Friday, November 28, 2014

Book Review: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist
Published By: Ecco
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Page Count: 400
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Genre: Adult - Historical Fiction

Eighteen year old Nella arrives in Amsterdam from her country home, ready to start her new life as wife to Johannes Brandt, one of the city’s wealthy merchants. Life in the Brandt house is not exactly what Nella expected. Her husband is rarely home, and when he is, he spends his time locked away in his study. Nella is left in the company of Johannes’ forbidding sister, Marin, and the family’s two, rather unconventional, servants. 

 When Johannes’ presents Nella with an elaborate cabinet house as a wedding gift, she engages the services of a miniaturist to fill it with furniture. However, the pieces that arrive surpass Nella’s expectations, and it seems that the miniaturist knows far more about life in the Brandt house than Nella herself. Who is this mysterious craftsperson, and how do they know so much and what will they send next? 

The Shopping Lark #145


Each Friday, Reading Lark is going to feature some new releases each week to help give you some ideas of what to buy next. This is not an exhaustive list of this week's releases - just some novels that caught our eye. Feel free to share what books you're excited about that came out this week in our comments section.

YA Releases for the week of 11/24-11/30:



Also, an Adult Release from one of our favorite authors hit the shelves this week:


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams

The Dress Shop of Dreams
Published By: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Page Count: 336
Buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Adult - Magical Realism

I was attracted to this novel after seeing that it was recommended for fans of Sarah Addison Allen, one of my favorite authors. I love how Allen tackles magical realism and I was excited to see how Menna van Praag would tackle the genre. Writing a strong magical realism novel takes skill and finesse. The magic element can't drive every aspect of the novel; it needs to linger like the smell of a perfume once someone has left the room. The Dress Shop of Dreams is a beautiful story full of compelling characters, romance, and just the right bit of magic.

Etta and Cora start the novel off and quickly became the protagonists in my mind. Etta is an elderly woman who is still full of spunk, beauty, and style. She spends her days creating gorgeous dresses that line the racks of her intriguing little shop hidden away on a small street in Cambridge. Etta's dresses are not only works of art, but they also have a little magic sewn into the seams. The dresses choose their owners and help the women who wear them find their greatest hope. Etta is a dreamer and a believer in magic, but her granddaughter, Cora, has lost the ability to believe in such things. Cora's parents were killed in a tragic fire on her fifth birthday and since that tragic date she has locked away her heart. Cora functions purely on logic and reason. She has no time for emotions or love. Her grandmother and her scientific research are the only things that keep Cora plodding forward through life. 

Happy Thanksgiving!


Today we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the States. It's a time for appreciating all of the great things in our lives, and for us here at Reading Lark, that includes you, our readers. Thank you so much for your continued support and encouragement. It also includes the authors and publishers who help make this little project of ours possible- thank you, from the bottom of our book-loving hearts, for trusting us to help promote your work. 

I also want to take a moment to give thanks for my fellow bloggers, both here in the Nest and from other blogs. This community is such a fantastic place to be. I am so lucky to have such fabulous people to share my book nerdiness with. I appreciate each and every one of you.

And it may go without saying that I give thanks for books. . .
And pie. 

Wishing you all health, happiness, and heaps of great reading.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: Day 21


20454076
Day 21
By: Kass Morgan
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 16, 2014
Genre: YA dystopian
320 pages
Source: hard copy kindly provided by publisher



I left book 1 hoping that book 2 would fulfill some of the promise in this story line. I am happy to report that I got my wish. Read my review of book 1 here.

Day 21 does a nicer job of telling the story at hand; I suppose it's easier with the world-building and character introduction out of the way in book 1 to concentrate just on plot here in book 2. This series avoids the usual slump of the second book, which has to recover from book 1's climactic ending; I think this is a happy side-effect of the serialized structure.

Waiting on Wednesday: A Cold Legacy


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where she spotlights upcoming releases.

This week I am waiting on. . . 

A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3)
By: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: January 27, 2015


After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Review: All Broke Down

All Broke Down (Rusk University #2)
Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Page Count: 368
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: New Adult - Contemporary

All Broke Down was another brilliant read from Cora Carmack. I felt connected to Silas and Dylan really quickly - they both had hard luck stories which endeared them to me. 

 Silas came from a broken home, and his mother bounced him and his brother from boyfriend to boyfriend's house, meaning he never had much to call his own. She finally abandoned him for good at age 13, and he grew up fending for himself. Present day Silas is angry, talks with his fists, and uses people without getting attached to them. It's no surprise that he finds himself in jail for fighting one night; he is just lucky that Dylan is there too. 

Audiobook Spotlight: Being Audrey Hepburn


We featured an interview with the author of Being Audrey Hepburn recently, but did you know that you can also get this novel in audiobook format?

The awesome people at Audible sent us a clip to share with our readers. Will this one make your "listen" list? Enjoy!


Teaser Tuesday: The Dress Shop of Dreams, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Ancillary Justice, Middlemarch, & Day 21


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.


No matter how many times she's done it, every time Cora walks into the dress shop she gets a jolt of surprise. Stepping through the door is like stepping back in time. 1,349 (at her last count) dresses in every style hang on racks, clustered together as if holding hands and gossiping among themselves. Sequins flash from sleeves, sparkling beads swish from hems and every color that one could possibly imagine (and a good number that one couldn't) shimmer and twinkle like galaxies of stars bottled in jars.

~ The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag, Kindle Location 178-181 (ARC)




When he worked like this, he didn't drink, which we all appreciated. He'd been diagnosed with diabetes a few years back and shouldn't have been drinking at any time. Instead he'd become a secret drinker. It kept Mom on high alert and I worried sometimes that their marriage had become the sort Inspector Javert might have had with Jean Valjean.

~ We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, pg. 18


Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review: This Shattered World

This Shattered World (Starbound #2)
Published By: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: December 23, 2014
Page Count: 390
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

I loved the first novel in this series and I have been anxiously awaiting this one. I was slightly bummed when I realized this was not a direct continuation of Tarver and Lilac's story. While both of these beloved characters will make an appearance in this one, the story belongs to Lee and Flynn. While I did enjoy these characters and their story, I have to admit that I didn't love this one as much as the first one.

Jubilee Chase aka Lee is a fierce and intensely driven soldier. She follows orders and doesn't ask questions. A childhood tragedy has forced her to wear a thick shield around her emotions. Lee believes that she has no soul and that she is nothing more than a brutal warrior. There were moments when it felt like her humanity had been sheared away, but then she would have a vulnerable moment where her tough girl routine wore thin. I connected most with Lee in those moments when she allowed herself to feel something aside from the constant pain. She is one of those characters that is broken, but still manages to be strong in spite of her hardships. In many ways, Lee is inspirational. She does not accept defeat and tenacious isn't a strong enough descriptor for her.
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