Tuesday, February 23, 2010

crown secrets

Crown of earth by Hilari Bell

This is the third, and final, installment of the Shield, Sword and Crown trilogy.

When Weasel is mistakenly kidnapped in place of the prince, Prince Edoran takes it upon himself to rescue his friend. As his orders weren’t followed, he embarks on this trip alone. Along the way he meets up with the kidnapper’s daughter, Arisa (who has also left to save Weasel), his ex-fencing tutor (who was banned from the country) and the leader of the Hidden (who saves him in several ways). He also experiences – for the first time in his life – what it is like to not be known as a prince. But…can he manage to save his friend and his country?

While I did enjoy this tale, and the somewhat surprising way it ended, it was not nearly as engaging as the previous two stories. Edoran’s character does grow and change from the nearly spineless prince he once was. This is a plus. It is definitely a story that you need to read the previous installments to understand what’s going on. I’m glad I read it, since it brings closure to the tale, but I was less than impressed with it.

Tropical secrets: Holocaust refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle.

While I was in Boston, I first heard about the topic of this book. They were discussing it at one of the meetings I attended. It immediately went on my list of books to place on hold.

Set during WWII, this is the story of three individuals – and of hundreds, if not thousands of peoples. Daniel has been shipped away from Nazi Germany by his Jewish parents, in hopes of his survival. Many years before, David, also Jewish, left the Ukraine and ended up in Cuba. Paloma’s father is the one who decides if the passengers on ships like Daniel’s will be allowed to stay in Cuba, or if they will be sent back to the awaiting horrors in Europe.

Their stories are told in verse, bringing alive the voices of all three and the stories of the people who tried to escape the Hitler’s genocide and find freedom and the inhabitants of a small tropical nation who tried to help them.

This was a story from history that I had not known. It is now one that I wish to learn more about. Engle’s beautiful writing has sparked my interest. How many ships full of Jewish refugees were turned away from the United States, Canada and then, their last hope, Cuba? How many people were sent to their deaths because someone was greedy and thought their lives were worth mere money?

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