Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Luther and Katharina





Katharina von Bora has lived inside a cloister since she was five years old. One night, she escapes and finds refuge with Martin Luther. He promises to keep her safe while looking for a suitable husband for her. Dealing with religious conflicts and political issues has convinced Martin Luther that he could die any time, and consequently, he will not marry.  As they face these issues together Martin and Katharina discover they have feelings for each other, and must decide if they will build a life together or not.

I found the historical basis for this story fascinating. Nuns escaping in barrels to a new life, and one ends up marrying Martin Luther. I found the historical details very interesting, and particularly liked the beginning of the book. I liked how the author set up the story with a very tense beginning. It made me want to know more about Katharina who seems like a strong determined woman.

I think the only real issue I had with this book is that it was heavy on the romance. I naturally expected some from the description, but I personally would have preferred a little less of the romance and more about the characters. Still, it was a pleasant easy read. If you do not mind a lot of romance in your story I think you will like this one.

This story made me interested in learning more about Martin Luther and Katharina, so I will be looking for some historical books about them.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**


*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a book I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Soulless






Alexia Tarabotti has no soul. She is a spinster living with her family who is shocked when she is attacked by a vampire, which is against all forms of proper social etiquette. When she accidentally kills the vampire attacking her, Queen Victoria sends Lord Maccon to investigate. He also happens to be a werewolf. With everyone blaming her for the disappearance of some vampires, Alexia must figure out what is happening in society. She also hopes her soulless ability will prove an asset rather than an embarrassment as she tries to find who the real enemy is.

Soulless is the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series. I was a little uncertain when I first picked up this book how I would like it. But I am so glad I read it. It has become one of my favourite books this year. I quickly added it to My Favourite Books List, and I immediately went out to read the other books in the series, and the two other series that go with it(Finishing School and The Custard Protocol).

One of my favourite things about this series is the humour. Perfectly balanced with some good action scenes, interesting characters, and of course, the supernatural this book is an excellent beginning to an intriguing series. I could not stop reading. I loved the humorous take on werewolves and vampires. While some of the classic vampire and werewolf tropes are present, I found Carriger's approach simply irresistible.

I also like that the hero is a strong female with her own ideas and opinions. She has her own powers, and is not about to let other people tell her how to use them. She is a believable heroine and one whose story I enjoyed reading. This is a well written book and a great opening to a series.

I highly recommend reading this book!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Smile





Raina wants to be a normal sixth grader, who fits in with all her friends. One night, she trips and seriously injures her front teeth. It is the beginning of a long process involving dental surgery, braces, headgear, and fake teeth. She must also navigate the normal perils of middle school: boys, natural disasters, and fake friends.

Told in graphic novel form, Raina's memoir is presented in a way that helps young readers understand that growing up can be difficult, but they can make it through trying experiences. Even if the reader has never experienced the horrors of trying to navigate life with dental issues, they can relate to trying to figure out friendships and who they are.

This was the fifteenth book the Bookworms read together. Paige chose this book for us. I think this book would be great for ages 10 and up. Although younger could read it if interested. It will probably appeal to girls more as the main character is a girl, but boys could also identify with the characters. We had some great discussions about friendship, and how you should treat other people. Here are some of the Bookworms' thoughts on the book. Warning! There may be some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give the book?
Paige 5 1/2 Because it was really good! It is one of my favourite books in the world. It was my first time reading it.
Alejandro  4

What was your favourite part of the book?
Paige The beginning when she chipped her tooth.
Alejandro  The gum doctor and how he almost got sued.
Paige Would you guys ever read the second and third book?
Alejandro  Sure
Whitney: I would try reading them.

How would you feel about getting braces?
Alejandro  Worried other kids might be mean.
Paige Not excited at all. A little scared maybe.

Some of Raina's friends do things to embarrass her, what do you think about that?
Alejandro  I wouldn't like it.
Paige I would be mad and sad.
Whitney: Why did they do it?
Alejandro  Because they were teasing so they thought it was fun.
Paige It didn't hurt them.

Raina decides not to be friends with the mean kids anymore, what do you think about that?
Paige It was a good decision.
Alejandro  It was a good idea, that way she doesn't end up like them.
Whitney: Would it be hard to do that?
Both: Yes!

What did you think of her new friends?
Alejandro  They were cooler. They didn't tease or hurt her.
Paige Her new friends were nicer. They didn't talk bad about her.

Was everything perfect for Raina when she got her braces off?
Alejandro  She got used to the braces.
Paige It didn't fix her friends.

What did you think of the book?
Paige It was a really good book!
Alejandro  I liked that it was based on a true story.

Thank you to the Bookworms for reading and reviewing this book with me. I look forward to reading and discussing our next book together.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our Man In Charleston





Robert Bunch was the British consul in Charleston South Carolina before and during the American Civil War. He found himself in the impossible position of furthering the British political cause while maintaining neutrality when all around him demanded he side with them in the Civil War. Bunch is against slavery, so finds his situation even more difficult as he tries to thwart the plans of those who would seek to maintain slavery, and would find his actions treasonous to their cause. Bunch must convince his neighbours he is one of them to protect himself and the intelligence he can provide to his government.

I found this to be an excellent book on the American Civil War. The new perspective was an exciting way to approach familiar history. Although I knew the Confederates had hoped to persuade Great Britain to support their side in the war, I did not realize how close Britain had actually came to supporting them despite their abhorrence of the slave trade. I found myself very intrigued from the start of the book. I wanted to learn more about the American Civil War from Bunch, and Great Britain's perspectives.

Our Man In Charleston is a must read for anyone who is interested in the American Civil War. Dickey writes in a very engaging way, and you are swept up in the tensions of the time. I liked the descriptions of the events leading up to and during the war, and how they were combined with Bunch's view and actions. I had not heard of Robert Bunch before, but I am glad I read this book. I was very interested to discover how he reacted to the events as a foreign diplomat. I enjoyed this view of American history, and would recommend reading it.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook and had no problems with it. The only issue was one of personal preference, and that was when it told me how many pages were left in the chapter it did not do this by individual chapter, but by section of the book. I like to know for the individual chapters to make it easier to find a stopping point.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.


Friday, October 2, 2015

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe





When Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are sent to the country to be safe during World War II, they have no idea the adventure that is in store for them. They discover a door to Narnia inside a wardrobe. Narnia is a land that is always winter and never Christmas thanks to the White Witch. The children try to help Aslan and the creatures living in Narnia defeat the White Witch and make Narnia wonderful place to live again.

I have read this series several times, so I was excited to share it with the Bookworms. We read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. There is a book that comes before this one chronologically(The Magician's Nephew), but I decided that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe would be a good place in the series to start for those who had not read any of the books before.

The Bookworms enjoyed reading this book together. This was the fourteenth book we read as a group. I picked this book out for us, because it has been a book I have liked reading repeatedly. We had some great discussions about the story, the symbolism, and the author's motives for writing parts of the book. Here are some of the Bookworms' thoughts on the story. Warning! There may be some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Alejandro 5 but I would give 6 really because I loved it!
Paige 4

What was your favorite part in the book?
Paige I didn't have a favorite part, but I think I liked the ending the best. When they became kings and queens.
Alejandro When Aslan breathes on all the creatures that have been turned to stone to bring that back as to life again.

Did you have a least favorite part?
Alejandro I liked all of it except when they took Tumnus away.
Paige I did not have a least favorite part.

Could you tell when the story took place?
Alejandro It was during World War II because they talked about them bombing cities.

If you found snow in a wardrobe, would you keep exploring?
Paige Yes! I would be curious why there was snow and where it was coming from.
Alejandro Yes! That is exactly why I would too.

Would you follow Mr. Tumnus a faun?
Both: Yeah, to know more about him and this place I was in.

Why do you think the Professor believed Lucy when her siblings did not?
Alejandro Probably because he had been there himself.
Paige And he told them to find out for themselves.

Would you return to Narnia?
Both: Yes!

Why do you think it is always kids that go to Narnia?
Paige Because adults are more mature and do not always believe in these things.
Alejandro They are the ones with bigger imaginations.

Alejandro brought up the point that some of the things that happen in the story seemed Christian to him. So we discussed which parts seemed to have symbolism and what they represented. We also talked about why C.S. Lewis did that, and what they thought about authors including symbolism for religion or other things in their stories. I think this is a great story to introduce young readers to the idea that there are often layers to the books they read.

Thank you to the Bookworms for reading and reviewing this book with me. I think this was one of my favorite discussions, although I have fun with them all. I look forward to our next book.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oswald: Return of the King





King Aethelfrith of Northumbria's family has arrived in exile to the monastery on the island of Iona.  Oswald learns to fight, as it is a necessary skill for a young prince. He is attracted to life in the church and desires to become a monk. Before he can take his vows, news reaches the island that Oswald's half brother Eanfrith has been killed by Cadwallon. Oswald sails to Northumbria to fight to become King of Northumbria. But other kings would fight against him Oswald should he succeed.

I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review*. This is the second book in The Northumbrian Thrones Trilogy. I had not read the first book in this trilogy, but I had no difficulty following the plot. There is an excellent summary at the beginning of the book that explains the major events of the previous book. I am now looking forward to reading both the first and the third books.

I found this to be an intriguing story based on a fascinating time in history. Using Bede's History as an inspiration, Albert writes a convincing story about Oswald and his struggles as a prince, and a king. There is the added element of religious conversion that provides another source of tension to the story. Oswald and others have become Christian, while many still cling to their Pagan beliefs. The drama of the battles and in the character's lives made me not want to put the book down.

I also appreciated the excellent Historical Note that Albert included at the end of the book. I was pleased with the details he provided, and liked learning where the story differed from historical events. There are also some books suggested for those that want to learn more about this time period.

I found this to be an enjoyable historical fiction novel, and I would recommend reading this book.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-- and the World





Headstrong is a collection of fifty-two short biographies of women scientists who are lesser known, but made significant contributions to science. We learn who these women were, their contribution to science, and how they got to the point where they made their contribution. The focus is on what they are best known for, as it is just a brief overview of each woman. The book only includes women whose life's work has been completed as a way to narrow the focus of the book.

As soon as I read the title of this book, I knew it was one I wanted to read. After reading the introduction, I was hooked. I love the idea that women in science should be judged on their work and not on their gender. I also liked the idea that we should be able to recall a woman scientist besides Marie Curie(not to diminish her achievements). The women included in this book are divided into the categories: Medicine, Biology and Environment, Genetics and Development, Physics, Earth and Stars, Math and Technology, and Invention. I liked that they were divided by field as it helped the flow of the book and with the author's thought that "instead of saying the Marie Curie of her field, say  a woman of that field who made a great contribution." I liked the set up of the book.

I think this is an important book for every one to read. Not only does it make us more aware of the significant contributions women have made in science, but it can provide roll models(particularly for women) in science. I was surprised by how many of these women I had never heard of. When I read the biography of Emilie Du Chatelet who lived 1706-1749 and whose contribution was in physics I was impressed with her work, but could not help but feel sad. Some of her peers cared more about her gender than the quality of her work. Emilie Du Chatelet provides a great example by not letting criticisms, more about her gender than her work stand. "She addressed each criticism while displaying her mastery over the subject." It reminded me of some of the recent twitter campaigns #DistractinglySexy #GirlsWithToys #ILookLikeAnEngineer to raise awareness of women in science,  and how they are treated. I admire both Du Chatelet and the women who participated in these twitter campaigns for standing up for themselves, but was a little disheartened that this is still an issue 300 years after Du Chatelet had to defend herself in a similar way. Perhaps this book and others like it can help with this issue.

I highly recommend reading this book. It provided a lot of interesting information in an easy to grasp way. I only wish there was more about some of the women. I would get very interested in someone, and their story would be over. It gave me some women I want to read more about. I read this book as an ebook on my Nook, and had no difficulties with it.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of the book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a book that I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Geronimo Stilton and The Search for Treasure





Geronimo Stilton finds himself back in the Kingdom of Fantasy. They need his help to fulfill the Ancient Gemstone Prophecy. He must find the Royal Sapphire and the Royal Ruby before the evil empress of the witches does. Geronimo meets new friends and they help him on his quest. He must travel in disguise if he is to beat the evil empress to the gemstones. Will Geronimo and his friends find the gemstones first?

I have not read all the books in the Kingdom of Fantasy series, but that did not prevent me from understanding what was going on. Each adventure is separate, and can be enjoyed as a stand alone book. There are references to previous adventures, but you do not need to have read the previous books to understand what is going on. It is another fun Geronimo adventure, with the typical puzzles and maps included. I think if you like the Geronimo Stilton books you will like this one too.

This was the thirteenth book the Bookworms read together. Alejandro picked this book for us to read. They both really like the Geronimo Stilton series, and are always trying to find one we all have not read yet. We all read the book, but only Alejandro and I discussed the book together. Here are his thoughts on the book. Warning! There may be some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars do you give the book?
Alejandro 5 stars

Did you like it?
Alejandro I liked that we met some new characters. This was one of my favorite Geronimo Stilton books.

Who was your favorite character?
Alejandro The Rose fairy. And the bird was weird.

There were some cool maps, where would you go?
Alejandro Gold Swamp and Garden Academy

Would you sail in a storm?
Alejandro Yes! To see what happens.

Geronimo is turned into a frog, would you like to be turned into one?
Alejandro Yes, I would like to be a frog. I could go places no one else could. I would want to control turning into a frog and turning human though.

Was Geronimo brave?
Alejandro No. He was shivering because he was scared.
Whitney: Can you be scared and brave?
Alejandro Yes. I think you can.
Whitney: I think it shows more bravery to do something when you are afraid.
Alejandro Yes. Because anyone can do it if they aren't afraid of it. It shows courage when you are scared to do it.

Geronimo has trouble knowing who to trust, who do you think he should trust?
Alejandro He should trust the Rider because he is a knight and they are suppose to be loyal. He shouldn't trust the coyote because you can never trust foxes and coyotes in stories.

Would you share with the old lady Geronimo encounters?
Alejandro No! What if she is a spy?

Geronimo has a focus finder that helps him find what he is looking for, what did you think of it? What would you look for with it?
Alejandro I thought it was really cool. I would find the lost city of Atlantis, Greek ruins, and maybe a part of Pangia that broke off and got lost in the ocean.

Thank you Paige and Alejandro for reading the book, and Alejandro for reviewing the book with me.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Justice: Volume 1





The Justice League Of America(JLA) is famous for uniting to save the world. They soon discover that the greatest criminal masterminds are also working together. Their plan, surprises the Justice League of America, as they are trying to achieve more good than the League, by targeting its members and actually using their abilities to benefit humanity.

I enjoyed the first volume in the Justice series. I liked looking at the villains in a new light. Poison Ivy makes the desert bloom with life, people are cured of disease, and new cities are created by the villains. Why would the Joker, Lex Luthor, Bizarro, and others use their powers in such a way? They have decided the JLA has failed humanity. They pose the question: why do hunger, poverty, and disease still exist if the JLA has so many superheroes and their abilities at their disposal? They create a world where the villains are the heroes, and the heroes are the terrorists working for their own ends. The superheroes must work to figure out what is behind the villains' benevolent actions before they are powerless to stop them.

I really liked the new perspective on these classic characters. It made for an intriguing plot and of course made me want to continue on to volume two. I am a huge fan of stories that focus on the villains of a story, so I liked seeing so many villains work together. It was difficult to know who to side with as I liked the new take on the villains and wanted them to succeed, but could not help wanting the heroes to find a way to win.

I liked that included in the book were brief Bios of the heroes and villains from the files in the Batcomputer. The heroes included in this volume are: Aquaman and Martian Manhunter.
The villains included are: Black Manta, Luthor, Riddler, Brainiac, Gorilla Grodd, Bizarro, Solomon Grundy, Metallo, and Parasite. It was a fun addition to the book, and lets you know a bit about some of the characters if you are not familiar with them.

I recommend reading Justice: Volume 1.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Week In The Woods





Mark has just moved, and is temporarily attending Hardy Elementary until his parents can get him into an exclusive prep school. So Mark is not taking his time at Hardy Elementary seriously, which gets him into trouble with Mr. Maxwell. Mark also does not understand what the big deal is with the annual Week in the Woods trip the school takes the fifth graders on. After he realizes he might be able to prove to Mr. Maxwell that he is not just another lazy rich kid, he is excited to go on the trip. After a misunderstanding on the trip, Mark puts himself and Mr. Maxwell in grave danger. They must work together if they are going to survive a week in the woods.

This is the twelfth book the Bookworms read together. Paige picked this book out for us to read. They had previously read Frindle by the same author, and liked it so much they wanted to read more of his books. I did not read this one with Paige and Alejandro, but joined in their discussion of the book. So the whole review will be from them this time.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Paige  5
Alejandro 4

Did you like the book?
Both: Yeah.

What was your favorite part?
Paige  I liked it all.
Alejandro I liked the end when Mark and the Science Teacher were in the forest.

What did you think of the teacher Mr. Maxwell?
Alejandro I thought he was a good teacher.
Paige  I thought he was nice, except when Mark made him mad.

What did you think of Mark?
Paige  He was a nice friend.
Alejandro I thought he was a smart aleck.

Mark was the new kid at school, what are some ways you could help someone who is new at school?
Alejandro Make friends with them.
Paige  Show them around and be nice to them.

What did you think of the rules on the trip?
Both: They were good rules.
Paige  The big rule was no knives.
Alejandro Even though they can be useful in the woods.

Would you go on a trip like a Week in the Woods?
Alejandro Yes. You could camp outside in a tent, and learn to set up a tent. And to hike.
Paige  I would go. It would be fun to learn to make a campfire.

If you could go on a trip anywhere, where would it be?
Paige An indoor swimming park.
Alejandro Chernobyl or Pompeii

Thank you Paige and Alejandro for reading and reviewing this book.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace





We return to William Shakespear's Star Wars galaxy to discover that the Republic is in crisis. The Trade Federation has set up a blockade at the planet Naboo, and the Jedi discover there are even more plots afoot. They must uncover the more nefarious plots before it is too late for Naboo, and the Republic.

I decided that this was the perfect book to review after taking a break from the blog while I traveled and moved this summer. I am a huge fan of this series, and after seeing a Shakespeare play in the park, I was in the mood for William Shakespeare's Star Wars. I was very eager to read this book. Doescher completely won me over with the original trilogy, so I expected it to be good even though the new trilogy is not my favorite in the Star Wars universe. I think this is the best possible version of The Phantom Menace. New depth is given to the story and characters. I also found the humor to be more engaging than in the original version.

Star Wars fans will notice the greatest difference, and improvement was how Jar Jar Binks was portrayed. Rather than comic relief that does not succeed, Jar Jar is using a classic Shakespeare trope of a person putting on a disguise to enhance their chances at success. Jar Jar plays the part of a fool because it serves his purpose. I do not think I will ever be a fan of Jar Jar Binks, but I was not repulsed by him in this version. I think Doescher brought new depth to his character and gave fans of Shakespeare another reason to appreciate this book.

There are so many great things about this book. I will only write about a few of my favorite parts, as it would take too long to write about everything, and readers should have a few things to discover on their own. I liked how the pod race was done. I could visualize it happening on a stage, and it did not take away from the action. I also liked the final fight between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan. I thought the battle was conveyed in a way that you still enjoyed the action, but learned some of the inner thoughts of the characters too. The conversations between the Jedi were also interesting to me.

I am always amazed when I finish a William Shakespeare's Star Wars how involved I become in the story. I am eager to discover how these well known stories will be portrayed, and have never been disappointed. There are always hidden gems I look forward to discovering.

I highly recommend reading this book! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania





The Lusitania left New York with the destination of Liverpool on May 1, 1915. It was carrying passengers, many of them were women and children. Germany had declared the seas around Britain a war zone, but many people did not seemed concerned for their safety, as they were on a civilian ship, and unofficial rules of war kept civilian ships safe from attack. Hoping to bring the war to a swift end, the decision was made to attack all ships in the war zone. The Lusitania was struck by a torpedo ending in great disaster.

I found this to be an interesting account of the sinking of the Lusitania. I have wanted to read a detailed account for some time, and was eager to read this book. It starts out slow, but builds tension as you read how 2,000 passengers decided to travel on the Lusitania despite warnings of German submarines and traveling through a war zone. I was intrigued to learn that British knew the danger the Lusitania was in, as they had broken codes being used by the Germans, and still did not warn the Lusitania, or provide an escort to help deter attacks.

I also found the details about some of the passengers interesting. While I liked learning about some of the people on board, at times it seemed to take over the story and interrupt the flow of reading the book. I am conflicted about this, as I think the personal aspect is important. The death of so many civilians is a major reason the sinking of the Lusitania made such an impact on history. It was also important to have a personal connection with some of the passengers when the description of the sinking of the Lusitania takes place. The horror of that moment is more clearly felt because we know who some of these people are. I think it was beneficial to include some personal stories, I just wish they had been integrated into the story in a way that made more sense to the reader and made the information seem more natural.

I found this to be an interesting book and learned some new information while reading it. It brought up some intriguing questions about the sinking of the Lusitania that I had not considered before. If you are interested in World War I or the sinking of the Lusitania, I would recommend reading this book.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook. I only had a few problems with it. My main issue is just a formatting preference. It was that the pages left in chapter would tell you how many pages are left in a section and not an actual chapter. I prefer knowing how many pages are in an actual chapter so I know when a good break point is coming up. It would also occasionally get stuck on a page or skip a page, but this was typically fixed if you closed the book and reopened it.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Revelation Of Louisa May





Louisa is in shock. She just found out her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family leaving her in charge of the household while she is away. Louisa does not want to take care of the house. She wants to write her stories and live her own life. Before long, Louisa is trying to solve a murder, help people trying to escape on the Underground Railroad, and falling in love. This is not the summer she was expecting.

I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review*. I was happy to review this book as it is one I have been looking forward to reading since I heard about it. I loved Little Women when I was growing up, and knew Alcott included some bits from her own life in her novels. I was hoping this book would show a different angle on her life, and was relieved when it did, as I did not want this book to compete with Little Women.

I thought it was an interesting way to tell young readers about the life of Louisa May Alcott. Although parts of the book are fiction, there is a fair bit that is from the Alcott's life. I particularly liked that the story included the Underground Railroad, her difficult relationship with her father, and the family's relationships with Transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau. I did not like the murder mystery portion of the story as much.

This is definitely a book written for a young adult audience. While adults might still enjoy it, I think that readers should be clear about the target audience. It was an easy to read book with history, mystery, and a bit of romance. It is a great way to learn more about a well loved author. It was a pleasant and quick read.

If you like Louisa May Alcott's books or young adult books I recommend reading this book.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book earlier than I would have gotten to it, or a book I might not have heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Spider And The Stone





At the dawn of the 14th century, Scotland's throne sits empty. Edward Longshanks invades Scotland hoping to add it to his realm. James--the Black Douglas aligns with Robert Bruce against the English invaders. James and his love Isabelle MacDuff must choose between their love, clan loyalty, and loyalty to their king. Beginning after the execution of William Wallace, it is the story of Scotland's fight for independence.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.* My attention was caught from the start of the book. Craney pulls you in with intrigue, battle, and a little romance. It was an excellent fictionalization of Scotland's struggle for independence against an encroaching force. The characters come alive as you face their struggles with them. This is a very detailed account that will keep you reading to discover what happens to these brave characters.

I was particularly interested in the detailed battle scenes. It makes history come alive as you read about the tactics that were used, and how the battles played out. I also really liked that there were strong female characters. You always hear about William Wallace, Robert Bruce, and Edward Longshanks, but I liked learning more about Isabelle MacDuff, Isabelle of France, Elizabeth de Burgh and Robert's daughter Marjory in this story.

This was a well researched book, which I appreciate in my historical fiction. Perhaps some of the details could have been edited to make it flow a little better in some places, but on the whole it provided an interesting account of Scotland's war for independence. I also appreciated the author's note and sources for further reading. This makes it easier to find answers to questions about something in the story or when you want to learn more about this fascinating time in history.

If you enjoy detailed historical fiction I think you should try reading this book.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook, and had no difficulties with it.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Sign Of The Beaver





Matt and his father go to Maine to find a new home. They build a cabin and plant crops. Matt's father must go and get his mother and sister and bring them back to Maine. He leaves Matt to take care of the place. Matt gets into trouble and the only thing that keeps him alive is his new friendship with Saknis, a Penobscot chief and his grandson Attean. As time passes, Matt worries when his family does not arrive. Will Matt see his family again?

I read this book when I was younger, and was excited to have the Bookworms read it. This book is at a reading level for ages 8-12. It is historical fiction, but it provides a more personal way of introducing the 1760's to young readers. Depending on what they have learned in school, they might not understand why the relationship between the settlers and the Native Americans was so tense. This book does not go into great detail about that, so some background information would be helpful, but not necessary to understand the story.

I think the best part of this book is how it portrays friendship, and how important it is to set aside preconceived ideas. I liked reading how Matt slowly realizes ideas he has grown up with and never questioned do not fit his new experiences. I like that the author did not rush this change. Books for adults and young readers often make changes so quickly that it does not seem real. It was great to actually see the growth of his character.

This was the eleventh book the Bookworms read together. I picked this book because it was one I liked reading when I was Alejandro and Paige's age. It was their first time reading it, and it was fun to see how they reacted to the book. We had great discussions about history, friendship, and how we should treat other people. Here are a few of the Bookworms' thoughts on the book. Warning, there may be some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Alejandro 41/2 when we began the discussion, but I change it to 5
Paige 4

What was your favorite part?
Paige I liked all of it a lot, but I think I liked the ending the best.
Alejandro When his Mom and Dad came.
Both I didn't think they would come.

How would you feel being left alone in the woods?
Alejandro I would think it isn't too long.
Paige I would be scared and worried I would get hurt. I would need to be careful.

As part of his agreement with Saknis, Matt teaches Attean to read with the book Robinson Crusoe. Have you ever taught anyone to read? What book would you use to teach someone to read?
Paige At school we have the Book Buddy Program. The older class goes to a younger class and helps them with reading. So I have taught people that way. I would use a Dr. Seuss book: Oh The Pets You Can Get because they might like it because it is easy and they would want or have a pet.
Alejandro I taught my sister to read a word. I would use a simple book but maybe a chapter book. Like a Geronimo Stilton book.

What does friendship mean to you?
Alejandro That you are nice to each other, stand up for them.
Paige You are close and help each other. You are happy together.

Why do you think Matt did not go with Attean?
Alejandro Because he wanted to wait in case his family came.
Paige He had hope his family would come back.

Is there anything else you would like to say about the book?
Paige It was nice and I like that they got to be friends.
Alejandro It was really good. I liked the part when they killed the bear and became friends.

Thank you Alejandro and Paige for reading and reviewing this book with me. I look forward to our next book!


Monday, April 6, 2015

This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth?





What is really in some of the products most people do not think twice about popping in their mouth? Does a Slim Jim meat stick have meat in it? What is Cool Whip? If I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is not butter, what is it? What are you chewing when you eat gum? Di Justo takes a look at what is really in products we eat, and it is often surprising what people are willing to eat.

I was intersted in this book because I care about eating healthy, and was curious to discover what food items were included in this book. I liked the variety of products discussed, everything from Egg Nog to heroin was covered. There is a section for items you don't put in your mouth that covers products such as: deodorant, mascara, fabric softener, and shampoo.

The format of the book was to say the name of the product, explain what the ingredients are and what they are commonly used for, and the backstory. I liked that there was a breakdown of the ingredients, that is very helpful if you do not know what something is, or what else it is used for. Although I thought there could have been more clear explanations or connections made at some points. The backstory could be interesting, but I felt that there was a lack of information at some points. I found it fascinating how difficult it could be for the author to talk to some companies about their product. I wish there had been more than a page for most of the items where the author talked about the product, his research, and why it might not be the greatest idea to use some of these things.

I wanted to like this book, but I could not really engage with the information. I think if it had been presented in a different way I would have liked this book more. If you are looking for a book of random facts this will be great for you. If you are looking for a book to help you understand what you are eating with in depth explanations, you should chose a different book.

I read this as an ebook on my Nook. It seemed to work fine for the most part. A couple of the back stories did not appear at the end of a section as was typical, but in the middle of the ingredient list. I am not certain if that was intentional or an error. A few of the products did not have back stories, but again, that could have been intentional.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to it, or a book I would not have heard about otherwise.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Gift Of Charms





In a secret land protected from humans, live the last of the dragons. They are hiding from humans and the dragsaurs--beasts that would destroy dragons. The dragons live normal lives. Some are guards, teachers, make items, go to school, or provide food. Their tasks become more difficult because their talents are fading. One day a strange egg hatches, and Yoshiko is born. Yoshiko faces many challenges, and must go on a dangerous mission in the human world to return magic to the dragons. Will Yoshiko complete his mission in time?

I received a free copy of this book to review from the author*. I had not heard of this book before, and was happy to discover a new book. It was an engaging coming of age story. Yoshiko faces many challenges that readers can identify with such as: problems with bullies, trying to find his place in the world, and being a little different from everyone else. Being able to identify with the main character(even thought he is a dragon and we are humans) really helped pull me into this fantasy world.

I really liked the details in this book, such as: the information about the different dragon clans and the important role they all play in keeping the community strong, the dragon mythology, or fire flowers that only open to the flames of dragon cave fires. I thought there was the perfect amount of detail to make you feel part of this fantasy world, without overwhelming the reader. I think it would be a great book for ages 7-12, but other ages would probably enjoy it as well.

Suzuki writes an excellent fantasy story, and I cannot wait to read more of her books! If you enjoy fantasy or books about dragons, I recommend reading this book.


*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have read as soon or heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Ark Before Noah





The Ark Before Noah begins with the arrival of a cuneiform tablet to the British Museum in 2008. Someone brought it in to have it examined by Dr. Finkel, an expert in the field. It ended up being more important than either could have expected. Dating to 1850 BC, it is a copy of the Babylonian Flood Story. One of the interesting things on this tablet were the detailed instructions on how to build the ark. The discoveries on this tablet combined with information from other sources, lead to Dr. Finkel to reveal his new information on the topic in this book.

This book has been on my to read list since I heard about it on a podcast from History Extra. I enjoyed reading about the history of Mesopotamia and learning more about cuneiform. It really helped me understand more about the language, and why the flood story was very popular. I also really liked the comparison of different flood myths from different cultures. It was very interesting to see how the different narratives were the same or where they differed, and why that might be.

The material was very interesting, and I appreciated that Finkel gave a lot of background information that directly related to the topic to help readers understand why this tablet was such an interesting discovery. I do think you will need to be very interested in the topic to appreciate this book. A person with passing interest might not care for all the details on cuneiform or the different types of boat and materials that could have been used.

I would recommend reading this book.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Walking Dead: Here We Remain




The Governor has attacked the prison where Rick and his group have been trying to survive. Rick manages to escape the attack with his son Carl, but they have nothing in the way of supplies. They are separated from the rest of the group and must find a new place to stay. Rick is also injured, and goes into a coma leaving Carl alone with zombies all around. Will they survive?

This is volume nine in The Walking Dead graphic novel series. The last book in the series I reviewed was volume five: The Best Defense. Since my opinion of the series is mostly the same for the books in between these two, I thought I would skip ahead in the reviews to the next one that really stood out to me. First, this volume was different because it focused only on two characters. Second, I thought the writing improved from the previous books. Third: the character development was amazing!

I think this was the best book in the series so far. There is not a lot of dialogue, but I really liked the focus on Carl. Previously, we were not given very much information about him except for the basics, so it was interesting to discover what being a kid in the zombie apocalypse has done to him. It really developed some of the internal struggles better than many of the previous volumes, which is one aspect I have been hoping to see in this series. The series often feels too rushed to really see how the characters would be changing in such a situation. There is still a rushed feeling as you read about these characters and how they change, but it is an improvement.

If you like the Walking Dead series, this is a good one to read.


Friday, March 20, 2015

The Magician King





Quentin Goldwater has finally escaped his miserable life in Brooklyn, graduated from magic college, and has discovered his favorite fictional world Fillory, is real. He should be happy. Quentin discovers being king of Fillory has not magically made him happy. He begins to long for a quest to bring new thrills into his life. The quest does not go as expected. Quentin finds himself in the real world and must struggle to find his way back to Fillory.

This was an incredible continuation of the trilogy. I will admit, when reading the first portion of this book, I thought it was good, but a little slow. I also thought it was lacking some of the magic that made me love the first book The Magician. When I got to the last third of the book, I could not put it down. It was amazing! It exceeded all my expectations, and is definitely on par with the first book.

At first it was a little frustrating to realize Quentin is still looking for whatever it is that will make him happy. He has it all. I like that we grow with Quentin. He is a very real character, and I enjoyed the quest. I also liked learning more about Julia, and how she learned magic. There are some great new characters and adventures in this book. I cannot wait to read the third book Magician's Land. After finishing this book, I have very high hopes for the last book.

I highly recommend reading this book!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Geronimo Stilton: The Hunt For The Golden Book





Geronimo Stilton is celebrating his tenth anniversary for publishing his first book. His Grandfather wants him to write a special book for the occasion that must be completed in time for the huge party he is throwing for Geronimo. Geronimo's laptop is stolen, and it has the only copy of the book. He enlists his family and friends to help him find his computer and print the book before the party. Will they be able to get the book printed before it is too late?

I liked reading this Geronimo Stilton book. It was fun to read, and it had lot of bonus material. There was an extra short story: The Lake Monster. It is a fun mystery that Geronimo and his friends must solve. At the end, you can see how many of the clues you got correct to find out what level of Mouse Detective you are. There were also a whole bunch of jokes that were fun to read and tell to other people. I thought all the different features were a great way to involve the reader in what was going on.

I liked the focus of the main story as well. You learn about how books are made, which is always great to understand how things are made. I also liked the focus on relationships. It really showed how important it is to be considerate of other people. This book is geared towards the 7-10 year old age group, and is a fun story.

This is the tenth book the Bookworms have read together. Alejandro picked this book out. It was one of the newer Geronimo Stilton books, and was one they had not read yet. They are huge fans of this series. We had a great time discussing the book, and telling the jokes at the end to each other. Here are just a few of the Bookworms' thoughts on the book. Warning! There may be some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Alejandro 6! 5 for the main story and the sixth is for the extra stuff. It was really good.
Paige 5 I liked it!

What was your favorite part of the book?
Paige When his Grandfather gives him back the book with a lot of red marks to change it to be more about him. And the romantic cruise with Lola.
Alejandro All of it! I did really like when he was inside the cargo plane looking for his computer. I predict other people weren't happy when they found all the open boxes.

What did you think about learning how books were made?
Alejandro I thought it was cool to read about it. It was my first time learning about that.
Paige We learned about it in school, but it was fun to read about.

Would you want to be an newspaper editor like Geronimo, or a secret agent like his friend?
Paige A secret agent. Because it is cool and I could solve things like a mystery.
Alejandro I would be an editor. Because I would be famous and I like reading the newspaper and reading things and I could write a book about the Loch Ness Monster.

Would you parachute out of a plane?
Alejandro Yes it would be fun.
Paige No. I could go in the water or hit a rock and die.

Did you like the Lake Monster story?
Alejandro I thought it was cool!
Paige Yes.

Did you read the clues, and were you able to figure them out?
Paige Some of them.
Alejandro Yes, and I figured them out.

What level detective were you?
Both: Super Investigator.

Did the clues help you know what to pay attention to in then story?
Alejandro Yes, but I noticed some stuff without the clues.
Paige Yeah, but I noticed some things with the clues and some without the clues.

Did you have a favorite joke?
Paige I liked a lot of them, but I really liked the one about the skunk. It really stinks!
Alejandro I thought they were funny. My favorite was probably: Why shouldn't you tell jokes to an egg? It might crack up!

Thank you to the Bookworms for reading and reviewing this book with me. I had a lot of fun talking about it and telling the jokes. I look forward to our next book! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Until You're Mine





Claudia has everything she has ever wanted. She has a husband, two boys, and a baby on the way that she has wanted for a long time. She loves her job as a social worker, so she hires Zoe as a nanny to help her around the house. Despite Zoe's recommendations and connection with the boys, Claudia does not trust her. With several pregnant women being attacked in the area, Claudia begins to realize how vulnerable she is, and that she has a stranger living in her home. As she digs into Zoe's past, she makes unsettling discoveries that could have great impact on her life.

I thought this seemed like an interesting mystery as it explores the idea of how far a person will go to have a child of their own. I liked that at times I would start to guess what was happening, as you do when reading a mystery, and something would happen that would make me second guess my original thought. At times it was a little more convoluted then I would prefer, but it was an alright mystery.

I think this is a good distraction novel if you like mysteries that keep you reading but do not require a lot of attention. I did not get overly attached to the plot or the characters. There was a lot of information/misinformation that could overwhelm the story at some points. I also felt that some of the plot points were not necessary and distracted me from what the story was really about. I think some of it was suppose to help us connect with the characters or fill in the story, but it did not seem necessary to the real story to me. On the whole it was a okay mystery.

 If you like mysteries I would give it a try.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book that I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Wars Of The Roses





In The Wars Of The Roses Jones outlines how two branches of the Plantagenet family, the Yorks and the Lancasters, fight for the crown. After years of fighting, they are replaced by the Tudors. How exactly the Tudors gained power, who the major historical figures that were involved, major battles, and an explanation of the Tudor propaganda of this period are some of the major topics that are all covered in this book.

I really enjoyed this overview of the War of the Roses, and learning more details about what led up to the Tudors being in power. I am interested in this time period, and was looking for an overview that connected all the major characters and events. I was very impressed with Jones' writing style, the presentation of the information, and the quality of the research. It was a very absorbing account, and I added this book to My Favorite Books List.

I liked that Jones showed how events such as: Henry V dying too soon, war with France, the marriage between Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI, the acknowledgement of royal half-siblings, the Princes in the tower, and many more events small and large all play an interesting and important role in the Tudors gaining power. I really liked seeing how each person and event played a part in what happened. Jones gives us a fascinating piece of history in this book.

I think anyone who is interested in this time period will like Jones' book. It works for both those who are familiar with the topic, and those that have not approached the topic in depth before. There are a lot of details, but Jones writes in such an engaging way that even those that do not read history books will find themselves enjoyably immersed in the events of The War Of The Roses. I will definitely be reading this book again, and I am looking forward to reading Jones' book: The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings And Queens Who Made England.

I highly recommend reading this book.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Daughters Of The Witching Hill





Bess Southers is a widow living in Pendle Forest. She has visions, and is known as a cunning woman. She uses folk magic to heal the sick and tell the future. She passes on her knowledge to her granddaughter Alizon and to her friend who gets caught up in dark magic. She is named as a witch as their neighbors become suspicious of them and their craft.

This story is based on the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt, and is fictionalized to show what it might have been like for some of the accused women. The first part of the book is narrated by Bess Southers, and the second by Alizon. I liked this because it gave different perspectives on what the women were doing, and what brought about the accusations from their neighbors.

The story flowed beautifully, as Sharratt brought to life the events of the Pendle witch-hunt. I got caught up in the details that easily brings the reader into the everyday events of 1612. I thought there was a great balance between historical details and setting, and the telling of Bess and Alizon's story. It was an engaging and thought provoking read. I thought it was a compelling story, and I am so glad I discovered it. It is definitely one I will read again.

A must read for historical fiction fans or those interested in witch-hunts.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Jack Of Fables: The Bad Prince





In this volume, we learn more about Jack's time with the Snow Queen, his run in with the sword Excalibur, and are introduced to someone that turns Jack's world upside down. The bit with the Snow Queen reveals his time as Jack Frost because he took her powers. Jack's discovery of the location of Excalibur is somewhat amusing and ties into the main Fables series.

This is the third volume of the Jack of Fables series that is a spinoff of the Fables graphic novel series. To avoid spoilers for the main series, I would read the first few Jack books after volume six: Homelands, but read them before Fables: The Great Fables Crossover volume thirteen. Jack's story is brought back to the main story, and it will help to know what is happening if you read these before you get to the thirteenth book. It is not necessary to understand the story, but it lets you know who the characters are, and helps with some of the jokes.

I am honestly not enjoying this spinoff series. I am reading them all once to know as much as possible about the Fables world, but if you are not a huge fan of the Fables series I would not bother reading them. Jack is suppose to be the bad boy of the series that gets into trouble with his antics. The problem is, he is not a lovable bad guy, he is just an annoying horrible person. I could deal with his character in the main series because he was not the focus of the story. As a main character there is not enough to Jack to make it worth investing time or money in the series.

I only recommend reading this if you happen to like Jack's character or are a huge fan of Fables. Otherwise, I would not recommend reading this book.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Frindle





Nick Allen is always looking for a way to make school more exciting. One day in class, he learns how words are created. He gets the idea to rename pens frindles. Nick gets his friends to use the word frindle, and soon the whole town is using the new word for pen. It creates a huge stir at school as his teacher tries to put an end to the nonsense word frindle. Nick soon discovers that he may have started frindle, but he is no longer in control of the word, everyone is using it.

This was my first time reading Frindle, and I had fun reading it with the Bookworms. It is a great way for kids to discover how words originated, and how they can change over time. It also shows how people can make a difference if they are persistent. I liked that Nick is a relatable character. He is mischievous, but never a real troublemaker. It is a great way to show kids and adults that it is ok to have fun and do your own thing without taking things too far.

I think this is a great book for kids to read. It is easy to understand, and not too long so they will stay interested in the story. There are some thought provoking ideas that are good for children to start thinking about. It is not just serious though. It is funny and you find yourself hoping that Nick has success with the word frindle.

This is the ninth book the Bookworms read together. Paige picked this book out for us. I had never heard of it before, and had fun discovering a new book. We all had great time discussing the book. We had some great discussions about words, villains, and the characters. Here are some of the Bookworms thoughts on the book. Warning there may be some spoilers!


Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club


How many stars out of 5 would you give Frindle?
Paige 4 1/2
Alejandro 4 1/2

What was your favorite part of the book?
Paige I liked the dictionary with the word Frindle in it.
Alejandro Towards the end of the book when he gets the package.

Some people thought Nick was being disrespectful, do you think Nick was disrespectful?
Alejandro No. I don't get why people thought that. He was just making a new word.
Paige Kind of when he was wasting time in class. With Frindle, he was just using his imagination.

What did you think of Nick's teacher?
Alejandro I thought she was pretty nice.
Paige Sometimes she seemed nice, and other times she seemed a little mean.

Nick got a lot of money for inventing the word Frindle, what would you do with all that money?
Alejandro Save it to go to college.
Paige Yes, and save so my kids could go to college too. I would buy a house too.

Would you tell your friends about this book?
Paige All my friends know about it because my teacher read it to us in school.
Alejandro Yeah, because some parts are really funny.

What word would you change or invent?
Alejandro That's hard to say because we already know the names or words for things. Maybe Chilito for hot/spicy things.
Paige I don't know what word I would make yet, but I would have it be something for candles having to do with fire.

Thank you to the Bookworms for reading and reviewing this book with me. It is always a lot of fun, and I look forward to our next book.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fables: Wolves





Mowgli is on a special mission for Fabletown. He must track down Bigby so he can be sent on a secret mission involving a beanstalk to thwart the adversary. Knowing Bigby might not be inclined to help he is offered an irresistible reward. If he successfully completes the mission he will be reunited with Snow and their children. Cinderella is on a diplomatic mission in the Cloud Kingdoms, a prisoner goes free, and there is a special event the Fables celebrate.

This is the eighth volume in this series in the Fables series. This one is a must for fans that really like Bigby and Snow's characters. It does not have as much action as the volumes that focused on the war with the Adversary, but there are some interesting plot developments. I liked that this volume uses characters that we have already gotten to know a little bit and brings them into the story more. I liked having Mowgli and Cinderella included in this story.

There were also some maps of Fabletown and the farm included at the end of this volume. It really helps bring the places that are constantly referred to alive. I love the puns used for the shop names and streets. They all are related in some way to an author or tale we know and love in the fairy tale genre. I think this volume was an excellent edition to the series, and really shows the diversity of that the series is capable of. While a lot of this book was wrapping up some previous plot points, it does leave an opening for the future of the series.

I highly recommend reading this series!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Provence 1970





In the winter of 1970 culinary figures M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, Simone Beck, Richard Olney, and Judith Jones got together in the south of France. They cooked together and talked, sometimes heatedly, about the future of food in America. These are some of the people that helped shape the culture of food, without realizing just how much impact they would have. M.F.K. Fisher recorded in her journals and letters the conversations and food the group had on this trip. The letters and journal were later discovered by her nephew Luke Barr.

This intimate look at such well known figures is from M.F.K. Fisher's point of view. Her letters and journals are used as the primary sources for this book, so it seemed very natural to use her perspective on these events. I really liked seeing these popular people through a friend and colleague's eyes. She is very real in the way she records the different relationships between the group, and gave us what seems to be a realistic idea of who they were.

I thought it was very interesting to discover how American tastes changed, and what some of the influences of those changes might have been. I liked the permeating idea of how food can shape memories and experiences. I appreciated how Barr included details about the menus and cooking processes to really help the reader understand the connections to food, and how different it was to the way many people eat now.

It was an interesting read. It took me a little while to get into the flow of the writing, but by the time they were all together in France I was enjoying the almost nostalgic feel the book had. The end was also a little harder to get through, but people who are interested in the food movement or the culinary figures mentioned in this book will enjoy reading it.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook, and had no problems reading it in that format.

I recommend reading this book.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a book sooner than I would have gotten to it or heard about otherwise.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Maid And The Queen




The Maid And The Queen explores the relationship between Yolanda of Aragon, Queen of Sicily and Joan of Arc. Yolanda was a powerful woman who supported Charles the dauphin of France's claim against the English. When circumstances seemed the most bleak for the French, Joan of Arc appeared, claiming a divine message for Charles. She inspired Charles and the French changing history.

I heard about this book on a history podcast I listen to, and it seemed like a really good book about Joan of Arc, so I was excited to finally read this book. It was even better than I expected. I added it to My Favourite Books List because I liked it so much. Goldstone explores questions such as: how did a peasant girl gain access to the dauphin? Was she entirely dependent on her voices, or was there someone else helping her? The exploration of these and other questions brought new depth to the historical and mythical figure of Joan of Arc.

I liked that Goldstone had a wonderful balance of exploring what was behind the myths of Joan--knowing what the dauphin's secret prayers were, how she managed to meet with Charles, why people would believe in a peasant girl, when she started hearing voices and what they initially were telling her, without degrading such an important historical person. I found the explanations behind Joan's behavior only increased my fascination and respect for her, they did not ruin my view of this mythic figure at all.

I also liked learning more about Yolanda of Aragon. She is a fascinating woman, and I enjoyed learning how much she influenced events in France at this time. She is a person I want to learn more about. She was very educated, learned from the people around her, and was able to run her husband and son's property while they were unable to do so, with great success.

I found this a fascinating biography of Joan of Arc and Yolanda of Aragon. Goldstone writes in a very clear way. There was an excellent balance between providing interesting details but not overwhelming the reader with too many facts. If you want a lot of intimate details for each woman, you should probably read other books about them that focus more on the individual you want more information about. This book shows the relationship between these two women. It is an engrossing read that anyone interested in Joan of Arc should read.

I highly recommend reading this book.