Friday Feature . 5

Today’s featured book is The Mozart Girl by Barbara Nickel and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Second Story Press (the publisher) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. The book took me only a couple of hours and made me fall in love with music.

IMG_20190315_223040_601.jpg

 

So what is this book about?

Maria Anna Mozart was the sister of the musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Herself an accomplished musician, she spent years of her childhood traveling alongside her brother performing among the elites of European society. It’s a short book about a girl who dreams of fame in a society where women have little opportunity to achieve it.

What I liked . . .

  • How music consumed Nannerl. I love seeing how a character’s love of something explodes on to the page, making me fall in love with it as well.
  • Seeing a whole lot of famous people in connection to each other. I never realised that Bach and Mozart were from different eras or that the Mozarts grew up prior to the French Revolution and performed inside Versailles in its glory days.

 

What I didn’t like . . .

  • Nannerl was written as a character much younger than twelve and I struggled to reconcile her age with the way she was acting (although perhaps I was a very mature twelve year old).
  • It didn’t quite seem to quite fit into the historical narrative I know. Whilst I acknowledge that all authors take creative license, the views of Nannerl seemed quite ahead of her time, and I suspect that she would not have questioned and criticised her society and the opportunities available to women as much as she did. But having said that, I have a very limited understanding of 18th century attitudes so I could be completely wrong and am open to correction.

 

Conclusions

My Rating 💭/2 engagement  💭/2 enjoyment

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book was set at a much younger audience and 10-12 year old me would have loved it. But if you want a little insight into life long ago, especially mid 18th Century Europe, then this might be the book for you. The book comes out on the 17th of March and if anything I’ve said interests you, why don’t you give it a go?

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday . Standalone Books That Need a Sequel

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish. But now lives over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you can check out her post here.

TTT-Big2.png

I love all of the books below, and think that they all work as standalone books. I don’t have any questions that weren’t answered, I just wish their authors would write more so I could see into their world once more.

1. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I haven’t read this in about eight years, but I always wanted to know ‘what happened next’ with Sara Crewe.

IMG_20180307_214749_295.jpg2. Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery

I just want to see Ken and Rilla get married and have babies and fall more and more in love with each other. Is that too much to ask? I mean probably since the author is dead, but that’s a minor detail.

3. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

I read this the other week, and loved the writing and the way she analysed the war and the way it shaped her generation. Would be keen to see what she thought of the Second World War since she seemed kind of cynical about the League of Nations.

20180808_095745.jpg

4. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Look it’s the ending. I want it changed, or failing that to see what she does next. Fun Fact: Only book I’ve discovered where I liked the movie better.

IMG_20171201_184444_882.jpg

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is amongst my favourite books of all time, but I would love to see Liesel grow up and the decisions that she makes, and see how she teaches her children about the war.

IMG_20171221_180020_999.jpg

6. The Guernsey literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary-Ann Shaffer

A book on group friendship is few and far between. Honestly this book was the first time in forever where I had made friends with all the characters by the end of my first read, so I just want to go and hang out with them heaps more.

IMG_20180820_224645_987.jpg

7. A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Apparently a sequel is coming which is good, since I’ve been wanting one for ages, but I want it sooner rather than later. In the meantime I guess I’ll have to re-read it.

20161223_160348.jpg

8. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I’d love to re-read this, but I lent my copy to someone and have too many other books to read anyway. I liked the companion novel, but sometimes you just need the same characters in a new book.

IMG_20180618_222916_585.jpg

9. Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter

I will read anything Ally Carter writes, but would be curious to see what else Maddie and Logan get up to far away from Alaska.

IMG_20180824_000753_783.jpg

10. A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews

Would a sequel add anything? Maybe not, but still Australian contemporary with cake? I am there and buying it.

Friday Feature . 4

Today’s featured book is How Not to be Popular by Cecily Anne Paterson and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Wombat Books (the publisher) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. I started it yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon since I couldn’t put it down.

How Not to be Popular Final

 

So what is this book about?

This book is about a girl called Maddie who desperately wants to stay a part of the cool crowd at school. At school camp, Maddie is forced to make a choice, just how far will she go to be popular? The book follows her beyond camp, across the school year seeing the choices she makes and the consequences (both good and bad) that they lead to.

What I liked . . .

  • The small town nature of the book. (I’m from a big small town and I’d love to move to a smaller one, but until I get the chance to do that, I’ll just have to live my small town dreams through books.)
  • How Australian it was. (Although most of the books I’ve read this year have been by Australian authors, they haven’t had things that remind me of my childhood and are set in places that I can easily imagine in my mind.)
  • That there were bad things that happened and responsibility was taken. (I think in a lot of Middle Grade fiction the protagonists do bad things and don’t make amends for them, but here we see Maddie facing up to them and dealing with the consequences.)

 

What I didn’t like . . .

  • Being popular has never interested me so I didn’t really connect with the main complication of the book but I know that it is a struggle for many girls in the target audience so I’m grateful that I never experienced that struggle.

 

Conclusions

My Rating 💭/2purpose  💭/2originality  💭engagement  💭/2writing skill  💭enjoyment

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book was a most wonderful and refreshing read.  It’s a book about friendship and growing up well, even when life is hard or you’ve made poor choices. This book comes out next Friday, so go pre-order your copy today. If you’re curious about Australian life, go buy it. If you are Australian, buy a copy to take a trip down memory lane, or find a new friend your own age. Buy a copy for a tween girl in your life or for yourself. It’s currently among my favourite books of the year.

Friday Feature . 3

Today’s featured book is The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Harlequin Australia (the publisher) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. I finished it earlier this week and it came out just over a week ago.

thelastdaysoftheromanovdancers

 

So what is this book about?

This book is told from two different perspectives, that of Valentina Yershova and Luka Zhirkov. Both were born peasants but through talent have come to be part of the Imperial Russian Ballet company who receive the support of the Romanovs. These two ballet dancers walk the line between a world full of all that glitters and a world full of whispers of discontent and dissatisfaction. History tells us who the winners will be, but these two dancers must decide on which side of history they will fall.

What I liked . . .

  • Historical fiction set in the Russian revolution. (The Russian Revolution is in my top five favourite periods)
  • Learning about the ballet. (I had no idea it was so popular in Russia nor had I quite grasped the hard work that goes into success.)
  • The fact that the storyline kept me engaged the entire way through.

What I didn’t like . . .

  • There was way more romance than I thought there would be. (But please bear in mind I say this with romance being my second least favourite genre and I’ve got into the habit of trying to avoid it.)
  • I got an insight into early 20th century Russian contraceptive methods.

 

Conclusions

My Rating 💭/2purpose  💭/2originality  💭engagement

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book was a fascinating read. I loved learning about Russian history and the difficulties in trying to succeed in the cutthroat world of the ballet. I thought the author did a great job at positioning me in both the opulence and extravagance as well as the extreme poverty that existed in Russia. I found the book engaging and if you want to read a book about romance and revolutions, then this might be a book for you.

Saturday Stack . 17

Honestly a rather disappointing time on the book front this month. I’m blaming it on the week I spent away from home with no free time for reading and also choosing to do things like watch movies and reorganise bookshelves instead of reading.

BOOKS I’VE ACQUIRED

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (audiobook)

BOOKS I’M READING

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Since it’s on audio book it will be a while until this one is finished. I am just over half way through it though.

How Huge the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

Part of #theunreadshelfproject2019 but keen to finally knock this off the list. I just need to make time to read it when I’m not half falling asleep.

BOOKS I’VE FINISHED

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Back stabbing, twists and cliffhangers, the usual from a book in The Great Library series. In this book Jess and his friends come face to face with the Archivist as they are faced with a choice. Just how rotten is the Great Library? Is it rotten to its core, deserving of complete destruction or deep down is it made up of people who believe and follow the Library’s ideals and if the rot is cut out it will grow healthy and strong? Can’t wait for the final book although I’ll need to reread them all before I get my hands on it.

My Rating 💭/2 originality  💭engagement  💭/2enjoyment

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

When the Lights Go Out by Ruth Myors

I heard her speak last year and thought the book would be worth reading. It was heartbreaking at times, her life hasn’t been easy, but it was wonderful to read a book that offered hope amongst the difficulties of life.

My Rating 💭/2purpose  💭/2engagement

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper

My full review is here so just a short review. Historical fiction set in Sydney and the Hawkesbury in the 1850s and 1918/1919. One of the best historical fiction books I have read in a long time and I’m excited to check out all the other books she has written.

My Rating 💭/2purpose  💭/2originality  💭engagement  💭/2writing skill  💭/2enjoyment

Overall Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️¼/5 stars

BOOKS ON MY TBR

For February I’ve created a challenge called #fictionfreefebruary I keep accumulating non-fiction and it has formed about 75% of my unread shelf (something I’m trying to eradicate this year) so a lot of non-fiction is on the list. Am hoping to sneak in a few more fiction books before the end of the month, but we will have to see.

A Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

Have had this recommended to me and I want to learn about the British experience of World War I so I’m keen to read this.

The Man Who Knew Infinity by Robert Kanigel

Because you have to read the book before you watch the movie.

And a whole lot of biographies and history books maybe. There’s really no science to my TBR this coming month. It will be fairly mood based.

Friday Feature . 2

Today’s featured book is The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Harlequin Australia (the publisher) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. I finished it earlier this week and wondered why it took me so long to get around to reading it.

The Woman in the Green Dress.png

 

So what is this book about?

The book follows three storylines two set in 1853 (Stefan von Richter and Della Atterton) and one set in 1918 (Fleur Richards). Stefan von Richter has been sent to Australia to prepare a Baron’s journals for publication and is eager to learn as much about this strange land as he can. Della Atterton has spent her entire life in Australia and has a tremendous respect for the Indigenous people who she tries to live in harmony with and is perfectly capable of standing on her own two feet. Fleur Richards travels to Australia in search of her husband, hoping he can be found in the land he loved. An intriguing tale of curses, death and love wrapped up in Australian history.

What I liked . . .

  • Historical fiction set in towns I know and love. (I sometimes forget how old Sydney is and how little the streets have changed.)
  • The intertwining story lines. (It took me four chapters to figure out what was happening but I can’t imagine the story being told any other way.)
  • Not regretting the time I spent reading this book. (I have read way to many of those this year and was happy to find a book I loved.)

 

What I didn’t like . . .

  • Honestly if I had to pick something, the three scenes of romance in the book or the fact that I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Book Thief. But honestly it was one of the best books I had read in forever and if you like historical fiction go read it.

 

Conclusions

My Rating 💭/2purpose  💭/2originality  💭engagement  💭/2writing skill  💭/2enjoyment

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️¼/5

This book was a most wonderful read. If you love historical fiction go read it. If you love Australian fiction go read it. I loved the way it reminded me that you can’t always know what is hiding behind a person, that life is full of surprises and that everyone has choices they need to make (and sometimes travelling is the best way to solve your problems). As soon as my ban on fiction books ends, I’m tracking down whatever else Tea Cooper has written. And I do want a hardcopy of this, so I’m adding it to my ‘want to buy’ list. So why are you still reading this post? Go and find a copy for yourself.

Friday Feature . 1

Welcome to a new blog, well a new season where I try to be realistic about how much I can read and thus how much I can post.

Most Fridays I want to feature a book. Give a full review, more than what will appear in a Saturday Stack (which may just become a monthly feature for a little while until I have actually read some books). For now, I’ll be featuring eARCs that really should have been read and reviewed ages ago, but I haven’t found time to sit and read an e-book.

 

 


 

Today’s featured book is The Shop Girls of Lark Lane by Pam Howes and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Bookouture (the publisher) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. I read it around the time it was released but have only got around to reviewing it now.

ShopGirls of Lark Lane.png

 

So what is this book about?

The book is set in 1945 just after the end of the Second World War. It follows Alice, a young woman adjusting back to life with a husband (whom she had married days before he left for the war). Trying to mother her younger brother and five-year old daughter, Alice’s life isn’t easy but through her pluck and perseverance she is able to overcome a myriad of difficulties.

 

What I liked . . .

  • Historical fiction that was fairly low on romance.  (I mean why do they keep on doing that? I came here for history not for love.)
  • Learning about the British struggles to live life at the end of the war.  (The aftermath of bombing was something Australia didn’t really have to deal with (well . . . apart from Darwin and Broome)).
  • The way everyone was trying to be a big happy family and the friendships that were made during the war lasted and continued to grow stronger.  (Seriously any book with healthy representations of friendship and family and I’m there for it.)

 

What I didn’t like . . .

  • It is the sequel to a book so I think the first few chapters would have made more sense if I had read it previously.
  • It did have some British (or maybe Liverpudlian) slang (e.g. ‘gel’ (which I think means girl) actually that’s it I think) that took me several chapters to wrap my head around.
  • There are some trigger warnings that I have to give for this book.
    • It contains domestic violence and rape that broke my heart (as it always does). I’d be curious to see how it plays out in the next book.
    • Also there were some non-violent sexual references which I thought weren’t necessary (but then I am yet to be convinced that any are).

 

Conclusions

My Rating 💭/2 originality  💭/2 engagement  💭/2 enjoyment

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book was an alright read. It was a summer read, the kind where you pick up lazing in the summer sun, wanting to read but not wanting your life changed. I enjoyed the post-World War II story of a family dealing with its ongoing effects and would consider picking up the third one when it comes out to see how it all ends. I personally wouldn’t recommend it to people because of the adult themes but if that is something you are okay with reading, go ahead and pick it up from wherever you can find it.