Although orphaned at a young age, fourteen-year-old Eugenie de Boncoeur has never known much hardship. Raised by a wealthy guardian, her life is caref...moreAlthough orphaned at a young age, fourteen-year-old Eugenie de Boncoeur has never known much hardship. Raised by a wealthy guardian, her life is carefree. She is more concerned with parties and dresses then the growing unrest around her. But in July 1779, she is suddenly and violently made aware when the French Revolution begins.
Eugenie is sent to a convent for her own safety, but even there she cannot escape the violence. And she soon learns that she is in danger from more then just the hatred the revolutionaries have for aristocrats like Eugenie and her family. Her guardian has betrothed her to a mysterious man named the Pale Assassin, a man who wants to marry her to get revenge for a wrong he feels her father committed against him years ago. Eugenie attempts to flee to safety with relatives in England, chased both by revolutionaries and the sinister Pale Assassin.
I had mixed feelings about this book. It starts out a bit slow, and Eugenie was a hard character to like at first - she starts out spoiled, selfish, and immature. However, as the book progresses the story picks up pace, and Eugenie becomes more likeable as she matures and develops an awareness of the world around her. Ultimately I did get into the story and am interested to find out what happens next in the sequel, which will be published next year. This isn’t the best book I have read recently, but if you can overlook the slow start and enjoy historical fiction, I would suggest giving this book a try. (less)
Eighteen-year-old Lyn is the daughter of a gladiator father and a mother who made marrying gladiators her career, enabling her to provide a comfortabl...moreEighteen-year-old Lyn is the daughter of a gladiator father and a mother who made marrying gladiators her career, enabling her to provide a comfortable lifestyle for herself, Lyn, and Lyn‘s younger brother Thad, who has special needs. Her birth father, and several stepfathers, were all gladiators who were killed in combat. Lyn dislikes the gladiator world, and unlike her mother, would like to leave that world, and make a home for herself and Thad away from all the violence and media attention.
When Lyn’s current stepfather is killed in combat, Lyn must make a terrible decision. Her mother will not be allowed to marry an eighth time, which means her family will lose the financial support of the Gladiator Sports Association, support that is especially needed to care for Thad. However, to help her family, Lyn could marry the man who killed her stepfather - or face him in a fight to the death.
Girl in the Arena is set in an alternate version of present day Massachusetts, a world that is much like our own except for the gladiators, of course. If you can accept the concept of gladiators in the modern United States, the book is a compelling story that raises some disturbing questions about the acceptance of violence as a form of entertainment. Lyn is a sympathetic character as she is torn between her disdain of the gladiator lifestyle and her obligation to care for her young brother. I expected more of an action book and while there is some action this book is more of a social commentary. This is the first book by author Lise Haines, and I definitely think she shows a lot of promise. I will be keeping an eye out for future books by her. (less)
The year is 1914. Nine-year-old Rebecca Rubin lives in New York City, where she was born after her parents and grandparents, Russian Jews, immigrated...moreThe year is 1914. Nine-year-old Rebecca Rubin lives in New York City, where she was born after her parents and grandparents, Russian Jews, immigrated to America. One of five children, she feels like the odd one out - her fourteen-year-old twin sisters think she is too young to go anywhere with them, and she has little in common with her two brothers. Rebecca longs to be more grown up - to be able help light the candles on the Sabbath, and see movies with her sisters.
Rebecca becomes interested in acting after meeting her mother's cousin, Max, who is an actor. Her parents and grandparents, however, think acting is improper for a young lady, and think Rebecca should be a teacher when she grows up. When she learns that her relatives in Russia need to immigrate to America to escape the war, and that in particular her cousin Ana, who is her age, is hungry and sick and needs to get to America as soon as possible, she must make a grown-up decision about how to spend the money she earned selling her needlework. Should she buy candlesticks so she can light candles on the Sabbath like a grown-up girl, or give the money to her parents to help buy tickets to America for Ana and her family?
I was really excited to see that American Girl was finally adding a Jewish character. I loved the American Girl dolls and books growing up, and like Rebecca's parents and grandparents, my own ancestors were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who settled in New York city around the early 1900s, so it was nice to see a character with a family history similar to my own. If you know a young girl who loves history or the American Girls Collection, this would be a nice book to recommend to her, or to give as a gift. (less)
Drucilla and her best friend, Gabe, were born in the same house on the same cold, dark January night in Salem Village. Dru’s mother died giving birth...moreDrucilla and her best friend, Gabe, were born in the same house on the same cold, dark January night in Salem Village. Dru’s mother died giving birth to her, and her father died soon after, leaving Dru to be raised by Gabe’s parents. When Gabe’s parents also die a few years later, the two children, who are as close as siblings, live together in various foster homes until the year they turn twelve, when they are separated for the first time. Dru goes to live in the home of Thomas and Ann Putman, while Gabe goes to live with Mary Putnam, Thomas’s stepmother, whom Ann dislikes because she believes Thomas‘s stepmother and half-brother cheated him out of some of his inheritance. Ann Putnam, Dru’s new adoptive mother, is a very strange and moody woman who at times spreads viscous lies and other times weeps hysterically. However, Dru pities her because of Ann’s great grief over the loss of several of her newborn babies.
Three years pass, in which Dru and Gabe remain friends despite the feud between their two households, and even begin to develop deeper feelings for each other. Despite Mistress Putnam’s strangeness, and the coldness of the oldest Putnam child, also named Ann, Dru loves caring for the younger Putnam children and is mostly content with her life. But the year 1692 changes all that. Hysteria comes to Salem Village, and young Ann Putnam and other girls accuse many of the townspeople of being witches. Not wanting to turn her back on her adoptive family, Dru herself is drawn into the hysteria, but when she risks losing Gabe forever, she must find a way to end it all and bring order back to Salem Village.
Time of the Witches is an excellent young adult novel that brings to life the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of a girl caught in the middle and torn between conflicting loyalties. Anna Myers does an excellent job of showing just how hysteria overcame reason for so many people during the trials, leading them to turn on their neighbors just on the word of a few children. Readers who enjoy young adult historical fiction or who have a particular interest in the Salem Witch Trials are sure to enjoy this novel. (less)
In this novel, set in 11th century Scotland, author Lisa Klein starts with the premise that Macbeth and his wife had a baby daughter, born with a defo...moreIn this novel, set in 11th century Scotland, author Lisa Klein starts with the premise that Macbeth and his wife had a baby daughter, born with a deformed leg, and that Macbeth in his anger that she was not the healthy son he longed for, left the infant to die. Lady Macbeth, not much more than a girl herself in a time when women had no power, was helpless to stop him, and grieves for the loss of her daughter as well as the subsequent pregnancies she loses, believing herself cursed.
What neither of them know, however, is that their baby daughter did not die. She was saved by Lady Macbeth’s serving woman, Rhuven, who took her to live with her sisters in the Wychelm Wood. The sisters name the child Albia, and the little girl grows up believing one of the sisters to be her mother. The years pass by peacefully, until the year Albia turns fifteen and great turmoil comes to Scotland. King Duncan is murdered, and Albia is sent to live with a foster family - Banquo, his wife Breda, and their son Fleance. And there is turmoil inside Albia as well - she is confused by her feelings for the attractive but maddening Fleance, and she longs to know the identity of her father. When she learns the truth about her heritage - and that her birth parents murdered the king in order to seize the throne - she struggles with her feelings of revulsion at what her parents have done and determines that she must destroy them and bring peace and justice to Scotland.
Lady Macbeth’s Daughter is a rather interesting and complex novel. It is mainly told from the point of view of Albia, although we also see some events from the point of view of Lady Macbeth. Her perspective, and the difficult life she lived, made her actions, wrong though they were, understandable. Overall the story and the ending especially were rather thought-provoking, making me think a lot about the motivations of various characters, and wondering what happened afterwards. I would recommend this book to readers, young adult and older, who enjoy either historical fiction or unique retellings of Shakespeare’s plays.(less)