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Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have always enjoyed learning about 19th century England and reading books set in that era. It was a time of discovery, innovation, and empire building, and it centered around the monarch whose name became synonymous with (most of) the century: Victoria.

Julia Baird’s biography Victoria: The Queen is a masterpiece. Baird does a wonderful job of setting up the events that led to Victoria’s placement as heir to the throne; one can picture those dissolute younger sons of George III abandoning their mistresses and scrambling to find royal brides. Baird vividly portrays Victoria’s life, from her lonely childhood to her dynamic with the scheming Conroy, and her abject sorrow following Prince Albert’s untimely death. Continue reading

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The Charming Life of Izzy Malone by Jenny Lundquist

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have a nine-year-old daughter who loves reading, and I am always looking for new books for her. Jenny Lundquist’s The Charming Life of Izzy Malone sounded like something that my daughter would like, so I was looking forward to reading this book.

Izzy Malone is a sixth grade girl who just doesn’t fit in. To make matters worse, her mother is running for mayor of their small Napa Valley town, and Izzy is expected to be on her best behavior all the time. Izzy’s mother also signs her up for charm school, but instead of going to lessons each week, Izzy receives her assignments in the mail. If she can complete an assignment, she will receive a charm for her bracelet. Izzy tries to follow Ms. Whippie’s directions, but things don’t always go according to plan. But on the bright side, some of Izzy’s classmates are curious about what Izzy has been doing, and they want to help out.         Continue reading

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Geronimo Stilton #18: First to the Last Place on Earth by Geronimo Stilton

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My daughters love reading the Geronimo Stilton books, as do many of their classmates. We are also very fortunate that our town library has a lovely collection of the Geronimo Stilton graphic novels published by Papercutz. I was very excited about the opportunity to read the newest graphic novel- First to the Last Place on Earth. 

This is the 18th entry in the series, and it follows a familiar formula: Geronimo is summoned by the Professor to travel back in time to thwart the Pirate Cats’ attempt to disrupt a major historical event. This time, the Cats are trying to prevent Roald Amundsen and his Norwegian expedition team from being the first to reach the South Pole. It’s up to Geronimo and his friends to stop the Cats, and ensure that Amundsen and his team reach the South Pole! Continue reading

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Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have been waiting for the Victoria miniseries for several months after seeing a trailer on Facebook. When I found out that there was going to be a companion novelization, I was very excited. When I found out it was being written by Daisy Goodwin, I was absolutely ecstatic. I enjoyed reading her Victorian era novels, and was not aware that she was the creator of the television series.

The Victoria novel covers the events on the first season of the television series beginning with an adolescent Victoria learning that her uncle has died, making her Queen of England. Victoria grew up in virtual isolation, and now she must navigate the choppy world of 19th century politics. There are many who doubt her ability to lead, but she develops a rapport with Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister. His advice and companionship prove to be invaluable in the first years of her reign. It’s clear that she’s infatuated with Melbourne, but she must choose a royal husband. Victoria’s uncle tries to steer her toward her cousin Albert, but Victoria is skeptical; she remembers an awkward youth who came to visit her three years ago. She is pleasantly surprised to discover that Albert has changed considerably. Continue reading

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The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation by Shannon & Dean Hale

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My girls are big fans of The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale (with illustrations by LeUyen Pham), so I was very excited about the opportunity to read The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation.

This is the fourth book in the series, so that means that Princess Magnolia has been fighting monsters for quite awhile. Of course, real princesses don’t fight monsters (big wink), so she transforms into The Princess in Black when the going gets tough. All of this sneaking and costume changes and subterfuge have been quite exhausting, and Princess Magnolia decides to take a seaside vacation. Will she be able to enjoy some quiet time on the beach- or will a monster ruin her plans for rest and relaxation? Continue reading

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney

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My oldest daughter is nine years old, and she has been reading the Wimpy Kid books for a few years. One of her little sisters (age 7) also likes the series, and they’re always swapping books.

The newest book came out today, so I headed over to the bookstore to buy a copy. Of course, I couldn’t resist reading the book first!

Double Down is the 11th book in Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Middle school diarist Greg Heffley is still making his way through life as an awkward tween. He deals with trials and tribulations at home and at school, including learning to play an instrument and preparing for Halloween.

My favorite part of the book had to be the book fair. I think that every parent can identify with the book fair struggle. I also loved the introduction of prolific kid-lit author I.M Spooky, whose horror novels are very popular at Greg’s school. As a child of the 90s, I appreciated the homage to R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps/Fear Street books. There are also references to other popular series, but I’ll keep that as a surprise! Continue reading

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The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I have read a couple of the historical romances in Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides series, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read The Legendary Lord.

This is Christian’s story. Fans of the series will remember Lord Berkeley from the secondary role he has played in earlier books. Christian is the genial sort of man who has always been relegated to a friendship rather than the romantic lead. He has grown weary of his high social circle, and decides to spend some time by himself in his hunting lodge in Scotland.

Sarah Highgate, a popular debutante, also feels stifled by London society and her insufferable fiance, so she runs away. She inadvertently ends up at Christian’s lodge, and they wind up stuck in the house together after a snowstorm- alone together.

Nothing happens during their time in the lodge, and Christian goes to great lengths to make sure that Sarah’s reputation is preserved. His wonderful friends (the heroines from the previous books) provide an “alibi” for Sarah and she is able to return to London with an acceptable explanation for her absence. Continue reading