I loved this book! You’ll find it in the Children’s section of the library but don’t let that deter you if the 5th grade is just a distant memory. "Th...moreI loved this book! You’ll find it in the Children’s section of the library but don’t let that deter you if the 5th grade is just a distant memory. "The Perilous Gard" is based on the Scottish legend of Tam Lin—it is a rich work of historical fiction with touches of romance and fantasy. In the story, Kate Sutton is exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle—when she arrives, she learns of a recent tragedy that haunts the household, Christopher Heron most of all. Ever cool and practical, Kate looks beneath the circumstantial ‘evidence’ and local folklore—and uncovers a secret kept by the castle tenants ever since Christianity began to force out the practice of druidic magic.
If you like Victoria Holt, you'll enjoy this title!
"The Perilous Gard" is a Newbery Honor Book. For more about the Newbery Awards, please visit
Why did Judas betray Jesus? I’ve always wondered and apparently Lee has as well. In her notes, Lee states that writing this novel was an intellectual...moreWhy did Judas betray Jesus? I’ve always wondered and apparently Lee has as well. In her notes, Lee states that writing this novel was an intellectual and spiritual quest to discover the life of Judas based on the belief that we all err in ways that make sense to us.
The historical context Lee created for this story is fascinating: the Roman occupation, the failed rebellions of others naming themselves Messiah, the different factions within the Temple. While rich in historical ambiance, this is very much an introspective work. Major events from the gospels are included but the focus of the story is on Judas’ personal journey and his perceptions of what’s happening around him. In the life Lee imagines for Judas, much of his time with Jesus is spent struggling to reconcile his faith in this radical young leader with his deep faith in Jewish law. In addition, the Judas Lee imagines wants Jesus to liberate his people from Rome, not realizing until too late that Christ’s mission was much different. Lee provides a convincing account of a man struggling to overcome a painful past, a man who cares deeply about the laws of his people, a man who desperately wants to do the right thing.
Even knowing how Judas’ story would end, I was so immersed in Lee’s telling of it that I could not put this book down. Looking forward to reading Havah: the story of Eve and Demon.(less)
The Saint-Germain series melds historical fiction, romance and horror into something quite unique. SG is an intriguing character. He’s kind, but in Bl...moreThe Saint-Germain series melds historical fiction, romance and horror into something quite unique. SG is an intriguing character. He’s kind, but in Blood Games, he’s living in Nero’s Rome—why? It’s sickening to know that atrocities happen—why would anyone want a front-row seat? Is he trying to lead by example? Is he inflicting some sort of penance on himself? If so, for what? How long has he been around anyway? I’m curious enough that I’m planning to check out the rest of the series. For a quick glimpse of his personality, check out this link for Yarbro’s ”Interview With A Vampire” http://www.chelseaquinnyarbro.net/s-g...(less)
This book received excellent reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, BookPage and Kirkus—only Publisher’s Weekly seems to share my disappointment. The...moreThis book received excellent reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, BookPage and Kirkus—only Publisher’s Weekly seems to share my disappointment. The Music of the Spheres is an historical thriller set in England during the French Revolution. Someone is killing red-haired prostitutes and the murders might be connected with the Revolution, they might be connected with a group of astronomers known as the Company of Titius—or they might be connected with both.
The premise IS interesting and with a little more editing, this could have been a good read. I did figure out who the murderer was early on—I figured out who the mysterious Selene was early on as well—but that’s not what disappointed me—I’m disappointed in the overall character development. With the exceptions of the prostitutes (who are only with us for a few paragraphs), the characters simply didn’t feel real to me. Worse than the character development however, was the apparent attempt to include as many aspects of depravity as possible. Like anything else, if scenes of depravity are going to be written into the story, they should offer something to the storyline—in this case, they seemed to be included for shock value only. My biggest gripe is the detailed rape scenes of a boy—this boy has nothing to do with the storyline—the scenes just feel tossed in. I skipped over the scenes as best as I could—again, they had nothing to offer the storyline.
To quote PW, “This is a good example of a book where less would have been more.”(less)
Tallis, an Athenian servant, has been sent to visit the Palestinian school his master has been supporting financially for the past few years. To his s...moreTallis, an Athenian servant, has been sent to visit the Palestinian school his master has been supporting financially for the past few years. To his surprise, he discovers that the school is no longer in existence; to his dismay, he finds that no one wants to acknowledge it ever existed. Through persistence, he’s able to learn that one of the former teachers was murdered, one committed suicide, one now worships in the temple of Dionysus, six are missing or in hiding, and one has become a madman.
It’s not obvious until the last few pages, but Groot takes a familiar account and provides a rich context; the Gerasene demoniac is no longer just a character, he’s a man with a complete story of his own. The story alternates between Kardus’ inner torment and Tallis’ quest to piece together what happened—it’s captivating. Madman is a well-paced, well-written historical novel. Highly recommended! (less)
**spoiler alert** If you found yourself in the past, would you be able to blend in until you found a way back? Would you try to create a new life for...more**spoiler alert** If you found yourself in the past, would you be able to blend in until you found a way back? Would you try to create a new life for yourself or would you risk everything to return to your present? Would you use your knowledge to change history? If you had to choose between two loves, how would you do so?
Claire is an English nurse on holiday with her husband in the Scottish Highlands. Claire and Frank have been separated by the war for six years but WWII is finally at an end and they treat themselves to a second honeymoon of sorts. Frank spends a fair bit of time tracing his family history and Claire indulges her interest in botany by roaming the countryside, collecting plant samples. It’s on one of these quests that she enters a circle of standing stones and finds herself transported back roughly 200 years, to Scotland on the verge of the Jacobite rising. Disoriented, she stumbles into a skirmish between Scots and English. Both groups suspect her of being a spy.
She is taken by the Scots and finds herself nursing a tall, redheaded highlander by the name of Jamie. Her healing skills earn her respect although she is still regarded with suspicion. As the story progresses, circumstances push Claire into a marriage with Jamie. She slowly finds herself torn between her desire to return to Frank and her desire to stay with Jamie.
Compelling story: 600+ pages go by quickly. Gabaldon shows both the good and bad of 1743 Scotland and the story contains a good deal of graphic violence.(less)
England is in a state of unrest following the death of William the Conqueror. The people of Aelf Fen aren’t concerned at first—after all, one Norman k...moreEngland is in a state of unrest following the death of William the Conqueror. The people of Aelf Fen aren’t concerned at first—after all, one Norman king is the same as another, right? Meanwhile, there’s a marriage to celebrate—someone is actually willing to marry Goda, the village shrew.
Lassair is Goda’s younger sister. Lassair has special talents, among them an uncanny ability to find lost/hidden things. When a charming man she meets at the wedding asks her to help him find a mysterious object, she impulsively agrees. Her friend Sibert will help as well: as it turns out, Romaine knows *what* the object is, Sibert knows roughly *where* it is but Lassair’s unique ability is needed to actually find the item. Unfortunately, no one ever discussed what would happen *when* the item was found. Bad things happen—that’s all I say.
*Love* the period detail and the mystical elements—the suspense level and mystical elements reminded me of the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Lassair, Sibert, Edild and Hrype are engaging characters and perhaps we’ll see more of Squeak, Elfritha and Hawyard as the series progresses? Goda may be just a little too bad to be believable—I found it difficult to accept that her behavior would be tolerated.
All in all, an enjoyable read. Although I suspected things would go the way they did, I was still flipping those pages to discover how things played out. Out of the Dawn Light is the first of the Aelf Fen mysteries: for more information, please visit the author’s website http://www.alysclare.com/newseries.htm
One thrown punch was all that was needed to end Eric Shaw's bright future as a filmmaker in L.A. Realizing that his career in Hollywood was over, he m...moreOne thrown punch was all that was needed to end Eric Shaw's bright future as a filmmaker in L.A. Realizing that his career in Hollywood was over, he moved to Chicago and settled for a new livelihood creating family videos. His knack for choosing images that truly capture the essence of his subject leads to a generous financial offer to travel to the resort town of West Baden, Indiana. Shaw's wealthy client wants to know more about her secretive father-in-law's ties to the place. The only leads Shaw possesses are the name of the town and a bottle of old mineral water that the enigmatic gentleman kept for years - an unnaturally cool bottle of murky water that gets colder the closer Shaw gets to West Baden.
I love a book that strikes just the right balance between spooky and terrifying - So Cold the River is definitely spooky but I didn't have to sleep with the lights on. Koryta's characters are haunted first by directions their lives have taken, and then by a quite real, quite malicious ghost with a score to settle. The build-up is slow but deliciously atmospheric; the pace quickens once the spirit finds an ally in its quest for vengeance.
I really enjoyed this book, as much for its glimpse into the genuine history of the West Baden/French Lick area, as for its excellently drawn characters and its overall spooky feel. The hotels mentioned in the book are real - check them out online at West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Springs Hotel. I am curious to visit them myself but I may skip drinking the water! (less)