Tag Archives: Linda Sue Park

A book to die for

13 Jun

I am currently lost in Tudor England, deep in the depths of Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VII Tell All by M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson

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Publisher’s Summary: He was King Henry VIII, a charismatic and extravagant ruler obsessed with both his power as king and with siring a male heir.

They were his queens–six ill-fated women, each bound for divorce, or beheading, or death.

Watch spellbound as each of Henry’s wives attempts to survive their unpredictable king and his power-hungry court. See the sword flash as fiery Anne Boleyn is beheaded for adultery. Follow Jane Seymour as she rises from bullied court maiden to beloved queen, only to die after giving birth. Feel Catherine Howard’s terror as old lovers resurface and whisper vicious rumors to Henry’s influential advisors. Experience the heartache of mothers as they lose son after son, heir after heir.

Told in stirring first-person accounts, Fatal Throne is at once provocative and heartbreaking, an epic tale that is also an intimate look at the royalty of the most perilous times in English history.

Who’s Who: 

M. T. Anderson – Henry VIII
Candace Fleming – Katharine of Aragon
Stephanie Hemphill – Anne Boleyn
Lisa Ann Sandell – Jane Seymour
Jennifer Donnelly – Anna of Cleves
Linda Sue Park – Catherine Howard
Deborah Hopkinson – Kateryn Parr

First, what a collection of fabulous authors!

What I really want to tell you is why I am so smitten (obsessed) with this book. Each author writes about their character in chronological order, with a few scenes that overlap. They write so well, you can’t help feeling sympathy for the character. Then, when the character changes, you see things from another perspective and fall under the influence of the new character. It really shows you the power that the person you listen to can have over your opinions. A good lesson for our time taught through history.

Because each character has a different author, their voices are truly unique.

Even though I am pretty familiar with these stories, this format gave me an opportunity to re-engage with them in a whole new way.

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The difficult second book

17 Oct

So often, the second book in a series disappoints. It fails to live up to the expectations of the first. Or, maybe it fails to cover new ground, while maintaining the energy and character of the first. Kevin Sands has managed to do all three in The Mark of the Plague,  sequel to The Blackthorn Key.

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Publisher’s Summary: Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this follow-up to the Indie Next pick The Blackthorn Key, which was called a “spectacular debut” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.

And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before…

I really liked this first book and, though prepared to be disappointed, I was entranced by the second. There are several reasons why I liked them both.

First, they are set in Restoration London. That’s the period marked by the return of Charles II as king (1660–85) following the period of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth.This is a setting rarely explored in children’s & YA lit, so more power to Sands for choosing an interesting time and place.

Second, they both have mysteries involving codes and ciphers. I had a period growing up when I was obsessed with codes and ciphers and checked out the few books our small library had multiple times. I know that there are many middle grade readers out there who feel the same, decades after my youth.

Third, Christopher is an apothecary’s apprentice. The whole apothecary thing is interesting. In fact, several other book series for this age group are about apothecaries:

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Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park and the Apothecary  series by Maile Meloy.

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Finally, I love the fact that Christopher is an apprentice. Although we have lots of stories of cruel masters, Christopher found an excellent one in Benedict Blackthorn.

Like The Blackthorn Key,  the problem is wrapped up in  The Mark of the Plague. Both books could be read as stand alones. I don’t know if there is a third book in the works, but, based on these two, I would read whatever Kevin Sands publishes next.

Forest of Wonders

19 May

In my mind, Linda Sue Park is the author of realistic fiction for middle grade readers. They often feature protagonists of Asian ancestry.

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So, imagine my surprise as I began reading her newest book, Forest of  Wonders, which feels unlike anything else she’s written.

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Sometimes when there is a shift like this, I find it hard to get into a book because I  am fighting against my preconceived idea of what is supposed to be in the book. Usually, though, once I shake off my prejudice, I am happy with the unexpected book. And such is the case with Forest of Wonders.

Publisher’s summary: Raffa Santana has always loved the mysterious Forest of Wonders. For a gifted young apothecary like him, every leaf could unleash a kind of magic. When an injured bat crashes into his life, Raffa invents a cure from a rare crimson vine that he finds deep in the Forest. His remedy saves the animal but also transforms it into something much more than an ordinary bat, with far-reaching consequences. Raffa’s experiments lead him away from home to the forbidding city of Gilden, where troubling discoveries make him question whether exciting botanical inventions—including his own—might actually threaten the very creatures of the Forest he wants to protect.

The book reminded me at times of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s False Prince series. Like that series,  Forest of Wonder is a fast paced story with a young boy setting off on his own to solve a problem within a realm. The first in a trilogy, this book is ideal for fans of those books, as well as Park’s already large fan base.

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