What I Saw and How I lied by Judy Blundell

This ended up coming across my GoodReads recommendations a while ago, so I added it to my “Want to Read” list because it sounded interesting. I was so excited when I found this in a charity shop for £1!

First, a synopsis from Amazon:

whatisawIt seemed like a dream. The world had exploded… Summer’s ending, Evie’s step-father is finally home from the Second World War, and Evie is sick of her glamorous mother treating her like a little girl. Then a mysterious stranger appears: a handsome ex-GI who served in combat with Evie’s step-father. Slowly, Evie realizes that she is falling in love with him. But he has dark secrets, and a strange control over her parents. When he is found dead, Evie’s world is shattered. Torn between her family and the man she loved, Evie must betray someone. But who? “Gripping … beautifully paced and told” The Times “You’ll be holding your breath as you turn every page” News of the World

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By Royal Command and The Betrayal by Mary Hooper

So, I finished Mary Hooper’s “At the House of the Magician” series.

byroyalSynopsis from Amazon:

Lucy has become a firm fixture in the household of Dr Dee, a real-life figure who was court magician to Queen Elizabeth 1. Lucy, in return for saving the queen’s life, has been told that she is to work as a spy for Her Grace and that she is to remain with the Dee family and await further instruction …And then Lucy hears unexplained cries in the Dee house, and finds a young girl imprisoned there. What is Dr Dee doing? Lucy means to find out. A thrilling historical story, full of intrigue and royal plots and counter-plots, from the acclaimed Mary Hooper.

Okay, so I have to admit, this book wasn’t quite as interesting as the synopsis would lead. That storyline maybe takes up two chapters at the beginning of the book. The rest of it is Lucy being given a spying task – to watch one of QE1’s ladies and follow her. That was interesting, because in one of the events where she follows her, she flees down the river toward London and it was fun to hear the different places she was going through. This book felt a little weak, but again, it’s aimed at middle schoolers. Continue reading

At the House of the Magician by Mary Hooper

I remember reading a synopsis for this book a while ago, and then I completely forgot the title and tried searching for it desperately (it’s not listed on John Dee’s Wikipedia page!). I was so happy to come across it again, all thanks to my previous charity shop find (Fallen Grace)! I ordered the series so that I wouldn’t forget it again.

I had the privilege of studying under one of the leading John Dee scholars when I was doing my MA. I find John Dee to be fascinating. He was on the Crown’s payroll to try to turn lead into gold, and is best known for his speaking to angels and conjuring of spirits.

magicianFirst, a synopsis from Amazon:

Lucy has been forced to run away from home as she fears for her safety from her drunken father. She is taken on as a maid at the house of Dr Dee, court magician, upon whom Elizabeth I relies heavily, even down to advising the date of her coronation. The household is strange and sinister, and Lucy has a nose for intrigue …And she has more than enough to satisfy her: Lucy stumbles across a plot to assassinate the queen and has to find means to warn her…

Well, that was short and sweet, but it pretty much sums it up. I’m sure that this was written for middle schoolers. It’s not very long at all, the storyline is simple, and it’s educational. Continue reading

Confess by Colleen Hoover

So, I have to admit that I am a CoHo virgin. Well, was. My first Colleen Hoover read was Confess, as it was picked for the book of the month for the Bookaholic Alliance. I didn’t know what to expect at all.

confessFirst, a synopsis from Amazon:

From bestselling author Colleen Hoover, comes a new novel about risking everything for love – and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is keeping some major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin… Continue reading

Throwback Thursday 11/02/2016

I have such a special pick for Throwback Thursday this week!! Drumroll please…

The Princess Bride!

princessbSynopsis from Amazon:

Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So, when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts (no survivors) her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, bad men, good men, snakes, spiders, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles, and a damn fine story.

 

Gosh, isn’t that cover gorgeous? This is the first book I ever owned that actually had a pull-out map. I was super impressed, and it set a high precedent. Continue reading

The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen

Hello dear readers! I am so sorry I haven’t had posts in a few days. I’ve had two job interviews this week (yay!) that I had to prepare presentations for (boooooo!). I decided to tick another item off my month’s TBR list that is related to the jobs I applied for: The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen!

ladytowerFirst, the synopsis from Amazon:

Spring 1540

I am afraid. You are in grave danger. Mother, will you run away with me if I can free you?

The servants call it the Lady Tower: the isolated part of the castle where Eleanor’s mother is imprisoned after a terrible accusation. For four years Eleanor’s only comfort has been their secret notes to one another.

A chance discovery reveals a plot to murder her mother. Now Eleanor must free her before it is too late. But with danger and betrayal at every turn, she can trust no one. Especially not her father.

Eleanor must use all her cunning to survive. For she soon realises that it is not just her mother she needs to save . . . but also herself. Continue reading

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

So, yesterday I decided that I would venture into East London to go to Amnesty International’s £1 book sale! My husband went with me because I had never really been to East London, and he was hoping to find some books for his history and politics course.

Aaand because we went by train, I had loads of time to read! I started and finished Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper yesterday.

fallenHere is the synopsis from Amazon:

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant’s body in a rich lady’s coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper’s grave.

Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound effect upon Grace’s life. But Grace doesn’t know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune.

A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday 4/2/2016

So, I have to ask you. Do you like mystery? Do you like a clever 15-19-year old female protagonist? Do you love English history, especially surrounding the Great War? DO YOU LOVE SHERLOCK HOLMES?! If you like any of these things, then you’ll want to read on.

This week, for my Throwback Thursday pick, I have chosen The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King.

Okay, so this is not an outright YA book, but hear me out. I first laid my hands on this book when I was 15, and the only reason I did was that a fanfiction I was reading kept alluding to it (Riley’s Pawn to Queen, a Harry Potter classic). I believe it was first published in 1994, so it is a definite throwback.

beekeepFirst, the synopsis from Amazon:

  1. The great detective Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honey bees when a young woman literally stumbles into him on the Sussex Downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, the young Mary Russell displays an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes – and match him wit for wit. Under his reluctant tutelage, this very modern twentieth-century woman proves a deft protégée and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective. In their first case together, they must track down a kidnapped American senator’s daughter and confront a truly cunning adversary – a bomber who has set trip-wires for the sleuths and who will stop at nothing to end their partnership.

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Me & Mr. J by Rachel McIntyre

Oh my GOD, you guys. Oh my god. This book.

I think I spent the complete day in the past.

Okay, not really, but let me tell you, this book does such an amazing job at portraying the 16-year-old female voice, it made me feel like I was back in high school again.

I gotta say, I picked this book up on a whim. I’m a sucker for forbidden romances. The Thorn Birds is my Bible and I ship Snape/Hermione. I have a weakness for May/September romance films featuring Audrey Hepburn and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

First, let me give you the idea of what I dove into yesterday:

memrjSynopsis from Amazon:

Lara’s life is far from perfect, but being an upbeat kind of person she saves her venting for her diary. It’s the only place she can let out her true feelings about the family dramas and hideous bullying she has to face every day.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot love her back … can he? Continue reading

The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff

I love charity shops, don’t you? They’re so full of treasures. You really never know what you’ll find. I walked into a Princess Alice when I first moved here and found a novel about Henry VIII with a Borders sticker on it – four years after they went out of business and in a completely different country!

Anyway, on my last expedition to Oxfam, I was really surprised to see this lovely little book tucked into the children’s hardcover section. It boasted that it was a Carnegie Medal Winner, and is pitched as “magical” and a “children’s novel for adults” (which I love – The Little Prince is my favorite). It was only £1, so I gave it a shot.

brides_farewell_ukSynopsis from Amazon:

On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees – determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. She takes the only thing that truly belongs to her: Jack, a white horse.

The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. Then Pell meets a hunter, infuriating, mysterious and cold. Will he help her to find what she seeks?

Inside is a beautifully written, vivid coming-of-age tale. Like the synopsis states, we begin our story with Pell sneaking off in the middle of the night. She is confronted by her foster brother, Bean, who is mute, but demands to accompany her. They travel through the New Forest, reach Salisbury where Pell intends to find work, and eventually become separated. The rest of Pell’s journey is spent trying to find her lost brother and the horse that had been taken from her. Continue reading