Tag Archive: Penguin English Library


The Warden – Anthony Trollope

The WardenTitle: The Warden

Author: Anthony Trollope

Date Finished: 12/01/14

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : The Classics Club

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

This is a book I’d never heard of at all before I read – I remember back when the Penguin English Library editions were first released in 2012 that in the first month I wanted to buy Great Expectations and The Mill on the Floss but the offer in the bookshop was 3 for 2 so I just picked up this one too.  I put it on my Classics Club list and hoped for the best!

The story follows the warden of the hospital in Barchester (a fictional cathedral town) and various other members of the clergy as they struggle with reformers.  It was very refreshing to read something so very English and ’19th century’ and I was definitely intrigued as to what was going to happen.  I have to say the plot wasn’t exactly heart-racing but then again it’s not really meant to be in this kind of book.

The characters (as usual in classics) are extremely vibrant and memorable, as Trollope paints a detailed picture of each one describing their various mannerisms and traits.  I liked them all really and I’m definitely keen to find out what happens to them all next in the other books in the series.  I think it’s really exciting to read a series of classics – it combines two of my favourite types of things to read.

The writing is brilliant and it seems like every word in every sentence has been meticulously chosen to given exactly the right impression to the reader of what is going on.  The setting of Barchester is also very nice as it reminds me of similar places near where I live in the South/South West of England.  There is something special about English period dramas, whether they are on television, film or in books and that is very true in this book too.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book – it felt like a breath of fresh air, although I am quite surprised I managed to find time to read this week…I received amazing news on Wednesday that I’d been offered a place to read Chemistry at Oxford University in October; I am over the moon, especially as a couple of my close friends received Oxbridge offers too!  How I will find time to read then, I do not know…!

The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

moonstoneTitle: The Moonstone

Author: Wilkie Collins

Date Finished: 26/10/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : The Classics Club

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

This book was my Classics Club spin book for September 2013…as you can see, I definitely didn’t finish it in time but I loved it all the same.  The return to school has been absolutely manic for me: I have applied to university, written my extended project essay, done numerous speeches and functions as Head Boy and also tried to maintain some kind of social life!  With all this busy-ness I have had next to no time to read and managed only a few pages in bed every day.  If I had had more time, I would’ve definitely finished The Moonstone in September!

The story definitely resembles a Sherlock Holmes type mystery but I love the way the plot thickens and thickens until really we have absolutely no idea who the culprit could be.  We are slowly allowed to find out various details but the suspense and drama is spread out superbly throughout the relatively long novel.  I was totally engrossed in the story and I was literally guessing the whole time!  When the truth finally came out, I was amazed!

The characters are really memorable too, especially as most of them are suspects at least once during the book, so you have chance to really try and analyse each and every one of them.  You have got to love Betteredge and Sgt. Cuff and all the other characters are still sharp in my mind as well.

The various settings are reinforced by the different narrators, which gives personality to the places where the story unfolds and is quite refreshing really, as 600+ pages is quite long for one mystery to take.  I liked the way each narrator had a slightly different tone and manner and the way they broke up the story was great.  Collins’ writing in this novel is really brilliant…I never once anticipated giving this 5/5 – I was quite nervous to read it, as it looked so long!  For a book serialised in 1868, it is extremely readable and I definitely recommend it to everyone!!

End of Year Book Survey: 2012

Book Survey 2012Jamie is hosting the End of Year Book Survey again and I thought I would have a go this year, as it seemed a good way of reflecting on all the amazing books I have read in 2012.  My own quick wrap-up and goals for next year will follow shortly, I expect, but for now….


Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? 

I read several books in 2012 that I awarded 5/5 to but my absolute best book of 2012 has to be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   Yes, it was a re-read, but it is my favourite book of all time and was amazing this year as well!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I read The Great Gatsby back in January before I started book blogging and was expecting great things from it – so many people study it, I thought it must be really good.  However, I couldn’t get into it and I was relieved that it was so short!  I did put it on my re-read list though, as I assume I missed something.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

I was very surprised (in a good way) with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: I didn’t know what to expect from this book but it was so amazingly intricate and imaginative that it quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

I am going to split this one: the book I recommended most to book bloggers, I think is a tie between To Kill a Mockingbird and Cloud Atlas.  Secondly, the book I recommended most to non-bookish people was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, as I thought them a great series for non-readers to enjoy reading with.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

I didn’t really discover many new series, which is a shame; 2012 seems to be a year where I read a lot more standalones and classics compared to normal where I really enjoy reading series.  I hope in 2013 I will read more of the series I have already started over the past few years.
I did discover The Hunger Games for the first time and also I enjoyed re-reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Well, I could ramble on this one!  I definitely enjoyed my first Jane Austen (Emma) and my first Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm).  I also discovered that I love Simon Singh‘s way of writing about maths/science too when I read Fermat’s Last Theorem in October.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I wouldn’t say this is out of my comfort zone, but in 2012 I did start reading science/maths novels for the firs time so I guess that counts (again Singh’s Fermat’s Last Theorem and E=mc² by David Bodanis).  Also I read my first books in French – Harry Potter 1 and Fantastic Mr Fox, which was totally new but great.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

I could say either book 1 0r 2 but I will go for book 2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – I just couldn’t put it down at all.

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

I try not to re-read books within 18 months of their first reading so here are the 2012 books that I put straight on my re-read list: The Great Gatsby, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dracula, Cloud Atlas.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Well a lot of the books I read had really nice covers but here are my favourites:

Emma

Great Expectations

Fermat-Last-Theorem

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

I think this would have to be Lisbeth Salander from Larsson’s books; who is more unique and interesting than Lisbeth?

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I think I would go with David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for this – amazing writing by Dickens.  (My second choice would be Great Expectations anyway, so good on you Charles!)

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

I will say To Kill a Mockingbird again, as I just loved it and liked all the characters and felt as though I really knew them. 

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 

This is one is definitely The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: everyone went crazy about this book a couple of years ago, so when I saw it in a charity shop in summer 2011 I bought it…then it took me until summer 2012 to read it!  Although, I do quite like the tradition I seem to have developed of Dan Brown as summer reading…

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.”  16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?”    Scout Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.  Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”     Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

The longest was David Copperfield at a whopping 1263 pages!! The shortest was Fatastique Maître Renard at only 118 pages.  Numerically, my average book length was about 400 pages, which is pretty good, I think.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

There were definitely lots of gruesome and upsetting scenes in The Kite Runner, which was the first book I read this year (before I started book blogging).

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I think that the relationship between Clare and Henry in The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is very unique and also very touching and changes and develops throughout the book.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

The Kalahari Typing School For Men by Alexander McCall Smith was definitely the highlight of January 2012: I adore those books and I am very sad that I haven’t read one since then (I have all the way up to book 10 on my TBR shelf, they just haven’t come around yet).  Watch out for lots more of AMcCS in 2013!

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Lots of the classics I’ve read this year have been due to various bloggers and lists on websites, but there are some books that I was bought by my friends: And This is True by Emily Mackie, The Shadow of the Wind by Carol Ruiz Zafón, Submarine by Joe Dunthorne and The Crow Road by Iain Banks.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?

Well, I only started book blogging this year so any book blogs are new to me!  I love them all and I am going to try and be a bit more proactive and discover some more in 2013.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 

Oh um maybe my review of Great Expectations where I rave about re-reading as well.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Some of my non-bookish posts had lots of discussions – notably my posts about my exams, results and holidays; I think it’s important to share other parts of our lives too.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I can remember discussing why books in translation or books in other languages aren’t as popular over at Amanda’s blog.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I don’t think there are many book blogger events in England?  And probably none outside of London so I haven’t been to any, however The Classics Club is definitely a main feature of the book blogging world that I am proud to be a member of.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

For me, it would have to be the 1st March 2012 – the day I wrote my first post on adamsbibliomania!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular posts by views are often those that people come across when searching on the internet, for example The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.  My most popular post in terms of comments and activity was my original sign-up to The Classics Club.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Actually my Reading Habits post didn’t seem to get read much…maybe it was a bit text-dense or something.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Definitely the new Penguin English Library books this year – very addictive and attractive!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I wanted to read a classic a month after signing up to The Classics Club in March and in 10 months I have read 8.  That’s not too bad and it’s only November and December that I didn’t manage.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Oh so many!  But I am halfway through Villette so I am determined to finish that in 2013.  Also I really need to read The Hobbit.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

I’m really looking forward to loads of books in 2013: Pride and Prejudice, more AMcCS…

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

I really just want to improve – so that means do better than last year!  Who knows if this is a possibility or not with my heavier workload in sixth form etc but I think 35 books in the year is a good target to have 🙂

Hello everyone, I feel as though I haven’t done a weekly wrap up in ages!  So much has been going on recently.

It seems like years ago that I finished my exams (it’s only been a couple of weeks) and then there was sixth form induction, which was good and reassured me that I have picked the best subjects for me (French, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Physics).  Then I went camping with my friends in Bude, Cornwall last week which was very eventful but great fun and really worth all the rain and mud (British summer is literally non-existent at the moment).  Then there were the Wimbledon finals which were bittersweet to watch – Murray lost but they all played very well and the matches were very exciting.
This week I have been trying to relax as much as possible, although I have been into school a lot due to my maths A2 lessons carrying on.  Also, it was the school concert on Wednesday evening in which I played the clarinet with the orchestra and my jazz group and also sang in the chamber choir; that was great.

Yesterday I had my first actually completely free day in a very long time, so I took myself off to Bristol to do some [well-earned] book shopping!  I returned with three new Penguin English Library titles – The Moonstone, Gulliver’s Travels and The Warden, to go with the two I already own – Great Expectations and The Mill on the Floss.  I ADORE this series of books…as you can probably tell.

Luckily I have been able to get some good reading done this week! 😀  I finished The Subtle Knife earlier this week – my post is here – and now I am onto The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I am enjoying so far.

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge Friday Progress:

I feel as though I have been doing pretty well in this challenge – I signed up at the very end of May with my 15 books and so far I have read one – Great Expectations which I greatly enjoyed.  I have been on a slight classics break since then because I fancied reading some completely different stuff but I am ready to go back to the classics soon so up next is To Kill A Mockingbird, a re-read of my all-time-favourite book! I can’t wait!

After To Kill A Mockingbird, my aim is to read at least 5 more classics from my list – hopefully more, but I think Middlemarch will take me a looong time!  Good luck to everyone else participating in this challenge – it is great to read your thoughts on the classics.

If anyone else wants to know more  about this challenge click here for all the information.

Title: Great Expectations

Author: Charles Dickens

Date Finished: 22/06/12

Re-Read? : Second time read

Challenges? : Yes – Victorian Challenge 2012 & The Classics Club & The Literary Classics

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

I knew I needed to re-read Great Expectations at some point, because I was too young to really appreciate/understand it the first time I read it, a few years ago.  Basically, I think I got the fundamentals – the basic story and who the characters were, but I remember it being a struggle to read and now I know I was just that bit too young.

Also, the edition I read a few years ago was an old Penguin paperback I found in a second hand book shop with lots of writing in, as the previous owner had obviously studied it at school.  Now, I am someone who needs books to be “nice”.  Note, I don’t say “new” because there is nothing wrong with reading a second (or third or fourth) hand book; but I have real issues with broken books, print that is too small and many other things that make reading harder than in needs to be.  Therefore I thought I would treat myself to a nice new copy, and this was just the time that the Penguin English Library was launched.  What a coincidence – one of their first books was Great Expectations, so that was that!  You can see how lovely it looks.

So I was all prepared to read.

The plot in Great Expectations is something I thought I essentially ‘got’ from my first read of this book.  However, I was wrong.  There were so many twists and turns that I had completely missed the first time and even though I assumed I got the basic story, I didn’t really get that either!

I was really impressed by the story Dickens tells in this books – before, I thought it was a good idea but it was just another ‘hard-done-by boy grows up to be good with disappointments’ but it was so much more than that.  Especially in the second half of the third volume, I could not stop reading.

The characters are another thing I presumed I understood already.  Sadly, no – I was wrong again!  Yes, I remembered Pip, Miss Havisham, Estella and Joe, but I had completely missed Herbert, Biddy, Orlick and many more.  The characterisation was perfection, as I have come to expect from Dickens, and again all these characters are completely unique.  It is truly amazing to think that one person thought up all these different people and got them absolutely spot on – you can see and hear them all right in front of you.

Of course the prose is flawless and the setting, especially the marshes, is completely unique.  The reasons for me concluding with a 4/5 and not a 5/5 are twofold.  Basically, I compared how I felt about reading other similar(ish) books that I really loved, such as Jane Eyre and David Copperfield and I realised that this didn’t spark my reading in the same way.  Until the last 100 pages, I was going quite slowly (for me) and didn’t have the drive to plough on with the story.  Secondly, I didn’t warm to the characters as much as I did with David Copperfield.  I understand that this is obviously a less ‘nice’ book and that there are many unpleasant characters, but I didn’t feel the motivation to read all about the minor characters in Great Expectations as I did in David Copperfield.  No-one rivalled Peggotty/Betsey/Mr Dick.

So overall I really did enjoy Great Expectations, especially towards the end.  Also, it completely proves my case for re-reading.  You can get so so so much more out of a book the second or third or fourth time you read it.  I had missed so much the first time round.  Re-reading lets you experience more because you can see beyond the major plot and characters – you get to really appreciate the author’s skill and craftsmanship.  So yeah, everyone should re-read!

Every week, The Broke and The Bookish poses a category for book bloggers to post their ‘Top Ten’ in that week’

This week is a free week for us to decide on a category for ourselves.  I saw that Jillian had picked the top 10 books she was looking forward to reading from The Classics Club and I thought this was a great idea, so I have ‘borrowed’ it!

For my full Classics Club list and details about the challenge, click here.

  1. Villette – Charlotte Brontë:  I am most looking forward to this because everything I’ve heard about it suggests I will love it – I loved Jane Eyre, really enjoyed Wuthering Heights and people have said it’s ‘full of French’ which is a language that I love!
  2. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens:  I have been looking forward to re-reading this for a long time, as I didn’t really get it the first time (I was too young).  On top of that, I bought a stunning edition the other day (a new Penguin English Library edition!) so I can’t wait to get into it.
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee:  This is (possibly) my favourite book of all time so I can’t wait to read it again and see if I enjoy it even more (or maybe less).
  4. King Lear – William Shakespeare:  I saw this play at the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol in February and it was absolutely amazing.  I really loved reading Much Ado About Nothing, so I am anticipating my next dose of Shakespeare.
  5.  The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins:  I don’t seem to have read a negative word about Collins recently and it’s so exciting to get into a new author – especially if there is a great mystery to look forward to!
  6. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons:  Again, I am going by recommendation – I have heard this book is hilarious.  It is not too long, hopefully not too hard to read and I have a feeling it will be a pleasure to read.
  7. Middlemarch – George Eliot:  I am just as scared of reading this mammoth volume as I am excited!  It is so long I might have to stagger reading it through the summer, although I did plan to do that with David Copperfield and loved it so much I just powered through!  I am excited about getting into a new author and considering it is number 1 on Daily Telegraph’s list of ‘100 novels everyone should read’, I have great expectations for it (see what I did there?!).
  8. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens :  As I’ve already mentioned, I loved David Copperfield so can’t wait to get stuck into another massive Dickens!  This one is meant to be quite funny too (I think?) so I should enjoy it.
  9. Suite Française – Irène Némirovsky:  This book is all about Nazi occupied France and I think I’ll find it really interesting.  Also, I bought a lovely edition (Vintage 21) in Vienna so it looks amazing on my shelf!
  10. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen:   I recently read Emma and really enjoyed it, so I am looking forward to getting stuck into some more Austen – I have bought Pride and Prejudice and plan to read it next Christmastime.  Also, I will finally be able to say I have read this iconic book!

April Wrap-Up and May Plans

So it is the end of my second month of book blogging, and I am still going.  To be honest, I haven’t read as much in April as a) I did in March b) as I would’ve liked to.  This is, as I’m sure many of you are aware, because my exams start in TWO WEEKS TIME! SCARY!  So as you can guess, I have been doing lots of work and revision and less reading.  I have 19 exams by the way ( 😦 ) and they stretch from mid-May all the way to the end of June!  Well, escapism in the form of reading will certainly be on the cards for me.

Here’s what I read in April 2012:

Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Emma – Jane Austen

This is good as I aim to read at least three books every month (and these were all great books).  I read slightly less in terms of numbers of books than in April but not massively.  Also, my target of at least one classic every month was fulfilled in April by Wuthering Heights AND Emma!

Challenge Progress in April 2012:

The Classics Club :  3/60 books read  (Wuthering Heights – Emily BrontëEmma – Jane Austen)

The Victorian Challenge 2012:  1/6 books read  (Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë)

This is great as Wuthering Heights counted for both challenges I am involved with and I tacked my first Austen too (there are quite a few on my Classics Club list.  I am on target for both challenges as I only need to read a Victorian every 2 months and a classic every month to complete these challenges on time.

Currently In Progress:

The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón:  I am not very far into this book yet, but from the first few chapters, it seems as though this is definitely a book for me: a good mystery, a foreign setting, a focus on books…what more could I want?!

I still have Harry Potter À L’École Des Sorciers – J.K. Rowling, Living French and The Languages Book by my bed, for whenever I feel like a bit of languages reading.  I take Harry Potter À L’École Des Sorciers with me for any chance I get to read in school (not very likely with upcoming exams) and I dip into the other two for about a chapter once a week.  It is nice to read something completely different now and again.

May Plans:

Books:  the next three books on my TBR shelf are Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins, The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson and The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman.  I am not too sure about how long I will take with The Shadow of the Wind, with all my other commitments, but I should finish Catching Fire and maybe The Girl who Played with Fire too.

Challenges:  in regards to challenges, I don’t have any books planned for April that will count for The Victorian Challenge 2012, and none for The Classics Club either!  This isn’t that great but I am well on track for both so it is not really a big deal.  Great Expectations is next up for both challenges, but I am currently deciding which edition to buy…the new Penguin English Library editions are very appealing, I have to say.  You can access the paper for The Classics Club here.

How is everyone else getting on with The Classics Club and have you got any favourite editions of Great Expectations to recommend?