Review: Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

by First Mate Keira

Title: Aurelia
Author: Anne Osterlund
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 246 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-12

Summary: The book begins with a dead body being carted away. Readers soon learn that there’s a plot to kill the crown princess of Tyralt, but the princess herself is unaware. A grown up school friend returns to the palace to help unravel the mystery on behalf of the king. The clues all seem to be leading to the princess’ stepmother, the Queen, or to a King from a neighboring kingdom.

Why I started this book:

I was offered the second book, Exile, in the series and needed to read this book in order to be caught up for the second.

Likes:

  • Who’s behind the assassination plots? The mystery is handled extremely well. I had considered and thrown out the real culprit way early in the story based on red herring information. Well done!
  • Aurelia is not a common princess, as she loves her common subjects and prefers to be among them. She sneaks out of the palace and goes around in disguise (but I’m pretty sure the people know her despite the disguise) and mingles with everyone as often as she can. She dreams of being able to travel, but a crown princess can hardly go into the capital city, let alone visit the farthest reaches of her kingdom. She also wishes for more learning opportunity like university.
  • Robert is a nice guy and I hope to see his suit with Aurelia blossom.

Dislikes:

  • The ending is wholly unsatisfying as the person behind the murder attempts is left unpunished. Well… sort of… I hope said person is forced to marry a certain someone. Would serve that person right!

Buy: Aurelia

Rating: 4 Treasure Chests

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Review: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

by First Mate Keira

Title: A Little Princess
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 266 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 4-8

Summary: Sara Crewe, a little girl who grew up in India is taken to London by her father to attend Miss Minchin’s Seminary for Girls. Sara must learn to live on her own and navigate the schoolroom and its students. Good thing she’s good at storytelling, playing pretend and supposing or life would be tough for this odd little heiress.

Why I started this book:

I have loved the 1995 movie for ages and ages. Heard it was a book (how did this escape me?) and decided to pick it up and read it.

Likes:

  • It’s surprisingly easy to read and while there are a few big words here and there that might slip the grasp of a younger child, it is a breeze to get through. A rarity I’ve found in classics.
  • There’s a more believable reason for Sara to become a beggar than in the movies where the government seems to have unfairly seized everything. In the book he loses it on speculation for diamond mines.
  • The sparrows outside her attic window and the rat family inside the walls.
  • Ermengarde as the friend and Lavinia as the enemy.

Toss-Up:

  • Sara is so immensely likeable because of how kind she is and how brave she is and how she handles herself in the face of adversity and tough situations. Sometimes she’s so strong you break for her. The book can be very sad at times. I cried once or twice wile reading her supposing about being a Princess when she was practically a beggar.
  • Sara’s relationship with Lottie as her “mother.” That didn’t gel so well with me.
  • Becky. Surprising.

Dislikes:

Last Minute Thoughts: This would be a great story to read at bedtime, a chapter or two at a time.

Buy: A Little Princess

Rating: 3 Treasure Chests (at least compared to the A Little Princess 1995 movie)

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Review: Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith

by BookWatch, guest reviewer

Title: Fly Girl
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 256
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-9

Summary: Fly Girl is about an African American girl, Ida Mae during World War II who wants to be a pilot and also help the war effort.  Her father had already taught her how to fly his crop dusting plane.  When she learns about the WASP (Women Airforce Service Program) she decides to join even though they will not accept applicants from her race.  She is light skinned and passes as a white girl, which means she has to deny her family identity in order to follow her dreams and serve her country. The biggest enemy she confronts is prejudice.

Why I started this book:

My favorite books are the Newberry Award winners.  I have a goal of reading all of them and I have quite a few to go.  I read Fly Girl by Sherri L Smith about a year ago. (I don’t think this is a Newberry winner.)

Likes:

  • The struggles that she faces and the ultimate questions she must come to terms with make it a very moving book.
  • You also learn about the dangerous flights these female pilots flew during the war without receiving any recognition from the government or status as veterans.  That has only recently been remedied by congress for the few surviving pilots from this program.

Buy: Flygirl

Rating: I give it 5 treasure chests.

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Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

by Captain Lyaf Yarr


Title: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 156 Pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: Two years into World War II, Nazis are hunting Jews. Annemarie Johansens is a 10 year old girl living in Copenhagen, Denmark. But everything changes once her best friend, Ellen Rosen has to hide from the Nazis for being a Jew. The Johansens decide to take her in and disguise her as Annemarie’s dead older sister. After that EVERYTHING is chaos! Annmarie is forced to mature. Childhood is a thing of the past. Everyone has to be brave and courageous and somehow pull though.

Why I Started the Book:

I started this book because we read it in class for a project in language arts.

Likes:

  • Every chapter kept me on the edge of my seat, I had to keep reading and figure out what happen!
  • I can’t help but feel sympathetic toward Annemarie. No ten year old should have to go through what she did!
  • Kirsti is defiantly my favorite character in this book! She’s so adorable and oblivious to everyone! She’s self-centered and is always craving pink frosted cupcakes. I love cupcakes and can relate to such cravings… but mine don’t necessarily have to have pink frosting.
  • I love the chapter where Annmarie and Ellen are waiting for the soldiers to arrive in their bed and Papa acts like a barrier and acts like he will do anything to protect his loved one! So sweet and brave!

Dislikes:

  • I think that it is so sad to think about World War II and the horror involved! :(

Last minute thoughts: This was a really good book! I defiantly want to read more book by Louis Lowry! But I wonder if all of of her books are about historic events? This book is a Newberry Award winner.

Buy: Number the Stars

Book Rating: I give this book 4.5 Treasure chests!

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Review: Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

By First Mate Keira

Title: Education of Bet
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 186
Grade Reading Level: Grade 7+

Summary: Elizabeth (Bet) Smith desires to be schooled. She’s wants more than anything to attend lessons and to learn things. She doesn’t understand why Will Gardener, the nephew of the man who houses her, takes it for granted. Doesn’t he understand just how boring being a girl is and how much freedom he has as a boy? Will Gardener doesn’t equate school with freedom. He wants to join the military and go to war fighting for his country but as his uncle’s only heir he’ll never be allowed to do so. The two come up with a daring plan to get what they both want… Bet is going to take his place!

Likes:

  • Bet’s daring and risky plan of impersonating a boy at an all boy’s boarding school might sound a little farfetched, especially when one remembers Amanda Bynes’s She’s the Man where Amanda could not possibly pull off looking like a guy, but it is no the case in Education of Bet. Elizabeth has a natural ability with voices, acting when she reads out loud to Paul Gardener, Will’s uncle. This handy talent coupled with a crash course in real acting and learning to be a boy gets her far. The only person who seems to see through her is Mrs. Smithers, the head housekeeper at Betterman Academy.
  • James Tyler, Bet’s roommate at Betterman Academy is not like the other boys at school. Here the story reads a bit like Yentl (Barbra Streisand). James clearly likes “Will Gardener” uncomfortably so for a straight boy. Imagine his delight when Will is revealed as Bet. The two strike up a romance alienating the other boys as they retreat time and again to their shared room to make out. James is an honorable boy and he never lets anything get too far. It’s very sweet.

Dislikes:

  • One word: Bullies. I can’t imagine why their main victim would want to help them bully others. I suppose the psychology here is that the victim wants to be in the “in-crowd” and avoid getting bullied in the future. It’s definitely the wrong way to do that. Bullies only stop when you stand up to them and refuse to give them what they want. Getting adult help is best, but that option wasn’t even allowed due to the irresponsible Headmaster who thought it was all tattle-telling and snitching of the worst sort.

Buy: The Education of Bet

Rating: 4 Treasure Chests

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