Saturday, November 8, 2014

Downton Abbey, the real story

For those of us interested in the back story of major TV shows, this book fits the bill for Downton Abbey.  This book is written by a family member of Almina, one of the Duchess' of Carnarvon.  She was the wealthy daughter of Alfred de Rothschild and accepted into English society despite her parents not being married.  She married into one of the oldest families and inherited Highclere, their estate.  She lived a long life as the Duchess of Carnarvon and with her considerable wealth, used her influences to provide medical aid during the Great War and beyond, both at Highclere and in London at their city home.  This book is well written and interesting, sharing tidbits of English life and highlighting the workings of English society along with the impact of the Great War on travel and life in the countryside.


Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere CastleLady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona Carnarvon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For the real story behind Downtown Abbey, this book is a treasure. I enjoyed hearing the history of Almina's fortune, her love of Highclere, the Earl's adventures in Eqypt and the historical adventure through Victorian England. I especially liked Almina's love of nursing and how she applied her fortune to do good as much as she could for others.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Continuing with medieval....

First Test (Protector of the Small, #1)First Test by Tamora Pierce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok, I'm a little behind on my Tamora Pierce reading but I finished this one yesterday. Yep, it's a quick one and I'm hungry for the next one in this series. I'm proclaiming this Pierce as my "author to catch up on". Except it's no longer summer and time is fleeting during the school week so let's hope our public library has #2 Page in stock today! Kel, or Keladry, is a new female page who has to endure a year's probation before officially earning the title of page...same kingdom and castle as Alanna, or the Lionness as she is now called. Kel holds Alanna in very high regard and hopes to attain the same greatness, without the magical influences. This is the story of how Kel comes to Tortall and passes her first year, probationary of course, as she's still a girl. How wise she becomes during that year! Her character is very similar to Alanna's and her tactics to gain ground amongst the boys struck a similar chord. I look forward to moving on with this series! Enjoy!

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Falconer

The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)The Falconer by Elizabeth May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I don't normally like steampunk but this novel highlights more of the fantasy/fae part of the novel while working steampunk into it. Aileana Kameron witnessed the brutal murder of her mother but a faery and is trying to work through her grief while hungering for the battles with the fae around her. She has a good friend, Kiaran, who is also fae but he's on her side. Her pixie Derrick doesn't get along with Kiaran but both love her in their own way. Then there's her society friend, Catherine, and her brother, Gavin (Lord Galloway) who muddy the waters while helping Aileana along her path to vengeance against the faery who ruined her life. Lots of great action with tools of ingenious invention, mystery surrounding who she will meet on the final battleground, and of course whether her love remains alive....now when is book 2 coming out???

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Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

The Blossoming Universe of Violet DiamondThe Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Violet is a very charming middle schooler whose father died when she was young and her mother raises her in Moon Lake, Washington. Violet's father was African American and her mother is white. She has never met her paternal grandmother but as she starts to become more aware of who she is and worries about differences in color, her mother and grandparents encourage her to ask questions and seek answers. Violet's journey begins at an art show where she meets her grandmother for the first time. While not necessarily the best beginning, Violet and her mom settle some differences between them while also healing old wound between mom and grandmother, Roxanne Diamond. Of course Violet eventually learns about her father's family and even comes to love her cousin Ahmed, but not before suffering through an ordeal that no 11 year old should ever have to deal with by themselves. Great voice and wonderful relationship building, crossing racial lines and blurring them but celebrating the uniqueness of both!

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Historical Fiction - Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes

SugarSugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sugar is one of the only children left after slaves departed the Wills' plantation on River Road in Lousiana, during Reconstruction. Her mama died and left her to be raised by the Beales, an elderly couple who were left behind when their children moved north. Sugar and Billy Wills (the master's son) have become good friends but change is coming to River Road. As Sugar learns from Billy, "Chinamen are coming" and change is coming fast. Jewell Parker Rhodes hits it big again with this novel, her second for upper elem/middle ages. Sugar is spunky but sweet, kind but daring, and she stands up for what she truly believes in. Her spirit should appeal to both girls and boys as well as adults and teens. I'm looking forward to her next one!

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

When on Tybee or in Savannah...

Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries, #1)Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love southern novels, esp. ones that take place in cities I love to visit, like Savannah or Charleston. Thus, this book fits the bill and while I think I read it way back when, I couldn't resist re-reading, esp. since summer is winding down and I'm on Tybee right now! Mary Kay Andrews ranks up there with other well knows southern authors like Dorothea Benton Frank and Mary Alice Monroe. This novel doesn't disappoint and Weezie is just a really lovable character. If her antics with Bebe don't make you laugh, something wrong!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Myth-O-Mania Series

Myth-O-Mania SeriesMyth-O-Mania Series by Kate McMullan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This would be perfect for our 6th graders who study Ancient Greece and Rome. It's on a lower reading level and reads pretty quickly. The gods are not deep characters but the story runs along with the myth to help for understanding and building comprehension of the myths. I liked the voices of each character. In this novel, we meet Hades and learn how he becomes God of the Underworld. I personally liked how Zeus was obnoxious and kind of a twerp in this novel. It goes against the traditional depictions of him as the mighty ruler of Olympus.

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