Jo Kuan is a Chinese-American girl living in Atlanta in the late 1800s. While racial tensions between black and white are rising in the South, Jo as Chinese, isn't quite sure where she fits in. Then she starts writing an advice column anonymously as Miss Sweetie, for one of the local papers and find her voice. Not everyone likes what she has to say, however.
Written during a time of great change, the suffragettes marching for the right to vote and Jim Crow laws beginning to go into effect, this book tells a story of a part of history we rarely see, and from the point of view of a young girl trying to find her place in a society that isn't sure what to do with her. Jo is such a captivating character that you can't help but root for her. She will be in your head long after the book is done. There is a horse race, racial tensions, mysterious liaisons and a swindler. Plot twists abound and the writing is superior. Everyone should read this fantastic story. Recommended for grades 8 and up.
I was so excited for this one - female gladiators right! I was sorely disappointed. We first meet Fallon in her home in Prydain (Britain as Caesar calls it). It starts off well, the setting is interesting, the characters interesting. Then she gets captured and the story goes downhill from there. There are far too many coincidences and there are one too many stretches of moral character. I mean this was Ancient Rome - home of brutal gladiator matches and Caesar laying havoc wherever he went. It was a dog eat dog world. The first thing we see is a kind slave catcher. I mean he's a slaver people - there is no kindness in people who kidnap those unfortunate enough to stray a little too far from their villages and then sold for profit. From there the coincidences and kindnesses just snowplowed and then there was the insta-love.
The premise was great. The story started off strong, and was interesting. The writing isn't bad - perhaps a bit too descriptive in places. But the overall problem are the plot holes, and the fact that the story wasn't quite developed enough. I knew before I finished that there would be another story, because the ending felt too rushed.
This would have been fantastic with better editing. But I think those who like romance in the guise of historical fiction will enjoy it.
Ages: 12 and up
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Two Irish orphans find themselves in the English countryside looking for work, when they are hired to be servants at a creepy mansion no one will go near. A giant black tree has become a part of the house and something keeps opening the front door at night. The family has a secret and the siblings soon become part of an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. Deliciously creepy and fantastically written this story will stay with you long after the pages are read.
The DC Public Library has this book in both book and ebook formats - check it out!