The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia


Fleming, C. (2014). The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade.


Hardcover-$18.99 (Barnes & Noble)

This title is also available in Kindle, Audible, and CD formats

Awards: Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, Robert F. Siebert Honor Book, YALSA-ALA Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction Finalist


Honestly, I prefer to read non-fiction. I like knowing what is going on in the world. Eventually I’d like to be a chaplain in the military so I read a lot of books about religion and history. -Chris L., age 18

A true story of the Romanov family and the struggles of Imperial Russia.

Tsar Nicholas Romanov was the leader of Imperial Russia during the 1900s. Nicholas spent most of his time cloistered away with his family (a wife, four daughters, and a son), completely ignoring the needs and suffering of his people. While the author discusses the turmoil of society leading to a revolution, we are drawn to the eccentricity of this family. The Tsar’s young son battled hemophilia with the aid of the notably evil and mysterious monk, Rasputin, who also provided counsel to the Tsarina. The lack of an adequate leader pushed the country toward civil unrest and the Romanov family met their untimely demise.

If you enjoy history and conspiracies, or just loved the movie Anastasia, this book is for you. Fleming’s book is an award-winning account of the Romanov family and it provides a great way to build on the information learned about the Romanovs in World History classes. It has a lot of mystery and intrigue, and while still being factual, it does not read like a textbook. It artfully illustrates the decline of the family, as well as the hardships faced by society. School Library Journal lists the book as being for grades 9 and up, but I feel that it would be easy enough for a mature 7th grader to read it if it was a subject that he or she were interested in.

Watch this National Geographic documentary to find out more about the Romanov family


The Alchemist’s Daughter (Bianca Goddard Mysteries #1)


Lawrence, M. (2015). The Alchemist’s Daughter. New York, NY: Kensington.


Paperback-Per FTC guidelines, I received this book free of charge as part of a giveaway. All opinions are my own.

This title is also available in Kindle format

A young woman in 16th Century London attempts to solve a murder while trying to clear her own name.

Bianca Goddard is the daughter of a lowly alchemist in Tudor London. She owns an alchemy shop selling various medicinal tonics and rat poison that she creates using her knowledge of herbs and plants. When a companion suddenly turns up dead, Bianca becomes the Constable’s lead suspect. With the help of some unlikely friends, Bianca works hard to solve the mysterious murder and clear her name while dodging local law enforcement before she becomes the next victim.

Mary Lawrence did a great job depicting the poorer side of 16th century London. I enjoyed this book because it focused on the dingy slums of London, rather than most books that spend more time highlighting the royal family. It is dramatic, intriguing, and who can resist a good murder mystery? I would recommend this book because it has a strong, intelligent female lead with a cadre of interesting sidekicks and Lawrence does an excellent job of portraying the time period. It is more suited for a high school audience or older and would be appropriate for a high school library or historical fiction section of a public library. This book is going to be part of a series about Bianca Goddard, so look out for the sequel!

Watch this interview that Mary Lawrence did with WCSH6 Portland

Lord of the Flies


Golding, W., & Epstein, E. L. (1954). Lord of the flies: A novel. New York, NY: Perigee.

ISBN-13: 978-0399501487

Mass Market Paperback-$6.49 (Amazon)

This title is also available in Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audible, CD

Awards: 1983 Nobel Prize in Literature


A group of young boys try to survive after being stranded on an island with no adults.

Lord of the Flies is a classic tale of a group of schoolboys that get stuck on a remote island when their plane gets shot down while trying to evacuate them from Britain during a war. Ralph is voted the leader of the group and tries to maintain some organization while waiting to get rescued. He assigns Jack to be in charge of the team to hunt and gather food for the boys. The boys become divided and create their own groups. Jack’s need for power drives him to manipulate the other boys and eventually takes over leadership while encouraging their cruelty toward the weaker characters. The boys start out with a shaky moral compass and quickly give in to their savage nature and descend into anarchy.

Lord of the Flies is often considered a cult classic. Golding wrote the book after being heavily influenced by his time in the Royal Navy during WWII. The book is actually a great analogy for navigating high school because the boys represent different groups or cliques and how they interact with each other. I would highly recommend this book because it is a great depiction of society. Lord of the Flies signifies the importance of standing up for yourself, your morals, and those who can’t stand up for themselves. It also teaches people not to give into peer pressure. This novel would fit well in junior high or high school academic libraries, as well as the Fiction or Young Adult sections of a public library. Although it primarily appeals to a Young Adult audience, it is a novel that can be enjoyed by adults as well.