Posts Tagged 'England'

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

princess spy

Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  293

RAC:  Yes

Margaretha lives on her father’s estate in Germany and knows she must choose a suitor to marry soon.  When a man named Claybrook comes and begins to woo her she thinks he might be the one, but then an injured man is brought to the healer’s cottage from England.  She is one of the few people around who knows English and she translates what he’s saying.  He followed a man named Claybrook from England in order to make him pay for murdering a young girl, but instead Claybrook’s men beat him and left him for dead in the street.  Margaretha is unsure who to believe, but decides to spy on Claybrook and learns he is plotting to murder her father and take over his estate.  Can she save her family and her family’s land without alerting the wrong people to the threat?  Does she know whom she can trust?  Is she equipped for such a venture?

This is a fun, fast paced adventure story in which Margaretha and her new companion from England try to save her family from a very miserable future in which they are pushed out of their own land by sheer force and violence.  There are many twists in the plot as Claybrook tends to be one step ahead of them at all times.  Many of the characters lack depth, but they do not need to be over developed since the plot rests mainly on Margaretha and her English gentleman.  Fans of other period stories like The Selection and The Queen of Someday will enjoy this title.

Dark Souls by Paula Morris

dark souls

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  292

RAC:  Yes

Miranda and her brother, Rob, are in a terrible car accident that kills Miranda’s best friend.  After the fact, Rob has some serious fears about riding in cars and claustrophobia, while Miranda is mourning her friend.  Her parents have professional reasons for visiting York, England and decide it is a perfect time for the family to get away.  Upon arrival, Miranda realizes she can now see ghosts, but is most intrigued by the one across the street that she can see in the attic of a boarded up house.    She meets a troubled young man, Nick, who can also see ghosts and invites her to some mysterious places in order to interact with them.    The more time she spends with Nick the more she suspects he is planning something big and mysterious.   Can she save him from making a terrible mistake that will change his entire future?

This story includes a lot of folklore about York which ties into the story well.  The characters are well developed, especially Miranda’s family, despite being in the story rather infrequently.  The mystery moves a tad slow at the beginning, but eventually takes off and it’s obvious that the groundwork for solving it has been laid from the beginning.  Fans of ghost and/or mystery stories will enjoy this title.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Genre:  Mystery/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  384

RAC Book:  Yes

Flavia de Luce lives in England in the 1950s.  Her mother died when she was a baby and her father is a recluse in their country manor.  She has two older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia, who enjoy tormenting her.  Flavia loves to work in her own chemistry lab and is always asking questions, to the annoyance of her sisters.

One evening she is awakened when she hears someone arguing with her father in his study, but the gardener catches her listening at the door and sends her to bed.  In the morning, Flavia finds a dying man in their garden and calls the police.  Unfortunately, they arrest her father for the murder and Flavia is not completely sure of his innocence since this is the man who was arguing with her father the night before.  Nevertheless, Flavia decides to go after the truth and begins investigating herself.  Can she piece together the facts to find out what happened to the mysterious stranger from the garden?  Can she clear her father’s name?

This story is a fun mystery story with very colorful and interesting characters.  The tone of the book and style of the mystery  is reminiscent of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.  There are many details of the story that the reader needs to remember in order to crack the case, which is reminiscent of The Westing Game.  Finally, the main character is captivating, clever, and a strong female character, reminiscent of Down the Rabbit Hole.  The story has all of the ingredients to be a lasting mystery for this age level for many years to come.

Kipling’s Choice by Geert Spillebeen

Genre:  Historical fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  150

RAC:  Yes

Award Winner:  Iowa Teen Award 2009-2010

This fiction story is based on the true events of the famous Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling’s son, John.  Rudyard had always wanted to serve his country in the armed forces and was disqualified due to physical limitations.  From a young age, he groomed John to want to be a soldier as well, but John had weak eyes.  Rudyard used all of his influence to get John into the army as an officer, which John appreciated.  When John goes to his first battle, however, he realizes that it is a little different than he imagined and he wishes he could just go home and play the rich son again.

The format of the story is interesting because it flashes from John in his first battle back to all the memories of him growing up.  As a child John loved to play with the expensive toys his father gave him, but he often played recklessly and Rudyard encouraged it as typical boy behavior.  In the flashbacks it becomes apparent how important it was to Rudyard for his son to fight for his country like he couldn’t.  He fails to see the possible dangers and never truly believes anything could possibly happen to his son.  Although this story is very interesting, it will be difficult to get young adults to read it.  Many young adults do not like to read historical fiction type topics, but students who like reading about war will enjoy this title.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Genre:  Romance, Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  15 and up

# of pages:  196

RAC Book:  Yes

Jane has had an obsession with Jane Austen or more specifically, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, for many years.  As she experienced one horrendous boyfriend after another in her life she began to dream of the perfect gentleman.  Her great Aunt saw this and in her will arranged for Jane to visit Pembrook Park, which is a place where people dress, talk, and live like they are in Jane Austen’s books.  Jane is unsure if this vacation was for her to get the fantasy out of her system or for her to embrace it.

Upon arriving at Pembrook Park Jane is fitted with clothes and taught the rules she is to follow during her stay.  As Jane interacts with other guests and actors playing parts she begins to have trouble deciding what is real and what is part of the fantasy.  She befriends a gardener as well as the difficult Mr. Nobley.  The idea is for all women to feel like they have lived the romance, which is why Jane struggles to choose which man she really likes as well as which one, if either, truly cares for her.

Austenland is a must read for fans of Jane Austen.  The story is unpredictable, but yet contains many Austen elements, which makes it a lot of fun for those of us who enjoy those types of stories.  Jane is not the only one who would love to live this fantasy and through this book we are all led through this time with a modern eye.  This book is for all those women who love Jane Austen, her stories, her romances, and most of all her men.