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Review, Young Adult / August 28, 2012
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel HarrisMy Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
Author: Rachel Harris
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date: September 2012
304 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Genres: Historical Fiction
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On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was a breath of fresh air! I loved the sound of the book from the blurb and I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint one bit! This debut is full of charm and is a light funny read while staying true to beautiful sixteenth century Rennaissance Florence.

Cat Crawford is the daughter of a famous Hollywood director and actress. Since her mother abandoned her and her dad, she likes her life out of the spotlight. So when her future stepmother Jenna steps in and wants to plan an extravagant Sweet Sixteen party to further her own career, Cat vehemently refuses and it takes a trip to Florence, Italy for art-loving Cat to reluctantly be persuaded by her dad. Little did she know her trip would whisk her back to the sixteenth century in order to learn some important lessons about herself!

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By: Daphne
Adult, Review / August 10, 2012
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa GregoryThe Lady of the Rivers
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Cousins' War #3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: October 2011
448 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Historical Fiction
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Readers first met Jacquetta in The White Queen, as mother of King Edward IV's commoner queen, Elizabeth Woodville. The Lady of the Rivers is the compelling prelude to this tale and begins with Jacquetta as a young woman of rare beauty possessing the mixed blessing of second sight.

Jacquetta rises swiftly through marriage to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, who introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Yet the Duke shows little interest in his new bride beyond her ability to divine the future, and Jacquetta's only solace in the great household is the handsome squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when she is left a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, eventually returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his queen, Margaret of Anjou.

The Woodvilles soon occupy a privileged place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat of revolt from the people of England. When the king slips into an inexplicable sleep, the kingdom is divided into the rival camps of Margaret and her untrustworthy advisors and the followers of Richard, Duke of York, who threatens to claim the throne. Jacquetta must navigate a treacherous path along both sides of the battle lines as the safety of her family and the rule of the House of Lancaster hang in the balance.

I wasn’t as excited about this book when I heard about who it would be focused on, especially since the planned fourth book in the series will feature Elizabeth of York and picks up where the first two books in the series left off, chronologically. I thought visiting Jacquetta was a step backwards. However, I found the book as entertaining and educational as all of Gregory’s historical fiction and it was nice to get extra context into all of the relationships and figures involved this turbulent time in English history.

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By: Daphne
Adult, Review / August 3, 2012
Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessShadow of Night
Author: Deborah Harkness
Series: All Souls Trilogy #2
Publisher: Headline
Date: July 2012
592 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
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Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches' cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew's old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

After the whirlwind of genres that the first book in the series gave us, I was thrilled to learn the second book would dip into one of my favourites, Historical Fiction. I wasn’t disappointed, as the story took us to Elizabethan England (one of my favourite time periods) and seamlessly incorporated famous historical figures like Christopher Marlowe and Queen Elizabeth I herself. However, as much as I loved being in Diana and Matthew’s historic world, the book moved slowly. While I loved some aspects of the cross-genre writing, the best part of the book for me, the plot, suffered as a result.

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By: Daphne
Adult, Review / January 19, 2012
The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Date: September 2011
387 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

When I first read Harry Potter, I wanted to go to Hogwarts. I wanted to see all the wonderful things described in those books. I wanted to visit Hogsmede and Diagon Alley and the Quiddich World Cup. Such was the way that the story was written. When reading The Night Circus I felt exactly the same. I wanted to go to the Night Circus. I wanted to experience everything there was to offer there. From the illusionist to the ice garden, to the bonfire, the statues, the animals, the wonderful desserts and many many more extraordinary things. This for me is what made this book truly magnificent. The detail, and the way in which this detail is brought to life through beautiful and imaginative descriptions.

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By: Alison
Adult, Review / January 10, 2012
The Kissing Tree by Prudence BiceThe Kissing Tree
Author: Prudence Bice
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Date: December 2011
262 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Historical Fiction
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Five years ago Georgiana stole a kiss from Ridge Carson under the community “kissing tree” the day before she moved away. Now eighteen, she finally returns to Colorado to live with her grandfather and help him with the cooking and cleaning on his ranch. Though she was taught how to be a proper young lady and flourish in New York’s high society, her heart never stopped yearning for home—or her childhood crush.

But when she unexpectedly finds herself facing the grown-up Ridge, with his Wild West ways, all her proper training begins to unravel. Now she isn’t sure she can fall for his improper cowboy style.

This light-hearted and charming love story will bring a smile to your face from page one.

I was drawn to the synopsis of this historical romance because I was in the mood for something sweet. I loved the idea of ending up with your childhood crush, because it’s one of those idealistic concepts that is great in theory but almost never works out. I’m also a big fan of the happy ending and this book delivered on all these counts.

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By: Daphne