Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Carolina of Orange-Nassau (Moniek Bloks)

bloks, moniek - carolina of orange-nassau

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Carolina of Orange-Nassau: Ancestress of the Royal Houses of Europe
Author: Moniek Bloks
Genre: Non-Fiction / History / Biography  Pages: 96
First published: to be published 25 January 2019 by Chronos Books
Edition: e-book, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

Carolina of Orange-Nassau (1743 – 1787) was born the daughter of William IV, Prince of Orange, and Anne, Princess Royal and was thus the granddaughter of King George II. It was upon the King’s orders that she was named after his wife, Caroline of Ansbach.

I was interested in this book because of my own Dutch heritage and because of my fascination with the history of our royal houses in general.

This is a biography of Carolina of Orange-Nassau, who ended up in the family trees of most of the current Royal Houses in Europe.  The biography is based on facts and letters written by Carolina, her brother William, her husband and others closed to her, many of which are part of the Royal archives in Holland.

This makes it quite a dry, matter-a-fact biography, but it unfolded a bit of history I knew very little about and did that quite well.

Just the fact that she survived sixteen (!) pregnancies make her a remarkable woman and it is a shame that she has kind of been forgotten. I am glad to have read about this strong Dutch woman, who carried the blood of kings and whose lineage endures today.

I found it hard to rate this book. It is only a short biography, but I did find it very informative without unnecessary filler.

5 out of 7 stars

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Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 23 January 2019

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WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?

***

What am I currently reading?

I am currently reading Carolina of Orange-Nassau by Moniek Bloks, a non-fiction book about a lady whose descendents sit on the thrones of Europe. It’s under 100 pages, but quite interesting so far, if a little on the dry side.

I am only 20 something pages into Winter’s Heart, the ninth book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I am hoping to really get into that one today.

What did I recently finish reading?

Since last week, I finished The Winter of the Witch (Katherine Arden), which was pretty amazing, The Godolphin Arabian (Eugène Sue), which I also loved and The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey), which was also pretty good. I feel I have had a pretty decent reading week.

What do I think I will read next? 

I have no idea! Maybe an Agatha Christie? Not entirely sure. I also have some author requests I would like to read soon.

Book Haul

Used Books Haul

I wanted to buy a few more Agatha Christie books, as I would really like to start reading some of her books again. I used to enjoy them quite a bit.  My charity shop gave me three last year, but has been shooting blanks ever since, so I decided to try online. I checked eBay first, but found them as a whole pretty overpriced. In the end I went on Abe Books and found some there for a decent price. I bought a few other books from that seller as well.

1901 book haul abe

So, the Agatha books:

I browsed the seller’s other books and ended up with two Dick Francis books as well:

I really liked those covers. I haven’t read a Dick Francis in a while and I used to enjoy them.

Finally, I got the second book in the Tawny Man series by Robin Hobb, which is Golden Fool, I already owned the first one in this edition.

***

The main issue I have with buying books via Abe is that you do not always get the cover you think you’re buying, which was the case with the Agatha books. It’s fine as they are all the same pocket book size, which I like, but are different editions than the pictures suggested. That does annoy me slightly, but not enough to worry about.

Luckily the Dick Francis books and the Golden Fool ARE the editions advertised as I bought them for those specific covers.

 

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey)

ivey, eowyn - the snow child

★★★★★☆☆

Title: The Snow Child
Author: Eowyn Ivet
Genre: Fiction / Magical Realism / Fantasy  Pages: 390
First published: 2012
Edition: Paperback, published in Reagan Arthur in 2012

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

Without doubt this is a beautiful story underpinned by beautiful writing, but somehow it did not grab me the way I wanted it to.

I was definitely in the mood for the story and I did feel immersed in the narrative, but something somewhere was missing for me and I have absolutely no clue what it was.

I liked Jack and Mabel as characters. They were believeable and flawed, and I could not help but root for them. I liked the way the girl, Faina, was introduced and how the story developed from there.

Somehow the setting felt hostile to me and maybe that is where my unease stems from. I never felt at ease in the story’s surroundings as Jack and Mabel did and maybe that made me feel a little more distant than I wanted to be.

I did shed a little tear at the end, so it clearly grabbed me enough. There is nothing wrong with this novel. It is a good book, but I don’t think it is one I would re-read.

5 out of 7 stars

Books

Book Covers and the Fox

Have you noticed the trend to have these pesky foxes all over the covers of books? I have read several in the last couple of years, I have some still on the shelf and I have one on the go now!

Luckily I love foxes and seeing them on a cover only makes me want to read the book! Just thought it would be fun to look at my foxy covers of read books and ones still on my TBR.

***

There are plenty of books that actually have foxes as their main subject. I read a few over the years, including non-fiction such as Foxes Unearthed (Lucy Jones), but also animal fiction such as The Fox of Richmond Park (Kate Dreyer) and Hunters’ Moon (Garry Kilworth).

Other books I have read that have a fox on the cover include Happiness (Aminatta Forna), Midwinter (Fiona Melrose). Winter also has one, so I will include it here, though I feel it is cheating a little! Both Midwinter and Happiness do feature foxes throughout the story seen through the eyes of our (human) protagonists. Both brilliant books that you should read by the way!

This post was inspired by a book I am reading right now, which is The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey). Other TBR books on my shelf that have a fox on the cover are Vixen (Rosie Garland) and Life After Life (Kate Atkinson).

Finally: A Black Fox Running by Brian Carter, which is my newest foxy aquisition, and is also animal fiction centered around a fox.

carter, brian - a black fox running

 

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Godolphin Arabian (Eugene Sue)

sue, eugene - the godolphin arabian

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Godolphin Arabian
Author: Eugène Sue Translator: Alex de Jonge (from French)
Genre: Fiction  Pages: 152
First published: 1846
Edition: Hardback, published in 2003 by Derrydale Press

Here now is Alex de Jonge’s immensely readable translation of the original tale an imaginative mixture of fact and legend recreating the life of the Godolphin Arabian and his constant companion, Grimalkin the cat.

Originally written in 1846, this is the fictionalised story of The Godolphin Arabian, one of the founding sires of the modern thoroughbred. It is only a small little book about the horse, an mute Arab groom devoted to him and the cat that always kept him company.

As far as I can tell, the groom was made up, but there was actually a cat that went wherever the horse went.

This was such a delightfully told story. A simple, but effective tale about hardship and ultimate glory and the groom’s unshakeable belief in the horse he loves.

The translator adapted the story slightly and corrected some facts, which he explains in the foreword. I have not read the original of course, as I don’t know enough French, but this translated version reads very well.

If you are into horses at all, read this little gem. It’s worth the couple of hours it takes to read and it will put a smile on your face. The fact that it is based on a horse that actually existed and ended up being so important is a bonus.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Winter of the Witch (Katherine Arden)

Arden, Katherine - Winternight Trilogy 3 The Winter of the Witch

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3)
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy Pages: 354
First published: 2019
Edition: Hardback, published in 2019 by Del Rey

With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all..

What a delight this series has been and this third and final book did it justice.

In the course of the three books Katherine Arden’s story telling has been stellar and very consistent, but I feel the writing in this final book was the best. I loved the direction in which she took this story. It was dark in places and there were deaths that broke my heart, but there was enought light to not be too heavy.

The atmosphere throughout this book was incredible, even if maybe I wished Midnight had been described a little more.

All I can say is that I love this world that Arden has created. The characters were wonderfully human and we are made to see that good and evil are not always black and white. I loved Vasya’s story, her struggles and her dilemmas. Her choices were not always the right ones, but they were understandable. Her strength of character make her a wonderful heroine.

I really enjoyed the ending of this book, but also that not everything was resolved. It did not need to be.

This is definitely a trilogy I will read again in the future.

6 out of 7 stars