Top Ten Tuesday – Books/ Series I’m Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is books I’m thankful for, in honour of American Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for these books/series because they inspired my love of reading! Here’s my list:

1. Harry Potter

2. Shadowland

3. Pride and Prejudice

4. Wuthering Heights

5. A Series of Unfortunate Events

6. Cinder

7. Tales of Mole and Shrew

8. Nancy Drew

9. The Princess Diaries

10. The Babysitters Club

(All images taken from Goodreads)

Review: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)


Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Purchased
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

Review:

The fourth and final fairytale in The Lunar Chronicles is Snow White. I think Winter was a great addition to this cast of characters.

I loved that Winter was a girl of colour. It gives some more representation to this diverse group of girls. She also shows that beauty goes deeper than your skin.

Winter is another clever girl who has brought along her own romantic interest in Jacin. I was rooting for them from the beginning!

Though I was sad to see this series end, I was satisfied with the ending. I was glad to see that Meyer has created a spin off series of graphic novels, which I will have to get my hands on now!

My reviews for Cinder can be found here, Scarlet can be found here, and Cress can be found here.

Review: The Pinks

Title: The Pinks: The First Women Detectives, Operatives, and Spies with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency
Author: Chris Enss
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Rowan & Littlefield
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: July 1, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The true story of Kate Warne and the other women who served as Pinkertons, fulfilling the adage, “Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History.” Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West Outlaws. But the true story of Kate Warne, an operative of the Pinkerton Agency and the first woman detective in America–and the stories of the other women who served their country as part of the storied crew of crime fighters–are not well known. For the first time, the stories of these intrepid women are collected here and richly illustrated throughout with numerous historical photographs. From Kate Warne’s probable affair with Allan Pinkerton, and her part in saving the life of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 to the lives and careers of the other women who broke out of the Cult of True Womanhood in pursuit of justice, these true stories add another dimension to our understanding of American history.

Review:

This is a fascinating book!

I had never heard of this agency before, and once I started reading, I wished I had. These are important stories for the feminist movement, because it shows the strength of women since the nineteenth century.

I loved that Pinkerton introduced female detectives specifically because they were underestimated by the rest of the country. This was a smart technique on his part, since he was able to use this prejudice against everyone else, while also working with great detectives.

A lot of these stories sounded like an action movie. One great tale is when Kate Warne pretended Abraham Lincoln was her brother to sneak him onto a train. It’s amazing how that worked. It’s funny because if I saw it in a movie I would have thought it was made up, but these are all true stories.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency did some amazing crime fighting. These stories are so entertaining. I highly recommend this book!

Review: The Austen Escape

Title: The Austen Escape
Author: Katherine Reay
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.

Review:

I love Jane Austen adaptations, so when I heard about this one, I had to get it!

I really liked this story. It had some great twists. There were a few moments when my mouth dropped open, I was so surprised.

I loved how they were from Austin, Texas. It was a subtle reference to Austen that I didn’t pick up on at first, but it was a cute addition. 

I also really liked the Austen references. It made me feel connected with the characters, like having an inside joke. There were also a variety of ages of characters, from a couple in their eighties to an eight-year-old girl. This variety was great because it gave the opportunity to show many different Austen characters, such as Mrs. Jennings and Margaret Dashwood.

This story reminds me of Austenland, so the story wasn’t too original. But I still enjoyed it. I recommend this story for all Austen lovers!

Review: The Secret Mother

Title: The Secret Mother
Author: Shalini Boland
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Bookouture
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: November 9, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

‘Are you my mummy?’

Tessa Markham comes home to find a little boy in her kitchen. He thinks she’s his mother. But Tessa doesn’t have any children.

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the child is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa comes under suspicion for snatching the boy. She must fight to prove her innocence. But how can she convince everyone she’s not guilty when even those closest to her are questioning the truth? And when Tessa doesn’t even trust herself…

A chilling, unputdownable thriller with a dark twist that will take your breath away and make you wonder if you can ever trust anyone again. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train and The Sister.

Review:

This is an awesome thriller. There have been so many great ones this year!

It reminds of The Girl on the Train. Tessa is an unreliable narrator. This makes us question if she actually did what she was accused of doing. It adds another layer of mystery to the novel.

I figured out the ending about halfway through the book. But it was still so exciting. There were some twists that made me doubt my theory. But I was right in the end.

One thing that could have improved the narrative, was if there weren’t so many rhetorical questions. Many chapters ended with a question, which was unnecessary. If they were removed, it would have made that final sentence stronger. Other than that, I liked the narrative.

I loved this book. I recommend it for thriller lovers!

Review: The Logogryph

Title: The Logogryph
Author: Thomas Wharton
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gaspereau Press
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Release Date: October 1, 2004
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

“The particular volume I’m looking for is nameless, lacking a cover, title page, or any other outward markings of identity. Over the centuries its leaves have known nothing but change. They have been removed, replaced, altered, lost. The nameless book has been bound, taken apart, and reassembled with the pieces of other dismembered volumes, until one could ask whether there is anything left of the original. Or if there ever was an original.”

So begins Thomas Wharton’s book about books. What follows is a sequence of variations on the experience of reading and on the book a physical and imaginative object. One tale traces the origins of a fictional card game. Another tells of a duel between two margin scribblers. Roving across the globe and from parable to mystery, Wharton positions his reader between the covers of a book that is not. How

are we to read the pieces that follow? As extraneous to the nameless book, as parts of it in its original form or perhaps as evidence that it has relocated to other existing volumes?

The Logogryph takes its cues from magic realism and the techniques of cinematography. The result is a mind-bending caper through the process of reading, the relationships we establish with fictitious worlds and the possibility of worlds yet unread. Wharton indulges his reader with tales of fantastical cities where the only occupation is reading and of the plight of a protagonist suddenly dislodged from his own novel. And what becomes of the reader who reads all of this?

This book is a Smyth-sewn paperback with a jacket and full sleeve. The text was typeset by Andrew Steeves in Caslon types and printed on Rolland Zephyr Laid paper. The jacket was printed letterpress. The inside features illustrations by Wesley Bates.

Review:

This is a beautiful book, both in the physical material and the writing. It is from a small Canadian press. It comes complete with a cover sleeve and gorgeous, thick paper.

It has short passages that are about books and reading. Some are taken from real life, such as the story about the inventor of paper. But some are fictional.

I loved the story about the lost character. A man doesn’t know what to do with his life when he suddenly finds himself alone in a train station. But then he realizes that he must be a character in a story.

One thing I would change about this book is I would give each passage a title. It would organize them more, especially the ones that continue throughout the book.

I loved this book and I recommend it for all other bibliophiles!

Review: The Girl In The Glass Box

Title: The Girl In The Glass Box
Author: Andi Adams
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Firefly Hill Press
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Release Date: June 5, 2016
Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

A witch. An apple. A mirror. That’s all most people think of when they recall the story of Snow White. But the truth is rarely so simple. What if the Queen wasn’t born evil and the princess wasn’t always so pure of heart? Is it possible that these two women could have ended up in one another’s place?

The Girl in the Glass Box tells the story of Agrippine and Genevieve, two women who are not all that different, but who quickly learn through a series of choices, encounters, and devastating losses that the course of their fates can change in an instant. Through the influences of the people they love and lose, both are redefined as their stories head for a different sort of happily-ever-after.

Review:

This is a great adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the story. It introduces Snow White’s stepmother, Agrippine, and tells how she became the Queen. It made me feel sympathetic towards her for a short time, though she eventually becomes the villain we all know. I also liked the background of the dwarves. I could tell who they were right from the beginning of the story, but it was a nice twist that I haven’t heard before.

The story was fast paced and easy to read. I enjoyed the narrator’s voice.

I wish this story had something unique that happened. It followed the Snow White tale faithfully, but I was waiting for something new to happen in the story. There were some surprising twists close to the end of the book, but it was pretty ordinary at the beginning. A unique twist would have made it original, instead of just another fairy tale.

Blog Tour: Stuck With You

Stuck with you3

Title: Stuck With You
Author: Anna Premoli
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Aria
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis:

A smart, romantic comedy about how finding The One doesn’t always have to be love at first sight…

Lavinia Ferrari is in her fifth year at Bocconi University where she studies Economics when she is introduced to a new project that will guarantee her extra credits. She’s intrigued… but it means the class must team up with students from the Computer Engineering course. Lavinia has absolutely no interest in the project, and to top things off, she’s paired with Seb Marconi who is less than enthusiastic.

When the work begins, her friends seem to be making great progress with their partners, but Lavinia isn’t having the same luck… Seb is making it quite clear that he’s not interested in the project, or Lavinia, fuelling her frustration.

She has no choice – they’re stuck in this, and besides, she won’t receive her extra credits unless they work together. Lavinia must come up with a way to convince the guy who drives her crazy to put the work in… but how?

From the author of LOVE TO HATE YOU, YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY and UNTIL LOVE DO US PART.

Review:

This story is a simple and predictable love story. I really liked it.

I could tell right away that something would happen with Lavinia and Seb. Her aversion to him was too strong at the beginning, leaving her open to changing her mind about him.

What I didn’t like was how my feelings about Lav and Seb changed through the book. First, Seb was frustrating because he was so hard to get through to. But when Lav starts to pretty much harass him, I thought she looked pretty foolish. As they say, “you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” and I think Lav should have given him some space rather than nosing into Seb’s life.

I was also confused at the beginning because the story is set in Italy, but the characters use a lot of British language and jargon. The only indication that it is set in Milan was the name of the streets and schools. I think more Italian influences should have been added in the dialogue to reinforce the setting.

I recommend this cute romantic comedy if you want some light reading this winter.

About the Author:

Anna Premoli.jpg

 

Anna Premoli is a bestselling author in Italy. She began writing to relieve stress while working as a financial consultant for a private bank. Her previous novel, Love to Hate You won the Bancarella prize in 2013.

 

STUCK WITH YOU

Buy the book:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nNy4QG
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2oGZwn0
iBooks: http://apple.co/2o61NXP
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2nfeyQX

Anna’s previous books, LOVE TO HATE YOU, YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY and UNTIL LOVE DO US PART are out now: http://amzn.to/2h0q2Cq

 

Follow Aria:
Website: www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Review: Rapunzel’s Revenge


Title: Rapunel’s Revenge
Author: Shannon Hale, Nathan Hale
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Source: Purchased
Release Date: August 5, 2008
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.

Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you’ve never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.

Review:

Here is another fairytale retelling, this time in graphic novel format!

This is a cute and unique version of the Rapunzel story. She doesn’t stay trapped in her tower (a tree in this case) for long in the story. She takes her life in her own hands and escapes. She meets the dumb prince who is supposed to save her and sends him on his way.

I really liked that Rapunzel is a fighter in this story. This Rapunzel isn’t the typical damsel in distress. She was also clueless sometimes, like when she gets changed out of her dirty clothes, and wears long underwear for most of their journey. She was quite entertaining!

This is a great story for young readers and adults!

Review: The Stone of Destiny


Title: The Stone of Destiny: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure
Author: Richard T. Ryan
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: MX Publishing
Source: Author
Release Date: June 5, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

During the elaborate funeral for Queen Victoria, a group of Irish separatists breaks into Westminster Abbey and steals the Coronation Stone, on which every monarch of England has been crowned since the 14th century. After learning of the theft from Mycroft, Sherlock Holmes is tasked with recovering the stone and returning it to England. In pursuit of the many-named stone, which has a rich and colorful history, Holmes and Watson travel to Ireland in disguise as they try to infiltrate the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the group they believe responsible for the theft. The story features a number of historical characters, including a very young Michael Collins, who would go on to play a prominent role in Irish history; John Theodore Tussaud, the grandson of Madame Tussaud; and George Bradley, the dean of Westminster at the time of the theft. There are also references to a number of other Victorian luminaries, including Joseph Lister and Frederick Treves. For fans of Conan Doyle’s immortal detective, the game is always afoot. However, for the great detective the stakes have never been higher as he must mollify a king who refuses to ascend the throne until “order has been restored.”

Review:

I have never read a Sherlock Holmes mystery that wasn’t written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I was always worried the author wouldn’t capture the true essence of Sherlock. Luckily, Richard Ryan did a great job at creating a new mystery for the iconic detective. 

Watson’s narration read just like the original stories. He went along with whatever Sherlock suggested. Also, like many Sherlock mysteries, I learned something new along the way. I didn’t realize that contact lenses were invented so long ago (and now you’ll have to read the story to find out how/why Sherlock encountered contact lenses!). 

I also liked the way that the narration alternated between Watson’s account and a narration of the theives. I could see the whole story unfolding, but it still wasn’t clear how Sherlock would find the missing stone (and I knew he would because Sherlock always figures out the mystery). When John and Sherlock were separated, Sherlock explained to him later what he was doing in his absence. This was a great way of explaining what was happening without a narrator present for it. 

One thing that I would have liked to see more of was Sherlock’s deducing. That was always one of my favourite parts of his mysteries. There was some seducing but I would have liked to see more of it, because that skill is what makes Sherlock unique. 

I loved this story! I highly recommend it for any fans of Sherlock Holmes.