Tag Archives: Australian adventure

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Indie EBOOK arc Sadie’s War – Book 3 of the Currency Girls series by Rosemary Noble #Brainfluffbookreview #Sadie’sWarbookreview

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I read and thoroughly enjoyed Noble’s novel about the early days of Grimsby in her engrossing tale, Ranter’s Wharf, see my review here. So when I heard she was bringing out a new historical novel – this time featuring Australia – I jumped at the chance to read an advance copy in return for an honest review.

Sadie is brought up amongst the vineyards of the Yarra Valley whilst her work-obsessed father reaps riches from the boom years before the Great War. With post-war depression looming, Sadie’s only option is to flee from her disastrous marriage, seeking refuge in Cleethorpes, a small seaside town in northern England. Years later, when her sons are in RAF Bomber Command, she receives a letter from her long-lost brother which forces her to confront the past and her part in her family’s downfall.

Noble has done a great deal of research, as many of the characters featuring in this family saga are actual family members, including Sadie, although not much is on record about this intriguing woman, other than the fact that after her failed marriage, she left for England. This is a fascinating tale fictionalising her life, stretching back to Sadie’s childhood, where her earliest memories are of being constantly moving houses, the next one ever grander and better than the previous one. Though her growing up years are blighted by the sudden death of her mother, which brings about a set of circumstances which probably wouldn’t have happened if there had been a vigilant and caring mother-figure at home. I really enjoyed Sadie as a character – she wants to please and conform, as girls were trained to do back in those days, but when it all hits the fan, she also proves that she has plenty of courage to take the necessary steps to start again.

In charting Sadie’s life, Noble gives us a vivid insight into the life and times, including customs, food and entertainment in an easy, natural writing style I have come to associate with her books. This is a real strength of the book, which makes it a delightful read.

The depiction of life during WW2, which is the other narrative running alongside Sadie’s earlier experiences, works well as a contrast to those days of heat, sunshine and socialising in Australia, as life in England on the Home Front was demanding. People were frequently hungry, cold and exhausted as they dealt with food rationing, war work and sleepless nights during bombing raids. This is all well described as part of Sadie’s daily round without holding up the story, while she is also desperately worried about her sons, who are all away fighting.

The only niggle I have is the wrinkle in the developing love story. It feels a bit contrived for the purposes of the narrative arc, but it’s not a dealbreaker. Do also read the Afterword, which is fascinating. I had no idea that Stanley, Sadie’s beloved brother, had led such an interesting life after his time in Australia. This is highly recommended for fans of sagas and historical adventures featuring WW2 and Australia.
9/10

Review of Tongues of Serpents – Book 6 of the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik

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I’ve followed this delightful series in which the Napoleonic wars are conducted with fighting dragons. However in this sixth book – does Novik manage to sustain the freshness and quirky charm of the first books?

tonguesofserpentsConvicted of treason despite their heroic defence against Napolean’s invasion of Britain, Temeraire and Laurence – stripped of rank and standing – have been transported to the prison colony at New South Wales. With them travel three dragon eggs intended to help establish a covert in the colony, and destined to be handed over to second-rate undesirable officers willing to accept so remote an assignment.

But instead of leaving behind the political entanglements of the war, Laurence and Temeraire sail into a hornet’s nest of fresh corruption. The young Australian colony has been thrown into turmoil after the overthrow of the military governor, one William Bligh – formerly Captain Bligh, late of the HMS Bounty.

I really enjoyed this change of scene. Temeraire is a wonderful character who has steadily developed throughout the series and quickly pulls me into his various adventures with his singular dragon viewpoint. As I wasn’t attracted to the series through any particular knowledge of the Napoleonic campaigns, Novik’s necessary tweaks to fit her storyline with the historical facts don’t particularly disturb me. Neither was I worried that Temeraire was no longer fighting Napoleon – Novik’s tour of her version of the world is sufficiently engaging that I am perfectly relaxed about exploring it along with the protagonists. However, I did wonder if Laurence would have struggled more with the brutal reality of the penal colony. While I’m sure he would have coped physically with the hardship, I did think that he would have found the sense of his disgrace would have chafed – especially considering the circumstances that led to their transportation.

I liked Novik’s depiction of the Australian outback during Temeraire’s exploration of the continent. Her deft use of some of the Australian myths to produce some challenges to the dragons along the way manages to provide plenty of narrative tension, along with the surprises that await the expedition when they finally reach the other side of the continent.

All in all, I feel that Tongues of Serpentsis an entertaining addition to the series which I certainly wouldn’t characterise as a placeholder, and I’m looking to getting hold of Crucible of Gold, the next instalment.
8/10