Part autobiography, part biography, this is a collection of stories from a master storyteller. As I read, I heard hear his rich baritone telling the stories with the unique cadence of his voice. Each short chapter focuses on a life-changing moment in time for famous person, not revealing the person until the end. He then ties their story with something in his own life. An enjoyable, quick read, this book is perfect for short trips, for shared bookshelves in hostels, resorts, waiting rooms, etc.
eGalley review Publication date 10.15.19
Oh My! It was so nice to be back in Botswana, feeling the hot dry wind blowing in from the Kalahari, appreciating the lacy shade of an acacia tree, and listening to the musings of Mma Ramotswe. When she happens to meet up with old friends from her childhood, naturally she feels she must try to help with their problems. Charlie is still working as an apprentice detective and seems to finally be growing up, to be actually helping. Mma Makutsi and Charlie are getting along a bit better and Mma Potokwane is again bribing Mma Ramotswe with fruit cake. That pretty much sums up the plot. If you are looking for an intriguing mystery, murder, grand theft, don’t even think about reading this book. BUT if you are in the mood for a gentle story with thoughtful, lovable, characters, this one’s for you. It would be a bit helpful if you had read the preceding books, but that is not absolutely necessary.
eGalley review Publication date 10.22.19
Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth, were the daughters of Edward I, who reigned from 1239 to1307. The traditional view of medieval royal princesses is of quiet young ladies, tending to their needlework, participating in royal pageantry dressed in beautiful silks and velvets, fading into the background and not really doing very much except producing children (preferably males). Not these young ladies. They were well educated and strong willed. They did, of course, make dynastic marriages, endowed religious houses, participated in the pomp and circumstance, but they also were able to influence a husband, and even occasionally defy the king. The survival of the Wardrobe Book for the children’s household allowed a wonderful look into the life of the royal nursery. Many other records still exist, including bills that were paid for jewels, silks and other finery, food that was ordered, horses and carts, builders of castles. All of these records gave the author the ability to recreate the lives of the royals in great detail, to bring these women to life. The illustrations that precede each chapter are a wonderful bonus. This was a lively and interesting book, and I enjoyed it very much.
eGalley review Publication date 10.1.19
From the publisher, “In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an old law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena against twelve suitors to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, losing is not an option because in order to fulfil her promise to her late mother, she must win to keep her crown and lead her people. The situation outside the palace is uneasy. The harsh desert is unforgiving, water is scarce, and Kateri’s people are thirsty. To make matters worse, the gang of thieving Desert Boys, the same group that killed Kateri’s mother and her new baby, frequently raids the city wells and steals water, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is the choice between two doors. Behind one door lies freedom and behind the other is a tiger.
The people of Achra are growing restless and distrustful of the monarchy, and when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In her desperation, Kateri turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. Her future now, too, is behind two doors-only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which will release the tiger.”
I enjoyed this book! The author jumps right on in with the story beginning in the arena and the hardened life of the princess. She toughens from her merciless trainers, her father and then the horrible Rodric who plots to win the throne and kill Kateri. Kateri makes a good heroine, admitting to mistakes and growing. Cion is the much-loved hero, strategic, and self-sacrificing. While there are no plot surprises for the seasoned reader, for the target audience it’s great. This might be their first introduction to political deception and manipulation.
This is the first book I’ve read from the Blink Imprint and I am impressed. The developing romantic relationship was handled delicately and didn’t become the focus of the story. Perfect for middle school plus audience. I’ll look for more to read from Blink and from this author. Highly recommend!
eGalley review Publication date 9.10.19
From the publisher, “For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.
For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.”
Set a few years after Sky in the Deep, we catch up with Halvard who his now the leader of the merged clans. The new character is Tova, from the mysterious Kyrr clan, who washed ashore when she was 6 years old. The Svell instantly fear and loathe her so that her life is constantly in danger. Yet it is the only home she knows as she cannot remember her time before. Halvard’s clan seeks peace with the Svell but during their meeting, the Svell attack.
I really enjoyed Sky in the Deep. Perhaps too much of my time passed between books because I had to relearn the land. This book moved more slowly, more plodding. Either from the sparse dialogue or the amount of introspection. Still a satisfying read, it did not have the edge of the first book. I do look forward to more from the author.
eGalley review Publication date 9.3.19
Midsummer Eve, 1648, the scene is set. A grey church, a grey sky and a woman waiting to meet a ghost. Instead, she meets a handsome priest, running from danger, and her life is changed forever. Philippa Gregory had me hooked from the first paragraph and did not turn me loose until the last sentence. Alinor is a midwife and herbalist, struggling to feed her family after her abusive husband has disappeared, and she is struggling to dismiss the superstitions of her neighbors, suspicions that she just might be a witch. When her son is chosen to be the companion to Lord William’s son, she faces more envy. Set against a background of the English civil war with its conspiracies and plots, everything about this book is great. The wonderful atmosphere of the Sussex tidelands on Sealsea Island and the everyday life of the people are described in rich detail, the characters ring true. This is the first book in a proposed series and I do hope the second arrives very soon.
eGalley review Publication date 8.20.19
After defeating the Raggedy Witches and banishing the Queen, Mup’s mother, Mup and family have moved to this world permanently. Mup’s powerful mother has to rebuild a kingdom beginning with regaining trust of the people and it looks like the Queen has cast a curse on the land. Meanwhile Mup is the only one to see a shadow of a little grey girl who darts about scribbling on the walls. Turns out she is a ghost or spirit who has for many many years, absorbed the sadness, grief, and turmoil of those in the dungeons. Touching those scribbles paralyzes anyone near with grief. It’s up to Mup to save everyone.
I dearly loved the first book in the series. It was unique, witty and engaging. As with most second books in a trilogy, this one lacked zing. We already know the world and characters, so there is nothing new. This story takes place over a day or two at most. There is very little of any of the characters except for Mup. The plot really didn’t set things up for the next book – it just was. I still highly recommend the first book, Begone the Raggedy Witches, but this second book has little to offer in furthering the story. I look forward to reading the next book to see if the excitement from the first book can be recaptured.
eGalley review Publication date 9.3.19