I am a wife and mom of two grown children (who can't seem to move out) and two furbabies. I write about my family life, as well as causes that are dear to my heart, with recipes every Wednesday and book reviews every Friday. My favorite genre is historical fiction.
Children of the Knight by Michael J. Bowler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Once upon a time in the City of Angels, chaos was king, and carelessness ruled.
So begins Children of the Knight, a heart-tugging new young adult fantasy. The picture the author paints of life on the streets of Los Angeles is brutal, and, I'm afraid, mostly true. I know of children who have been kicked out of their houses in my own small, Northern California town, so I can only imagine how many kids are living on the streets in a big city.
But King Arthur comes back to help the children take back the streets; to kick out the pimps and dealers; to renovate whole neighborhoods. Sound a little cheesy and too good to be true? It probably is, but it is a fantasy novel, after all.
Although this book is labelled as young adult, there are some pretty strong scenes in it. Child abuse and prostitution are both depicted (although not graphically), as are two death scenes.
The strongest theme in Children of the Knight, for me, was the theme of acceptance. Arthur, in the book, in many ways is like Jesus Christ - accepting and encouraging anyone who wants to give up their old way of life to "come, follow me."
I found the book to be a little long, but I could not put it down as I waited to see how Arthur's crew would fare in their mission and watched the poignant relationship between Arthur and his "kids of the Round Table."
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From the first page of Give Me Reason (The Reason Series) I was intrigued by the character of Mikah. He is handsome, wealthy, tender and mysterious. All the best qualities in a leading man!!
Vivienne seems so fragile at the beginning of the story, yet she doesn't want to trust Mikah when he first tries to be nice to her. She has always taken care of herself and Mikah is so nice so fast that I don't blame her for being more than a little suspicious.
The more you learn about Vivienne the more you see how much she needs a knight in shining armor, if she will only accept him. The more you learn about Mikah the more mysterious he becomes. What exactly is his job and why is he so interested in Vivienne?
Give Me Reason ends way too soon, in a cliffhanger. I was cursing the ending when I got there. I couldn't believe I was going to have to wait who knows how long for Book 2. Fortunately, I just found out that Book 2, Give Me Hope will be released November 19, 2013, so not that long to wait!!
At first I was a little thrown by the back and forth of Return of the Heroine. The chapters alternate between 15th century France, where the story is narrated by Joan of Arc, and 1990s United States, where the story is told in the third person. For the first few chapters this alternating structure made it a little difficult to get into the story.
After a few chapters, though, I adjusted and found the story to be captivating. I knew the basic story of Joan of Arc, but this book made it come to life. I experienced every victory and every defeat right along with Joan, including the feel of the flames licking her feet at the end.(if you didn't know Joan was burned at the stake I apologize for the spoiler ;-)
The parallel story, of Jane Archer, the West Point cadet, while not quite as compelling, is still a strong dramatic tale. Jane is dealing with the culture of rape and abuse against women at the illustrious military college. I was surprised by the anecdotal statistic in the book, so I did a little research.
According to the Huffington Post:
The Pentagon said it received 2,923 reports of sexual assault across the military in the 12 months ending Sept. 30 2008. That's about a 9 percent increase over the totals reported the year before, but only a fraction of the crimes presumably being committed.
Among the cases reported, only a small number went to military courts, officials acknowledged.
The Pentagon office that collects the data estimates that only 10 percent to 20 percent of sexual assaults among members of the active duty military are reported _ a figure similar to estimates of reported cases in the civilian sphere.
So even though Return of the Heroine is set in the 90s, apparently this is a subject we need to continue talking about until it is taken seriously.
Again I seem to have stumbled upon a book with strong female characters, but for this I am grateful. Jane is an independent woman who has a loving and equal relationship with her boyfriend, Jack. They respect each other's strengths and weaknesses and learn not to judge each other by a stereotype.
One of the biggest themes in this book was to listen to the "voices" in your head and not to let fear rule you. As my regular readers know, overcoming my fears has been a recurring theme on this blog (The Year of No Fear, No Punishment; No Fear, My One Word for 2013: Courage). Here are some quotes from the book that really struck home with me:
If you walk a path you know in your heart to be true and you encounter fear, it is showing you that your mind has not yet grown to accommodate your heart.
"Scar tissue is stronger than skin," the doctor said...
...To her it seemed metaphorically true. When shit happens, we get stronger.
Fear will cause you to make choices that may not be in your best interest. Fear causes you to doubt and lose faith.
Return of the Heroine is a powerful read for fans of historical fiction and/or tales of strong women.