Sunday, August 31, 2008


by Celia Rees

In the year 1794 rich and beautiful Sovay has no real concerns until her betrothed betrays her with a chambermaid. Taking the matter into her own hands, she dresses in men’s clothes, stops James’ coach, and orders him to “Stand and deliver!” Enjoying the excitement, Sovay continues her daring robberies—not for the money, but the power over men. Taking a step too far, Sovay robs Sir Royston, one of England’s most influential men. Before she knows it she is thrown into tangled plots that involve both England and France, her family and her enemies, the weak and the powerful.

Having loved Pirates!, devoured Witch Child, and liked Sorceress, I expected to really enjoy Sovay, but regrettably it did not live up to my hopes.
First of all, I’m not sure why Ms. Rees based the story or character off the Sovay in the folksong, as with the exception of the very start, Sovay’s story had nothing to do with daring hold-ups and escapes as the summary and first chapters seemed to promise.
Along with the disjointed plot segments, the character development was not at all realistic; Sovay jumped suddenly from innocent girl into the role of legendary highwayman, then back to a lady, then to determined young woman. It was as if the author couldn’t decide to write a romanticized story of a highwayman’s life, or a gritty and realistic description of la Terreur.
The last quarter or so of the novel, after it had smoothed out to the terrors of the Revolution, was my favorite, but it didn’t quite make up for the rest of the book.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Kayla tagged me with this meme. I have no idea if Tyto Alba will do it or not....

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Being a weird little kid.

What are five things on my to-do list today?

1. Get up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work.
2. Go to work.
3. Finish Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull (which I am not that thrilled to be reading) so that I can read my more exciting new books I just got at the library last night. (I could put the same thing as Kayla's was for #4 here, but I don't know if it would be for the same reason/s. Mine is boredom.)
4. Eat something at least a little more healthy than last night's dinner (which was French toast because I haven't been shopping and we did actually have all the ingredients for it).
5. Listen to good music at some point in the day.

Snacks I enjoy:
I don't eat them that often, but I like wheat crackers, fruit, and Triscuits.

Places I've lived:

Three different houses on the East Coast of the US, and none of them exciting.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Pay other people to fix this house up really nice, buy BOOKS, an iPod, and music. Donate money to my Sea Scout Ship (instead of troops the units are called "ships") and charities.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Queen’s Own Fool

A Novel of Mary Queen of Scots
by Jane Yolen & Robert J. Harris

One wet day Nicola Ambruzzi is performing in the streets with Troupe Brufort in Rheims, France, when a royal gentleman stops and asks them to come and put on their show for the kind and queen at the palace. Her oily Uncle Armand can hardly believe his luck and tells Nicola to “keep her tongue to herself,” though it is her sharp tongue that rewards him in the end. The court has seen most of the tricks the troupe performs and is not impressed. When Nicola makes a mistake and turns what could have been a disaster into an entertaining sideshow the court applauds and admires her quick wit. Queen Mary is offers to buy Nicola’s freedom and take her into her service. So, Nicola becomes the queen’s own fool, is given new clothes and has plentiful food to eat. Though not everyone is her friend, she has the ear of a queen, who could ask for more? Then plots for power and the throne increase and Nicola is caught in the middle of the court games of who will rule and who will die.

Yolen and Harris’ richly detailed writing sweeps readers into the characters’ lives, the plots of the court, and medieval life from the very beginning. The seamless blend of believable characters and their emotions with a very close telling of the story of the “queen without a country” makes this an unforgettable book. I have read this novel several times, and it still keeps its magic for me. Read the companion novels—also about troubled historic Scotland—Girl in a Cage, Prince Across the Water, and The Rogues.