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review 2018-10-13 12:54
Circus girl joins a boarding school
Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh's Curse - Laur... Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh's Curse - Laura Wood

This was a load of fun.  The story Poppy Tomato Pym had always heard about her past was that the magician in the circus had pulled her from his hat.  The Circus is her life, her family, but she's 11 and she has an offer of a school scholarship to a boarding school and her family aren't about to say no.


She's not prepared for it and they're not prepared for her but she has to adapt and her friends Kip and Ingrid help.  When an Egyptian exhibit starts in the school and one of the main exhibits, a ruby that is reputed to be cursed goes missing, Poppy has to investigate.  


The story deals with the plausability of the whole thing well, glosses over some details and occasionally implies real magic but without being heavy-handed about it all.  It dealt with homesickness and found family and it was a hoot.


Using it for the Baker Street Irregulars square.

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review 2018-10-12 16:23
Four Weddings and a Sixpence (anthology) by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Laura Lee Guhrke, Stefanie Sloane
Four Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology - Julia Quinn,Elizabeth Boyle,Stefanie Sloane,Laura Lee Guhrke

Four young girls, roommates at a boarding school, find an old sixpence in a mattress and decide it would be their lucky charm in finding suitable husbands when the time came...

Something New by Stephanie Sloane (❀❀❀)
Miss Anne Brabourne needs to find a husband and quickly, before she’s banished into the country. She also has a list of requirements and that list doesn’t include either love or passion thanks to the destruction, caused by heightened emotions, she’d witnessed as a child. Anne also gains a strange ally in her husband-seeking quest; Rhys Alexander Hamilton, Duke of Dorset. He’s determined to help her, but he has his own reasons.

This was a cute story. Maybe a tad too short, since both characterization and the plot itself suffered a bit—everything happened rather quickly, feeling a bit rushed. But I liked both main protagonists and especially their matchmaking aunts.

Something Borrowed by Elizabeth Boyle (❀❀❀❀)
Miss Cordelia Padley has invented a fake betrothed to curb her aunt’s enthusiasm of thrusting vicars upon her. But now she’s invited to her friend’s wedding and she’s supposed to bring her man along. The only one she could turn to is the famous Captain Kipp Talcott, her childhood friend. But as she pays him a visit, she discovers Kipp isn’t her Kipp anymore, but Winston Christopher Talcott, the Earl of Thornton. Still, she asks him to pretend to be her betrothed and he agrees, even though he was about to really get betrothed himself.

A sweet story of long-lost childhood friends finding each other again, trying to navigate between old and new dreams and real adult responsibilities, but in the end only one thing prevails—the heart.
I liked the contrast between the slightly flighty heroine and the stuffy hero, they provided a nice balance, complimenting each other rather splendidly. The story moved well, and though the love-story might appear rushed, the fact they were childhood friends compensated for the lack of space and time dedicated to the deeper development of their romance.

Something Blue by Laura Lee Guhrke (❀❀)
Lady Elinor Daventry is determined to save her father no matter the cost. Even marrying a man she doesn’t love. Anything is preferable to her father standing trial for things he didn’t commit. That’s why, six months before, she broke off her engagement to Lawrence Blackthorne, the man who believes all the nasty rumors about her father, determined to ruin him.
Ellie knows the sixpence is her ticket to marriage to the son of the duke, who might sway the peers to believe her father, but Lawrence Blackthorne has other ideas…And steals the coin.

This would’ve been a lovely second-chances story if it weren’t for the heroine and her determination to believe her father no matter what. Even when she had proof, she was still stubbornly in denial. I didn’t like how she treated the hero when he was doing his duty, the man that gave her up in order to seek justice for thousands of men.
I felt she wasn’t really worthy of everything Lawrence did to get her back, and somehow I didn’t really believe her feelings in the end, either.

...and a Sixpence in Her Shoe by Julia Quinn (❀❀❀❀)
Miss Beatrice Mary Heywood is the most pragmatic of the four friends. And the only reason she’s wearing the sixpence in her shoe is to keep her promise to her friends that she’d do so. And then she meets Lord Frederick Grey-Osbourne and all her dreams suddenly come true.

Short, but sweet.

Granted, the romance seemed a bit rushed, but we’re talking about a short story after all. I liked both protagonists, especially Bea, who looked beyond appearances and her enthusiasm was rather contagious. Frederick was a bit bland, at least compared to Bea, and I absolutely adored aunt Calpurnia in all her matchmaking glory.

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review 2018-10-06 22:26
Bump in the Night
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller

Speed read complete! Finished the last stretch this morning. So let's get reviewing. 


I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this one. I know a lot of people enjoy Shirley Jackson and recommend this one in particular, but that doesn't mean I'd like it. I did like it though. It had a charm to it that was eery but comforting at the same time. I liked reading it before bed because it would put me in a comforted state, which is weird. But it was homey, which only feels appropriate for this book. 


Hill House is definitely a character in and of itself and I loved it. Jackson does a great job of helping with the visualization of the house's rooms, engaging all five senses. You could feel the uncanny nature of the house, feel the unsettling vibe. I felt like I was there, which is all any reader wants out of a book. 


The characters were all lovely as well. I particularly connected to Eleanor. Like with The House of Small Shadows, she had issues that felt familiar to me, particularly her loneliness and feel of not quite connecting with the others. She was a flawed, likely unreliable character and I enjoyed that. 


Really there were only two elements to the book that threw me off. The first was how the characters felt rather childish at times. It wasn't horrible but some of their play pretend talk kept having me think they were children instead of adults. It almost made some scenes comical as well, which was unexpected. 


The other issue I had was some confusion over the ending and what was happening. I had to look up the wiki page to really understand the sequence of events, and to be honest I'm still not completely sure of it. But that might just warrant another read, which is hardly a bad thing. 


Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Wonderful book, I see why it's so highly recommended.  

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review 2018-10-06 09:51
Barmy Kafka: "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast - And Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and at Home" by Laura Vanderkam
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: And Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and at Home - Laura Vanderkam

(Original review, 2013)

This is all grimly self-helpish and there is no common denominator, so there is no top tips take-away. I’m coming from the Rough Guide’s “50 things You Must Do Before You Die” and all that, this is a bit of a double whammy. Are we supposed to squeeze the last drop of productivity out of every second? I spotted a book with the title “What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” and I just had to buy to see for myself what it was all about. (Make it, presumably - or if they're really successful, have the help make it.) There is no end to it. Can't we just get our Weetabix down us in peace?



If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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text 2018-10-05 15:21
Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 182 pages.
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller

Making progress! My copy is longer than the page numbers listed but I’m close.

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