Jane Austen (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Jane Austen (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the remarkable life of Jane Austen, the British novelist, in this true story of her life. Little Jane grew up in a big family that loved learning and she often read from her father’s library. In her teenage years she began to write in bound notebooks and craft her own novels. As an adult, Jane secretly created stories that shone a light on the British upper classes and provided a witty social commentary of the time, creating a new dialogue for female characters in books. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Jane Austen (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Jane Austen is part of a series aimed at very young readers, introducing children to famous women in history.

The illustrations are simple, and a little childlike, as though young Jane herself might be telling the story.

Austen’s works are far too advanced for readers in the target age group of this book, but it’s an interesting way to introduce girls and boys alike to the fact there were PLENTY of women in history who achievement many different things.

 

Review copy from NetGalley.

Melbourne Cup Day

Today is Melbourne Cup day in Australia (one of the world’s most prestigious horse races). I have zero interest in the race, and couldn’t name a single horse, so instead here are a few horse-themed books I would recommend:

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

There is also Life as I know it by Michelle Payne – the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup (in 2015), if you DO have an interest in the race. However, her reputation has been a little tainted as she recently failed a drug test…

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What Regency Women Did for Us by Rachel Knowles

Regency women inhabited a very different world from the one in which we live today. Considered intellectually inferior to men, they received little education and had very few rights. This book tells the inspirational stories of twelve women, from very different backgrounds, who overcame often huge obstacles to achieve success. These women were pioneers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, authors, scientists and actresses women who made an impact on their world and ours. In her debut non-fiction work, popular history blogger Rachel Knowles tells how each of these remarkable ladies helped change the world they lived in and whose legacy is still evident today. Two hundred years later, their stories are still inspirational.

What Regency Women Did for Us by Rachel Knowles

I’m not sure why this book has such average reviews; it delivered exactly what I expected it to!

What Regency Women Did for Us gives brief but heavily-researched biographies of women of the Georgian/Regency eras. This includes women who had careers that people of the era (and perhaps even now) would be shocked to see a woman involved in, and some women who never married, giving them freedom to choose their own futures.

I read books like these for the facts, and appreciate authors who can pack a lot of detail into fairly short sections. It makes it a good book to read in bits and pieces, and really challenges the idea women of the past were all passive and boring.

It delivered exactly what I wanted it to.

I don’t know what the version on sale is like, but I did have some issues with the formatting in my review copy (it kept jumping to the last few pages). Hopefully this is fixed now.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 5th – 11th December

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Here are three pictures of our AMAZING Canberra sunsets this week. I haven’t touched the pictures up; this is just what it looks like here in summer!

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It’s nearly Christmas, and I’m not getting anything done! It seems there’re a thousand people one has to have lunch with in December, which means I’ve spent more time hanging out in the city, or at pubs in various parts of town, than I have actually achieving stuff!

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Can we STOP talking about TIME Magazine like Hitler and Trump were the only monsters they picked, like Stalin and Putin weren’t also some of their “winners” who they named “Man” or “Person” of the Year?! Four maniacs, and TIME thinks it’s cute and cool to feature them like that. (The year after Putin was given the “honour”, he started invading countries – Georgia first.)

By the way: TIME only changed it from “Man” of the year to “Person” in 1999. That’s pretty disgusting. Only a few years ago…

 mogul-the-knickerbocker-club-3-by-joanna-shupe

I got my hands on a review copy of one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 this week, and no way was I waiting until next year to start it! I’m only 25% in now, and I love it, but I cannot understand why they have that female model in the terribly-fitted gown on the cover, when the heroine is supposed to be a stunning blonde…

However, READ THIS SERIES. It’s one of my favourites – ever. Even if the author thinks Stalin is a turn-on.

My review of Wrong Brother, Right Match (Anyone But You #3) by Jennifer Shirk

wrong-brother-right-match-anyone-but-you-3-by-jennifer-shirk

My review of Charles Dickens by Karen Kenyon

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My review of The Hero (Sons of Texas #1) by Donna Grant

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There are book covers…

The Bite Before Christmas by Heidi Betts

Christmas Book Sculpture

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Book Christmas Trees

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Charles Dickens by Karen Kenyon

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Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved English novelists.

But who was the man behind the novels?

And how did his turbulent personal life contribute to his literary genius?

By the age of twelve Dickens was separated from his family when his father was sent to debtors’ prison. He was sent to work in a boot blacking factory, and had to live and walk the London streets alone.

He never recovered from the emotional wounds of those years, and when he began to write stories of the poor in London he included especially poignant characterisations of children.

He worked hard to change the way society viewed and empathised with the poor, and yet, despite these displays of kindheartedness, he could be heartless in his personal life.

He had strained relationships with his children and showed very little sympathy towards his depressed and lonely wife.

He was full of compassion, yet could also be a mass of contradictions.

Charles Dickens by Karen Kenyon

Despite living and working near the Charles Dickens Museum in London for a couple of years, I never got there. The more I read about Dickens’ personal life, the harder I find it to separate the books from the man.

Dickens is famous for his work helping the poor, but what is not as commonly known is that he was selfish and often cruel when it came to the people he should have cared about the most, and held a rather disturbing obsession with teen girls and very young women his entire life.

Karen Kenyon’s Charles Dickens is a detailed biography that shows Dickens as a complex and extremely contradictory man. A man who grew up in poverty and worked his way up to one of England’s most famous men, performing readings for the Queen and touring America more than once. (I found the part about his copyright woes in the US interesting.)

It is hard to make sense of a man who was loved by the public, but who blamed his wife for having too many babies – babies he was indifferent to – before leaving her for a teenaged lover when he was middle-aged.

Charles’ and Catherine’s last child was born that year…

…At the time of his birth, Dickens, with his characteristically cold response to the birth of his children, said, ‘on the whole I could have dispensed with him.’

This was a man who refused even to send his estranged wife a note of condolence when one of their children died.

Victorian England is a fascinating place, with a great deal of misery in the poorer classes that provided Dickens with subjects for his work. I think that the atmosphere of the time was described well in this book.

There is so much known about Dickens’ life, as well as more revealed about his secret life with his mistress (after it came to light in the twentieth century), that any biography is going to be heavy on the information. There is a lot of life to cover in detail, even considering he burnt two decades of his correspondence, and that there’re many unanswered questions about his thirteen-year affair.

I don’t think there was any way to present the man’s life than how it was done in this book, even if at times it was perhaps TOO fast with the facts to the point parts felt like a long list of dot points put in sentences.

Additionally, the copy I read had quite a few editing mistakes (and oddly switched back and forth between US and British English), but that was a minor issue.

It is hard to present both sides of such a complicated man – the good public one and the often cruel private one – with balance, but I think it was achieved.

Though this is a story of a man’s life, I think it is as much a story of how limited women’s options were in the nineteenth century.

I do wonder how a man with so much compassion for others could care so little about the most important people in his life.

This affair brought out all that was worst, all that was weakest in him. He did not care a damn what happened to any of us. Nothing could surpass the misery and unhappiness of our home.

One of Dickens’ daughters.

Overall, and despite my inability to get over my anger with a man who has been dead a long time(!), it was an interesting read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Melbourne Cup Day

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The first Tuesday of November is the day of the Melbourne Cup, one of the world’s major horse races. I wanted to mention a book I had a review copy of when I was in Europe, and forgot to review!

In last year’s race, Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win, and when got up onstage to receive her trophy she famously told sexist men in the industry to ‘get stuffed’.

Of course everyone rushed to get Payne-related things out there while her name was still fresh in people’s minds, and so a few months later her biography came out.

Now, this is definitely no masterpiece of literature – it’s very simply written – but there are worse biographies you could be reading! I’m not a great fan of horse racing beyond appreciating the pretty horses (and am not really enjoying the fad for horse racing historical romances at the moment), but this book is about someone who overcame huge odds to get where she was, and that’s a story most people can enjoy and identify with.

Cover Love

Atmospheric Victorian London. I love covers like this!

The Lodger by Louisa Treger

The Lodger by Louisa Treger

The first biographical novel about Dorothy Richardson, peer of Virginia Woolf, lover of H.G. Wells, and central figure in the emergence of modernist fiction

Dorothy exists just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist’s surgery and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie as he is known to friends.

Bertie appears unremarkable at first. But then Dorothy notices his grey-blue eyes taking her in, openly signalling approval. He tells her he and Jane have an agreement which allows them the freedom to take lovers, although Dorothy is not convinced her friend is happy with this arrangement.

Not wanting to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house—striking unconventional Veronica Leslie-Jones, determined to live life on her own terms—and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of the militant suffragette movement, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.

The Lodger is a beautifully intimate novel that is at once an introduction to one of the most important writers of the 20th century and a compelling story of one woman tormented by unconventional desires.

The Week: 7th – 13th October

I sure hope nobody saw my embarrassing spelling mistake before I changed it!

AUTO-PRIX-ESP-MARUSSIA-ACCIDENT-FILES

R.I.P María de Villota

Fire Mission – The Diary of a Firing Sergeant in Afghanistan by Craig Douglas is still FREE

Fire Mission - The Diary of a Firing Sergeant in Afghanistan by Craig Douglas

My review of Protecting His Witness by Katie Reus

Protecting His Witness (Red Stone Security #7) by Katie Reus

The Defiant Lady Pencavel by Diane Scott Lewis is still FREE

The Defiant Lady Pencavel by Diane Scott Lewis

My review of Garrison’s Creed by Cristin Harber

Garrison’s Creed by Cristin Harber

Currently Free: Fire Mission – The Diary of a Firing Sergeant in Afghanistan by Craig Douglas

Fire Mission – The Diary of a Firing Sergeant in Afghanistan by Craig Douglas is currently free.

Fire Mission - The Diary of a Firing Sergeant in Afghanistan by Craig Douglas

Craig Douglas was a Firing Sergeant for an Artillery Troop in Afghanistan. He spent 6 months in FOB Inkerman, also known as FOB Incoming due to the amount of attacks it was subjected to by the Taliban. His tour was from October 2007 until April 2008. Prior to him arriving, Ross Kemp had been through the base and on patrol experiencing a fire fight with the Taliban.

 

In the month of November the base was practically attacked every day and resupply was few and far between due to the hostile location.

 

Put on your body armour, don your helmet and take cover. The shells fall thick and fast with devastating consequences. Inside these pages you’ll find frustration, humour, fear, chickens and a goat.

 

Welcome to the Helmand Province through the eyes of an ordinary soldier who found himself in an extraordinary country.