Book Review: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

A Northern LightBook Review: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Mattie’s teacher can see her potential as a writer. Unlike teachers before, Ms. Wilcox is pushing Mattie to apply for a scholarship to college and to dream bigger than the only life she has ever known. But life isn’t that simple for Mattie, especially when Grace Brown drowns shortly after giving her letters she made Mattie promise to burn. Told both in flashback and in present tense, this story is a beautiful homage to the power of words, promises, and friendship.

I know this is an older book, but it has been on my bookshelf forever, and I just finally got around to reading it this summer. There is a love of words in this book that called to me (as a word nerd). I really liked the way the story flipped back and forth, so it kept you guessing about what was coming next. You can certainly tell some research went into this for accuracy, but it didn’t feel that way as you read the book. I was drawn to Mattie and her desire for more while still feeling rooted in the past.

Quotes:

Man, I’m sick about this…had tons of great quotes bookmarked BUT I returned the book when it expired knowing I could get back to them later, but OverDrive failed me for the first time ever, and didn’t keep my bookmarks. That is so unusual. I probably could find them in the book, but too many other great things to read, so I’m just calling it a day and moving on to the next adventure!

Recommended Grades: 10 and up (language and some subject matter)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Overall Opinion:  Above Average
Source: audio and book

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Book Review: Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

cinderellaBook Review: Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

Kate is shocked to discover that her family has been intrusted as the keeper of the actual Cinderella dress from the legends. Keeping a secret in WWII is tough, especially when your mom has to work, and your brother enlists. People are looking for the dress and Kate has trouble balancing survival in keeping the dress a secret.

I really liked this book. It had a nice blend of historical facts and engaging characters. I found it choppy at parts as it jumped ahead in the progression of the war, but I’m reviewing an ARC not a final version, so it is possible those transitions will be fixed. I loved the letters from the war front.

Quote from Kate’s brother in the war.

“Tell mom I’d rather have a few crisp dollar bills than toothpaste.”

Recommended Grade: 7-12
Genre: Fantasy with Historical Fiction slant
Overall Opinion: Recommended
Source: ebook from Netgalley

Book Review: In the Fields of Grace by Tessa Afshar

in the field of graceBook Review: In the Fields of Grace by Tessa Afshar

This is a dramatic retelling of the story of Ruth and Naomi and it begins with the death of Boaz’s first wife. The cover is absolutely beautiful!

It is always interesting to see scripture come to live. It amuses me when people get upset at creative license, but if you are reading fiction that will happen. To me, it makes stories seem more real when the characters have personality. The novel was well written, but I think my YA heart found some sections a little too verbose. If you are a Ruth fan, you should give it a try.

Quote-Great first line

“Death squatted at Boaz’s door , like a vulture, biding its time. He could sense its presence-inexorable, hungry, patient.”

Recommended Grade: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction
Overall Opinion: Average
Source: ebook from Netgalley

Book Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

mortalheartBook Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

The third book in His Fair Assassin series weaves Annith’s story and the other two stories together. Annith grows tired of waiting her turn to serve St. Mortain, so when she realizes that the Abbess never intends for her to leave on a mission, she takes matters into her own hands.

This has been an interesting trilogy for me because I have loved each book equally. Each book is based loosely on history, but full of action and great characters. I love the flaws and rough edges of these characters. While I did relate to some more than others, I think that each book has its own merits.

Quotes I liked:

Annith on tears: “Tears sting at my eyes and try to crowd their way up my throat.”

Annith on love: “It is all too easy to conjure up all the obstacles that face us, and it is tempting, oh so tempting, to tie his love to me for all eternity so that I am the final one he will ever love. But it is too close to what the abbess tried to do to me: to bind me so close to her that I could not love or live on my own, could not make my own choices. “No,” I say firmly. “I do not want a love if it must bind it to me in such a manner, for does not the very binding of it make it less like love?”

Recommended Grade: High School-Adult
Genre: Action Adventure/Historical
Overall Opinion: Recommended
Source: Book (arc)

Book Review: Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald

odettesBook Review:  Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald

This novel in verse is based on the life of Odette Meyer. When her father goes to a work camp and her mother joins the resistance, Odette is shipped to the country for safety.

The poetry in this book varies and as a writer of poetry I can relate. Sometimes it is hard to be true to poetic forms and tell the story you need to tell. There are poems that are heart-stoppingly beautiful and some that I found myself skimming. The beauty of poetry is that not everyone will agree with the poems I liked, so that is where the real magic lies.

Part of a poem I loved:

Poetry is stronger than the Nazis,
stronger than the war.
These words are so beautiful
they make me want to speak again.
The next day I don’t go to the forest.
I spend it reading poetry at home.
Sometimes I read aloud.
Day by day, I dare to say more.

Recommended Ages: 5-8
Genre: Historical Fiction and Novels in Verse
Overall Opinion:  Average
Source: Book

Book Review: The Deepest Night by Shana Abe

The Deepest NightBook two in The Sweetest Dark series finds Lora struggling with the loss of Jessie. Armand has arranged for the girl’s school to be turned into a convalescence home both as a provision for Lora during the summer, and as a place for his brother to stay once he is rescued.

This book starts out a little slower, but the language is beautiful and the story line keeps you interested. Not only do Lora and Armand set out to find her brother but exciting things happen in the world of dragons. I’m interested to see where the next book will take the storyline.

Quote that made me sigh with the brutal honesty of loss, “I’d read that when you missed someone you became them, that you did things to fill the space they’d left so you wouldn’t feel so alone. Standing here at the lake, months after he died, I knew it didn’t work. Doing those these things-the same things he used to-only made me miss him more.”

Recommended Ages: Grades 8 and up
Genre: Fantasy (with Historical Fiction links)
Overall Opinion:  Recommended
Source: eBook from Netgalley

Book Review: Dark Triumph

ImageAs a trained assassin, Sybella knows that sometimes life is hard. Her own life has been filled with tragedy. When the convent sends her back to her father with the promise of being able to kill him, she quickly realizes things aren’t as simple as she thought. Her haunted past waits for her again with open arms, but Sybella is determined to change her fate.

I had to laugh at myself on this one because it had be long enough since I read Grave Mercy that I didn’t realize initially there was a different main character. I was confused by inconsistencies in character and then it dawned on me it WAS a different character. HA HA. This book is darker than the first book but the story is beautifully written and that darkness is needed to fully understand Sybella’s actions.

Line that sent shivers down my spine: “I must have faith, but having faith is hard, so much harder than despair.”

Recommended Ages: Grades 9-Up
Genre: Historical Fiction
Overall Opinion: Recommended
Source: Book