Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Edge on the Sword

By Rebecca Tingle
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

In this excellent bit of medieval history set in the 800's in Great Britain, 15 year old Aethelflaed is the daughter of the West Saxon King Alfred. She is happy living her quiet life becoming educated in the scriptorium by the priests and slipping away with her brother Edward to the woods. Then she is dismayed to discover her father has bethrothed her to the Mercian leader, Ethelred. She is even more unhappy to discover that a man has been sent to watch her every move to protect her from those who might oppose the union--a Mercian man named Red who wears the bonds of slavery. Disgruntled, Flaed begins to experiment with ways to slip away from her careful guard, even as she begins to like him. But her stubborn bid for a moment alone comes at a cost--one day when she does manage to elude Red, Flaed is abducted by some men awaiting just this opportunity. After Red rescues her, a decision is reached. Flaed must learn how to protect herself and how to lead, however reluctantly she may wish for these skills. There are many exciting scenes in this novel, and readers will be pleased to discover that Aethelflaed not only was a real person, but one of the most famous female leaders remembered from that period. Thumbs up for an excellent piece of historical fiction.

Intensely Alice

By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

This is the 23rd book about Alice McKinley, and we've been able to grow with her and her friends Elizabeth and Pamela since they were all in 6th grade together. Now it is the summer before Alice's senior year in high school and her friends are all engaged in typical summer activities. They hang at Mark's pool, work their summer jobs, and spend time with family. Alice looks forward to her cousin Carol's wedding in Chicago with the added attraction that she can go visit her boyfriend Patrick at the University of Chicago where he is taking summer classes. Alice is both excited and nervous about the prospect of sleeping over--will this finally be the time she and Patrick will be able to get intimate? Along with her trip to Chicago, Alice volunteers in a soup kitchen for a week, gets escorted home by the police, has deep discussions about God and religion, gets to apartment-sit for her brother Lester and by book's end, has something so huge happen to her entire group of friends that things may well be changed forever. Alice fans will gobble this volume up and be waiting to find out how her senior year progresses in the next addition to the series.

Monday, July 6, 2009


By Katy Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure
Rating: 4 stars

Set in early 7th century Britain, Essa is devastated when his father, a traveling singer, leaves him behind in a small village. Since his mother is dead, Essa is raised by the head of the village, Hild, and soon becomes absorbed into the rhythm of life there. He does have one special skill--the ability to get inside of an animal and see what it sees, hear what it hears. Then when he reaches the age of 14, everything changes. War is coming, and his small village could well be crushed under its inexorable path. Essa becomes the man of Egric, one of the local princes, who asks him to spy on the nearby Mercian camp. But while on his mission, Essa is caught--luckily by Wulf, the son of the savage Mercian king Penda, who remembers Essa from childhood days. Essa is unexpectedly reunited with his father Cai, also there spying, and is sent on a task with Wulf to bring back his bride. Essa knows what he needs to do to stop Penda, but can he bring himself to become a killer? This journey will reveal more to Essa about himself, his true heritage and the path he wants to take in life. Essa's story is compelling and filled with violence, loyalty and friendship. Readers who enjoy their adventures immersed in history will love this story.