Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

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Carols and Chaos is a young adult historical fiction novel written by Cindy Anstey. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I have enjoyed her three previous books.

Carols and Chaos serves as a companion to Suitors and Sabotage, but each of the two books offers a very different perspective. Both books are set during the Regency era and both have young adults as their protagonists, but Suitors features members of the gentility whereas the two protagonists in Carols are servants. Upper servants, yes, but servants nonetheless.

Kate Darby has established herself as a lady’s maid. This is not to be a permanent occupation- Kate intends to open up her own dress shop one day when she has saved up enough money. The young ladies she assists are amiable, but her job is not always easy because her mother (who lives nearby) asks for help and doesn’t understand that Kate’s focus needs to be on her duties at the manor house. Kate also does not need to be distracted by the handsome Matt Harlow, who serves as valet to the Steeple brothers, who have come to stay at the house for the Yuletide season. Read more

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster is a middle grade historical fiction novel by Jonathan Auxier. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I’ve enjoyed some of Auxier’s other books, and I thought it would be a good fit for my three girls who are in the fourth and sixth grades.

Nan Sparrow works as a chimney sweep in Victorian London. It’s a miserable existence, with no end in sight, but that changes when she meets Charlie, a gentle creature who befriends her. Nan has never really had a friend, and she is fiercely protective of Charlie. She understands that he would never hurt anyone, but is there a place in the harsh world for a monster? Read more

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

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Mistletoe and Murder is the fifth book in Robin Steven’s Wells & Wong series of middle grade historical mysteries. My oldest daughter is eleven years old, and she is a big fan of this series. We actually own the UK editions of most of the series (including this one), but we were super excited when we received the opportunity to read an ARC of the American edition.

In fact, my daughter was so excited about reading this book (again) that she asked if she could write the review. So, here you go:

My review on Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

Note: this is my first review EVER so, sorry if you think it’s short :/

Hello whoever is reading this! This is my review on Mistletoe and Murder.

This book is part of a series called Wells and Wong in the US, but in England, it’s called A Murder Most Unladylike.

The book takes place during Christmas time in England, and Hazel and Daisy-the main characters- are staying in wintry Cambridge for the Christmas holidays.

But-of course-a murder happens. Two days before Christmas, a person is murdered, and Hazel and Daisy have to solve the case- But they have competition with the Junior Pinkertons, a rival agency, and they have to find the killer before Christmas day! Talk about all that stress!

But a big twist comes at the end, something you’d never see coming!

If you liked Mistletoe and Murder, you should try more Murder Most Unladylike books! I DEFINITELY recommend them, the books are so great, like this one! Robin Stevens is an amazing author, and I definitely love this series!

Okay, back to my adult/mom perspective now!

Boarding school books are my absolute favorite, so I was a little sad to see Daisy and Hazel leave their school for the holidays. However, it was quite pleasant to see them reunite with some of the characters from previous books in the series.

I found the mystery to be quite satisfying, and although I did pick up on the direction the book was going to take in its earliest stages, I was surprised by the Big Reveal. I do think it’s great that Hazel and Daisy go about solving their cases. Everything is very methodical and organized. Details and observations are written down in a notebook, and they discuss points before reaching conclusions.

I loved the way this book tackled tough subjects like gender and race in such a meaningful way by incorporating them organically into the plot. I also loved the evolution of Daisy and Hazel’s friendship; like many teen girls, their friendship has suffered ups and downs, but manages to persevere.

I would absolutely recommend Mistletoe is Murder to middle grade readers. I would suggest starting with the beginning of the series and then reading the books in order. Stevens is an extremely talented author, and the books are surprisingly nuanced- not your typical middle grade fare! As a mom to girls, I cannot say enough how much I appreciate such a wonderful series with strong female leads who work together and are very very clever. We are both eagerly looking forward to finding out what is going to happen next for our intrepid sleuths!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

 

 

 

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by Anthology

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Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All is a Tudor-era YA historical fiction novel. This book was already on my radar, so when I saw it on the new release shelf at my town library, I was very excited. I prefer the 19th century when choosing historical fiction; I don’t spend very much time reading fiction from this era, but I was looking forward to trying something new.

This is an anthology, with a different author telling the story of one of Henry’s six wives. I think this helps to give each of the six women a unique voice, and her personality really comes through this way. Here are the authos who contributed: Read more

Another Place in Time by Anthology

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Another Place in Time is a collection of m/m historical romance short stories. I was already excited as soon as I heard about it in one of my Facebook reading groups, but when I saw that the collection included something I borrowed from my library network and had yet to add to my personal library, I was even more confident with my purchase. Read more

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell (editor)

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All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages is an anthology of short stories written by young adult authors geared toward a YA audience. This book was not on my radar, but as soon as I saw it on the new release shelf at my town library, I knew that I had to borrow it.

The stories in this anthology feature historical fiction from all different eras from culturally diverse LGBTQ teens. There are 17 stories, and I enjoyed reading all of them and experiencing the perspective of a new narrative. It’s hard to choose favorites, but if I had to, here are some of my favorites. This is entirely subjective, and I’m sure that a dozen other readers would likely have completely different lists if asked about their favorites. Read more

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

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The Orphan Band of Springdale is a middle grade novel written by Anne Nesbet. I always read the middle grade novels I receive with my oldest daughter, so I was excited about the opportunity to share another book with her.

Gusta Neubronner arrives in Sprindale, Maine to stay with her mother’s family. She wants nothing more than to fit in with her new classmates, but she immediately stands out when she fails an eye exam on the first day of school. Gusta has always known that she needs glasses, but she always used coping mechanisms like memorization to “pass” the test. Glasses are a luxury that she doesn’t think her family can afford.

Gusta also stands out because of her “foreign” name. It’s 1941, and her school is engaged in activities that highlight what it means to be a Real American, and what they as children can do to be patriots. Gusta wants to do her part, but she is also struck by the injustice that she sees around her. Her father is actually on the run from the authorities for his role in labor organization. Read more

Why Kill the Innocent by C.S. Harris

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Why Kill the Innocent is the thirteenth book in C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr series of Regency-era historical mysteries. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I read the twelfth book last year and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is thrust into yet another mystery when a well-born woman is found dead on a London street. Jane Ambrose was no ordinary woman; she was a talented musician, who was working as Princess Charlotte’s piano instructor. The palace insists that Jane’s death was merely an unfortunate accident, but Sebastian suspects that something is being covered up. As he conducts interviews, Sebastian realizes that there are multiple possibilities surrounding Jane’s murder, but he remains determined to explore all avenues in his search for justice. Read more

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

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The Fortune Hunter is Daisy Goodwin’s second novel. I purchased the Audible edition of this book not too long after its release, but I didn’t listen to it right away because I was saving it. Well, I saved it for almost three years- and I even read Goodwin’s third novel Victoria– but The Fortune Hunter was absolutely worth the wait.

Charlotte Baird is a young heiress. She inherited her fortune from her mother, who died in a horseback riding incident when Charlotte was very small. Now that Charlotte is older, she has to consider whether the young men who seek to form an acquaintanceship are interested in her or her fortune.

Bay Middleton served in the army with Charlotte’s brother. He finds her to be charming, but he also knows that his situation makes his actions seem more predatory, and that he is merely a fortune hunter. Read more

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. Read more