November 2021 Reads!
Court of Midnight and Deception, Books 1-3 by KM Shea: Leila is half faerie/half human and has spent her life laying low from the widespread corruption of the faerie court. She is therefore, taken aback when the magical night mares congregate on her family's farm to bind her as the new queen. Several attacks on her life occur as she tries to understand and shake up the status quo with the help of some new friends, her estranged faerie father, and a handsome assassin named Rigel. This series was super fun! The content is clean and it's a fast read. I laughed out loud through several parts. Definitely recommend for fellow fantasy readers.
The Marquise and Her Cat by Shari L. Tapscott: a novella-length retelling of Puss in Boots. Upon her eccentric aunt's death, Etta discovers that she has been bequeathed her aunt's cat with instructions to buy him a pair of boots. Naturally, she buys some for herself instead. Etta is flabbergasted when said cat begins speaking aloud to her, teaching her to hunt game for her impoverished siblings. With the aid of her ambitious cat and two handsome gentlemen, Etta tries to discover what she desires in life and who she wants to be. I enjoyed this short story! I always enjoy how an author can take a classic fairy tale and creatively rewrite them into something new.
Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan: the Pulaski, otherwise known as the Titanic of the South, is a much touted steamship in 1838, until its boilers explode at sea with only four lifeboats for almost 200 passengers. Lily Forsythe is one of those aboard, and despite the horrors they all experience, she also sees a prime opportunity to escape her abusive husband. In the present day, historian Everly is trying to reconcile the hit and run death of her best friend. When the remains of the Pulaski are finally roundoff the coast of North Carolina, she reluctantly dives into this all-consuming project. Emerging from her survivor's guilt and depression, Everly begins to consider that life may still be worth living and love worth finding after all. I did not expect to be still contemplating this historical fiction novel a month later, but its haunting tale has stuck with me. Recommend.
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry: Paul and his sister Maureen are determined to catch the elusive wild horse nicknamed Phantom. They have saved up all their earnings to purchase her. Paul is finally old enough to ride on Pony Penning Day, and is thrilled to not only find Phantom but also her new colt Misty. But is the call of the wild too all-encompassing to tame? I read this aloud to my boys, and my older two loved it. My second born loves animals, so this was a huge hit for him.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: Ella was given a "blessing" by an irresponsible fairy to always be obedient. It doesn't take long for this "blessing" to rear its ugly head. How can Ella protect herself and those she loves from those who wish to abuse and do harm to them? Can she have any sort of quality of life? I watched this movie when it first came out and remember liking it, but a friend helped me realize I had never read the book. The book is so much better than the movie! I loved it! It was very well-written and captured my attention quickly. Pick it up!
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale: Miri lives in a mountain village where everyone quarries for marble stone. They are all astonished when the king's priests prophesy that the future princess will be found in their village. So the ministers set up a mandatory academy where all the teenage girls will learn how to be a princess. Miri enjoys all the newfound knowledge, but struggles with the bitterness emerging among the girls, the harshness of the teacher, and missing her family and her best friend Peder. When bandits arrive, Miri discovers she is stronger than she realizes, and helps free herself and the other girls. This novel was so much better than I was expecting! I give it five stars and plan to read the next two installments.
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope: it's 1558 and Kate Sutton, ladies maid to Princess Elizabeth, is exiled by Queen Mary to a remote castle known as the Perilous Gard. While there, she stumbles upon the mysterious happenings taking place in the wood surrounding the castle and within it. The Castle lands are older than the Druids, and there are whispers of fairy folk emerging in the wood. This book was eerie, haunting and super good. I really enjoyed reading this and had a hard time putting it down. Highly recommend.
The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope: newly orphaned teen Peggy is sent to live with her eccentric uncle Enos at the family estate Rest-and-be-thankful. Overlooked and left to fend for herself, Peggy is soon visited by the ghosts of her colonial ancestors. She listens raptly to their nail-biting adventures and sweet love stories. And Peggy may have found a love story of her own if uncle Enos doesn't block her way whenever he remembers her presence. I really loved this book and
highly recommend it!
A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White: Rosemary Gresham was orphaned as a young girl and now calls herself a member of a loving family of thieves. Good thieves who are hired for high profile cases. England is on the eve of WWI and anti-German sentiment is at an all-time high. Rosemary is hired to discover the political leanings and family history of Peter Holstein. She impersonates a librarian/historian helping trace his family history and find his citizenship papers. As they work together, Rosemary begins to wonder if perhaps she should not have taken this job.I enjoyed this novel, even though Rosemary irked me at times. Much better ending than what I had prepared myself for!
The Last Chance Motel by Karen Hawkins: novella in Dove Pond series; Evan Graham feels blindsided when his wife Jess serves him with divorce papers and he arrives home to an empty house. Panicked and determined to fix his marriage, he follows Jess to her new renovation project ready to do whatever it takes. Add in a dose of Dove Pond magical realism, and you have a great, fast read!
A Companion for the Count by Sally Britton: a clean regency romance novel. Emma Arlen has served as companion to the duke's daughter and a member of their family for the last ten years. When Lady Josephine begs Emma to run interference for a possible suitor, Emma finds herself not at all put out. Luca is a visiting Italian ambassador determined to find an English wife and a respectable foothold politically. They find in each other like-minded spirits. A good, sweet novel!
The Autumn Fairy Trilogy by Brittany Fichter: Katrin does not know her origins but she does know that the villagers hate and fear her. She doesn't blame them, as she feels the darkness within her growing. When Katrin's gruff caretaker dies and her childhood friend and protector, Peter, suddenly reappears after eight years, he declares himself determined to figure out who /what she is and how to save her. I enjoyed the love story between Katrin and Peter, but as a whole I felt that each installment of the trilogy was too long. It started to feel repetitive and drawn-out. I kept scanning to figure out how it would end. So, not my favorite of Fichter's books, but she has other great ones to read!
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston: Sophie is excited when her parents agree to let her stay home alone while they check in on her older, super-pregnant sister. When she stops by to surprise her boyfriend with the news, she overhears his desire to have some freedom from her. Devastated, Sophie flees to her grandparents' home where her loud, loving extended family determine to set her up on ten blind dates to get her mind off of her heartache. Sophie discovers who she is and what she wants her senior year of high school to look like. I liked reading about Sophie's loving family and seeing who they would set her up with next. This was a fun, clean YA novel. Recommend!
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery: the adventures of 11 year old Anne Shirley who is mistakenly sent to siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. A mistake that quickly becomes the best part of their lives. I last read this in elementary school and was pleasantly surprised to see how thoroughly charming it was! I especially loved all of Anne's speeches! I chuckled at and appreciated them so much more as an adult. Definitely pick it up to read as an adult if you haven't yet!
A Day Like This by Kelley McNeil: Annie is driving her daughter to the pediatrician when she gets into a car accident and awakes to discover that she has no daughter and her happy marriage is actually ending in divorce. Has she lost her mind? Is she suffering from her mother's ailment also? Are alternate universes more than an invention of science fiction? I was anxious reading this book. It was eerie, weird, and I felt like I was racing to figure out all the answers. I read it super fast, and ended up finishing it early one morning because I couldn't rest about it. This was a great book club pick that provided some wonderful conversation.
Clara's Soldier by Brittany Fichter: novella-length retelling of the Nutcracker set at the end of WWII. Clara sent her fiancé James off to war but he has now been missing for a year and a half. With a little Christmas magic from her godfather, Clara is given the chance to find out what really happened. Can she bear it? I found the liberties Fichter took with this story very interesting, I was not sure where she was going with it at first, but I was pleasantly surprised and appreciated her take on this classic Christmas tale.
Pippa of Lauramore by Shari L. Tapscott: to escape a loveless marriage with a brutish prince, Pippa begs her father to hold a marriage tournament instead. She may have bitten off more than she can chew, especially when her chosen champion turns out to be more handsome than capable regarding certain tasks. Pippa finds herself way more involved in the tournament than she had planned to be. Add in a handsome childhood friend, and Pippa is more confused and desperate than ever. This was a lovely and fast read! I plan to eventually continue the series.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore: historical nonfiction; during WWI the demand for airplane dials that could be read at night exponentially increased. The young women who painted these dials with a radium paint mixture literally glowed in the dark, They were taught that the most efficient way to paint these dials was by using there lips to point the tips of the brushes after each dip of the brush in radium. The women were never warned of the dangers of radium poisoning, but rather encouraged to paint their clothes buttons, eat their lunch where the painted, and told that doing so would add color to their cheeks. But then the women began to develop limps, tooth abcesses that just wouldn't heal, and so many other horrific health ailments. It took years for the truth to emerge, but even then the companies refused to claim responsibility or pay the women's medical bills. This Society of the Living Dead fought for human rights, are the reason OSHA exists, and fought for the lives of those who would come after them despite the fact that they were literally falling apart. This true story was horrific, tragic, and a great pick for those interested in medical mysteries. Do not pick this book up if you become queasy regarding graphic medical descriptions. (I did not look at the photos.)
The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor: Dolly Lane dreams of a glitzy life while cleaning rooms the Savoy hotel in London. After too much heartbreak, she left home post WWI to try to make her dreams come true. Her path crosses with a famous actress and her charming brother. As her life changes, will Dolly realize what she really wants, what's really important to her? I have historically enjoyed Gaynor's novels, but unfortunately, this one struck out for me. I did not connect to the characters and felt like the ending was unsatisfying. It was very well-written, just not my favorite.
Blinding Beauty by Brittany Fichter: this is the sequel to a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I read a few months ago. It's only been five months since their wedding, but Isa is struggling to understand her power, and tensions increase when they travel to attend an interesting betrothal s=ceremony in a neighboring kingdom. Something evil is at work there, and Ever, Isa, and Isa's brother will not be safe until it is vanquished. This is kind of a vague summary because a lot happens in this novel and it would be difficult to summarize it all here. This story is a lot darker than I imagined it would be when I picked it up, but the ending was great. Pick it up if you have read the first one!