Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens A friend of mine says that he could never read this book because the first paragraph (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”) did him in. If you feel the same way, then for God’s sake skip the first paragraph. For otherwise you are missing out on one of the most powerful novels in our language. I won’t promise that this ... Read More »

Book Review: Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

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  Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens Many great writers and creative artists are said to go through different “periods” of artistic development. Dickens is no exception. Not to bore you with the details, his early novels had their weaknesses, and his later novels might come off a bit pessimistic. But in between there was a stretch of masterpieces, in which Dickens was at the top of his art. One of those middle-period masterpieces is ... Read More »

Book Review: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

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David Copperfield by Charles Dickens Some call him Mas’r Davy bor, some call him Trot. Don’t even ask why. You’ll find out, hopefully before you’ve read far in this book, that it is not about the magician with the creepy eyes who used to do things like make the Great Wall of China disappear. It isn’tthat kind of a parallel to Harry Potter. This one is about an English orphan boy who struggles to make a life ... Read More »

Book Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

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Bleak House by Charles Dickens I have been a big fan of Dickens since I started reading his books, and I have loved most of them from the first time I read them. And yet for some reason, I was always too intimidated by this book to attempt reading it, until I found an audio-CD of it at the library. Why that should be so now escapes me. Perhaps it has something to do with ... Read More »

Book Review: The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman

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The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman Thanks again to my good friend Heather, who spends her winters north of the Arctic Circle (but I don’t dare call her crazy because I spend every summer in the hottest place in the U.S.), for sending me three of the four Karen Cushman books I recently read, including this one. Unlike the other three, which take place in Medieval England, this historical novel zooms in on ... Read More »

Book Review: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

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Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman This Newbery Honor Book by the author of The Midwife’s Apprentice and Matilda Bone is, like those other books, a historical novel set in Medieval England. The year 1290 to be more precise. It is told in the form of the diary of a strong-willed knight’s daughter who, at the age of 14, is starting to notice boys, worrying about whose bride she will be (not that she has any choice), and learning ... Read More »

Book Review: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

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The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman The 1996 Newbery Medal book is another well-researched, warm-hearted historical novel about a girl in Medieval England. This girl, like the title character in Matilda Bone, needs to find out who she is and where she belongs in the world. Only more so. To begin with, she has no name and no memory of a family. She comes to the village knowing no name but Brat, and soon becomes Beetle ... Read More »

Book Review: Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman

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Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman This meticulously-researched historical novel by the author of The Midwife’s Apprenticetells the story of Matilda, a fiercely religious girl who, against her will, becomes the attendant of a bone-setter named Red Peg. The setting is a small city in fourteenth-century England. And beneath all the details about the state of medicine in the Middle Ages lies a story about a girl learning to think for herself, learning that life is to ... Read More »

Book Review: The Dark by Marianne Curley

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The Dark by Marianne Curley In this second book of the “Guardians of Time” trilogy, the villainous Marduke has returned from the dead, even more twisted and deformed than before. The evil immortal Lathenia, goddess of chaos, and her Order (of Disorder) continue to meddle with history in the hope of changing the future into an age of misrule. In the meantime, the Guard that tirelessly works to frustrate her plans faces frustrations of its ... Read More »

Book Review: The Named by Marianne Curley

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The Named by Marianne Curley   Ethan is like most teenaged superheroes. He keeps his true identity secret. He maintains the illusion of being an average high school student, except in history class, which he can’t help but excel. No one would suspect that he is anything but a normal boy in the normal town of Angel Falls. But like the town, the boy has something else going on below the surface. Ethan is, in ... Read More »