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review 2019-08-25 23:01
All The STARS for The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon
The First Girl Child - Amy Harmon




A New Favorite
Nordic Inspired Fantasy
With A Historical Feel
Rune Magic
Secrets, Lies & Betrayals
Love With Some Romance
With Audio Performed by Rob Shapiro










I. Could. Not. Stop. Listening. I really loved this and I still can't believe this is available on KU, for a read & listen even. Thank you, Amy Harmon, for writing such a heartbreakingly beautiful story.


Let me start off with saying that the narration by Rob Shapiro was fantastic. When I first started listening, I didn't believe that he would do the book justice, I mean, after all, this is Amy Harmon. He not only won me over but he did it fairly early on. I always knew whose head I was in within seconds of the changeovers. Bravo.


As the story unfolds it transports you to another time, another world with curses, blood runes, corrupt kings, keepers, and love...so much love. And characters that you will love like Bayr, Alba, Dagmar, and Ghost. I know I loved them. There is a video on Youtube of a review that explains the intricacies of the world in this perfectly and I totally suggest watching it before you read it.


All I can say is read it. Or listen to it. Just consume it.




Plot⇢ 5/5
Narration Performance⇢ 5/5
Characters⇢ 5+/5
The Feels⇢ 5+/5
Pacing⇢ 5/5
Addictiveness⇢ 5+/5
Theme or Tone⇢ 5/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇢ 5/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇢ 5+/5
Originality⇢ 5/5
Ending⇢ 5/5 Cliffhanger⇢ Not really...


Book Cover⇢ Love the dark wood with the barely discernable artwork or rune.
Setting⇢ Saylok
Source⇢ KU Read & Listen
Length⇢ 14 hours 32 minutes



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review 2019-05-30 19:19
Nordic Tales - Chronicle Books,Ulla Thynell

Disclaimer: ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

This collection of stories from Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland draws from famous collections, but also lesser known collections. It is divided int three sections transformations, wit, and journeys. While East of the Sun, West of the Moon is included many of the stories are not as well known.

The collection starts with “The Forest Bride” about a young man who marries a mouse. It ends with the story of “Jack of Sjoholm and the Gan-Finn”. Between the two, we have some traditional stories that would be well know to any read of folktales – such as the story of the Doctor and Death – but there are stories such as “The Honest Penny” or “Hildur, Queen of the Elves”.

The illustrations are wonderful, quite beautiful. They remind one of the old fairy tale books with the classic illustrations. Thynell has the right combination of dark, light, and whimsey that makes a fairy tale picture a wonder to behold

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review 2019-05-13 12:36
Nice flavoring, wished it dared more
Unmasking Miss Appleby - Emily Larkin

This was cute!


Some over the top soap-opera bits, rosy romance (a couple of weeks a solid relationship does not make, but I'll take it on suspension of disbelief) and all, it was a nice romance and the fantasy flavor was pretty awesome (that gift makes me so envious! The possibilities!).


I confess I toyed with the idea that it would go further and more bravely into the possible dynamics, but it went the expected extremely straight road. It was not something I thought the author would have the balls to go with, but felt a bit like a missed opportunity. And the bit where the guy goes into a rage over having maybe fucked someone that once had been male was... I can hear protest over the times mores and law, and verisimilitude, from my shoulder devil and it still sits wrong (specially given that we have fairies, and magical gifts, duh). The part where the man was more upset about the loss of trust than anything else was really good though.

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review 2019-04-24 11:55
Ballad of a Broken Nose by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson
The Ballad of a Broken Nose - Arne Svingen,Kari Dickson

Bart is an eternal optimist. At thirteen years old, he’s had a hard life. But Bart knows that things won’t get any better if you have a negative attitude. His mother has pushed him into boxing lessons so that Bart can protect himself, but Bart already has defense mechanisms: he is relentlessly positive…and he loves opera. Listening to—and singing—opera is Bart’s greatest escape, but he’s too shy to share this with anyone. Then popular Ada befriends him and encourages him to perform at the school talent show. Ada can’t keep a secret to save her life, but Bart bonds with her anyway, and her openness helps him realize that his troubles are not burdens that he must bear alone. The Ballad of a Broken Nose is a sweet story about bravery, fear, bullying, sports, and music. But most of all it is about the important days of your life, days when everything seems to happen at once and nothing will ever be the same again.






Thirteen year old Bart has had the kind of childhood that forces one to grow up quick. In addition to managing his school work, he also juggles boxing lessons, assisting the apartment building super, and taking care of his mother who is obese, a bit of a hoarder, only sporadically employed, and unsuccessfully hiding a growing drinking problem. Though her mothering leaves something to be desired --- Bart's often stuck eating crackers or other snack foods in place of balanced meals --- she is a kind soul who does honestly care for her son. She's just got some stuff she needs to work out in her head.

Bart's main passion in life is opera music. He dreams of one day being a famous opera singer himself, and secretly has the talent, but his stage fright is so bad the only place he can sing is in the bathroom with the door locked. He takes boxing lessons because he gets the impression that his mother would prefer to have a "tough guy" kind of son. She even named him after Bart Simpson because she said the cartoon boy seemed like someone who could easily take care of themselves in life. (Bart doesn't tell his mom he has pretty much zero natural talent at the sport).

Making an impulse decision one day, Bart decides to share his secret love of opera with friend Ada, in the strictest confidence, of course. Well, not surprisingly, the secret "mysteriously" gets out. Now Bart is simultaneously trying to fend off bullies and dodge requests to be in the upcoming school talent show! 

Poor kid is just emotionally exhausted all the time, but he's trying to make the best of the lemons life has handed him. Growing up in Norway, Bart's never known his American dad, only having stories to go by... so, with the help of a trusty search engine, he sets out to finally track him down. He also pushes his neighbors to work toward a building clean up. Sure, it's pretty squalid low income housing with people shooting up in the hallways and stairwells, but Bart convinces them that collectively their little community can do better! 

After Ada's initial blabbing of the opera secret, Bart sees that pursuing his dream may be his main ticket out of the depressing life situation he's currently stuck in. 

It all sounds a bit heavy for a middle-grade / YA read, I know... and at times it can have that undeniable feel of "well this just got real, didn't it!", but what keeps things on the light end is Bart's sweet soul and his sense of humor, the two combining to create an inspiring sense of optimism for readers! Bart's not unaware of his hardships, he just accepts them as reality and tries to roll with it all the best he can. Who can knock that message! Though I wasn't 100% content with the ending here, I did quite enjoy getting to know Bart and his social circle and I love that the story leaves you with this reminder to unashamedly love what you love and make the most of your life. 



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text 2019-02-06 18:41
Reading progress update: I've read 47 out of 592 pages.
Die Menschheit hat den Verstand verloren: Tagebücher 1939-1945 - Astrid Lindgren,Angelika Kutsch,Gabriele Haefs

Sound familiar?


9 FEBRUARY. What a world, what an existence! Reading the papers is a depressing pastime. Bombs and machine guns hounding women and children in Finland, the oceans full of mines and submarines, neutral sailors dying, or at best being rescued in the nick of time after days and nights of privation on some wretched raft, the behind-the-scenes tragedy of the Polish population (nobody’s supposed to know what’s happening, but some things get into the papers anyway), special sections on trams for “the German master race,” the Poles not allowed out after 8 in the evening, and so on. The Germans talk about their “harsh but just treatment” of the Poles -- so then we know. What hatred it will generate! In the end the world will be so full of hate that it chokes us."

And that's just for starters -- we haven't even gotten to the concentration camps yet, though there has already been much suffering; chiefly in Finland and Poland.


I'm reading the book in German; source of the English excerpt quoted above HERE.  Highly recommended, both the book as a whole and (as a taster) the verbatim excerpts provided on HistoryNet and in the Telegraph review.  Lindgren was an astute observer and analyst; she did not miss a single important event and development, and she uncannily distills them down to their essential importance.  E.g., here's the beginning of her final entry, on New Year's Eve 1945 (which I haven't gotten to yet, of course, but which you'll see if you read the excerpts on HistoryNet or in the Telegraph review, and which is referenced verbatim in the introduction of this book -- at least in the German version):

"Nineteen forty-five brought two remarkable things. Peace after the Second World War and the atom bomb. I wonder what the future will have to say about the atom bomb, and whether it will mark a whole new era in human existence, or not. Peace doesn't offer much hope of sanctuary, overshadowed as it is by the atom bomb."*

Almost 50 years of post-WWII world history, acutely foretold in three concise sentences.  What a remarkable woman.



* Final sentence my own translation; not contained in the excerpts made available online.

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