Archive for September, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The King’s Rose

Posted on September 6, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

The King's RoseThe King’s Rose by Alisa M. Libby is the story of 15-year-old Catherine Howard and her marriage to King Henry VIII. It is historical fiction written for young adults. Romance is interlaced throughout. The intrigue, vivid description, and clarity of the narration should draw readers of any age.

As the story begins, Catherine is decided upon to be the next pawn for the Howard family to groom in hope of achieving a spot on the throne. Nothing is required of her except her youth, beauty and noble birth. No one asks her if it is what she wants. She is expected to sacrifice everything for the entire family. While Catherine is busy attaining this goal we are entertained by the jewels and gowns showered upon her. Yet the entire time it is constantly stressed what she must say, how she must look, how she must act in front of her king and of how important a goal it is for her to be queen.

The intense pressure to be something she is not and helplessness to go against her family’s wishes along with her decent into madness were especially compelling elements of her story for me. The screaming of her handmaidens and the visual of a gaping black hole in the floor which she was being sucked into were quite compelling and stayed with me even though the last page was read. There was also a scene where she thought she saw a ghost but it was her own reflection in a mirror that I found well written.

The King’s Rose was a terrific fast read. I can definitely give it my thumbs up. I recommend it for women mainly or anyone who wants to learn more about Catherine Howard.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Aviary Gate

Posted on September 5, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

the aviary gateThe Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman is a work of historical fiction to be savored, with certain passages being re-read to ensure complete understanding and total enjoyment. It is not an overwhelming ponderous tome, yet at the same time the character list, glossary, and map of the harem will be quite helpful to anyone not familiar with Constantinople in the year 1599.

The story begins with Paul Pindar, a secretary to the English ambassador. He believes that he has lost his true love, Celia in a shipwreck. Two years later he is informed that Celia has been spotted among the slaves in the Sultan’s harem. He needs to find a way to be sure. It is also a big question of this story of whether they can be re-united again. All this takes place concurrently with a rebellion in the Sultan’s palace.

I liked the fact that you had to play your cards very carefully as there were spies everywhere. The penalty for going against the Sultan’s rules is that you are sewn in a burlap sack and thrown in the Bosphorous River and shots are fired alerting the palace that a traitor has been dealt with. It felt as if I was skulking around the Sultan’s palace with Celia just waiting for a big greasy eunuch to clamp his hands on my shoulders. The descriptions of the palace, clothes and jewels also kept my attention.

What is the Aviary Gate? You’ll find out when you read the book, but it is key. The literary search taking place in Oxford and modern day Constantinople wraps the threads of this story in a cocoon of knowledge. So it is like a candy, knowledge on the outside and a delicious mix of love and intrigue on the inside. This is a book with a little bit of zest, and it stands up for itself as it defies your expectations. It almost dares you for a re-read. I would recommend this book for anyone who takes theirs with a bit of panache.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Moon Looked Down

Posted on September 4, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

The Moon Looked DownThe Moon Looked Down by Dorothy Garlock is Young Adult Historical Fiction at its best. Its setting is Victory, Illinois June 1942. It deals with the prejudice taking place as propaganda against the Germans is spread and the nation edges ever closer towards war.

The heroine is Sophie Heller and the Hero is Cole Ambrose. Sophie’s family were Germans that fled Germany to start a new life in America. War fever causes the family and the home to be attacked. Cole is a math teacher with his own heartbreak who takes Sophie under his wing and ends up defending her family.

The pages are filled with salt-of-the-earth characters believing in America and in doing for themselves. As tragic as Sophie’s plight is, with all the obstacles placed in her way, a romance also blossoms between Sophie and Cole. It will be hard to say whether you are reading the story for it’s bigotry or for the hope of true love conquering all.

It is refreshing to have a story told about WWII from a German’s point of view with the twist that they were against Hitler. It made me process the fact that it is wrong to lump all Germans as being against the Jews. The Heller family is so against Hitler that they flee at great risk to themselves so as not to be a part of the bad politics. The romance is downright charming and brings lightness to this book of heavy emotion. I truly applaud Dorothy Garlock for bringing such a controversial and necessary topic to young adults. The Moon Looked Down is well written. It is perfect for school. It is also a perfect romance. The book succeeds. You will not be sorry you took the time to read it. I am recommending this book with no reservations and it gets my big thumbs up.

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