Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Annotation 4: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
by Carolly Erickson

Setting: France
Time Period: Leading up to the French Revoloution
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone/Mood: Varies, light-hearted, passionate, grieved, bleak
Writing Style: Character-driven, diary style
Pacing: Fast-paced, engaging, quick read


Delve into the mind of Marie Antoinette from age 13, just before she is married off to King Louis XVI, up to the day she is beheaded. While the diary and many characters are fictitious, the reader gets a sneak peak at what Marie Antoinette may have been thinking and feeling as she led her trying life and made incredibly difficult decisions and some less than savory choices. Diary-style writing allows the reader to see the humanity of the author, this story is no exception. No matter how you feel about Monarchy and the French Revolution this book reminds the reader that Marie Antoinette was a person too, with her own struggles, however different from her subjects.

This book is a great choice for any lover of royal historical fiction who wants something fast to read on the weekend.

Other titles by this author:
  • The Last Wife of Henry VIII (2006)
  • The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise (2007)
  • The Tsarina's Daughter (2008)
  • The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots (2009)
  • Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund
  • The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
  • The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

Annotation 3: Fantasy--Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

~Seven Waters Trilogy, Book 1~
Daughter of the Forest

by Juliet Marillier

Setting: Ireland and England
Time Period: Ancient/Medieval
Genre: Historical/Dark Fantasy, Fairytale (Re-telling)
Tone/Mood: Bleak, Strong sense of place
Writing Style: Engaging, Character-driven


The youngest of seven and the only girl in her family, Sorcha is a great story-teller and well-versed in herb lore, making her a fantastic healer. When a new stepmother, the Lady Oonagh, arrives on the scene everyone but Colum, Sorcha’s father, and one of her brothers sees how evil she really is. Shortly after Oonagh's arrival Sorcha finds herself in a fairytale. Sorcha discovers just how frightening and uncomfortable enchantments and tasks given by the Fair Folk can be. Loosely based on the Grimm Fairytale The Six Swans, Sorcha’s six brothers are transformed into swans and she must weave a shirt for each made from Starwart, a prickly and painful plant, in order to change them back.

As a retelling of a classic fairytale this story could also qualify as high fantasy for the following reasons (which could also be appeals):
  • Hero/Herione's Quest, returning home
  • Magic
  • Mythical creatures
  • Good vs. Evil
Daughter of the Forest is a good choice for anyone interested in Ancient Ireland, Paganism, Druids, Fairytales, or the idea that love conquers all.

Marillier, J. (2000). The Sevenwaters Trilogy: Daughter of the forest (1st US ed.). New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates.

Other titles in this series:

  • Son of the Shadows (2001)
  • Child of the Prophecy (2002)
  • Heir to Sevenwaters* (2008)
  • Seer of Sevenwaters* (2010)

*has expanded beyond trilogy status

Other titles by this author:

  • Heart's Blood (2009)
  • Wildwood Dancing (2006)
  • The Dark Mirror (2004)
  • Wolfskin (2002)


  • Hallowed Isle by Diana L. Paxson
  • Tir Alainn Trilogy by Anne Bishop
  • Tamir Trilogy by Lynn Flewelling
  • Grimm’s Fairy Stories

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Annotation 2: Mystery/Classic—Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

~Sherlock Holmes~

A Study in Scarlet


The Sign of the Four

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics)

To buy this swanky edition click here

A Study in Scarlet

Setting: London, England and Salt Lake City, Utah

Time Period: 1880s

Genre: Detective Mystery, Classic

Tone/Mood: Suspenseful

Writing Style: Varies. Highly detailed, compelling, and (at times) faster paced.

Series: First Sherlock Holmes novel. Published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual, 1887.


Part 1-London, England

It is here in this story that we read how dynamic duo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson meet and become not only roommates but also forensic scientists solving murders. Dr. Watson, a surgeon in the British Army has just been discharged due to injury. He returns to London only to find he has nowhere to stay. Upon running into an old friend he discovers that another man, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, is in need of a roommate in order to split the high cost of a flat in London. Not long after this unlikely pair move into their famed flat on Baker Street than Watson learns just how peculiar Holmes really is. Having no formal training or degree as well as not being employed by anyone in particular, Holmes somehow has organized a group of less-fortunates as his network of spies while he gathers key evidence no one else seems to see to solve a strange murder.

Part 2-Salt Lake City, Utah

Beginning in what seems a hopeless situation we find a man and a small child, the only two survivors of their traveling party, on the edge of death in the desert. Out of water and food the man believes he will soon be dead and the girl after him. They fall asleep, the man believing to never wake up, when suddenly they see thousands of settlers on their way through the desert who have stopped to assist them. His fateful decision to go join their party has devastating consequences years down the road that provide our murderer from Part 1 with his motive. Will you empathize or wish him punishment? Read to find out!

The Sign of the Four (also, The Sign of Four)

Setting: London, England and various places in India.

Time Period: 1887

Genre: Detective Mystery, Classic

Tone/Mood: Suspenseful, begins a bit Darker and Bleaker than Doyle’s first story.

Writing Style: Varies. Highly detailed, compelling, and (at times) faster paced.

Series: Second Sherlock Holmes novel. Published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, 1890.


Sherlock Holmes is a broken man with no new cases to occupy his mind he has turned to drugs. After months of watching Holmes’ decline, the irritated and uncomfortable Dr. Watson finally decides to confront him. During the conversation while Holmes demonstrates his incredible gift of observation, a new client, Miss Mary Morstan, arrives with an intriguing case. The elated Holmes jumps on the case which involves a missing father, strange letters in the mail containing pearls, treasure from India, a wooden-legged man, and poisoned blow-darts. Full of action and intrigue, this Sherlock Holmes installment does not disappoint.

Other works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:


The Great Shadow (1888)

My Friend the Murderer and Other Mysteries and Adventures (1893)

The Lost World (1912)


The War in South Africa—Its Cause and Conduct (1902)

The Coming of Fairies (1921)

The Edge of the Unknown (1930)

Sherlock Holmes by other authors:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by Loren Estleman (1979)

Sherlock Holmes, My Life and Crimes by Michael Hardwick (1984)

Sherlock Holmes: the Unauthorized Biography by Nick Rennison (2006)