korean Cool bu Euny Hong

Jewish History: A very short introduction by David N Myers

Still reading:

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

The Templars by Dan Jones

Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Mrs Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia McNeal

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromonaco

One book bought, and one pre-order arrived.

Uncategorized

Book of the Week: Autumn Term

Given the fact that I’ve been on a school story binge after my weekend at the book conference, it’s hardly a surprise that I’d pick a boarding school book as my BotW at some point.  I picked up a copy of Antonia Forrest’s Autumn Term at Bristol for free – its owner was giving it away to someone who hadn’t read it, as the first few pages were loose so it was unsalable.

Copy of Autumn Term by Antonia Forest

Autumn Term is the first book in the Marlow series and tells the story of Nicola and Laurie Marlow’s first term at boarding school  Their older sisters are already there – one is the headgirl in fact – and the twins are confident that they know exactly how things are going to play out for them.  Except that it doesn’t go how they expect.  They get in a row before they even arrive, then they’re not in the form that they expect to be in and that throws all their plans into disarray.  How will they recover from this – and will they recover from this – is the subject of the book.

This is one of the best boarding school books I think I’ve read.  I can imagine that if I’d read it at the “right” age for it, I might not have loved it, but as an adult it completely knocked my socks off.  This has possibly the most complicated and rounded set of characters that I’ve come across in Girl’s Own fiction. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses – even the one’s that you’re meant to like.  There are no perfect paragons or cartoon baddies here.  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and over the course of the book you get to see their triumphs and disasters.  You can cheer them on as things go well, or hide your head in your hands as they plunge themselves into trouble without thinking.

I’ve read one book in this series before – but it’s a holiday book and although it turned out to be quite an exciting spy adventure in the end, I didn’t really understand the characters the way that I do now having read this and there is a lot of naval and sailing detail to get bogged down in.  But having read this, I’ve put getting my hands on more of the Marlow books well up my acquisitions list.

As I mentioned, my copy came for free at a book sale (don’t worry, I bought other things from the same stall as well) and it’s out of print so if you want to read it you’re going to have to go secondhand as well as it’s not available on Kindle.  Abebooks has some for under £10 including postage – or you could try your local charity shop with a large childrens section.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: July 30 – August 5

A steady week’s reading – but not as much progress on the long-runners as I would have liked – probably because I spent 2 nights away from home and away from the physical book pile which most of them are on.

Read:

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin

Autumn Term by Antonia Forest

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay

Cat Among The Herrings by LC Tyler

The Victorian Guide to Sex by Dr Fern Riddell

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran

Started:

Vinyl Detective: Victory Disc by Andrew Cartmel

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromonaco

Miss Bunting by Angela Thirkell

Still reading:

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

The Templars by Dan Jones

Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys

Mrs Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia McNeal

If Only They Didn’t Speak English by Jon Sopel

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

After the excesses of the book fair, this week I was very restrained and didn’t buy anything!

books, stats

July Stats

New books read this month: 30*

Books from the to-read pile: 14

Ebooks read: 21

Books from the Library book pile: 0

Non-fiction books: 4

#ReadHarder categories completed: 8

Pop Sugar categories completed: 12

Most read author: Basil Thomson (the other five Inspector Richardson mysteries)

Books read this year:  226

Books bought:  Too many to count to be honest.  About 20 at the book fair, a couple of others in the charity shop and then about 10 ebooks…

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 574 (I don’t have copies of all of these!)

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics (8 this month)

Book of the Week, Fantasy, reviews, romance

Book of the Week: Thornyhold

A short but sweet post today for BotW because it’s super busy here.  I also didn’t read as much as usual during the week, so I had trouble picking a book to write about before I headed off for my weekend of bookwormery at the book conference.  Anyway, the best of what I read before the weekend was Mary Stewart’s Thornyhold.

Cover of Thornyhold

Thornyhold tells the story of Gilly, who has a mysterious godmother figure who shows up at intervals throughout her childhood and who then leaves her a house, just as Gilly is most at need of it.  Thornyhold is deep in the woods, isolated and has the potential to be really creepy.  But Gilly never really feels scared by the house – although she’s not really sure about some of the people associated with the house.  But there’s something magical about Thornyhold – possibly literally – and soon she’s caught up in trying to figure out exactly what her aunt wanted her to do with her legacy.

This was my first Mary Stewart book and i understand that it’s not 100 percent typical of what she does.  I spent a lot of the book waiting for some big gothic tragedy to happen – because that’s what it felt like was bound to happen.  But actually it’s much more straightforward than I was expecting.  It is quite gothic – but ultimately it’s more of a romantic story and after the initial tragedies in Gilly’s stories, it’s working it’s way towards a happier resolution for her than I was expecting.  I don’t know why I was expecting disaster and it all to end badly, except that there’s a lot of tension in the writing and I’ve read so many books where things like this end badly, I couldn’t quite let myself hope that it was all going to be ok!  There is actual romance in this, and it comes in quite late on and doesn’t get quite as much time spent on it as I would have liked, but it was still fairly satisfyinging in the end.  As always with this sort of book I wanted a bit more of the “after” of all the resolutions – even another couple of pages would have helped, but I can’t complain too much.

I’m fairly sure I’ll be reading some more Mary Stewart – but given the state of the to-read bookshelf at the moment, it may be some time.  This one had been sitting waiting for me for a while and the pile has only grown since I bought it! My copy of Thornyhold was a secondhand paperback, but there’s a shiny new paperback edition should you feel so inclined and it’s also available in Kindle and Kobo for £1.99 at time of writing.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: July 23 – July 29

Not as much read as usual this week- because I spent a long weekend at a book conference and it was lovely.

Read:

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehesi Coates

Dark Days by James Baldwin

Dirty Like Me by Jaine Diamond

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Catherine Goes to School by Joanna Lloyd

Lucille: House Captain by Janet Grey

Started:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Autumn Term by Antonia Forest

Still reading:

The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

The Templars by Dan Jones

Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys

Mrs Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia McNeal

If Only They Didn’t Speak English by Jon Sopel

I don’t want to talk about how many books I bought this week. I went to a book conference. I bought exactly as many as you would expect me to buy!