The Secret Garden…

I remember watching the film ‘The Secret Garden’ when I was much younger. It made me wish that I, myself, had a secret garden. I adored the passages and the flowers and the much kept secrets that hid within. It was only recently when I was looking for a children’s book to review that I stumbled across ‘The Secret Garden’ and decided that a sheer classic like this definitely deserves a review.

The book itself was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and was originally published in 1911. This certainly puts many people off reading the book, due to the fact it was published very early in the 20th century and therefore is deemed ‘ancient’ and ‘unworthy of a read’. However, this is a false accusation, it is a brilliant book to read! It details the life of Mary Lennox, an orphan, and who has recently vacated from India to the Yorkshire Moors due to a recent cholera outbreak. She discovers many secrets and with the help of her two, new friends discovers a way to get into the old mansion. The book is quoted as being a book of happiness with a clear, distinctive theme of this running throughout.

The book has consequently been made into many dramatical readaptations and became a much loved children television series. Even my mum enjoyed watching this programme as a child and bought the film, hence how I was introduced to it!

I highly recommend many children to read this classic, and many parents to introduce their children to it! However, I believe it can be read by anyone. It is a piece of classic literature from over 100 years ago, a definite read!


5 Star! 


“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”



Victoria- Daisy Goodwin.

For a long time now I have become evermore fascinated by the life of Queen Victoria, and thus the Victorian era.

After reading a series of different historical novels and becoming a huge fan of the ‘Victoria Letters’ (A book based on the latest ITV Drama ‘Victoria’) I came across a similar paperback by Daisy Goodwin, also the screenwriter of the popular television series where she also had a minor cameo role as Lady Cecilia Underwood in Episode 6 (‘The Queen’s Husband).

The book itself is a detailed account of the early life of Queen Victoria, telling it almost as if it is a story, however in a beautifully written way, easy to follow. When reading the book, you feel as if you are following a storyline, when in actual fact you are reading about history. I found this method of storytelling great to use as it instantly seizes the readers’ keenness for learning about such important British history.

You feel a strong sense of admiration from the young Queen, as she powers on through the hardest of duties at such a young age and remains headstrong despite sway from her Mother and Uncle. However, there is a great deal of sadness to the life of Victoria especially when exposed to her unhappy childhood, provoking a great sense of sympathy for her. A book in particular, which captures this in even more detail and gives more on Victoria’s childhood is ‘The Captive of Kensington Palace’ By Jean Plaidy- another promising read.

There are also passages on the relationship between Victoria and Albert and the initial imprint of how their romance began is shown to the reader.

Another element that is conveyed through the book is the interplay between Politics and the Monarchy and how the two must act in accordance. This focuses particularly about the help she received by Lord Melbourne (her Prime Minister at the time she became Queen) along the way.


In summary, the book is a utterly fascinating read, especially for those interested in Queen Victoria and additionally those wanting a greater insight into her early life as Queen. I would highly recommend!


5 Star!


“I went into my sitting room (only in my dressing gown) alone and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at twelve minutes past two this morning and consequently that I was Queen.”

– A recollection of when Victoria found out she was to become Queen, June 1837.


The Woman in Black- Susan Hill

As you can probably tell my book reviews normally stick to anything light-hearted, fun and appealing for all the family. Well this time I have thrown a curve ball and steered away from reviewing children’s books and went for a gothic horror- something you would not catch me normally reading!

Alas, I was in fact FORCED into reading this book as part of my English Literature studies and after hearing about the jumpy, terrifying nature of the film, my groan could have been heard miles, countries and even worlds away! I could not think of anything worse to read, for I hate anything fear-some and once I purchased the book on Amazon I was in no hurry for it to arrive. Once I heard the clink of the letter box and my cute yet feisty Yorkshire Terrier started to rip on the package, I knew it could only be one thing, the book…

The front cover I must admit was created perfectly, it was in many shades of blues and greens with a silhouette of an estranged woman dominating the page, initially capturing your attention, questioning the book and what is to come.

As a starter we were told to read the open two chapters, making notes on the characters and any elements of ‘Dickensian Pastiche’ we could identify. After reading these first two chapters I realised how wrong I was about the book, it was a perfect mix of gothic horror and skilled writing, drawing the reader in bit by bit. The Woman in Black, is Arthur’s story, once brave enough for him to open up at last and say what he actually encountered… and it works. The book keeps you guessing along the whole way and even in its final chapters I had no idea what was to come! The descriptions are certainly also very realistic and creates the eerie sense that you expect from any horror novel. It tells the story in a way which is brilliant and even I, who hates gothic literature found it very interesting to read! A definite page turner!


5 Star!


I felt nothing other than curiosity, a professional interest…. coupled with a mild sense of adventure.”

*Also for those interested follow my Instagram for book pictures and many more- @justaskgrace  * 

101 Poems…

After the continuation of searching for some younger books to review I stumbled across a book titled ‘101 Poems for Children’.

If you are ever looking for a little bit of light hearted poetry, I would more than happily recommend this little collection, or should I say a quite a large collection of 101 poems, by Carol Ann Duffy.

The title of this book may be indicate a book strictly for children, but with the works of Shakespeare and many other successful authors or poets inside, I believe it is a valuable book for any age to read! The foreword in particular captured my attention, where the reader is given a little bit of wisdom by Carol Ann Duffy, in which she quotes: “…you’ll find many poems here- funny, sad, mysterious or familiar- that will remain with you as you grow.”

Furthermore, a section or piece of the book that may attract the attention of younger children is the striking yet witty illustrations, which fill the pages with enthusiasm and happiness.

Whilst some of the poems cover issues such as: death, loss and upset, you simply have to turn the page and be greeted by a series of light hearted and humorous poems, and even some classics such as: ‘There was an old Lady’ or the tales of the Jabberwocky’. This is what makes the book its own and it is able to skip from one genre to another, at the same time as fitting together perfectly.

The book itself as previously mentioned has a good selection of poems, both suitable for older and younger children and maybe those even older! A great read!


4 Star!


“…I’ve tried to put together a poetry book that children can live with for a long time- some poems here are lying in wait of future years.”

Miss Potter

Beatrix Potter was born on the 28th July 1866 in South Kensington, London. She was, or should I say still is, a renowned author and illustrator- the proud writer of 23 books which make up the Tales series. Her books are wonderfully written and each picture captures many of life’s emotions. Her most famous characters include: Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck and so on, for I am sure you have heard of them!

A film I have recently watched called ‘Miss Potter’ inspired the title of this blog post. It captures the early to mid life of Beatrix Potter, taking us on a journey through the publication of her first book, along with the devastating heartbreak she faced along the way. You also see her fondly as a child when on trips to the Lake District; she would draw the local sites and tell the most incredible tales about the wild animals she encountered. She was fascinated by nature and at the age of fourteen she started to keep a diary; detailing descriptions and opinions of places she had been along with lots of illustrations!

Beatrix was also an avid reader and in her youth many books inspired her, including: The Water Babies, Book of Nonsense and Alice in Wonderland. All once again very famous pieces of work.

Her children’s stories are widely known and appreciated, with each character now becoming recognisable and give a sense of warm heartedness. As you can probably guess she grew up with many pets and her brother Bertram kept several small animals as pets. At various points they even had mice, rabbits and a hedgehog! I can assume where many of her ideas came from!

To end, even in an age where women were suppose to conform to traditional gender stereotypes, Beatrix became a successful writer and illustrator and her works have become widely known. I believe from this example that if you really believe in yourself you can achieve your biggest goals.


“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”

The Suitcase Kid- Jacqueline Wilson

The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson is an utter masterpiece, hence why this a short review as I can find nothing bad to say about it!

The book covers the issue of divorce, however, it does this in a way that shows a sense of unity and that all is not as bad as it seems. It does this in particular in a very light hearted manner, with each chapter a letter of the alphabet and how this in turn relates to the story.

The Suitcase Kid is a book primarily aimed at children, yet, covers an issue which many kids may find complex and upsetting. This is where I found it to be sheer genius as in the end Andy (the protagonist) learns that after all, things that were once difficult can be solved and what once was troubling can be answered.

The book also deals with aspect of bullying within the household and many other complicated issues- such as: one week living with your mum and one with your dad and simply being stuck in the middle- but once again shows how this can be overcome easily.

The book sends you on a rollercoaster of emotions- sadness, anger albeit happiness. For children this book is one in which I highly recommend- the reader instantly creates a bond with Andy and you cannot help but love her, whilst at the same time feel complete pity for her!

I read the book when I was younger and I read it with the same enthusiasm now, as I did then and I believe it to be simply wonderful.


5 Star!


“It’s as easy as A B C. That’s what everyone says. But all I want is to go home – back to Mulberry Cottage…”

Becoming Jane

Jane Austen is one of Britain’s greatest celebrated authors of all time. Born at Steventon Parsonage on 16 December 1775- Jane Austen was seventh sibling of eight children! She grew up in a rather happy and close-knit family, where she began to write at a very young age. Jane had a loving alliance with her only sister Cassandra which lasted a life time, and both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility revolve around sisterhood.


*“Mr Austen reported with relief. ‘We have now another girl, a plaything for Cassy and a future companion.”


Her plots often explore the dependency that women have on marriage, in the pursuit of social and economic security- with each novel rich in: romance, wit and satire. She is well known for Pride and Prejudice which she called: “my own darling child” and it has furthermore gone on to make many contemporary films along with TV series. It was during the 1790s she wrote the first drafts of Sense and SensibilityPride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. It was her trips to Kent and Bath that gave her the colour for the settings of these books.

Jane’s novels reflect England of the period it was wrote in and as she herself had experienced it. It explores a multiplicity of issues- some underlying yet some more obvious and detectible. She is a notorious author, whose work has never or will ever age… a timeless classic.

I am currently looking at- *Jane Austen at Home: A Biography. It is a great account into the life of Jane Austen. I titled this blog post ‘Becoming Jane’ after the BBC film staring Anne Hathaway and James Mcavoy, which tells the story of Jane Austen’s early life.

Jane Austen- Pride and Prejudice…

IMG_6194If I was being honest, Pride and Prejudice was never really a book that stuck out for me to read. It reminded me simply of a tiresome Sunday, where you have nothing better to do, bar dwelling at home all day, doing zilch!

However, when I came across the book again I decided to give it a go, but firstly reading up more about the author- Jane Austen- and I was surprised by what I learnt…

I discovered that it was in fact her father that first submitted Pride and Prejudice to a publisher in 1797. This was under the ideology that men were to be authors and women simply were not. It was originally titled First Impressions, albeit it was rejected for the solitary motive that it had been written by a woman.

When Pride and Prejudice was eventually published in 1813, Austen’s name did not appear as the author of the book, and in fact, she was never given credit for being the author of any of her works while she was alive! The title page of Pride and Prejudice, when published, read “By the author of Sense and Sensibility.” Once again not naming Austen nor giving her credit for her work. Moreover, it is surprising to believe this happened to one of the most famous authors known for their classical works in literature. I actually find it sad that she never got to know how famous her books would become.

She was believed to be a shy girl, with only a few friends. There are rumors, which also suppose that Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza, Comtesse de Feuillide, provided a model for Elizabeth Bennett’s wit and humour. I found the book itself rather comic, hence these amusing characters.

I understand that you get quite a lot of the anger Austen personally feels through the book and that she does this by accurately portraying what life was like for women at the time, and, for example: her life does shed light on her fiction. Similarly this is like another book I reviewed: Little Women, where we also see these typical gender roles and how women had very little say in their lives.

I found both the plot and the characters engaging, featuring the civilised sparring between Mr. Darcy, i.e.: the pride, and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet, who each judged their characters mistakenly. Overall, I was mistaken about this book, it is a true and utter classic- a joy to read!

5 star!

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”


The Philosophy of Snoopy

Everyone has heard of Snoopy.  Charlie Brown.  Or even Lucy. The Peanuts Movie graced our screens in 2015 and the snoopy phenomenon has really taken off. However, has anyone ever read any of the snoopy books? I recently bought the Philosophy of Snoopy, it is a small red book detailed with all the different comic strips on “how to live your life” according to snoopy. Albeit it doesn’t stop there, there is also similar related which you must collect in order to complete the set. There is: The Wisdom of Woodstock and even Charlie Brown’s Guide to Happiness. They are each great and are really light hearted. I then wanted to see more about the comic and how it was created. After a lot of searching I found Snoopy’s Guide to the writing life. It is truly great, it gives tips on how to write your own book; it talks about Charles Schultz and gives general advice on how to write to your best ability by breaking it down into simple and easy steps. It is the perfect book for any aspiring writers or those generally interested in how the characters were created and more about the famous author.

5 star!

Snoopy, it’s never easy. When the words don’t come, try talking to yourself using any kind of mnemonic device to get yourself going, scribbling phrases, automatic writing, anything, but get something down. Then you go back and take a hard look with a more critical eye.”