Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Nightingale

The Nightingale  by Kristin Hannah

WWII is on, the Nazis have invaded, and France is occupied.  Elder sister Vianne is committed to surviving and to keeping her daughter safe.  Younger sister Isabelle is outraged, and determined to join the RĂ©sistance and beat the Germans.  The siblings rarely agree and are separated by time and politics for almost the entire duration of the conflict.

The point is made several times during the story that "war stories" are almost always about (and told by) men, and that the Nazis often overlooked the role of women in warfare, sometimes to the tremendous detriment of the Third Reich. 

Not everything goes well, of course.  Some of the wrong people are taken away, some of the characters that readers attach to come to grievous harm.  Very few of the characters would be objectively considered "good people"...and yet, the details of their lives are so compelling that the book is difficult to put down.

Written for adult audiences but with plenty of teen appeal, especially for readers of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire.  Sexual situations are mostly off-page, but some of the violence (and torture) is not.

Highly recommended for readers ages 14 to adult, and especially for book discussion groups.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Mechanica  by Betsy Cornwell

Nicolette is an inventor of amazing tools and toys, just like her mother before her.  

Oppressed by her selfish "Steps," she spends days cooking, cleaning and sewing, and spends her evenings in the magical hidden workshop left behind by her mother, where she builds gadgets to help her with the daily tasks.  But when the king announces a spectacular Exposition and Gala (with accompanying ball to seek a prospective wife for the Prince), Nicolette emerges from her sooty basement to grasp at the opportunity.

This recasting of the traditional Cinderella story is delightfully constructed, with nods to a fairy godmother, a magical coach, and the essential glass slipper...but with an unexpected twist.  And perhaps a sequel?  We can hope!

Fans of Cinder will demand this similar but unique tale.  And they will join us in demanding a second book. 

Recommended for ages 12 to adult.