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Tag Archives: four to five stars

Review: The Mermaid’s Sister

Review:  The Mermaid’s Sister

Title: The Mermaid’s Sister
Author: Carrie Anne Noble
Published: 2015
Length: 234 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Clara has lived her entire life in a small cottage on Llanfair Mountain with her adopted mother and sister. They’ve grown up with stories of how their Auntie found them as babies: Clara brought by a stork and Maren left on the doorstep in a clamshell.  When the girls turn sixteen, however, the stories become all too real for Clara as her sister changes before her eyes. Scales appear on Maren’s stomach, her fingers and toes grow webbed, and she is soon unable to live out of some kind of water. With heavy hearts, Clara, Maren, and their lifelong friend O’Neill eventually embark on a journey to the ocean. Yet after their wagon is sabotaged and they are kidnapped, they find themselves fighting for their very lives.

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Review: House Broken

Review: House Broken

Title: House Broken
Author: Sonja Yoerg
Published: 2015
Length: 325 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

After her mother is badly injured in a drunk-driving accident, Geneva Novak reluctantly take her in while she recovers. Geneva resents her mother’s irresponsible behavior as well as her attitude towards her and tries to sober her up, but Helen is relentless in her pursuit of the numbing powers of alcohol. Her most painful memories have nothing to do with the car wreck, however, but rather with her unhappy marriage and secrets that she’s kept–and drowned in liquor–for decades. Her presence in the Novak household threatens to upend both Geneva’s childhood memories and her entire family in ways that none of them could have ever anticipated.

Note: this review is mostly spoiler-free. I’ve included some spoilers in my Goodreads review.

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Review: Three Dark Crowns

Review: Three Dark Crowns

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Published: 2016
Length: 383 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Three dark queens / are born in a glen, / sweet little triplets / will never be friends
Three dark sisters / all fair to be seen, / two to devour / and one to be Queen

Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella are the latest generation of gifted queens born together but raised separately–raised to compete with, and ultimately to kill, each other for the throne of Fennbirn. But as Beltane approaches–and with it the Ascension Year, when the deadly competition begins–tension runs high on the island. Katharine is a poisoner but lacks the proper immunity to poisons. Arsinoe’s naturalist gift never manifests, leaving her weak and vulnerable but nonetheless defiant. The beautiful Mirabella, whose elemental gift is strong and who is favored by most to emerge triumphant, is reluctant to act as the puppet the Temple expects her to be. The magical, doomed sisters contend with love, lust, and above all, fear as their times draw near and rumors about sacrifices and sinister religious plots fly.

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Review: First Family

Review: First Family

Title: First Family: Abigail and John Adams
Author: Joseph Ellis
Published: 2010
Length: 299 pages (includes notes and index)

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ¾

When John Adams began courting Abigail Smith in the early 1760s, her mother opposed the match, believing her daughter was too good for a country lawyer who had yet to make a name for himself. Yet by the time of her death, Abigail was poised to become arguably the only founder’s wife to go down in history alongside him. In First Family, Joseph Ellis attempts to deliver a dual biography and paint the portrait of what was a deep friendship, a loving marriage, and a political partnership that shaped the future of a fledgling country. In some ways he falls short, but the story of these “dearest friends” is far too touching, and the subjects themselves too interesting, for the book to be a failure.

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Review: Along for the Ride

Review: Along for the Ride

Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: 2009
Length: 383 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

When Auden West receives a souvenir from her brother who is backpacking in Europe, it inspires her to spend her last summer before college visiting her father and stepmother in the quaint beach town of Colby instead of closeted in her childhood home. Her relaxing vacation, however, quickly becomes a whirlwind adventure for Auden, whose focus in high school was academics rather than a social life. Yet even as she steps outside of her comfort zone and into the “world of girls,” Auden also finds herself reliving the trauma of the end of her parents’ marriage and remembering all her own guilt and insecurities as tensions in the house rise.

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Review: Good Wives

Review: Good Wives

Title: Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Nothern New England, 1650-1750
Author: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Published: 1982
Length: 296 pages  (includes image plates, notes, bibliography, and index)

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

In Good Wives (a play on the title “Goodwife,” or “Goody,” commonly used by many Puritans in New England to refer to a married woman), Laurel Thatcher Ulrich explores the expectations and conventions of colonial women in Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts over the course of a century and how they intersected with the realities of their day-to-day lives. She separates her study between the economic, sexual and parental, and religious roles of these women, and along the way reveals that they often had far more influence and agency than is commonly believed, though the means by which they expressed it reflected the attitudes of their society at large.

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Review: Dark Triumph

Review: Dark Triumph

Title: Dark Triumph
Author: Robin LaFevers
Published: 2013
Length: 385 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Returned to the household of her sadistic and scheming father, Count d’Albret, by the abbess of the Convent of St. Mortain, where she took refuge after the traumatic death of her stepmother, Lady Sybella lives in constant anxiety and vigilance. She has only the promise that she can dispatch him in the name of their god to comfort her–until she receives new orders that she is to smuggle d’Albret’s gravely injured prisoner out of the city so that he may return to aid the embattled young Duchess Anne. Sybella obeys, though not without bitterness, and finds her plans rapidly spiraling out of her control.

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