2017 In Review

Here is a book that i read in 2017 that i didn’t review. If you’re a fan of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, it’s definitely worth reading. I found it super interesting and really enjoyed reading it!

The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin

The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin Blurb

The Making of Pride and Prejudice reveals in compelling detail how Jane Austen’s classic novel is transformed into a stunning television drama.

Filmed on location in Wiltshire and Derbyshire, Pride and Prejudice, with its lavish sets and distinguished cast, was scripted by award-winning dramatist Andrew Davies, who also adapted Middlemarch for BBC TV. Chronicling eighteen months of work – from the original concept to the first broadcast – The Making of Pride and Prejudice brings vividly to life the challenges and triumphs involved in every stage of production of this sumptuous television series.

Follow a typical day’s filming, including the wholesale transformation of Lacock village into the minutely detailed setting of Jane Austen’s Meryton.

Discover how Colin Firth approaches the part of Darcy, how actor’s costumes and wigs are designed, how authentic dances are rehearsed and how Carl Davis recreates the period music and composes an original score.

Piece together the roles of many behind-the-scenes contributors to the series, from casting directors and researchers to experts in period cookery and gardening.

Including many full-colour photographs, interviews, and lavish illustrations, The Making of Pride and Prejudice is an indispensable companion to the beautifully produced series and a fascinating insight into all aspects of a major television enterprise.

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I Grew My Boobs in China (Sihpromatum #1) by Savannah Grace

I Grew My Boobs in China (Sihpromatum #1) by Savannah GraceBlurb

In 2005, 14-year-old Savannah Grace’s world is shattered when her mother unexpectedly announces that she and her family (mother, 45; brother, 25; sister, 17) would soon embark on an incredible, open-ended journey. When everything from her pets to the house she lived in is either sold, given away or put in storage, this naïve teenage girl runs headlong into the reality and hardships of a life on the road.

Built around a startling backdrop of over eighty countries (I Grew my Boobs in China relates the family’s adventures in China and Mongolia), this is a tale of feminine maturation – of Savannah’s metamorphosis from ingénue to woman-of-the-world. Nibbling roasted duck tongues in China and being stranded in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert are just two experiences that contribute to Savannah’s exploration of new cultures and to the process of adapting to the world around her.

My Perspective

This is the twenty-first book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about I Grew My Boobs in China (Sihpromatum #1) by Savannah Grace from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

The book follows Savannah, a fourteen-year-old Canadian girl who’s life is uprooted when her mother decides to sell all of their possessions and go backpacking with her and two of her older siblings.

I found the book hard to get into at first. Savannah was obviously quite upset at being uprooted from her life as she knew it and being the age she was, didn’t have much say, so the start was quite self-pitying and not so much negative but not very positive. It also wasn’t super interesting until they finally started their journey however it was a chance to get to know Savannah and her family so I don’t think it was something that could have been edited out without affecting the “character development”.

When they finally started their journey, the pace of the story picked up and it was a lot more interesting to read.

Savannah doesn’t make it easy on herself with the attitude she takes to her mother’s plans. It’s completely understandable however also can’t be changed so you are kind of waiting for her to “get over herself”. Thankfully she does otherwise I think it would be a bit of frustrating read.

It was fascinating reading about their traveling experiences. They certainly didn’t travel luxuriously or much like foreigners and they had plenty of adventures!

This is an interesting yet unusual coming of age story that I would definitely recommend to those who like travel memoirs/autobiographies. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic-Skow

French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic-SkowBlurb

In the summer of 1979, twenty-one-year-old Linda Kovic contracts to become an au pair for an aristocratic French family in the Loire Valley. To secure the position, she pretends to speak the language, fully aware her deception will be discovered once she arrives at her destination.

Based on the author’s diary, French Illusions captures Linda’s fascinating and often challenging real life story inside and outside the Chateau de Montclair. Her compelling story details her challenges and triumphs as she tries to adjust to her new life with Madame and Monsieur Dubois and their children. Join Linda on her unforgettable adventure of discovery and romance in an extraordinary part of the world.

My Perspective

This is the eighteenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic-Skow from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

This book is the memoir of Linda Kovic-Skow’s time as an American au pair in France.

Although i was curious to read this book, i had my hesitations on whether i would like it because of the deception that gives her the opportunity to be an au pair. I wondered how this would be received not only at the beginning but for the duration of her stay. Although i understood why she did it in the first place, i was disappointed in how she handled herself from that point onwards.

I found it really hard to like Linda. I found her to be a bit of a selfish, spoiled brat. I thought her expectations were way off and her attitude wasn’t in the right place. I couldn’t relate to her and so because of all that, i couldn’t sympathise with her situation. Obviously i felt that Madame was out of line, however so was Linda. The rest of the family and acquaintances were in their parts likeable and not.

The romantic aspects in the book had my eyes rolling in my head. I couldn’t believe that this was actually a true story. Without trying to be rude, it read like a tween’s fantasy diary.

What kept me reading then? The descriptions of the French countryside, the French food, the French architecture. Basically the French parts of the story were a wonderful read.

By the end of the book i did feel truly sorry for Linda and the way she was treated – it was completely wrong. However it didn’t reconcile her to myself.

Overall i was quite disappointed in this book and would only recommend it if you like stories along the line of a teenage summer romance with A LOT of challenges in it.

Genesis: The Story Of Apollo 8, The First Manned Flight To Another World by Robert Zimmerman

1110425Blurb

It was NASA’s most dangerous space mission. The chances of success were fifty-fifty. And three men would dare to fly farther and faster than ever before.

The year was 1968. Guided by a computer less powerful than today’s handheld calculators, NASA sent the three astronauts of Apollo 8 on the most ambitious space flight in history. Here is the dramatic account of the mission that forever broke human beings’ bond to earth… of the first time that a manned spacecraft would escape earth’s orbit and travel to the moon… of the engineering triumph that sent the Apollo 8 capsule 240,000 miles from earth. From Washington to Vietnam, Robert Zimmerman captures the political, social, and personal forces that pushed Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders to the forefront of space exploration, and made Apollo 8 a true turning point in the history of planet earth.

My Perspective

Genesis: The Story Of Apollo 8, The First Manned Flight To Another World by Robert Zimmerman is the novelised true story of the first manned mission to the moon. It describes to us both the mission itself as well as the lives of each of the three astronauts who flew: Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.

A customer gave us this book to read. As Kel was already halfway through another book, I decided to read it first. Having just finished watching “From the Earth to the Moon” series (which was lent to us by the very same customer), I was familiar with the mission however the book gave a lot more insight and background than the TV series ever could.

The topic of space has always intrigued me and Sci-Fi is one of my favourite genres. I grew up watching most of the Star Trek series as well as reading Star Trek novels so this kind of book was right up my alley.

I found it was a little bit slow to start off with and it jumped around a bit, recapping other events that seemed unrelated to the Apollo 8 mission. It wasn’t until about halfway through that it picked up and I couldn’t put it down. Towards the end you can see how everything is tied together and I can see the point of everything that was written however it did seem a little disjointed at the beginning.

I enjoyed getting to know the three astronauts better and their history, and how they came to be on Apollo 8.

There was a lot of political insight in the book and it was quite disheartening to read about some of it and how society, although seeming to be searching for freedom, is in its quest practically doing the opposite.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I learnt more about a topic I enjoy. I would definitely recommend this book to those who like either Sci-Fi or history (or both!).

2016 In Review

Here are some books that i read in 2016 that i didn’t review. I definitely recommend reading them, especially the first book – it’s amazing! I wish I’d read it before having a baby because it would have taken a lot of the pressure off and helped me to trust myself a lot more.

Your Cherished Baby by Dr Howard Chilton

24330690Blurb

‘This book lays out the nuts and bolts of the first two years of your child’s life. What your baby learns now about love, relationships and their value in the world will last them a lifetime.’

According to Dr Howard Chilton, one of Australia’s most respected baby doctors, you cannot give your baby too much love. Drawing on his 35 years as a baby physician, Dr Chilton explains the science that proves what many of us instinctively know: the way we feed, hold, play with and settle our babies is what determines the kind of adults they will become. Dr Chilton challenges the current fashions of strict routines and controlled crying, and offers instead practical and caring methods that keep babies and their mothers calm and connected. With clarity and wisdom he outlines:

* the neurological processes of both baby and mother in the early bonding periods
* the reasons and solutions for colic and other excessive crying
* humane alternatives to controlled crying as a method for getting your baby to sleep
* why you need to care for yourself so as to best care for your baby, and what fathers can do to help
a feeding approach that will develop your child’s palate and guard against obesity later in life
* simple discipline techniques to help your toddler learn how to negotiate his or her world.

Accessible, authoritative and compassionate, Your Cherished Baby is the essential guide to giving your child the best possible start in life.

The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

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Blurb

Alice B. Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s life partner. This is Toklas’s rich mixture of menus and memories of meals shared with such famous friends as Wilder, Picasso, and Hemingway.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon

15946109Blurb

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes’ award-winning drama, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

Almina expected a life of sumptuous banquets and expensive dresses when she married the Earl of Carnarvon at 19. But when the First World War broke out, life at Highclere changed forever and Almina and her staff were forced to draw on their deepest reserves of courage.

Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives at Highclere, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a remarkable and transporting tale of a lost time.

My Perspective

This is the seventeenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about  Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon from Cely at Running Off The Reese’s. Unfortunately you can’t read her thoughts on the book anymore as her blog was hacked and her posts deleted 😦

The book follows the true story of Almina Carnarvon nee Wombell from when she became the Countess of Carnarvon by marriage to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, to his death in May 1923. It is written by the current Countess of Carnarvon from diaries and letters held in the archives of Highclere.

The story is basically a biography of the life of Lady Almina while she was Countess of Carnarvon. She was a force of nature and I really admire and respect her drive, especially during the war and the effort she went to with her hospitals.

I found it really interesting and I actually came away with a lot more respect for the upper classes of English society in those days. Not only their hard work during the war however the way that even though they were privileged and spent excessive amounts of money – nothing was wasted! I loved reading about the surrounding village people lining up to collect the drippings from one of the extravagant parties Lady Alimna held.

It was also interesting to read about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. I had no idea about the story behind it.

Reading about the servants and the way it all worked “downstairs” was super fascinating and gave a lot of insight to the culture of the large houses and estates back then.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book if you like historical novels, both fiction and non fiction.

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

82751Blurb

A Chinese proverb says, “Falling leaves return to their roots.” In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to paint an authentic portrait of twentieth-century China, as well as to tell the story of her painful childhood and her courage and ultimate triumph over despair.

After her mother dies giving birth to her, Adeline’s affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck . Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to their stepmother’s disdain, while her half brother and half sister are thoroughly spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not what she really yearns for — the love and understanding of her family.

My Perspective

As I’ve mentioned before, my younger brother (I can’t say little anymore because he’s taller than me now!) isn’t a huge reader so when he does read a book and recommends it to me – I will always take the time to read it.

For school he had to read the book, Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted daughter by Adeline Yen Mah, and after reading it, thought I might be interested in it.

The book follows the true story of Adeline Yen Mah, an unwanted daughter in China from around 1935 to around 1950. Adeline’s mother died soon after her birth and therefore she is seen as bad luck by her siblings. Her father remarries and soon forgets about her and her other siblings, his new wife taking control and relegating them all to almost servant status – Adeline being the least. All she wants is for her father to love her and be proud of her and this is her story of how she works so hard to achieve that – even if it’s only for a moment.

This book was sad. The fact that it’s true and doesn’t have a ridiculously happy ending like the story of Cinderella does, made it even sadder. Obviously there are children who have been a lot worse off in China, especially daughters, however reading someone’s memoirs of feeling so unloved as a child just breaks my heart – especially as I have a child of my own now.

Adeline was adorable and so eager to please. She worked so hard and was so strong. I really admired her resolve, especially as she was so young. It really makes a lot of the children I come across on a regular basis seem like massive spoiled brats. Her stepmother was a real piece of work and I actually can’t believe people exist like that! How can people treat other people like that? I didn’t mind her father so much, he was just weak and under his wife’s thumb. Her siblings were interesting and there was a kind of love/hate relationship with them. Aunty Baba, Yi Yi and Nai Nai were extremely likeable.

The story was well written. I also enjoyed the fact that the author added various Chinese characters to the text – it added an extra touch that gave it a greater depth.

The story was interesting and informative as well as emotionally involving you – I can see why it was chosen as a school text.

Overall I enjoyed it although it was sad and tugged a bit at my heart. I would definitely recommend it to those who like historical memoirs/autobiographies.