Mini Reviews (13)

The head of the Saint by Socorro acioli, Trans. By Daniel Hahn

After the death of his mother, Samuel arrives in a dying village in order to exact his revenge on the father who never returned.  While he searches, he takes shelter in the abandoned head of a giant statue of St. Anthony.  Inside he can hear the voices of the women who pray to the saint, so he decides to make a prayer come true.  But when the villagers begin believing in his “miracles,” Samuel must decide what it is he believes.  This YA was originally published in Brazil, so it differs vastly from the standard YA on the U.S. market.  It is a character-driven story focused on Samuel and how he responds to what may or may not be a miracle.  Recommended for fans of magical realism.  (Source: Library) Three Stars.

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War by Joanne B. Freeman

Focusing on Congress from the 1830s and leading up to the American Civil War, Joanne B. Freeman argues that, for years, Southern politicians used the threats of duels and violence to coerce the North into conceding to their interests.  It is a provocative argument and an interesting read, though I think the book does not need to be quite as long as it is.  Highly recommended for Civil War enthusiasts.  (Source: Library) Four Stars.

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Sarah’s family has always been on the move, constantly chasing the warmth her mother can seem to find.  But when her mother walks out, an old family curse awakens.  Left by her father with a grandmother she never knew she had, Sarah must unravel the secrets surrounding her parents’ past if she is to avoid succumbing to the curse herself.  This is a middle-grade reimagining of “Beauty and the Beast” in which the female protagonist becomes the monster.  But the story is uncompelling, the romance sudden and lackluster, and the plot perhaps more complicated than it needs to be.  (Source: Library) Two Stars.

The Man in the Iron Mask: They Mystery Solved by Roger MacDonald

Oxford historian Roger MacDonald traces the true story behind Alexandre Dumas’ four Musketeers, revealing how Charles d’Artagnan really met Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, and fought with them against Cardinal Richelieu’s men, before eventually becoming captain of the Musketeers.  He traces d’Artagnan’s life before moving into a discussion of the famous prisoner kept locked in Pignerol and, eventually, the Bastille: the Man in the Iron Mask.  Drawing upon historical accounts, MacDonald proposes to have discovered the Mask’s true identity.  However, the account is disjointed and difficult to follow.  His candidate for the Mask is compelling, except that he does not adequately explain why powerful forces wanted the Mask imprisoned in the first place.  This book will likely be of most interest to readers who love Dumas and The Three Musketeers.  (Source: Gift)  Two Stars.

4 thoughts on “Mini Reviews (13)

  1. Captain's Quarters says:

    Thanks for yer review of beastkeeper. It has been on me list forever but I have never picked it up. It kept staying on there because of the retelling angle. But if it is not that good then I am not going to waste me time. Arrrr!
    x The Captain


  2. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    Beastkeeper was a strange read…I don’t remember much but I liked it when I read it some years back, though I don’t think I’d reread. I almost want to take a look at it again, though, in light of the recent YA vs MG discussions. I shelved the book as YA on Goodreads, where it’s just about evenly split between shelved as YA and shelved as MG (120 vs 119).


    • Krysta says:

      I felt like it was MG because of the age of the protagonist, but I suppose the romance element is more common in YA than in MG at this point. I would ultimately label it as upper-MG, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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