Review: The Adventures of Alice Laselles

Title: The Adventures of Alice Laselles
Author: Queen Victoria
Genre: Children’s
Publisher: Royal Collection Trust
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: June 8, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

To my dear Mamma. This, my first attempt at composition, is affectionately and dutifully inscribed by her affectionate daughter, Victoria.
 
Long before she became queen, a young Princess Victoria took a keen interest in writing during her studies with a private tutor at Kensington Palace. When she was just ten and three-quarters, she created the story of Alice Laselles as an exercise in English composition. The story is now kept safe in its little marbled notebook in the Royal Archives, and it is published here for the first time.

The Adventures of Alice Laselles centers on young Alice and her thoroughly charming companions at the highly recommended Miss Duncombe’s School for Girls. Scandalizing news soon spreads among the students that someone has brought a cat into the honeysuckled cottage. And though Alice would never dream of doing so undutiful a thing, the transgressing tabby wears a red ribbon round its neck on which is written her name. Will the mystery be disclosed and Alice’s innocence proven by dinnertime?
An enchanting children’s story written by a real princess, The Adventures of Alice Laselles is illustrated with characters created from Victoria’s own collection of paper dolls, drawn for her by her governess and delicately hand-colored by Victoria herself. It will enchant and captivate every little princess today. 

Review:

Today is Queen Victoria’s birthday. To celebrate, I’m posting a review of a book she wrote when she was 10 years old! I picked up this book a couple of years ago when I was at Buckingham Palace. I was so surprised to see it, because I didn’t know she wrote a book as a child.

This book has story of Alice Laselles, as well as illustrations. The original copy of this story is kept in the Royal Collection Trust at Windsor Castle. The history of this story is given in the introduction by Jacqueline Wilson. Queen Victoria wrote the story for her mother, and illustrated it with her governess. There are also images of the paper dolls she created with her governess at the end of the story. They are so beautiful! I’m amazed at how she made paper dolls when she was a child, and I also remember playing with paper dolls when I was a child almost 200 years later!

This is a beautiful book. The cloth cover makes it a keepsake. The story is also quite entertaining. This book is a must read for any fan of Queen Victoria.

What to read next:

Who Was Queen Victoria? by Jim Gigliotti

My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

Have you read The Adventures of Alice Laselles? What did you think of it?

First Lines Friday – May 24

This is a weekly meme hosted by Wandering Words, where you give the first few lines of a book to hook your readers before introducing the book.

Here are my first lines:

“People lived because she killed. And if that meant braving the Arz where even the sun was afraid to glimpse itself, then so be it.”

Do you recognize these first lines?

And the book is… We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal.

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Goodreads synopsis:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.


Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Have you read We Hunt the Flame? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Secrets of a Fangirl

Title: Secrets of a Fangirl
Author: Erin M. Dionne
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sarah Anne loves lacrosse, and the MK Nightshade series that everyone was obsessed over in grade school. The problem is that she’s still obsessed, which is way too nerdy for a popular kid like her. So she hides her geekiness with a set of rules meant to keep her geek and jock selves separate. 

Except when she’s offered a spot in a Nightshade fandom contest, where the winner gets to see the new movie premiere in LA. No one seems to think Sarah Anne can win, since she’s up against a pair of guys in high school–but the more she’s called a fake fan, the more determined she is to wipe the floor with her competition. As long as none of her friends or anyone at school knows what she’s doing.

Can she keep her geek identity a secret, win the contest, and manage to keep her friends even though she’s been living a lie? Sarah Anne is going to have to make some choices about what’s truly important to her and which rules she’s going to break to stay true to herself.

Review:

I loved this book!

I could really relate to Sarah Anne, the main character. She was a huge fan of a series called Nightshade, but she had to hide it from her friends. Her friends no longer thought it was “cool” to belong to a fandom, so Sarah Anne had to pretend that she didn’t like it anymore either. When she enters a contest online and wins, entering her into a fandom challenge, her secret “geeky” identity is put on display. I could relate to this because I remember in middle school and high school when liking geeky things, like fantasy book series or video games, was uncool. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I chose to ignore the fandoms that I loved, so that I could fit in with the rest of my classmates and friends. Now that I’m older, I wear tons of fandom gear, and I’m not afraid for anyone to know what geeky things I love.

I kept cringing at Sarah Anne’s popular friends. They were mean to so many kids, just because they liked certain movies and fandoms. One boy even expected Sarah Anne to keep up her position on the lacrosse team, because he couldn’t be seen with her if she wasn’t the best. This was so sad to read about, but it is definitely a real part of school. There are always the mean kids who think they can control what everyone else does in the school. The important thing is to continue to stand up for what you believe in.

This was a great book!

Thank you to Scholastic for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Tournament Trouble by Sylv Chiang

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

About the Author:

Erin Dionne’s latest book for tweens is Lights, Camera, Disaster (Scholastic 2018). Her other novels are Models Don’t Eat Chocolate CookiesThe Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet, and Notes from an Accidental Band Geek.

Her novel Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day Mystery, is based on the real-life Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist and was a 2014 Edgar Award finalist. The series continues with Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting. Her first picture book, Captain’s Log: Snowbound, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, was released in 2018 and received a starred review from Kirkus.

A graduate of Boston College (BA English & Communications) and Emerson College (MFA), she teaches at Montserrat College of Art and lives outside of Boston with her husband, two children, and a very indignant dog.

Blog Tour Schedule:

May 20th

Dazzled by Books– Promo + Bookstagram
Struck by Stories– Review
The Book Dutchesses– Review

May 21st

Kayla Reads and Reviews– Review
Musings of a (Book) Girl– Interview + Bookstagram
The Reading Corner for All– Review + Bookstagram

May 22nd

onemused– Bookstagram + Review
Kait Plus Books– Guest Post + Bookstagram
Rhythmicbooktrovert– Review + Favorite Quotes

May 23rd

The Clever Reader– Interview
Jill’s Book Blog– Review
Moonlight Rendezvous– Review + Favorite Quotes

May 24th

L.M. Durand– Promo & Bookstagram
Vicarious Bookworm– Review + Playlist
Bookwyrming Thoughts– Review

Thank you The Fantastic Flying Book Club and Scholastic for letting me participate in this blog tour.

Have you read Secrets of a Fangirl? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – May 23

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff.

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic. 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice

Title: The Dark Beneath the Ice
Author: Amelinda Bérubé
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Something is wrong with Marianne. 

It’s not just that her parents have split up, or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital. 

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. 

Something is after her. But a first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. And Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it think it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

Review:

This was a suspenseful, modern ghost story.

This story was very creepy. It had a contemporary setting in the real world. However, strange things keep happening to Marianne. Things start spontaneously breaking in front of her, and she has gaps in her memory. These unexplained events built the suspense in the story. Since the setting is the real world, it was even more creepy to read and imagine it happening to myself.

There was some discussion about mental health in this story. Marianne is sent to a therapist for help after some unusual things happen with her, and her mother is admitted to the hospital because she thinks she is hallucinating. When Marianne takes some medication to help with her stress, she discovers that her aunt took the same pills years earlier. This broke down the stigma around getting help for mental health problems, since all of them sought out help without being blamed for their actions.

This is one of those stories where the ending can make it or break it. I won’t spoil it, but I can say that I liked the way the story ended. This is a great, spooky ghost story.

What to read next:

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Have you read The Dark Beneath the Ice? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – May 22

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh. The release date is June 4, 2019.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski, this heartfelt and humorous contemporary take on Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters—complete opposites—who discover the secrets they’ve been keeping make them more alike than they’d realized.

For two sisters as different as Plum and Ginny, getting on each other’s nerves is par for the course. But when the family’s finances hit a snag, sending chaos through the house in a way only characters from a Jane Austen novel could understand, the two drift apart like they never have before. Plum, a self-described social outcast, strikes up a secret friendship with the class jock, while Ginny’s usual high-strung nature escalates to pure hysterics.

But this has always been the sisters’ dynamic. So why does everything feel different this year? Maybe because Ginny is going to leave for college soon. Maybe because Plum finally has something that she doesn’t have to share with her self-involved older sister. Or maybe because the girls are forced to examine who they really are instead of who their late father said they were. And who each girl discovers—beneath the years of missing their dad—could either bring them closer together…or drive them further apart.

What books are you waiting on this week?

Top 5 Wednesday – Emerald Covers

This meme is hosted by Lainey from Thoughts on Tomes. The Goodreads Group for Top 5 Wednesday can be found here.

This week’s prompt is Emerald Covers, because the birthstone for May is Emerald. Here’s my list:

1. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

2. Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

3. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

4. Father Christmas and Me (Christmas #3) by Matt Haig

5. Harry’s Christmas Carol by Mark Andrew Poe

What are your favourite books with Emerald Covers?