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Review: Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger

Prescious Bones book coverWritten in first person, Precious Bones (called Bones) tells her story of growing up in the swamps of Florida in the early 20th century.

Cars, telephones and even electricity are a bit of a luxury in this corner of the world. But that doesn’t bother Bones in the least. She has enough to eat and a loving mama and papa. Her backyard is the Florida Everglades.

Life is far from ideal, but Bones is satisfied with things being just the way they are. The lazy days of summer stretch out in front of her, and for a 10-year old like her, that’s about as perfect as things can get.

Until a real estate developer turns up dead near her father’s land. And if that wasn’t enough, a nasty neighbor is soon to follow, his body is discovered on the railroad tracks. The law accuses her father of committing the murders.

Bones is thrown into confusion and self-doubt. She doesn’t think her father could do such horrible things. Could he?

A historical setting, a cast of characters both good and bad, and a young girl finding out that the world isn’t as simple as she thought set the tone for this murder mystery.

Written for the pre-teen, I recommend this book to just about everyone who likes a good whodunit. Quick and fun read with just enough tension to keep readers on the edge of their seat without being really scary.

Note: I received an ARC of this book for review from NetGalley.

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Review: Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan

Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan

Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan coverChengli and the Silk Road Caravan by Hildi Kang takes place in ancient China. Historical details add an intriguing layer to this coming of age story of a young orphan boy as he sets out on a dangerous journey to find his roots.

Chengli never knew his father, his mother died when he was very young, leaving him to be raised by a household cook. But Chengli feels pulled by the desert winds to head off to parts unknown in search of the truth about his father, and in a way, himself.

He leaves the safety of his servant life and charms his way into a caravan heading into the desert, hiring on as a camel and donkey drover. A boy his own age befriends him as the caravan makes its way out past the Great Wall into the vast emptiness beyond.

An imperial princess being escorted to her husband by the caravan soon demands Chengli attend her. He does his best, and learns the craft of negotiation from his new friend. But things are not all they seem. Intrigues abound. Chengli must decide between friendship, honor, duty and mere survival along the way.

The story is masterfully written. The plot takes unexpected turns that add to character growth and keep the reader glued to the book. And always in the back of Chengli’s mind (and the reader’s) is finding someone who can tell him about his father.

At the end, Chengli discovers who he really is, and manages to do so with his honor, integrity and limbs intact.

A thrilling read for a pre-teen or young teen.

Note: I received an ARC of this book for review from NetGalley.