Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Dragonfly Pool Part II

Genre: This book is Juvenile fiction but as i said before any age can enjoy it. I would mark it as an Adventure story.

Style: This book has a very happy atmosphere. It's one of those that just plain make you smile. 

Romance: When I read a book I like to know exactly how much romance there is in it. The romance in this book is minimal. There is an engagement at the end of the book but there is no kissing and the engagement is sort of understood. No one even says the words "will you marry me?"

Rating: 8.5 out of 10. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Dragonfly Pool: By Eva Ibboston Part I

First of all we need a disclaimer. I do not endorse all of Eva Ibboston's works in fact I know of only three that are not fantasy. However these three are masterpieces. The height of what children's literature should be. 

Age level: I would say that this book belongs to to the 10 and up group. I first read it when I was just barely 13. My sister who is 16 enjoys this book as much as I do. So now, enough about how it's OK to read this if you're in your teens.

Story Line: Tally lives in London with her Dad who is a Doctor and two great aunts. She loves London and all the people she knows there. Then a patient of her fathers gets her a scholarship to Delderton a school in Devon in the south of England. This is good because war is coming and if the Nazi's start bombing London Tally's father wants her far away and safe. It's bad because Tally really wants to stay. Plus her snooty cousins seem to think there is something wrong with Delderton and they aught to know they are authority's on boarding schools. Full of misgivings Tally goes and loves it! Delderton is a wonderful place: no uniforms, friendly teachers, wonderful students, and a very special tutor called Matteo. Tally makes lots of friends so when a chance to go to the tiny country of Bergania as a dance team she rallies her friends and gets up a dance for them to do. Bergania is even more awesome then she expected. But the wonder doesn't last, The Nazi's invade Bergania and Tally and her friends are the hope for the young prince.

Main Characters:
  • Tally: Daughter of Dr. Hamilton and the protagonist of this book. She is determined kind and caring. She will do anything for a friend and is as loyal as can be. She has a habit of taking care of everyone from a dachshund to a prince. 
  • Karil: Prince of Bergania. He is put upon and scolded with in an inch of his and he hates being a prince.  His father is his favorite person. He is a bit unsure and needs a friend more then anything else. Karil is my favorite character next to The Scold of course. 
  • The Scold is the privet name Karil gives to his governess the Countess Frederica she is stern and she always wears black and never smiles. She really loves Karil and in the end of the book they even become sort of friends she just has a rather funny way of showing it.       


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Queen's Own Fool

As the woman got closer, the half-moon cast her in a pale light so that she looked like a fairy queen. Instead of a crown of jewels, she wore a hood with a heart-shaped curve above the forehead, from which her auburn hair peeked out. It was Queen Mary herself, alone and without escort.
~Queen's Own Fool

Queen's Own Fool by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris is historical fiction at its best. It's the story of Nicola Ambruzzi, the real-life jester for Mary, Queen of Scots. Very little is known about Nicola--but isn't she the type of character that's perfect for a historical novel? The story of Queen's Own Fool is part fiction, part fact--and it's hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins.

Nicola Ambruzzi, an Italian orphan, is traveling France with her uncle's family, a group of traveling players. They are fortunate enough to land an audience with the new king of France and his wife, Mary Stuart. When Nicola runs into Queen Mary in the castle garden after the performance, the queen is captivated by Nicola's wit and hires ten-year-old Nicola as her personal fool. Nicola and the queen quickly become friends, and it is Nicola alone who can comfort the queen after the loss of her beloved husband Francis.

After Francis dies, the queen must leave France and return to her native Scotland--connected to the French throne only through marriage, she no longer has any need to remain in France. So she sets off for Scotland, accompanied by Nicola and her four ladies-in-waiting (all named Mary, which can be a bit confusing). Scotland welcomes its queen with open arms, but this isn't a happily ever after. A sweet Italian musician (David Rizzio), a thunderous, fiery Protestant reformer (John Knox), a cruel and strict tutor (Madam Jacqueline) and a suave and charming young lord (John Willoughby Henry Darnley) have yet to meet Mary Stuart and Nicola, and the story becomes more exciting with every page.

This is historical fiction at its best. As I said, it's extremely difficult to tell where fact leaves off and fiction begins. The authors wove history in with their story so expertly that I put down this book knowing far more about Scotland in the 16th century than I had ever hoped to know (and this from a girl who read Dear America's Royal Diaries series when I was in fifth grade as if they were going out of style). I highly recommend this fascinating novel!

9 out of 10 stars. Recommended for ages 12 and up (there are a couple of scenes that might be frightening for younger readers, especially a part about persecution of the Huguenots).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Do You Like To Read About?

Attention, all readers of Reviewers' Bookshelf! We are taking a brief hiatus from our normal program in order to inform you of a poll being taken at this blog.

Reviewers' Bookshelf is a blog created for the enjoyment of people who love books. We love books, and we know you do too. We enjoy reviewing books that we've liked, and we like reading what you have to say about books you like.

But we want to know what kind of books you like. We want to know what YOU would like to see on Reviewers' Bookshelf. We'd love it if you, even, would like to review a book or two for others' benefit.

A few months ago we had a poll on the sidebar, asking readers what kind of reviews they enjoyed. This was good, but it really didn't give us a whole lot of feedback. So we're going to do something a little different. We're asking you to comment on this post and give us your opinion. Please don't be shy! We really want to hear from you. You don't have to give out any kind of personal information. Just share with us what kind of book reviews you'd like to read, and whether or not you would be willing to write a few reviews for the Common Good of All Readers of Reviewers' Bookshelf.

Thanks so much--looking forward to hearing from you!
~Amy and Carolyn

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

"A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate." ~The Scarlet Pimpernel

The above quote isn't particularly inspiring or funny or even profound--it just amuses me because it is the first sentence of the book, and it does not contain a verb. No, seriously. Read it again and you'll see.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, written in the early 20th century by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, can rightfully be called one of the greatest adventure stories of all time.

In the mid-1790's, when the French Revolution was at its height, hundreds of aristocrats were dying under the guillotine. The new Republic advocated liberty, equality and fraternity, but in reality it was a reign of terror. During this horrible time, one man was risking his life and leading a band of his like-minded friends to save those in danger. French and English alike gratefully reverenced him, yet only those in his band of rescuers knew his name. To the rest of the world, he was known only as the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Marguerite St. Just Blakeney, "the cleverest woman in Europe", sympathized with the Scarlet Pimpernel's actions, yet she herself had once been responsible for sending an entire family of aristocrats to the guillotine. Marguerite, married to the foppish idiot Sir Percy Blakeney, now regretted her hasty action in denouncing the Marquis de St. Cyr and his family, yet now there was nothing she could do. So she lived in glamour and luxury in London and pretended to forget what had once happened in France.

That is, until Monsieur Chauvelin, a member of the Republic who bitterly hated the Scarlet Pimpernel, appeared with a threat for Marguerite. Tipped off by his spies, Chauvelin learned that Marguerite's brother Armand was in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel, and used this information to blackmail Marguerite into helping him find the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Threatened with the death of her brother if she did not comply, Marguerite agreed to help Chauvelin, but that was not the end of the story. Marguerite had no idea of the real Scarlet Pimpernel's identity. If she had, she never would have allowed herself to be roped into Chauvelin's devious plan...

I better stop there before I give away too much of the plot. This is an excellent book, worthy of nine and a half stars out of ten. There are only two things about the book which I do not like, and they are the only elements keeping it from receiving ten stars:

1) The author spends too much time praising Marguerite's beauty. It would only take a few lines to describe Marguerite for us, yet Baroness Orczy takes up almost a quarter of the book raving about Marguerite's fair skin, shining hair, luminous eyes, etc. We get the picture, Baroness. Please move on.

2) The language. Sir Percy frequently uses words that are not acceptable in polite company (although it's nothing obscene). For this reason, I wouldn't recommend the book to children under 12.

All in all, this is a great novel! You can read it online at Project Gutenberg, and also at The website I linked to is easier on the eyes than Project Gutenberg, so you might prefer that. Also, it's a classic, so it should be available at most libraries and bookstores.

I've read the book several times, but never seen a movie version of it. I've heard that the 1982 adaptation, starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour, is supposed to be outstanding, and I'd like to see it. Have you seen it? Do you recommend it?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

"Life, deal gently with her... Love, never desert her." ~Jane of Lantern Hill

Jane of Lantern Hill is one of my favorite L. M. Montgomery novels. Set in the late 1920's, it was one of her later books, and maybe that's a good thing. The story is light and well-paced, the characters are as endearing as her earlier Edwardian novels, but the book lacks the endless descriptions and flowery poeticism that are so prevalent in the Anne books. Not that the descriptions are necessarily a bad thing...

I'm getting off topic. Jane of Lantern Hill centers around an eleven-year-old girl named Jane Stuart, who lives with her mother, her aunt Gertrude, and her grim, austere grandmother at 60 Gay Street in Toronto. Grandmother and Aunt Gertrude rarely smile, but Jane and her mother get along beautifully--and of course there's Jody, the little girl next door, Jane's best friend. All her life, Jane has believed her father was dead... until a girl at school reveals the awful secret: Jane's father is alive and well, living in a remote little place called Prince Edward Island. And things only get worse when her father, out of the blue, writes to say that he wants Jane to come spend the summer with him. Summer on a tiny little island away from Mother, with a father she's never met and doesn't want to meet? Jane is sure that the next three months will be agony.

She's in for a real surprise. PEI is not only a beautiful place, it's a friendly place. Jane and her dad get on fantastically from the beginning, and Jane makes dozens of new friends. She learns housekeeping in Dad's little cottage, teaches herself to swim in the dazzling blue gulf, develops a liking for cats, and manages to capture an escaped lion. But she can't be perfectly happy, because she knows Mother is far away in Toronto, missing Jane tremendously. Why on earth did Dad and Mother ever separate in the first place....?

This book is a delightful read, and I heartily recommend it! Jane is one of those heroines who is almost real; she's the kind of girl I'd like to have for a friend. The book is probably best for ages 10-16, and it's available through Borders, Barnes and Noble, and the Lancaster County Library System. I'd rate it a nine out of ten.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters is one of those beautiful, timeless, endearing and enduring classics that is unfortunately "on the back shelf", so to speak. It is more popular than some of Elizabeth Gaskell's other novels (North and South, Mary Barton) but it doesn't have the recognition it deserves. Written in the early 1860's, the story takes place some thirty years earlier.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Gibson, the heroine, lives in the fictional town of Hollingford with her widowed father. They are happy together and have a close, warm relationship. But Dr. Gibson feels that Molly ought to have a mother, and so he asks Mrs. Kirkpatrick, a middle-aged widow, to marry him. The new Mrs. Gibson is kind to Molly, but she doesn't understand her, and Molly wishes things could be as they were before. Molly gets on better with her new stepsister, Cynthia Kirkpatrick, but the two girls are very different. Meanwhile, Molly strikes up a friendship with the Hamley family (hey! it rhymes!) of Hamley Hall: the elderly Squire Hamley, his delicate wife, and their two sons, the poetic Osborne and the studious Roger. When Mrs. Hamley dies after a lingering illness, Molly becomes even closer to Squire Hamley; he looks upon her as a daughter. She and Roger also become very close, sharing a love of nature and science.

But then things begin to happen very fast when Molly accidentally discovers Osborne Hamley's deepest secret. To make matters worse, Roger Hamley falls in love with Molly's stepsister Cynthia and proposes to her--just before he leaves for a two-year journey in Africa. Then Molly begins to fear that Cynthia has a secret of her own, involving Mr. Preston, the local land-agent...

I won't tell any more, because I don't want to give away the whole plot, but I will say that it is the kind of story you can't put down. I read it in November 2010, but didn't get around to writing a review until now (shame on me). The characters were so real and vivid, the narrative well-paced and interesting, and the dialogue enchanting. Dr. Gibson, in particular, was extremely funny!

I'd recommend this book for ages twelve and up, and rate it nine out of ten--I withhold the tenth star only because the novel isn't finished! Yup, that's right. Mrs. Gaskell died before she finished writing this, her last book (well, obviously it was her last book). But it is evident how she intended the story to end, and you aren't really left hanging at the last page. I would recommend watching the 1999 BBC miniseries based on the novel, with Justine Waddell and Keeley Hawes. It does a nice job of tying up the loose ends and finishing the story.

This book is in the public domain, so you can find it on Google Books or Project Gutenberg. I also have a copy of it, so if anyone in my area would like to borrow it, please let me know!