Lily shares this review:
This is the 4th book of the Books of Bayern series.
As a young girl, Rin took comfort in the trees, soaking up their soothing warmth. Being the youngest in her family, she has always looked up to her brother, Razo. His visits from the city were always filled with the tales of all the adventures he’d had since his last visit. Razo insists that Rin come with him to the city for a much needed change, and she does. Being there, she realizes how much her life was missing and how much she had retreated into the safe shell of home. Rin meets Razo’s friends: Isi, Enna, and Dasha (the Fire Sisters, she nicknames them). Their talents give Rin a sense of longing to be like them.
In time she finds her strength, independence, and power…in ways she never expected.
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Jan shares this review:
Bo Whaley lives on an Air Force base in North Carolina. His father is the base commander, which just makes life complicated, especially when most of the kids in his class also live on base. To make life even more convoluted, his cousin Gari arrives from Seattle to live with him because her mother is being deployed to Iraq. They are assigned to the same class to help Gari fit in, but things go badly between them from the start.
The only good thing that is happening to Bo is his new teacher. Ms. Loupe, who is in her first year of teaching, has a tattoo and is young enough to have been taught by the principal. For Bo the best thing about her is her passion for theater. She engages the class in improv involving a beaten up couch, and Bo discovers in himself a talent for acting that previous teachers had seen as a propensity to talk and goof-off in class. His enthusiasm grows until he discovers that the big theater camp that the teacher is planning will be held next summer. He will be gone then, when his family is sent to their next military assignment, which makes Bo furious with the military lifestyle.
Ms. Loupe also gets the class working on a project to send supplies to her brother, who is stationed in Afghanistan. When her brother is declared missing in action, Ms. Loupe is understandably distraught, and Bo’s whole class want to help. In the most moving part of the book Bo, his cousin Gari, Ms. Loupe’s entire class and finally the whole community find a way to work together and, if not fix the unfixable, at least make things better. In the process they learn about each other, themselves, friendship and community.
In turn hilarious and heartbreaking, Operation Yes has a lot to offer. As a librarian I love the literary profanity that the school librarian indulges in : “‘Frog and Toad!’ Miss Candy said. ‘Not again!'” or “Green Eggs and Ham!” I am doing a project on books featuring children with parents in U.S. military, and some of these books are impossible to get through without crying. Operation Yes is definitely in this category. Read it for a moving portrait of a community coming together or an accurate depiction of the military family lifestyle.
Check the WRL catalog for Operation Yes.
Jessica shares this review:
Ruined is a hauntingly mysterious ghost story that takes place in the heart of New Orleans. When Rebecca finds out that she has to leave her beloved hometown of NYC for a few months while her father is away in China for business, and stay with a little-known family friend in New Orleans, she is mortified. What about her friends? What about school? But there’s no choice, and Rebecca soon finds herself in the heart of the Big Easy, wandering through the Garden District and casting curious glances at the cemetery down the street from her “Aunt’s” house.
When she follows a group of the popular, old-money kids from her new private school into the cemetery one night, she surprisingly encounters a lonely girl, about her age, wearing a slightly torn dress. Interested but concerned that she will be discovered by the other teens, Rebecca asks the girl for a way out of the cemetery and runs off. As the days go by, Rebecca finds herself thinking more and more about the girl in the graveyard. When she returns a few nights later, Rebecca once again talks to the girl, but can’t help thinking there is something a little off about her. It is only when the girl, Lisette, takes her hand and she becomes invisible to the living that Rebecca makes a startling realization. Lisette is a ghost. But there’s a lot more than that to the story.
Once Rebecca looks into Lisette’s past, and her death, a shocking trail of clues, curses and hundred-year-old buried secrets comes to light. And the rich and powerful of the city are willing to do anything to keep the past hidden and their good names intact. A chilling tale with not only mystery and intrigue but also cultural detail and historical insight, this story will appeal to a range of readers.
Check the WRL catalog for Ruined.
Lily shares this review:
In this futuristic, dystopian world, humans, androids, and cyborgs live together in New Beijing. Many citizens are ill with an incurable plague. On top of that, a ruthless lunar people wait in the sky, watching for an opportune moment to strike.
Cinder is an adopted cyborg who pays her way by being a mechanic.She lives with her adoptive (step)mother and two (step)sisters in an almost nonexistence. Life is pretty consistent.
Everything all changes when Prince Kai comes to her, asking her to repair his android. Suddenly, it all goes haywire from there and Cinder realizes she is part of a much bigger picture than she thought.
I love this book and recommend it to those who love sci-fi, action, and a little romance.
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Isaiah shares this review:
“When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.
Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.”
I like Eragon because the idea of one ordinary farm boy going up against an entire empire with just a dragon, an old storyteller, a little magic, and a sword just seems so impossible that it becomes irresistible to read. I become enveloped in the story that Christopher Paolini created; it is just amazing to read and enjoy over and over again (which I have).
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Lily shares this review:
“When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”
The Maze Runner is an action packed book that will leave you yearning to read the sequel. There wasn’t a moment reading it that I was bored or skipped ahead. Every page kept me sucked in.There were some parts that were dark and depressing, but for a story like this it’s necessary. I enjoyed the fact that is is written in a boy’s perspective and that most of the characters are boys (with one exception: the girl that shows up after Thomas). The plot is unlike any story I’ve read, which is most likely a reason why it’s so interesting. A lot of books today are unoriginal and dull. The Maze Runner is by no means anywhere close to unoriginal or dull.
I recommend this book to those seeking a late-nighter and who want to be sucked in completely by a tale of suspense and adventure.
Check the WRL catalog for The Maze Runner
Charlotte shares this review:
This hard-hitting historical novel is a “companion book” to the Edgar award-winning Code Name Verity, with which it shares a World War II setting and a handful of characters.
Rose Justice is an 18-year-old American pilot with England’s civilian Air Transport Auxiliary. Only recently arrived in England, she’s chirpy and excited about her work and a little naïve. She dismisses rumors of terrible things happening in German prison camps as propaganda. And one day, returning from a flight over France, she flies off course—while tipping a bomb out of the air, may I add—and suddenly two Luftwaffe jets are escorting her into Germany. Mis-classified with a group of French political prisoners, Rose is sent to the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrück.
She has entered a different world. In six months, from September 1944 to March 1945, Rose has any remaining naïveté starved and frozen and beaten out of her, until the appalling becomes ordinary. She is taken under the protection of the Rabbits (we would say “guinea pigs”): Polish prisoners, mostly students, on whom the camp doctors have run unconscionable medical experiments. The Rabbits know that they will all be executed eventually, but various means of evasion may keep them hidden away for another week, or day… in perpetual hope that the war will end and someone will survive to let the world know what happened in this place.
Rose’s narrative is written after she escapes Ravensbrück. A survivor in a sort of post-war limbo, Rose is also concerned with how to return to “real life.” Having sworn to herself and others to “tell the world” about the atrocities at the camp, she isn’t even able to describe the experience to her family. The Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg suggests one path to closure by way of judgment and retribution, but Rose is looking for other ways to redeem her experience.
A poet as well as a pilot, she creates a pilot’s metaphor—lift and weight, thrust and drag—to describe the forces that fueled her survival during and after the prison camp. Obviously, Rose Under Fire is a story carrying a lot of weight. It’s the strong relationships between very different women—women from the French resistance, Night and Fog agents, Girl Scout saboteurs and Soviet bomber pilots—that give the novel lift as well.
Check the WRL catalog for Rose Under Fire.
Lily shares this review:
Wyatt goes to live with a lady he barely knows, in order to escape his messed up life. He finds the diary of the lady’s dead daughter. A mystery starts to unfold before him. Then, he begins to hear strange singing noises that no one else notices. Something bizarre is happening in this small town.
Rachel lives in a tower in the woods, in order to be safe from the people who had killed her mother. She is cared for by another woman, whom she calls Mama, even though she knows she is not. Rachel starts to sense a change coming. Something is about to happen.
When I noticed that this book was written my Alex Flinn, I was skeptical. I enjoyed the last book of hers I read (Beastly), but it wasn’t AMAZING and the movie adaption kind of sucked.
My expectation for Towering from reading the back: “This is going to be a sappy love story.”
“Today, I woke knowing something would happen. Something would be different. I opened my window. I was a long way down. Still, I wanted to leave the window open, to smell the world outside. I would play my harp and sing my songs, and the animals, at least, would hear me.
I sang the saddest song I knew, about a girl in love with a poor boy but unable to marry him.
I know where I’m going;
And I know who’s going with me.
I know who I love;
But the dear knows who I’ll marry.
As I sang, I had once again that strange feeling, the feeling of being listened to, not by birds or squirrels or even deer. I rushed to the window to look. I saw something, or someone, moving. It was walking closer to me, struggling where there was no path, holding on to trees to keep its balance, but still coming closer. Perhaps it was the man I had dreamed of.”
Halfway through the book I began to wonder why they had put that especially lovey part on the back cover. Then, it finally started getting sappy. I don’t like it when there’s some strange, magical connection between a couple, and then all of a sudden they’re deeply in love and feel like they’d die without each other. It’s unreal.
I mean, sure, love can be magical, but I think it’s necessary for a relationship to have a foundation other than “I knew he was the one”.
Overall I liked the beginning of the book, but the ending was predictable and the romance dripped with sticky, unrealistic love.
Check the WRL catalog for Towering
Melissa shares this review:
I listened to this award-winning debut novel by Annabel Pitcher and was quickly drawn into 10-year-old Jamie’s world.
The story starts five years after Jamie’s sister Rose was killed in a terrorist attack in Trafalgar Square. His dad promises they are making a new start – but it’s a new start without their mother who has stayed in London to live with a man from her support group. Jamie and his big sister, Jas (Rose’s twin), have hopes that maybe it will be different in this new town. But then their dad puts the gold urn with Rose’s remains on the mantel, and they realize nothing has really changed.
Jamie has quite a few typical – and not so typical – challenges to overcome as a newcomer to this small town. He has to start a new school and while it is a relief not to be identified as “poor Rose’s brother” it’s still difficult to make new friends. He doesn’t seem to fit in with anyone, except a Muslim girl named Sunya. But being friends with Sunya would make his dad mad because his dad blames all Muslims for the terrorist attack.
Jamie would also have you believe he didn’t care that he hadn’t seen his mother, yet he can quickly count off how many days it had been since she walked out. And he faithfully wears the Spiderman t-shirt she gave him for his birthday every day in case she visits so she’ll see how much he loves it.
You may need to have some tissues handy, but the story isn’t told in an overly sentimental manner. Coming from Jamie’s perspective you understand why losing his sister when he was five-years-old isn’t as real to him as making friends at school or making the winning goal of a soccer match. And it’s heartbreaking when Jamie finally understands the grief his parents must feel after losing Rose.
I would recommend this book for all ages. While Jamie sees things in a very kid-like fashion, the issues he deals with – abandonment, loss, grief, friendship, racism, bullying – can be understood from all ages. As an adult I ached as well as rooted for him and his sister, two decent kids trying to make it without the solid support of either parent. And at the end they do seem to be in a better place.
The printed book was checked out when I selected it but I absolutely loved hearing the audiobook read by Scottish actor David Tennant of Dr. Who and Harry Potter fame. Tennant did a superb job making me believe I was listening to Jamie.
I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
Check the WRL catalog for My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
Jessica shares this review:
Altered is a thrill ride from the beginning to the last page. We immediately meet Anna, who lives with her father in a rather isolated farmhouse. Anna and her father share some weekly traditions, like fresh lemonade and homemade cookies. She is also home schooled and learns not only the academic side of things but some tough hand-to-hand combat courses as well. However, the best part of Anna’s routine is her work, which she also shares with her father. Together they administer treatments and monitor the four teen boys who inhabit their basement. The boys have each been “altered” in some way, but the details are unknown.
Anna and her father work for “The Branch,” a completely secretive organization that they themselves know very little about. As readers, we demand answers. But the author seems skilled at giving little away, especially upfront. This incredible amount of “holding back” will keep readers flying through the pages on a search to know “why, who and how.” Each boy has a distinct personality; there’s Nick, resentful and angry, Cas, fun and playful, Trev, soft-hearted and exceedingly intelligent and Sam, the quintessential silent and strong leader who has Anna’s heart from the start.
When The Branch comes to retrieve the boys, Sam creates an escape and Anna’s father demands that she go with them, making Anna question everything she knows. As the boys hunt for clues to their pasts (which proves difficult as they cannot remember anything before the lab), Anna is searching for answers of her own. What the boys discover will shatter not only their own worlds, but Anna’s as well. The first in a series, Altered promises an exciting ride to readers who are desperate to find out the truth behind The Branch and the lives of everyone involved.
Check the WRL catalog for Altered.
Matt wakes up in a hospital bed in Iraq. He remembers being on patrol, and he remembers an explosion, but he is blurry about what befell Ali, an orphaned Iraqi boy who had befriended him. In the hospital he can’t remember what day of the week it is, forgets words like “trash,” and gets headaches that are a “bolt of pain.” The medical staff tell him he has TBI (a Traumatic Brain Injury). Usually mild cases get better on their own, and he’ll be back with his patrol in a few days. Matt struggles to remember what happened, but at the same time is terrified to recall, in case he remembers the unthinkable – that he purposely shot a child.
Purple Heart is marketed and classified as a teen book as Matt is only eighteen and enlisted straight from high school. His hometown girlfriend writes him letters about school football games and pop quizzes. She even says she is “sooo scared” of a bio pop quiz. This highlights the divergence of their experiences and the disconnect between Matt’s old life and his new life. Purple Heart is not a comfortable book and asks profound questions about war, as one of Matt’s buddies says, “We came over here to help these people and instead we’re killing them.” And Matt thinks, “This is what war is all about. It wasn’t about fighting the enemy. It wasn’t about politics or oil or even about terrorists. It was about your buddies; it was about fighting for the guy next to you. And knowing he was fighting for you.”
Patricia McCormick says, “It isn’t an anti-war book. It isn’t a pro-war book. It’s an attempt to portray how three children ─ two eighteen-year-old Americans and a ten-year-old Iraqi boy ─ have been affected by war.”
Purple Heart asks (perhaps unanswerable) questions about the morality of war and how it changes people. I recommend it for readers of other Young Adult books about war, such as Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers.
Check the WRL catalog for Purple Heart.
Mindy shares this review:
My family discovered this story a few years ago during a road-trip stop at a popular restaurant and gift shop franchise where you can actually rent audiobooks on CD then return them at another location anywhere in the country. It delighted us that this alternative take, or prequel, on the lost boys, Peter Pan, pirates, magic, plus mermaids and a jealous fairy was equally appealing to the males and females, young and old, riding in our car. No one wanted to miss a single word as our car rolled along and it really helped pass the time! We even couldn’t wait to get up the next morning from our hotel beds to hit the road and continue listening!
My kids have since taken up the reading of the complete series of five tales that concluded publication in 2011. This first audiobook is nine hours long. I’d say this is the best road-trip audiobook ever and have recommended it to a lot of grandparents and parents seeking something to please whole carloads.
The book has boundless high-seas adventure, a mystery, and a heroic quest complete with a strong teen female character named Molly plus plenty of swashbuckling danger. Readers will learn the origin of the stardust that enables Peter and his friends to fly, and we get to know characters who feature in the timeless J.M. Barrie story Peter and Wendy. Humorist and novelist Dave Barry is a great storyteller and has ensured that the laughter almost never stops; Ridley Pearson’s skill with fantasy and fast-paced suspense is as adept in this young adult title as in his many books for adults.
Lizzie shares this review:
Dead is a Battlefield is the 6th installment in the Marlene Perez’s Dead Is series. In this book, Daisy passes the point of view to Jessica. I found it interesting how Jessica was mentioned in the first five books before becoming the main character.
The plot begins with Jessica entering high school as a freshman. Her best friend, Eva, joins the mix as you learn more about what Jessica has been thinking while we’ve been following Daisy. As the plot continues you learn more about the new characters that belong to her generation.
The character’s personalities are laid out right in front of us from page 1. Jessica is characterized as the popular girl, but after reading a little more, you see her quirks. All together the characters have general personalities, but the author added little differences.
The setting is a small town named Nightshade. The town is located in the state of California, which gives it a beach-y feel. Not only is the beach theme great, but Slim’s Diner is still included in the story. Slim’s is a classic diner with it’s own invisible man!
Since Jessica is only just entering high school, one of the themes seems to be trying to fit in. Jessica was the most popular girl in her middle school, so she’s unsure what her place is in her new school.
The only problem with this book and series is that the story moves too fast. The reader could get lost and confused if the page isn’t reread sometimes.
I would give this book 4 stars. The characters are given great personalities along with interesting backgrounds. The plot drags the reader in from start to finish. The setting fits the story. Altogether, this book is a great read.
Check the WRL catalog for Dead is a Battlefield
Lily shares this review:
This is the 3rd book of the Books of Bayern series.
Razo has been underestimated his whole life because of his height and seemingly careless personality. Even he believed that all he was really good for was giving people a good laugh. That is, until burnt corpses start showing up, implying that the military company he is in has a fire witch in their midst. The Captain of the Guard notices that Razo has an uncanny ability of observance and employs him as a spy.
My personal favorite of Hale’s Books of Bayern, River Secrets is an epic tale full of mystery, adventure, humor, and romance.
Check the WRL catalog for River Secrets
Laura shares this review:
If there are graphic novel fans out there who really like Scott Pilgrim but would prefer a little less plot and a lot more fighting and jokes, this book was made for you. Sharknife, Stage First is a frenetic, fun, and sassy volume filled with game references, youth culture, eggroll-seeking monsters, and a fortune-cookie powered superhero. Any pretense of seriousness is immediately put to rest on the first page when a character breaks the fourth wall to introduce herself and the town she lives in.
Chieko Momuza is a self-described “spazz-banana living in a cyclone of hyper.” Her father Raymond owns a Chinese restaurant that had the misfortune of becoming THE place to be in town. Why is this unfortunate? Because formerly the hottest spot in town was a smoke shop owned by a man named Ombra. Occupation: gangster. Like any respectable bad guy, Ombra can’t pass up the opportunity for a revenge plot. In the spirit of the best James Bond villains, his plan is ridiculous, obsessive, and bizarre: he plants mechanical monsters into the walls of the restaurant that come alive when they smell food.
Fortunately, the Momuzas have a bus boy, Ceasar (sic), who turns into a powerful being named Sharknife when he consumes one of Chieko’s fortune cookies. He fights off the bad guys and Ombra sends more, better ones. That’s it, the whole of the plot. This is a fun story, folks, not a deep one. These fights, which take up most of the space in the volume, are what you are paying the price of admission for. Interspersed in the action are sly gaming homages such as health bars, power ups, and key combinations for special attacks.
The lettering for the sound effects reverberates throughout the art with each crash and hit performing the sound for you through movement and line energy. Characters even step (or are thrown) in front of the sounds, and the text occasionally layers on top of several panels, fully integrating into the noisy landscape.
This is certainly a fast read with the only disappointment coming at the end of the book when you run out of pages. Fortunately there is also another volume to consume.
Recommended for fans of Scott Pilgrim and other hyper-but-clever teen literature. Not recommended for anyone who would grit their teeth at hearing someone say “oh noes!”
Search the WRL catalog for Sharknife.
Lizzie shares this review:
“Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world; something between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders…even to kill. Except his powers aren’t unique. The world has been ravaged by the abuse of alchemy. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are…”
Fullmetal Alchemist is an amazing story so far.
The two main characters, Edward and Alphonse Elric, are really interesting. They both are very brave and caring. Neither of them would put someone’s life on the line on purpose. The major difference between the two brothers is that Edward becomes angry easily, while Al is more calm.
The main plot point is centered around Edward’s attempts to bring Alphonse back to his body. They are aiming to find the Philosopher’s Stone.
Altogether, I hope to read more of this series. I have really taken a liking to it.
Check the WRL catalog for Fullmetal Alchemist.
Lily shares this review:
The sequel to The Goose Girl, Enna Burning is about a feisty, strong girl named Enna. She was one of the workers that Isi (Ani) lived with in her months of hiding, and since then their friendship has remained – even though Isi was returned to her rightful place as princess. Enna learns the lost language of fire, against Isi’s warnings, and begins to use her gift to scare away the enemy troops camped at Bayern’s borders…
Enna Burning is a story that proves that the best friendships endure and that you can never judge a book by its cover.
Check the WRL catalog for Enna Burning.
Jessica shares this review:
Given the multiple starred reviews of this realistic fiction read, I had fairly high expectations. And it didn’t disappoint.
Eleanor is an outsider who dresses strangely and is a target for bullying with her curly red hair, curvy build and freckles. Her home life is nothing short of a nightmare, and with no friends to turn to, Eleanor is completely alone. Park is well adjusted, and though a bit different with his Korean heritage, accepted. His parents are as in love as the day they met, and outside of getting his driver’s license, Park wants for little.
Needless to say, it’s not love at first sight. But Park’s inner kindness comes through, and he gives Eleanor the empty seat on the bus next to him. While the two remain silent at first, Park begins to notice Eleanor reading his comics through sideways, downcast glances. To his own surprise, Park starts bringing Eleanor comics to take home and read on her own. From that point on, a fairly unpredicted relationship begins to emerge. The comics progress to mix tapes and even more heart-turning, conversation. And all of a sudden, Park wonders how he didn’t fall head over heels for Eleanor the day she stepped on the bus.
With more in common than most, Eleanor and Park develop a strong bond that keeps them together through all the high and lows in Eleanor’s life. Unknowingly, Park provides Eleanor with an escape from her terrifying stepfather and secret home life. For once, Eleanor begins to feel safe and loved and cared for. But with so many factors in the works throughout the novel, something is bound to test their commitment and pull them in opposite directions. For two sixteen year olds, they show a remarkable level of depth and emotion. Rowell has truly managed to craft an imperfect love story that will leave readers with both smiles and tears. Even romantic skeptics will enjoy the push and pull and leave cheering on the unlikely couple.
Check the WRL catalog for Eleanor and Park.
Lizzie shares this review:
This manga follows the life of twins Yukio and Rin, who happen to be sons of the demon lord, Satan. Of the two, only Rin was cursed with Satan’s powers.
The plot begins with Rin learning that he is half demon. After this occurs, he decides that he will become an exorcist and defeat Satan since Satan killed his foster father. He follows his brother Yukio to True Cross Academy, which is where he will learn to become an exorcist.
The characters in this graphic novel have interesting personalities. Yukio, for example, is smart and shy, but is confident when he’s teaching his class. Rin acts goofy, but is serious when needed. So, each character has a personality that changes and is well-rounded.
In conclusion, I enjoyed this graphic novel very much, and I am hoping to read more like it.
Check the WRL catalog for Blue Exorcist.
Lily shares this review:
A twist on the classic fairy tale, The Goose Girl is about an unusually gifted princess who takes a long journey to an unknown country to meet her betrothed. On the way, mutiny arises within her guard. Before she knows it, Ani is running for her life with no one to protect her. She makes her way to Bayern, the country of her betrothed, only to find the rebels within her guard making themselves at home. In order to lay low she finds work as a goose girl and discovers a family in her fellow workers. Suddenly, word spreads that Bayern is to be at war with her home kingdom. Ani must face her fear of discovery and death to stop the massacre of her people.
This romantic adventure is a beautifully crafted story of betrayal, trust, and finding your own strength.
Check the WRL catalog for The Goose Girl