Thursday, April 30, 2009

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Refining Felicity : School for Manners #1 -- Regency Romance
When gently born but impoverished elderly spinsters Amy and Effie Tribble advertise to hire themselves out as professional chaperones for difficult young ladies, they get more than they bargained for with Lady Felicity Baronsheath, who refuses to stop acting like a wild boy. Aided by Lady Felicity's neighbor, the Marquess of Ravenswood, the Tribbles are determined to refine Felicity and land her a husband. This is one of the best Regency books I've read in a long time. The Tribble sisters are hilarious in their efforts to catch a man for themselves and in their dealings with Felicity. Felicity comes across as a spoiled brat but I really have sympathy for her and wouldn't wish to be a woman of her station at that time. The romance parts were stupid and unrealistic and I enjoyed the Tribble sisters more than the central romance. I can't wait to read more about the Tribble sisters!

Perfecting Fiona: School for Manners #2 -- Regency Romance
The Tribbles are back with a new charge, Miss Fiona Macleod a Scottish heiress sent by her aunt and uncle to the Tribbles because she's sent every suitor running. The Tribbles find Fiona charming as does Lord Peter Havard, a notorious rake. The Tribbles try to push Fiona into marriage but not with Lord Peter, who is entirely unsuitable. Fiona has her own ideas about marriage and plots to keep the gentlemen away. Meanwhile, Effy and Amy Tribble hold out hope of romance of their own and the dastardly Mr. Callahagn who inherited their aunt's money, has plans of his own. This second volume in the series wasn't as funny or charming as the first. The romance happens too quickly and is too improbable. I enjoyed Effy and Amy's exploits much better than Fiona's and laughed out loud at some of them.

Enlightening Delilah : School for Manners #3 -- Regency Romance
I read this after the first in the series but I didn't seem to miss anything that I didn't already know by skipping the second. Once again the Tribbles must come to the rescue of an exasperated parent. Squire Wraxall's daughter Delilah, still unmarried at the advanced age of three and twenty, has become a hardened flirt after being disappointed by Sir Charles Digby when she was 17. The Squire hires Miss Amy and Miss Effy to help give Diana some "town bronze" and cure her of her habit of breaking hearts. Sir Charles Digby has returned from the wars and decided to have some fun in London and hunt for a wife. The romance happens too quickly and unbelieavably. It's predicatble but there's more of a plot than the romance and more mature than the first book. There is an amusing subplot involving Miss Amy Tribble and her desire for a husband and the outcome of the story had me laughing out loud. More Tribbles waiting for me on my nightstand and in the library! I am hooked on them.

Finessing Clarissa: School for Manners #4 -- Regency Romance
The Honorable Clarissa Vevian is the Tribbles latest charge, and most challenging! Clarissa is tall, awkward and clumsy - a walking disaster! Before she even arrives at the Tribbles, she manages to set fire to her last suitor, be held up by a (wannabe) highwayman, injure the highwayman and set fire to her traveling coach, plus a few other mishaps along the way! She is befriended by the Earl of Greystone who at first feels sorry for her. Clarissa and the Earl become friends after she helps him out with difficult family members. His stepmother and half-sister loathe Clarissa and the attention the Earl gives her and are determined to ruin Clarissa. There is also a mystery plot involving French spies and a packet of missing papers As usual, the Tribbles still dream of marrying and see any man who comes their way as a potential suitor! Like the previous books, the romance happens too quickly and too improbably but the Tribbles come to the rescue with their hilarious hijinks! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I Didn't Read This Week

What I Didn't Read This Week

ome Be My Love by Diana Brown -- 19th Century Romance
Since the age of 12, Alexandra, a younger daughter if a country gentleman has worshiped her neighbor, the handsome Darius Wentworth, future Lord Bladen. Darius is a decade older and sees her as a cute kid sister. Alexa casts off her hoydenish ways and throws herself into a course of education selected by Lord Bladen (Darius's father) in hopes of impressing Darius and winning his love. Unfortunately, he chooses a wealthy, beautiful London heiress as his bride and Alexa vows never to marry but to live an independent life free of men. She spends her time reading, caring for Daiu's parents and soon his motherless child. I stopped reading the book halfway through when something incredibly stupid happened between Alexa and Darius. I skimmed the rest of the novel to find out what happened and there's lots of tragedy before the all too brief happy ending. This novel is told in first person which really bogged down the story and made it way too long. There was nothing light or funny about this book and it's not my style.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Brightsea by Jane Gillespie -- Jane Austen spinoff
A companion to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, this book is about Miss Nancy Steele, sister to Lucy Ferrars (nee Steele). Nancy is 40 and unmarried and bounces from relative to relative, sponging off them and earning their contempt because of her ill-bred manners and selfishness. Nancy is offered the position of chaperone to a young lady of quality at a seaside resort. She's delighted with the opportunity to be independent and earn some spending money and thinks the job will be easy. She doesn't count on the fact that her charge, Louisa, is bookish and headstrong. Louisa wants nothing more to continue her studies but Nancy insists on living a high society lifestyle. They reach a compromise and adventures and romantic entanglements ensue. The writing is true to Jane Austen's style but I really couldn't like Nancy or Louisa and the rushed ending didn't make me like the book anymore. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. It's worth a read if you're a fan of Sense & Sensibility and wondering what happened to Nancy.

Dartwood's Daughters by Rebecca Baldwin -- Regency Romance
Light comedy of manners modeled after Pride and Prejudice. Amy and Eve Dartwood are identical twins of more than 20 summers and had never been separated until 18 months ago when the impetuous Eve went with Papa to dig up antiquities in Naples. Eve had a grand time in Naples visiting with royals and falling in love with a handsome poet, but her "twin sense" tells her that her sister is unhappy so she races home. When she discovers that their formidable aunt has bullied Amy into accepting the hand of the loathsome Lord Barras, Eve decides it's up to her to rescue her twin. Mayhem and madness ensue. Though the plot was entirely predictable and I disliked Amy and both the men, the plot is funny and I really enjoyed it.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George - YA fairy tale
A retelling of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." Long ago, Queen Maude made a bargain with the mysterious and evil King Under Stone and now her daughters are paying the price by dancing at a midnight ball in the King Under Stone's underground lair. Their father, the King of Westfalin, discovers the princesses' worn dancing slippers and invites all the princes of Ionia to come and figure out the mystery. Each prince leaves without solving the mystery. Young soldier turned Under Gardner, Galen, is determined to rescue Princess Rose and her sisters from their terrible fate. This thrilling story kept me turning the pages until it was done. Each of the princesses has a distinct personality and none of them want to sit around and wait for someone to rescue them and none of them want to get married any time soon. The story is well-written and includes darker elements of a Grimm's fairy tale along with humor and romance. A great read! (Plus that dress on the cover is gorgeous!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What I've read this week

Books I've read this week ...

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith  
Called the Canadian Georgette Heyer on the book jacket, I've read a few other Joan Smith novels and not really liked them as much as I had hoped. This is by far her best novel of those I have read so far. A young country gentlewoman goes to visit her impoverished aunt in London on a family visit. Upon hearing her aunt's wild stories of the "old days" as part of the Prince Regent's crowd to the dark days of divorce and other highs and lows, Daphne encourages Aunt Effie to write her memoirs. When word of the book gets out to the ton, Effie's old friends reenter her life. Suspicious that Effie's friends are not truly friends, Daphne uses her wit to scandalize and delight Society. She crosses verbal swords with the overbearing Richard Pervival, Lord St. Felix, who tries to keep the ladies from causing more trouble. It follows the Pride and Prejudice model, which I love and though it is predictable, I enjoyed the story very much. At first I didn't care for the stuffy, proud Baron, but Daphne was more than a match for him and their verbal sword play made me laugh. I am quite satisfied they will be very happy sparring with each other for the rest of their days!

Tabitha's Tangle by Emily Hendrickson
Though this is a recent publication, it's more of a traditional Regency than most modern Regencies. I couldn't resist reading it because it's about a librarian! Tabitha Herbert, a country Rector's
daughter, is thrilled with Hugh, Lord Latham, asks her to catalog his new library. The position comes with many attractions: the books, the house, the beautiful grounds . . . and the handsome employer! Tabitha and Hugh quickly become friends and then fall in love. Numerous obstacles stand in their way, namely the beautiful, yet spoiled and selfish Lady Susan who wants Hugh for herself! What follows is the usual predictable plot with amusing secondary characters. I disliked some of the romance in the beginning. It was too unrealistic and happened too quickly. This book is part of a series about the Herbert family, but it can be read alone. I found most of the last chapter stupid and random because I hadn't read any of the other books. I would have preferred more romance at the end of the novel! There is also an author's note about mute swans. The writing doesn't come close to Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen but overall, I enjoyed the book.

The Merchant's Daughter by Rachelle Edwards
Despite the cover stating this is a Regency Love Story, the descriptions of fashions set the plot in the 18th century or Georgian era. This is a Gothic romance revolving around Lilith Redshaw, a wealthy merchant's daughter, who is sent away to visit relatives in the country to escape a inappropriate romantic entanglement. Lilith makes the acquaintance of the mysterious and possibly dangerous businessman/neighbor, Fabian Delamaye and her cousins: handsome and charming Oliver and headstrong Tamzin. Tamzin fills her cousin's head with stories about the ghost of a hooded monk seen on the coast near their home. Oliver tells Lilith about local smugglers and warns her not to have anything to do with them. Lilith feels the need to uncover the mystery surrounding the monk and finds herself in great danger. Add to this a twist involving Lilith's father and his business and Lilith's growing attraction for Fabian. This is a terrible book. The plot is predictable and cliched. I didn't care about any of the characters because the character development is so poor. I'm also not a fan of Gothic novels. I had hoped this would be more lively and entertaining but it wasn't and I don't recommend it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Recommended Historical Fiction

World History and stories that take place outside the U.S.

Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgren
crazy adventures of a red-haired girl in Sweden. Good fun for younger readers.

Royal Diaries by Scholastic

Girls of Many Lands by various authors (American Girl Publishing)

Young Royals by Carolyn Meyer

The Edge on the Sword and Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle
based on the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Plucky heroine who wishes to be a boy and makes her place in history

Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris
YA novel. 11-year-old daughter of the newly crowned King of Scotland kidnapped, imprisoned and put on display in an English town square by angry rivals in 1306

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Witty fictional diary of the daughter of a minor English nobleman in 1290. Good for middle school and up.

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Spunky girl in medieval England apprentices herself to a midwife to rise out of the dung heaps. Good fun for middle school reading level and up.

Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman
Not as witty or funny as her previous novels. Good story about a young noble woman who is apprentices to a bone setter in medieval England

Queen's Own Fool by Jane Yolen (Author), Robert Harris
A novel of Mary Queen of Scots

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum and Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper
Young adult novels set during the bubonic plague epidemic and Great Fire of London in the 17th century.

The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose by Mary Hooper
Young adult novel set in 17th century London about a girl who is cast out from her family and must make her own way in London.

At the Sign of the Star and A True and Faithful Narrative by Katherine Sturtevant
Restoration London. Girl dreams of being a writer and taking over her father's business.

Betsy and the Emperor by Staton Rabin
Napoleon befriends a young girl during his exile in Elba.

The Braid by Helen Frost
Poetic young adult novel about life in Scotland and Nova Scotia in the 1850s.

Marie, Dancing by Carolyn Meyer
The story of Degas's statue of the little ballerina

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan
YA novel set in early 20th century South Africa about a young woman who is determined not to leave the land she loves and find a way to improve the lives of her African friends.

Angel on the Square, The Impossible Journey, Burying the Sun, The Turning by Gloria Whelan
[20th c. Russian history from the Bolshevik revolution to the 1990s. For middle school reading level and up. Some intense situations

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Set during the Holocaust in Denmark and one of the only books my entire family enjoyed. This is standard curriculum fare for elementary schools but if you haven't read it already, I highly recommend doing so.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
tearjerker about a girl who suffers from the atom bomb sickness in Hiroshima and how she wished to fold a thousand paper cranes to make a get well wish.

Recommended Fantasy/Adventure novels

Recommended Fantasy/Adventure novels

The Borrowers series by Mary Norton
Adventures of cute little mouse sized people. Great for young readers elementary and above.

Redwall series by Brian Jacques
Cute woodland animals must defend their home against evil invading vermin. Violence and some death. The first book is hard to get through, but most of them are really good

anything by Eva Ibbotson
Light hearted, fun fantasy stories similar to Harry Potter without the evil.

books by Roald Dahl
We all know Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but Roald Dahl wrote a number of charming stories including Witches and James and the Giant Peach

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Much different from the movie but the premise is the same and the books are a good read for elementary school aged children and up.

Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand and Edward Ardizzone
Roald Dahl meets Mary Poppins! These stories were recently turned into the movie Nanny McPhee. Amusing stories about very naughty children and their magical nanny.

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater
I loved this book in elementary school. A man wishes for more out of life and gets what he wished for when a penguin moves in... and then another and another... Lots of fun for kids and grown ups.

Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting and Ellen Mile
Another early favorite. Not much like the movie except in the basic premise. Dr. Doolittle can talk to animals! Very cool for the elementary school age.

Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton and Erik Blegvad
I remember the Disney movie more, but the basic premise is the same: Three children come to stay with an apprentice witch and her flying bed takes them on magical adventures. Lots of fun for elementary readers.

Half Magic (series) by Edward Eager
Elementary school age reading level fantasy series about four children who encounter magical coins, time-travel herb gardens, and other unlikely devices

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
Another book I enjoyed in elementary school. Four brothers and sisters discover a sand-fairy and discover it can make their wishes come true.

The Squire's Tales by Gerald Morris
Tongue in cheek Arthurian legends, good for upper elementary and up.

Land of Elyon series by Patrick Carman
Lord of the Rings for kids. The hero is a 12 year old girl who must go on a quest to save the world. Occasional unrealistic introspective narrative but good for pre-teen girl. Some violence and death.

Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede
Humerous stories about a plucky princess and some dragons

Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker
Cute take on the frog prince story. Good for young and old. Some violence.

Fairy tales by Gail Carson Levine
Cute, quick twists on well known fairy tales

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Every girl needs this book! This is not your typical Cinderella story but it's nothing like the movie. Ella is a Felicity type herione and a good role model for girls.

Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Wacky adventures of three kids who try to escape an evil villain. Sophisticated humor and complicated plots are enjoyed by adults. Kids love the adventure.

Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner
Helen of Troy as a spunky child.

Bloody Jack Adventures by L. A. Meyer
Hilarious adventures of girl pirate and sometimes lady, Jacky Faber in the early 19th century

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Another book every girl needs! Miri shows that even the smallest can make a difference.

Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen
Shorter, less intense Harry Potter with a Neville type character as the hero.

Chronicles of Prydian by Lloyd Alexander
Another hero myth questing adventure story. Some cute lighthearted moments and fun characters. The evil may be too much for sensitive younger readers and there is a lot of violence and death.

The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
British mythology, including King Arthur. A different take on the hero myth. Some are quite good, others, not so much.

Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke
Fantasy adventure stories about characters from a story who threaten the heroine and her family. Situations may be too intense for younger readers. The books are filled with suspense, drama, violence and death. Well-written translations.

The Legend of Lady Ilena and Lady Ilena: Way of the Warrior by Patricia Malone
YA novels, King Arthur, druids, prophecies, female heroine.

Pirates by Celia Rees
Two young women, one slave, one a wealthy and white, in the early 18th century set sail on the high seas and become pirates. Serious adventure for young adults.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Some people love him, some people hate him, I enjoyed them and I'm picky about fantasy

Anything by Tamora Pierce
Her stories are set in medieval type worlds similar to our own and based on world history with some fantasy/mythology. I prefer her Tortall series. Younger readers should stick with the Circle of Magic books.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Jane Austen has been one of my favorite authors since college. I love her sharp wit and keen observation of the society in which she lived. I especially love how she was perceptive enough to know how to mock society rules gently and subtly and make her story relatable to all her readers, even nearly 200 years later!

I really relate to Lizzie Bennet and how she remains true to herself and doesn't allow herself to be caught up with wealth. She grows and changes throughout the novel but never goes against her own principles. She's a modern heroine, ahead of her time and and I admire that greatly.

I also admire Anne Elliot from Persuasion. Though she selflessly slaves away caring for her family, she doesn't believe in the ridiculous notions of wealth and consequence like her father and sisters. Like Lizzie, she remains true to herself as she grows older and doesn't allow what other people think is right to persuade her to go against her nature.

Like Lizzie and Anne, Elinor Dashwood is also a wonderfully sensible heroine. She doesn't get dramatic
when her life changes, but accepts what comes and deals with it the best she can.
When I was younger, I identified more with the romantic Marianne and her dream of romance and the ideal heroine. I admit that part of me still sympathizes with her!

I have always found Emma to be too silly to relate to. Mr. Knightly is always telling her what to do and I appreciate that she takes his comments to heart but I've always been kind of bothered by their sudden realization of romance. I also find Mr. Knightly rather boring as a hero!

I haven't read Northanger Abbey in awhile. I'm not really into gothic stories but the recent PBS Masterpiece version was really good and funny. I'll have to give this one another look
to form a definite opinion.

I also haven't read Mansfield Park in a long time. It's my least favorite of Austen's novels. I prefer the more lighthearted, witty stories. Miss Austen once described Fanny Price as "insipid" and think I would have to agree with that assessment. I'm also bugged by the fact that Edmund randomly realizes his feelings at the end. I need to read this again to add more c
ommentary. The recent PBS Masterpiece version was awful! The movie version is good but changes Fanny to Jane Austen.

When I was in Bath about 10 years ago, I was thrilled to be in the setting of Persuasion and the one-time home of one of my favorite authoress! I hope to return one day to take a Jane Austen tour!

I will make another blog post to share my pictures of Bath with you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Recommended Young Adult United States Historical Fiction

Recommended Young Adult United States Historical Fiction

Witch Child by Celia Rees -- Puritans

by Celia Rees -- sequel to above

The Primrose Way
by Jackie French Koller -- Puritans

Only Brave Tomorrows by Winifred Luhrmann -- 1675-6
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare -- 1687

Tituba of Salem Village
by Ann Petry -- Salem Witch trials
A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi

The Ransom of Mercy Carter
by Caroline B. Cooney-1704

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper -- 1738 slavery

I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn -- French and Indian war

Calico Captive
by Elizabeth George Speare -- French and Indian war

Beaded Moccasins
by Lynda Durrant -- 1759

The Fifth of March : A Story of the Boston Massacre
by Ann Rinaldi

Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi -- Revolutionary War

The Secret of Sarah Revere by Ann Rinaldi -
- Revolutionary War

Cast Two Shadows : The American Revolution in the South by Ann Rinaldi

Finishing Becca : A Story about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold by Ann Rinaldi

A Ride into Morning: The Story of Tempe Wick by Ann Rinaldi -- Rev. War

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley by Ann Rinaldi

Taking Liberty : The Story of Oney Judge, George Washington's Runaway Slave by Ann Rinaldi

Or Give Me Death: A Novel of Patrick Henry's Family by Ann Rinaldi

April Morning -- Rev. War by Howard Fast

Ruffles and Drums -- Rev. War by Betty Cavanna

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wolf By The Ears
by Ann Rinaldi -- Thomas Jefferson time

The Quilt Trilogy by Ann Rinaldi -- post Revolution-1841

The Escape From Home (Beyond the Western Sea, Book 1) by Avi -- 19th century

Lord Kirkle's Money
(Beyond the Western Sea, Book 2) by Avi

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
by Avi -- 1830s

A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos

The Education of Mary : A Little Miss of Color, 1832 by Ann Rianldi

Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color
by Elizabeth Alexander, Marilyn Nelson, and Floyd Cooper -- 1833-1834

Last Child by Michael Spooner -- 1837 Mandan Tribe - smallpox epidemic

Adaline Falling Star
by Mary Pope Osborne -- 1840

A Heart For Any Fate Westward to Oregon 1845 by Linda Crew -- 1845 Oregon Trail

The Braid by Helen Frost -- 1850s

Nightjohn and Sarny by Gary Paulsen -- 1850s slavery

The Borning Room by Paul Fleischman --pre-Civil War-WWI

Mine Eyes Have Seen by Ann Rinaldi - 1859 John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry

The Ever After Bird
by Ann Rinaldi -- Underground Railroad

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt -- Civil War

Evvy's Civil War by Miriam Brenaman

Amelia's War by Ann Rinaldi -- Civil War

Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi
-- Civil War

The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi
-- Civil War

Sarah's Ground by Ann Rinaldi
-- Civil War

In My Father's House by Ann Rinaldi -- Civil War

Juliet's Moon by Ann Rinaldi
-- Civil War

The River Between Us by Richard Peck
-- Civil War

Annie Between the States by L. M. Elliott
-- Civil War

Letters from Vinnie by Maureen Stack Sappey
-- Civil War

Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells
-- Civil War

Over Jordan by Norma Johnston
-- Civil War

The Tamarack Tree : a novel of the Siege of Vicksburg by Patricia Clapp
-- Civil War

Stella Stands Alone by A. LaFaye
-- Civil War

Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa Klein
-- Civil War

Numbering All the Bones by Ann Rinaldi
-- 1865

An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi -- 1865

Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi -- 1865 slavery and race relations

Dancing at the Odinochka
by Kirkpatrick Hill -- 1860s-70s Russian America/Alaska

Beyond the Divide by Kathryn Lasky -- Westward expansion

Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad -- prairie

The Staircase by Ann Rinaldi --1870s New Mexico

Finding Hattie: A Novel
by Sally Warner -- 1882

Booth's Daughter by Raymond Wemmlinger -- 1880s

Together Apart
by Dianne Gray
-- 1888 prairie

Tomorrow the River
by Dianne E. Gray --1896

A Sea So Far and Rising Tide by Jean Thesman -- early 1900s

I Am Lavina Cumming by Susan Lowell -- California 1905

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix-- 1909-1911

Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska -- early 1900s Jewish family

Double Crossing by Eve Tal -- Jewish Ellis Island immigration

Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch -- triangle factory fire

Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free by Kathleen Karr -- 1914

Time of Angels
by Karen Hesse -- 1918 - influenza - Jewish character

The Ornament Tree
and Tree of Bells by Jean Thesman -- 1918 and 1920s

Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Larson -- 1917-1918

Pictures 1918
by Jeanette Ingold -- 1918

Fire in the Hills
by Anna Myers -- 1918

Listening For Lions
by Gloria Whelan -- 1919

The Christmas Barn by C. L. Davis -- 1930s

The Miner's Daughter by Gretchen Moran Laskas --1930s

Back Home by Michelle Magorian --WWII

Homefront by Doris Gwaltney -- 1930s

The War at Home by Connie Jordan Green

Holding Up The Earth by Dianne E. Gray -- 1869, 1900, 1936, 1960s, present day

What I've read this week

What I've read this week...

The Semi-Attached Couple by Emily Eden  
Emily Eden was a 19th century novelist compared to Jane Austen because of her style and wit. The Semi-Attached Couple was written in 1830 but published in 1860. It features two country families who are friends and rivals. The Douglases resemble the Bennets's from Pride and Prejudice: the parents married for money but have considerably less than their neighbors and have two sweet marriageable-age daughters. Most of the story revolves around the misunderstandings of a young married couple and the primary action takes place their house party. The cast of characters includes the young married couple, an innocent country maiden, a Society gossip, an heiress, a blase captain, a young lord and a rake. I thought the story was rather slow and not very interesting for the most part. There were too many characters and I didn't care for any of them. The plot about the newlyweds didn't interest me until 3/4 of the way through. The plot picked up toward the end but the story ended rather abruptly and predictably.

he Semi-Detatched House by Emily Eden
A wealthy young wife with a vivid imagination rents a semi-detached house and fears the worst of her neighbors. The neighbors, a matron and her two young-adult daughters, grandson and melancoly son-in-law, fear the worst of their neighbor too until a chance meeting brings them together. There is also a subplot about a scheming nouveaux riche businessman and his vulgar wife and her intelligent, witty niece. Though the subplot about the businessman was cleary anti-semitic, it was amusing because the characters were so over the top. The occupants of the semi-detached were kind and good and likeable. Everything turns out for the best. This is a sweet little novel.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009



Mary Cassatt. Tea. Cassatt. Oil painting. 1880. from freeparking on Flickr

Today's topic on my favorite blog NineteenTeen, has prompted me to share more on this topic.

Nearly two years ago I was a maid of honor in a close friend's wedding. I hosted an afternoon tea bridal shower for her. We had a variety of teas in old china cups, tea sandwiches, scones with jam and homemade Devonshire Cream and small sweets. I made a CD of tea music by romantic music by Rachmanioff, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt and other artists.

I was surprised at how many women had never been to a tea party before. I got many compliments and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

I learned about the mysterious origins of tea and several myths revolving around that subject originating in Asia. An emperor of China
was drinking a bowl of boiling water some time around 2737 BC when a few leaves were blown from a nearby tree into his water, changing the color. The emperor was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the tea infused water and impressed by the restorative properties of the tea.

I also learned about the different types of tea and which teas work best with which foods and how tea became the national drink of Great Britain in the 1750s.

While doing my research, I learned about the history of tea rooms in the United States and their evolution to road side restaurants in the 20th century from this book

Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social history of the Tea Room Craze in America by Jan Whitaker

If you are a tea drinker, I encourage you to learn more about tea and the history of tea. I found it fascinating.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Reccomended Middle Grades U.S. Historical Fiction

Reccomended Middle Grades U.S. Historical Fiction

Trouble's Daughter : The Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive
by Katherine Kirkpatrick -- 1643

Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets, Massachusetts, 1653
(The Royal Diaries) by Patricia Clark Smith

The Sacrifice
by Kathleen Benner Duble -- 1694 (Salem Witch Trials)

A Stolen life
by Jane Louise Curry -- 1750s/60s

Indian Captive by Lois Lenski -- 1758

by Fatima Shaik -- 1760s

Second Daughter: The Story of a Slave Girl by Mildred Pitts Walter -- 1770s-1780s

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson -- slavery/colonial New York

Emma's Journal: The Story of a Colonial Girl by Marissa Moss - Revolutionary War

Weaver's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley -- 1790

My Name is Sally Little Song by Brenda Woods --slavery 1801 Streams to the River, River to the Sea by Scott O'Dell -- 1804 Sacagawea

Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac

Once On This Island by Gloria Whelan -- 1812
Farewell to the Island by Gloria Whelan -- sequel
Return to the Island by Gloria Whelan -- sequel

A spirit to ride the whirlwind by Athena V. Lord -- 1836

Daughter of Madrugada by Frances M. Wood -- 1840s California

FRUITLANDS: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect by Gloria Whelan --1843

Red River Girl by Norma Sommerdorf -- 1846-1848

Rachel's Journal: The Story of a Pioneer Girl by Marissa Moss --Oregon Trai

Letters from the Corrugated Castle by Joan W. Blos -- Gold Rush California

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed and The Education of Patience Godspeed by Heather Vogel Frederick -- 1850s

If Ever I Return Again by Corinne Demas -- 1856

Charlotte's Rose by A.E. Cannon -- 1856 Mormon Trail

Imperfections by Lydia Durant -- 1862 Shakers/Civil War

Alice Rose and Sam
by Kathryn Lasky --1860's

Steal Away Home and Soon Be Free by Lois Ruby --slavery 1850s

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell --1860s Native American

North By Night and Stealing South by Katherine Ayres -Underground Railroad

Letters from a Slave Girl by Mary E. Lyons

Dear Ellen Bee: A Civil War Scrapbook of Two Union Spies by Mary E. Lyons, Muriel Branch,

Silent Thunder: A Civil War Story by Andrea Pinkney

Anna Sunday by Sally Keehn --Civil War

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman -- slavery

Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder --Civil War

Charley Skedaddle by Patricia Beatty
--Civil War Turn Homeward Hannalee by Patricia Beatty --Civil War

Who Comes with Cannons? by Patricia Beatty --Civil War

Glory's Freedom: A Story of the Underground Railroad (Doll Hospital, Book 3) by Joan Holub

My Last Skirt by Lydia Durant
--Civil War

The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn and N. R. Jackson

Sound the Jubilee
My Home is Over Jordan by Sandra Forrester --slavery/ Civil War

The Spirit and Gilly Bucket by Maurine F. Dahlberg

The Misadventures Of Maude March
and Maude March On The Run!, Or, Trouble Is Her Middle Name by Audrey Couloumbis -- 1870s (Old West)

by Diane Lee Wilson -- 1872 Great Boston Fire/ horses

A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff --1870s

When I Crossed No-Bob
by Margaret McMullan -- 1875

Thunder Rolling in the Mountains by Scott O'Dell - 1877 Nez Perce War

Walk Across the Sea by Susan Fletcher -- 1880s, lighthouse keepers/ Chinese immigrants

Penelope Bailey Takes the Stage
by Susanna Reich -- 1885

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller
by Sarah Miller -- 1886

Fair Weather
by Richard Peck -- 1893 World's Fair

Our Only May Amelia
by Jennifer L. Holm -- 1899

Night Journey and
Broken Song by Kathryn Lasky -- 1900 (Russian immigrants)

Tatiana Comes to America: An Ellis Island Story (Doll Hospital, No. 1) by Joan Holub

Hope In My Heart, Sofia's Ellis Island Diary (My America) by Kathryn Lasky

Home At Last, Sofia's Ellis Island Diary, Book Two by Kathryn Lasky

An American Spring: Sofia's Immigrant Diary, Book Three by Kathryn Lasky

Ellis Island series by Joan Lowery Nixon

Hannah's Journal: The Story of an Immigrant Girl by Marissa Moss --1901 Jewish character

One-way to Ansonia by Judie Angell -- early 1900s Russian immigrant

Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse -- 1919 Jewish character

The Teacher's Funeral : A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck -- early 1900s

Mable Riley : A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance by Marthe Jocelyn
-- early 1900s

Keeping the Good Light by Katherine Kirkpatrick
-- early 1900s

Earthly Astonishments by Marthe Jocelyn
-- early 1900s

The President's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
-- early 1900s

I Am Lavina Cumming by Susan Lowell
-- early 1900s

A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz
-- early 1900s

January 1905
by Katharine Boling -- 1905 child labor - mills

Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Patterson -- 1912 labor strikes

Here Lies the Librarian
by Richard Peck -- 1914

Ruthie's Gift and One of a Kind Mallie by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley -- WWI

The Hope Chest by Karen Schwabach -- 1920 Women's Suffrage

The Star Fisher
and Dream Soul by Laurence Yep -- 1920s Chinese Americans

The Secret School by Avi -- 1925

A Long Way From Chicago
and A Year Down Yonderby Richard Peck -- 1930s

All the Way Home
by Patricia Reilly Giff -- 1941

Journey to Topaz and Journey Home by Yoshiko Uchida -- Japanese Americans WWII

Jar of Dreams and The Best Bad Thing by Yoshiko Uchida -- Japanese Americans 1930s-40s

Lily's Crossing and Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff -- WWII

Keep Smiling Through by Ann Rinaldi -- WWII

The Morning Glory War by Judy Glassman -- WWI

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm -- 1953

Little House Martha Years by Melissa Wiley -- late 1700's, great-grandmother of Laura Ingalls

Little House Charlotte Years by Celia Wilkins -- War of 1812 time period, grandmother of Laura Ingalls

The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich 1847

Boston Jane series by Jennifer L. Holm -- 1850s

Young Americans Colonial Williamsburg series by Joan Lowery Nixon

American Quilts Series by Susan Kirby

Dear America Series

History Mysteries Series

Monday, April 6, 2009

Austenesque: Jane Austen spin-offs and sequels

Austenesque: Jane Austen spin-offs and sequels

Everyone who loves Jane Austen seems to want to attempt to recreate her world with sequels and spin offs. Some work well and others don't. Here is a rundown and review of Austenesque books I have read.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aidan  
Aidan retells Pride and Prejudice through Mr. Darcy's eyes in a three volume novel. Beginning with An Assembly Such as This, we follow Mr. Darcy from the time he meets Elizabeth to the events following the disastrous Netherfield Ball. Part II: Duty and Desire fills in the gap where Jane Austen sends Mr. Darcy away. Darcy wrestles with his feelings for Elizabeth versus doing what is right for his station in life. Part III: These Three Remain concludes the story from Elizabeth and Darcy's meeting at Rosings and reacquaintance at Pemberly to their wedding day! In between we learn about Darcy's feelings, his activities, friendships, family relationships and get advice from his Shakespeare quoting valet. I adore this series and can read them again and again. Aidan really rounds out Darcy by giving him a voice and emersing the reader in his world. These books are full of details about the social and political scene of the time and it helps if you know something about the time period. I really liked getting to know Mr. Darcy personally through these books. The second one is a little gothic but stick with it because important things happen that will affect Darcy's life in the final volume. By far my favorite Austen spin off!

Mr. Darcy's Daughters : A Novel by Elizabeth Aston

Fun and frivilous this story follows the 5 (yes five!) marriageble age daughters of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth as they make their way in London Society while their parents are away. The Darcy ladies fall in and out of love, get into scrapes and generally turn London Society on its' ear during the Season. This isn't the best written book but a good read if you are a casual fan of Austen. Also good are all of Aston's other Darcy novels though they're all retellings of Pride and Prejudice.

Book Cover
A Visit To Highbury
Later Days at Highbury by Joan Austen-Leigh

Written by a descendant of Jane Austen, these two books retell the story of Emma through the letters between Mrs. Goddard, owner of a school for young ladies, and her sister. This is a different, fresh look at Emma through the eyes of someone not of her class. The reader also learns about the trials and tribulations of Mrs. Goddward and her sister.

Novels by Joan Aiken:
Joan Aiken wrote several Austen spin off novels such as

Eliza's Daughter: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I did not like Eliza's Daughter because I felt the characterization of Marianne and Elinor wasn't true to the spirit of Austen and the plot was far too complicated to keep track of who Eliza is and what happens to her. The ending was rather coy and annoyed me because I didn't understand it.

I did enjoy Jane Fairfax, the story of the character of Jane Fairfax from Emma which tells the story of Miss Fairfax and describes the events of Emma through her eyes.

None But You

For You Alone by Susan Kaye 

Persuasion told from Captain Wentworth's point of view. Though not as detailed or descriptive as the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series, this is worth a read. It's well-written and insightful. Capitain Wentworth isn't a god, he's a man and he has faults but none too major. I especially liked his relationship with his brother. 

Mr. Knightly's Diary by Amanda Grange
retelling of Em
ma from Knightly's point of view. This one is rather boring and the "eureka" moment is kind of silly. I also started Edmund Bertram's Diary but also found it boring.

Vanity and Vexation: A Novel of Pride and Prejudice by Kate Fenton
A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. In the novel, BBC is remaking Pride and Prejudice and the locals and actors get mixed up in situations that parallel a novel. A twist halfway through really confused me. I could not like this book as much as I tried. I felt it was too contrived and that Pride and Prejudice just didn't work in that type of modern setting.

Persuading Annie by Melissa Nathan  
A modern retelling of my favorite Austen novel, Persuasion featuring a wealthy, clueless business owner and his daughters. Years ago Annie had a relationship in college with Jake until her godmother interfered. Now her family is on the verge of bankruptcy and Jake is a successful consultant who is hired to save their company. The rest is pretty much a direct retelling of Persuasion which is why it didn't work. Do people really think and act that way anymore? I didn't care about any of the characters. Even Annie didn't have any redeeming qualities and was nothing like Anne Elliot.

Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field : A Novel by Melissa Nathan
Another modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice where life imitates art. Jasmin Field lands the role of Lizzie Bennet in a one night only charity staged event of P&P. If you've read Pride and Prejudice, you know what happens next. The author seems to have taken each scene, tossed in modern people and rewrote the dialogue to reflect the modern situation. It didn't work. I don't think Austen can be directly adapted for the modern world. I enjoyed Bridget Jones and Meg Cabot's Boy series which don't rewrite the original word for word!