Title: Fools and Mortals
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction
First published: October 2017 by HarperCollins
Edition: E-book courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
A story told from the point of view of Richard Shakespeare, brother to playwright William, who is part of a group of players who stage plays at The Theatre.
Richard, our narrator, was very likable as a young man who wants to be taken seriously by his older brother and as a player. The tale is well written, and Cornwell manages to bring 16th century London to life. And yet I did not love this book as much was I wanted to. I definitely enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first. The plot was ok, but it did not quite grab me. I did enjoy the book, but I simply felt that something was missing.
Overall, this is a very well researched and crafted book that most historical fiction lovers will enjoy.
4 out of 7 stars (second half is close to a 5-star!)
Author: Pam Smy
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal / Middle Grade
First published: 2017
Edition: Hardback, published by David Fickling Books in 2017
I was not sure what to expect from this book. I had seen it a couple of times on blogs/Youtube and I was intrigued by the idea of this book.
The book consists of two storylines, one in 1982 told by way of diary entries, and a second in 2017 told solely in illustrations.
Eventhough this book has about 530 pages, it is a quick read, partly due to the amount of illustrations, but the text chapters are simple and sometimes sparse. I love the atmosphere it manages to create. Very eerie indeed, which makes it a perfect October read.
The story is simple, but I feel that serves the format well. The story gripped me enough and I really enjoyed this book.
The illustrations are suitably eerie. The gardens and the house are wonderfully done. I found the drawings of people a little crude, but that did not take away from the story for me.
I love the physical book as well. It’s a hardback without a dust jacket. The slightly embossed image on the front reflects the story well.
Overall, if you want a quick eerie read, this could be for you.
5 out of 7 stars
Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Author: J K Rowling
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Middle Grade
First published: 1997
Edition: Paperback, published in 1998 by Bloomsbury
I finally decided to re-read the Harry Potter series. I read it only once before, this particuarly one almost twenty years ago, so it was about time.
I enjoyed Philosopher’s Stone a lot this time around. This is such an incredibly charming book. The characters are wonderful, the story is pure magic and it is simply a phenomenon of its time. So many people grew up loving this series that is hard not be a little bit biased.
The one thing that bugs me about this first book in the series is that if Dumbledore is so clever, how does he not realise how oddly his teachers are behaving? Surely he would have noticed and investigated? And how does he let Snape get away with behaving like a spoiled brat in general and being so petty? I just do not get it and seriously, it annoys me a little…
Apart from that, this is a wonderful book and I am sure my daughter will love reading it in a few years’ time.
I am looking forward to re-reading the rest soon.
6 out of 7 stars
Title: The Dandelion Dynasty #1: The Grace of Kings
Author: Ken Liu
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
First published: 2015
Edition: Paperback, published in 2016 by Head of Zeus
Sometimes you see merit in the book you are reading, but you cannot quite connect with it. You know, when the writing is good, but the story with its themes is simply not for you? That is how I feel about The Grace of Kings.
In many ways this is a very well written book. The battles, the politics and the intrigues are really well thought out, but I feel there lies the problem for me. Apart from the character building of some of the main characters, the characters felt overshadowed by political plots and the corruption of power.
I like a good battle and a bit of political intrigue as much as the next person, but for me that was all this book was about for much of the story and there was simply too much for it for my taste. At some points I was really impressed with the writing, at others it dragged. It ran too far into ‘dry’ territory at various points and found it hard to keep reading at times.
The Grace of Kings has plenty of merit and I can see how people love this series, but unfortunately it is not for me and I will not be continuing The Dandelion Dynasty.
4 out of 7 stars
Title: The Choice
Author: Dr Edith Eva Eger
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography / Psychology
First published: 7 September 2017 by Penguin Random House UK
Edition: E-book, courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
I knew from the start this book would touch me. I generally avoid books about WWII and concentrations camps, their horrors too much for me to contemplate. Yet, I felt compelled to read this book. The reason being that from the description I gathered this was about a woman who had survived and gone on to use her strength to help others with their trauma.
No, this was not an easy read. When she takes us into Auschwitz and tells us about the horrors she had seen and experienced there, my heart shrank in compassion and shame that humanity can be so cruel. But I also felt her courage and that of her sister, of the hardships and mental strength they must have had to survive when it may have been easier to give up.
I realised that being liberated from a prison does not mean the prison is gone. It can live on inside us. Dr Eger’s story of finally recognising and battling the prison in her mind is incredibly brave. I greatly respect and admire her for using her strength and harrowing experiences to help others deal with the prisons they had created for themselves, whatever the reason. She helps without judging.
Yes, this books tells of a survivor’s story, but it tells so much more about the strength and power that lives inside all of us and that we can help ourselves with the right guidance.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to everyone, whether you are struggling with your own demons or not.
7 out of 7 stars
Title: A Tiny Bit Marvellous
Author: Dawn French
Genre: Fiction / Women’s Fiction
First published: 2010
Edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Penguin
‘Extremely funny’ says a quote on the cover of this book. I would not go as far as ‘extremely funny’, but it is funny in places, and I actually really liked the plot
The books is written almost like a collection of diary entries by three people from the same family. I presume that is intentional? The parts narrated by Mo, the mum, I quite enjoyed. She is forty-nine year old woman in the midst of a midlife crisis. Peter, or Oscar as he has called himself, just sound like a spoiled brat, but actually I could imagine a eccentric teenage boy writing like that in his diary. He was kind of amusing and annoying at the same time. Dora… Dora… What to say about Dora. My problem with her chapters was that I almost heard Dawn French pretending to be a teenager and it did not quite work for me.
I would say the second half of this books is definitely much better than the first.
So, I did not absolutely love everything about this novel, but I liked the themes of family and self-worth
4 out of 7 stars
Title: Queens of Georgian Britain
Author: Catherine Curzon
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography / History
First published: to be published 30 October 2017 by Pen & Sword
Edition: ARC e-book, courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
This book brings together the four queen consorts of Georgian Britain. Well, one actually never was queen, but she fits in the with the rest quite nicely.
As often is the case with biographies or historical non-fiction I was afraid that it would read like a history school book. Luckily that worry was quickly forgotten. I did not find it dry or stuffy for the most part. Instead, the stories of these queens are well told and I flew through the pages, feeling like I was getting to know them. The author does a great job bringing these women, their husbands, and their respective characters to life.
In this ARC copy there were no portraits or pictures until the very end and I do feel that would have enhanced the reading experience if they were interspersed throughout the text. I assume that will be the case in the printed book.
All in all, a very interesting read.
5 out of 7 stars.