Read and Review: Swallows and Amazons

Read and Review: Swallows and Amazons
  • Title: Swallows and Amazons
  • Author: Arthur Ransome
  • Published: 1930

Swallows and Amazons follows the lives of John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker as they stay at a farm near a lake in the Lake District during the school holidays. They borrow a boat named Swallow to go sailing and make a camp on a nearby island. Soon, they find themselves under attack from the fierce Amazon pirates [also known to some as Ruth and Peggy Blackett], who sail a boat named Amazon. The two groups of children have many outdoor adventures, including sailing, camping, fishing, exploration and general piracy.

I really enjoyed this book. Swallows and Amazons is just a good, a heart-warming, children’s adventure story, in a similar league to other popular children’s series such as Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books (which I loved as a girl).

The children explore an island, forage for supplies, engage in a pirate “battle”, and learn about some buried pirate treasure.

Ransome’s writing style is witty, and this subtle humour permeates the narration and added to my enjoyment of the novel. His characters, although children, use sarcasm and sharp wit within their dialogue and this is brilliant.

When I started Swallows and Amazons, I was a little wary of, in a story set in the 30s, the 2 boys and 2 girls falling into simple and constrictive gender stereotypes. However, I was pleasantly proved wrong. Whilst Susan, as the eldest girl, is mostly responsible for the cooking*, all the other roles and responsibilities – such as tidying, fishing, sailing, washing up – are shared by the children as best they can. This is only amplified when the “pirates” Ruth (who’s pirate name is Nancy) and Peggy appear on the island, proving that little girls can be just as adventurous and pirate-like as little boys.

*Inner housewife moment: I actually really love the little details Ransome includes of the meals Susan prepares, the way the tents are made homely, and all the little supplies the children need. This was one of my favourite parts of the Famous Five series too, when Anne takes on the role of cook and homemaker.

I think my favourite thing about Swallows and Amazons is that, in Ransome’s narration, he takes the children seriously and never belittles their imaginative minds and games. For example, John Walker is not John Walker, he is Captain. The local village is not just a local village, they are savage natives.

This, I think, is the charm of older children’s books – from authors like Ransome, Blyton, and C.S. Lewis for example –  in contrast to children’s fiction nowadays. Yes, the childlike essence of the story naturally appeals to his primary audience of children, but the writing style, characters and plot are also incredibly enjoyable for older readers too, which I think modern children’s fiction lacks – it is written specifically with a 7 year old in mind, and no-one else.**

**Feel free to challenge me on this, this is my own experience: The modern children’s books I read when I was a 7 year old I’d never read again. The books that do stick in my mind as a 7 year old and I would read again are classics such as the Famous Five series, the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Little Women, and so on.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Swallows and Amazons and read it in just a few days. There are 11 more books in this series, that I will probably / most definitely read in the future.

If you didn’t read this book as a child, I encourage you to read it.

If you did read this book as a child, I encourage you to read it again.


Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this review, please click ‘Like’ and don’t forget to ‘Follow’ for more book reviews.

– Judith


Film Review: 12 Days of Blogmas Day #9: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Film Review: 12 Days of Blogmas Day #9: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

We’re creeping ever closer towards Christmas, but unfortunately this blog post isn’t Christmas-themed (sorry)!

As I’ve already mentioned before, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a classic children’s story and film people enjoy watching at Christmas. However, I already wrote a film review of it here back in March, so instead I thought I’d watch and review its sequel instead.

  • Title:The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
  • Director:Andrew Adamson
  • Released:2008

I remember seeing Prince Caspian in the cinema when it came out. It is about the four Pevensie children, who return to Narnia to help Prince Caspian (played by Ben Barnes) in his struggle with for the throne against his corrupt uncle, King Miraz (played by Sergio Castellitto).

I think Prince Caspian is a good sequel; I liked the fact the actors were older because it gives the characters more maturity and allows the director to explore darker themes, in a similar way to the Harry Potter films. Of course, The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets were good films, but by The Prisoner of Azkaban, there was more development, a higher sense of threat and you knew the characters could be tested more – which makes for a more interesting experience as an older viewer.

In addition, I found it easier to engage with all four main characters: Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley), Edmund Pevensie (Skandar Keynes), Susan Pevensie (Anna Popplewell) and Peter Pevensie (William Moseley) because they’ve all grown up, whereas in the first film, I always preferred Peter and Susan, as opposed to the more childish Edmund and Lucy.

I particularly appreciated the growth of Edmund’s character; he steps up and makes careful decisions, learning from his previous mistakes in Narnia, highlighting the change from his weedy and foolish character from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

However, I’m not sure how I feel about the eponymous Prince Caspian – despite the film being titled after him, it still felt like Prince Caspian was still more about the Pevensies, and Prince Caspian was just a “tag along”. Although, I did like the suggestion that he and Susan liked each other, and the competitive rivalry created between Peter and Caspian – this added for comic relief in more serious moments of battles and politics. Eddie Izzard’s Reepicheep also added humour.

Of course, it wouldn’t be The Chronicles of Narnia without Aslan, and Liam Neeson reprises the role to bestow more wisdom on the children. I also love the theme music – you know something great is going to happen when the score begins to play.

When I talked about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I discussed some Christian themes from the first film, so it seems only fitting to do that here too. What struck me was Lucy’s fervent faith in Aslan (symbolising a Christian’s belief in God), even when some of her siblings begin to doubt and follow their own ways. This is developed further by The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), as it is just Edmund and Lucy who travel to Narnia because Susan and Peter have become “too old” for the world of Narnia. Maybe I’ll write a review of Dawn Treader one day…

I recommend both The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian as good family-friendly films, great for watching at Christmas time. This is a lengthier review than my first Narnia blog post, but I really enjoyed writing it.

If you liked reading this post, please click ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ my blog for more posts. Stay tuned for Blogmas Day 10 tomorrow!

– Judith

3 Day Quote Challenge [2] Day #3

3 Day Quote Challenge [2] Day #3

Welcome back! This is the final day of my 3 Day Quote Challenge.

You can read my quote choices from Day 1 and Day 2, respectively. All three quotes are from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis.

Here is my final quote:

‘You would like to know how I behave when I am experiencing pain, not writing books about it… But what is the good of telling you about my feelings? You know them already: they are the same as yours.’ 

Have you ever read something so powerful that it feels like it’s kicked you in the gut? That “wow, this speaks directly to me” reaction? It’s difficult to put into words, but that instinctive, gut, kick in the stomach, “pow” feeling was exactly what I got when I read this passage.

For me, C.S. Lewis was talking directly to me. He emphasises that no matter how different we all think we are, we are all still human, we all still feel emotion – whether it’s pain or joy. No matter how many different stories of people’s lives and suffering we read of, we will always be able to relate in some way. And somehow, that makes the ideas of feeling pain, feeling sadness or just plain scared… a little less scary.

 – Judith

3 Day Quote Challenge [2] Day #2

3 Day Quote Challenge [2] Day #2

Welcome to Day 2 of my 3 Day Quote Challenge! You can read the quote from Day 1 here.

As I said yesterday, I will be picking three quotes from the same book, The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis, reading and reflecting on helpful ways Christian can think about suffering.*

*I’m also really enjoying Be Still My Soul by Nancy Guthrie, a collection of edited sermons and passages to help Christians through suffering.

Without further ado, here is the quote I’ve chosen for today:

‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’

This powerful imagery from C.S. Lewis highlights the comforting and loving omnipresence of God. Lewis stresses how God is not only there for us in times of happiness, but in times of sadness too, which I think is a really encouraging reminder.

Thank you for reading the second post in this little series. Tomorrow I’ll post the last of my three quotes. If you have any thoughts, questions or responses, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks!

– Judith

3 Day Quote Challenge [2] Day #1

3 Day Quote Challenge [2] Day #1

This is Day 1 of the return of the 3 Day Quote Challenge!

As November draws to a close, I thought this would be a nice, easy little series of blog posts to do before the hectic countdown to Christmas begins.

The last time I did this challenge, I picked three quotes from three different books. This time however, I’ve picked three quotes from the same book because this allows me to digest and reflect on what I’m currently reading, and it’s a particularly quotable book anyway.

I’ve chosen C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain because as Christian who’s gone through some hard times lately, I really wanted to read a Christian’s perspective on suffering*, and I’ve never read any C.S. Lewis’ works, other than The Chronicles of Narnia.

*I’m also really enjoying Be Still My Soul by Nancy Guthrie, a collection of edited sermons and passages to help Christians through suffering.

I thought I’d share these quotes with you whether you’re religious or not, simply because I don’t feel like I talk very much about my faith very much, and I never want to feel like I’m in a situation where I’m not “allowed” to mention it – it’s my blog, after all!

Here is my first quote:

‘Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we want’

This is a simple, yet important reminder, that God is not just a “Spiritual Santa Clause” for Christians. We can’t expect to have everything that we want in life because not all of those things will be good for us in the long run, even if at the time we think they’ll be beneficial.

I hope you enjoyed this little post, and come back to read Day 2 and Day 3 of my 3 Day Quote Challenge. If you have any thoughts, questions or responses, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks!

– Judith

The Bookshelf Tag

The Bookshelf Tag

I saw this over on Paper Fury’s website (you can find it at and I am really excited to give it a go.

As forewarning, I’m writing this post in advance, so this particular shelf (and my subsequent answers) may have altered a little by the time you are actually reading this post. But not to worry!

1. Describe your bookshelf. Where did you get it from? 

My bookshelf is  a tall, grey, wooden shelving unit with adjustable shelves from IKEA. I bought it secondhand from a friend of a friend, and I have no idea if this particular model is still produced and sold. My favourite thing about it is the adjustable shelves, to allow for different sized books. It’s super tall and it’s impossible to get a photo of the entire thing, so I’ve compiled a collage of each shelf, using some pretty Instagram filters!

My Photo [Bookshelf Tag].JPG

2. How do you organise your books?

I organise my books based on their genre or their publisher, if I’ve got quite a few from a particular “set”. If I’ve got a couple from the same publishing company, then I  alphabetise in order of the author’s surname. 

3. What’s the biggest book on your bookshelf?

I’m not concerned enough to individually measure each book to see which is precisely the biggest, but I would say my Hetty Feather series by Jacqueline Wilson are pretty big books. They include: Hetty Feather, Emerald Star, Sapphire Battersea and the “spin-off” book, Diamond.

4. What’s the smallest book on your bookshelf?

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn or Utopia by Thomas More – they’re slim reads, but not necessarily quick reads, given the complexity of the language used!

5. Is there a book you received as birthday gift?

Both my Anne of Green Gables series and my Hetty Feather series were collected over a number of childhood birthdays.

6. Is there a book you received from a friend?

No – I’m not really a book swapper and my friends don’t really do presents.

7. What’s the most expensive book on your bookshelf?

I really dislike spending vast amounts of money on anything – charity shops and secondh-hand sites are havens for me! The most expensive book was The Monk by Matthew Lewis (pst – I posted a review of it, read it here!) which I bought from Waterstones for £8.99. However, I had a £10 Love2Shop Voucher and so it didn’t cost me a penny!

8. What’s the last book you read on your bookshelf?

At the minute, the most recent reads on this bookshelf are Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, and before that, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 

9. Do you have more than one copy of a book?

No – I never buy a book if someone I know already has a copy I can borrow or I can easily grab one at a library. What’s the point in duplicates?

10. Do you have any complete series’ of books?

Yes, the Anne of Green Gables series, the Hetty Feather series, the Harry Potter series, the Famous Five series, the Chronicles of Narnia series and A Series of Unfortunate Events (but these last 4 do not live on this particular shelf).

11. What’s the newest addition to your bookshelf?

I’m constantly moving books around but currently, it is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I’m intrigued to read the novel after watching Easy A numerous times on TV.

12. What’s the most recently published book on your bookshelf?

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, which was published in 2013. I quite liked the concept of the book – although I’m yet to see the film!

13. What’s the oldest book on your bookshelf?

Any of the Penguin Popular Classics – they are a few decades old – but nothing older, crumblier or aged than that I’m afraid!

14. Do you have a book you won?

I am yet to win a book 😦

15. Is there a book you’d hate to let out of your sight?

I wouldn’t say I’m sentimentally attached to any of my books to a huge extent, but one of my favourite stories is Forrest Gump – another birthday gift coincidentally! I read it in 1 day and absolutely LOVE it (the film as well!). So if I had to pick, I’d probably say I would hate to let Forrest Gump out of my sight. (I forgot to include Forrest Gump in the photo as I am re-reading it… woops!)

16. What’s the most beaten up book on your bookshelf?

I’m not a book snob , but I don’t like really majorly beaten, weathered books because I’m scared of them falling apart. My copy of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is pretty worn however, because I studied at high school and so it got bashed about a from a life in my school bag! 

17. What’s the most pristine book on your bookshelf?

I’d either say Forrest Gump because its white cover is still so glossy or any of my black Penguin Classics, which are all printed with a glossy black finish and so still look quite pristine even after a good read! 

18. Is there a book from your childhood?

I feel like I’m repeating myself! Hetty Feather and Anne of Green Gables! For the last time! Argh! I also have a bunch of children’s classics and inspiring stories of Christian missionaries I collected as a child.

19. Is there a book that doesn’t belong to you?

I have so many books on my shelf I’ve “borrowed” from my parents – I’ve swiped them with the good intention of reading them, but haven’t got round to it yet!

20. Is there a book with a particularly special cover?

I really like the sparkly Hetty Feather covers – it was what attracted me to the first book all those years ago in WHSmiths…

21. Is there a book with a cover in your favourite colour?

I don’t really think I have a specific favourite colour, but I quite like black on a book cover, which, as you can see, applies to quite a lot of books on this shelf!

22. Is there a book which has been on your bookshelf the longest and you STILL haven’t read it?

No – I’ve read all the books that have been sitting there a while. The newest additions still remain unread though.

23. Do you have any signed books?

I only have one signed book (to my recollection) and it is not housed on this shelf. I have a signed copy of Mokee Joe by Peter J. Murray, although I’m still to obtain and read the final book of the trilogy!

24. Finally, who do you TAG to take part?

 Anyone who wishes to take part! However, I encourage:

  1. Sasha @
  2. QuirkyVictorian @
  3. Rachel @

That’s all for now – happy reading!

– Judith

Happy Birthday: Her Majesty the Queen Turns 90

Happy Birthday: Her Majesty the Queen Turns 90

If you’re British like me, or have a particular regard for the United Kingdom, you may well feel a wave of patriotism today as we celebrate the 90th (official) birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II.

Street parties and all other sorts of festivities have been taking place to mark this special day. As ReadandReview2016 is a book-themed blog that promotes reading, I decided to mark this day in a book-themed way.

So, to celebrate all the excitement around the Royal Family today, I thought I would discuss my 5 favourite fictional queens in literature. If you have different thoughts to me, please share them below – I welcome fresh opinions!

  1. The Evil Queen from Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

‘She was beautiful woman, but proud and haughty, and she could not bear that anyone else should surpass her beauty.’

Snow White is one of my favourite fairy-tales (pst it inspired me to write my short story: White Winter Mist) and I really like the character of the beautiful, but evil, Queen. The lengths she goes to in order to secure her own position by Snow White’s death are truly gruesome. In literature, I think I much prefer evil queens to nice ones.

  1. Lady Macbeth from Macbeth by William Shakespeare

‘the cruel ministers of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen’

Although Lady Macbeth is rarely referred to as Queen, when her husband Macbeth is crowned King of Scotland, she inherits royal status. Despite her murderous ideas, and she calls on evil spirits to assist her plans, I like the powerful role of Lady Macbeth. She supports her husband throughout the play and takes charge, when he falters, and is another fabulous example of an evil queen.

  1. Queen Medusa from Greek Mythology

Medusa was the Queen of the Gorgons who was hideously ugly and had hundreds of hissing snakes for hair. She was dangerous to encounter because she could turn mere mortals into stone with just one look. I remember hearing this story when I was younger, and finding it so frightening! You can read the story of Medusa here:

  1. The Queen of Hearts from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

‘Off with their heads!’  

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a much more child-friendly children’s story than Snow White and so the antagonist here is much tamer. I always found the Queen of Hearts quite ridiculous, due to her shrieks and demands for beheading whenever she feels it necessary, and I particularly enjoyed Miranda Richardson’s interpretation of this in the NBC TV adaptation, Alice in Wonderland.

  1. The White Witch / Queen Jadis from The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis

‘Her teeth were bared, her eyes shone like fire, and her long hair streamed out behind her like a comet’s tail.’

Another evil queen! Queen Jadis or, as she is more commonly known as, The White Witch is an abominable lady who curses Narnia to an eternal winter and seeks to cause cruelty and misery wherever she goes. In a similar way to the Queen of Hearts, I found her somewhat ridiculous in the first book, The Magician’s Nephew, but I like her recurring presence in the other stories.

Thankfully, Queen Elizabeth is nothing like these atrocious queens, but I hope you enjoyed reading this post nonetheless.

That’s all for now!

– Judith