03. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 384 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/10/2015

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

From Goodreads.com.

26. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, 384 pages, read by Lisa, on 02/25/2015

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

Description from Goodreads.com.

25. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kim B, Teen Books · Tags:

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman, 401 pages, read by Kim B, on 02/14/2015

prison night fogI enjoyed reading the book. It is a good way to introduce young adults to the years preceding the Holocaust and the events leading up to it. Plot was good and characters believable.

23. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Nine Open Arms by Benny Lindelauf, 264 pages, read by Angie, on 02/20/2015

The Boon family is moving yet again. The father has decided they are going to start making cigars and moves the family to the country. The house is a ramshackle place with the front door in the back and no porch. There is a lot of room for the big family though and the girls christen it Nine Open Arms for how wide the place is. Sisters Fing, Muulke and Jess love having their own room and not sharing with their four brothers, grandmother and father, but they don’t like that there is no running water or that there appears to be a tombstone in the cellar. They also live right across the road from the cemetery where they get their water. While their father and brothers are trying to figure out the cigar business, the girls are trying to discover the secrets of Nine Open Arms.

The story goes between the Boon family in the 1930s and the story of Nienevee and Charley Bottletop in the 1860s. The family learns about the story of the house from Oma Mei and her crocodile, a suitcase filled with pictures from which Oma Mei tells her stories. This book is translated from the Dutch original and for the most part the translation works rather well. I loved the quirkiness of the story and the timeless feel of it. I don’t think this is a book that every reader will appreciate though. I am not sure if it is the story itself or the fact that it was originally written in another language for another culture, but there were things that didn’t always come through how I imagine the author intended. Of course, since he wasn’t writing for an American reader, it might be exactly how he intended. There was just something so charming about this story that I really enjoyed even if there were hiccups in the telling of it.

19. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, Sarah Watts (Illustrations), 320 pages, read by Angie, on 02/18/2015

Birdie is the bogler’s apprentice. She helps Alfred the bogler by luring bogles out into the open with her singing and then Alfred kills them. Bogles are monsters who like to eat children so it takes a child to lure them out. Alfred and Birdie help all kinds of people throughout Victorian London. Birdie loves what she does even if she is sometimes afraid. Alfred and Birdie don’t have a lot but they have a room and food and each other. One day they are hired by Mrs. Eames who wants to learn more about bogles. She is a scholar and is appalled that Alfred puts Birdie’s life in danger. She keeps sticking her nose in and offering all kinds of suggestions on their work. Birdie and Alfred don’t really appreciate her help until they discover Dr. Morton. Dr. Morton wants to summon bogles and gain control over them. He has been sacrificing children to obtain his demon bogle. When our heroes interfere in his plans he comes after them. Birdie, Alfred, Mrs. Eames and their friends must work together to stop the evil Dr. Morton.

I really enjoyed this book, but I am not sure I will read the rest of the series. I liked the uniqueness of the story and the characters. Birdie and Alfred were fantastic. Victorian London is sometimes a hard sell with young readers and there is a bit of vocabulary in this book that could be challenging to that age group. However, if they stick with it I think they will enjoy it.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 343 pages, read by Madeline, on 01/10/2015

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

Description from Goodreads.com.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Like Water On Stone by Dana Walrath, 368 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/25/2015

1914, Ottoman Empire: The Donabedian family members have a good life. They mill grain, grow grapes and spend warm summer evenings playing music with friends and neighbors on the rooftop. Unbeknownst to the younger family members, unrest is brewing and their lives are about to change forever. The three youngest siblings are the stars of this story. There’s Shahen, who dreams of moving to America, Sosi, Shahen’s twin sister, who has recently fallen in love with a local boy, and Mariam, the five-year-old baby of the family. As political discontent grows, neighbors advise the family to leave, but their father firmly believes that their Turkish and Kurdish friends will help protect them from the soldiers. Unfortunately, things begin getting bad very quickly. The eldest sons are arrested and later massacred along with other men of fighting age from the village. One night, word comes that violence is on its way. The parents make the brave and devastating decision to send their remaining children off into the night. The three siblings then begin an epic journey over the mountains with little more than the clothes on their backs. All along, an eagle keeps watch over the family and helps to keep the children safe as they hide from soldiers and traverse the unforgiving mountainous landscape.
This novel-in-verse is one of the more heart-wrenching tales I’ve read in recent memory. It’s also the first time I’ve read any fiction about the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This family’s story is heartbreaking, but even worse is the knowledge that these children were the lucky ones. They manage to escape the worst of the violence and are spared from seeing what happens to their parents (though we do, thanks to our friend, the eagle). Since this novel is written in verse, it moves very quickly. The language is beautiful, even if the subject matter is not. The narrative cycles through each of the siblings in addition to the eagle. Readers will breathlessly turn the pages to see what happens to these kids. The inclusion of the eagle adds a touch of magic realism, as well as an effective quasi-omniscient narrator. The end of the book includes an author’s note, a glossary and a list of resources for further exploration of this horrific historical event.

By the time this book even starts, Kit has had an interesting life. As an orphan, he was picked up by a traveling circus and was known for his show riding before his age hit the double digits. Times changed though and Kit gave up the circus circuit for a more stable life as a servant to a nobleman. Life is uneventful until one night, when his master comes back to the house late at night, bleeding out from bullet wounds. As it turns out, the kind man that Kit thought was a relatively normal fellow is actually one of the most notorious highwayman in the country. In an attempt to go and seek help, Kit dons the clothes his master, Whistling Jack, grabs his French Bulldog, Demon and flees on his horse, Midnight. Jack instructed Kit to go and find a witch in the woods right before scrawling out an indecipherable will. After a daring escape that nearly gets Kit killed, he manages to stumble upon the very woman he was supposed to find. The witch informs him that he must now finish his master’s quest, which involves a number of fantastical beings whose existence was previously unknown to Kit. Kit tries to refuse, but since not completely the quest will end in his death, Kit has no real choice to but to comply. The quest? To rescue a fairy princess who is betrothed to the King of England. Finding the princess is easy. Getting her to cooperate is another matter altogether. Dodging both human and fairy enemies, Kit and Princess Morgana have little more than their wits to rely on as they seek safe passage to neutral territory.
This swashbuckling adventure story is a little bit slow to start with, but picks up steam as the main characters reveal themselves. The plot is very involved and the pacing is a bit quirky. Real historical details add a realistic edge to an otherwise whimsical tale. The occasional footnote provides clarifications primarily of the historical nature. Throughout are illustrations of various scenes and characters. The timing of the illustrations can be disruptive from time to time, but they’re a nice overall addition. There’s a lot of clever wordplay, though some of the vernacular may confuse younger readers. Fans of fantasy or historical adventure won’t be disappointed.

06. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 02/05/2015

Cecily and Jeremy are evacuated to the country with their mother before the London Blitz. They take refuge with their uncle Peregrine in Herron Hall. On the way they adopt an evacuee named May to stay with them for the duration of the war. Fourteen-year-old Jeremy is not happy to be evacuated. He believes he is old enough to contribute to the war and to stay in London with his father. He is angry at being stuck in the country. Twelve-year-old Cecily is a selfish, bossy girl who wants things her way. She wants May to be her pet and follow orders but May has a mind of her own. The girls explore the countryside and discover the ruins of Snow Castle. There are two mysterious boys at the castle who intrigue and frighten the girls by turns. In the evening, Peregrine tells the children the story of a duke who wants to become king and must take care of the two princes in his way.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I think one of my issues was the fact that none of the children were really that likeable. Cecily in particular is completely unlikeable. May was the only one that had a decent personality and she wasn’t that developed. I really enjoyed Uncle Peregrine however and really wanted more of him. As an adult reader, I knew immediately who the story Peregrine tells is about. It is clearly meant to be the story of Richard III and the princes in the tower even though they are never identified by name. I liked the story, but didn’t buy the connection to Snow Castle. I guess as long as the truth is unknown any speculation as to the fate of the princes is valid, but I just felt this was a stretch. I didn’t feel like the two boys at the ruins really added anything to the story and the story could have been just as good if not better without them.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer, 150 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/06/2015

This is actually a difficult one to write a review of. I enjoyed reading it, but I’m not 100% certain I caught all the nuances. We’ve got multiple time periods, a trio of femme fatales the all kind of look alike, perpetually drunk private investigators, old Hollywood, a whip-smart heroine and her angry-crazy daughter. It begins in the ’30’s and ends up a decade later during WWII. It’s a very involved story and any synopsis I could provide would do a disservice. In fact, there were many points where I wasn’t sure what was even happening. The vibe is distinctly noir and the tale is plenty engaging. I have never read anything by Feiffer before, so I was unfamiliar with his extremely sketchy style of drawing. For me, it was difficult to discern which character was which and what exactly was happening in many of the scenes. Thus, I can’t say that this graphic novel worked all that well for me, though I still enjoyed reading it.

03. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg, 187 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/30/2015

Set in Tupelo Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964, We Are All Welcome Here by acclaimed author Elizabeth Berg chronicles the effects of one mother’s indomitable spirit from the blossoming perspective of her thirteen year old daughter, Diana.
After contracting polio at the age of 22 while pregnant, Diana’s mother, Paige Dunn, becomes the only woman to survive successful childbirth in an iron lung. Abandoned by her husband, paralyzed from the neck down, and dependent on breathing apparatuses and caretakers, Paige exhibits incredible courage and willpower to raise Diana as a single mother.
Although others in their small Mississippi town find their family’s situation pitiable, life is nothing less than full in the Dunn household. Diana is raised in part by Paige’s steadfast caretaker, Peacie, whose caring intentions but sharp remarks are often misunderstood by Diana. The bond between Peacie and the Dunn women drives the storyline into deeper themes of equality and humanity. As events unfold throughout the Freedom Summer of 1964, Diana’s understanding of life is taken beyond the selfish whims of her childhood as she develops a deeper respect for the ideals shared by Peacie and her mother.
Readers can find inspiration in the remarkable strength, love and determination demonstrated by characters throughout the book. In a forward by the author, the reader learns how this book was inspired by the real lives of mother and daughter Pat Raming and Marianne Raming Burke.
As a reader, I was particularly taken with the human detail of Berg’s writing. Her descriptions of physical sensations and everyday emotional occurrences were often so spot-on; they left little echoes in my own body. I also enjoyed the strong and undeniably adolescent voice given to Diana, the narrator. Although there were some plot elements at the end which tied together a little too neatly for my liking, I very much enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Berg’s work.
Fans of The Help and The Secret Life of Bees will enjoy this unique and enlightening coming of age novel.

30. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis, 384 pages, read by Angie, on 01/29/2015

This is a companion book to Elijah of Buxton and takes place several years after the events of that book. Red and Benji are two boys who live around Buxton. Red is an Irish lad who lives with his father and grandmother. Father is a judge and grandmother is a irritable racist who hates pretty much everyone and everything. Benji is a black boy who wants to be a newspaper man. He writes headlines for the big events in his life and even gets an apprenticeship at a newspaper. The two independently meet the Madman of Piney Woods who is a hermit living in the woods. Benji and Red meet about half-way through the book and become friends despite the differences in their backgrounds.

It took me a long time to read this book. It was pretty slow going and I just didn’t find it that interesting. I wanted to like it more. I enjoyed Benji and Red, but found their just wasn’t enough going on in the book to keep me reading. For being the title of the book the Madman didn’t play nearly as big a role as I thought he would. I also wasn’t sure how this tied to Elijah of Buxton except the setting until the very end when Elijah was introduced again. There is a lot of good historical information in this book and as always Curtis’ writing is wonderful. I just wasn’t feeling this book however.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

27. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction

The End of the Line by Sharon McKay, 119 pages, read by Angie, on 01/27/2015

Beatrix is left on a tram in Amsterdam when her mother is pulled off by the Nazis. She is taken in by older brothers Hans and Lars who operate the tram. They claim she is their niece and take her into their home. Together with their elderly neighbor Mrs. Vos they risk their lives to protect the little girl. Another neighbor Lieve helps teach Beatrix catechism so she can pass as Catholic. Hans and Lars do their best to make Beatrix a part of their family and love her dearly. The new family survives the deprivations and starvation of the war until they are finally liberated.

There is something about holocaust stories that always tug at my heart. This is a wonderful little story about two brothers who saved a young girl. I loved the humor of the two old bachelors trying to figure out how to handle having a little girl in their midst. Mrs. Vos was an awesome character as well, full of take-charge attitude and good sense. This book would serve as a good introduction to the deprivations suffered during war. The horrible things that happened are hinted at but not explicitly shown. War is horrible and that comes through loud and clear without a lot of terrible details that might scare young readers.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

27. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, 350 pages, read by Angie, on 01/26/2015

Molly and Kip are headed to their deaths. At least that is what everyone keeps telling them. They have taken a job at the Windsor estate in the “sour woods”. It is a place the locals refuse to enter and has a bad history. But Molly and Kip are desperate. They had to flee Ireland because of the potato famine and their parents are no longer with them. They are not prepared for what the find at Windsor. It is an island with a big creepy house with a dark tree growing beside and into it. The Windsor family looks worn down and everything in the house has a sickly air about it. Soon they discover the reason. The mysterious Night Gardener, who cares for the tree, enters the house every night and visits the sleepers. He collects their nightmares to feed to the tree. It also turns out the tree has the power to grant your heart’s desire. The payment is only a little bit of your soul. Molly soon becomes bound to the tree as much as the Windsors. Her heart’s desire? Letters from her parents. Seems Molly hasn’t told Kip the truth about what happened to them and doesn’t want to accept the truth herself. She has been making up stories about their travels and the letters help her continue the deception. Before too long they realize that more than their health and souls are in danger from the Night Gardener. It seems he eventually needs more to feed the tree. They have to find a way to escape his clutches and perhaps save the Windsor family too.

This book was super creepy. So creepy I wanted to turn away from it at times, but really couldn’t put it down. I love the concept of the Night Gardener who collects the sweat of your nightmares to water the tree that gives you your heart’s desire. The question of whether what you wish for is really what you need is an interesting one and plays out so very well. I also loved the whole bit about the difference between stories and lies. Molly is a wonderful storyteller and the kids meet the local storyteller Hester on their travels to the estate. The conclusion they come to is that stories give you the courage to face things whereas lies help you hide from them. There is so much to love about this book and I can’t recommend it more. I loved it!

27. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 343 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/26/2015

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

I thought it was incredible. I highly recommend it.

26. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, 301 pages, read by Angie, on 01/23/2015

This is one of those books that stays with you. Even days after I finished reading it I am still thinking about it and the world Lelye Walton created. I generally don’t like magical realism books; they just aren’t my thing, but there was something about this one that got its hooks into me and wouldn’t let go. The title is misleading; this is not just a book about Ava Lavender, the girl born with wings. It is the tragic story of her entire family going back generations. It starts with her great-grandfather moving the family to New York. New York is not gentle with the Roux family. All of them suffer for love and die, all except Emilienne who flees New York, marries a baker and moves to the house on Pinnacle Lane. Her husband dies early leaving her with neighbors who think she is a witch, a young Viviane to raise and a bakery. Viviane too has her troubles with love. She ends us broken hearted with two young children: Henry who barely speaks and sees things others cannot and Ava with her glorious wings. She sequestered them in the house on Pinnacle Lane but even that cannot stop the tragedy that seems to follow the family.

This is not a happy book in any way. There is death and loss and rape and people turning into birds. It is like a dark fairy tale told to scare children and warn them about the dangers of love. The entire time you are reading it you know terrible things are just around the corner. You want to warn the characters but you can’t. There is a lot that can’t be explained but you realize you don’t need an explanation. You can just believe that this is the way the world works in Walton’s mind. This is not a book for everybody but those that get lost in the story will have a hard time finding themselves again.

13. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa, Mystery, Paranormal

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein , 416 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/12/2015

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.

A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all.

Description from Goodreads.com.

12. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder, 240 pages, read by Angie, on 01/11/2015

Annie is on her way to see her dying grandmother who she has never met. Grandma Mary lives in an empty hotel and is a mean, cranky woman. During a storm, Annie travels back in time to 1937 and meets her grandma as a young girl. Mary goes by Molly and is locked in the “lonely room” because she has asthma and her parents don’t want her to die. Molly is unhappy and a bit self-centered until Annie arrives. Annie helps Molly escape the room and they go on adventures throughout the town: roller-skating in Woolworths, experiencing a fair on the docks, traveling through the laundry chute and the dumb waiter at the hotel. As much as Annie enjoys getting to know her grandma and experiencing 1937, she really just wants to get back to her own time and mom.

This book has a bit of The Secret Garden and a bit of The Magic Half and a bit of Eloise. It was a fun historical read with a time travel twist. I loved the setting of the hotel and all the mischief the girls could get into. I do wish there would have been a bit more about the historical time period. It is set in the Great Depression, which Molly being a rich, white girl doesn’t really experience. The girls notice it more on their trips out in town, but it is barely mentioned at all. Molly seems to have lots of money to spend, but no concept of how much things are actually worth, which makes sense when you realize she has never been out of her room. I enjoyed the book overall, but just wanted a little bit more from it.

31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noelle, Teen Books

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, 471 pages, read by Noelle, on 12/30/2014

An angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy–Louis Charles, the lost king of France.

29. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas (Jane Austen Mysteries #12) by Stephanie Barron, 329 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/28/2014

jane austen  The newest Jane Austen mystery book out in time for your holiday reading pleasure. Jane discovers family secrets and murder during the twelve days of Christmas in Regency England. Jane, Cassandra and her mother are invited to spend the Christmas holiday with her brother James and his family in the home Jane grew up in. James is now the rector of their father’s church but unlike his fun-loving father is a serious minister who questions any holiday frivolity. The whole family is invited to to stay at The Vyne a nearby manor house. The ladies are thrilled with the chance to see the house again and become re-acquainted with their neighbors especially in a festive household. But international politics, love affairs and murder creep into even the fashionable of society and dampen the holiday spirits of all those staying at The Vyne. Will Jane discover who the murderer is and why before everyone goes their separate ways?