Tag Archives: Julie Berry

A little YA historical fantasy this time

16 May

I make no secret that I love historical fiction.

Julie Berry’s newest novel, Lovely War, mixes two love stories set during the First World War with Greek mythology to come up with an amazing story.


Publisher’s Summary: They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.


It might sound impossible to mix the two stories, but in doing so, Berry turns a good love story into something so much better.

I listened to the audiobook and it was fabulous. Whether you read the print version or listen to the audiobook, you will not be disappointed.

Going Back in Time

20 Oct

The last book I reviewed, The Mark of the Plague, was set in the mid 17th century. As a lover of historical fiction, it was a delight to read a book set in a time period that rarely appears in kid lit. Today’s book, The Passion of Dolssa,  by Julie Berry is set even further back in time.


Publisher’s Summary: Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.

On my bookshelf

11 Apr

I currently have two stacks of books.

There’s the Morris Award pile of books I’m reading, or have received and meet the basic Morris criteria. That stack is getting bigger and I don’t have to read all of them. We divvy those out, but we all have to read any we decide to nominate. This one sits on a table on the east side of my living room.

On the west side, I have the stack of library materials I want to get to. This is mostly books, but also Audiobook CDs and a DVD or two. Here is a picture of that shelf.


It is a snapshot that captures this moment today. It s a shifting shelf and might look different tomorrow. Currently, there are no picture books.

The four I am most excited about are

Prairie Fire by E. K. Johnston, a sequel to The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim

Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place  by Julie Berry (audiobooks CD narrated by Jayne Entwhistle)


Giving Voice to the Voiceless

22 Jan

About 10 years ago I had a self-selected mute in the 4th grade class I was teaching. Let’s call her J.  She had an honest to goodness diagnosis, this wasn’t just something we in the educational establishment had labelled her with. J had experienced a trauma recently in her life and mutism was her way of dealing with it. She was a really great kid and we hit it off. That was the year the 4th grade started writing interactive reading journals. The kids had to write me a weekly letter about what they were reading and I would write them back. They turned their journal in on Monday and I had til Friday to write my 20+ letters back. . Of course the kids write about more than just what they were reading, but it gave us a chance to “talk”.  Each Friday, I would sit with each kid and read my letter to them. It gave me a chance to have uninterrupted time with each student at lest once a week. J was able to use her journal to give herself a voice. That;s how she and I were able to connect, and get to know each other.

But what if you can’t write, either because you are too young or never learned?  All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry examines this idea.


Like Charm and Strange, the story unfolds in fragments. Slowly we get pieces of where Judith lives, what happened to her and her friend Lottie, and how she lives now. It is not pretty. Judith disappeared for two years and her tongue was cut out while she was gone. When she returns her Mother lets her into the house, but doesn’t really accept her back. Judith cannot talk and is marginalized, if not outright ostracized. But, circumstances change. Having received little schooling when young,  Judith was unable to read or write. She finds the courage within her to go to school. A renewed friendship gives her the chance to learn to talk again, even if she does so imperfectly. And Judith finally has a chance to speak truth to power.

I had checked this book out from the library earlier this year and returned it unread. The jacket description is good, but it doesn’t really convey the power of the story. I’m glad I gave it a second chance.

A 2014 Edgar Award nominee for YA.

A Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten Pick — #5, Best Books of Winter ’13-’14.

A School Library Journal Best Book of 2013 and 2014 “Battle of the Books” contender.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book for 2013.

A Horn Book Fanfare 2013 title.

Nominated for the Carnegie Medal and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults award. 


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