Capturing the stink and gore, violence and romance of medieval life, Iggulden makes real those grand characters who live in...

STORMBIRD

From the Wars of the Roses series , Vol. 1

Iggulden (The Blood of Gods, 2013, etc.) rallies dukes and barons, archers and peasants, schemers and warriors in this first in a trilogy chronicling the 15th-century War of the Roses.

Henry VI, only 22, assumes England’s crown; he's "a dear white lamb to lead us in prayer"—the opposite of his warrior father—and he mystically believes hours of prayer keep France at bay. "Bring me a truce, Derry," he commands Master Derihew Brewer, once an archer and now the king’s spymaster. Brewer brokers a treaty with France’s King Charles and Duke René of Anjou for the marriage of the duke’s daughter, 14-year-old Margaret, to Henry in return for the English-held lands of Anjou and Maine. Powerful warrior royals like Richard, Duke of York, are opposed. Others, like William, Lord Suffolk, are ambivalent but loyal to the crown. The marriage is made, English protection is withdrawn, and the farms and settlements in Maine and Anjou become prey to the French. Worse, the collapse of those betrayed English bastions causes violent unrest in England. Giving color to various scenes and schemes, Iggulden skillfully depicts bloody clashes as English settlers fight, then retreat from Maine, Anjou and Normandy into Calais, followed by action-packed and nerve-racking street fighting when rebellious Kentish Freemen march into London. With Suffolk dead, the precociously intelligent and courageous Queen Margaret, along with other loyal lords, relies on Brewer’s scheming to secure the physically weak and emotionally damaged Henry. An heir is needed. Other lords conspire to name York Protector and Defender of the Realm. Iggulden superbly dissects the dogfight among Edward Longshanks’ descendants, but he also creates memorable fictional characters—in addition to Brewer, there's Thomas Woodchurch, an English archer–turned–Anjou wool merchant drawn back to the bow.

Capturing the stink and gore, violence and romance of medieval life, Iggulden makes real those grand characters who live in the collective memory. A page-turner sure to have readers eager for the next in the series.

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16536-8

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • New York Times Bestseller

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  • National Book Award Finalist

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her...

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS

Avery Stafford, a lawyer, descendant of two prominent Southern families and daughter of a distinguished senator, discovers a family secret that alters her perspective on heritage.

Wingate (Sisters, 2016, etc.) shifts the story in her latest novel between present and past as Avery uncovers evidence that her Grandma Judy was a victim of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and is related to a woman Avery and her father meet when he visits a nursing home. Although Avery is living at home to help her parents through her father’s cancer treatment, she is also being groomed for her own political career. Readers learn that investigating her family’s past is not part of Avery's scripted existence, but Wingate's attempts to make her seem torn about this are never fully developed, and descriptions of her chemistry with a man she meets as she's searching are also unconvincing. Sections describing the real-life orphanage director Georgia Tann, who stole poor children, mistreated them, and placed them for adoption with wealthy clients—including Joan Crawford and June Allyson—are more vivid, as are passages about Grandma Judy and her siblings. Wingate’s fans and readers who enjoy family dramas will find enough to entertain them, and book clubs may enjoy dissecting the relationship and historical issues in the book.

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her fictional characters' lives.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28468-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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