Tag Archive: Pullman


amber spyglassTitle: The Amber Spyglass

Author: Philip Pullman

Date Finished: 27/07/13

Re-Read? : First time read (but listened to audiobook many times)

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

I will make this post brief as I am busy packing for my holiday to Corsica (tomorrow!) in which I hope to do lots of nice reading!

This is an unofficial re-read – I listened to the audiobook many times when I was younger but never actually read the book (as far as I can remember) but I always loved the story.  This time the book did not have such a powerful impact on me but this is probably because I’m a bit older and also I knew what happens!  The plot is really strong in the whole His Dark Materials Trilogy but especially in this book – you really cannot predict what Will and Lyra are going to do next!  The characters are also so iconic it is effortless to remember all their ways and habits.  I really enjoyed being back in the different universes created by Pullman in particular reading about the Mulefa again! I seriously recommend this trilogy to all teenagers, but to all adults too – it makes you question religion, love and many other things in a very unobtrusive way and also provides you with a truly captivating story and gives you characters that you will never ever forget.

An easy 5/5 from me!

I hope you all enjoy August – I hope to be able to post lots when I am back from Corsica about all the different books I have read!!

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June Wrap-Up & July Plans

Again, another month has flown by and left much reading to be desired.  I finished my exams about halfway through June, but then it was straight back to school where I have been very busy since I am Head Boy and a lot of things have been going on.  Anyway, even though I felt like I did a decent amount of reading in June, I obviously didn’t as I only finished one book!  Never mind – let’s hope it’s better in July

Here’s what I read in June 2013:

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

This is not good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This fewer books than I read in May so that’s a shame.  My aim of 1200 pages a month was definitely not fulfilled, as I read only 441 pages – somehow I don’t think I’ll be beating how many I read in 2012!
I definitely did not do 30 minutes reading a day, but I actually wasn’t far off!
I did try to read at least one science book every two months but I haven’t finished Periodic Tales yet.
I did fulfil my at least one classic a month target with Rebecca though!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was poor too – better than last month but still a lot of improvements to make.

Challenge Progress in June 2013:

The Classics Club :  16/60 books read  (1 this month: Rebecca) This makes 27%!

At the moment this is my only challenge for 2013 – maybe I will formalise some of my own yearly reading goals into a challenge.

Currently In Progress:

I am continuing with my science read, Periodic Tales, which I am enjoying and I am just about to start The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman.

July Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are: The Amber Spyglass, Life The Universe and Everything and The Help.  I really hope to get to as many of these as possible!

Challenges:  None of these will count towards The Classics Club unfortunately.

Hopefully with July and August looming, we will all have some time to relax and read – maybe on holiday?  Thanks again to everyone who loyally still reads these posts – means a lot! 🙂

July Wrap-Up and August Plans

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet this last week or so – not posting/reading/replying much and I think that’s fair.  I have been watching the Olympics non-stop – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a home games and I am making the most of it.  We are off ourselves on Friday and I will try and get a post up to describe what we’re going to see!

I have had a good reading month in July, I think.  Considering I was camping for a week at the start with my friends (didn’t get chance to read) and have been pretty busy so 4 books is great!

Here’s what I read in July 2012:

The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

This is great as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This was one more than I read in June.  Also, my target of at least one classic every month was fulfilled in May by To Kill a Mockingbird AND Cold Comfort Farm!”

Challenge Progress in May 2012:

The Classics Club :  6/60 books read  (To Kill a MockingbirdCold Comfort Farm)

The Victorian Challenge 2012:  3/6 books read  (None this month)

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 3/15 (To Kill a MockingbirdCold Comfort Farm)

Really good progress in The Classics Club and The Literary Classics, just need to stay on top of The Victorian Challenge over the next few months.

Currently In Progress:

At the moment I am slowly making my way through The Crow Road by Iain Banks, which I can’t say I am enjoying, but I am not very far in – too early to say I definitely don’t like it!

August Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, The Da Vinci Code and Dracula. These are all pretty big and so is The Crow Road so I doubt I will get through them all.

Challenges:  Dracula is the only one of these which will count for challenges – all 3 actually so maybe I should prioritise that one…

Hopefully you are all enjoying some downtime in August, be it by enjoying the Olympics by not 🙂

Title: The Subtle Knife

Author: Philip Pullman

Date Finished: 11/07/12

Re-Read? : Second time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

This is another re-read for me – I really do like re-reading! (You can read some of my thoughts about it in this post) and I am so glad I have read this again.  The His Dark Materials series was another childhood favourite of mine, and I especially enjoyed listening to the trilogy on audiobook.  I wasn’t sure whether the magic would still be there for me, after a few years, but since I re-read Northern Lights (the first in the trilogy) back in December 2011, I have been itching to get on with the others – they were just as gripping as ever.

I feel like even though I have heard the story countless times, and I know what’s going to happen, there is still something new I can take from the books, which is great.  The joy of re-reading.

The plot is great and quite intricate for a children’s/young adult book.  I love the way we are introduced to a couple of new worlds but not all at once and the way that the characters we all love manage to find their way back into the story pretty quickly.

The characters are completely brilliant and (although the plot is amazing) the reason I gave this book 5/5.  They are all just so iconic.  Lyra and Will are the perfect pair and completely unforgettable, but the supporting characters like Mrs Coutler, Serafina Pekkala, Lee Scoresby, Grumman and all the rest are all superb as well.  You know the characters are great when you can remember all about them after not reading a page of the trilogy for years!

I also like the way Pullman writes and I find it so easy to read – I flew through this book.  There are no grammatical errors either, which is always good!  I love the way Pullman weaves in bits of made up language and sayings etc from the different worlds (although I don’t really get how they all can converse in English..).

The settings are very well depicted and you can really feel yourself there.  I would seriously recommend this book to adults as well as teenagers/children, because there is more to the series than meets the eye – the whole book is quite damning of Christianity and the Catholic church in general and poses quite a few questions about religion.  Some Christians have said this writing is sacrilegious but I found that it strengthened my faith, as obviously there are gross exaggerations and it is a work of fiction!  

Whatever your religious standpoint, this series is great and in my opinion really worth a read.  I can’t wait to read The Amber Spyglass (the final instalment) but I will try and keep it back until I really can’t hold on any longer – I will appreciate it all the more that way!

June Wrap-Up and July Plans

There has not been much action on my blog this week as I have been super busy – I finally finished my exams on Wednesday; had induction days for sixth form on Thursday and Friday; a party on Friday evening; concert rehearsals on Saturday and then concert and then post-concert meal on Saturday evening; special church service Sunday morning and then packing for camping.  Yes, I am tired.  Yes, I am going camping on Monday… in England …wish me luck!

I have read an average amount in June, I think.  It has been hard to find time to read when everything has been so hectic and I hope I will have a bit more time in July.

Here’s what I read in June 2012:

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens 

Submarine – Joe Dunthorne

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins (post to follow asap.)

This is good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This was the same number of books as I read in May.  Also, my target of at least one classic every month was fulfilled in May by Great Expectations, which I really enjoyed.

Challenge Progress in May 2012:

The Classics Club :  4/60 books read  (Great Expectations)

The Victorian Challenge 2012:  3/6 books read  (Great Expectations)

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 1/15 (Great Expectations)

As you can see, I killed 3 challenge-birds with one stone, which is often going to be the case, as I am involved in 3 classics-based challenges.

Currently In Progress:

During camping, I am planning to read The Subtle Knife, which is a re-read of an old favourite for me.  Also, if I have time I will read The Time Traveler’s Wife but I don’t know what sort of reading time I will get – there are 25+ of us going camping!!

June Plans:

Books:  the next three books on my TBR shelf are The Timetraveler’s Wife; To Kill A Mockingbird and The Crow Road.  As I have already said, I don’t know how much time I will spend reading this month, but hopefully I can make a start on some of these titles.

Challenges:  To Kill A Mockingbird will count towards The Classics Club and The Literary Classics so that’s good..also considering it’s my favourite book, I think I will enjoy July a lot!

I hope you have all had a productive June and are going to enjoy some down time in July; you deserve it!

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

This week the category is ‘Top Ten Books on Spring TBR List’ with the guidance basically to list the books you are most looking forward to reading this Spring.  Since I am participating in The Classics Club and The Victorian Challenge 2012 this year, I hope to make a significant dent in these lists this Spring so there are quite a few classics on today’s list.

For me, the year is divided equally into its four seasons: June, July & August are Summer; September, October & November are Autumn; December, January & February are Winter; leaving March, April & May as Spring.  I don’t know why I have always though of seasons this way, maybe it’s to do with how school is structured, by for today’s list, I am focussing on books I am really looking forward to reading in the remainder of March, April and May.

Oh, and these are not in order – that would be much too difficult!

 

1. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë.  I am so looking forward to this book and I am reading it next after I’ve finished And This Is True.  I really loved Jane Eyre, which was my first Brontë, and even though I’ve had good advice from Caro that the Brontës were all very  different, I just can’t wait to get back to 19th Century rural England.  Also, Wuthering Heights count for The Classics Club AND The Victorian Challenge so I am killing multiple birds with one book-shaped stone!

 

2. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón.  I got given this book for my birthday last September by a friend who had heard it was good.  My friend went on to buy his own copy and read it before I could (my book backlog is rather ridiculous) and has said that it was absolutely amazing.  With that kind of recommendation I am expecting great things from this book and am looking forward to sinking into Barcelona!

 

3. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins.  Well there is certainly a lot of hype surrounding this series at the moment – I had a free period in the library on Monday and of the roughly 15 people in there, three people were reading (one being me) and the other two were both reading one of The Hunger Games books.  With the film coming out in 3 days time, no wonder people are going crazy.  My sister borrowed the first book from her friend and read it in one weekend, which is quite unusual for her, and we are both eagerly awaiting the delivery of our own copies of the trilogy! I just can’t wait to find out what is all the fuss about?!

 

4. Emma – Jane Austen.  I haven’t read any Austen before (shocking, I know!) and so I am really excited about getting into this, my first.  I chose Emma because my music teacher said that this was her favourite Austen so it seemed as good a place to start as any.  I don’t really know anything of the story and nothing about the characters, so it should be really fun to read a book without any previous knowledge (something quite rare for me).  It has been on my TBR shelf for a good six months or so, and has finally worked its way to near the top and it also counts for The Classics Club, so all in all I think it deserves to be read now!

 

5. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown.  I have already read Digital Fortress and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and I enjoyed them both (solid 4 / 5).  However, this seems to be the novel that took the world by storm so I am looking forward to reading it.  I read Angels and Demons (the preceding novel to The Da Vinci Code) whilst on holiday last summer, so it seems right that this one might tie in nicely with my holiday to Vienna this Easter, although that means getting through a couple of other books pretty quickly!

 

6. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens.  This is a re-read for me – I read it in 2010 but I think I missed something as I found it hard to get into and nothing special.  To be fair it was my first Dickens and I was quite young, so now that I am more experienced with Dickens (I’ve read Hard Times, Oliver Twist and David Copperfield since then) I am hoping to enjoy this much more the second time around.  I enjoyed the BBC adaptation at Christmas and I am intrigued to see if the new film that is being made will bring something new to a story well known by so many.  Another bonus is that it will also count towards The Classics Club and The Victorian Challenge!

 

7. The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson.  This is another re-read.  I absolutely loved the Millennium Trilogy when I read them for the first time back in summer 2010 and I have already re-read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last December and loved it again!  Insanely gripping plots – I can’t put these books down so I am really looking forward to reading the second instalment of Lisbeth’s life again.  If you haven’t read these books yet then I seriously seriously recommend them – such vivid characters and instantly captivating plots!

 

8. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell.  I really don’t know much about this book, aside from the fact that it has several different plots (?).  It was recommended to me by the conductor of the regional wind ensemble I play during the holidays as one of the other ensembles he conducts played a piece of music composed to accompany it and he said it was a great read.  If anyone has read this, I would love to know what you thought of it!  I have put it on this list as I know nothing about the book or the author and that is scary but also exciting!

 

9. The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman. I really loved the His Dark Materials books when I first read them due to the inventive plot, great characters and the way they deal with serious questions.  I re-read Northern Lights in December and really enjoyed it again, so I am looking forward to getting into the second in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, a lot.  It is quite a short and easy to read book so I am hoping to polish it off relatively quickly!

 

10. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee.  This is (probably) my favourite book ever!  For my GCSE in English Literature we had to study this book as our novel and it was so great for me – I loved reading it and learning all the quotes was a pleasure!  This book says so much and says it so well, it a must read for everyone!  I think this will be the 3rd time I have actually read it through as a book, but I have listened to the audiobook many times and when I was studying for English I just kept it around and dipped in and out, reading whichever bit was relevant to the area I was revising.  If you have not read this book you must buy it and read it now!!  On top of all that, it counts towards The Classics Club too – what’s not to love?

 

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

This week the category is ‘Top X Genre Books’, and we fill in a genre of our choice. Seeing as it was not that long ago that I was reading children’s books and I am technically a ‘young adult’, I thought it would be nice to do my ‘Top Ten Children’s or Young Adult Books‘.  Also, this genre provides a bit of light relief as we are all a bit classics-crazy due to The Classics Club at the moment!

 

A black-haired young man with round eyeglasses is falling forward along with a red-haired young man and a young woman with light brown hair knocking over cauldrons with gold inside them. Each of them has an apparently blushed face. In the background a goblin's arm is holding a sword. The top of the cover says: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, while the bottom of the cover says: J. K. ROWLING, BLOOMSBURY.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling.  My Number 1 Children’s series has got to be Harry Potter!  I have read all 7 books many many times, listened to the audio books, watched the films and dressed up as the characters more times than I would like to admit! I am a truly part of the Harry Potter generation – there is even a photograph of me, about 8 years old, with the huge Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix taking up my entire lap!  I have chosen the last Harry Potter book because it is probably just about my favourite and is the one I couldn’t put down the most.

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S. Lewis.  I adore the Narnia books, and again I have read them many times and listened to the audio books a lot too.  The stories and characters are so interesting and you can’t wait to find out what happens next.  I especially enjoyed The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has to be my favourite as it is so spooky when they are travelling through the huge horrible cloud and visiting these strange, creepy islands.

 

3. The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman.  The His Dark Materials series is so good – really makes you think about life and religion and love whilst still keeping a fast-moving and exciting plot.  This series is rich with vivid characters and the ending of The Amber Spyglass actually made me well up a bit the first time I read it!  I am in the process of re-reading this series at the moment – The Subtle Knife is coming up this summer and I read Northern Lights last December – and I am really looking forward to reading about Lyra, Will, Pan and the rest again.

 

4. The Witches – Roald Dahl.  This is my joint favourite Roald Dahl book (with Matilda) and I used to listen to the audiobook so much when I was younger.  I loved the plot and the descriptions of the witches were just amazing.  Also, the way Norway was portrayed was lovely and I still wish to visit there, purely from the wonderful accounts of it in this book. Oh, and my edition is so old that it has that amazing musty smell!

 

5. Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian. This novel is something special and not just for children.  The story and characters are vivid and lovely but what makes this book stand out is its accuracy.  Last year I was writing an essay for history coursework all about evacuation in Britain during the war.  One of the sources we studied was an extract from this book and, me being me, that wasn’t enough so I went to the charity shop and bought a copy and read it through in a few days.  It really does show you what it was like to be an evacuee in wartime Britain so is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in that.

 

6. The Recruit – Robert Muchamore.  The Cherub series accompanied me through my childhood very nicely.  The story is exciting and unpredictable, there are lots of books so you get to see the characters really develop over time and thirdly it’s so cool – who wouldn’t want to be a teenage spy with money and resources no object?!

 

7. The Ersatz Elevator – Lemony Snicket.  The Series of Unfortunate Events is, obviously, rather miserable and I have to say I was totally disappointed with the last book, however I did enjoy reading the majority of the books and enjoyed the way they were quite complicated (for a 10 year old).  There was a lot of mystery and hinting which I enjoyed as many children’s books have one obvious plot and that is it.

 

8. Madame Doubtfire – Anne Fine. For anyone who has not read this book or seen the film YOU HAVE MISSED OUT!  Such a hilarious idea and the book is a pleasure to read.  The film, aptly starring Robin Williams, is great too, if a little dated now maybe,  and I cannot recommend both the film and the book enough.

 

9. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman.  This book is definitely young adult, not children’s, and deals with some difficult issues.  The idea of alternative history/distopia has always interested me and I think this is one of the most ingenious ideas I have ever come across. Although the first book, Noughts and Crosses completely outdid the second book, Knife Edge, I am yet to read the last two books of the series but don’t really have plans to read them soon.

 

10. Harry Potter À L’École Des Sorciers – J.K. Rowling.  Now maybe it’s cheating to have the same series of books twice but I have two legitimate reasons.  a) they are my favourite young adult/children’s books so why shouldn’t they be on here twice? b) this section refers to the French versions.  I am currently reading Harry Potter 1 in French for the second time to improve my French and because it’s fun, and I have the second one stored deep in my TBR pile too.  There is something magical (ha ha) about reading about the characters you love in another language and I recommend anyone who is interested in improving their language skills to pick up a copy of a favourite book and just give it a go!

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

This week the category is ‘Top Ten Favourite Covers’, with the advice to be ‘as specific or general as you want‘. Therefore I have decided to post my top ten covers of books that I currently own (not in any order – that would be too difficult!)  The covers here are the versions that I actually own.

1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë (Vintage Classics).  The Vintage Classics series is known for stunning covers – ‘jacket design is integral to our vintage classics’ and each book in the series has a pertinent and beautiful cover.  I love the way they hint at something in the book’s plot, like the key signifying the locked up secret in Jane Eyre.

2. Saraswati Park – Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate).  Unfortunately, the best part of this book was actually the cover as the story was rather disappointing! However, the cover is very well designed and a pleasure to look at – one of those books you are very careful with, as you don’t want to damage or spoil it!

3. The Man In The High Castle – Philip K. Dick (Penguin Modern Classics).  Again, a book that I didn’t particularly enjoy (although it is very unique) but a cover that I will never forget.  The reason it made this list is because of how shocking the cover is – it immediately perplexes you and really gets your mind thinking.  I did have to be a bit careful as to where I was reading it though!

4. 1984 – George Orwell (Penguin).  This is such an iconic book and the cover is striking and memorable too – both in the book and on the cover you can’t get away from the idea that ‘big brother is watching you‘!

5. The Number 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus).  This series are possibly THE books I most enjoy reading, on account of their being so funny, interesting and cheerful.  Lovely happy, bright covers which perfectly match the books they are surrounding.

6. Matilda – Roald Dahl (Puffin Modern Classics).  I have always loved Roald Dahl’s books, especially Matilda and The Witches and I have chosen the cover of Matilda for this list.  My version is very pink, but has a large illustration of Matilda by Quentin Blake on the front.  I think Roald Dahl’s words and Quentin Blake’s illustrations and both just as important for these childhood books so that is why this cover is so important to me.

7. The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo – Stieg Larsson (Quercus).  This book is one of my favourites and the whole series keeps me reading through the night.  I especially like this cover of the first book because it shows Noomi Rapace (who plays Lisbeth in the Swedish films) who I think portrays Lisbeth perfectly.

8. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman (Point).  I love the original (back in my day blah blah…) covers of the His Dark Materials Trilogy and I think Northern Lights is my favourite of the three, probably because my favourite colour is blue and that is the main background of this one!!

9. One Day – David Nicholls (Hodder).  There is so much to love about the cover of this book: its design is unique, the orange is amazing, the actual feel of the book is great … I could go on.  A great book with a really novel idea and a really novel cover to match.

10. Emma – Jane Austen (Vintage Classics).  I started this list with a Vintage Classic and I’m ending it with one too; rather appropriately, I think, because in my opinion this series of classics has the best covers that I have come across and they are always the ones that catch my eye when I’m browsing in bookshops.