THE VICTORIAN CITY: EVERYDAY LIFE IN DICKENS’ LONDON by Judith Flanders (Audiobook)


Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


The 19th century was a time of unprecedented change, and nowhere was this more apparent than London. In only a few decades, the capital grew from a compact Regency town into a sprawling metropolis of six-and-a-half million inhabitants, the largest city the world had ever seen. Technology – railways, street-lighting, and sewers – transformed both the city and the experience of city living, as London expanded in every direction.

Now, Judith Flanders, one of Britain’s foremost social historians, explores the world portrayed so vividly in Dickens’ novels, showing life on the streets of London in colorful, fascinating detail. From the moment Charles Dickens, the century’s best-loved English novelist and London’s greatest observer, arrived in the city in 1822, he obsessively walked its streets, recording its pleasures, curiosities, and cruelties.

Now, with him, Flanders leads us through the markets, transport systems, sewers, rivers, slums, alleys, cemeteries, gin palaces, chop-houses, and entertainment emporia of Dickens’ London, to reveal the Victorian capital in all its variety, vibrancy, and squalor.


THE VICTORIAN CITY is a meticulously researched and very detailed book about London life during the time Charles Dickens walked its streets. The focus is mainly on the mechanics of daily life, and it gives an in depth look at everything, from how the streets were paved to the little amount of water each family had to take care of all their needs. This book puts you there, surrounded by the constant movement and bothersome noise.

The author blends in snippets from Dickens’ work to show where his inspirations came from. In truth I haven’t read much Dickens, maybe just A Christmas Carol years ago, but I love historical fiction set in the Victorian times, so I was interested in learning more. The book could be a bit dry at times, but also eye-opening. Made me appreciate living in modern times even more.


Audiobook • 16 hrs, 5 mins • Corrie James, Narrator

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Corrie James, and I thought that she was a good fit for this book. Even though this is nonfiction, she was able to add inflection and flair in the reading, especially with the voices of the different Londoners.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED HOTELS by Jamie Davis Whitmer

hauntedhotels
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Release Date: October 8, 2016
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★½


Phantom footsteps pace the stairs at the Myrtles Plantation. A seductive spirit tugs on the sheets at the Copper Queen. Ghost children whisper and giggle at the Kehoe House. Journey into the mysterious world of haunted hotels, where uninvited guests roam the halls, supernatural sounds ring throughout the rooms, and chills run along the spines of those who dare to check in for the night.

Join Jamie Davis Whitmer, author of Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums, as she explores some of the most haunted hotels across the United States. From the Jerome Grand Hotel in Arizona to the Palmer House in Minnesota, each hotel is discussed in great detail, covering everything from the building’s history and legends to first-hand accounts of spooky sounds and smells, ghost sightings, EVP sessions, and more. You’ll also find photos, travel information, and everything else you need to plan your own visit to these iconic hotels.


AMERICA’S MOST HAUNTED HOTELS would be a fun travel guide to have on a cross-country ghost tour road trip. This book highlights ten of the country’s notable haunted hotels, some familiar to me and some not. The author gives readers a brief history of the properties and why each is thought to be haunted. She also shares her own experiences at the hotels, and whether or not she got a feel for their resident spirits ― though no in depth ghost hunting takes place. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t spookier, but it gives plenty of info to stir up interest. Each hotel’s chapter concludes with reservation and contact information if you’d like to plan a visit.

My two favorites were the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, which was Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining, and the Crescent Hotel in Arkansas, which I’ve visited many times. Love it. The ghost tour was great spooky fun.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: LOST IN TRANSLATION: AN ILLUSTRATED COMPENDIUM OF UNTRANSLATABLE WORDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD by Ella Frances Sanders

LostInTranslation
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: September 16, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


An artistic collection of more than 50 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign words that have no direct translation into English.

Did you know that the Japanese language has a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there’s a Finnish word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest?

Lost in Translation brings to life more than fifty words that don’t have direct English translations with charming illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions. Often these words provide insight into the cultures they come from, such as the Brazilian Portuguese word for running your fingers through a lover’s hair, the Italian word for being moved to tears by a story, or the Swedish word for a third cup of coffee.

In this clever and beautifully rendered exploration of the subtleties of communication, you’ll find new ways to express yourself while getting lost in the artistry of imperfect translation.


LOST IN TRANSLATION is a lovely little book that defines and illustrates many words that do not have a precise English equivalent. The collection includes words that are funny, practical, and touching. With every turn of the page, I was smiling or thinking “Ah, ha!” A couple of my favorites:

  • The Swedish verb fika, which is a “gathering together to talk and take a break from everyday routines, usually drinking coffee and eating pastries…often for hours on end.” Sounds great to me!
  • The German noun kabelsalat, which is a “mess of very tangled cables, literally a cable-salad.” Yep, seen that.

I found all the words interesting and most of them relatable, even though there is not a clear translation. There’s a German word for the extra pounds you put on from emotional eating. *nods* There’s a Malay word for the time needed to eat a banana (huh!), and the list goes on.

The presentation was set up with the word, drawing, and definition on a page, and the author’s take on the word on the facing page. The illustrations in this book were fun and fanciful. I guess my only complaint was that the font used for definitions was sometimes hard to read, but otherwise I loved the book. Definitely one for my keeper shelf!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Checked Out: THE PLANTAGENETS {The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England} by Dan Jones

Plantagenets
Publisher: Viking Adult
Released: April 18, 2013
Source: Borrowed from the library


The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic history, Dan Jones vividly resurrects this fierce and seductive royal dynasty and its mythic world.

We meet the captivating Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; her son, Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and King John, a tyrant who was forced to sign Magna Carta, which formed the basis of our own Bill of Rights.

This is the era of chivalry, of Robin Hood and the Knights Templar, the Black Death, the founding of Parliament, the Black Prince, and the Hundred Year’s War. It will appeal as much to readers of Tudor history as to fans of Game of Thrones.


I grabbed this book from the library because I wanted a crash course in Plantagenet history. The Plantagenets ruled England for over 300 years, beginning with Henry II in 1154, and this book covers most of that time. Henry II’s mother was Empress Matilda, the granddaughter of William the Conqueror. I thought it was interesting that the family name came from Henry II’s father Geoffrey, who liked to wear the yellow Planta Genista blossoms in his hair, leading to the nickname Geoffrey Plantagenet.

This book was well-researched and went into great detail on the major players of the Plantagenet dynasty. Some parts I skimmed over, while others sections I spent a lot of time on. I enjoyed Empress Matilda’s story of how she battled her cousin Stephen of Blois for control of England. While she was never officially crowned queen, she succeeded in getting her son on the throne as the first Plantagenet king. Eleanor of Aquitaine was another fascinating woman who made a huge impact on Europe during her long life. And I can’t forget the Edward II/Isabella of France/Piers Gaveston/Hugh Despenser drama! It was drama to rival the Tudors.

This book paints a vivid portrait of English royals between the Norman invasion and the Tudor takeover. (Though, it did not go as far as Richard III; he needs his own book!) Recommended for anyone interested in an easy to read history of this time period.