When I was a wee lass, I was helping out at a garage sale and was told that I could choose one book as my reward. I was already deeply in love with AlWhen I was a wee lass, I was helping out at a garage sale and was told that I could choose one book as my reward. I was already deeply in love with Alanna: The First Adventure, which sparked an obsession with all things medieval. Maybe that's why I picked this out, despite its absolutely hideous cover and incredibly boring title. It has remained possibly the best book I've ever selected on a whim.
Maude Reed is feisty, clever, and stubborn. She wants to be a wool merchant, like her father, but instead is sent off to learn how to be a lady. She hates it. And Maude is not someone to just sit by and accept her fate. There's also a very subtle love story (which I adored) with Henry, a young man destined to be a knight.
The Maude Reed Tale is a hidden gem. Don't be put off by the cover or the title or its age. It's delightful, and is especially perfect for fans of young heroines who decide to defy societal expectations....more
Grace is the daughter of a wealthy and politically powerful Boston family who has been placed in an insane asylum to hide the fact that she's pregnantGrace is the daughter of a wealthy and politically powerful Boston family who has been placed in an insane asylum to hide the fact that she's pregnant. The first quarter of the book is a straight historical fiction depiction of the horrors of 19th century insane asylums. Then Grace is rescued by the Sherlock Holmes-esque Doctor Thornhollow, who wants to use her cleverness and powers of observation to assist him in solving crimes. The novel then becomes a mystery, as Grace and Doctor Thornhollow seek the identity of a serial killer.
I don't feel like I have a lot to say about this one. It was readable and had no glaring flaws, but it didn't inspire much passion. ...more
This had far, far less magic and vengeance than I had initially thought it would. It's essentially a journey book with a whisper of magic.
Leah “Lee” WThis had far, far less magic and vengeance than I had initially thought it would. It's essentially a journey book with a whisper of magic.
Leah “Lee” Westfall's parents are murdered in 1849 Georgia by her evil, greedy uncle because he has somehow figured out that Lee has the talent to sense gold. Lee runs away to California to escape her evil uncle and get rich off the recent gold rush. This premise promises MAGIC: gold sense. And VENGEANCE: evil uncle murdered beloved parents. Unfortunately, Leah only uses her gold sense very, very sparingly and its only use is getting random pocket change and locating people who have gold on them. There is no other known magic, although there is passing mention of water dowsers. There is also NO vengeance – Lee spends the entire time running scared. I suppose that since this is a trilogy, Lee will start seeking vengeance in a later volume.
Lee essentially spends this book playing Oregon Trail. She runs away from home/her evil uncle and disguises herself as a boy. She is partly hoping to meet her childhood best friend, Jefferson, who ran away from his abusive father a few days before Lee left town. Jefferson had tried to get Lee to come with him by proposing marriage “or we can pretend we’re siblings I guess.” Ah, romance. She gets robbed by two evildoers on the road, then falls in with a friendly riverboat crew, whose quirkiness and bon homie is the sort that exists mostly in children's adventure books.
Lee finally arrives in Independence, Missouri where Jefferson said he’d wait for her if he could. She spends days and days camped out in Independence, losing precious time and spending money she doesn’t have. She doesn’t see Jefferson anywhere. She finally meets up with a group of the weirdos no one else wants to travel with, which apparently includes Jefferson, who has been camping out with a German family and NEVER DID ANYTHING TO LOOK FOR LEE. Apparently that “I’ll wait for you” wasn’t very serious. He didn’t even leave a message at the post office (where travelers usually leave messages for each other)! Anyways, Lee gets hired to join the band of misfits and off they go.
Basically almost everything that happens in Oregon Trail happens to Lee’s crew: fording the river, running low on supplies, disease (cholera AND measles), broken axle, dying oxen, shooting too many buffalo. There were no snake bites, though.
There were also Indians who passed by (but did not attack), a stampede, and a (temporarily) missing child. And TWO births. I wasn’t bored by the book by a long shot (something is always happening), but I was never invested. In fact, I cared more for the poor oxen and the nameless Native Americans (who got harassed by the psychos in the wagon train) than I did for any of Lee's traveling companions.
Maybe that's because Lee's traveling companions only got one or two character traits instead of being fully fleshed out characters. There's Mrs. Joyner, a sheltered Southern wife who becomes hardy on the trail. The French wagon full of...French people. Nice French people! The German wagon full of...German people. Including Therese, a sweet young girl who is sweet on Jefferson. The "Missouri men," a collection of racist troublemakers. The three "confirmed bachelors," all homosexual college men who had dropped out, too eager to get rich in California to complete their training. The three confirmed bachelors were intriguing characters, but like everyone else were not fully developed. Were any of them in a romantic relationship with each other? Were all of them? None of them? How did they meet? Did they quarrel? What were their families like? Did they have any friends or lovers they left behind to go to California?
I am still intrigued by the book's premise, and now that the journey part appears to be over, I'm interested in what will occur in the next book. My hope is more magic and more vengeance. ...more