The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

As soon as I read the synopsis for The Carnival at Bray (written by first time author Jessie Ann Foley), I immediately added it to my checkout pile at the library. This novel is set in 1993; I turned 14 that year, so I felt an immediate connection with the story.

Maggie is 16 years old when she moves to Ireland with her sister, mother, and new stepfather. She leaves her grandmother and beloved uncle Kevin behind in Chicago, trading the big city for a small town on the Irish coast. Life is very different in Bray, and while Maggie’s sister acclimates quickly, she finds it a little more difficult to adjust. When Uncle Kevin gives her two tickets to Nirvana’s concert in Rome, it seems like a ludicrous gift. The concert is several months away, but how is she supposed to get from Ireland to Rome? Continue reading


Geek Girl by Holly Smale

As I mentioned in one of my last reviews, I love browsing the new release section at my town library. I’ve found many wonderful books there, many of which had not been on my radar and that I might not have discovered otherwise. This is where I found Geek Girl, a young adult novel by Holly Smale. The book was published in the UK in 2013, but has only recently been published here in the United States.

Harriet Manners is a very clever girl. Her mind is full of facts about the world around her. Harriet is socially awkward, and at the beginning of the book, she is reluctantly accompanying her friend Nat to the Clothes Live show in Birmingham. While there, Harriet is spotted by a modeling scout. At first, Harriet doesn’t want anything to do with modeling; after all, the entire reason she is at Clothes Live is because Nat has always dreamed of being discovered.

When the modeling agency calls to follow up, Harriet feels conflicted. Modeling has never been a passion of hers, but could it help her improve her image? Harriet is tired of being a geek, and she wants things to change. Harriet usually has all the answers, and could modeling be the answer that she has been looking for? Continue reading


Audacity by Melanie Crowder

I love browsing the new release shelves at my local library. I often request books through the library network, but the new release shelves are a great place to find books that might not have been on my radar. This is where I found Audacity, a book of free verse poetry for young adults by Melanie Crowder.

Audacity is a fictionalization of Clara Lemlich’s life. The story begins at the beginning of the 20th century in the Pale of Settlement, the portion of Russian land in which Jewish families are allowed to live. While Clara’s father and brothers devote their days to studying the Torah, Clara secretly learns Russian. She has always had a love for learning, and Russian unlocks a world of literature and learning that is not accessible via her native Yiddish. When her father discovers her Russian books, he burns them. When the Russians burn down their village in a pogrom, the family makes their way to America. Continue reading


Hush Now, Don’t You Cry by Rhys Bowen

I first discovered Rhys Bowen when I read her Royal Spyness mystery series. Since I have finished reading all the books in that series, I have moved on to her Molly Murphy series. I have been reading the series out of order, and have now read the five most recent Molly Murphy stories. These mysteries take place at the beginning of the twentieth century, and feature an intrepid young woman who has wonderful intuition, and continuously finds herself in predicaments that require a mystery to be solved.

In Hush Now, Don’t You Cry, Molly and her new husband Daniel Sullivan are traveling to Newport for a belated honeymoon. A New York City alderman- Brian Hanna- has graciously invited them to stay on his summer estate. Even though it is October, the Sullivans are happy to escape the city and have some time to themselves.

But as soon as they arrive, the Sullivans are thrown into one confusing situation after another. No one is there to greet them, and they must spend the night in the stable. When they are shown to the guest cottage, they realize that Hanna has invited his entire family to the estate for the same weekend. And when Brian Hanna is found dead at the bottom of a seaside cliff before anyone sees him arrive, suspicion shifts to Molly and Daniel. After all, the only one who can corroborate their story of being invited by Hanna has just been found dead. It is up to Molly to figure out what happened to Hanna. Who would have wanted him dead? Continue reading


The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford

I have always loved learning about 19th century England, and reading stories set in that era. So, when I saw The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, my interest was piqued. Subtitled The Case of the Missing Moonstone, this is the first entry in a planned series written by Jordan Stratford and illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

The story is set in 1826, and it begins with a young girl named Mary traveling to a grand house to study with the young occupant of said house- a young girl named Ada. Lady Ada is three years younger, but Mary quickly learns that her new friend is very intelligent. The girls form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, and they receive a request from a debutante who wants assistance with recovering a stolen jewel. The lady’s maid has confessed to the crime, but the debutante insists that the maid is innocent. Is she innocent? Can Lady Ada and Mary track down the real culprit? Continue reading


All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I read almost all of All The Bright Places yesterday. I didn’t intend to read the entire book in one day. I started reading Friday night, and then I picked the book up again the next morning. I had a hard time putting it down. I read while the girls were at Kumon, and then I read here and there during the day. I was absolutely captivated, and by the end of the book, I was profoundly moved. This is a book that is going to stay with me for a long time.

All The Bright Places is a young adult novel by Jennifer Niven. It is, as the cover states, “the story of a boy called Finch and a girl named Violet”. Finch (Theodore) and Violet meet one day in the bell tower at school. Everyone expects that Finch is up there because he plans to jump off, but no one has any idea that Violet is up there for the same reason. In fact, Violet is credited with saving Finch that day, and no one knows the truth- except for Finch. Continue reading


The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

I first saw The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place at Barnes & Noble over the holidays. I made a request at the library, and the book arrived. Things were hectic, and I didn’t get around to reading more than the first chapter before it was time to return the book. I was very sad about this, but I didn’t want to run up fines- that dime a day adds up quickly! When I received my monthly Audible credit, I didn’t even hesitate before buying The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.

This novel straddles both the middle grade and the young adult genre. It was written by Julie Berry and narrated by Jayne Entwistle. The story opens in the waning days of the Victorian era. Seven young ladies are enjoying Sunday dinner- or rather, they are watching Mrs. Plackett, their headmistress and her n’er do well brother Mr. Godding enjoying the veal that they prepared. This is what happens every Sunday, but on this particular Sunday, something different happens: the two adults drop dead in front of them. Continue reading