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
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
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
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
Title: The Truth Pixie
Author: Matt Haig Illustrator: Chris Mould
Genre: Children’s Fiction / Poetry Pages: 119
First published: 2018
Edition: Hardcover, published by Canongate Books Ltd in 2018
Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say.
Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.
Having read my first adult book by Matt Haig in 2018, I was keen to try some of his children’s fiction on my six-year-old daughter, so I bought her The Truth Pixie.
I read it with her and we both really enjoyed it. She liked the illustrations by Chris Mould and the story of the Truth Pixie. True to a six-year-old’s nature, her favourite bit was the mouse poo in her hair!
As an adult, I appreciated the rhyming and the powerful message that is at its core. For me, like Julia Donaldson’s books, this one was a joy to read, because of the rhythm of the words. It is the kind of story that I would be happy to read to my child again and again, but that I can also see her reading herself (she was reading along with me).
A big thumbs up from me!
6 out of 7 stars
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Fiction / YA Fantasy / Retelling Pages: 388
First published: 2015
Edition: Kindle e-book
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family.
After reading the final page of this first part of Khalid and Shahrzad’s story, I am not quite sure whether to shrug my shoulders or say that I enjoyed it.
It was a pleasant enough book. I liked the romance, even if I did not quite understand it and the setting added a bit of magic. However, I do not feel Shahrzad’s character is explored enough. I never felt like I got to know her that well. I felt it was strange she did not seem to have emotions regarding her physical relationships at all. Surely, a young girl of her age would have lots of thoughts and feelings about such things.
Unfortunately, although I did enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn, especially the first half, in the end it fell a bit flat for me. it really did not have enough substance for my personal tastes. I simply wanted more from it. I doubt it will stay with me very long. Just to clarify, it is not because this is YA, as there are plenty of YA books that do satisfy that itch.
It was entertaining enough, but I do not think I will be continuing this series.
4 out of 7 stars
Title: Wild Flowers
Author: Michelle S Smith
Genre: Poetry Pages: 124
First published: 2018
Edition: e-book, provided by author
This collection of Poetry and Prose is an explosion of femininity, empowerment, and personal growth. Michelle celebrates her triumph over mental illness and promotes resilience and self-love in her readers.
I always forget how much I love poetry and this collection reminded me.
This collection feels very real and raw. It is not flowery or overdone. These are simply poems from the heart, from that emotional place that we all have inside of us. These are poems that will speak to a lot of people, because a lot of us will recognise the feelings the author expresses. I certainly did. As the author writes her way through anguish, memories of love, depression and healing and then finding self love again, I felt those emotions through her words, There is also some LGBTQ+ representation here, which is a bonus.
I can only imagine how cathartic it must have been to commit these thoughts to paper. I like the overarching narrative of this collection and how it ends on a positive hopeful note.
6 out of 7 stars