Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye J Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye WaltonThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Leslye J. Walton
Candlewick Press
Published March 27, 2014

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Ava Lavender comes from a long line of peculiarly gifted women who’ve been unlucky in love. She relates her family history beginning with her great-grandparents and their journey from France to the United States in the early 1900s. Ava’s grandmother is the surviving member of her small family by the time she marries. Desperate to escape the bitter memories of her lost loved ones, Emiliene and her husband head west, finally settling in a small Washington town. Emiliene bears one child, Ava’s mother, before her husband dies. Each member of Emiliene’s family bears some peculiarity, and it seems Viviane, … Continue reading

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein
Disney/Hyperion
Published February 6, 2012

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After enduring long hours of torture, Verity, a prisoner in an abandoned hotel in Nazi-occupied France, promises to tell her German captors everything she knows. She begins with recollections of her best friend and pilot, Maddy. As Verity writes Maddy’s story, she recounts the early days of friendship and recruitment as a wireless operator in England. Life for Maddy, a simple country girl with a gift for mechanical engineering, drastically changes on the day she meets a bold woman pilot whose plane needs repair. For Maddy’s friend, a lost German pilot becomes the catalyst that sets in motion her own transformation.

While some of the content … Continue reading

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters
Amulet Books
Published April 2, 2013

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After Mary Shelley’s father’s arrest as a traitor, Mary Shelley flees to her aunt’s home in southern California. There she hopes to find safety from the ugliness of war and the Spanish Influenza epidemic. When Mary Shelley arrives, she learns the flu epidemic is as alive and dangerous as it was in her Oregon hometown. She also discovers her childhood sweetheart, now a US soldier, apparently missing.

With so many families grieving loved ones lost to war or disease, many people turn to Spiritualism, seeking help from famed photographer who claims to capture spirits of dearly departed in his portraits of the living. … Continue reading

Ten Books I Can’t Wait to Read

OutcastsOutcasts by Jill Williamson

Release date: 1/7/14

Three brothers and a young girl fight for survival within the towering walls of the Safe Lands. Despite its name, the city is ravaged with disease and infested with corruption. Each brother follows a mission: to find a cure for the sick; to free the captives; to take down the Safe Lands in a rebellion.

The second in her Safe Lands series, Outcasts is quickly earning a reputation as an intense story set in a captivating world. As a fan of Williamson’s fantasy series, Blood of Kings, I’ve been eager to get lost in another story by this worthy author.

The Captive MaidenThe Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Release date: 11/9/13

Lonely Gisela spends her days serving her stepmother … Continue reading

Review: Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout

Secrets of the Realm

Secrets of the Realm
Bev Stout
Published by Bev Stout
Published on April 28, 2013

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After her uncle’s death, Annie’s aunt blames and severely punishes her. Determined that life as a street urchin will be far better than survival beneath her cruel aunt, Annie runs away. She leaps at a chance to serve as a cabin boy aboard the Realm. If she is to last the voyage, Annie will have to conceal her gender and perform as well as any seasoned sailor. Some among the crew members are deeply superstitious and would not take kindly to a woman on board their vessel, not to mention the impropriety of such … Continue reading

Review: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy L. Higley

City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Tracy L. Higley
Thomas Nelson
Published September 24, 2013 (Originally published 2011)

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Ariella, a slave girl in service to a lustful, vicious master, finds her chance for escape during a secret celebration to honor Bacchus. Before she can flee the city, however, she is drawn to a young slave boy in a troupe of gladiators. His resemblance to her missing younger brother moves her heart, and she takes his place among the troupe members, setting him free. As a gladiator, she conceals her gender and hopes to make a name for herself, winning enough favor among the people to be rewarded with freedom.

Young Roman nobleman Cato escapes Rome … Continue reading

I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke

I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires
Cathy Gohlke
Moody Publishers
Published September 1, 2008

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Prompted by a desperate letter from an estranged cousin in Virginia, Robert must put aside his plans to join the Yankee army and help his family. A visit to his uncle throws him by mistake into the middle of a prison escape. After he’s left for dead, an unexpected friend lends him a hand, further blurring the lines of Robert’s patriotic loyalty. As he and his new friend set out to find his family, Robert finds the journey to be harder than he ever imagined, and that the enemy he must confront has a different face than he first believed. If … Continue reading

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