Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Escape From the Tower (The Royal Rabbits of London #2) by Santa Montefiore, Simon Sebag Montefiore

‘Packed with fun, fantasy and the sort of adventure guaranteed to have sticky little fingers hungrily turning the pages’ The Mail on Sunday

 Life is an adventure. Anything in the world is possible – by will and by luck, with a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage!

 Little Shylo Tawny-Tail is proud to call himself one of the Royal Rabbits of London, a secret order who live under Buckingham Palace and fight evil across the world. But high up in London’s famous skyscraper, the Shard, the horrible Ratzis are plotting to cause chaos during a visit from the President of the United States. And when the Grand Burrow is attacked and Shylo is kidnapped, it looks as though they might just manage it! Can Shylo escape in time to save the day?

The Hobbit meets Fantastic Mr Fox meets Watership Down in this bestselling series from Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore, which proves even the smallest rabbit can be the biggest hero. Featuring illustrations throughout by award-winning illustrator Kate Hindley.

PRAISE FOR THE ROYAL RABBITS OF LONDON: ‘The Royal Rabbits of London is sweet, funny and beautifully illustrated' The Times ‘Enchanting….Kate Hindley’s illustrations are a treat’ The Lady

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 21st 2017
by Simon Schuster Children's UK
****
"Life is an adventure and anything in the world is possible - by will and by luck, a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage."
It was through searching for more Santa Mortefiore books that I discovered this series for middle grade and younger (even older). 

Call this a short and sweet review.  Perfect for the targeted audience with adventure and suspense.  The illustrations were great connecting the reader and characters.  You are stronger than you think, courageous when you don't feel like it.  Yea not just a good story but good morals for little ones.


click on cover for my 'short and sweet' review

Monday, October 8, 2018

Audio Review: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

Audiobook - 11 hours, 43 minutes
 Published August 7th 2018
by Penguin Audio
****

This is my second book by Fiona Davis, her previous The Address was a favorite from 2017.  Rich in detail and history with a writing style I loved, she took a part of New York City's history and brought it to life.  I was excited when I saw she was taking on another part of the city, the Grand Central Terminal in The Masterpiece.

I opted for the audio version this time, Cassandra Campbell was the reader and if you know audiobooks then you know she is a great reader, one of my favorites.  I borrowed via Scribd.

I love when a book opens my eyes to parts of history I know nothing about, this time around I learned about Grand Central Terminal (not Station). The bid to demolish this landmark, the School of Art and what an icon it was.  A dual time period story beginning in 1928 just before the Great Depression, when women couldn't succeed at 'men's jobs'.  When the struggle to have a career and succeed in a man's world was next to impossible.   Jumping ahead to 1974 life was still tough for women and a divorced one to boot was even harder.  Both these women, Clara and Virginia struggled but they were strong and had a passion for life. It wasn't hard to feel for them both, to be their cheerleaders and even shake my head at some of the decisions made. 

Both storylines were interesting, usually I enjoy one over the other (the past because of its history) but this time it was an equal liking.  Both had the historical facts I enjoy as well as the mysterious elements drawing the plots together.  While there was a little predictability it didn't take away from my enjoyment.

Definitely a book and author I recommend.

click on cover to take you to my review

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House—the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadow across generations, set in England from the 1860's until the present day.
My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

Softcover, 496 pages
Expected publication: October 9th, 2018
 by Atria Books
*** 1/2

I very rarely read reviews before starting a new book, there is just too much of a chance for spoilers.  That being said, it wasn't hard to hear comments (via social media) about The Clockmaker's Daughter,  how it was garnering mixed reviews made me rather curious and a little nervous to begin reading.

I will confess right off the bat that I struggled to get into this book, but it was an 'it's me not you' situation.  My anticipation just got the better of me, times were hectic and yea to sit and read caused issues - nothing to do with the book. So I did the thing I've been doing a lot of the past few months and that is switching to the audio version for a bit.  Yea it came out on Audible before the print copy.  Did the audio cure my struggles? You bet it did!!  This is Kate Morton, one of my go-to authors, read without checking out the blurb. Joanne Froggatt was the reader and she did a great job of bringing this book to life.  I did switch back to the print copy for the last third.

There are multiple pov's here as The Clockmaker's Daughter travels across time to reveal what happened back in 1862 at Birchwood Manor.  You could almost say the Manor was one of the characters playing a pivotal part through the years.  There is a lot of years between 1862 and the present day, also many characters to remember. That I think is a Morton trademark because she can do it smoothly in a mesmerizing way. Her stories are multilayered and in this instance, it was the Manor revealing its history over the years.  The added unknown voice was interesting, spicing things up a little.

While this isn't one of my favorite Kate Morton books (that belongs to The Secret Keeper and The Forgotten Garden) I still enjoyed the ride. 

ARC won from the publisher.








Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Spotlight: Clash of Empires by Paul Bennett


Publication Date: December 8, 2016
Paperback & eBook; 224 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1540666628
Series: The Mallory Saga, Book #1
Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1756, Britain and France are on a collision course for control of the North American continent. The eventual result can be described as the first world war, known as the Seven Year’s War in Europe and the French and Indian War in the colonies. The Mallory family uproots from eastern Pennsylvania, and moves to the western frontier, where they find themselves in the middle of war. Daniel, Liam, and Liza (the three Mallory siblings) become involved in the conflict in ways that lead to emotional trauma for each. The story focuses on historical events and includes historical characters. Clash of Empires is an exciting look at the developments leading to the events of July 1776, which are chronicled in the sequel as we follow the exploits and fate of the Mallory clan.

"I feel both educated and thoroughly entertained by Mr. Bennett’s debut novel ‘Clash of Empires’. Rich in detail mined from the author’s clearly painstaking research, we find lessons that should have been learned from the distant past rising to the fore once more; cannons boom, bullets fly and tomahawks spin through the air as the war builds towards a brutal climax. A fresh voice and a cracking tale. Recommended!" - Author Gordon Doherty

Amazon US | Amazon UK | IndieBound


Paul’s education was of the public variety and when he reached Junior High he discovered that his future did not include the fields of mathematics or science. This was generally the case throughout his years in school as he focused more on his interest in history; not just the rote version of names and dates but the causes. Paul studied Classical Civilization at Wayne State University with a smattering of Physical Anthropology thrown in for good measure. Logically, of course, Paul spent the next four decades drawing upon that vast store of knowledge working in large, multi-platform data centers, and is considered in the industry as a bona fide IBM Mainframe dinosaur heading for extinction. Paul currently resides in the quaint New England town of Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, Daryl. The three children have all grown, in the process turning Paul’s beard gray, and have now provided four grandchildren; the author is now going bald.

 For more information, please visit the Mallory Saga Facebook page.

You can also find Paul on his Blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of Clash of Empires to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

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– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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Clash of Empires Blast