The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

Title: The Weight of a Piano
Author: Chris Cander
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Length: 9 hours, 56 minutes
Narrated By: Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publish Date: January 22, 2019
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Recommend: Yes

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Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

If God won’t save the Queen…they will.

Orphan Meg Fellowes makes her living picking pockets—until she steals from the wrong nobleman. Instead of rotting in prison like she expected, she’s whisked away to the court of Queen Elizabeth I and pressed into royal service. With a faked noble identity, Meg joins four other skilled girls in the Maids of Honor, the Queen’s secret society of protectors. 

Meg’s natural abilities as a spy prove useful in this time of unrest. The Spanish Court is visiting, and with them come devious plots and hidden political motives. As threats to the kingdom begin to mount, Meg can’t deny her growing attraction to one of the dashing Spanish courtiers. But it’s hard to trust her heart in a place where royal formalities and masked balls hide the truth: not everyone is who they appear to be. Meg’s mission tests every talent she possesses, even her loyalty to her fellow Maids. With danger lurking around every corner, can she stay alive—and protect the crown?

Great excitement marked her steps.She was moving fast,The kind of pace that starts with easeBut can never last.The darkness came down far too quick,A light put out, she turned.Her face, it spoke of sly delight,The power of what she’d learned.But then he bore down swift and still,His hands around her neck.His blade it flashed into the night,No pity or regret.His task was only that she died.His cuts, howe’er, were those of pride.And as he stole away, he smiled,His light eyes dead, his dark hair wild.”

This was one of the few historical fiction books that I read this year, but I think this one was one of my absolute favorites. It actually makes me wonder whether Queen Elizabeth did have a group of maiden spies in her employ, making sure that she was well protected and that any threats made to the crown and England were snuffed out. If anything, it sounds really exciting, whether it really happened or not. It also makes me wonder just how dangerous it would have been to be a spy during this time, without the kind of technology that we have access to today.

This book did a great job at opening this world to my eyes, and I was sad to leave it, although I probably won’t be leaving it for long.

We start the novel with our main character, Meg, who just so happens to be one of the best pickpockets in the Golden Rose Theatre Troupe. She has never gotten caught by any of her marks and has been successful in all of the tasks that she’s had to accomplish. Well, there’s always a first for everything, and she does end up being caught. This changes her life forever, and she finds herself under the protection of Queen Elizabeth of England. She becomes one of the Queen’s Maids of Honor, a group of female spies whose sole duty is to protect the Queen by using espionage and any other means necessary.

This is a time where having a Queen on the throne, without a King at their side, was pretty much unheard of. Queen Elizabeth refused to marry, and that alone has caused a lot of drama and tension in Europe. So many people around Europe during this time don’t think that a Queen should be in control without a King being in command. There are also those who don’t believe that England should be under the control of a Protestant since England used to be mostly Catholic. That’s two big reasons why there are those that would want to see Elizabeth fail, or worse. The Maids of Honor are there to make sure that doesn’t happen.

While Meg is considered the “Rat” of the group, known for having to tell secrets to the Queen and her spymasters, she ends up learning who she is as a person, and she is definitely not who she thought she was.

I was really impressed with this book, and I’m so glad that I finally got to read it. All of the Maids have their own assets that they bring to this group of spies, and I love that each of them are entirely different from each other. I can’t wait to find out what else happens during Meg’s time at Windsor, under the protection of the Queen.

Rated: 5/5 
The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

Dear Reader,

I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.

The pages of this book, I’m sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.

I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven’t, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

“Optimist” is a word which here refers to a person, such as Phil, who thinks hopeful and pleasant thoughts about nearly everything. For instance, if an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, “Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,” but most of us would say something more along the lines of “Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!”

My favorite thing about these books is the author commentary throughout it. It makes it so hilarious and punny and really makes me like Lemony Snicket as an author. Although it does make it almost that much worse that the Baudelaires have to go through so much crap because they live in a world where these adults they have to deal with are completely useless. It’s ridiculous, but I bet that’s what we would feel like if we were in these shoes.

It also makes me realize that Violet needs to learn way more words, and read way more like her brother Klaus. Since Klaus is mostly incapacitated during this book, she has to do the job for both of them, and there’s a chapter where she is reading a book and for all the words that she doesn’t understand, she would “hmm” in its place. I guess book nerds learn a lot more than non-book nerds! Is that me being biased? Not at all! Just look at Violet, who has to “hmm” her way through a book trying to figure out how to get someone to be unhypnotized, among other things.


Rated: 4/5