Release Day Review – ‘The Austen Girls’ by Lucy Worsley

TITLE: The Austen Girls
AUTHOR: Lucy Worsley
GENRE: Historical YA fiction
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 320 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Bloomsbury Australia on May 19th, 2020
RRP: $15.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb:

Would she ever find a real-life husband? Would she even find a partner to dance with at tonight’s ball? She just didn’t know.

Anna Austen has always been told she must marry rich. Her future depends upon it. While her dear cousin Fanny has a little more choice, she too is under pressure to find a suitor.

But how can either girl know what she wants? Is finding love even an option? The only person who seems to have answers is their Aunt Jane. She has never married. In fact, she’s perfectly happy, so surely being single can’t be such a bad thing?

The time will come for each of the Austen girls to become the heroines of their own stories. Will they follow in Jane’s footsteps?

In this witty, sparkling novel of choices, popular historian LUCY WORSLEY brings alive the delightful life of Jane Austen as you’ve never seen it before.

Jane Austen still inspires countless stories to this day with dozens of variations upon her classic novels and even stories based on Jane herself! The Austen Girls takes an interesting approach by including Jane as a important secondary character, but focusing on her (real-life) nieces Fanny and Anna dealing with the pressure of making their come-out to society at 16 and starting the husband hunt.

Reading about their struggles makes me feel very lucky that women no longer have to rely on marriage to secure their future and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get married! But in the 1800s, this was of the utmost importance leaving even headstrong Anna to suffer from nerves and flirt with disaster in her race to lock down a husband.

Shy sensitive Fanny is the Austen girl I most related to and rooted for, being the more sensible and responsible of the pair (I have a type, I preferred Elinor to Marianne too). Her quiet friendship with the local vicar even though her parents said nothing more would ever be possible made me hope for her to find her happy ending. I cheered for Fanny as she slowly stretched her wings and tentatively reached for her own goals outside of what she was instructed to desire, with the support of Aunt Jane.

A touching and occasionally bittersweet coming-of-age story with vividly drawn heroines supported by a delightful Jane Austen characterization I haven’t seen before and found utterly charming. Austen lovers or fans of historical novels will enjoy this one!⁣

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 kitties recommend this book.

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Disclaimer: Physical copy provided by publisher free for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

ARC Review – ‘Dangerous Remedy’ by Kat Duunn

TITLE: Dangerous Remedy
AUTHOR: Kat Dunn
GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy, LGBT
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 432 pages
PUBLISHER: by Head of Zeus
RELEASE DATE: ebook available from May 7th, 2020 | hardcover to be released August 6th, 2020

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?

In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

Kat Dunn’s debut novel Dangerous Remedy is a fast-paced historical fantasy romp set in the French Revolution during the Reign of Terror. Left an orphan after her parents were executed, our protagonist Camille leads her battalion in a courageous and noble effort to rescue other prisoners headed for the guillotine and reunite them with their loved ones.

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ARC Review – ‘Jane In Love’ by Rachel Givney

Title: Jane In Love
Author: Rachel Givney
Genre: Romance, Historical
Word/Page Count: 416 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Penguin Australia on February 4th, 2020
RRP: $32.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

‘If Jane Austen had the choice between the heart and the pen, what do you think she would do?’

At age twenty-eight, Jane Austen should be seeking a suitable husband, but all she wants to do is write. She is forced to take extreme measures in her quest to find true love – which lands her in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Magically, she finds herself in modern-day England, where horseless steel carriages line the streets and people wear very little clothing. She forms a new best friend in fading film star Sofia Wentworth, and a genuine love interest in Sofia’s brother Fred, who has the audacity to be handsome, clever and kind-hearted.

She is also delighted to discover that she is now a famous writer, a published author of six novels and beloved around the globe. But as Jane’s romance with Fred blossoms, her presence in the literary world starts to waver. She must find a way to stop herself disappearing from history before it’s too late.

A modern-day reimagining of the life of one of the world’s most celebrated writers, this wonderfully witty romantic comedy offers a new side to Jane’s story, which sees her having to choose between true love in the present and her career as a writer in the past.

Whether you’re a Jane Austen fan or have yet to pick up a book of hers, ‘Jane In Love’ is sure to delight and amuse. I’ve never read a Jane Austen book in my life, but I loved reading this reimagining about Jane!

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Book Review – ‘Big Lies In A Small Town’ by Diane Chamberlain

Title: Big Lies In A Small Town
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery & Thriller
Word/Page Count: 400 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Pan Macmillan Australia on January 14th, 2020
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

This book isn’t the kind that I would normally read, but it’s made me realize what amazing literary gems I’ve been missing because of my focus on YA and sci-fi/fantasy. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, dual narrators, different timelines and stories about small towns brimming with secrets, this is the book for you. And if like me, quite a few of those elements don’t normally appeal to you, DEFINITELY pick up this book because it’s highly engaging, overflowing with charm and features two female protagonists who you will root for right from the start!

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ARC Review – ‘The Lost Ones’ by Anita Frank

Title: The Lost Ones
Author: Anita Frank
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Horror
Word/Page Count: 464 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Publishers on October 21st, 2019
RRP: $32.99 AUD (paperback)

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Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

The Lost Ones takes the typical haunted house trope and elevates it to the next level with an atmospheric historical setting, smart lyrical writing, refreshingly unexpected plot developments and compelling characters that the reader will invest in.

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Review – ‘Emmie and the Tudor King’

Title: Emmie and the Tudor King
Author: Natalie Murray
Genre: YA, Historical Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 304 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Literary Crush Publishing on June 11th, 2019
Available from: Dymocks | Book Depository

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

One moment, Emmie is writing her high school history paper; the next, she’s sitting with a gorgeous 16th century king who vacillates from kissing her to ordering her execution.

Able to travel back to her own time, but intensely drawn to King Nick and the mysterious death of his sister, Emmie finds herself solving the murder of a young princess and unraveling court secrets while trying to keep her head on her shoulders, literally.

With everything to lose, Emmie finds herself facing her biggest battle of all: How to cheat the path of history and keep her irresistible king, or lose him—and her heart—forever.

The elevator pitch for Emmie and the Tudor King is Doctor Who meets Outlander as it revolves around a modern day girl who finds herself back in the 16th century where she is embroiled in court intrigue, royal flirtations and thwarting an impending murder. This is a fun fast-paced YA historical novel that’s perfect wish fulfillment material for any reader who’s dreamed of a whirlwind romance with someone rich, powerful and fabulously attractive! ⁣

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Book Review – ‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Gods of Jade and Shadow
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2019
Word/Page Count: 352 pages (hardcover)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

I requested this title because I’m addicted to the ‘powerful immortal & bold independent human girl’ dynamic and this is everything I hoped and wished for! This has ruined me for future books, I’m going to keep comparing them to how well that relationship was built up here!

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ARC Review – ‘The Last Balfour’ by Cait Duggan

Title: The Last Balfour
Author:  Cait Duggan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy/Paranormal
Word/Page Count: 288 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on July 22nd, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

MAGIC AND FIRE ARE KINDRED THINGS . . . DISCOVER AN EXCITING NEW VOICE IN AUSTRALIAN FICTION Iona Balfour’s life is turned upside down when her beloved aunt Grizel is executed for the crime of witchcraft. Before she dies, Grizel appoints Iona as guardian of a precious family bloodstone and tells her she must flee their village and deliver the stone to the mysterious Guild of the Green Lion.

Accompanied by a new friend, Cal, Iona soon realises that she’s awakened the powers of the bloodstone. But it promises to be a perilous journey. The wolf month is no time to be on the road. And there’s a witch hunter on Iona’s trail, who has a strange obsession with the stone.

When a devastating betrayal throws her into the hands of her enemies, Iona soon finds herself in the fight of her life. Will she suffer the same fate as her aunt, or will she escape the witch hunter and fulfil her destiny?

‘The Last Balfour’ begins on February 1st 1597, right before the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597 was due to take place in real life, which according to historical records was between March to October of that year. Not much is known about this witch hunt as it wasn’t centrally supervised under royal commission and many records by local authorities went missing, so it’s interesting to think that the events of this novel could potentially fit into Scotland’s history and have played a role in motivating the witch hunt to come.

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