The Sunday Post #47

Sunday, August 29, 2021

 

Greetings you all! How have you all been the last 7 days? We had a week filled with good books and stories. Does anything else matter? 


Adding to the Litter



The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune is our brand new Audible read. We can 't wait to start reading it. We've only heard good things about this book.

The Author, Bob Katz, send me an Amazon gift card for his book Third and Long. We were so excited, until we realized that we can't redeem an Amazon gift card in South Africa. Oh the joys of Africa. But we really liked the premise of the book and decided to just buy it any case. I still then mr Katz was very kind and generous to send us a gift card. 

We spent some time sorting out our TBR pile this week as well and we are finally under 500 books again. We still need to sort through a couple of pages, but for now, we are quite chuffed with your shelves.

Scratching the Blog Pole





On the Couch


Recently Read



What a wonderful week of reading we've had. 

Dark Places was really, really dark and disturbing. But it was a good read. Like all Gillian Flynn books. 

The Choice took us months to complete. It is an intense read with pages and passages you would want to read over and over again. Life changing for sure. 

The Ice Swan was a lovely book and we do wish J'nell Ciesielski all success with her latest release. It's a book that will appeal to a vast spectrum of readers.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - The perfect read. Yes, we do know it won't appeal to all readers, but this reader and her Mommy loved it. To us, it was the perfect read. We also highly recommend the Audible version. The narrator was excellent! But we are still going to buy the physical book as well. We need to have this one on our shelf. 

Recently Watched


As far as the east is from the west. That is my Mommy's reading and watching preferences. Some of my Mommy's colleagues have recommended When Calls the Heart for months, but we've only started watching it this week. Lovely indeed. Reminiscence is one of our favorite moves of the year so far. It's strange and you have to concentrate like crazy, but good grief it's good! We will definitely watch it again.

We really did have a week of good stories, don't you think? 

We hope your week was also filled with great stories and that you will have a good week to come. Please tell us about it! And remember to thank all our wonderful hosts.





Lots of Love,



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Friday Fives #7 - Five Ballet themed books we still want to read

Friday, August 27, 2021


 Greetings! It's Friday afternoon and we haven't done a Friday Fives post in months. Mostly because we just couldn't think of 5 things we want to talk about. Or wait no, 5 bookish things to talk about. And we've been a bit busy too. Still hate it when reality interferes with our bookish lives. 

My Mommy finished the most beautiful book this week. It was all about a Russian Princess (who looked just like me) and her family who had to flee Russia in The Great War. You can read our review on The Ice Swan here. The beautiful princess' stress release and favorite part time hobby, was what prompted our idea for today's Friday Fives:

Five Ballet themed books we still want to read


My Mommy attends a ballet class twice a week and although she's not the most gracious dancer and perhaps a bit long in the tooth for it already, it's an art form she absolutely adores. I wish someone would start a ballet class for cats, then all of us would-be Caterinnas can show off our amazing ballet skills.

Mirko, the Ballet cat

Choosing 5 Ballet themed books, wasn't quite as easy as a pas-de-chat (that literally means "cat's step", because you have to jump like a cat). Not that there aren't a lot of ballet books out there to discover. That might have been part of the problem, there are too many. But these 5 are the ones we will probaby read:

The last days of the Romanov Dancers by Kerry Turner - Valentina Yershova's position in the Romanov's Imperial Russian Ballet is the only thing that keeps her from the clutches of poverty. With implacable determination, she has clawed her way through the ranks to soloist, utilising not only her talent, but her alliances with influential rich men that grants them her body, but never her heart. When Luka Zhirkov – the gifted son of a factory worker – joins the company, her passion for ballet and love is rekindled, putting at risk everything that she has built.
For Luka, being accepted into the company fulfills a lifelong dream. But in the eyes of his proletariat father, it makes him a traitor. As war tightens its grip and the country starves, Luka is increasingly burdened with guilt about their lavish lifestyles.
While Luka and Valentina's secret connection grows, the country rockets toward a revolution that will decide the fate of every dancer.
For the Imperial Russian Ballet has become the ultimate symbol of Romanov indulgence, and soon the lovers are forced to choose: their country, their art or each other...

Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo - Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.
 

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead - Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow, but Joan knows that, onstage and off, she is destined to remain in the shadows.
After her relationship with Arslan sours, Joan decides to make a new life for herself. She quits ballet, marries a good man, and settles into the rhythm of Californian life with their son, Harry. But as the years pass, Joan comes to understand that ballet isn’t finished with her yet: for there is no mistaking that Harry is a prodigy. Inevitably Joan is soon pulled back into a world she thought she’d left behind and back to Arslan.
 

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan - 1878 Paris. Following their father's sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola's naturalist masterpiece L'Assommoir.
Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. There she meets a wealthy male patron of the ballet, but might the assistance he offers come with strings attached? Meanwhile Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde.
Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of "civilized society." In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation, if not survival, lies with the other.

Peril en Pointe by Helen Lipscombe - Ballet Shoes meets Murder Most Unladylike in this fresh and funny spy story!
Milly yearns to dance like her ballerina mum - but during the biggest performance of her life, she messes up and her mum disappears. Six months on, Milly receives an unexpected invitation to join the Swan House School of Ballet. Thrilled, Milly accepts, only to find that Swan House is no ordinary ballet school: it's a ballet school for spies. Can her new skills help her discover the truth about her mother's vanishing act?


As always, we link up with Connect Five hosted by The Book Date Connect Five is really very easy, just pick 5 books that are connected in some or other way. Theme, cover, genre, author - you name it. 

Friendly Fill-Ins


We are having so much fun with the Friendly Fill-Ins. It's a lovely way to link up with fellow blogger and a few feline friends. Friendly Fill-Ins is hosted by 15 and Meowing and Four-Legged Furballs. They come up with a couple of sentences, and then you have to fill in the blanks. This week's questions: 

1. I plan to ___________________ these last few days of August.

2. I am a ________________________.
3. _________ is proving difficult these days.
4. Have I ever told you about the time that I _________?

Between me and my Mommy, we'll mix up the answers again today. You can figure out who answered which!

1. I plan to read an awful lot these last few days of August.
2. I am a very spoiled and self entitled little brat.
3. Having nothing else to do, but reading is proving difficult these days.
4. Have I ever told you about the time that I convinced my Mommy to start a book blog? You can read all about it here


Wishing you all a wonderful, book- and cat-filled weekend!

Lots of Love,








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The Ice Swan by J'nell Ciesielski

Thursday, August 26, 2021

 


Title:
The Ice Swan
Author: J'nell Ciesielski
Published: 06 July 2021 (Thomas Nelson)
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle (ARC)
Source: Netgalley
Content: Relevant violence, clean language
Genre: Historical Fiction (WWI/Russian Revolution)
Age Category: Adult
Read: 25 August 2021
Rating: 
Synopsis: Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarchy, a princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.
1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory. Svetlana and her family are forced into hiding in Paris’s underbelly, with little to their name but the jewels they sewed into their corsets before their terrifying escape.
Born the second son of a Scottish duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. After treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter. Intrigued by this mysterious, cold, and beautiful woman, Wynn follows Svetlana to an underground Russian club where drink, dance, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.
Out of money and options, Svetlana agrees to a marriage of convenience with the handsome and brilliant Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her family’s debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn cannot help hoping the marriage will turn into one of true affection. When Wynn’s life takes an unexpected turn, so does Svetlana’s—and soon Paris becomes as dangerous as Petrograd. And as the Bolsheviks chase them to Scotland, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.


To write a really good book, is like baking a cake. Yes, all cakes have a basic recipe, just like all books have a basic plot. But to get your book to be devoured like Russian Tea Cakes, you need the basics plus a few little extra secret ingredients. Something sweet, something bitter, something spicy, something frozen, something alluring and something whimsical. J'nell Ciesielski combined a few secret ingredients from the following pantries to bake the perfect Russian Tea Cakes:


Saint Petersburg/Petrograd 1917 - A Princess flees with the clothes on her back (a princess knows to invest and stitch in good undergarments) in die dead of night to the City of Light. Paris holds the key to her heart. *You are welcome to sing the tune out loud. We did.



The Russians sure have a thing about their social status and religion, don't they? And vengeance. Oh and trains. Good grief. What is it with all the trains?? 


Russia. Revolution. Disillusionment. A Doctor torn between love, passion, truth and responsibility.


The Duke of Kilbride's gorgeous mother is American born and the new Duchess and Lady Mary will definitely get on splendidly. They both come across as cold and aloof, but deep down, they really do care. Also tea. They do drink a lot of tea. 
"Tea. Because ladies often use it as social lubricant for gossip."


I believe Svetlana looks just like me. She is gorgeous and regal and always puts others before herself. Her love for her sister and loyalty to her crazy Mama is enduring. But she struggles to let it go and just be happy. The cold never seem to bother her very much either. She is also a tragic Princess Odette who has to pirouette and jeté like a swan for an evil sorcerer a very bad man. Will her handsome prince/duke/doctor be able to save her, or will they both end up in the lake?

This perfect Russian Tea Cake Book is one of our highlights for this year. The blend between history, romance, intrigue, family dynamics, self preservation and humor was simply splendid. Although the pace might be a bit slow here and there, try to think of it as The Dance of the Cygnets. It's mostly upbeat and in perfect rhythm, but every now and then there's just the slightest dip in tempo. But it still remains a beautiful performance.


J'nell Ciesielski is a new-to-us author and The Ice Swan is the first book that we read from her masterful pen. Somehow I don't think it will be the last. Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson Publishers for this remarkable read. 

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."


About the Author

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Bestselling author of The Socialite, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.





Lots of Love,








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Ten Books we so desperately wish we could read for the first time, we sommer read it again

Tuesday, August 24, 2021


 Greetings! It's Tuesday and time for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Today's topic is one for my Mommy. I'm still too much of a wee little thing to wish to read books for the first time again. My Mommy is old has read a lot of books in her life already, so I'm sure there's a few she wishes she could read for the first time. The only help I can offer here, is let's just read them again! Then it will be for the first time for me at least. 

*Have you noticed the strange word in our heading?


I will read the following 10 books with the greatest of pleasure with my Mommy. First time for me, again for her:

1. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute - 
Nevil Shute's most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback. Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. Jean's travels leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.

2. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells - When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she's directed, her mother gets described as a "tap-dancing child abuser." Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.

3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling 
(if you read all 7 of them in one collection, it counts as 1 book) - 
Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.


4. Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes - Anna Walsh is officially a wreck. Physically broken and emotionally shattered, she lies on her parents' Dublin sofa with only one thing on her mind: getting back to New York. New York means her best friends, The Most Fabulous Job In The World™ and above all, it means her husband, Aidan.
But nothing in Anna's life is that simple anymore... Not only is her return to Manhattan complicated by her physical and emotional scars – but Aidan seems to have vanished. Is it time for Anna to move on? Is it even possible for her to move on? A motley group of misfits, an earth-shattering revelation, two births and one very weird wedding might help Anna find some answers – and change her life forever.


5. The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert (not to be confused with The Girl on the Train. That's  different girl and a different train and we don't necessarily want to read the other one again) - Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.
As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.
Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.
But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.
Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.


6. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart  (Arthurian Saga #1) Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. This is the world of young Merlin, the illegitimate child of a South Wales princess who will not reveal to her son his father's true identity. Yet Merlin is an extraordinary child, aware at the earliest age that he possesses a great natural gift - the Sight. Against a background of invasion and imprisonment, wars and conquest, Merlin emerges into manhood, and accepts his dramatic role in the New Beginning - the coming of King Arthur. 


7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson (long before there were girls on and from trains, there was a girl with a dragon tattoo and a fierce mind. Amongst other things) - Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption. An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel. 


8. The Oath by Frank Peretti (So, you like books about dragons?) - An ancient sin. A long forgotten oath. A town with a deadly secret. Something sinister is at work in Hyde River, an isolated mining town in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Something evil. Under the cover of darkness, a predator strikes without warning--taking life in the most chilling and savage fashion.
The community of Hyde River watches in terror as residents suddenly vanish. Yet the more locals are pressed for information, the more they close ranks, sworn to secrecy by their forefathers' hidden sins.
Only when Hyde River's secrets are exposed is the true extent of the danger fully revealed. What the town discovers is something far more deadly than anything they'd imagined. Something that doesn't just stalk its victims, but has the power to turn hearts black with decay as it slowly fills their souls with darkness.

9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel - 
The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.
The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea.



10. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.




Which books do you so desperately wish you could read for the first time again, you sommer read them again?

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Lots of Love,



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