New is Fun, Too! – Ariel Leshchinsky

Title: New is Fun, Too!

Author: Ariel Leshchinsky

Illustrator: Jeremy Wells

Plot: Panda Ya and her family are moving far away from everything’s she known. Panda Ya is very nervous. Her parents talk to her about how life in her new town is different but also the same. Panda Ya starts to understand and accept her new life. That night her parents have some surprises for her. But what are they?

Rating: 4.5 – a cute story about moving with children

Opinion: This was a very cute book. It does a good job explaining how life can be different and the same in a new place. This is a great book for families moving with kids. It can help with their anxieties about the unknown with moving and that some things can stay the same. A kid brought this book in to the daycare where I work. Her mother wrote it. The kids loved it. They thought it was cute, too. They seemed to understand the general concept of moving. They loved the pictures and activities in the book. This is a great family book and great and I highly recommend this book.

Where The Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak

Title: Where The Wild Things Are

Author and Illustrator: Maurice Sendak

Genre: Children’s Book, Picture Book

Plot: Max causes mischief of a new sort one night. His parents ground him to his room. Once his room, Max’s room starts to disappear and a forest takes its place. Then he finds an ocean and a boat. Max sets sail. After his long voyage, what will Max find? Who are the creatures? Can Max ever return home?

Rating: 4.0 – a classic picture book

Opinion: This was a cute kid’s book. I remember reading this book growing up. I’ve read this book to the kids at the daycare and they love it, too. Sometimes they got to act what the characters and monsters did. Another teacher put on a play about the book. Everyone loved it. The kids really enjoyed everything about it. They loved acting it out and helping with decorations and costumes. It helped teach the kids about the lesson of the book. One of the lessons is listening. There’s a time for playing and a time for listening. Then again it’s a kid’s book. They the pictures and the silliness of the book. Overall, this is a great book. This is a classic book. It’s a must for any classroom.

The Cartographers – Peng Sheperd

Title: The Cartographers

Author: Peng Sheperd

Genre: Mystery, Realistic Fiction

Plot: Dr. Nell Young has been working at an antique map creation shop since her father fired her from the New York Public Library and ruined her career over a disagreement of a “junk map.” Then Nell gets news that her father died. The initial report says he had a heart attack. When the library is robbed and someone else dies, the police take a second look. Nell starts looking closer at a map she took from her father’s things. She thinks it may be connected with the break in at the library. Nell decides to do some research about the map’s origins. But the more she learns about the map, the more she learns about her father’s past. Nell starts learning secrets about the map her father’s friends meant for her to learn. What secrets do the map contain? Can Nell learn what really happened to the map’s originally? Or will whomever’s behind the robbery find her first?

Rating: 3.7 – an interesting mystery with a good twist

Opinion: This was a great book. The mystery of the book was well thought out. The plot twists were well spaced out, which led to less slumps in the reading. There were lots of good clues left throughout the book if you knew where to look. I found it interesting that Nell’s parents friends took turns providing the information of the map’s origins and what really happened to it. The one thing that felt a little fuzzy on details was a secret on the map. It felt a little to unrealistic for the setting of the book. It almost felt too fantastical for something that was supposed to be set in the real world. It didn’t fit with the rest of the book. The ending left the book open if the author wanted to create a sequel down the road. I liked the ending cause it left hope that everything worked out in the end and will work out after the ending takes place. Overall this was a great book and I really enjoyed it. Even with the different kind of twist than what I’m used to. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a mystery with an interesting twist.

The Painter of Battles – Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Title: The Painter of Battles

Author: Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Translator: Margaret Sayers Peden

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction

Plot: Andrés Faulques is a world renowned war photographer. He’s retired to the Spanish coast to work on a mural for himself. Then a man shows up unexpectedly shows up. He challenges Faulques to remember him and the place a woman died. The man wants Faulques to understand what happened after Faulques took his picture. The one that made Faulques famous. If he doesn’t, the man will kill him when he’s done talking. Will Faulques remember and learn what he needs to? Or will the man kill him?

Rating: 3.5 – a interesting tale of life and death

Opinion: This was an interesting book. I enjoyed learning about what it takes to take amazing photographs. In a way the book was about learning to live again after seeing so much trauma. And about seeing thing from another perspective. It was a good book. There was a little grammar thing that bugged me about the book. Not all of the characters say are in quotes or in separate paragraphs. Overall this was a good book. Lots of little side stories about the things that lead up to that moment in the book. It’s good for anyone looking for a quick book to read.

A River Enchanted – Rebecca Ross

Title: A River Enchanted

Author: Rebecca Ross

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: Jack is finishing up at a musician’s school and hopes to get a job as a music teacher on the mainland when he gets a letter to return to his island of Cadence from the laird. When Jack returns, he learns some of the young girls on the island have been disappearing. The laird and his daughter need help finding them. Jack uses his gift with music to summon spirits who might know where the missing girls are. The spirits say the other clan on the island has them. But the other clan talks of peace. Are the talks of peace true? Can Jack and his clan find the missing girls? Or will the girls remain hidden? Who is responsible for the kidnapping of the girls?

Rating: 4.2 – an interesting take on Scottish/Irish lore

Opinion: This was a great book. I loved the different take on fantasy, spirits, and magic. The magic system is different from what I’m used to. The magic in this book has a high costs and can’t be used as much as most other magic systems. I enjoyed the mystery of the book. The characters figure it out earlier on but it’s not confirmed until later on. I like the fact that the characters still took the time and planed out how to get the girls back. There was no heroic charge into enemy territory to get them. It was refreshing to see. It was also nice to see that the two younger characters had a slow build to their relationship instead of just jumping into bed together right away. Nothing was easy for the characters. They faced every challenge and worked through it together. I really enjoyed the Scottish and Irish lore woven into the book. It made the book unique and made it more interesting and more enjoyable to read. This was a different kind of book and I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves fantasy.

The Lady’s Mine – Francine Rivers

Title: The Lady’s Mine

Author: Francine Rivers

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Kathryn Walsh has just moved out to Calvada, California during the gold rush. Her mother and step father disinherited her after her latest debacle, joining the feminists. But her late uncle, on her father’s side, left her mother some property in Calvada. Kathryn’s mother gave it to her to get Kathryn out of the picture. All of the men in Calvada gawk at her. They tell her she doesn’t fit in, or want to marry her. Kathryn is bound and determined to make a life for herself by herself in Calvada. But everything is not what it seems. Her uncle’s death was not as straightforward as she thought. Calvada’s more lawless than she thought. Matthias Beck and Morgan Sanders both vie for her affections. But only one truly admires her spunk as she starts up the newspaper her uncle ran. Then she adds a milliner’s shop to her business. The men are surprised by her success and that she voices the truth in her newspaper. Can Kathryn keep up her ideals? Or will she be forced to compromise? Will Kathryn stay single like she’s always planned? Or will someone win her heart?

Rating: 4.3 – a sappy historical fiction

Opinion: This was a great book. I’ve always loved Francine River’s books. This was another great one. I enjoyed the attention to details in the book. This book gives great insight into what happened to women when they got married without being a lecture. I enjoyed the main characters. They’re well written and I could relate to them. Kathryn was a strong, independent woman in a time when women weren’t supposed to be. She stayed true to her ideals and refused to compromise. Matthias was a good man with a good heart. He respected Kathryn and her wishes. The one little thing that bugged me with the book was who killed some of the characters. The plot keeps moving away and coming back to the character’s deaths and who killed them. It’s a mystery for most of the book. I was starting to be okay with not knowing who killed them because the plot had moved away from that part of the story long enough. It was one of those, ‘wait what? they did it?’ moments I felt came out of nowhere. It was kind of glossed over because the plot quickly returned to other things. But this was still an amazing book. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it for anyone who loves a sappy historical fiction book.

Lamp Black, Wolf Gray – Paula Brackston

Title: Lamp Black, Wolf Gray

Author: Paula Brackston

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Plot: Laura and Dan have just bought a house in the Welsh countryside. Laura hopes it will give them a new start where they can start their family after years of trying. But the stress is still there with Dan still working in London and Laura packing and unpacking by herself. Then Laura meets Rhys and at first, sparks fly. Then one of Laura’s friends arrive and reminds Laura of what’s at stake if she keeps up her relationship with Rhys. All the while, a ghost from the past keeps appearing and wanting something from her. Then one of her friends gets hurt while visiting her while visiting. Can Laura save her marriage? Or will she go with Rhys? Who is this ghost and what connection does it have with Laura and her house? Will Laura’s friends be safe?

Rating: 3.5 – an interesting part of Merlin’s story

Opinion: This was an interesting story. I really enjoyed learning about the history of Merlin. I liked this take on his magic and how connected he was with real parts of history. I connected with Laura and wanted her to make the right choices. I’m glad when she did and wanted to make things right in the end. I’m glad she saw through Rhys and finally stood up to him. I also felt for Merlin and Megan. Both wanted to do what was right and saw what was wrong in their world. My heart broke at the end of their story. But I’m glad about what happened at the end of the story when both stories came together. I’m glad the characters were able to work through some of the their differences and save their marriages. I’ve always loved how this author combines history and fantasy. She does a good job going back and forth between past and present. There’s good spacing between changes in the point of view. I highly enjoyed this book and would recommend it for anyone who loves fantasy and historical fiction.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie N. Holmberg

Title: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: Marie has been living with adoptive parents Arrice and Franc in the town of Carmine. She can bake magic into her pastries, things like strength, luck, and love. There’s one problem, Marie has no memories from before four years prior. When thieves raid her town, Marie is captured and sold as a slave. Her master is an odd man named Allemas. Everything about him seems unnatural. He demands she make his customers her magical pastries. All the while, a transparent figure called Fyel is trying to get Marie to remember who she was. Can Marie ever remember who she was? Can she escape Allemas? Who was Fyel in Marie’s past life?

Rating: 3.6 – a different take on fairy tales

Opinion: This was an interesting story. I really liked this take on a few classic fairy tales. The story was very subtle about the fairy tales. There were one or two things that I picked up on throughout the story. They weren’t necessarily hinted on but could be picked up on if you pay attention to them. I don’t know why but I didn’t love what Marie truly was. Throughout the book I felt like there was a part of the book I was missing. Like there was another book that I should’ve read before this one. Maybe it was just me, but that kind of bugged me. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the twist on fairy tales and how magic is used throughout the book. This is a great book for anyone who loves fantasy and fairy tales.

A Refuge Assured – Joselyn Green

Title: A Refuge Assured

Author: Joselyn Green

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Vivienne is a lacemaker in France in the late 1700’s, during the French Revolution. She’s in fear for her life as she’s made lace for Marie Antoinette and therefore royalty. When her aunt dies, she finds a letter from her late mother about passage to the newly created United States. But the letter is from Armond, who could possibly her estranged father. Vivienne is determined not to like him on their journey. He still offers her all the help she needs, any of which she declines. Vivienne finds her own way in the United States. But the French Revolution follows Vivienne to her new home. One of her neighbors has a son, Henri, that could possibly be the lost dauphin, the crown prince Louis-Charles. Jacobins, the people responsible for the revolution,are looking for him. Who can Vivienne trust? Can she keep Henri safe?

Rating: 4.0 – a slow start historical fiction

Opinion: I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started. I though it was going to be super dramatic. But it turned out to be a super interesting book. I didn’t know much about the French Revolution and I loved learning more about it. I didn’t know how much the United States wanted to help France and how much they did to help. It was also interesting to learn a little more about Alexander Hamilton and why he didn’t continue with his Secretary of Treasury position. I was pleasantly surprised that there were elements of faith throughout the book. It wasn’t the main theme of the book, but I’m glad it was there. This was a surprisingly good book. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves sappy romantic book and historical fiction books.

The Magnolia Palace – Fiona Davis

Title: The Magnolia Palace

Author: Fiona Davis

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Lillian Carter has just lost her mother to the Spanish flu. She’s had plenty of success as a model and relied on it so far. But things get complicated when she’s accused as an accomplice to her landlord’s murder. The police won’t listen to her side of the story, so she flees. She finds a job with the Frick family as a private secretary for their daughter, Helen. She’s able to hide there, hopefully until the murder case blows over. But not everything is as it seems.

Almost 50 years later, Veronica Weber is a model trying to make her way in the world. She’s found a gig at the Frick house. But she told the director off, and got asked to leave the set. But she gets locked inside with one of the workers during a snowstorm. They find clues to a missing family gem. Together they try to find it. Can they find it? Or is it gone forever?

Rating: 3.4 – a good historical fiction mystery

Opinion: This was a good historical fiction book. It was different than I thought it would be. There was still plenty of historical fiction. I hadn’t known about the Frick family before the book. The story was a bit dramatic for me. It also felt a little too similar to some of other super rich family stories I’ve read. Something always goes wrong or someone dies. In this case, it’s both. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it was a little predictable. While I did enjoy this, it wasn’t a memorable book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction with a little mystery.

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