Tag Archives: historical fiction

Gilt – Kitty: Cat’s Shadow, Loyal Until Death

Title: GiltGilt

Author: Katherine Longshore

Six Word Review: Kitty: Cat’s Shadow, Loyal Until Death.

Summary: In 1500s England Kitty Tylney lives in the shadow of her “soul-sister,” Cat, as maids in waiting for the Duchess of Norfolk. Early in the book, Cat schemes her way into the court of King Henry the Eighth. There she catches his eye. She soon becomes Queen Catherine, and brings Kitty to Court to be part of the Queen’s inner circle. Henry VIII being the old, fat, stinky man that he is, Cat seeks out a more attractive companion in the dashing Thomas Culpepper. Kitty remains Cat’s faithful lackey and watches as Cat weaves a tangled web of secrets. Kitty warns her that these affairs could be ruinous but is not successful. Eventually Cat’s ambition and devil-may-care attitude entangle her in her own web of lies and secrets, threatening her royal title, her beautiful jewels, and her head.

I started reading because: I’ve seen Gilt compared to another book I read (Maid of Secrets). Some said Gilt was a better book, so I had to read it and see for myself. After doing so I realized that the two books have similar stories, but Gilt is aimed at an older audience. Continue reading

Maid of Secrets: Pickpocket becomes spy for Queen Elizabeth

maidofsecretsTitle: Maid of Secrets

Author: Jennifer McGowan

Six Word Review: Pickpocket becomes spy for Queen Elizabeth.

Summary: Meg Fellowes is an orphan, who makes her way as member of a touring acting troupe, and is also a talented pickpocket. One day, she picks the wrong pocket and ends up at the last place she imagined, not in the dungeons, but in Windsor Castle. She has been selected to be a part of the Queen’s Maids of Honor, a secret and select group of girls who protect the queen with their unique talents (a psychic seer, a code breaker, a flirtatious beauty and an assassin).

Meg’s abilities as a spy and to remember entire conversations word for word are put to the test when the Spanish Court visits and she begins to fall for a dashing young Spaniard. Not everyone is who they seem, and she isn’t sure who she can trust. Can she keep all her missions straight, protect England, the Queen and herself?

I started reading because: I read a summary of the book online and it sounded intriguing.

I kept reading because: I had to find out what would happen to Meg in the end!

I would give this book 6/10 stars, because I liked concept and it had lots of potential. Sadly, it fell short in my opinion, the writing style was a bit confused, it was caught in-between the language of the time period and the way we speak today. A lot of words and phrases seemed to be added on in an effort to sound old-fashioned. But there were parts that I enjoyed (see below).

I loved Meg’s strong and witty personality and her sense of humor. Also, the plot had lots of twists and turns that kept things interesting, and I appreciated that Meg was not a damsel in distress and didn’t need a man to protect her.

I hated the contrived “love at first sight”, it just felt excessive and too abrupt in the story line. I also hated the cover of my book, it was not how I imagined Meg at all and it looked too artificial and photoshoped.

If the lead character Meg was in a high school yearbook, she would be voted Most Likely To: work for the FBI.

Anything else we should know? I felt like the word choice and pacing was aimed at a younger YA audience than I expected, which made me wish it was a little more grown up, but that’s just me.

–Gabriella, Ballard Teen Blogger


Need a book for winter break? I have a list!

There’s always so many books that I want to, but never have the time to read!  Of the many books that are on my to-read list, these are my top five.

1.)    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak bookthief

My sister got this book for me as a present a few years ago. I read the first 30 or so pages, and then for some reason I didn’t pick it up again. My mom “borrowed” the book from me (I swear she’s a book thief – pun intended), and I didn’t get it back until a few months later. In 8th grade, I read Zusak’s ‘I Am the Messenger,’ and I loved it. Ever since then, ‘The Book Thief’ has been one of my top five to-read books. Also, the movie is out so after I get around to reading it, I can watch that too.

2.)    City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

TImagehe Mortal Instruments series is my favorite series that I have read, no doubt. The last book in this series FINALLY comes out on May 27th, which has been one of the most painful waits for a book. Hopefully Amazon is quick in getting the book to me, because I do not think my sanity will hold past the release date. Unfortunately, I asked Cassandra Clare if she would be coming to Seattle for a book tour, and she said that she would not be (due to some contract that keeps her from touring throughout most of the U.S.)  (*sobs forever*).  But we’ll have the book right? I mean, she’s only killing six (known) characters.  I’ll try not to cry too hard.  And if you’re looking for spoilers, check her Twitter and her Tumblr.  She’s given away a few things that could either comfort your worries, or perhaps heighten them (but hey, Church the cat doesn’t die!).

3.)    Allegiant by Veronica Roth allegiant

Well, this is the last book in the Divergent series, and it’s been out for a while… I’ve been avoiding this book for the past couple of months since the ending was spoiled for me.  I’ll probably get around to reading it… Someday… The second book was a little confusing to me, so maybe I could reread it to clear some things up.  And then, there’s also the movie that was recently (or not-so-recently?) in theaters, which was pretty good.  And when I saw it, I hadn’t read the books in at least a year, so I didn’t have too much critique of the differences between the book and the movie.  My friend, on the other hand, had plenty to share with me.  Maybe I’ll muster up the courage to get through this book.  We’ll see.

4.)    Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor dreamsofgodsandmonsters

ACTUALLY MAYBE THIS IS MY FAVORITE SERIES.  This and the Mortal Instruments are tough competition. Laini Taylor writes beautifully, and this story is incredible. I’ve actually started reading this book, slowly making my way through it, (because school takes up all of my time – it’s not boring!) and I’m about a third of the way through it. I  would highly recommend this book.  Laini Taylor lives in Portland, Oregon, and she has the coolest hot-pink hair.  And one time, she replied to me on Twitter.  Her favorite kind of cheese is ‘EVERYKIND’.

5.)    Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs hollowcity

I read the first book last summer, and loved how the book incorporates old photographs into the story. I really love the setting that the first book set, the characters, and the plot. This was one of those books where you need the next book after you finish the first. The second book has been out for a few months now, and I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. But since summer is coming, I’m looking forward to reading it. There’s also the graphic novel, for the first book, that came out recently. Cassandra Jean illustrated it, and I’m a big fan of her work.

Most of these books are part of a series, and I would recommend any of these series.  Cassandra Clare and Laini Taylor are two of my favorite authors, and they craft wonderful storylines and characters and I love their writing… I could go on about this.  But if you’re looking for books to read, I would definitely recommend these authors and series.

–Claire, Magnolia, Teen Volunteer


The Secrets of Tree Taylor: Tree writes and learns about life

secret of tree taylorTitle: The Secrets of Tree Taylor

Author: Dandi Daley Mackall

Summary: Teresa “Tree” Taylor is growing up in the small rural town of Hamilton, Missouri. It’s 1963, and she has set two goals for the summer before her freshman year: to write an investigative journalism article that will get her a spot on the school newspaper, and to kiss a boy. So when a gunshot rings out of the creepy house across the street, she thinks this is the perfect opportunity to get her big story. But as Tree begins to learn more about her elderly neighbors, she starts to realize that other people’s secrets aren’t so easy to tell. This is a wonderfully inspiring and funny summertime story about a warm-hearted girl and the colorful characters – family, friends, and not-so-friends – that surround her as she embarks on a coming-of-age adventure that will teach her that truths are not always as simple as they seem.

I started reading it because it looked like a fun girly book. It ended up far exceeding those expectations!
I kept reading because I was drawn into the atmosphere of Hamilton, Missouri, and I wanted to read more about its people and their lives. Although the plot of the book was pretty predictable, my interest in the characters kept me reading.

If Tree was in a yearbook, she would be voted “best dancer” or “most likely to become a famous political poet.”

Six word summary: Tree writes and learns about life.

I would recommend this to dreamers and writers (thirteen-year-old girls or otherwise), anyone who likes small towns or the 1960s, and anyone who loves people. This book is full of great music and characters created with a realism that will leave you smiling about the human experience.

-Hannah, 16, Greenwood Teen Blogger


Between Shades of Gray: Hope in the Most Horrible Circumstances

between shades of greyTitle: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Lina in Lithuania has a future (art school), but when the Soviet secret police arrest her, her mom, and her brother for unknown reasons, her entire world is turned upside down. Lina still has hope to find her father (locked away in another camp), and escape the prison camp alive. She puts her hope into drawings that she passes from person to person, in hope that her father will eventually be the recipient. But in a place where so much hope is lost, how is she supposed to hold on to her own?

I kept reading this book because I HAD to know what happened to Lina and her family. I wanted to know if her hope was enough to get her home.

I loved the theme about always having hope even in the most horrible of circumstances. I liked how Lina was a strong heroine in a place where everyone expected her to be weak. I hated that so many people were actually put through this in that time, but it emphasized that it actually happened. The characters may be fiction, but their struggle wasn’t.

This book reminded me of Code Name Verity because in both the main character is imprisoned because of conflicts between countries, and the only thing they have to hold on to is hope for the future. If you liked Code Name Verity, you should check out this book.

— Corinna, Greenwood Teen Blogger


The Devil’s Paintbox: racism, poverty, war, and alcoholism

devilspaintbox The Devil’s Paintbox, by Victoria McKernan, is a historical fiction novel that takes place just after the American Civil War.  The story follows Aiden Lynch, a 16-year-old boy, and his journey with his sister to from Kansas to Seattle on an Oregon Trail wagon train.

During the course of his journey, he meets a tribe of Native Americans who are threatened by smallpox, or the Devil’s paintbox.  This book paints a clear picture of life out west, especially the absurd juxtaposition of the defeat of slavery with the callous disregard for the Native people. McKernan does not glorify the time period at all, but the book always avoids becoming overly dark or depressing, even when things are at their bleakest. Continue reading

Claire’s List of Books to Read!

There’s always so many books that I want to, but never have the time to read! Of the many books that are on my to-read list, these are my top five.

bookthief1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My sister got this book for me as a present a few years ago.  I read the first 30 or so pages, and then for some reason I didn’t pick it up again.  My mom “borrowed” the book from me (I swear she’s a book thief – pun intended), and I didn’t get it back until a few months later.  In 8th grade, I read Zusak’s I Am the Messenger, and I loved it.  Ever since then, The Book Thief has been one of my top five to-read books.  Also, the movie is out so after I get around to reading it, I can watch that too. Continue reading

From Pickpocket to the Queen’s spy!

maidofsecretsTitle: Maid of Secrets
Author: Jennifer McGowan
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Who are the characters?
Meg is an accomplished thief who ends up in the court of Queen Elizabeth I as a spy.

Beatrice, Anna, Sophia and Jane are the other four Maids of Honor – the Queen’s secret society of spies and protectors.

3-sentence summary:
It is a time of unrest as Elizabeth takes the English throne. There are people at court who want to see Elizabeth fail and they launch devious plots and disturbances to make sure it happens. Meg must use all of her spying abilities to protect the crown while trusting no one, especially a dashing Spanish courtier.

Should I read this?
If you love spies, strong female characters, and history, this book is for you! Recommended for fans of the Gallagher Girls Series.

Regina raves on Wide Sargasso Sea

TWide Sargasso Seaitle: Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys

Summary: Antoinette Cosway, known as Bertha Mason in the novel Jane Eyre, spends her childhood in the Caribbean during a socially tumultuous time. Antoinette is a white Creole meaning some of her ancestors were slaves but her appearance is different from her origins. Her mother is mentally unhealthy, her brother is mentally delayed, and her father is dead. Antoinette narrates the first half of the novel, and then the story shifts and a young English gentleman named Edward Rochester narrates after their marriage. The next half of the novel describes the ups and downs of Antoinette and Rochester’s marriage as well as the factors that led to Antoinette slowly losing her sanity.

Six Word Review: An interesting read with vivid imagery.

I started reading because: I liked Jane Eyre and was interested in getting to know Bertha’s character better.

I would give this book 10/10 stars because the motifs, themes, imagery, juxtapositions, and other literary devices are abundant.

I loved that Jean Rhys explored multiple character perspectives. The story is narrated by Antoinette, Rochester, and even briefly by a minor character. I hated that the description of the time at Thornfield was so brief. It makes sense because the author is demonstrating Antoinette’s mental instability, but it still would have been cool to know more about what that time was like for Antoinette.

If Antoinette was in a high school yearbook, she would be voted Most Likely To: Have A Hard Time Fitting In.

Anything else we should know? The movie adaptations are more overly romanticized and don’t provide an accurate portrayal of the author’s intent.

–Regina, 17, West Seattle


Teen Reviewed: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Author: Mark Twain
The setting for this story is the South during the 1840s. Huckleberry Finn is a young boy who has grown up mostly on his own in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, with only the occasional guidance of his alcoholic father to count on. As a result, he has turned into a self-educated boy who mostly lives by his own rules.
At the end of the prequel to this book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huck is taken in by a widow who intends to civilize him. However this changes when his drunk father returns and kidnaps him. Huck runs away down the Mississippi River where he runs into Jim, a runaway slave who is also making his escape by way of the river. They embark on a journey together and have tons of hilarious, action-packed adventures on the way.
This book was assigned to me as a project for my English class. Usually, I absolutely detest reading books for school, but I was able to enjoy this book a lot. Its language is very different from your typical young adult novel, but this was not a barrier for me and I was still able to gain a lot from this book.
I fell in love with the characters very quickly. This book is funny, heartwarming, and introspective on a lot of political and humanitarian issues. Even though much of this was reflective of things specific to the post Civil-War time period, a lot of the main ideas can be applied to modern issues as well. I think that this is what has made it a timeless classic.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves adventures, laughter, or history and isn’t afraid to tackle some interesting language.

–Hannah, 16, Greenwood