Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Prasadam-Halls (Review)

Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Prasadam-Halls, David Litchfield (Illustrations)

About the author

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Smriti Prasadam-Halls is an award-winning, internationally best-selling children’s author whose books have been published in more than thirty languages. Her titles include the Publishers Weekly #1 bestseller I Love You Night and Day, illustrated by Alison Brown. Smriti Prasadam-Halls previously worked at the BBC and in children’s publishing and television as a writer and editor for twelve years. She lives in London with her husband and three sons.

About the illustrator

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David Litchfield is an illustrator from Bedfordshire in the U.K.

Blurb

In this heartfelt story about courage, change, and moving on, a girl and her companion fox travel together away from a sorrowful past, through challenging and stormy times, toward colour and light and life. Along the way they find friends to guide and support them, and when the new day dawns, it is full of promise. With gorgeous, richly realised illustrations and immense hope at its heart, Rain Before Rainbows holds out a ray of sunshine for anyone looking for light.

Review

I discovered this book a few days ago and I must admit I fell in love with it straight away. The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful and I got my husband to read it straight after me as I wanted him to see this wonderful book as well. Although the physical book of this is not released yet so I had to enjoy the digital version but the digital version on Kindle and Apple Books is free.

This book has been written for people going through a difficult period which with lockdown in place people have found the world a rather different place and this book is all about finding the light in dark places.

Rain Before Rainbows is a wonderful book for children and adults alike. The message is all about hope and that with friends and support from others you can get through the darkness. The girl and her friend the fox go on a journey to find a new and better day, they meet new friends and find a new day with hope and promise.

I highly recommend this book to everyone and I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons. I have also preordered myself the hardback copy of this book because I love it so much.

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The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon by Aesop (Review)

The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon by Aesop

About the author

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Aesop (c. 620-564 BCE) was a Greek fabulist and storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s Fables.

Blurb

Aesop’s animal fables are some of the earliest stories ever told, thought to have been composed by a slave in Greek antiquity and giving glimpses of a world that is harsh, pitiless and yet also eerily familiar.

Review

Having never read Aesop’s Fables I thought reading this little book of just some of them would be a good introduction to them and now I will be honest I desperately want to read the complete book.

I started reading this little book thinking that I would dip in and out of it but I could not put it down. I just loved every fable and could not believe how relatable they still are for the modern day. These fables will never age in my opinion.

Aesop was clearly a man who had met a lot of people and seen a lot of life to have come up with so many of these very true fables. I really loved how most of the fables used animals instead of people and these animals did not follow the traditional stereotypes of animals so in The Ageing Lion and the Fox the lion is sly and cunning and the fox is the clever one who works out what the lion is doing. Where usually we think of a lion as a brave and noble creature, Aesop is telling us not to judge a book by its cover.

I loved this little book and it took me a tea break to read it. The book made me laugh, it made me smile and it made me think. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and I highly recommend it to everyone.

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Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir (Review)

Six Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon The True Queen

About the author

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Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

At sixteen years old, Catalina is alone among strangers. Six weeks from home across treacherous seas, everything is different: the language, the food, the weather. And Catalina can find no comfort in any of it. She misses her mother. She mourns her lost brother. She cannot trust even those assigned to protect her. The first of henry’s queens. Her story.

Review

I have been collecting the series of the Six Tudor Queens since they were first published and finally I have started to read them. Thankfully so far I have not been disappointed.

I have always been fascinated by the Tudors and I have fond memories of my big sister teaching me about Henry VIII and his six wives. Elizabeth I is my favourite Tudor and I am fascinated by her history. Due to this I could not resist a historical fiction novel by Alison Weir.

I love Katherine of Aragon. She was a queen who knew how to rule and her leadership won a war against Scotland. Henry would have done much better if he had followed her advice but sadly she was another woman who was ignored because she was a woman.

This novel is fantastic at portraying the life of Katherine and I love how most of the letters that are contained in the book are genuine letters, although the language has been modernised to suit a modern novel. The other element I love is that it contains songs that Henry VIII composed and performed because as we know he was a very accomplished composer.

To start with I could not get enough of this book and I couldn’t put it down but as it drew to the inevitable I had to keep having a break because I felt so sorry for poor Katherine. She was the perfect wife, who did everything that was expected of her and more apart from producing a male heir and for that she was punished most severely and unjustly.

Katherine was unbelievably strong and never stood down from her principles and the rights of her daughter Mary. She could have so easily stood down and possibly have had an easier life, but then she would have lost everything she stood for and a woman of Katherine’s character would never have lived with the thought of giving up.

This book was beautifully written and the detail included was excellent. I also liked the characters that Weir created for the ladies in waiting and maids because no real knowledge about those characters are known so that was pure Weir. Maria was an absolute favourite of mine. She was a woman of fire and spirit.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am very excited to start the next one in the series about Anne Boleyn who in my opinion helped change the course of history, although I don’t think she was a very nice person. I highly recommend this book to historical fiction fans and just Tudor lovers. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. It did not get the full 5 sadly because I did have to take a few breaks from it.

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The Complete Poems by Catullus (Review)

The Complete Poems by Catullus (Translated by Guy Lee)

About the author

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Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84-c. 54 BC) was a Latin poet of the late Romans Republic. He favoured writing about personal life rather than the classical heroes.

About the translator

Guy Lee was a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. He is the translator of numerous Latin texts including works by Ovid, Virgil, Tibillius, and Persuis.

Blurb

Of all Greek and Latin poets Catullus is perhaps the most accessible to the modern reader. Dealing candidly with the basic human emotions of love and hate, his virile, personal tone exerts a powerful appeal on all kinds of readers. The 116 poems collected in this new translation include the famous Lesbia poems and display the full range of Catullus’s mastery of lyric meter, mythological themes, and epigrammatic invective and wit.

Review

I had to read about 40 of the poems from this book for one of the assignments in my Masters but I loved the poems so much that I decided to read the whole book.

This book has the Latin on the left hand page and the translation opposite which was a massive help when I was writing about how different translators have treated certain poems. At the beginning of the book there is lengthy introduction by Guy Lee the translator which is very informative as it gives you details about Catullus’ life, work and translation. I loved this introduction as it was very interesting and gave me a compact introduction to Catullus. The Explanatory notes were also useful and the Appendices.

This book of poems had me laughing out loud and that is not something I do often when reading poetry as I am not generally a poetry fan. I loved the humour in the poems and I will be honest I was quite shocked at how rude some of the poems were. Some poems were just two lines long and some were pages and I will be honest the lengthier ones could be a struggle to read in full.

I will be honest I have taken breaks from the book and have dipped in and out of the poems. I have also returned to old favourites and re-read them with joy. I have also found some of the poems useful to reference in my assignments.

I really enjoyed the book and I am grateful for it being part of my required reading because it has been a good read. It is also in my opinion a good translation because it is less wooden than certain translations I have also read. I highly recommend this book of poems to people who want to read more of the classics. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons because I did find some of the lengthier poems a bit trying.

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The Fall of Icarus by Ovid (Review)

The Fall of Icarus by Ovid

About the author

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Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17/18AD), known as Ovid in the English speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus.

Blurb

Enduring myths of vengeful gods and tragically flawed mortals from ancient Rome’s great poet. Ovid tells the tales of Theseus and the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus, the Calydonian Boar-Hunt, and many other famous myths.

Review

I really enjoyed this little book and I thought the translation flowed well. This little book contains lots of well known myths and legends that are a joy to read.

I had a teacher at school who loved the Fall of Icarus and told it to us often and reading it brought back a lot of fond memories.

The myths flowed well from one to the other and were easy to read.

I loved this book and I found it a wonderful glimpse into Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I have given this book 5 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

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April 2020 Wrap Up

Wow, what a good reading month April has been, I don’t think I have read so many books in one month for a very long time. Sadly, the reason I have managed this feat is because of lockdown, but let’s only focus on the positives here. So here is what April looked like…

Books I read

(Click on the pictures to go to the review)

The Gates by Richard Pierce

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65 pages

Format read: Kindle

4.5/5 Dragons

 

 

The Last Best Hope (Star Trek Picard) by Una McCormack

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336 pages

Format read: Hardcover

5/5 Dragons

 

 

Half A World Away by Mike Gayle

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368 pages

Format read: paperback

5/5 Dragons

Also my favourite book of April!

(This book is currently only 99p in the Kindle store)

 

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

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160 pages

Format read: paperback

3/5 Dragons

 

 

The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

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288 pages

Format read: paperback

4/5 Dragons

 

 

On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming

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320 pages

Format read: Hardcover

2/5 Dragons

 

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

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192 pages

Format read: Hardcover

5/5 Dragons

 

 

The Madness of Cambyses by Herodotus

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55 pages

Format read: Paperback

4/5 Dragons

 

 

Page Total: 1784

So that is my April wrap up. Please drop me comment if you have read any of these books.

Happy reading.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

About the author

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Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Second World War Navy Commander. He was a grandson of the Scottish financier Robert Fleming, who founded the Scottish American Investment Trust and the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co.

Fleming is best remembered for creating the character of James Bond and chronicling his adventures in twelve novels and nine short stories. Additionally, Fleming wrote the children’s story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and two non-fiction books.

Blurb

“With the proceeds from his latest invention, Crackpot Whistling Sweets, Commander Caractacus Pott buys his family their first car. It looks like a wreck, but once restored it turns out to be no ordinary vehicle: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a magical car which can fly, swim and even think. Chitty and the eccentric, plucky Pott family set off on a succession of increasingly perilous adventures that take them across the English Channel and all the way to Paris.

Review

I will be honest I have never read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but I absolutely love the film and watched it again over Easter which made me think it was high time to read the book. Thankfully I had some Waterstones points to order the book.

I was so excited when I started reading this book and it was just perfect, I loved everything about it. The first thing that I did notice was that the book and film are completely different. Now I know that there are always differences between the book and film but this was major, it was like Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes who wrote the screenplay only read the first few chapters of the book and did not bother with the rest of the book.

Thankfully, I did love the book just as much as the film. I also loved the background information that you got in the introduction about the original Chitty Bang Bang built by Count Zborowski.

The Pott family are just adorable, the perfect eccentric family. Caractacus the father is an inventor and explorer but he is much more interested in his inventing. Mimsie is the mother who lets Caractacus get on with his inventing and supports whatever he suggests. The twins Jeremy and Jemima love their crazy family and also fully support their father. The twins also go to private school so their adventure with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has to be during their school holidays.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a magical car that is part of the family and you can’t help but feel for the car when you read about her. She comes across as that wonderful favourite family pet.

The story is beautifully written and it does feel like a James Bond story but for children which I love. I adored this book and highly recommend it for children and adults. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

Amazon   •  Audible   •  Kindle  •  Book Depository  •  Waterstones

 

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On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming (Review)

On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming

 

About the author

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Laura Cumming (born July 1961) the art critic for The Observer. In addition to her career in journalism, Cumming has written well-received books on self-portraits in art and the discovery of a lost portrait by Diego Velázquez in 1845.

Blurb

In the autumn of 1929, a small child was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach. Five agonising days went by before she was found in a nearby village. The child remembered nothing of these events and nobody ever spoke of them at home. It was another fifty years before she even learned of the kidnap.

The girl became an artist and had a daughter, art writer Laura Cumming. Cumming grew up enthralled by her mother’s strange tales of life in a seaside hamlet of the 1930s, and of the secrets and lies perpetuated by a whole community. So many puzzles remained to be solved. Cumming began with a few criss-crossing lives in this fraction of English coast – the postman, the grocer, the elusive baker – but soon her search spread right out across the globe as she discovered just how many lives were affected by what happened that day on the beach – including her own.

Review

I had such high hopes for this book and I was so excited when I bought it because I loved the sound of the book and thought it sounded like a fantastic read. Sadly, I was very disappointed, although I know that this is probably a controversial opinion looking at other reviews on Goodreads and on book blogs. I do however think the hype and advertising for this book has been very misleading in just how gripping the story is.

I enjoyed the beginning of this book but quickly guessed the outcome as it was just an age old story that has happened many times in history.

This to me was a book of meandering thoughts and it drove me mad, Cumming clearly knows her stuff about art and history but this book really needed to be more to the point. Cumming just kept going off course and it was infuriating, this also meant that there was far too much book for the main thread of the story. It really could have been half the length and for me would have been a lot more enjoyable if it had been shorter and more to the point. It was like Cumming was worried it was going to be too short so she padded it out with other random thoughts.

I can see that this story is written for the love of her mother and I can imagine that Cumming’s mother must be very touched by her daughter’s book but to the casual reader it is too much. It is also very repetitive at times. I was grinding my teeth in frustration. It really could have done with someone just gently removing the repetition from the book for Cumming.

Overall I’m amazed I stuck this book out because some days I could have quite easily chucked it through the window but I did finish it in the end just to see the outcome. I give this book 2 out of 5 Dragons because only books that I do not finish get 1 Dragon.

Purchase Links

Amazon  •  Audio Book  •  Kindle   •  Book Depository  •  Waterstones

 

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The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett (Review)

The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

About the author

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Sir Terence David John Pratchett OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English humorist, satirist, and author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels.

Blurb

In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet…

That’s the old story everyone knows and loves (even if they don’t really believe it). But now the Carpet is home to many different tribes and peoples and there’s a new story in the making. The story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction across the Carpet. The story of power-hungry mouls – and of two Munrung brothers, who set out on an adventure to end all adventures when their village is flattened.

It’s a story that will come to a terrible end – if someone doesn’t do something about it. If everyone doesn’t do something about it…

Review

It was so good to read a Pratchett book again as it has been way too long. During the lockdown to read a book by one of my favourite authors was like a warm comfort blanket wrapped around me. The Carpet People was written by a 17 year old Pratchett but this edition is the one that he republished after going through and making a few changes.

I really enjoyed reading this book as it was full of the typical humour of Pratchett and although it was not as refined as his Discworld novels it was still a joy to read. I loved how this book made my imagination run wild, it reminded me of the Borrowers, a race of people that live in the carpet.

The fascinating world of the carpet is brilliant with all the different tribes, kingdoms and an empire. I loved how the individuality of the people came through. I also loved how the women decided to do battle and fight for women’s rights at the end.

I have seen some pretty bad reviews about this book and it really surprises me as I know this book has a few flaws with characters randomly disappearing but since this was one of Pratchett’s first books it is bound to have some flaws as Pratchett was starting to find his feet as an author. Obviously if you compare it to the Discworld books it is lacking slightly but it is still a highly enjoyable story to read which will give you a good giggle.

I highly recommend this book to all fantasy and comedy lovers, it is a quick read that will make you laugh. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

Purchase Links

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Book Depository

Waterstones

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Half A World Away by Mike Gayle (Review)

Half A World Away by Mike Gayle

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About the author

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Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and Agony Uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, Guardian and Cosmopolitan.

Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication My Legendary Girlfriend. Since then he has written thirteen novels and his books have been translated into more than thirty languages.

Blurb

Kerry Hayes is a single mum, living on a tough south London estate. She provides for her son by cleaning houses she could never afford. Taken into care as a child, Kerry cannot forget her past.

Noah Martineau is a successful barrister with a beautiful wife, daughter and home in fashionable Primrose Hill. Adopted as a young child, Noah never looks back.

When Kerry contacts Noah, the sibling she lost on the day they were torn apart as children, she sets in motion a chain of events that will change both of their lives forever.

Review

This is the first book I have read by Gayle and the only reason I have discovered him is because it is the first set book in a book club I have joined. I am so happy I joined the book club.

I will be honest I simply could not put the book down, it was amazing. It was truly an emotional rollercoaster and I did cry my eyes out to the point that my poor husband got quite worried about me but it was fantastic. When I had finished the book I was also mourning the loss of the book, I just did not want to leave the characters behind.

The first thing I liked about this book was how each chapter came from either Kerry or Noah’s point of view and the narrative passed smoothly between them. It was never confusing and worked brilliantly, it really was expertly written.

Kerry was endearing and through the whole book I was on her side, she would do anything for family and most of all her son Kian. She had got a good little business going of cleaning houses and although the work was hard and sometimes frustrating she got up every morning with a smile and did the best possible job she could with pride. Kian never wanted for anything and even though it might not be designer he still had everything he needed. Kerry’s life had not been easy but she never complained or let it show. She was kind and welcoming to everyone and a woman you would love to have as a friend.

Noah had what appeared to be the perfect life, a nice house, fantastic job, beautiful wife and daughter and a brilliant upbringing, he had the easy life. However, Noah will not talk about the past or his feelings and this drives his wife mad and causes them to have marital problems. However, with Kerry now in his life things start to change and that change is heart warming and very emotional to see. Noah grows through the story and is such a different character at the end.

I loved all the characters in this story and the effect that Kerry and Noah had on these people. The book is just beautifully written and Gayle is an extremely accomplished and talented writer. I honestly can not praise this book enough and it is definitely my favourite book so far of 2020, I will be ordering more of Mike Gayle’s books to read ASAP. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase links

Amazon

Kindle

Book Depository

Waterstones

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