AudioBook Review: A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi

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Title: A Break with Charity: A story about the Salem Witch Trials
Author:  Ann Rinaldi
Narrator:  Laura Hicks
Format:  Hardcover. Paperback, eBook, AudioBook
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (11 and up)
Audio Producer: AudioGo
Pages:  298
Length:  7 Hours: 13 minutes
ISBN:  978-0439872188
Source:  AudioBook Jukebox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade and older
Stars: Overall: 4  Narration:  4 Story: 5 
Purchase Now:  Amazon §  Audible § Barnes & Noble

About the Book:

Susanna desperately wants to join the circle of girls who meet every week at the parsonage. What she doesn’t realize is that the girls are about to set off a torrent of false accusations leading to the imprisonment and execution of countless innocent people. Susanna faces a painful choice. Should she keep quiet and let the witch-hunt panic continue, or should she “break charity” with the group–and risk having her own family members named as witches?

AudioBook Review:

I’ve long held the belief that an Ann Rinaldi book opens the door to a younger reader, teaching them that they can connect and enjoy history. My daughter loved her books, and it fed her ability and willingness to explore more history, and not fear the research. What holds true with every book that I can name from this author, the characters are easy to understand and get to know, particularly for younger readers who are not as concerned with a rigid conformance to historical accuracy. While she takes liberties in speech and behavior, each story has a solid grounding in the event, and then uses modern conventions to explain the errors of behavior then and now.

In this story, set in 1692, and dealing with the circumstances of the Salem Witch Trials, we meet Susanna, a 15 year old girl who is desperate to be included in the popular girls meetings. Nothing new or different, people all want to belong, unfortunately the girls in this group are highly imaginative and vengeful, and are the genesis of several false accusations of witchcraft in the town. What emerges is a story about standing up for what is right and truth, and whether or not Susanna can actually face the adults and her new friends and speak the truth as she knows it.

While there is a great deal of dither in Susanna, the whole ‘what would / could’ you do in that situation is really the great play in the story. While providing a sense to young readers that history and the adults of the time may just have gotten everything wrong, for a variety of reasons.

Narrated by Laura Hicks, her clearly enunciated delivery and careful pacing feel comfortable and confident, delivering the story without excess embellishment or overly dramatic changes in pitch, tone or delivery to specifically delineate different characters.

All of the characters introduced are actual people, lived during the time and can be found in documents of the time, including information about the trials and the accusers. In an addendum to the story Rinaldi explains her use of Susanna in the story, the inclusion and use of simple elements, and her own liberties with the facts. This actually provides some interesting facts that many may not be aware of, and as an introduction to the time, and a less difficult read than The Crucible, which is all based on the trials themselves, this was an enjoyable story and perfect for readers 12 and up.

I received an MP3 download from AudioGo via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Ann Rinaldi (b. August 27, 1934, in New York City) is a young adult fiction author. She is best known for her historical fiction, including In My Father’s House, The Last Silk Dress, An Acquaintance with Darkness, A Break with Charity, and Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons. She has written a total of forty novels, eight of which were listed as notable by the ALA. In 2000, Wolf by the Ears was listed as one the best novels of the preceding twenty-five years, and later of the last one hundred years. She is the most prolific writer for the Great Episode series, a series of historical fiction novels set during the American Colonial era. She also writes for the Dear America series.

Rinaldi currently lives in Somerville, New Jersey, with her husband, Ron, whom she married in 1960. Her career, prior to being an author, was a newspaper columnist. She continued the column, called The Trentonian, through much of her writing career. Her first published novel, Term Paper, was written in 1979. Prior to this, she wrote four unpublished books, which she has called “terrible.” She became a grandmother in 1991.

Rinaldi says she got her love of history from her eldest son, who brought her to reenactments. She says that she writes young adult books “because I like to write them.”

Website

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Review: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight by Daniel M. Fife

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Title: Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight
Author: Daniel M. Fife
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 326
ISBN: 978-0985324704
Source: Author
Genre: Children’s Fantasy / Adventure 12 +
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon  §  Smashwords § Barnes & Noble 

About the Book:

Danny Firoth is an average thirteen-year-old who finds himself at the beginning of his eighth-grade year, struggling with some of the more common concerns that plague a boy of his age: bullies, homework, and his mother. Sabrina Drake is the new girl. She is beautiful and spellbinding, but carries a fantastic secret.

Accepted into the White Rock Academy of Illumination, a school for young Squires destined to become Knights of the Light and battle the forces of the Dark with magical weapons called Bondeds, Danny joins his five closest friends in the training of their lives. Honed in the techniques of blade work by an Elvin swordmaster and educated by a colorful assortment of knightly instructors, Danny and his friends are placed on the path to becoming knighted members of the Light. However, the Dark may have other plans as they unveil a sinister plot in this fantastic tale of dragon-riding adventure, sword-wielding action, and coming-of-age drama.

Book Review:

So often, I will see reviews that will mention another title, intimating that this is the “same”, and diminishing the book being reviewed by insinuating it is an imitation. While there are obvious correlations to the set-up for the Harry Potter series here, the similarity ends quickly.
This is a uniquely styled blend of fantasy and reality, with characters who are very current and solidly developed, who just happen to be a part of a training programme that involves magic and spells.

Daniel Fife has managed to create a book that even reluctant readers can enjoy: there is enough of the fantastical to break up the mundanity of every eighth grade life, and the ultimate quest of good versus evil, as you are just learning what powers and skills you have makes for a gripping tale. Yes there are friends, and the friendships are tested, and the importance of trust and being there all create small lessons on the way. But mostly: this is a highly enjoyable read that holds your interest from page to page as you learn and discover this new world with Danny.

As the start of a new series – this one shows great promise: the pacing and world-building were well done and maintained after some early repetitive moments. I was fortunate to have received the newly-edited version: and what I had was a very clean, well-written story that managed to keep interest and flow after a bit of a slow start early on. As a debut novel, in a high-fantasy style written to appeal to (but never pander to) younger readers, it was an impressive work. And I am looking forward to book 2 in the Light & Dark Series.

I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review and inclusion in Children Read week. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Daniel M. Fife was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 27, 1978. He began writing Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight during his years as a graduate student at Ball State University under the major of Counseling Psychology. What began as a simple hobby quickly turned into something more as he found a passion for writing. While carrying the schedule of a full-time student as well as working a part-time job, he devoted himself to write at least one page a day. After graduating in 2007, he received the opportunity to begin practicing psychology as a counselor at a local private practice the very same year. His devotion to writing did not waiver. Working a full time schedule and maintaining a full complement of clients, he maintained his dedication. A year or so later, he completed the rough draft of Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight and began the editing process, before finally publishing the final draft in 2012.

 

Review: Daisy Cooper and the Sisters of the Black Night by Robert Dee

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I am going to take a moment to gush a bit about this book.  Geared to children 11 and older, I literally could not put it down.  Daisy is an incredibly strong and smart heroine, and has a cast of supporting characters / friends that are just as clever and interesting.  For parents who are searching for positive role model reads for their girls, this book has it in spades. Continue reading

AudioBook Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Continue reading