Book Review: The Burglar’s Ball (Jane Austen Investigates, #2) by Julia Golding

About the Book:

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Nancy Drew. Enola Holmes. Sally Lockhart. Move over girls, it’s Jane’s time!

Join young budding detective Jane Austen in her second investigation to uncover a devious diamond thief at the glitziest, most scandalous ball of the year! Inspired by Sense and Sensibility.
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‘No one who had ever seen Jane Austen in her infancy would suppose her to be born to solve crimes. From her early love of sugar plums, and cleverness in hiding her expeditions into the pantry, her mother declared her far more likely to commit them. However, as Jane would counter, there was no better person to identify the culprit than the thief turned thief-catcher.’

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school.

Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol.

With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.

Perfect for readers aged 9-109, and for fans of Katherine Woodfine and Lucy Worsley.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received an ARC of the book from NetGalley. A huge thanks to the publishers and author.

This is the second book in the Jane Austen Investigates series that follows a young Jane Austen on another of her adventures to solve a mystery. Cassandra Austen is invited to attend a ball at her old school and asks Jane to come along. The headmistress of the school has a soft spot towards Cassandra, her favourite pupil. However, Jane’s presence is quite unexpected and received with some reluctance.

What follows is a series of friendships, some cricket and a theft that leads to Jane stepping in to investigate once again. We also meet Arjun and Deepti again, characters from Book 1 who are delightful and add some wonderful color to the book. I enjoyed the different perspectives in the book and everyone’s lives.

I found that this book was a little less impactful when compared to Book 1, but I still enjoyed it thanks to some of the newer characters, a talking parrot and some circus friends. The mystery was well thought out with a simple plot of theft which moves quickly ensuring the reader is engaged. In an attempt to solve the mystery, Jane uncovers many truths that shed light on the various characters of the book including the headmistress. This is the perfect book for middle graders and will give them a thrill to read it. Let’s not forget the cricket match that has to come to some kind of conclusion with the girls all showing off their amazing skills in a “boys game”! Not to be outshone, the boys also show off their skills in dancing at the ball! It’s all fun and more fun until things go wrong!

I am delighted to have read the books in this series so far and am looking forward to reading more of Jane’s adventures and her witty, sarcastic letters. She had a gift for writing and the author of this series does her justice in my opinion!

Book Review: Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding

About the Book:

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Jane Austen turns detective in this spooky historical adventure by award-winning author Julia Golding!

It’s 1789 and a young Jane Austen turns detective as she seeks to solve the mysterious happenings at Southmoor Abbey. When a carriage accident forces a change of plans, 13-year-old Jane is sent to be a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week as the household prepares to celebrate the eldest son’s coming-of-age party. While there, Jane vows to solve the mystery of the ghostly monk in the Abbey grounds – for she does not believe in such stories!

But this is not the only strange occurrence for the adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are shivery night-time investigations, an Indian girl with secret talents, a library fire, two prize horses in danger, and friends to save from false accusations.

With notebook in hand and her faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the continuous obstacles and find out the truth?

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. The below review reflects my honest opinion!

This is a delightful book for young readers and fans of mystery and adventure! The reader meets a young and spunky Jane Austen who is thirteen years old. She is sent to Southmoor Abbey as a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week in place of her sister. Jane is drawn to the mystery surrounding the Abbey and the so called ghost who haunts the place. On a dare from one of her brother’s she decides to investigate and find out the truth since she does not believe that ghosts exist.

The story introduces us to a myriad of characters, including a father-daughter duo from India and Jane’s “lap” dog Grandison. There are many secrets and mysteries to be solved that eventually end up being connected. I enjoyed reading about Jane’s thoughts and experiences which the author described quite well. We are able to see some of the famous author in this young girl with her strong imagination and opinions. We also see how supportive her family is of her, encouraging her to write and share her thoughts and stories. Jane’s letters to her sister were a delight to read about and some of them had me in splits.

Though the focus moved away from the mystery of the ghost in between, the overall plot is well done and will ensure that the target audience of middle graders (as well as adults) will be hooked. The story and main character remind me of Nancy Drew and other such heroines who seek out and solve mysteries. The author has done a great job in bringing a young Jane Austen to life and I am indeed looking forward to join them on further adventures along with all the friends Jane (and enemies) Jane makes along the way! I do hope you all join the adventure too.

Book Review: The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad

  Join us for this tour from June 1 to Jun 28, 2021!

 Book Details:

Book Title:  The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions, Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad
Category:  Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  175 pages
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Amazon KDP
Release date:   March 2021
Content Rating:  PG: Some intense scenes and mild language.

Book Description:

The point of no return has come!

It’s the summer before high school and life is about to change for fourteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer hexes her with everlasting powers, requiring her to become an enchantress. If she cannot learn to control her magic pronto, she will forget her loved ones and serve as the warlock’s eternal slave.

In order to control her powers, Alyssa must gain control of her emotions. With the struggles of adolescence and disasters everywhere, catastrophes are bound to happen! It’s only a matter of time before Alyssa’s world changes, for better or worse…

BUY THE BOOK:
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Meet the Author: Sunayna Prasad enjoys writing fantasy books for children, as well as cooking, creating artwork, watching online videos, and blogging. She has also written The Frights of Fiji, and A Curse of Mayhem and is constantly creating and brainstorming new ideas.

Sunayna also loves cartoons, traveling, and thinking outside the box.

She lives in New York.

Connect with the Author:   website ~ twitter ~ goodreads

 

Enter the Giveaway:

THE NEW ENCHANTRESS (An Alyssa McCarthy Magical Missions) Book Tour Giveaway

My Thoughts (Book Review):

The New Enchantress is Book 3 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. This book follows Alyssa as she once again gains magic powers and has to become an enchantress. She has to learn to control her powers otherwise she will forget everyone she knows and loves and become a slave to the evil warlock. The story starts off with an upcoming middle grade graduation sleep over where we see Alyssa and her friends gather at her house to spend some time. However, Alyssa’s spirits are dampened due to the loss of her laptop and her newly gained magical powers. Being a moody young teen, she takes it out on her friends causing some backlash.

I found this to be quite childish in the way the friendships are handled. Some of the things the girls say or Alyssa says do not seem to fit with a young teen. It was difficult for me to relate to them as young teens with the way they talked and behaved. However, the writing in this book is much much better than the previous two books and the focus on the plot has been strengthened. I appreciate and acknowledge the maturity in the author’s writing when compared to the previous books, though I believe that there is room for further improvement.

The plot is much the same as the previous books with something going wrong and Alyssa setting out to fix it. One thing however is how she has to learn to control her emotions to be able to control her powers and thus foil the warlock’s plans. By the end, she learns the meaning of friendship, of thinking about things beyond herself and of giving back. I like how this was handled in the book.

Overall an entertaining magic filled read that will keep readers busy for an evening or two!

Guest Post by Sunayna Prasad:

How I Chose my Novels’ Time Settings

We may be living in 2021 (and a global pandemic), but the events of my stories take place over 10 years ago.

In “The Frights of Fiji” and “A Curse of Mayhem,” the year revealed is 2010. “The New Enchantress” is set in 2011. So, my MC, Alyssa would actually only be a few years younger than me if she were real. She would have just turned 24 this past April.

While that may sound disappointing to certain people, there is a reason why the stories take place a long time ago. Some editors pointed out that the stories were set when my readers were babies or really little and suggested that I updated the first book’s setting, which got revised as a new edition in 2018. However, I am glad that I rejected that advice. The editor also understood and agreed that authors should get to choose to set their stories whenever they want.

But I will share two reasons why the events of my “Magical Missions” series take place in the early 2010s.

1: The first installment was originally written and published in the early 2010s.

I started working on book 1 after a bad turnout with a poorly written novel that I published just around high school graduation. I began work on it in 2011 and published it in 2013 as “From Frights to Flaws.”

I chose the 2010 setting because at that time, I wanted my MC to not only be close in age with me, but also have technology not be too advanced or primitive. In “The Frights of Fiji,” there is even the mentioning of an iPod and the iPad getting released soon.

I know technology and times change drastically and quickly. And if I were to write an unrelated book today, I would probably set it around or close to this time.

Which brings me to my next point:

2: You never know what will happen as you live.

There is a lot of controversy and discussions on the dilemmas of writing a story in today’s world, with a pandemic and restrictions on how to live because of it. Some say set your stories in 2019 or a little earlier, and others give all sorts of chaotic advice.

Some authors change their stories to make the characters live in the covid-19 pandemic, where they have to wear face masks, socially distance, refrain from activities like kissing and traveling. I personally would avoid doing this.

Some experts even suggest omitting the pandemic from your stories in order for readers to escape from the stress we’re living through. But they also worry about it misleading future generations about what the world really experienced during 2020 and 2021. So, certain writers might just leave out the dates or years their stories take place as the pandemic could be a thing od the past once the books are finished or when people get it them.

Therefore, I am glad that I stuck with my original time setting. Readers still enjoyed the stories, regardless of the years they take place.

Although I plan to make the final installment’s last setting no later than 2019, my little (not so) secret is that… there is no pandemic happening in my book’s universe.

While we went on a global lockdown in March 2020 and lived with many restrictions since then, my characters continued to live typical lives (going to concerts, bars, etc.). I feel like after going through the difficult time that I never expected, I was uncomfortable making my characters go through that, even if I won’t publish a book set later than 2019. Also, many people crave escapism from stressful times.

There is a work of fiction that has specific dates throughout different moments of the protagonist’s life, and events of the main story take place in 2020. But the characters don’t have to wear face masks, socially distance, quarantine, or have any other pandemic restrictions. They basically live a normal life, except for the domination of advanced technology. This is the film, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”

All in all, those are the reasons I chose my novels’ time setting.

WWW WEDNESDAY – 14/04/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

A variety of genres actually!

Twinfluence by Grace Costello (Goodreads Author), 

Nina Walker (Goodreads Author), M.F. Lorson (Goodreads Author)

Twinfluence

The Frights of Fiji by Sunayna Prasad

The Frights of Fiji (Alyssa McCarthy's Magical Missions, #1)

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I am hoping to get started with my brand new copy of The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. The book has an amazing cover and spray painted edges! Considering that this is one of the most talked about books, I am excited to join the fan club!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: Rea and the Blood of the Nectar (The Chronicles of Astranthia, #1) by Payal Doshi

About the Book:

Perfect for fans of the Aru Shah books and The Chronicles of Narnia.

A middle-grade fantasy about twelve-year-old Rea Chettri, who portals into an otherworldly realm to go on a secret quest to find her missing twin brother Rohan. The clock is ticking in this fast-paced, thrilling, and exciting adventure rife with evil creatures, a ruthless villain, and unforgettable friendships.

It all begins on the night Rea turns twelve. After a big fight with her twin brother Rohan on their birthday, Rea’s life in the small village of Darjeeling, India, gets turned on its head. It’s four in the morning and Rohan is nowhere to be found.

It hasn’t even been a day and Amma acts like Rohan’s gone forever. Her grandmother, too, is behaving strangely. Unwilling to give up on her brother, Rea and her friend Leela meet Mishti Daadi, a wrinkly old fortune-teller whose powers of divination set them off on a thrilling and secret quest. In the shade of night, they portal into an otherworldly realm and travel to Astranthia, a land full of magic and whimsy. There with the help of Xeranther, an Astranthian barrow boy, and Flula, a pari, Rea battles serpent-lilies and blood-sucking banshees, encounters a butterfly-faced woman and blue lizard-men, and learns that Rohan has been captured. Rea also discovers that she is a princess with magic. Only she has no idea how to use it.

Struggling with the truth her Amma has kept hidden from her, Rea must solve clues that lead to Rohan, find a way to rescue him and save Astranthia from a potentially deadly fate. But the clock is ticking. Can she rescue Rohan, save Astranthia, and live to see it all?

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is Payal Doshi’s stunning #ownvoices middle-grade fantasy debut about understanding complex family dynamics, fighting for what is right, discovering oneself, and learning to make friends.

My Thoughts:

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar is an amazing adventure filled story that follows Rea as she embarks on a journey to find her kidnapped twin brother. The author brings out the differences in characters between Rea and Rohan as we start of the book observing their sibling rivalry. Almost twelve years old, the two are more alike than they care to admit, but have drifted apart with Rohan developing new interests. When Rohan disappears and their mother and grandmother go into a worried frenzy, Rea takes it upon herself to find her brother.

The book gives us a glimpse into the tea gardens of Darjeeling and then takes us into flower filled Astranthia, making this a delightful read for both the young and old! There are portals, magic, secrets, mystical creatures and so much more that add to this captivating read! Rea makes friends along the way and slowly learns to trust people as well as let go of jealousy. She also learns the importance of thinking about other people and not just how things affect her. All these messages and lessons are brought out very well through their experiences and I am sure that they will serve as a learning for our young readers!

Set against the backdrop of India, the author also brings out some of the culture and food which are for me quite relatable. However, the best parts of the story are in the magic filled adventure that the children and fairy embark on. The plan to save Rohan turns into one of revelations and truths which serve to help everyone in Astranthia.

I loved reading this book and am looking forward to more adventures for Rea. She is strong for a twelve year old and quite determined. I also enjoyed how she opens herself up to new experiences and learns to form bonds of friendship. A thoroughly enjoyable tale, Payal Doshi has brought to us a page turner as her debut novel!

WWW WEDNESDAY – 07/04/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

My current reads are more focused on feel good romances. I am taking a small break from reading serious and emotionally heavy books!

What did you recently finish reading?

The Little Orchard on the Lane by Tilly Tennant

What do you think you’ll read next?

       There are too many books on the TBR. I am hoping to get into some historical fiction as well as mythological fiction next!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

WWW WEDNESDAY – 24/03/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

 ——————————————————————————————————————

What are you currently reading?

My current reads are more focused on feel good romances. I am taking a small break from reading serious and emotionally heavy books!

 

What did you recently finish reading?

My Mother's Secret

Max and the Spice Thieves

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

       There are too many books on the TBR. This is my usual statement, but I am planning to see where my mood takes me! I will pick my next reads based on that! 😀

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: Max and the Spice Thieves (Secrets of the Twilight Djinn #1) by John Peragine

About the Book:

Max and the Spice Thieves

 

When his mother goes missing, Max Daybreaker’s world is turned upside down. Luckily, a crew of Spice Pirates, led by the mysterious Captain Cinn, help Max on his dangerous mission across the three seas.

Along the way, an unlikely alliance aids in his search—a teenage warrior queen, a three-eyed seer, and an assassin spy.

Their journey takes them through treacherous lands while facing shapeshifting bears, an ancient witch, harpies, and the nightmarish Djinn, who will stop at nothing to enslave the world.

With every new challenge, Max unlocks the secrets of his unsettling past. Powers awaken within, forcing him to question everything he knows.

Is Max who he thinks he is? Only time and destiny will tell…

 

 

My Thoughts:

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Crumblebee Books for providing me with a copy of this book.

Max and the Spice Thieves is a refreshing read in the Middle Grade fiction Genre!

The story follows Max as he meets a crew of Spice Pirates from the Saucy Pig while looking for his mother. There is something about Max that draws people to him and of course some of the people we meet along the way have either promised his mother or his father that they will protect him. As Max sets out on a perilous journey in search of his mother, the author introduces us to a myriad of interesting characters who only add more flavor to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Max as he learns to take control and grow up. He learns to work with people and bring them together. We slowly come to know about his magic and as the story progresses, through twists and turns we come to know the truth behind the complete plot.

Throw in pirates, magic, Djinns and Snow Bears and we have a wonderful mix for this story. It is fast paced and well written, keeping both children and adults hooked onto it. This is one book that I will whole heartedly recommend and I cannot wait to read the next book! Max’s adventures are worth reading about!

Wrap-Up: Books Read in February 2021

Hey guys! 

Here’s my wrap-up post for the Month of February!

I managed to read 5 books in the month which is quite quite slow compared to the first month.

But I am quite happy to have kept the reading streak going.

I thoroughly enjoyed the below books and as you can see, they span a whole lot of genres which kept me entertained.

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The Henna Artist by Alka JoshiCurse Breaker by Audrey Grey Oath Taker by Audrey GreyWe're Moving Where?! by Glen BlackwellThe Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schabowski

 

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Once again, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or book recommendations! You can also just stop by to chat, I’m almost always around! 🙂

Book Review: We’re Moving Where?! by Glen Blackwell

About the Book:

We're Moving Where?!

When Harry’s mum and dad tell him that they will be moving to a cabin in the Canadian wilderness, his first thought is about leaving his friends behind. He then finds out that there will be NO INTERNET!!! Join Harry on the adventure of a lifetime and find out how he adapts when everything he is used to changes overnight…

 

Connect with the Author:

Twitter – @gblackwellbooks
Instagram – @gblackwellbooks

 

My Thoughts:

We’re Moving Where? follows Harry as he moves to Canada with his parents to live somewhere in the forest! Imagine a situation where there are no other people around, no internet, no school etc., just trees and animals all around. On top of this, you have to build your own Cabin to live in.

Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed this book which took us on an adventure with Harry. The author touches upon interesting and very pertinent topics of moving away, anxiety at not seeing ones friends, living in the wilderness and little access to technology. However, as the story progresses, the reader is introduced to the joys of exploring, camping and even learning how to do things by ourselves. There is so much joy in learning and this is shown to us in a lovely way through this book.

Even though the focus is on Middle Grade learners, this book can be read and enjoyed by all age groups. However, it is best when read together as a family.