Bookish Adventures: Sardothian-Style Training Day

*Okay, so before you all think I’m mad and taking my book love too far, I’m just going to point out that this post is inspired by one of Bee’s prompts (no.84, fyi). I’M NOT INSANE, I PROMISE!!! (It was super fun though, so maybe look out for more in the future???)*

I’VE BEEN REREADING THRONE OF GLASS, AND NOW I AM BASICALLY AN ASSASSIN. Ahem. For those of you who are uninitiated (HEATHENS!!!), Throne of Glass sees Celeana Sardothian facing a gruelling climb back to fitness as she battles on to become the King’s Champion.

Cool stuff.

Now, obviously I am not a slave/assassin queen/potential Queen’s pet murderer, BUT I am a girl battling for fitness. (And, you know, I totally wouldn’t say no to all of that assassin training!) AAAAND my boyfriend is training for the army (he has his final interview and assessment in June… SOOOOOOOOOOOO nervous!), so… I’ve been trying to get my fitness on to support him (and it has nothing to do with the fact that I plan on being the hot army wife. NOSIREEEE.). Anyway, basically the ONLY way to make me voluntarily work out is to role play, so I pretended to be a kick ass assassin, and PB was my grumpy Captain of the Guard trainer.

And no, he had no idea about that.

 

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Step One: Apply body armour.

I have a feeling Celeana’s training gear was a liiiiitttle more heavy duty than this, but the boyfriend says we’re not ACTUALLY allowed to play with swords and knives and stuffs. Sob.

“Dress her in pants and a shirt – something lose, nothing frilly or revealing, and bring a cloak.”

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Step Two: RUUUUUUN.

You remember those morning runs Celeana puts herself through?? You know, the ones where she worked so hard she vommed ALL THE TIME??? Yeah, well apparently I’m too lazy for that. It drives my boyfriend mad, but I’m much more content to plod along than race ahead. THESE MUSCLES ARE BUILT FOR ENDURANCE, BABY!! (Except I haven’t endured anything more than five miles in the past two years, BUT WE’RE GETTING THERE.)

“Her lungs burned and her legs were leaden, but she kept running… One step after another, one breath in, one breath out. Breathe – she had to remember to keep breathing… She missed a breath, and her knees wobbled, but she kept upright. The run would be over soon. Soon.”

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Step Three: The brutal play park of torture.

Seriously, I thought parks were supposed to be fun. And I suppose if this was a ye olde worlde training camp, it might have been better. BUT IT WAS NOT.

The one highlight was the zip wire. ENDLESS turns on the zip wire. It’s good for your leg muscles, don’t you know!! (Totally just made that up.) (Although actually, it is good for your boyfriend’s arm muscles, ’cause he has to keep towing you back to the beginning each time you fly away. LOLOLOLOL.)

‘Wind tore at her, but Celeana kept her focus on Nox, falling so fast, so far from her outstretched hands.’

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Step Four: We drink poisonous smoothies and pretend they taste good.

Remember that poison test?? THIS WAS THAT.

(That purple one was horrific. DEFINITELY THE DEADLIEST. Just FYI.)

‘She had five minutes left – five minutes during which she not only had to identify the poisons in seven goblets, but arrange them in the order of the most benign to the deadliest.’

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Step Five: WE BAKE ALLLLLLLLLL THE CHOCOLATE CAKE.

Aw yeah.

(And don’t you worry your little heads: the recipe will be shared soon, I promise!!)

 

Soooo… what do you think?? Are you ever tempted to make your life that little bit… story-ish?

Do You Ever Feel Pressured to Read?

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I get it. I do. I am a bookworm. Reading is what makes me, me. But, at the same time… sometimes I just don’t enjoy it very much.

And that’s not even necessarily the book’s fault! Yes, occasionally I’ll read a book that makes me want to drill through my skull with a spoon, and that is never a good thing. But more and more often I’m finding that I don’t really WANT to read. Even if I’m reading the best book ever. Even if the only other thing I have to do is scroll through instagram and look at other people reading.

And that confuses me, a bit.

The thing is, I will look at a photo of someone snuggling up with a good book and a cup of coffee with complete envy. Like, there will be NOTHING else I’d rather do than snuggle up with my own good book and coffee. But the when I finally CAN snuggle up with a good book and whatever beverage I’m fancying, I will immediately lose interest. I’ll have to force myself to read my book.

WHY?????

I LOVE reading, so why am I just not so interested in it any more? I mean, I’m still interested in books. Collecting them, taking photos of them, wearing them as hats… I just don’t want to read, for some reason. The only thing that I can think of that’s changed in terms of my relationship with books is that right now, because of my blog, I’m reading like a monster. So maybe I should just stop reading and wait for my love of books to come back?

BUT I DON’T WANT TO….

 

Urgh. Sorry for the rambling post of useless doom, but I’m in the middle of a reading crisis right now. Do you have any advice? It’s not really a reading slump; more like… a loss of reading motivation. Or interest. URGH MAKE IT GO AWAY GUYSSSSSSSSS! 

Non-Bookish Things I Like

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Running

Weirdly, I’ve actually started enjoying running again. I put a lot of pressure on myself to complete a couch to 5k training plan, but that backfired because I HATE stop-start running. Anyway, now that my race is done, I’m excited for all the pressure to be lifted and to run when I feel like, for as long as I feel like.

I am NOT looking forward to cleaning the mud off my running shoes however. So I’ll just procrastinate a bit.

Foooooood

At the other end of the health spectrum, I’m really enjoying food at the moment. Which sounds weird. But it’s true. May has been a month full of cooking and baking and trying new things, and I’ve loved all of that. Highlights have definitely included making Byron burgers and MACARONI CHEESE HASH BROWNS; the simplest, most gorgeous chocolate cake; and an apple pie/tart CROWN thing. Oh, and champagne ice lollies. Can’t forget them!

Exploring

May has been the month of the day trip, for us. And it’s been wonderful. You’ve seen a few of my travels, but there are more to come, and I’m excited for all of the trips we’ve yet to have! (I’m thinking Cheltenham or Winchester next. HEY, MAYBE WE’LL GO AND SEE DOWNTON ABBEY!!! (OMG, that is happening.))

Lifestyle Blogs

I mentioned a few weeks back that I’ve been reading through the archives of some of my old faves, and it has completely inspired me. Reading through the old lifestyle posts reminds me of what I like about blogging – NOT having everything perfect and lengthy and justified, but just writing about something that makes you excited. There’s so much pressure with blogging nowadays, and I’m trying to step away from all of that. IT’S NOT GOOD FOR MY PERFECTIONISM, PEEPS! Anyway, I’ve particularly been enjoying Cider with Rosie; being little; Colours & Carousels; and Robowe Cop.

Blogging

I have kinda fallen in love with blogging again. This everyday blogging malarky can be a bit stressful at times, but it’s been so worth it just to get back into that routine. TQP probably doesn’t come across as a particularly creative blog, but it’s my main creative outlet, and everyday blogging has left me feeling inspired (makes a change from the usual jaded posts about blogging losing it’s spark and whatnot, doesn’t it?).

 

YOUR TURN! What non-bookish things have you fallen in love with this month?

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1. I had a horrible week at work (four hours overtime in three days is just not cool), but other than that it’s been quite nice. PB took me on a date to the local pub on Tuesday so I wouldn’t have to cook; we shared a slice of cheesecake that was bigger than my head!

2. It’s not been a great week for reading… I managed to finish The Serpent King (thoughts coming soon!), and I read Assassin’s Heart, Sane and The Tell Tale Heart. I also managed The Wrath and the Dawn and The Raven King, so I’ve read A LOT… it’s just, the only five star-er I found was The Wrath and the Dawn… which was a re-read. Not the worst, but not the best either – now I have 8 books left to read before I hit 100, and only one week left to do it in! (No, I don’t know why I’ve self-imposed such a tight deadline. I’m just infuriating like that.)

3. I DID manage to finish early on Friday, so spent the majority of the afternoon planning out my blog content for June, with Little Dorrit playing in the background. It was lovely!

4. I ran my Pretty Muddy 5k! It was actually pretty fun; I just didn’t like all the slow people and waiting for obstacles. Now I’m looking in to a colour run in October… help! I may have caught the running bug!

My Favourite Cookery Books

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So I decided to take my own advice and write about something you wouldn’t usually see on here. (Despite the fact that actually, my love of food is quite widely known.)

HERE!! Because my life revolves around food (as should yours), I thought you’d like some cookery book recommendations, so you can cook up your own literary storm!

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Jamie’s Comfort Food | Jamie Oliver

In all honesty, I actually use Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals more frequently than Comfort Food, ’cause I just really enjoy that fast, relatively healthy way of cooking (I actually just bought 15 Minute Meals, and I HEART that, too). But useful doesn’t always mean best, and just looking through this cook book makes me happy. I mean, it’s a book… about happy food. HOW CAN THAT NOT BE THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD??? Yes, some of the recipes are indulgent/time cosuming/full of hard to find ingredients, but that’s part of it’s charm. Comfort Food is about enjoying the process of cooking as much as the end result, and that just speaks to me. Oh, and also I love the variety – yeah, there’s a considerable number of gourmet British classics, but there’s also Korean flavours, and Jamaican-style recipes, and a whole section on Italian comfort food and… well, I could go on.

Favourite Recipes: Jamaican Ginger Cake (I add a caramel layer to mine, and I kid you not, have to mke at least two loaves at a time. IT’S THAT GOOD!); Devil’s Double Choc Malt Cookies; Happiness is a Bacon Sarnie.

To Try Next: Jerk Ham, Egg & Chips.

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Simply Nigella | Nigella Lawson

Ahhhh, Nigella. I don’t care what you say, I LOOOOOVE Nigella’s signature indulgent, simple… kind of awkwardly seductive cookery. I did have reservations about this most recent offering though – if there’s one celebrity chef you don’t expect to ride on the healthy food bandwagon, it’s Nigella – but I just adore this book. It’s not about eating healthy, it’s about eating sensibly. And for Nigella, that doesn’t mean carrot sticks; it’s more a matter of responding to what your body wants, which is a sentiment I applaud. Like Comfort Food, Simply Nigella holds a huuuuge mixture of cuisines, which is awesome for me, ’cause as you’ve probably guessed, I love variety in food. Oh, and can we just talk about Nigella’s introductions to each dish? I’d happily read this as a bedtime story – there’s something about the way that she writes that calms and comforts me! I’ve only actually tried one dud recipe from here, and that was the three ingredient Nutella brownies (FOUR EGGS WILL MAKE ANY RECIPE TASTE OF EGGS, GUYS), but all in all, it’s a good’un.

Favourite Recipes: Fish Tacos (OMG SO QUICK AND EASY AND FUN); Thai Turkey Meatballs; Salmon, Avocado, Watercress & Pumpkin Seed Salad.

To Try Next: Tequila and Lime Chicken.

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The Breakfast Book | Dorset Cereals

So this is probably the kind of cookery book that I shouldn’t like, ’cause it’s soooo heavily branded and that’s not cool – but you know what, I really don’t care. I struggle to eat breakfast (always have done, ever since my Dad tried to convince me to eat my soggy Rice Krispies by adding green food colouring to them (it probably has more to do with the subsequent vom-fest, tbh)), but having a cookbook dedicated to morning food has definitely encouraged me to give more things a try. Again, it’s a lovely mix of indulgent and healthy; labour intensive and convenient; and I like that. It’s the sort of book that reminds me to take care of myself, which is always nice.

Favourite Recipes: Vanilla Iced Coffee (I make mine the night before so it’s ready for breakfast); Heart Pancakes with Honey; Bircher Muesli.

To Try Next: Strawberry Breakfast Risotto (this recipe has made my dreams of rice pudding for breakfast becoming a legitimate THING come true!!).

 

What’s your favourite cookbook?? Have you tried any of these?? AND DO YOU HAVE ANY AMAZING RECIPES? (‘Cause I NEEEEEEED them!)

Underwhelming Books I’ve Read Recently

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Don’t you hate it when you pick up a pretty book; dive in full of great expectations; only to find – like Pip – that those expectations will not be met?

Yeah, well I’ve saved you the trouble. You can thank me later.

Radio Silence | Alice Oseman

Oh, I wanted to love this SOOOOO much, but like Solitaire, I found Alice Oseman’s second offering fell a bit flat. I think it’s just me though, ’cause EVERYONE (well, Kyra and Emily) loved it. I just found the characters a little… plain maybe? And they made weird decisions and infuriated me and had all this mis-directed anger… do people really feel like that? I was hoping for a kind of happy, Fangirl-esque novel about, well… fangirling, but instead I got a confused mystery/kind of abusive story and I’m just not sure about it.

Props to the whole: ‘you don’t have to go to Uni’ theme though. I went to university because it was necessary for the career I thought I wanted (turns out, I didn’t), and if I’d done it all again I would have made a few changes. Yay to stories with characters who DON’T feel the need to fit in with social norms.

Rebel of the Sands | Alwyn Hamilton

Again, I was a bit underwhelmed by this. I mean, it’s a fairly good novel, but it just left me feeling a bit meh. Maybe it’s too predictable? IDK… I did love the Middle Eastern setting, and all of the culture and mythology and Arabian-ness of it all though. AND THERE’S DEATH, which always makes me happy in books. (Not really; I just like stories that aren’t all sunshine and lollipops and dancing, you know?)

Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief | Rick Riordan

I’ll admit, I read this by accident. I was poorly sick the other week, had finished the Harry Potter series and needed something magical in my life. So I maybe sort of downloaded the first chapter of PJatLT, and then hobbled out to buy a copy at my local supermarket. And, you know, it was EXACTLY what I needed – I even managed to overlook the American-isms and MG-ness of it all. The plot was simple, but fast, and I LOVED the Greek mythology woven throughout.

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters | Rick Riordan

I bought this one at the same time as PJatLT (thank you Asda 2 for £7!) and read it the same afternoon. It was… okay. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first one, but that does tend to be the case with sequels. It just seemed more childish and predictable than the other, which I can’t say I loved. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll continue with the series, tbh.

 

Have you read any of these? Thoughts? And can we just talk about Alice Oseman, ’cause I want to be in the fan club, but JUST CAN’T AND I DON’T KNOW WHY. Sobs.

Adventures in: Oxford

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WE WENT TO OXFORD!!

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I was super well prepared and packed my copy of Ink and Bone, ’cause it’s based there, and I was planning to take some sort of snazzy photo, but, um… I forgot. So here, have an outfit shot instead. (And yes, that is a Harry Potter top. Whoop.)

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THERE’S A STORY MUSEUM!! ‘Speak friend and enter’ – even my boyfriend understood that reference (we totally gave each other nerdy high fives then. How cool.). There’s a lovely looking cafe too, but the boy wanted burritos, so we weren’t allowed to stop there. Sob.

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You can’t see too clearly, but there were ADORABLE little hidey-holes with scenes from Alice in Wonderland built into the walls. Except some possibly drunk, angry man told me ‘they weren’t real’. Then he walked with us allll the way out of the street, which was kind of creepy. Yay for having a scary-tall boyfriend to intimidate people with, though!!

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There were a LOT of bicycles. Like, they’re EVERYWHERE. Parked on the streets. Parked on the pavements. Parked ON the walls. You know, as you do.

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OF COURSE we ended up in Waterstones (aka my second home). I did want to find some of the local independent book shops, but we looked and looked and found none. Sob. BUT STILL, I managed to find a Penguin bound copy of The Woman in White (WHICH I HAVE NEVER FOUND BEFORE!!!), and my boyfriend bought Morning Star. And yes, I have already read the epilogue and spoiled it for him. TROLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

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Oh, and I totally got distracted by the blossoms everywhere. PRETTY PRETTY PRETTY!!

 

So, um, the moral of this story is… go to Oxford ’cause it’s pretty and cool (but the park and ride is super expensive, and all of the bookshops are hidden. Just saying.).

Have you ever been to Oxford?? Would you like to go?? Where was your last adventure?

Look Book: When We Collided | Emery Lord

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It’s that time again… LOOK BOOK TIME!!! Seriously though, why are there so many beautiful book covers at the moment??

I… can’t make up my mind about When We Collided. On the one hand, I completely ADORED Jonah’s side of the story: his responsibilities to his family, his love of food, his caring nature… argh, I want me one of them. (Technically I have one, expect PB is less interested in children and MORE interested in food. Just saying.) But Vivi… Vivi was hard to get on with. I mean, I know she has a mental condition which affected her behaviour, but… all of her choices were alien to me. And I know, I KNOW that that is part of her disorder, but perhaps it was just too real for my tastes. The manic-ness was manic and uncaring and hurtful, and I struggled with that.

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BUT she does have a strong look that’s too fun not to recreate – albeit in  more subdued manner!! As you can see, I forwent the nighties-as-day-wear look, and simply paired a cream gypsy top (hah, my boyfriend refers to it as my ‘net curtain’ top) with TOTALLY impractical white jeans, and then accessorised with some bright colours AND SPARKLES!! Vivi has a very Marylin Monroe vibe in the story, and for some reason the figure hugging (read: tight) jeans and shoulder bearing top remind me of that. AND the bracelet is super colourful, like Vivi’s art, AND made by a small child – I can totally imagine Leah presenting Vivi something like this. The shoes and nail varnish obviously match her ‘sparkling’ personality, too!

Overall, I think the outfit was actually super cute – sorry that you can’t see it properly, but a) I’m too shy to show my face twice in a month, and b) my boyfriend decided to go out and watch the football instead of play photographer for me. HOW RUDE.

Bet Jonah would never do that…

What do you think of the outfit? And your thoughts on When We Collided? Did you like Vivi/regard her as a manicpixidreamgirl? AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: shall I continue with this series

Currently Reading: Sane | Emma Young

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I’M READING A NON FICTION BOOK. Voluntarily.

Believe me, that NEVER happens. I don’t even like magazines, ’cause they’re too ‘informative’ (lol).

But we were out at the local Outlet Village on Sunday, and of COURSE I found an outlet version of The Works, and of COURSE I had to stop by. But instead of perusing the cookbook section, for some reason I was drawn to the self-help/mindfullness section. And there I spotted Sane.

Soooo, as I said, this is not something I’d usually read. And it’s not the fun-est thing to read, either – yes, Emma Young is very relatable (am I supposed to relate to 40-year-olds?? When did that happen?), but it is written pretty academically. I kind of like that, though – instead of just saying, THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT WILL FIX YOUR BROKEN BRAIN, Sane essentially says: these are theories about things that will fix you, but THESE are the ones that actually worked for me. I kind of like that.

I should probably point out that despite my usual hatred of this kind of book, I am probably part of it’s target audience – people who don’t have any particular reason to be overly concerned about their mental well being, but who are struggling anyway. And in some ways, I do feel like Sane gets me, in that respect: it’s about someone who, like me, wanted to improve her health, but was reluctant to make the pre-requisite life changes.

So far, there’s been chapters on meditation, exercise and food. These are the areas I’m most interested in, so I’m less keen to read on. Hey, maybe it’ll up me unfold the mysteries of life/my brain… it just might put me to sleep first! (Why are NF books so dull, though??)

 

Do you read non-fiction books often? Have you read one of these mindfullness/self-help guide things? Thoughts??

Penguin Little Black Classics (Round One)

As I said in my birthday haul, I’ve been expanding my collection of Little Black Classics. And for some reason, I decided you’d be interested in my thoughts, so… here ya go!!

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To Be Read at Dusk | Charles Dickens | ****

I should probably preface this by pointing out that gothic literature is my FAVOURITE (I actually prefer it to YA, if you can believe that!), so I knew I’d love this collection of short ghost stories. AND I WAS RIGHT. Each of the stories are beautifully atmospheric, although I’d say that the latter stories are more chilling, just because they’re longer and better developed. The first story, To be Read at Dusk, does feel almost a little pointless – it’s literally about couriers exchanging snippets of ghost stories – but it’s not bad. It actually reminded me a lot of Wilkie Collins’ The Haunted Hotel, which you should read. The Signalman is a fascinating story about a man haunted by visions, and his desperate search to discover their meaning (and again, it reminded me of a Wilkie Collins story – you can see how much the writers depended on each other!); while The Trial for Murder is about ghostly visions playing their part in a murder trial. Okay, so they’re pretty bland to today’s audience, but I can imagine they’d terrify the Victorian reader – especially if read in the darkening gloom of dusk!

The Beautifull Cassandra | Jane Austen | ***

Okay, so I’m not Jane Austen’s biggest fan, but I was really looking forward to reading this. And… it was okay! I mean, all of the short stories positively DRIPPED with Austen’s signature sarcasm/wit/passive aggressiveness, which was kind of funny, but also made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I mean, did she despise EVERY single facet of society? (Admirable!) Anyway, the stories themselves were quite sweet, if a little lacking in plot. Or had WAAAAAY to much plot, and basically nothing else. Henry and Eliza, for instance, took place over 9 pages, and concerned a foundling child; a thief; an affair; two children; a prison escape; cannibalism and a mother forgetting her own child. ONE OF THE TITLE CHARACTERS DIED AFTER LESS THAN A PAGE, FFS!! Jack and Alice, by contrast, takes a ‘whopping’ 23 pages, and focuses predominately on a drunken woman arguing with a much elder woman over NOTHING, until an acquaintance is poisoned. It’s just a little bizarre, to be honest!!

Having said that, I did find the collection quite fascinating in terms of development – you can see how far Jane Austen’s writing progressed from her early days, which is cool. Overall, The Beautifull Cassandra is not really my fave, but not terrible either – I’d probably avoid it if you’re not an Austen fan. STICK TO DICKENS!!!!

*Oh, and also, those spelling mistakes?? NOT COOL, JA.*

The Figure in the Carpet | Henry James | **

Urgh, this is my least favourite of the three. I’ve never read any Henry James before (aside from one tiiiiiiny mini story about a snake draught excluder, I think), but I had high hopes. Aaand, to be honest… they were crushed a bit. There’s nothing WRONG with The Figure in the Carpet, per se, I just couldn’t get on with it.

This is the only book in this post that is an entire story, and it did drag on for a while. The essential premise should have fascinated me – it’s a MYSTERY about a BOOK REVIEWER attempting to uncover an AUTHOR’S SECRET, ffs – but it was just a bit… bland. And I don’t mean Dickensian not-scary ghost stories, bland. I mean, it’s kind of Dostoevsky-esque story of obsession, without any real motive other than nosiness and lacking any redeeming characters. (Seriously, the characters are all dull and irritating. Even the protagonist.)

For me, despite it being the only ‘proper’ story out of the three, it lacked substance and point. Probably won’t be exploring any more Henry James in the future (although The Turn of the Screw DOES look good…)!

 

Soooooo… let’s talk. What do you think of the Penguin Little Black Classics collection? Read any great mini-classics?? Would you recommend any? And if you’ve read these, what are your thoughts??

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