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
The world changed for Hanni in 1941. Berlin became a very dark and dangerous place. Hanni knew that her twelve-year-old daughter, Lea, must be sent away. But Lea could not go alone and Hanni must stay with her invalid mother. Desperate, she went to the rabbi for help and was told that the rabbi’s studies must not be disturbed. But his daughter, Ettie, had secretly watched the rabbi and thought of a way to help. So she and Hanni created the golem, a mystical Jewish creature. It was a female golem, instructed to protect Lea from harm. I automatically love anything that Alice Hoffman writes. Her books always include unlikely characters, are always lyrical and beautiful. This is no exception. The harsh reality of the Nazi occupation of France is combined with an almost dreamlike tale of an unusual female golem, and it works beautifully. The story moved me and will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend this wonderful book.
eGalley review Publication date 9.24.19
From the publisher:
A future chieftain
Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.
A fugitive prince
When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.
A too-cunning bodyguard
Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?
While the premise of the story is familiar – struggling lower-class heroine assists heir to throne, this story shines with the unique use of teeth as a source of power. Fie is very likable and the reader quickly understands her problems. The author addresses them and then we move on. Good! No need to repeat internal conflicts over and over. Fie has to get the prince and his bodyguard to safety. For most of the book they are travelling across the country and trying to outrun the bad guys. The plot moves at a brisk pace with the action and adventure of narrowly being captured many times over. The first book in the planned duology is good and I am eager to read the sequel.
eGalley review Publication date 7.30.19