[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Hester Browne – The runaway princess 4,5/5
Amy Wilde, a simple Yorkshire girl, is trying to fit in in the London high life. When she meets Leo, she can't believe her luck. A man who understands her and likes her for who she is! But soon the discovery that he is actually a prince turns her life upside down. Suddenly she has to deal with glittering galas, her supermodel mother-in-law and the press interest in her life and family.

Such a charming and lovely story! And what a recognizable character Amy is with her enjoyment of simple pleasures and her love for her parents. I loved the relationship between Leo and her, all the sweet things he did to win Amy over. He really is a dreamboat of a guy! Despite the typical rom-com storyline (girl meets secret prince), this novel felt actually mostly realistic, probably because it stayed so close to Amy and how she felt and underwent everything. A definite recommendation for anyone wanting to read a sweet, warm and funny romance.


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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Jennifer Worth – Shadows of the workhouse 3,5/5
Jennifer Worth was a midwife and district nurse in East London during the '50s. The popular BBC series Call the Midwife is based on her memoires, of which this book is the second part. In the book, Jennifer describes multiple cases of people she took care of whose lifes were marked by their time in the workhouse.
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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Lesley Gould – Courting Cate 4/5
In this Amish novel inspired by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Cate Miller is known for her sharp tongue and fiery temper around Paradise, Pennsylvania in contrast to her sweet sister Betsy. Exasperated by his daughter, their father sets a rule: Cate must marry first before Betsy can court. And when the free-spirited Pete Treger comes working for Mr. Miller, Cate might just have found her match.
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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Rachelle Dekker – The choosing 4/5
In a Dystopian American city, women have no value unless they are chosen to be a man's wife. Carrington Hale leaves her Choosing ceremony alone and has to resign herself to live the rest of her life as a servant, a Lint, the lowest level of society. But rumours of rebellion and a different truth reach her and resonate deep within her.

This was a very interesting an well-written dystopian novel. It's quite different from other dystopian novels (and movies): more introspective, less action-focused. The world-building is good, with some small chapters interspersed detailing the history of this world. They way the society where Carrington lives, works, can give rise to many thoughts and discussions. I always like it when a book makes you think and ponder. Carrington is a strong and relatable character. I did think the book was a little long and some parts repetitive. It ended up at the same doubts and thoughts for Carrington again and again. And, yes, I know this also happens in real life, but it just doesn't read very nicely ;-)
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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
E. Nesbitt - The railway children  4/5
Roberta, Peter and Phylliss and their mother have to change their comfortable live in Edwardian London for a remote village in Yorkshire when their father is mysteriously taken away. Luckily, the children make new friends and have many adventures at the nearby railway station.

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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Kiera Cass – The heir 4/5
In the fourth novel of Kiera Cass's Selection series, we follow the daughter of America Singer, princess Eadlyn, as she goes through her own Selection to find a husband.

On the one hand, this was a nice, simple, happy read like the three previous books in this series. There are many interesting new characters to root for, although Eadlyn herself takes some warming to. On the other hand, the problems I had with the previous books somehow increased in this one. It's all a bit too simple and predictable and the background of the story and world this takes place in is sooo vague. I understand this is YA lit and I shouldn't expect too much, but still. I do still want to read the next and last book, just to find out how everything ends!

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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
It’s been a while since I posted here, the reason being that I read very few books in the last few months. What with finishing my PhD and all the tiredness that came after that. But now it’s summer, I have two free weeks and lots of evenings to sit in the garden and read (hopefully!)

Here are my reads from April-July

Dot May Dunn – Around the village green        3/5
The memories of Mrs. Dunn about her childhood in a small Derbyshire village during WWII.

I generally really like stories about small-town life in WWII Britain, but this one fell flat somehow. Maybe the narrator was too young to tell really interesting stories; she was mainly running around the countryside with her brothers. There were some good parts, like how the family befriended a lonely German prisoner-of-war, but overall it was just a bit boring.
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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Mary McNear – Up at Butternut lake 3/5
Allie, a young widow and her five-year old son Wyatt move to a remote cabin in the small town of Butternut where Allie hopes to start her life again. Allie and Wyatt are soon taken up in the community, but Allie is still doubtful. Can she really live here? Did she do well brining her son so far away from all he's ever known? And what about their neighbour Walker Ford, who offers to teach Wyatt to fish. Is he just being neighbourly or does he want more from Allie?

A relatively run-of-the-mill romance, not really bad, but not too memorable either. I actually liked the side characters better than Allie or Walker, but though McNear tried to add some side stories into the novel, they didn't get enough space to be really fleshed out. I wasn't too fond of the romance, it felt a little too physical, if you get my meaning.
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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Sarah Addison Allen – First frost 4/5
In this sequel to Addison Allen's Garden Spells, we meet up with the Waverley sisters some 10 years later. Sydney's daughter Bay is now a self-assured teenager loving a popular boy at school from afar. When Sydney finds out who he is, she tries her utmost to keep him from getting involved with Bay, because of her past with the boy's father. Sydney's sister Claire is now a succesfull candy maker, but seems to loose herself more and more in her business.

Addison Allen is the queen of magical realism and I love the surprising way she weaves the Waverley magic into her stories, like in Sydney's hair which changes colour all by itself or the way the Waverley house can shut people out. That being said, this was a weak sequel compared to Garden Spells. It felt like a compilation of loose storylines and quite a few of them did not seem to go anywhere. My favourite storyline was about Bay and Josh, their bonding was really quite cute.
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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Only two books this/last month, as I spend most of my time finishing my PhD thesis. Almost done now!

Julie Klassen - The girl in the gatehouse 4/5

Mariah Aubrey has been banished from her parent's house after a scandal and is sent to live on the estate of her aunt. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant by writing books in secret. When her aunt dies, the estate is rented to Captain Matthew Bryant, who made his fortune in the navy. He is determined to fit into high society and show the girl who once rejected him what a mistake she made. But when he meets Mariah, Matthew can't help but be intrigued by her.

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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Deliah Parr – The midwife’s tale 3/5
Martha Cade comes from a family of midwifes and hopes her daughter Victoria will take over from her in the future. But then Victoria runs away and a new doctor in town tries to take over Martha's patients.

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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Melanie Benjamin – Alice I was 3/5
The story of the 'real' Alice in Wonderland, the daughter of an Oxford dean, growing up in a stifling Victorian atmosphere and her friendship with Charles Dodgson (the real name of Lewis Carroll).

This was such a weird novel. Things are implied about Alice and Mr.Dodgson and this colours the whole novel and gave me an upleasant feeling reading. Still, it never becomes clear what really happened, which annoyed me. Why imply stuff when you don't give the reader clarity in the end?

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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Thomas Locke - Emissary 3,5/5
All Hyam wants is to be a farmer. Though he spend five years learning to be a mage as a kid, he would like nothing better than to forget this gruelling time. But his mother's last wish is that he return to the Long Hall where the mages live. There, he hears things that change his life and set him on the path to becoming a hero and unearthing long-held secrets.


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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Rachel Hauck – The wedding dress 2,5/5
Charlotte owns a chiq bridal boutique and is about to get married herself. She has a gift for finding the perfect dress for her customers, so why can't she find one for herself? It makes her doubt about her future until she finds a mysteriously perfect 100 year old dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale.

Nope, this one didn't work for me at all. First of, putting the stories of four different women in one book simply means not enough attention can be given to either of the stories, so there was too little character development and big plot gaps. Then, like with my previous Rachel Hauck book, I really couldn't appreciate the supernatural touches. A wedding dress somehow blessed by God so it always fits the wearer and remains in a perfect state? That just didn't click with me. No more Rachel Hauck for me, I'm afraid.


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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Pamela Mingle - The pursuit of Mary Bennet 4,5/5
No doubt every fan of Pride and Prejudice has wondered what would happen to the remaining Bennet sisters after the end of the book. Pamela Mingle has written a story about the most neglected Bennet sister, Mary. Upon hearing about Kitty's 'almost-bethrotal', Mary resigns herself to the fact she will remain the unmarried Bennet daughter and take care of her parents forever. But then she gets a chance to stay with her sister Jane and meets the kind and intelligent Henry Walsh.

Jane Austen sequels are tricky. As fans, we all want more of her world, but often we are dissapointed with the way modern writers write about our beloved characters. Luckily, I really liked Pamela Mingle's outlook and writing style. I also liked her realistic development of Mary. She is not suddenly transformed into a second Lizzy or Jane, but a unique and different character, recognizable from her scenes in P&P, but more mature.

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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Rainbow Rowell - Landline 3/5
Georgie McCool is a succesfull tv writer. Two weeks before Christmas, just as the is about to leave for Omaha with her much neglected husband and two young daughters, Georgie gets the breakthrough of a lifetime. She lets her family go away without her, but falls apart herself. Especially when an old phone at her mother's house seems to connect her to the past.

A great idea for a story, still, this was the least favourite of the Rowell books I've read so far. The story seemed to drag a bit, maybe because too large a part was spend just describing the long phone conversations of Georgie and her husband Neill. For me that was just a bit too boring.
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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Anthony Trollope - The Way We Live Now 3,5/5
A classic about the rise and fall of the great financier Mr. Melmotte in 1870s London and all those who are influenced by him.

It took me aaaages to get through this one, more than 2 months to be precise. I couldn't read very fast because I found it rather boring, the talk about money and politics. And also, there were very few characters I found sympathetic or I could identify with. Though I must say, Trollope writes good, realistic female characters for a 19th century writer.

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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Patrick W. Carr – The Hero’s Lot 5/5
After the attack at the end of A Cast of Stones, the country of Illustra has come to rest again, but only for a while, because the King is old and frail. Errol is accused of a conspiracy and sent on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Merakh to find and kill one of Illustra's corrupted readers. Luckily, he has loyal friends and allies who go with him to help fulfill this almost impossible task.


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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Laura Frantz – Love’s return 4/5
Rowena Ballantyne and her father Ansel live happily in a small town in Kentucky when Ansel gets word of the failing health of his father Silas. Ansel and Rowena move to the Pennsylvania, a world far removed from everything Rowena knows. She feels out of sorts among her rich family and the high society they move in. She finds a friend and confidante in one of her grandfather's employees, steamship pilot James Sackett.


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[identity profile] birdienl.livejournal.com
Elizabeth Camden - With every breath 4/5
When Kate Livingston, just fired from a job at the government gets a job offer from her school rival Trevor McDonagh, she really wants to refuse. But she needs the money and Trevor's research into a cure for tuberculosis interests Kate very much. As Trevor and Kate work together, they come to an understanding and even become friends. But more and more strange and dangerous things happen at the hospital, someone seems to be targetting Trevor and his research.

Being a scientist myself, I really liked this book for the look it afforded me into late 19th century science. We've learned a whole lot since then, obviously, but we're building on the knowledge these people obtained without the fancy machinery we have now. So that was great! Another great thing about this book is the chemistry between Kate and Trevor. I've read many people's reviews about another of Camden's books (Against the Tide) and their love for it's hero; Bane, but for me, Trevor was Camden's greatest hero so far. A little bit closed-off, but with hidden depths and a good heart, just my kind of man!

Sarah Ladd - The heiress of Winterwood 3/5
Amelia Barret is heir to the estate of Winterwood, but only if she marries before her 24th birthday. She's engaged to Edward Littleton, but his refusal to let Amelia keep caring for the child of a friend who passed away makes her doubt his character. Then Lucy's father, Captain Graham Sterling returns back from the Navy and Amelia hatches a risky plan: ask Captain Sterling to marry her for the sake of Lucy.

I love reading books taking place in the Regency and this one definitely had an unusual storyline. I liked Amelia, she was brave, though also rather naïve and foolish which led her into some problems. Graham was a good and kind hero. Still, for some reason, this book didn't 'grab' me and though the premise was different, the storytelling felt rather cliché and mediocre. This is Sarah Ladd's debut novel, I'm definitely going to read some more books by her to see if her writing improves.

Jon Katz - Saving Simon 4/5
Author Jon Katz becomes the owner of a severely mistreated donkey called Simon and as he nurses him back to health and Simon becomes a big part of his life, Jon learns a lot about the bond between animals and humans and compassion.

I love reading books about the special bond people have with animals and this is a very good one. Because it not only tells the story of Jon's bond with Simon (and some of the other animals he encountered in his life), but it also details everything Jon learned from his life surrounded by animals and what animals can teach us. I totally believe animals can enrich our life greatly, so I nodded a lot in agreement while reading this book. There's a lot of wisdom to be found in Saving Simon, although I did think Jon Katz leaned a little bit too much towards New Age spiritualism now and then. But, definitely recommended for all animal lovers!

Books read in January: 3 (Not the greatest start of the year, reading-wise, but I guess that's what you get when you're refurbishing and moving)
Books read in 2015: 3

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