Defiantly beautiful, Caroline Wetherby stepped ashore in a land so wild and fierce, she trembled. She had come seeking refuge with the last of her family, but her sister was dead. Waiting to greet her were pious Pilgrims, warring Indians, howling wolves, a boisterous household of men and boys…and him, her rugged, unwelcoming brother-in-law, Matt Mathieson. Caroline wanted to hate Matt as she hated all men.
After her father’s death, she’d been eager to escape England. But as daughter of a gambler and a gypsy, her flamboyant ways and healing skills tempted disaster in the sanctimonious Connecticut Colony. And putting herself in the hands of a big, handsome stranger tempted something far more dangerous–emotions she couldn’t resist, kisses she couldn’t forget, and a future that could bring ruin…or a journey to heaven on earth in his arms.
At sixteen, Anne is grown up…almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else’s romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.
Bitty is a miner; he is a canary that goes into the mine to check that the air is good. He lives in a big cage with a bunch of other canaries. Life is hard in the mines; miners and canaries die and no one seems to be doing anything about it. Bitty decides he needs to go to Charleston and get the legislature involved. He escapes and makes his way to the big city. He meets lots of different birds and animals and gets them all behind him and his cause. He even brings together an inventor and a legislator to help the mines.
I think the story is fairly decent here, but it just seemed too easy to perfect to me. Bitty somehow manages to communicate with people and bring them around to his cause. Everything ends up happily ever after at the mines. Sure there is a little bit of danger and a little bit of adventure, but you always knew nothing truly bad was going to happen. I think my biggest gripe is with the book itself. It is a small book, perfect size for kids; however, the type is very small and there is hardly any white space on the pages. Most children’s books have a larger type and lots of space. This book looks like something that was printed 50 years ago when they didn’t want to waste paper. It made it a little more difficult to read and made it seem like a denser book than it really was.
Ruby Lennox begins narrating her life at the moment of conception, and from there takes us on a whirlwind tour of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of an English girl determined to learn about her family and its secrets.
Zozimos just wants to go home. Unfortunately for him he has been banished by his evil witch of a stepmother. Try as he might he can’t seem to find his way back to Sticatha. He encounters golems and princesses and heroes and monsters on his journey. He seems to always be in trouble, mostly his own fault. I guess I will have to read book two to find out if he ever makes it home. It has been a while since I read The Odyssey, but I am sure this is a pretty close retelling. Telling the story in doodles with a stickman as the main character definitely makes it more accessible for kids.
When Irene Sauvelle’s father dies, she and her family find themselves moving to a small coastal village in Northern France where her mother, Simone, finds employment as a housekeeper for an eccentric toymaker named Lazarus. At first the small family is enchanted (if slightly caught off-guard) by the sheer volume and intricacy of Lazarus’s automatons. Village life treats them equally well. Irene quickly becomes friends with one of the house’s other employees, Hannah and then is introduced to (and quickly falls for) Hannah’s cousin, Ismael. The family appears to lead a charmed life until Hannah turns up dead in the forest near the estate. The house and its contents cease to be amusing as things take a turn for the menacing.
The narrative shifts from character to character, which means that the reader will have multiple perspectives with which to decipher exactly what sort of evil is at play here. The plot has echoes of other famous tales, most notably Wuthering Heights and Faust, though the book itself has a distinctly “Zafon” feel to it. The setting is characteristically atmospheric and the juxtaposition of the beautiful against the terrifying is also very much in keeping with Zafon’s other work. The plot is merely OK; it manages to be both a bit confusing and predictable at the same time. The end comes crashing to a close, which feels somewhat anti-climactic after the action leading up to it. It’s OK though; the intriguing setting and evocative language more than make up for any plot-based missteps.
Maude Pichon ran away from her home in Northern France to avoid a miserable marriage. She had hoped things would be better in Paris. After searching for work endlessly, Maude stumbles upon an ad seeking women for easy work with “propriety guaranteed”. When she arrives at her potential employers, she is thrown into a lineup with no indication of what her job will entail. She is completely shocked when she realizes that this job is not one that involves any sort of labor. It is a job where she must play the role of an ugly sidekick to a wealthy socialite and Maude is immediately singled out to work with a countess’s daughter. She later discovers that she has been hired as a “repoussoir”; a “foil” to beauty. M. Durandeau has made an exceptional living by hiring out unattractive women to wealthy families to make the women in said families appear more attractive to their equally wealthy peers. Maude has been hired to accompany a young debutante named Isabelle, but her employment has the unusual catch of not being able to tell Isabelle what she really is. Isabelle is led to believe that Maude is a distant cousin from Normandy, hence her lack of refinement and Parisian fashion sense. As time goes on, Maude realizes that keeping this particular secret from Isabelle is going to be harder than she thought as the two become friends. How long can Maude continue to maintain the charade?
I truly enjoyed immersing myself in the Belle Epoque age of Paris. Elizabeth Ross certainly has an eye for period detail, which makes this story stand out. The idea of the “repoussior” evidently came from an Emile Zola short story, but works exceptionally well in this novel even if “repoussoirs” didn’t really exist. It definitely makes for an interesting premise and easily leads to contemplation about the nature of beauty and privilege.
Oh. Wow. This book is amazing. Genuinely amazing. I’m not even a huge fan of historical fiction or war novels, but this completely grabbed me and still hasn’t really let go. I felt compelled to check it out due to the bevy of starred reviews and found that each and every one of those stars is well-earned.
The story opens with a young Scottish woman (“Verity”/”Eva”/Julie) who is a Special Operations Executive that has been captured by Germans after crash landing in occupied France. She has been charged with writing out a full confession and agrees to do so in order to buy herself time. Interspersed with her “confessions” is the the story of her friendship with another young woman, Maddie, a WAAF/ATA pilot. As the novel-like confession progresses, we catch glimpses of the conditions that Julie is being kept in. She is tortured and starved, but never loses her sardonic sense of humor. She remains defiant in even the most extreme circumstances.
Just when you think that you know what’s going on, the narrative shifts and the real magic happens. I’m not going to spoil it, however. I would encourage just about everyone I know to pick this book up and dig in. The characters are timeless, brave and smart. The writing is exquisite. The pace, unrelenting. I loved this book through and through. Just go read it already!
Darling lives with her family in England. It is the height of WWI and dogs are in demand on the front. Her family sends her to be a soldier. She learns how to be a mercy, or red cross, dog. She finds wounded soldiers on the battlefield and brings her handler back with help. Darling is sent to the front lines in Belgium and sees several battles. She rescues lots of soldiers. During the a big battle she is wounded, but still manages to save several soldiers including her handler Private Kent. She becomes a hero of the war and is sent back home.
This was a cute little book perfect for beginning chapter book readers. It was interesting reading this from a dog’s perspective. I like the fact that it is pretty historically accurate. The author includes information on war dogs and WWI. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship
The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.
To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.
But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.
Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure’s adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food.
London, 1850. Charles Maddox had been an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary “thief taker,” a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.
On Charles’s latest case, he’ll need all the assistance he can get.
To his shock, Charles has been approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to—discreetly—find and stop whoever is responsible.
But what starts as a simple, open-and-shut case swiftly escalates into something bigger and much darker. As he cascades toward a collision with an unspeakable truth, Charles can only be aided so far by Maddox. The old man shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named.
Intricately plotted and intellectually ambitious, The Solitary House is an ingenious novel that does more than spin an enthralling tale: it plumbs the mysteries of the human mind.
Boxers told the Boxer side of the Boxer Rebellion. Saints tell the story of Vibiana, who we briefly met in Boxers. Vibiana was a Chinese girl who was not loved or appreciated by her family. They thought she was a demon or a devil. She becomes friends with Dr. Won mainly for the cookies, but along the way he teachers her about being a Christian. She joins the other Chinese Christians as they hide in a fortified stronghold and try to protect themselves for the Brother-Disciples. She has visions of Joan of Arc and likens herself to Joan. It seems they are both destined to be warriors for God. Like Joan, Vibiana too must sacrifice a lot for her faith.
I love how this book ties together with Boxers. They really should be read together to get the full story. Vibiana plays a role in the life of Bao at two different points. We also get a different side to the story told in Boxers. Neither book is especially enlightening about the Boxer Rebellion, its causes and its effects. But they do tell the story of a couple of characters journey’s during the Rebellion and what they fought and died for.
I received a copy of the this book from the publishers at ALA 2013.
Boxers is the story of the Boxer Rebellion told from the perspective of Little Bao. Bao has a calling to fight the foreign devils who have taken over his country. He trains men and together they become Brother-Disciples of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist. They roam the Chinese countryside fighting the foreign devils and the Christian Chinese. What they do does not always seem right, but they are fighting for what they believe is right. The final battle comes in Peking as they try to drive the foreigners from the city.
I know pretty much nothing about Chinese history. I had heard of the Boxer Rebellion but really had no idea what it was about. Gene Luen Yang distills the history of the conflict down so that anyone can understand it. The graphic novel format is perfect for this story. Since it is told from the view of Little Bao, we don’t get the entire story of the conflict and its aftermath, but we get enough. It will definitely peak your interest and make you want to learn more about the Boxer Rebellion.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers at ALA 2013.
Billy Bertram wants to be like his father John, who is a renowned botanist. Billy gets the opportunity to go with his father on an expedition into the wilds of Ohio. They and the other scientists are looking for the Kingdom of Madoc. War between the French and British is coming to the colonies and the British would like to have Madoc as their ally. They believe that the Kingdom of Madoc was founded hundreds of years ago by Welsh explorers and still exists somewhere. They take their flying ship and all their scientific equipment and head out of Philadelphia pursued by the French. Along the way, they meet Major George Washington and different Indians. It is also on the journey that Billy’s opinion of his father changes. He is exposed to his father’s prejudicial hatred of the Indians; hatred that blinds him to all else. The journey is filled with dangers and revelations. Billy has to start thinking for himself and stand up to his father.
On one hand I really liked this book as a fantastical, historical adventure book. On the other hand, I found some parts really hard to believe. I liked the accuracy of the characters (many are based on real people) and there really is a legend of the Kingdom of Madoc. Billy’s personal journey is also really good. He becomes a man on this trip instead of the boy he was. I thought it was crazy that the French were able to follow the expedition from Philadelphia to Ohio so easily (even with the spy). I also thought the whole bear-wolf thing was just a little bit silly. I’m not sure what a bear-wolf is and I really don’t think it would follow a flying ship for hundreds of miles. Despite the silliness, it was a good story and a great adventure.
I received an advanced copy of this book from both Netgalley and ALA 2013.
Dave was a potter and a slave in South Carolina before the Civil War. He was sold among members of the Drake family as they built their Pottersville Stoneware Manufacturing company. Dave teaches himself to read and write and writes poems and sayings on the pots he creates even though he could be whipped for it. Little is known about Dave and few of his pots survive. Andrea Cheng has tried to piece his story together through poems in the voices of Dave, his wives and his owners. It is an interesting look at the life of a little known figure from history.
Lady Isabella St. Just is shocked to learn the identity of the daring champion who comes to her aid — for the man who rescues her from desperate felons is none other than Alec Tyron, the notorious king of London’s underworld. Now she is beholden to an outlaw who is respected and feared throughout the city and stunned by her own intense desire for this dark man of mystery. Fate has united these strangers from opposite lives — the beautiful aristocrat and the brazen criminal outlaw. And now that the flame has been lit, no power on Earth will quench the fire of their passion…or destroy a love that society cannot allow.
Emmy Blue is heading West. Her father has decided he is going to build a business block in Golden, Colorado. So the entire family has to pack up and leave Quincy, Illinois and set out with a wagon train to the wild west. Emmy is a little excited and scared to be going west, but she is also sad to leave home, family and friends. As they are walking across the prairie, Emmy starts piecing a quilt her grandma gave her; her mother and aunt piece as well. Along the way, they become friends with others in the wagon train. There are dangers along the trail like rattlesnakes and accidents, but the family finally makes it to Colorado and sets up house.
I enjoyed this historical fiction account of a family heading west. I thought the wagon train life seemed pretty accurate. I like that dangers, both from within and without, were included. The domestic abuse parts were handled very well for this age group and could spark great discussions. I am not sure how you sew and walk, but maybe I am just not that coordinated!