Review: Death of a Snob by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Snob

 

This is book 6 in the Hamish Macbeth series by Beaton, though the first in the series that I have read. This is a book I’d featured in Shelf Control #9, and since I finally read it, I decided to share my review here. This one finds Hamish ill in bed with a cold, looking forward to going home for Christmas, only to be told that he can’t go home because an aunt who hates him, but has supported his family, is arriving from the States. Grumpy and upset, Hamish then accepts an invitation to spend Christmas at the Happy Wanderer health farm, the owner of which is Jane Wetherby, a friend of Priscilla, Macbeth’s former love and still friend. Jane is convinced by some happenings in the village of Eileencraig where the farm is located, including the reading of her tea leaves, that someone is out to kill her, and while Hamish is not as convinced, he agrees to go anyway, having nowhere else to spend the holiday. But while Jane seems to be ok, there is a suspicious death after Christmas nonetheless, and only Hamish seems to suspect that it is murder. He sets out to investigate, assisted by Harriet Shaw, a writer of cookbooks and also a friend of Jane Wetherby.

This was a light-hearted, pretty much cosy murder mystery which I found to be great fun, and which I enjoyed far more than the author’s Agatha Raisin books (of which also I have read only one so far). I loved the Christmassy atmosphere—the book isn’t heavy on it, but there are the preparations going on, the tree being decorated, the Christmas dinner at the health farm, and the presents which felt nice and ‘warm’ in the otherwise snowy and bitter cold place. And I also enjoyed the Scottish setting, all of the mystery taking place on a small island village in a community that hasn’t been very welcoming of Jane Wetherby and her farm. While we don’t go into very much depth into each of the characters (like some mystery books do), each of them is distinct and the features do stand out. The mystery element was also fairly interesting and fun, and I enjoyed the solution to it, even though it wasn’t terribly complex or any such. Still this was entertaining and fun, and I would like to read more in this series. Be warned, this book discusses the entire plot of one Agatha Christie Poirot mystery (I won’t say which) with spoilers as to whodunit (though not the why) and while it doesn’t give the name, if you haven’t read that one yet, it will spoil it for you. I had read the book, so it was much of an issue for me.

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Review: The Invisible Hand by James Hartley

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My thanks to NetGalley and Lodestone Books for a review copy of this book.

 

While not a re-telling, this book is a story that takes us between the modern world and the Scotland of Macbeth. This is the first of a trilogy titled ‘Shakespeare’s Moon’. Sam is a young boy studying in St Francis de Sale, a boarding school in England, as his father is away for work (archaeologist) and mother is ill. But St Francis is not an ordinary school and Sam finds when he falls asleep on certain occasions, he finds himself in very vivid dreams, dreams that are unfolding in old Scotland, where there has just been a war and Sam is in Macbeth’s castle, where the devious plot to kill the King is being hatched. But in this world, Sam is not himself but an entirely different character, a soldier. Here he meets the pretty Leana who has a mysterious past herself, and before long they find that Leana too, can at times come into Sam’s world and have a real existence there. Caught amidst war and treachery in Macbeth’s world and something unseemly in Sam’s school, they must avert the dangers there and defeat those who might even threaten their very lives.

 

This was a book was such an interesting premise, time travel and Shakespeare, both of which are the reason why I wanted to read this one in the first place, and I was so sure I would really enjoy it. In many ways, it does deliver on both these elements, these is time travel, we find ourselves in Macbeth’s world, where war and danger are ever present, and the witches’ presence is also often felt. In Sam’s world, the modern world too, things are not as innocuous as they initially seem, and magic and the supernatural pervade this world, though more mundane activities like lessons and detention take place alongside. But while these elements are there and the author has woven them together in an interesting way as well, I really didn’t find myself absorbed by this book. The pacing isn’t particularly fast, though there are some exciting moments including on how it would end, but this (the pacing) didn’t bother me. I quite liked the last two chapters—the way they were done and the promise of further adventure that comes through. And I think I also understood the title of the series as I read the book. But I felt it lacked explanation on a lot of points, like what the connect was really between the two worlds, how Leana was part of the modern world when she didn’t seem to have gone back as Sam did, her mysterious past, why she remains the same in both places while Sam changes, why were there these supernatural events taking place in this world (with what object), and such (though some might just emerge as the series continues). And while the book certainly did take us back to Macbeth’s world, I felt there just wasn’t enough of it—from the description, I expected to be more deeply into that story, rather than just going in and out of it at different points, and to be more involved with the main characters. Again, while I didn’t have any specific grouse with any of the characters, at the end of the day, I didn’t find myself getting really interested in them. So this was just an ok read for me, just about two and a half stars.

Shelf Control #15

Shelf Control

It’s Wednesday, and time again for Shelf Control (I ended up skipping this last week). This is a feature I’ve borrowed  from Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies,and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR.  All one has to do is to pick a book from one’s TBR every Wednesday, and write a post about it (usually what it’s all about, what makes you want to read it, where you got it, and such, but I guess up to you really).

This week, the book I’m featuring is:

 

death instinct

The Death Instinct by Jeb Rubenfeld is the second of two books in the author’s ‘Freud’ series (yes, Sigmund Freud).

What it’s all about: This story opens with a blast on Wall Street in September 1920, which killed and injured many. Among the witnesses of the blast are war veteran Stratam Younger, James Littlemore of the NYPD, an a French radiochemist Colette Rousseau. Mysterious attacks on the Rousseau, lead the three to travel from Paris to Prague, the Vienna home of Dr Freud and Washington, revealing the shocking truths behind the bomb attack.

When and where I got it: This is again a book that I didn’t actually buy myself. In fact, I hadn’t heard of the book or the author. When I shopped for some books online in a second-hand shop some months ago, this was sent to me as a gift (part of the sale they had on).

A little about the author: The author Jeb Rubenfeld is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, with experience with Shakespeare plays and a thesis on Freud. The two books in this series appear to be his only novels (other works being academic texts). (I speak only from the information on goodreads).

Why I want to read it: For starters, because it falls within two genres that I really enjoy reading–mysteries, and historical fiction–being set around an actual historical event, and featuring historical characters, both Freud and Madame Curie. The plot sounds fairly interesting, though I’m not entirely ‘sold’ as it were on the ‘truth that threatens to shake their world to its foundations’ part. Reviews on goodreads as pretty mixed again, some have loved it, others not so much. Still I think I will eventually give it a go.

So have you heard of or read this book or anything by this author (his other book, that is)? Do you like historical mysteries? What are some favourites? Looking forward to hearing about them!

 

Bookquotes: Quotes from Books(22)

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‘I put it to you that you were obviously drunk when you took my client’s instructions,’ said counsel.

Mr Tewkesbery affected to look pained. ‘That I was obviously drunk?’, he asked.

‘Don’t repeat the question, sir, kindly answer it.’

‘If I was obviously drunk, why did he give me his instructions?”

‘Don’t ask me questions, sir, answer mine.’

Mr Tewkesbery thought for a moment.

‘The best answer that I can give you is that I was obviously not obviously drunk.’

‘Were you drunk?’

‘That’s quite a different question.’

‘Kindly answer it.’

‘What exactly do you mean by drunk?’

‘I mean drunk, sir. Unfit by reason of alcohol to conduct your affairs.’

‘Then I was certainly not drunk, sir. I may have been fit by reason of alcohol to conduct my affairs. I won’t deny that – but unfit, never.’

–Henry Cecil, Daughters in Law (1961)

Image source: See [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Miss Marple Favourites

Last year with the Reading the Detectives group on goodreads (find that here), I read Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books chronologically for the first time. The series has fourteen books, twelve full length novels, and two short story collections. Miss Marple is an elderly (though by today’s standards she wouldn’t be considered all that old) spinster, who lives in the little English village of St Mary Mead, and solves mysteries, mostly some fairly complicated murders, using her observation and knowledge of human nature, which is essentially the same everywhere, irrespective of setting. She first appeared in 1927 in a short story, ‘the Tuesday Night Club’, published in the Royal Magazine. I really enjoyed reading these books for the mysteries of course, but also the characters, Christie’s incorporation of changing society and mores, and also the fact that the books make a statement against stereotyping on account of age. Miss Marple herself also changes over the course of the series and only becomes the more familiar version of her, down the line (becoming less lacy and fluffy, and even a little more active in the middle of the series).

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Murder at the Vicarage, the first full length Marple book.

I had thought of doing a series review when I finished these last November but didn’t end up doing that, so instead am doing this post which is some of the books in the series which I especially enjoyed. These are not in any order of preference but chronologically as I read them. So here goes.

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The Body in the Library is the third book in the series and features Col. and Mrs Bantry who have earlier appeared in the short story collection, The Thirteen Problems. In this one, the Bantrys wake up one morning to find a body of a glamorous young blonde  in their library, a woman neither of them recognise. The police take on the investigation of course, but when this incident leads to aspersions being cast on the poor Colonel, his wife calls in the one expert she knows–Miss Marple. Miss Marple, of course, uses her knowledge of human nature to solve this puzzle which is far from simple, with an interesting cast of characters including a rich invalid and people from the film industry. this one made for great reading, with plenty of twists and a surprise denouement.

 

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A Murder is Announced is not only among my favourite Miss Marple books but also among my favourite Agatha Christie books and mysteries overall, and will certainly feature when I make those lists. The sixth in the series (though it is number five in publication order), this one is set in the village of Chipping Cleghorn. Here an advertisement appears in the personals column of the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette announcing a murder at a house, Little Paddocks that evening. Most residents of the little village arrive there of course, expecting a murder game, but when the owner of Little Paddocks, Letitia Blacklock is shot at, and an unknown young man turns up dead, things begin to take a more serious turn. The puzzle/mystery in this one is one of my favourites, and I also enjoyed the various characters with all their idiosyncrasies. In addition, this one is set in the post-war period, with Christie weaving in the various changes and challenges it brought.

 

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4:50 from Paddington, or What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw, is book seven in the series, and another of my favourites. In this one, Elspeth McGillicuddy, a friend of Miss Marple is travelling down by train to visit Jane Marple after a Christmas shopping trip to London. Through the window, she witnesses a murder in a train passing by, but when she reports it, the police find no body and no evidence that a murder took place. Miss Marple however, believes her friend and begins her own investigation which takes her to Rutherford Hall. Helping her is Inspector Craddock, who we’ve met in A Murder is Announced, and Lucy Eyelesbarrow. Again, one of Miss Marple’s more complicated puzzles with a fair few twists along the way, this was one I really enjoyed. I’d also recommend the adaptation with Dame Margaret Rutherford, which takes many many liberties with the book (so not good if you want something true to the plot) but is still great fun.

 

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The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side takes us back to St Mary Mead, where the house that  the Bantrys lived in, Gossington Hall, has now sold been to glamorous actress Marina Gregg, who lives there with her husband. When the silly, talkative Heather Badcock falls down dead there at a tea party, and the case finds its way to Chief Inspector Craddock, he heads straight to Aunt Jane for help. This once again has a complicated plot, though part of it is somewhat similar to another Marple that I’ve mentioned in this list. What I also liked in this one was Miss Marple along with her part-time help Cherry Baker getting the better of Miss Knight, a nurse/companion sent to her by her nephew Raymond, who insists on treating her as an ‘old dear’ in need of no excitement. Also this book deals with the changes in St Mary Mead, with a new development, department store, and even a film studio which Miss Marple (and the others) tries to adapt to.

 

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A Pocket Full of Rye is the twelfth book I read for the challenge, though it falls earlier in publication order. In this one, the wealthy Rex Fortescue falls dead (poisoned) just after having his tea in his office. This is followed by other deaths in the family, but when the maid Gladys, former maid to Miss Marple (one of her trainees) is also killed quite ruthlessly, Miss Marple comes down to Yewtree Hall to look into the matter herself. There is plenty amiss at Yewtree Hall, and Miss Marple uses the stereotypes associated with her age to her advantage, gossiping and obtaining insights into the characters of those involved. While this did not have as many plot twists as some of the other Marple books, the mystery (which I didn’t guess the first time around), the nursery rhyme pattern (‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’), how the murders were committed, and the country-house setting, I really enjoyed.

So these were some my Marple favourites, though in general, I quite liked the whole series–there were books I liked less than these but none that I disliked. (From those i Liked, I’d also like to mention The Moving Finger, which again had some interesting studies of character, but I didn’t feel I should include it on this list, since Miss Marple comes onto the scene fairly late in that one.)

Do you like Miss Marple? What are some of your favourite Marple mysteries? Looking forward to hearing about them!

Children’s Book of the Month: The Adventures of Dunno by Nikolai Nosov

So far, my Children’s Book of the Month posts have featured books that I’ve been reading and reviewing each month, but this time, the book/s I want to write about is an old childhood favourite which I haven’t read in a while–The Adventures of Dunno and His Friends by Nikolai Nosov.

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Dunno (Neznaika) was actually one of my mother’s childhood books, and when she found them in a book fair when I was a child, she bought them for me. What I had (and still have–most) were separate chapters of the book published as individual books, each about 20 pages with beautiful illustrations and artwork. While I don’t quite remember how many I had originally, as of now, I have seven of these, some quite shabby but still, at least I have them. The only full edition I’ve seen didn’t have all the illustrations in colour so I prefer the individual chapters. The only think I’m not sure of is whether all the chapters are available as individual books-Goodreads lists only 17 and the last I have is 15.

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Dunno and his friends are mites, creatures, the tallest of whom is only about as tall as a pine cone, and live in Flower Town in fairyland. Flower Town is a very pretty place. In Nosov’s words (the translator is Margaret Wettlin):

Around every house grew daisies, dandelions, and honeysuckle, and the streets were all named after flowers, Blue-bell Street, Daisy Lane, and Primrose Avenue….It stood on the bank of a little brook. The Mites called it Cucumber River because so many cucumbers grew on its banks.

(From The Mites of Flower Town)

 

Though they live in Fairy Land, they don’t have any magical powers as such. Dunno, of course, is one who doesn’t really know very much about anything, and while he wants to do many things, he doesn’t really want to do any work. He also enjoys telling lots of tales to people, with the result that few who know him believe him. He is described as:

 

Dunno wore a bright blue hat, bright yellow trousers, a bright orange shirt, and a bright green tie. He was very fond of bright colours.

(From The Mites of Flower Town)

The town has both boy mites and girl mites, but neither group wants to be friends with the other. The other boy mites, and Dunno’s friends (or at least acquaintances) include Doono who knows everything as he always reads books; Dr Pillman, the doctor; Glass-eye the astronomer; Bendum and Twistum the mechanics; Trickly Sweeter who drank frizzy drinks with plenty of syrup; Gunky who is Dunno’s friend; Blobs the artist; and Trills the musician, among others.

In the first few chapters, Dunno tries his hands at all sorts of things, playing music, painting, writing poetry, and also takes a ride in a soda-water car. Of course, he doesn’t really want to put in any work to actually learn these things and ends up getting into a lot of trouble, such as being chased out of town for playing his music. His paintings including portraits such as of Dr Pillman with a thermometer for a nose; and one of Doono with donkey ears.

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Doono with his donkey ears (by Boris Kalushin; sorry about the terrible photo (by me))

Then, one day, Doono makes a balloon and the boy mites set off in it on an adventure. There is an accident, and they find themselves in a town of girl mites, Greenville. Here Dunno is separated from the rest of his friends, who have landed in hospital, and begins to tell the girl mites all sorts of stories including claiming that he invented the balloon that brought them there.

 

The full version of the book has 30 chapters in which Dunno and the rest of his friends have various adventures in Greenville and also I think in Kite Town where their boy-mites (the Greenville girl mites also do not speak to their boy mites) live, before they return finally to Flower Town. These are more or less light-hearted, humorous stories, but there is also much adults would enjoy, besides the stories themselves of course. For one, there are quite a few fun and witty observations, like the one I had as this week’s Bookquote (here) or this one

Some people think that the higher you go, the warmer it becomes. That is not true. The higher you go, the colder it is, because the sun heats the earth with its rays. The earth  becomes like a stove, and everybody knows that the closer you are to a stove, the warmer it is.

From, An Accident

I haven’t of course, read these recently, but wikipedia points out that one can find themes of feminism, egalitarianism, and communism explored in the stories, so adults would enjoy them on this count as well. Come to think of it, I do remember the stories focusing on how the girl mites could do as many or more things than the boy mites including dangerous things like harvesting apples–these were much bigger than the mites and could crush them if one fell on them.

‘The boys think they’re terribly brave but we are just as brave as they are’ said Snowdrop. ‘Just see how high those two girls have climbed.’

‘But girls don’t go up in balloons and ride round in motor cars’, said Dunno.

‘Oh, don’t they?’, said Snowdrop. ‘Lots of our girls know how to drive’.

(From A Walk About Town)

Besides the stories themselves (or the story itself, depending on which version one is reading), I love the artwork by Boris Kalushin–both full-page illustrations, and ones amidst the text, these colourful pictures really bring alive the story, and the lands that the mites live in. (One of my favourites is of the giant watermelon in Greenville, which the girl mites use for juice). So I would recommend a version with his illustrations, if you can find one. The Adventures of Dunno and His Friends was published in 1954, and there are two other Dunno books, Dunno in Sun City (1958), and Dunno on the Moon (1966), but these I haven’t read yet.

 

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Russian stamp featuring Dunno.

Source: By Scanned and processed by Mariluna (Personal collection) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Have you come across or read Dunno before? How did you like the stories? Any other childhood picture-book favourites you would like to recommend? Looking forward to hearing about them!

What Genres Do You Read?

Early this year (which I’ve mentioned before here) I discovered ‘booktube’ or book channels on youtube and have been following quite a few fairly regularly. But i’ll write more about that separately. One of the videos I happened to watch on emmmabooks was all about why she prefers to read only young adult books (the video is here). Anyway watching that video got me thinking about the genres that I read, and ones that I don’t.

I personally like to read a range of genres–detective fiction and mysteries, historical fiction and non-fiction, classics, children’s books, popular science non-fiction books, humour (like Wodehouse, Henry Cecil, Richmal Cromtpon’s William books), and ‘feel good’ books (things like Miss Read, Barbara Pym, LM Montgomery books), and to an extent fantasy as well (though I guess most in this category that I like end up reading fall in the children’s or young adult category). I also read books that are classed as young adult, and I guess I have discovered a lot more titles and authors (in this genre, at least) than I would otherwise have by watching booktube.

Some children’s and young adult titles I ‘discovered’ through youtube.

Another genre or category of books that I found myself reading a little more of this year was the graphic novel. I haven’t really explored this genre at all with the exception of Tintin and Asterix which I read as a child and still enjoy; I especially love the former. But this year, I read some never books including one manga title and one graphic novel which I ended up enjoyed quite a bit, and which have made me keen to explore more of this genre.

My forays into graphic novels this year (my reviews are here and here).

While graphic novels are a genre I had simply not looked into, or considered reading, one that I was wary of but which (not all of it though) surprised me was what is categorised as chicklit. Just for the sake  of giving it a try, I picked up a Sophie Kinsella title a couple of years ago and ended up reading a bunch of them. Light-hearted and fun reads, some of these were rather enjoyable. I also read the Zoya Factor earlier this year which I also liked quite a bit, and now, I wouldn’t mind looking into the genre once in a way if the description of a particular title interests me.

Of course this is entirely a matter of personal choice, but I find somehow reading a range of genres, a range of stories, viewpoints, makes my reading experience all the more richer. But while I like to read different genres, and explore new ones as well, there are some I stay away from. ‘Vampire’ books for one–I did read Twilight, but didn’t end up liking it–and I haven’t even considered trying any of the vampire/supernatural retellings of the classics like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Pride and Prejudice and Vampires (I didn’t realise there were two until writing this post) (But you can still convince me about the genre, just not these and like retellings). Mills and Boon romances are another category that I stay far far away from.

 

 

But there are categories that I haven’t read or read so much of thus far but I would like to. For instance, retellings. I’m not too sure all of these would work but some such as the Wrath and the Dawn, and Spinning Silver, among others (such as Dorothy Must Die) are ones I would love to try at some point.

Some Retellings I would like to try.

So what about you? Do you find yourself sticking to certain genres more than others or do you prefer to read a range of different things? What are some favourites? Any recommendations (please do mention book or author names, or both)? Any genres that you definitely never want to read? And are there any that you weren’t too sure of but which have surprised you when you tried them (or not)? Looking forward to hearing all about them!

 

Review: The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

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My thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown and Co for a review copy of the book.

 

This is a retelling of Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market but also much more, it weaves in folklore, history, myth and magic. This is the story of two sisters Liba, nearly eighteen, and fifteen-year-old Laya who’ve been living with their Tati and Mami in the woods on the outskirts of Dubossary, on the border between Moldova and Ukraine. Their family has never been accepted really in town for their mother is a convert, and their father has had to leave home and his town (Kupel) because he married an ‘outsider’. When word comes that Tati’s father is ill and on his deathbed, Tati and Mami must go to see him but the girls must stay in their house, for they don’t have travel documents and the times are not safe. Before their parents leave, Liba and Laya discover the truth about their parents and themselves, that Tati (and Liba) can ‘shift’ into bears and Laya like Mami can change into a swan. The sisters have only each other to rely on when the mysterious Hovlin brothers come into the village, with their fruit stall temping buyers including Laya, but also spewing venom again Jews. Other things are happening as well which put their lives and those of all the Jews in that part of the world at risk. The girls must also deal with the truths about themselves and how this will affect their dreams, ambitions, love, and even their relationship with each other.

 

I really enjoyed this book a lot and there were many many aspects I loved about it, though a few things perhaps prevented it from being a five-star read for me. I enjoyed that the story in alternate chapters is told from each sister’s perspective—Liba’s in prose and Laya’s in verse—and thought the author really succeeded in Liba’s chapters coming through as more grounded, sensible, ‘sane’ even reflecting her personality, while Laya’s are lighter, dreamier, some feel almost entirely as though one were in a dream, and the parts describing her falling into the Goblins’ trap are so well done, one can literally see her getting trapped without even realising what’s happening (In some ways Liba and Laya to me were comparable to Elinor and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility—and so Laya did end up annoying me too!). I also enjoyed the strong cultural and folklore elements in the story very much. Liba is strongly attached to her religion, culture, and customs and those elements are woven through the story very well. I loved the use of phrases in Hebrew, Ukrainian, and Yiddish though I only realised there was a glossary when I got to the end (since I wasn’t reading a physical copy). Their cultural background and folklore elements of the sisters’ bear and swan heritage also impacts on their characters, their personalities, things that may attract or repel them.

 

 

There was a point in the story where I wasn’t too sure what was happening, where everything was headed—but then I stopped for a bit and looked up Goblin Market online—a poem I wasn’t familiar with—and once I had an idea of that story, the book began to make much more sense. I could then see the different plotlines more clearly, and see better how they were flowing along and interacting with each other.

 

Then there were also the historical elements of the plot, the pogroms of the early 1900s which led many of the Jewish community in the region to lose their lives, their homes, and all they had. This was a period of history that I didn’t know much about, and I only realised after reading the author’s note at the end that she had used actual events as the base for that part of the plot, and experiences her own family had gone through. And the book’s message in terms of culture, community, and the need to understand and accept difference comes most strongly from this aspect of the plot.

 

This was also a pretty fast paced book, which kept me reading thoughout, as I wanted to see how everything would resolve (or not) and how things would pan out for the different characters.

 

I thought the author did a great job of weaving together the different plotlines such that nothing felt like it wasn’t really needed, even the love stories of the sisters (though it felt like at one point in the story, this was the only element focused on) had a purpose. However, reading the book, it still felt as though too much was going on—the real, the fantastic—there is the goblin market plot; the sisters struggling with their identities, their relationships with each other, with their parents, their ‘boyfriends’; the folklore–fairy tale elements; the historical parts of the plot—just an awful lot for two young girls to deal with. It wasn’t that I couldn’t keep track of what was going on—I could; I also liked that all of these plotlines had a resolution, only that it felt like too much.

 

This was overall a really good read for me and I enjoyed it very much! And I cannot end this review without saying what an absolutely gorgeous cover this one has as well—that was what grabbed my attention in the first place!

August ‘Clear the Table’ Review and September Reading Plans

This is a quick review of my August reading.  I’ve been feeling much too lazy to write this post, so am going to just write it now before it gets worse and I end up skipping it altogether. So for August, I’d simply planned to Clear the Table of all the doorstoppers and other books that I didn’t end up reading in July despite planning to, but it turned out somewhat of a repeat of what I did in July. I did read 9 books in total which was great considering I did have a lot on the work front last month as well, but of these, only four I think were ones originally on the list, and the rest were either new acquisitions or books that I got approved for on NetGalley. So I read only three books of my original August TBR in that month (Clutch of Constables, The Elf and the Amulet, and Syren) plus one more from my NetGalley pile (No Fixed Address) which I only finished in August (started in July).

Most of these books I have reviewed on this page so I won’t be going into any details but will link the reviews here. The rest as always, I’ve reviewed on goodreads, so I will link those as well.

No Fixed Address is the story of twelve-year-old Felix Knutsson who’s been living with his single mother in a van since she lost her job and they lost their home. His and his mother’s horror of social services means they can’t let anyone find out, and Felix pins all his hopes on winning the junior edition of his favourite game show. This was a book I really liked very much and definitely recommend. My full review is here.

The Elf and the Amulet by Chris Africa is the story of three teens Chassy, Nita, and Andrev, who are thrown into adventure when they decide to eavesdrop on the conversation of two guests at Nita and Andrev’s parents inn. This was a fun enough read, but not one that stood out to me particularly. Here is my review.

Next I read one of my newer acquisitions, Turtles all the Way Down by John Green. This was my first John Green and I liked it very much–not saying anything about it here since I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard of/read reviews of this one. My review.

 

This next bunch had two off my original list and one new one. Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh is the twenty-fifth in her Roderick Alleyn series, and sees his wife Troy on a river cruise where some strange events have been taking place. The story is being narrated by Alleyn as he discuses his cases at a police training course sometime later. This was a book in which I enjoyed the setting very much, but not the mystery and characters as such. My review is here.

Next was Murder in the Happy Home for the Aged by Bulbul Sharma, where a body found in the garden of an old-age home sets the residents into action as they decide to solve the mystery themselves, to prove the policeman who thinks it pointless even to speak to them wrong. I really enjoyed this one, and my review is here.

Then I read another off my original list, Syren by Angie Sage. This is the fifth in a fantasy-adventure series of seven books featuring Septimus Heap, seventh son of a seventh son and thus in possession of extraordinary powers. In this one, when Septimus’ dragon Spit Fyre is injured, he and his friends find themselves on a beautiful but mysterious island where something strange seems to be reaching out to Septimus. This was a really fun read with artwork which I also enjoyed. My review is here.

 

Then I picked up on my Malory Towers project/challenge again, reading the second book in the series Second Form at Malory Towers, where the girls deal with new students, lessons, and their own problems and insecurities. My review is here.

The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick is a book I received through NetGalley and had put in a request for because of its theme of creativity, writers and writing, and monsters, all inspired by and revolving around Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This was certainly an interesting read, one that is hard to really classify, but also one that I’m not sure I made complete sense of. My review is here. Reminded by this read of 2018 being the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, I also reshared my old post on the book earlier this week. Find it here.

Finally in August, I read my second graphic novel this year, The Wolves of La Louviere by Flore Balthazar, also via NetGalley. This is set in World-War-II Belgium and describes how the Balthazar family (the author’s own) coped with the challenges the war threw up, and alongside tells the story of Margurite Clauwaerts, the teacher of one of the younger Blathazar children and a resistance member. This was a very impactful read, bringing out not only the cruelty of the conquerors but also that the conquered were not that much better when they came out ‘victorious’. My review is here.

So that was my August reading. My September plans are very very ambitious, much more so than August as I have some free time at the moment and am hoping to get some reading done. I plan to read among others, The Riddle of the Sands, The Dancing Bear, Don Quixote, Scythe, Dissolution, and the Invisible Hand (which is an interesting children’s title about time travel and Macbeth which I came across on NetGalley) (my theme here simply being A Little of This and A Little of That). I have already finished Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (review here), Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh (review here), and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (since I finally bought myself the really gorgeous illustrated edition; review here). I am also in the middle of the Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner which I will be reviewing either later today or tomorrow.

winter wood

 

So how was your August? Any favourites or new discoveries (or even revisits) that you would like to recommend? And what are your plans for September? Looking forward to hearing all about them! Happy reading month!