Set in the high country of Colorado and during the Depression, this is a story of women’s strengths and friendships amid the harshest living conditions. Hennie Comfort has lived in Middle Swan for seventy years. She doesn’t sell prayers, but Nit Spindle, a young wife new to the area, wants to buy one for her little girl who passed away before they moved to Colorado. This is the segue that Hennie needs to befriend Nit and over the course of the story they share their deepest hardships and secrets while visiting, quilting, and walking the hills in spring. A few twists and turns in this story line kept me listening to this book. It’s not all gloom and doom – lots of good things happen to the characters. Recommended to those who like a little history woven within a story.
A beautifully illustrated novel by the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which the movie Hugo is based on. This novel combines two separate children’s lives into one coherent story through text and full page illustrations. An imaginative book that won’t soon be forgotten. Even though it’s a children’s book the story and drawings may be appreciated even more by adults.
Eel lives in Victorian London. He makes his way working a number of jobs; working in a tavern, cleaning up for a tailor, taking care of the animals for Dr. Snow and occasionally as a mudlark finding useful things in the Thames. Eel is accused of stealing at the tavern and loses his place. He tries to get the tailor Mr. Griggs to vouch for him and discovers he has the blue death, or cholera. Soon hundreds of people in his neighborhood have gotten sick or died. Eel seeks the help of Dr. Snow to figure out what caused the outbreak and what can be done to stop it.
This book is a fabulous mix of fact and fiction. There really was an outbreak of cholera on Broad Street at this time. Dr. Snow really did figure out the cause and help stop the outbreak. He was the first doctor to link cholera with water contamination. While Eel and some of the others in the book didn’t actually exist, their stories mix very well with the historical facts. This is a very fast-paced book with lots of intriguing plot twists.
Under the Eagle is Simon Scarrow’s first book. Cato joins the Second Legion as an Optio, a rank usually reserved for veterans, much to the dismay of the other men in his Century. However, under his Centurian Macro, he grows into the position. Along the way, they become involved in a plot involving lost gold and the Emperor.
This is Mr. Scarrow’s first book. The author mentioned that he is attempting to create a Richard Sharpe character for the Roman Legion. That is a pretty high standard, but he is off to a decent start. It will be fun to see if the characters become a bit more dynamic in the upcoming novels. He also kind of yada-yadas the battles, which I also hope improves. All-in-all, a good start and a fun read.
Before the legend of Billie Holiday, there was a girl named Eleanora. In 1915, Sadie Fagan gave birth to a daughter she named Eleanora. The world, however, would know her as Billie Holiday, possibly the greatest jazz singer of all time. Eleanora’s journey into legend took her through pain, poverty, and run-ins with the law. By the time she was fifteen, she knew she possessed something that could possibly change her life—a voice. Eleanora could sing. Her remarkable voice led her to a place in the spotlight with some of the era’s hottest big bands. Billie Holiday sang as if she had lived each lyric, and in many ways she had. Through a sequence of raw and poignant poems, award-winning poet Carole Boston Weatherford chronicles Eleanora Fagan’s metamorphosis into Billie Holiday. The author examines the singer’s young life, her fight for survival, and the dream she pursued with passion in this Coretta Scott King Author Honor winner. With stunning art by Floyd Cooper, this book provides a revealing look at a cultural icon.
I loved this book of poetry! It was a quick read, but full of biographical information on one my favorite jazz singers. The illustrations were beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
One hundred years ago, steamboats ruled the rivers. Captain Twain of the Steamship Lorelei is one of the best-known captains on the Hudson River. One day, he rescues a mermaid who has been injured by a harpoon. The captain hides her away in his quarters and tends to her wounds. As she recovers, the two begin get to know one another. Twain, who hopes to be a writer one day, also finds that his writing block has vanished. Meanwhile, the ship’s owner, the Frenchman Lafayette has been corresponding with a mysterious author about ways to rid oneself of a mermaid’s curse. The mysterious author prepares for a very public debut aboard the Steamship Lorelei. As the three characters’ lives converge, so too do elements of mythology and folklore, culminating in a series of events that none of the characters could have ever foreseen.
I went into this thinking that it had something to do with that other Twain of Midwestern fame, but such is not the case. The real Mark Twain is, however, referenced at least once by the characters themselves. Captain Twain is, in many ways, a parallel to the literary figure. I loved the artwork in this comic; it suited the story beautifully. It tends to have an almost-underwater/dreamlike quality to it. The story is rich and unexpected, with distinct magic-realism tendencies. In short, it’s pretty much everything I look for in a graphic novel.
In the tradition of John le Carré, Eric Ambler, and more recently, Joseph Kanon, Black Out is a stunning wartime thriller. As the Luftwaffe makes its last, desperate assaults on the battered city, Londoners take to the underground shelters amidst the black out. Detective-Sergeant Troy starts with the clue of a neatly dismembered corpse leading him into a world of stateless refugees, military intelligence, and corruption all the way to the top of Allied High Command.
I can’t help but think that this manga is really more for established fans than those new to the Soulless series. I haven’t read any of the series, so I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up the manga-style adaptations. I was not terribly impressed. In fact, I was kind of annoyed at the whole experience.
The story is lacking in detail and world-building, but that’s probably the result of it being an adaptation. The artwork is merely OK; it uses a lot of manga tropes, which, in an American comic, feels off somehow. I’m honestly getting very tired of popular series being turned into “manga”. Particularly annoying to me in this particular volume is the depiction of the female characters. The ridiculously large breasts and plunging necklines come across as entirely superfluous.
I wanted to like this series; I really did, but ultimately it just fell flat.
Jayne, Gingersnap, and her brother Rob are orphans living alone. Rob is old enough now to take Jayne in, but it is the 1944 and Rob is about to ship out to the Pacific. Jayne goes to live with their landlady, but isn’t happy there. Before he left, Rob showed Jayne a book in French that he believed to be from their grandmother. When she receives a telegram saying Rob is missing, Jayne decides to head to Brooklyn and find her grandmother. She does make it to Brooklyn and Elise’s bakery, but it turns out Elise isn’t her grandma. She stays anyway and makes it her home.
I found this story a little thin with lots of holes. There is an unidentified ghost who helps Jayne out. Elise isn’t really Elise she is Madeline, but goes by Elise who was really Jayne’s grandma. This is one book I wish was a little longer so the story could have been explored a little more.
In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.
Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…
In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost.
Terry Pratchett has always been one of my favorites. I have read almost everything he has written. Dodger, like Nation, is a stand alone novel filled with detail, humor and insight. Pratchett is best when he is conveying a message. His books are never heavy-handed, but they do get his point across in a humorous and ironic way, which I completely enjoy.
Dodger is a young tosher, who scours the sewers looking for things that have been dropped or washed away. He is not a thief, but has no problem taking advantage of something just sitting there. He lives with Solomon, a Jewish jeweler, and Onan, a very smelly dog. One night he sees a young woman in danger and rescues her from a couple of thugs. He also meets Charlie Dickens and John Mayhew who help him find a place for young “Simplicity”. Dodger, despite himself, becomes entangled in Simplicity’s web and sets out to save her permanently. He uses his wits and street smarts to solve the mystery of Simplicity and make sure she is free in the future. He has run ins with Sweeney Todd, Robert Peel and many others along the way. And despite himself he becomes something of a hero.
I loved listening to this book. Stephen Briggs does an excellent job bringing not only Dodger to life, but London as well. Pratchett’s words and Brigg’s voice make everything seem tangible. You can smell the stink of the sewers and see the hardships of the poor in Victorian London. There was just something that sucked you into the life of Dodger and didn’t want to let you go. I worry about what is going to happen once Pratchett is too sick to write anymore. Will anyone be able to fill the void? He has such a unique voice and perspective that I don’t think he can be replaced.
Mickey Price is an inventive, smart orphan living in Florida. Trace Daniels is a go-kart champion who just happens to be a girl. Jonah Jones is a brilliant scientist. They are all kids who are going to be someone someday. They just didn’t think it would be so soon. Our three heroes plus a few others are all recruited by NASA to attend a space camp. They are trained just like the astronauts. While at camp they learn that there is a secret space program on the moon; one that is not going to be in the history books. Between Apollo and the shuttle, Pleurinium, a super powerful magnet, has been discovered on the moon and NASA is trying to mine it before the Russians get there. The only problem is that it makes adults sick, so they need kids under 12 to shut off the nuclear reactor before the moon is toast.
If you think this is outrageous you would be correct. The whole book is filled with mysterious men in gold sunglasses, daring adventures and danger. Mickey and his friends must work together once they get to the moon to make sure they all make it back. The story is interrupted by scenes of Mickey telling his children the story while on a campout. In some ways it interrupts the flow, but in others it enhances the believability of the tale. It is brilliant and funny and a truly wild ride. The cover is horrible, but hopefully that won’t turn kids away from this fun book.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Odette is a young Jewish girl living in Paris at the beginning of World War II. When the Nazis invade, her father is arrested and sent off to prison camp. In an effort to keep Odette safe, her mother sends her to the countryside where Odette will learn to blend in with the Christian community there. She learns to pose as a Catholic, learning prayers and attending mass. All the while, she must keep her Jewish identity a secret to avoid capture by the Germans. Odette has become exceedingly good at keeping secrets and considers this just one more to add to the list. Eventually, Odette begins to feel at home in the countryside. Back in Paris, she had been bullied and harassed for her Jewish background even though her family were not practicing Jews. In the country, Odette is perceived as a Christian and thus “fits in” with her new friends, but she knows she must never talk about who or what she really is.
This is a lovely novel-in-verse about a family doing whatever it takes to survive under extremely challenging circumstances. It is also based on a true story. Odette spends nearly the entirety of the war in the countryside which makes for some discomfort on her mother’s behalf. Odette’s identity begins to shift the longer she is away from her parents. Is she playing the part of a Catholic girl, or is she actually becoming one?
In this 17th Century Japan the Shogun is a woman…and the harem is full of men. The tale told in the Chronicle of the Dying Day continues as the young female shogun Iemitsu tries desperately to conceive a male heir. But her lover Arikoto seems unable to give her a child, and they must betray their hearts to save their country. Meanwhile, the Redface Pox continues its ruthless progress through Japan, leaving famine, despair, and the threat of anarchy in its wake.
In this sequel to Gibbons’s beloved classic Ellen Foster, Ellen, now fifteen, is settled into a permanent home with a new mother. Strengthened by adversity and blessed with enough intelligence to design a salvation for herself, she still feels ill at ease. But while she holds fast to the shreds of her childhood—humoring her best friend, Stuart, who is determined to marry her; and protecting her old neighbor, slow-witted Starletta—she begins to negotiate her way into a larger world. With a singular mix of perspicacity, naïveté, and compassion, Ellen draws us into her life and makes us fall in love with her all over again.
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
Cleo Barry is seventeen and living in Portland. Her parents died when she was young in a terrible carriage accident. Her brother Jackson and his wife Lucy became her guardians. Jackson and Lucy are away on holiday, leaving Cleo safely at her school. Then the Spanish Influenza comes to Portland. Theaters, churches and schools are all closed. Cleo decides she doesn’t want to stay at school and goes home to her empty house believing Jackson or the housekeeper will be back any day. She sees an advertisement asking for volunteers for the Red Cross and decides to be useful. Cleo volunteers and starts going door to door looking for the sick and the dying. She is exposed to things she has never seen before and she makes great new friends. The few days turn to weeks as Jackson and Lucy are unable to come home. Even though the work is horrible and taxing, Cleo sticks with it day after day. Even after she sees friends die from the flu, she still doesn’t quit. She meets a young man, Edmund, a doctor in training who was injured in Europe. They learn to depend on each other and come to be more than friends.
This was an excellent book. Lucier did a great job researching the Spanish Flu and what happened in Portland when it struck. I thought Cleo was a great heroine. She isn’t always strong, but she always goes on. Even when it is disgusting or heartbreaking, she works through it goes back to work. This was a very fast read and I never really wanted to put it down.
I received this book from Netgalley.
In 1945, thirteen-year-old Levi is sent to find the father he has not seen in three years, going from Chicago, to segregated North Carolina, and finally to Pendleton, Oregon, where he learns that his father’s unit, the all-Black 555th paratrooper battalion, will never see combat but finally has a mission. Includes historical notes.
A great, historical fiction account of the 555th parachute battalion, this would be a great read-aloud, leading into black history month. Add to it, a young boy’s first experience with segregation and the prejudice that accompanied it. I recommend this to any of my younger readers.