Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers recently released Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper. 

 Fallen Grace

The blurb:
Life has been nothing but unfair to Grace Parkes and her sister. Penniless, the two orphans manage to stay alive - but only barely, like so many on the streets of Victorian London.  And Grace must bear a greater heartbreak, having become pregnant from terrible circumstances and then given birth to a stillborn baby.

But the infant's death sets Grace on a new path, bringing her into contact with people who hold both riches and power.  A great fraud has been perpetuated on young Grace and her sister, and they are the secret recipients of a most unusual legacy -- if only they can find the means to claim it. 

Mr. Parkes had left for America to make his fortune even before Grace was born.  The family waited in vain for news.  Grace was five when her mother died and left her older sister in her care.  The girls had no family to speak of and were forced to move out of their neighborhood.  They lost touch with their mother's friends and entered a workhouse.

But life at the workhouse was unbearable and the girls decided to fend for themselves.  Renting a room in the notoriously dangerous Seven Dials district, Grace and Lily sell watercress on the streets and struggle to keep their mother's few remaining possessions.  Each day's earnings depend on the cost of cress, the state of the roads, and the weather.  A string of bad days bring disaster but a stroke of fortune just might save their lives.

Fallen Grace is a gothic mystery set in Dickensian England where two orphaned young girls are left to fend for themselves.  But like a Dickens tale, Grace's spirit is not destroyed by the poverty and overwhelming odds.   She somehow remains untainted by her surroundings and experiences.  The book drew me in - I couldn't put it down until I knew that Grace's fate was secure. 

ISBN-10: 1599905647 - Hardcover $16.99
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (February 1, 2011), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Mary Hooper is a popular writer for children and young adults, best known in the United States for her finely woven historical novels.  Mary lives in England. Learn more about her at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Missed celebrating Earth Day? Join me in learning about Fredrick Law Olmsted

Central Park is by far my favorite place in New York City.  But Olmsted created over 600 public parks - including Boston's Emerald Necklace and Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square.

PBS recently aired Olmsted and America's Urban Parks.  If you weren't able to catch the show, watch it here.

Watch the full episode. See more THIRTEEN Series.

A big thank you to Fredrick Law Olmsted! : )  I can't imagine NYC, Boston or Philadelphia without its parks.  Which of his parks is your favorite?

Legacy by Jeanette Baker

Legacy by Jeanette Baker

The blurb:
Christina Murray is elated to inherit her family's ancestral home in Scotland.  But upon her arrival she is confronted by her breathtakingly handsome new neighbor, Ian Douglas. . . and an ancient family curse that comes with the castle.

Seduced by Ian's easy Scottish charm by day, Christina dreams at night of three raven-haired beauties, ancestors who fell victim to the curse one generation after another; Katrine, the fiery Jacobite supporter who lost her heart to an Englishman; Jeanne, an accused witch; and Mairi, who shared a forbidden passion with the King of England.

Now it's Christina's turn to lie in that cursed bed. . . and loving Ian might just cost her her life.

Legacy combines historical romance with time travel and mystery. I was quickly drawn into the stories of the four women of different eras and their ill fated romances.  The lead character Christina Murray is easy to like and sympathize with and her uncanny similarities with the three ancestors gives the Murray/Douglas mystery come to a head.

If you enjoy historical romances and unusual time travel novels,  I recommend checking out Legacy by Jeanette Baker.

ISBN-10: 9781402255830 - Paperback $9.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011), 384 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Jeanette Baker is a third grade teacher in Lake Forest, California. She graduated from the University of California at Irvine, and later earned her master's degree in education.