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

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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. 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

Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon

71qgt050qzlI found Buckingham Babylon by Peter Fearon at my town library. I was looking for some British history books, and this book was in the same section. I love books/movies about the Royal Family, so I was pleased to have discovered it.

Buckingham Babylon is subtitled “The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor”, and it was published in 1993. There are some major Royal Family life events that have happened since the early 1990s, so in some respects, this book is woefully out of date. Read more

Thinner in 30 by Jenna Wolfe

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I received a copy of Thinner in 30 from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received my book on November 25th, and have spent the last month reading it and implementing the steps.

I have seen Jenna Wolfe on The Today Show, and I love her enthusiasm, and her sense of humor.   This book arrived at the perfect time; with three children and a busy schedule, it isn’t always easy to find time for exercising. I used to push the stroller around the neighborhood with my oldest daughter, but when my twins arrived two years later, pushing a double stroller with two babies and a toddler seemed too daunting. Well, the “babies” are now in first grade, the big girl is in third grade, and I no longer have any excuses. This book was just what I needed.   Read more

Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child with Asperger’s (ASD) by Cornelia Pelzer Elwood & D. Scott MacLeod

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

I have three daughters, and two of them are on the autism spectrum. They are high functioning, and sometimes, people in our community are unaware of the diagnosis because the girls often “present” as neurotypical. This is, perhaps, not the blessing that it might appear to be, because meltdowns and other displays of frustration can be jarring to people who are not close enough with us to know about their diagnoses.

We are grateful to live in a town with a wonderful school system. The teachers we have worked with have extensive knowledge and experience with children on the autism spectrum. On my oldest daughter’s first day of kindergarten, she got up from the table to speak to a friend at the next table. She was not aware of the rule about staying in her seat. The next day, her BLA (behavior learning assistant) provided her with a laminated paper with the cafeteria rules.

This is exactly the sort of thing that authors Cornelia Pelzer Elwood and D. Scott McLeod are hoping to foster with their new book Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child with Asperger’s (ASD). By the end of the book, you should be able to create a personalized roadmap/guide tailored to your child’s unique situation. Read more

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

I found The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia on the new release shelf in the YA section of my town library. I tend to prefer fiction, but I also love history, especially 19th century history.

The Family Romanov was meticulously researched by Candace Fleming. She presents her findings in an engaging manner, and she includes fascinating tidbits to pique the interest of the young reader. Fleming begins with marriage of Tsarevich Nicholas and Alexandra, who was one of Queen Victoria’s German-born grandchildren. The union was considered unlucky or cursed because they married when Nicholas was supposed to be in mourning following the death of his father. This proves to be rather prophetic, considering the gruesome end that the family met. Read more

Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past by Ransom Riggs

I first heard about Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past when I read a review of it on the now-defunct epinions.com. I enjoyed the review, and since I was familiar with Talking Picture’s author Ransom Riggs, I wanted to read the book for myself.

Ransom Riggs is best known for his young adult novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its sequel Hollow City. The inspiration for Miss Peregrine’s Home was a series of old photographs that showed children doing fantastic things, like appearing to levitate. He crafted a wonderful story about these peculiar children and the lives that they led. Read more