Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review-The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz

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The Hired Girl
Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press
Publication month: September 2015
978-0-7636-7818-0
$17.99/$23.99 Canada
400 pages
Age 12+




                                                                  Review by Wisteria©

The heroine of this coming of age novel is a feisty, headstrong, inherently impulsive powerhouse-a memorable character destined to be a classic. The Hired Girl, set in the year 1911 on a Pennsylvania farm is historical fiction.  However, the author has a storyteller's magical gift to transport the readers  into the mind  of Joan Scraggs and her experiences through her daily diary. Joan, fourteen, lives with her three brothers and evil tempered father.  After her mom dies, Joan is forced to assume her mom's arduous chores, exhaustive and thankless. She seeks solace in her passion for reading. The few books she owns have been read again and again.  Her father is determined to end her educational goals and the close relationship she has with her favorite teacher. Joan is very quick witted and eager to learn. Yet, when her teacher tries to persuade her father that Joan should stay in school she is rebuked.  Later, her father spews words of vitreous hatred at his daughter. Sadly, it just confirms what she has felt all along.  Unloved and shackled to a hard life on the farm she makes plans to flee.  As hateful as her father is, she recalls her mom's love and support.  Fortunately, her mother left a rainy day treasure in the ruffles of her favorite doll. With her mother's gift and and timely luck Joan secures a job as the hired girl, with a Jewish family.  Although she leads her employers to believe she is eighteen, assumes the name Janet, she settles into this new life.  It is through her diary that the reader will come to empathize and love Janet (Joan).   Her struggles with her own faith, love, women's roles, Anti-semitism and the social class prejudice prevalent are believable. The author captures not only the flavor of this period in history, but she allows the reader to experience Joan's her inner most thoughts, as only a diary will allow.  Laura Amy Schlitz is a gifted storyteller, one of my favorite young adult/tween writers. This one is now on my list to be order for my school's media center. The Hired Girl, with multiple themes and character study possibilities, is the perfect novel for classroom libraries, literature study and read aloud.  Yet it will stand out as a well loved free choice read for young and adult readers. Highly recommended. ~Wisteria Leigh






View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: An uncorrected proof was sent to me with a request for an unbiased review.  This review is my honest opinion.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review-War Dogs by Rebecca Frankel

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War Dogs
Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love
Rebecca Frankel
Palgrave Macmillan Trade (2014),
Hardcover, 272 pages


Disclosure: A copy of War Dogs was sent to me by Library Thing Early Reviewer program in exchange for an unbiased review... submitted below.






This book offers a view of the relationship between dog handlers in the military and their dog. 
The bond that develops over time during training and ultimate deployment in action is remarkable. Rebecca Frankel has put together a collection of war dog stories that is memorable and thoughtful. Readers will no doubt take pause to reflect as each story is unique. However, a common thread exists throughout the book that ties these tales together. Each handler and his dog have an unbreakable bond. Each is devoted to the other with an unbreakable trust and love. So much so that they will often give their life for each other....dog for man and man for dog. 

Rebecca Frankel presents her stories with clarity, sensitivity and realism. Highly recommended. ~©Wisteria Leigh


© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review-Beholding Bee, by Kimberly Newton Fusco

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Beholding Bee

by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
February 12, 2013
Hardcover, 336 pages
978-0375868368
Lexile: 790L




Review by Wisteria©


Beeholding Bee will engage readers from the first page.  Life has not been fair to Bee who at eleven became an orphan when both parents were tragically killed.  She was born with a disfiguring facial birthmark which causes her to hide and withdraw inwardly.  However, fortunately,  Pauline, a carnival worker who knew her parents has befriended her.  They both work for Ellis, the sleazy owner of the traveling carnival.   By day Bee cuts onions and works with Pauline at the hotdog concession.  Her home is the back of a hauling truck used by the carnival. She fears Ellis, who lurks around with threats to include Bee in his freak side show act.  

Kimberly Newton Fusco uses precise descriptive prose to setting and place for readers to fully realize.   Characters are multi-dimentional, descriptively real thus a perfect novel to have students focus on character traits.  The novel is written in first person through Bee's voice an important author strategy that makes the reader feel Bee's pain and low self-esteem.  Bee would rather be a shadow, hidden and forgotten.  Another devastating break forces Bee to take charge, in order to find a new place to live.  Readers will adore her spunk and vulnerability, a memorable and relevant character to identify with. 

Beholding Bee lends itself to classroom discussion and literature group study in elementary and early middle school.  A perfect classroom read aloud with themes reminiscent of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. 
Themes that emerge for discussion-difference, acceptance, bullying, special needs, courage and perseverance, women's roles/rights and more. 

Beholding Bee, by Kimberly Newton Fusco is an essential first choice purchase for school and public libraries, and consider a classroom set purchase grade 3+. I'm sure this will be a student favorite...highly recommended. 



View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: This book was borrowed with no compensation. 

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Post- The Price of Blood (Book II), by Patricia Bracewell

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The Price of Blood

by Patricia Bracewell
Publisher: Viking
Release: February 5, 2015
978-0525427278
448 pages





Short note from Wisteria:


Amazing!  I first read Shadow of the Crown (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy #1) when it was first released.
I became fascinated with Emma of Normandy and her dominant and sagacious personality. Recently I was asked by Viking Publishers to share a Guest Post by the author, Patricia Bracewell.  Please see below.   I also have a link she has shared all readers to her Online Book Club for this novel.

I wanted to share my enthusiasm for The Price of Blood immediately.  This is a vibrant drama that pulls from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles a portrayal of Emma of Normandy from A.D. 1006-A.D.1012.  As the author notes, her presence was there when Vikings ravaged the English realm.  This is the second book in the trilogy and sadly, my anxiety will have to wait for the last book. Perhaps, a bit of meditation will help.  In the meantime, I might have to re-read both books. The Price of Blood begins with Emma the Queen of King AEthelred.  She has little power in her own right, as women are considered pawns in a chess game. However, she hopes that the alliances she creates with the strong clergy and others will serve to enhance her power.  It is for her children that she is most worried.  Her marriage to Aethelred was arranged, her worth valued by her ability to produce sons. Her tenacity, patience  and keen wisdom are tested, for she also is in love with a prince. A prince who the king believes would like nothing better than to unseat him.  I most highly recommend this second book in the trilogy.





Loving Research (for Bookworm’s Dinner) 
by Patricia Bracewell

"I’m going to share with you a little secret about researching a historical novel: Novelists LOVE the research. We swoon over it, bathe in it, and struggle to tear ourselves away from it long enough to write our books. There. Now you know.

My own research process, I regret to admit, is helter-skelter.  Most of it is done at my desk or in a university library taking notes on whatever academic tome is open in front of me. Often there are several books open at once, scattered on the table and even on the floor when I run out of room.

Sometimes I’ve been more creative: I’ve taken a summer course in Anglo-Saxon history at Cambridge University; I’ve exchanged e-mails with a thatcher in England; I’ve gazed across a tea table at an eminent historian of Anglo-Saxon textiles and whispered, “Let’s talk about medieval women’s undergarments.”

I was very shy about approaching experts to ask for help when I first began my research. I’m less so now. Having a novel published in four languages has done wonders for my self-confidence.

Some of my research is done on the internet: consulting databases of articles about the Anglo-Saxons; studying Old English charters; or exploring the histories of places that I want to use as settings – whether towns, villages, ancient pathways or stone circles.

The facts about people’s lives, though, are not so easy to come by a thousand years on. For example, we know the names of King Æthelred’s children, but not much more than that. The dates of their births are historical guesses, not facts. The eldest son, Athelstan, left a will, and every single thing that we know about him is contained in that 2-page list of bequests. It isn’t much.

Academics are willing to speculate a bit about the activities of the historical figures of England’s 11th century, based on whatever tiny hints they can glean from the historical record – the chronicles, the charters, the wills, even the Norse sagas. Information in such documents, though, is often contradictory, leaving even the historians puzzled about what actually happened. And then there’s the when and the how and the why to try to establish. That’s where a novelist can give her imagination free reign while an academic has to be more guarded. For the fiction writer, that’s where the fun comes in.

Researching Emma’s life during the years covered by my trilogy, especially in Shadow on the Crown and The Price of Blood, was difficult because there is almost no record of her at all in those years. Her name is mentioned a few times in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and she signs several charters, indicating that she was at court beside the king on those occasions. One charter in 1012 is a grant of land from the king to Emma, so historians conjecture that she gave birth to a son at about that time. But where was she the rest of the time and what was she doing? Because there was no other direct reference to Emma, all I could do was bury myself in the history of and make some conjectures of my own based on what I was able to learn about a queen’s duties and Emma’s later career.

Frequently the vagueness of historical records forced me to invent. For instance, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle claimed that the Danes attacked London several times in 1009, and that the Londoners always repelled them. But there was no description of what, exactly, happened when the Danes attacked. I had to make it up based on my imagination and what I could learn of the military tactics of the time.

Sometimes I’ve discovered a tiny bit of information that I find really intriguing, and then I spend a lot of mental effort trying to figure out how to use it in my story. I wanted to use that gift of property from the king to Emma in 1012 that I mentioned above, but I couldn’t make it work. It just didn’t fit anywhere. The information that the thatcher sent me resulted in a terrific scene, but it was cut in a late draft. When I was at Gladstone’s Library in Wales a few months ago I learned something fascinating about Swein Forkbeard (not saying what), and now I’m trying desperately to find a way to include it in the next book. I guess you could call that the heartbreak of research – all those lovely bits that don’t make it into the novel. Research – much as we love it, sometimes we have to let it go."  
(by Patricia Bracewell courtesy of Meredith Burks, Viking Press)




A review copy was sent to me for review by Viking Press, Meredith Burks, Senior Publicist in exchange for an unbiased review and guest author blog.


View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review and possible post by Henry Holt and Company.  This is  my unbiased personal review. 

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




Review-A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

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A Royal Experiment

The Private Life of King George III

by Janice Hadlow

Published by: Henry Holt & Company
November 18th, 2014
704 pages, 9780805096569


Most American's have an opinion of King George III as the king who overtaxed the colonies, a stubborn and unreasonable tyrant. If you believe that then, A Royal Experiment, by Janice Hadlow will intrigue you.

The American Revolutionary Era in American History stands out as one of my most favorite historical time periods. I have read and studied the history of this era in post-grad classes and it never fails to dominate my personal curiosity with an influence on my reading choices. Whether non-fiction history or historical fiction, I gravitate to this setting with un-satiability. I have read biographies, memoirs, primary documents, historical texts, articles and non-fiction books that focus on the American side of the Atlantic. However, this is the first book that I have read that takes place entirely on the other side of the ocean.

From the moment I read about this book, I planned to fit it into my TBR book list. I was then fortunate to receive a review copy by the publisher, Henry Holt and Company. Janice Hadlow has written an account of King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte that is not about the American Revolution, but instead depicts the man in his less familiar role as father and husband. Who would think King George !!! had any wish to provide a stable and loving home? He and Queen Charlotte had fifteen children. Charlotte was first pregnant at age eighteen. Remarkably, thirteen of their children survived infancy.

The king was determined to show that his commitment to fidelity and family life were paramount in his life. He planned to show his kingdom, a view far different from his ancestors. It was important to him that the world see him as a devoted father and faithful husband as well as king. It was to be, as Janice Hadlow so aptly titles her book, A Royal Experiment.

Hadlow's author's notes offered new insight for this reader. I learned that Queen Charlotte, was a highly intelligent woman who resented her twenty plus years of pregnancy.She was a woman out of sync with her generation. King George !!! believed "the personal was always inextricably linked to the political" (pg xvi) and his hope was that the public would want to mirror his private life. I assumed that if his label as a tyrant in the colonies was genuine, it would carry over to his personal life. (No spoilers.)

Janice Hadlow relied on countless 18th century letters, diaries and correspondence to gather the most honest and personal account of this royal monarchy. The letters available by friends and family during the 18th century of her research are abundant. I found it humorous that she discovered they were inclined to gossip and they loved to write. One wonders what the 18th century Facebook would be like?

A Royal Experiment is a richly detailed book about King George III and Queen Charlotte. Hadlow is able to provide a fascinating full dimension view of the American Colonist's former monarch. A compelling and highly recommended history. 



View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review and possible post by Henry Holt and Company.  This is  my unbiased personal review. 

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review- Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani

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Children of the Jacaranda TreeChildren of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ISBN-978-1-4767=0909-3
Atria Books
Published: 2013
Novel: History-Iran, post-revolutionary Iran, 1983-2011

This is one of the best books I have read this year!  Sahar Delijani has a poetically beautiful writing style. She is able to capture the smallest nuance of life. When you read Children of the Jacaranda Tree, you will be immersed in the lives of people caught up in ongoing conflict in Iran from 1979.  You will experience their lives as if a person is dictating it to those who can not see. The detail is spot on, the imagery is gorgeous.  As a reader, I felt connected to the lives of the characters in her book. Honestly, it was a visual movie in my mind. Such a talented writer. Don't mis this one.


View all my review on Goodreads

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review and possible post by Atria Books.  I have written my unbiased personal reflection.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Enter to Win ….Book Giveaway!!!

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4th of July BOOK CONTEST….


WIN A COPY OF JAMES MADISON: A Live Reconsidered
by LYNNE CHENEY

  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
  •   



Penguin Random House has asked me to host a book giveaway for Lynne Cheney's fascinating book, James Madison: A Life Reconsidered.  Just in time for the fireworks and celebrations for the   4th of July, this year, someone will be fortunate to win this treasure. 

I read this amazing history of James Madison and for those of you who devour American History you won't want to miss this biography.  Ms. Cheney, has studied Madison since the late 80's.  Her portrait of this dynamic political powerhouse will grasp your attention from the beginning.  I will post a review for viewers in the next few days, but until then take advantage of this generous giveaway sponsored by the publisher. ~WL

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recommendation: Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick

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BUNKER HILL: A City, A Siege, A Revolution*

by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025442


*#2 on Amazon's Best Sellers for the Colonial Period  


My Comments:

If you have read any other books by Nathaniel Philbrick , than you know as I have discovered, his historical narratives are of the highest quality and utterly engaging.  Honestly, I have had this book in my sights since before its release date last year.  One thing about being an avid reader,  the TBR nightstand becomes a precarious pile teetering near collapse.  If not, then your bookshelves are perhaps meticulously organized, or perhaps crammed with two rows deep. One thing is certain, they all haunt this reader as they whisper "read me next."  Is it me, or are there just not enough hours…to savor each book, while new temptation beckons you to the next possibility ---when you have finished?  


Official Book Trailer-You Tube


I have to apologize to the author, as I purchased this book when it first came out.  I bought it because I knew Nathaniel Philbrick's reputation, his compelling narratives and I was anxious to read BUNKER HILL.  I love American History and particularly this period in our country's birth.  I call myself part sentimental, part historian and always part the curious cat. But for whatever reason, Bunker Hill is a riveting narrative about a city. A city which Philbrick calls his main character.  Within the city our history plays out with the famous people we know like,  Joseph Warren, John and Sam Adams, John Hancock, Revere, Washington, Gage and the loyalists and patriots.  The story begins and ends with the role played by a young seven year old witness to the Battle of Bunker Hill, John Quincy Adams.  With tears in his eyes the violence of the day and the death of his beloved family friend, Dr. Joseph Warren, would stay with him for his entire life.  BUNKER HILL:  A City, A Siege,  A Revolution is superb. It has become a best seller, and is now in paperback as well. I only regret that I had not read this one sooner. I have already skimmed back numerous times. A must read for readers of American History- Philbrick is a phenomenal storyteller supported with his dense research.  ~Wisteria Leigh (2014)


Disclosure:  I purchased the copy of Bunker Hill for this review. WL


© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ebookfriendly.com/free-public-domain-books-sources/

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Hi everyone!  I wanted to pass on this list of free-public-domain book sources to you and have it handy on my blog so that I can refer back to it.  Enjoy!
http://ebookfriendly.com/free-public-domain-books-sources/