Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous

I have been following Duchess Goldblatt on Twitter for a long time and I have always enjoyed Her Grace’s stories about life in Crooked Path. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to receive the news that my “wish” for an ARC had been granted.

I thought that this memoir would be a delightful romp through life in Crooked Path.

Reader, I was most mistaken.

What I received instead was the story behind the creation of the Duchess Goldblatt Twitter account, and the very real pain behind one woman’s life changing suddenly, followed by the necessity to navigate through unfamiliar surroundings.  

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Learn to Draw (Almost) Anything in Six Steps by Rich Davis

I found this drawing book after reviewing the Mini Chibi Art Class. My kids seemed interested, so we decided to check it out.

As the title suggests, this book contains step-by-step for a variety of…nouns. You know, people, places, and things. Since you don’t have the book in front of you, it’s worth noting that the drawings are all more of a cartoonish style than realistic renderings. The book is divided into categories:

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Architecture
  • Transportation
  • Garden
  • Great Outdoors
  • People
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Mini Chibi Art Class by Yoai

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My thirteen year old daughter has been reading manga for several years and drawing in a manga style for almost as long. Needless to say, she was even more excited about the opportunity to help me with a book review than usual.

We’re not familiar with the original Chibi Art Class, but a cursory glance online indicates that Mini Chibi Art Class is the same book as the original, only smaller.

For those of you not familiar with manga, “chibi” (shorty)  is a style of manga in which the characters are “kawaii” (cute). Chibi characters have big heads and little bodies.

This book is a thorough guide to creating chibis from your own and includes

-materials

-getting the proportions right

-facial features

-clothing

-backgrounds Read more

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript by Elizabeth K. Kracht

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As an aspiring author, I am well aware that there are plenty of guidebooks available on the writing process, not to mention articles and websites devoted to this subject matter. What I appreciate about this book is that it has condensed this information into a series of convenient chunks.

I should point out that this book has slightly more guidance for fiction manuscripts, but there is useful information for nonfiction authors as well. The material is organized alphabetically and covers everything from “dreams” to “punctuation” to “query letter” and even dealing with “rejection”

Each entry is relatively short; Kracht summarizes the point quickly, uses concrete examples, and then concludes with a checklist for authors to use when evaluating whether their manuscript is ready for the next step.

The two appendices at the end contain examples of query letters for fiction and nonfiction and a synopsis for a fiction book.

I would recommend The Author’s Checklist. This is a very useful guide. I enjoyed reading it and I know that as I get a little further in the process of preparing my manuscript for querying, I will go through the book to make sure everything is in order. I received a digital copy of this book, and perhaps a paper copy would have been easier to thumb through, but I do want to point out that I can use the “Go To” feature on my Kindle to access each of the different entries without having to flip through the alphabetical list.

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

 

Guts & Glory: The American Revolution by Ben Thompson

 

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Guts & Glory: The American Revolution was written by Ben Thompson. I picked up the Audible edition of this book (as well as the others in the series) during a sale, and my girls and I listened to it while we were driving around during all of our after-school activities.

This book is a wonderful introduction to the foundations of American history. Thompson uses a jocular storytelling format to convey information, and I found myself enjoying listening to this book as much as the kids. Much of the story is slightly irreverent, which naturally appeals to children. He uses modern pop culture examples to draw comparisons with events from the Revolution, like comparing Bunker Hill to an epic battle from Lord of the Rings or saying that he has to pay tax “every time he buy[s] a new Xbox game or a Big Mac”. Understanding history is so important, and I have a great deal of appreciation for Thompson’s ability to make learning about history appealing. Read more

Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry

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Moab Is My Washpot is actor Stephen Fry’s memoir/autobiography. The title of this book is derived from a quote in a P.G Wodehouse book, which in turn is derived from a Biblical reference. I was already familiar with the fictionalized version of his turbulent adolescence in his novel The Liar, but I only discovered this memoir in the last couple of weeks.

Stephen Fry has made an illustrious career for himself, one that spans nearly four decades. This memoir, however, is limited to his first 18 years. Stephen spent most of his childhood at boarding school, where he experienced all sorts of Dickensian horrors. When things go awry at school, Stephen revolts at the plan to keep his life on track, and embarks on a crime spree. Despite his attempts to sabotage himself, Stephen manages to find a place at Cambridge. This memoir does not cover those years, but of course, fans will know that this is where Fry will fall in with lifelong friends like Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson. Read more

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. Read more

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

51qebdodpflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoy reading about Victorian history, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale. This is my first experience with her, and I will definitely look for her other Victorian books in the future!

During the summer of 1895, a pair of brothers named Robert and Nattie Coombes told their neighbors and relatives that their mother had gone away for awhile. They invited a family friend to stay with them for company; instead of staying in the upstairs bedrooms, they camped out downstairs. They took trips to Lord’s to see a cricket match, and they sent their family friend to pawn some household items. Eventually, relatives began to doubt the veracity of the boys’ tale and entered the locked bedroom. Mrs. Coombes was found dead, and the boys were arrested for murder. Read more

My Mad Fat Diary: A Memoir by Rae Earl

51g4kphei4lI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love books set in England, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read My Mad Fat Diary by Rae Earl. I usually prefer material set in the 19th century, and I am choosing to ignore the fact that a book set in 1989 is almost thirty years in the past, and might be conceivably classified as “historical”.

This book was originally published a few years ago in England, and Rae has kindly included a glossary at the beginning for the American publication. The original English slang remains unchanged, so a glossary is very handy for readers who might not be as familiar with the slang words from England. Read more

The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey

512bmmzuv5elI found The Secret Rooms on Amazon when I was looking up books about the late Victorian/Edwardian era. From there, I looked it up on the library network. I was pleased to discover that there was a copy at my town library; I didn’t even have to make a request and wait for it to be sent!

The Secret Rooms was written by Catherine Bailey, and is subtitled “A True Story Of A Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess, & A Family Secret”. Belvoir Castle is the centerpiece of what was once one of the largest estates in England. Catherine Bailey finds herself visiting Belvoir as part of her research for a book about the Great War. While combing through the correspondence, she finds that there are three gaps. The 9th Duke had devoted his life to meticulous record keeping. In fact, the 9th Duke passed away in one of the rooms designated as the archives, and after his death, the rooms were closed for almost seventy years. The only conclusion is that the gaps are intentional, but what could the 9th Duke have been trying to hide? Read more