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Review: The Wicked and the Just

Review: The Wicked and the Just

Title: The Wicked and the Just
Author: J. Anderson Coats
Published: 2012
Length: 342 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ¾

The lives of two girls who feel they’ve lost everything–including estates they consider their birthrights–entertwine in thirteenth-century Wales when Cecily d’Edgeley’s father becomes an English burgess in the town of Caernarvon. Cecily feels her life has been ruined and dreams only of fancy gowns and returning to her childhood home, now occupied by her uncle. She struggles to adjust to living by new rules and among new people who are neither respectful nor submissive like the peasants at Edgeley. Meanwhile her new housemaid Gwenhwyfar, herself once the daughter of a lord, works to the bone simply for a meager supply of food and a few paltry coins.  She hates “the brat” and all the English of Caernarvon, and she’s hardly the only one. As Cecily grumbles about learning to walk like a lady and innocently torments (she thinks) her Welsh servants, tension fed by anger, fear, and hunger brews among the persecuted native populace beyond the city walls–tension that, before long, must boil over.

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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: Shadowlark

Review: Shadowlark

Title: Shadowlark
Author: Megan Spooner
Published: 2013
Length: 327 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★

In this sequel to Skylark, Lark Ainsley continues searching for her brother Basil in hopes of understanding not only his fate but her own identity as well. Soon, however, she falls into the clutches of men who serve Prometheus, the leader of an underground city called Lethe. There, Renewables are feared and forced into slavery to keep the city and its people alive and safe from the shadows of the wold above. After escaping their clutches, Lark works with the resistance, where she realizes that her brother may have come here, too, and fallen victim to Prometheus as well. She is determined to escape–but not before she frees the captive Renewables and confronts Prometheus to end his reign of terror for good.

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Review: The Bookseller

Review: The Bookseller

Title: The Bookseller
Author: Cynthia Swanson
Published: 2015
Length: 338 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★

Though she’s still unlucky in love at thirty-eight, Kitty Miller has embraced her life as the co-owner of a quaint bookshop, which she runs with her best friend in 1960s Denver. She doesn’t have a conventional life, but she has her independence and people who love her and whom she loves in return. Then one day, Kitty wakes up in someone else’s bedroom. In this incredibly lifelike dream, she is married with young children and, better yet, in love with her soft-spoken, attentive husband. As time passes, Kitty’s strange dreams become more frequent and–up to a point–more enticing. She begins to lose track of reality and to dwell more and more on her dream-life until she fears she that the life she already has may slip away from her.

Note: This review is mostly spoiler-free; I’ve included one spoiler is included in my Goodreads review.

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Review: The Crown’s Game

Review: The Crown’s Game

Title: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Published: 2016
Length: 399 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

In every generation, an enchanter is born who will help guide and protect both the tsar of Russia and the vast Russian Empire itself. Sometimes, however, Russia’s ancient magic is split between two young enchanters, a twist of fate that promises power and glory to one–and death to the other. Such is the case for Vika, a girl raised outside the city to attune her power to wild elemental forces, and Nikolai, whose urban upbringing has directed his magic into fine mechanical and technical skills. With threats looming on all sides of his empire, the Tsar Alexander initiates the Crown’s Game, in which Vika and Nikolai will compete to become his Imperial Enchanter. As each of them tries to win–and to stay alive–they struggle with loss, love, and hard lessons about themselves and those they once considered friends.

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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: Distant Waves

Review: Distant Waves

Title: Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic
Author: Suzanne Weyn
Published: 2009
Length: 330 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★

Following the death of their father, Jane Taylor and her four sisters grows up in an unconventional spiritualist town in New York with their medium mother. Mimi, the eldest, and Jane, eager to get a taste of the real world, take a spontaneous and unsupervised trip to New York City after the revelation of a family secret. While there, Jane meets her hero Nikola Tesla and Mimi gets swept up in the glamorous world of high society. The consequences of this brief trip will turn all the Taylor girls’ lives upside-down, however, because the next April they all find themselves as passengers on the ill-fated RMS Titanic.

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