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.

Advertisements

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.

Top Ten Tuesday . Platonic Relationships In Books

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

Anne Blythe and Diana Barry – Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Biggles, Algy and Ginger – Biggles by Captain W. E. Johns

Nancy, George and Bess – Nancy Drew by Ghost Writers Carolyn Keene

Julian, Dick, George and Anne – The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

Matilda and Miss Honey – Matilda by Roald Dahl

Flavia, Jonathan, Lupus and Nubia – The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence

Hans Hubermann and Liesel Meninger – The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

Juliette and the Guernsey Co. – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Matilda and Auntie Love – A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French

Jazmine and Gabby – The Invisible Trilogy by Cecily Anne Paterson

 


I’m back. Holidays have finally begun so it’s take two at this whole book blogging thing and also my bookstagram. Hopefully I’ll use it to destress throughout the coming year, but we will see. I’m making no guarantees.

Top Ten Tuesday . Books That Surprised Me

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

Books that surprised me is this week’s prompt and I can’t think of many books that surprised me in a bad way so I’m going to talk about books that I was surprised by in a good way.

1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

So this is a book that I have never ever mentioned on my blog (insert eye roll here) but I discovered last year that I had read a smaller number of quality books than I had realised and this was one of the books that made me realise that fact. So I have never really been into ‘adult’ classics. I grew up reading the free children’s classics on my Kindle and the classics that I was given as gifts and loving them but my only experience of ‘classics’ until last year was a failed attempt at reading A Tale of Two Cities (to be honest I didn’t get past the first page). The middle was incredibly slow, but this was one of those books that I just struggled to put down.

2. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I started reading an Agatha Christie book once, wasn’t engaged and so I put it away. But then I had two friends who both raved about Murder on the Orient Express and I loved it (My previous blog posts might have given that away . . .). This book and the subsequent Agatha Christie’s that I have read have definitely surprised me because of how much I enjoyed them.

3. Facing the Flame by Jackie French

This book was sooo good. Whilst the last few books in the Matilda Saga have been good, this one was outstanding and definitely in my top three of this series. I loved seeing the connection that all the characters felt to the land and how they shaped and were shaped by the land.

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The writing is good and it might actually have been the first adult fiction book that I have ever read. It is on my re-read TBR and I’m hoping that I’ll get to it before the end of the year.

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It took me four reads to appreciate this book (and I only read it that many times because I was studying it . . .). But the language in this book is beautiful. The book itself is still really depressing, but I do appreciate the writing.

6. Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I never really understood or liked poetry until I read her poems and they are gorgeous. I read them over Valentine’s Day (because you know, love poetry) and was just struck by her skill and narrative ability under the constraints of structure that a sonnet has.

7. Comparing To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

So apparently Go Set a Watchman was the draft and To Kill a Mockingbird the finished product but the only similarities between the two are the characters and their themes of racism. I can’t quite decide which one is more effective and I want to re-read them both together before I make any kind of judgement, but both books make me stop and think about racism and its impacts and break my heart over history.

8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

So this is one of the few cases where I saw the movie before the book (in my defence I didn’t know of the book when I was watching the movie) but I was struck by how close they are to each other. Normally when books are adapted into movies they wind up being quote different creations but this one was pleasingly quite close to the book. (I mean they didn’t include a giant hunting maze but I guess you can’t have everything).

9. Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner

So I had started The Sultan’s Eyes but thought I was missing something and discovered that there was a previous book in the series. I wasn’t too keen on the writing of it, but I am one of those people who after borrowing a book will read it (unless the library is about to start charging me overdue library fees) so I thought, ‘it’s just two books, I’ll survive’. But the writing in Act of Faith was gorgeous and I do not regret picking it up. If you are interested in Europe, historical fiction, books or being an educated female in a world of men go read it.

10. Authors who write non-fluffy contemporary (think Sophia Bennett and Fleur Ferris)

So contemporary YA is my second favourite genre, but as a general rule of thumb I hate romance. Whilst both these authors have used relationships within their works, what I was left with was not how much I hated that love triangle but how slavery still exists (The Castle by Sophia Bennett) and the dangers of social media and the internet (You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett and Risk by Fleur Ferris). Whilst a lot of my reading is for my entertainment, I do want a little bit of brain engagement and thought-provokingness in it.

Top Ten Tuesday . Favourite Book Quotes

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

So this post comes to you courtesy of Evernote because I am in a rush. It has dozens of quotes from the past two years although I have a ton written down elsewhere.

1. Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

“But somehow or other, the posts had a way of making death both awful and beautiful.”

It’s so true, but I guess you need some kind of maturity and awareness to notice the beauty and truth in this line.

2. A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French

“‘Forget about green,’ he said suddenly.

She stared at him. ‘What?’

. . . ‘It don’t have to be green to be beautiful.'”

Jackie French always makes me appreciate Australia more and want to learn more about it and the land I walk over every day.

3. Invisible by Cecily Anne Paterson

“You have this thing called a life. It’s only you that gets to live it and you only get to do it one time.”

This whole book is full of quotes and inspiring words. It’s worth your while to read.

 

4. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

“History is that which is agreed by mutual consent.”

I love history but I keep this quote around to remind me that all is not as it seems. And that to some extent ‘truth’ isn’t always true.

5. Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner

“Dear Reader,

“This book you hold is a treasure of sorts, as is every book I have ever known.

“I have made it for you – especially for you – for reasons you will understand as my words unfurl before your eyes.

“Turn these pages tenderly.

“You hold my life in your hands.”

Books are treasure and I forget that all too easily. This book was beautifully written and I want to re-read it again. It is all about the power of words and writing.

6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë

“But, if we may never meet, and never hope to meet again, is it a crime to exchange our thoughts by letter? May not kindred spirits meet, and mingle in communion whatever be the fate and circumstances of their earthly tenements?”

Loved this idea of writing letters. I am part of the generation that grew up on stories of pen pals but never got the pleasure of actually having them.

7. In the Shadow of the Banyan – Vaddey Ratner

“When I thought you couldn’t walk, I wanted to make sure you could fly. … I told you stories to give you wings, Raami, so that you would never be trapped by anything – your name, your title, the limits of your body, this world’s suffering.”

I loved this because it recognises the power of stories. This whole book was just beautiful as well if you have never read it.

8. The Portrait by Ian Pears

“To get what you want – exactly the effect you have in your mind and no other – you have to have mastery, otherwise you are like a man trying to speak English with only a limited vocabulary.”

I liked this because it reminded me that words have a purpose so I need to use them in my writing.

9. All That I Am by Anna Funder

“I am a vessel of memory in a world of forgetting.”

This is almost poetry and it is something that someone said once. And I like this idea that the world is forgetting whilst you are trying to remember.

 

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”

It’s true and this was a great book. And I never really realised how much bad literature there is around until last year (having said that I do have occasional cravings for it and that is fine too).

 

 

 

The Saturday Stack . 16

Welcome to my blog and the Saturday Stack. Here I give you an update on my reading life.

BOOKS I’VE ACQUIRED

Again nothing because I’m still trying to demolish a TBR pile at home before I get anything else.

BOOKS I’M READING

Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

I just want to sit and devour this but I have no time.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My only re-read for the #austen18 challenge and I’m liking it better this time than last time.

BOOKS I’VE FINISHED
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

This is the first time I’ve cried in this but I’ve loved catching up with the town of Avonlea. Perhaps my love is partly nostalgic but I love L. M. Montgomery’s writing style and find it incredibly easy to read.

Facing the Flame by Jackie French

So it was raining the other day and I needed a book I was okay if it got a little damp. So this was a library book (nothing bad happened I promise). And the latest in the Matilda saga, possibly my favourite series. The cover is gorgeous and I’m tempted to just buy one now and have two copies if it is re-realeased to match my set.

Like the second half of the series this book had multiple narrators and I loved the personification of the bushfire. The central protagonist as in the last few was Jed Kelly but it was lovely to see Gibbers Creek and its inhabitants. It made me long to move to a small town where everyone knows everyone and cares about them.

Turtles all the Way Down by John Green

I have to return this to the library today and it had reached March (so I fulfilled my goal is reading only female authors in February) so I read it in an afternoon. It was my first John Green book (because he seems to write a lot of romance and I don’t enjoy reading it)

BOOKS ON MY TBR

I’m hoping to get to the next Anne book, Anne of the Island, this week but something else will inevitably slip in.