The Scarlet Lion, Elizabeth Chadwick
This is the sequel to The Greatest Knight, which I really enjoyed. It did not disappoint. While much of the first book covers William's rise to prominence, in the sequel he is already extremely powerful and no longer young. He learns that the political battlefield can be more stressful and even as dangerous as the traditional battlefield. William struggles to maintain his character and morals in a world which is increasingly filled with shades of gray. Unlike many sequels I felt the quality didn't drop off between the books. I hope Chadwick continues to write more about that time period.
Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager, Diana Gabaldon
I had heard of the popular Outlander series a number of times but didn't know much about it except that it was a "bodice ripper," aka a historical fiction romance. That was enough to keep me on the other side of the fence until Kasia of Good Finking, whose taste I generally share, said she tried it and was totally sucked in. I picked up Outlander, the first book in the series, just before I got the new day bed for the library. I spent all day that Sunday reading it and was totally hooked. The series tells the story of Claire Beauchamp, a nurse during World War II. While in Scotland she visits a stone circle and is pulled back in time to 200 years earlier, where she meets Jamie Fraser and falls in love. The book definitely has some romance aspects but I really enjoyed both the character development between Claire and Jamie as well as the modern view of historical daily life. I ended up getting the next two books (Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager) as well and they were fun reads but not as great as the first. Still, I'll probably check out the remaining volumes from the library just to find out where the story goes. These would be great vacation books.
House Rules, Jodi Picoult
I bought this because Heather had read Jodi Picoult's most recent book and highly recommended it. Unfortunately I didn't realize Heather had the most recent paperback and I got the most recent hardback. Fortunately this was a lucky mistake as I really enjoyed it and now the two of us can trade and each read some more! I won't go too much into the details of the book except to stay that it's typical Jodi Picoult, which I've written about before. That said, I enjoyed it and learned a lot about Asperger's syndrome. If you've liked her books before I'd recommend this although it's not in my top 3.
Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
The new blog I wrote about earlier this week is written by an elementary school librarian, so she reads (and recommends) a lot of young adult literature. I've been hearing a lot about the great quality of YA books out there these days so I thought it would be worth checking out. Princess Academy was a great start. It tells the story of Miri, a teenager who lives in a small village high on a mountain where everyone quarries stone to sell to the "lowlanders." Miri is petite and her father has never let her work in the quarry. She feels useless and frustrated at her inability to help. One day a messenger from the king comes to the village to announce that the prophets in the capital have seen that the next princess will come from Miri's mountain. All the young girls are taken away to learn how to be princesses at the princess academy. When Miri is taken away from her family and home she learns things that could change life for her whole village. Miri was a great character who made me chuckle. I enjoyed watching her grow and try to decide what was really important to her. Two teenage thumbs up!