Saturday, October 30, 2010

In My Mailbox - 10/30/10

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.

Here are my new books for this week:

For review:

The Secret Journeys of Jack London, Book One: The Wild by Christopher Golden

The world knows Jack London as a writer who lived his own thrilling, real-life adventures. But there are parts of his life that have remained hidden for many years, things so horrifying even he couldn’t set them down in writing. These are the Secret Journeys of Jack London.
We meet Jack at age seventeen, following thousands of men and women into the Yukon Territory in search of gold. For Jack, the journey holds the promise of another kind of fortune: challenge and adventure. But what he finds in the wild north is something far more sinister than he could ever have imagined: kidnapping and slavery, the murderous nature of desperate men, and, amidst it all, supernatural beasts of the wilderness that prey upon the weakness in men’s hearts.
Acclaimed writers Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, along with illustrator Greg Ruth, have crafted a masterful tale both classic and contemporary, a gripping original story of the paranormal in the tradition of the great Jack London. (this was a surprise review copy that just showed up and I can't find a finished cover picture)


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book review: Mary Ann and Miss Mozart by Ann Turnbull

Mary Ann and Miss Mozart by Ann Turnbull (Published by Usborne Publishing, April 27, 2007)

Mary Ann is a twelve-year-old girl living in a wealthy merchant family in London in 1764. She loves music and hopes to someday become an opera singer, but her parents do not think that is a respectable profession for a young woman. However, her parents do encourage her musical talents, as they believe an accomplished young lady is more likely to find a wealthy husband.

At the beginning of the story, Mary Ann is sent to a boarding school where she will be educated to become a proper young lady, and also receive singing and music lessons. Mary Ann loves the school and becomes good friends with the other students her age. She is even able to see the two Mozart siblings, famous child prodigies, perform. But then her father loses money from a risky investment and Mary Ann is told her parents will no longer be able to afford to pay for her schooling. Can Mary Ann find a way to stay at the school?

Mary Ann and Miss Mozart is a short and sweet story that should appeal to young girls who enjoy middle grade historical fiction. It’s a bit shorter than most middle grade books and I think the characters could have been more developed but it was a cute story with some interesting historical details. I also really liked that it mentioned Mozart’s sister since she was a very talented musician herself who did not receive the recognition she deserved during her lifetime.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book review: Montacute House by Lucy Jago

Montacute House by Lucy Jago (Published by Bloomsbury UK, May 3, 2010)

Cecily Perryn, called Cess, is an outcast in her village of Montacute during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. She was born out of wedlock and her mother has never revealed the identity of her father. After her grandparents died, she and her mother were forced to leave the family home and live in poverty. Their only income is Cess's wages working as a poultry girl at the grand Montacute House. Being poor and illegitimate makes Cess an easy target of the villagers' scorn. The only person who accepts her is her good friend, William, who is Cess's age and also seen as "different" by the villagers because he has a deformed foot.

On the morning of her thirteenth birthday, while gathering the eggs, Cess finds a necklace hidden in the coop, with an elegant portrait of a woman. Cess wonders who left it there and why. Then she learns several boys from nearby villages have gone missing, and one has been found dead. Soon after, he friend William goes missing as well. Cess is determined to solve the mystery, while learning about her own newly discovered magical powers, but in doing so, she discovers a plot more terrible than anything she could have imagined.

This book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I thought it would mostly be a historical mystery, but the fantasy suplot was stronger than I expected, and I'm not sure it was really necessary or important to the main story, which was Cess discovering a terrible plot while searching for her missing friend. At times I thought it distracted from that. The ending was also somewhat too good to be true and there was a little bit of romance that seemed to come out of nowhere and didn't make much sense. But it wasn't a bad read overall, I did enjoy the story, and I think other readers who enjoy historical fantasy will as well. The historical setting is really well done, I'm just not really sure what the fantasy sublot added to the story.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller (Published by Atheneum, June 14, 2011)

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand - first headstrong Olga, then Tatiana the tallest, Anastasia the smallest, and Maria most hopeful for a ring. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, Russian grand duchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. For these young women each on the brink of beginning their own lives at the mercy of royal matchmakers, summer 1914 promises to be a precious last wink of time to be sisters together - sisters that still link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.
But in a gunshot the future changes - for them, and for Russia.
As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny - and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.
At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

This book won't be published for quite a while (not until the summer) but it sounds really good and I love the cover so I decided to feature it early.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In My Mailbox - 10/23/10

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.

Here are my new books for this week:

For review:

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning's esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn't like the other girls. She is fascinated by how the human body works and why it fails.
With a stroke of luck, she lands a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of the fever bound to change medical history. Prudence quickly learns that an inquiry of this proportion is not confined to the lab. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, she explores every potential cause of the disease. But there's no answer in sight—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed "Typhoid Mary" by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. Strangely, though, she hasn't been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery?
Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she'll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century.

The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?
Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .
Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .
From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties... when anything goes. (This is actually for the B&N First Look online book club)


The Traitor's Smile by Patricia Elliott

Eugenie de Boncoeur has fled the violence of the French Revolution to find sanctuary in England at the home of her cousin, Hetta. At first, the two girls find themselves at loggerheads: Hetta can't understand Eugenie's preoccupation with clothes and appearance, and scorns her politics. Soon, however, they are drawn together by a shared sense of danger, for across the Channel waits the vengeful Pale Assassin, determined to claim Eugenie for himself. With her brother's life at stake, how can she refuse his dreadful bargain? But it will mean sacrificing her chance of love and returning to Paris in the grip of the Terror. Eugenie must now decide her destiny - with or without Hetta's help.

Daughter of Winter by Pat Lowery Collins

It’s 1849, and twelve-year-old Addie lives in the shipbuilding town of Essex, Massachusetts. Her father has left the family to seek gold on the West Coast, and now the flux has taken the lives of her mother and baby brother, leaving Addie all alone. Her fear of living as a servant in some other home drives her into the snowy woods, where she survives on her own for several weeks before a nomadic, silver-haired Wampanoag woman takes her in. Slowly, the startling truth of Addie’s past unfolds. Through an intense ancient ceremony, and by force of her own wits and will, Addie unravels the mystery of her identity — and finds the courage to build a future unlike any she could ever have imagined.

Firestorm! by Joan Hiatt Harlow

Twelve-year-old Poppy is an orphan living in a bad neighborhood in Chicago, pick pocketing so that she has a place to sleep at night. Justin's world couldn't be more different—his father owns a jewelry store—but when he and Poppy meet, they become fast friends, thanks in part to Justin's sweet pet goat. Through their friendship, Poppy realizes that she doesn't want to be a thief anymore and she begins to feel like she may have a place with Justin's family. But when Justin makes an expensive mistake at his father's store, Poppy is immediately blamed. In response, she flees . . . right into the Great Chicago Fire.
Poppy and Justin must rely on their instincts if they are going to survive the catastrophe. Will anything be left when the fire finally burns out?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book review: Dear Canada: To Stand on My Own by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Dear Canada: To Stand on My Own by Barbara Haworth-Attard (Published by Scholastic Canada, October 1, 2010)

At the suggestion of her mother, Noreen Robertson begins a diary in June 1937, shortly before her twelfth birthday. The Robertson family lives in Saskatchewan, where most people are struggling financially as a result of the Great Depression. There is also the worry of a polio epidemic. Noreen thinks her mother is being overprotective during the epidemic, until Noreen herself becomes ill with polio.

Noreen began her diary reluctantly, but during her recovery from polio, writing is one of the few things she can still do. She writes about her stay in the hospital, her fears of never being able to walk again, her return home, and the month she spends at a hospital with a special physical therapy program that tries to help children recovering from polio learn to walk again.

At first I found this book a bit slow-moving. A lot of it was just Noreen feeling sorry for herself, feeling guilty for not listening to her mother, wondering if she was being punished, etc. I suppose her self-pity was realistic since it would be awful to be twelve years old and be told you would probably never walk again. I did eventually enjoy the book and Noreen's character grew and matured and in the end she decided to focus on the good things that happened as a result of her experiences, rather than the bad, and how she could use what she had learned to help others like herself in the future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney

Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney (Published by St. Martin's Griffin, March 1, 2011)

Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status.
Yet Tory has a shameful secret—a secret so powerful that, if exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory’s blood is tainted…by magic. When a shocking accident forces Tory to demonstrate her despised skill, the secret she’s fought so hard to hide is revealed for all to see. She is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. There she will learn to suppress her deplorable talents and maybe, if she’s one of the lucky ones, be able to return to society.
But Tory’s life is about to change forever. All that she’s ever known or considered important will be challenged. What lies ahead is only the beginning of a strange and wonderful journey into a world where destiny and magic come together, where true love and friendship find her, and where courage and strength of character are the only things that determine a young girl’s worth.

Another new YA paranormal historical and it sounds really good and mysterious.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book review: The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards (Published by Penguin Books UK, July 1, 2010)

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Hutton (also known as the Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime, a worthless Spanish title she inherited from her mother) is the daughter of an alchemist obsessed with his craft. He has wasted all the family’s money over the years and Ellie often resents the life she lives as a result of his decisions. Eighteen-year-old Will Lacey, the Earl of Dorset, must solve his family’s financial problems after his late father wasted the family fortune. He hopes that if he can marry a rich heiress with a large dowry, his family‘s problems will be solved. Will and Ellie last met four years ago, when he threw Ellie and her father (who had been sponsored by Will’s father) off his lands after his father died. Will blames Ellie’s father for his family’s poverty, as much of the money his father wasted was spent on alchemical research.

It is at the court of Elizabeth I in 1582 that Ellie and Will meet again. Ellie’s father has found another nobleman to sponsor him, and Will is searching at court for a wealthy young woman to marry. Ellie and Will are instantly attracted to each other - and horrified by that fact, as a result of their past history. Their attraction eventually develops into love, but Will is forced by his duty to his family to court the Lady Jane, a wealthy young woman with a large dowry.

The Other Countess is one of my favorite books so far this year. Ellie and Will and all the other characters were very well developed and I liked all of them. I wanted to hate Lady Jane at first, for being an obstacle to Will and Ellie’s love, but she was actually a really sympathetic character and I am looking forward to reading her story in the sequel, The Queen’s Lady, which will be published in February 2011. The historical setting was really well researched and highly detailed. I highly recommend this book to readers who love historical romance or stories set in Tudor England.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book review: Dear Canada: Where the River Takes Me by Julie Lawson

Dear Canada: Where the River Takes Me by Julie Lawson (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2008)

Twelve-year-old Jenna Sinclair begins her diary in August of 1849. She is an orphan living with her strict Aunt Grace at Fort Edmonton, where her father worked for the Hudson's Bay Company before his death. Shortly after Jenna begins writing her diary, Aunt Grace marries, and now Jenna must leave her home for the first time in her life, for her new uncle has been assigned to a job at a different fort. Jenna is very sad to leave her best friend, Suzanne, and her beloved grandmother, but she is also excited about the adventures she is sure to have on her journey.

Shortly after arriving at her new home, Fort Colvile, Jenna learns of a school for the children of high-ranking Hudson's Bay Company employees. Her aunt and uncle agree that Jenna can attend the school, and so she sets out on another long journey to Fort Victoria on Vancouver's Island. The school isn't quite what Jenna hoped for, as the teachers are very strict. But she eventually makes new friends, explores the island, tries to solve a mystery, and visits the local Indian tribe, while recording all her adventures in her diary, as she hopes to write a novel based on her adventures someday.

Where the River Takes Me is another good book from the Dear Canada series. Jenna is a likeable narrator, and the book is full of interesting historical details. This book is mostly a story of what everyday life was like for the child of a Hudson's Bay Company employee in the mid 19th century and I think it had less of a plot compared to some of the other books in the Dear Canada series. Still, this book is an enjoyable read that I recommend to readers who enjoyed other books from this series or from the similar Dear America series.

In My Mailbox - 10/16/10

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.

Here are my new books for this week:

For review:

Anya's War by Andrea Alban

Anya Rosen and her family have left Odessa for Shanghai, believing that it will be a safe haven from Hitler’s forces. At first, Anya’s life in the Jewish Quarter of Shanghai is privileged and relatively carefree: She has crushes on boys, fights with her mother, and longs to defy expectations just like her hero, Amelia Earhart.
Then Anya finds a baby - a newborn abandoned on the street. Amelia Earhart goes missing. And it becomes dangerously clear that no place is safe — not for Jewish
families like the Rosens, not for Shanghai’s poor, not for adventurous women pilots.
Based on a true story, here is a rich, transcendent novel about a little-known time in Holocaust history.


Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens—until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Ralegh pledges to come for Cate, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists—and Cate—increasingly turn to. Yet just as Cate's longings for England and Ralegh fade and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Ralegh will finally set sail for the New World.
Seamlessly weaving together fact with fiction, Lisa Klein's newest historical drama is an engrossing tale of adventure and forbidden love—kindled by one of the most famous mysteries in American history: the fate of the settlers at Roanoke, who disappeared without a trace forty years before the Pilgrims would set foot in Plymouth. (I loved the ARC so much that I had to buy a finished copy!)

Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner

It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes friends and even—dare she admit it?— falls in love. But then 1911 dawns, and one March day a spark ignites in the factory. One of the city's most harrowing tragedies unfolds, and Raisa's life is forever changed. . . .
One hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, this moving young adult novel gives life to the tragedy and hope of this transformative event in American history.


Across the Universe by Beth Revis

A Story of Love, Murder, and Madness Aboard an Enormous Spaceship Bound for the Future

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.
Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

(Well the story behind this one is weird, I ordered a finished copy from a site that only sells NEW books in the UK, I guess since it was in stock I assumed the UK version was out earlier, somehow they mailed me the ARC.... it's a mystery! They refunded my money though, and told me to keep it.)

Contest: Win Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

Thanks to Bloomsbury, I am hosting a contest to win a copy of Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein.

About the book:

Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens—until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Ralegh pledges to come for Cate, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists—and Cate—increasingly turn to. Yet just as Cate's longings for England and Ralegh fade and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Ralegh will finally set sail for the New World.

Seamlessly weaving together fact with fiction, Lisa Klein's newest historical drama is an engrossing tale of adventure and forbidden love—kindled by one of the most famous mysteries in American history: the fate of the settlers at Roanoke, who disappeared without a trace forty years before the Pilgrims would set foot in Plymouth.


To enter, please leave your email address.
Contest ends on October 30.
US mailing addresses only.

Extra entries (please post which ones you have):

+1 link to contest
+1 comment on interview
+1 comment on review

Friday, October 15, 2010

Interview with Lisa Klein, author of Cate of the Lost Colony

This interview with Lisa Klein is part of the blog tour for her new novel, Cate of the Lost Colony. I previously reviewed the book on my blog and you can read my review here. To learn more about Cate of the Lost Colony and Lisa Klein's other books you can visit her website.

What inspired you to write a novel for young adults about the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

I was in a bookstore and saw a book about the Roanoke voyages and thought, “I know nothing about this chapter of American history.” So I read the book and thought, “Wow, there’s a great story here.” When I told people about the topic, they would get excited and ask me, “What happened to those colonists?” I said I didn’t exactly know. Which really motivated me to write about it until I had an answer.

The settings of Elizabethan England, the sea journey, and Roanoke really come alive, along with the real historical people featured in the story. What kind of research did you do to bring the place, time, and people to life? Did you visit any of the locations featured in the book?

I read everything I could find about the Roanoke voyages—the primary accounts as well as what scholars have written about what probably happened. I read biographies of Queen Elizabeth and Walter Ralegh. I went to Roanoke Island, the Outer Banks and Manteo , North Carolina , and historic Jamestown , where you can see reconstructed ships and forts and houses of the time. I also relied on what I knew about the Elizabethan period from my years of teaching Shakespeare.

What do you hope readers will learn from Cate’s story?

I didn’t write to teach my readers anything at all. I hope they will enjoy Cate’s story and through her, live the past vicariously, as I did while writing. In the process, it’s great if they happen to learn something they didn’t know before. But it’s not required. And there will not be a test!

Your historical novels are set in some very different places & times. If you could go back in time for a day (with guaranteed safety!) what place and time would you like to visit?

Thanks for the promise of guaranteed safety. That opens up my options a lot. I could go to medieval Europe during the plague, or the Gettysburg battlefield. But I’d probably choose London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Can’t I stay longer than just one day?

What are some of your own favorite books and authors?

I just can’t answer this, because I have so many, and I always feel like I’m being unfair by singling out some and not others. I love any book that tells a good story (fictional or not) in an engaging way.

Can you tell us anything about your next book?

A little. I’m not too far along, but I will say that it is Shakespeare-themed, but more of a romantic comedy, with young Will himself as a character who shares the stage with a cross-dressing heroine.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I love, love, love writing books for you to read! There’s no job I’d rather have than this one.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (Published by Harcourt Books, March 7, 2011)

The summer of 1889 is the one between childhood and womanhood for Amelia van den Broek—and thankfully, she’s not spending it at home in rural Maine. She’s been sent to Baltimore to stay with her stylish cousin, Zora, who will show her all the pleasures of city life and help her find a suitable man to marry.
With diversions ranging from archery in the park to dazzling balls and hints of forbidden romance, Victorian Baltimore is more exciting than Amelia imagined. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. Newly dubbed "Maine’s Own Mystic", Amelia is suddenly quite in demand.
However, her attraction to Nathaniel, an artist who is decidedly outside of Zora's circle, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. And while she has no trouble seeing the futures of others, she cannot predict whether Nathaniel will remain in hers.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

This book is a combination of my two favorite genres, historical fiction and fantasy, so I am really looking forward to reading it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book review: The Last Full Measure by Ann Rinaldi

The Last Full Measure by Ann Rinaldi (Published by Harcourt, November 15, 2010)

When Tacy Stryker was a little girl, she was very close to her older brother, David. But then an accident left one of David’s legs twisted, leaving David very bitter. After that, their relationship never was the same. David only became even more angry and resentful when the Civil War began and he couldn’t join the army along with their brothers, Brandon and Joel, and their father, a doctor in the Union Army.

With their father gone, David is left in charge of looking out for Tacy and their mother. Tacy still loves her older brother, but she hates that he has become such an angry person and constantly bosses her around and punishes her, especially since she is fourteen now, and not a little girl. When the war comes to their home town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in July 1863, and the residents must hide in their homes in fear of their safety while listening to the battle raging outside, Tacy begins to see hints of the old David, and starts to rebuild her relationship with him.

The Last Full Measure is another good historical novel by Ann Rinaldi. Unlike many books about Gettysburg that focus on the soldiers, this book was about an ordinary family, their relationships, their daily struggles, and how the battle affected them. One thing I would have liked to read more about was Tacy and David’s prior relationship before his accident, because sometimes I was a bit frustrated at Tacy tolerating how mean he could be since there wasn’t much in the book about how he was before his injury. Still, I overall enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, particularly those who have read other books by the author.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen (Published by HarperTeen, October 12, 2010)

Cordelia and Letty, best friends who grew up in the small, boring town of Union, Ohio, both want to escape to the big city for different reasons. Letty dreams of becoming a famous actress, while Cordelia wants to find her long-lost father. After Cordelia is pressured into an unwanted marriage, the two girls decide to escape, with Letty believing Cordelia chose the destination of New York City in order to help her become a famous actress. The third main character is Astrid Donal, a wealthy flapper whose life is not as perfect as it seems.

Shortly after arriving in New York, Cordelia and Letty, inexperienced in the ways of the big city, run into trouble. When Letty learns Cordelia’s real reasons for traveling to New York, the two girls have an argument and go their separate ways. When Cordelia goes in search of her father, the notorious bootlegger Darius Grey, she is befriended by Astrid, who seems to have the perfect life - she is beautiful, wealthy, and is dating Cordelia’s newfound older brother, Charlie.

I don’t want to give away more of the plot which has a lot of twists and turns, but as a fan of Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series, I am happy to say I enjoyed the first book in her new series, Bright Young Things, just as much. All three of the girls, Letty, Cordelia, and Astrid, were unique, realistic, and well-developed characters. Although this is a book with a very interesting and well-researched historical setting (1929 New York), I think readers who don’t usually read historical fiction could enjoy it as well, as the problems the main characters face are just as relevant to young adults today. I really enjoyed this book, and can’t wait for the release of book two, Beautiful Days.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In My Mailbox - 10/9/10

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.


Dear Canada: To Stand on My Own by Barbara Haworth-Attard

In the summer of 1937, life on the Prairies is not easy. The Great Depression has brought great hardship, and young Noreen's family must scrimp to make ends meet. In a horrible twist of fate, Noreen, like hundreds of other young Canadians, contracts polio and is placed in an isolation ward, unable to move her legs. After a few weeks she gains partial recovery, but her family makes the painful decision to send her to a hospital far away for further treatment. To Stand On My Own is Noreen's diary account of her journey through recovery: her treatment; life in the ward; the other patients, some of them far worse off than her; adjustment to life in a wheelchair and on crutches; and ultimately, the emotional and physical hurdles she must face when she returns home.

My Australian Story: The Phar Lap Mystery by Sophie Masson

Sally's dad is a private detective, and he's just been offered the case of a lifetime - investigating who tried to shoot Phar Lap before the 1930 Melbourne Cup. Helping her dad investigate, Sally begins to feel a sense of mounting dread as Phar Lap goes from victory to victory - and collects some dangerous enemies...

Scout by Nicole Pluss

As the Scout sails from England, Kit Lovell cries for the life she is leaving and the life she could have had. Her father was a sea captain who went down with his ship before she was born. Now her mother is to marry a stranger, a lighthouse keeper in the remote colony of South Australia.
But it soon becomes clear to Kit that this voyage across the world's vast oceans is setting something loose inside her, something she doesn't understand. Her secret encounters with Angel, a mysterious young sailor, seem at one moment completely bewildering and at another crystal clear. And her friendship with the bold and brash young Clarissa is opening her eyes in ways she never thought possible.
Yet Kit's internal turmoil is nothing compared to the power of the sea in all its moods as the Scout's melting pot of passengers and crew sail into an adventure that will change all their lives forever.

For review:

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan

It is India, 1918, six months after the end of World War I, and Rosalind awaits the return of her father from the war. Rosalind is kept from boarding school in England at her mother’s insistence. While her father has been at war, Rosalind sees the country slowly change. A man named Ghandi is coming to power, talking about nonviolence and independence from Britain. Rosalind longs to live the life that her heart tells her, not what her parents prescribe for her, but no one seems to listen.
This penetrating story, told with lush and vivid detail, contrasts Rosalind’s privilege and daily experiences in India with the hardship of the people around her. As she comes of age during this volatile period of history, will she find the courage to claim her own identity and become her own person?

Warrior Princess: The Emerald Flame by Frewin Jones

Branwen has finally accepted that the Shining Ones have chosen her to save her country from the Saxon invaders. But the next stage in her journey includes a seemingly impossible mission, and the path before her is filled with darkness and danger. Branwen is pushed to the brink of disaster, and with each step she takes, she is being pulled farther from the life she once knew—the life she still desperately misses.
Guided by the spirits, with both her fearless friend Rhodri and the dashing, sometimes maddening Iwan by her side, Branwen must overcome terrifying odds if she is to succeed in her quest. But a true Warrior Princess won't back down . . . even when an old enemy returns.

Warrior Princess: Destiny's Path by Frewin Jones

Branwen refuses to take orders from anyone—even the Shining Ones. The ancient gods have marked her as the one fated to save her country from the Saxons. But is she truly ready to be a leader?
Then a messenger from the skies shows her a vision of a bleak and violent future, a future in which Branwen has abandoned her destiny, and those most dear to her suffer unspeakable horrors. There's a blurry line between good and evil, and those Branwen trusts the most are capable of the greatest betrayal. The Shining Ones have spoken. Will Branwen answer their call? (This is the paperback and I already had the hardcover, so it might become a contest prize or something)

Cleopatra Rules! by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Good. Evil. Dangerous. Glamorous. Will the real Cleopatra please stand up? Almost everything we know about the last queen of Egypt came from her enemies—the Romans. Now it’s time to meet the “real” Cleopatra, a ruler more complex, brilliant, and powerful than we ever knew. Cleopatra didn’t just rock the boat when she became queen at seventeen. She rocked the world with brilliant alliances that kept her in power and in control. When Mark Antony tried to put Egypt under his thumb, she negotiated for—and won—more territory than any Egyptian ruler had snagged in generations. Cleopatra didn’t just play by the rules. She made them up as she went along. She bowed to no one, including Octavian—the future Caesar Augustus—who never missed an opportunity to pump out anti-Cleopatra propaganda. The queen of Egypt has fascinated the world for thousands of years. It’s time to find out why. So, on your knees, commoner! The world’s most brilliant and outrageous queen—Cleopatra VII, the last Pharaoh of Egypt—is about to make her entrance. Includes maps, endnotes, timeline, glossary, sources, and index.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (Published by Scholastic, March 1, 2011)

From National Book Award winner Judy Blundell, the tale of a sixteen-year-old girl caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and Mob retribution in 1950 New York.
When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army.
The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help--and then it comes, from an unexpected source.
Nate Benedict is Billy's father. He's also a lawyer involved in the mob. He makes Kit a deal--he'll give her an apartment and introduce her to a new crowd. All she has to do is keep him informed about Billy . . . and maybe do him a favor every now and then.
As she did in her National Book Award-winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell traps readers in a web of love, deceit, intrigue, and murder. The result? One stunner of a novel.

Sounds like a really unique YA historical novel, with some mystery/suspense too!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book review: A Day to Pick Your Own Cotton by Michael Phillips

Shenandoah Sisters: A Day to Pick Your Own Cotton by Michael Phillips (Published by Bethany House, May 1, 2003)

Mayme Jukes and Katie Clairborne are two fifteen-year-old girls from worlds apart -- Mayme was born into slavery, while Katie was the daughter of a wealthy family that owned a large plantation. But in the final days of the Civil War, they both lost their families to marauders, and now they share an important secret. After Mayme, fleeing the scene of her family's murders, came across Katie, the only survivor at her plantation, Rosewood, the two girls decided to live their on their own and pretend that Katie's mother is still alive.

As if that were not difficult enough, now they must protect three other people as well. Emma, a former slave, and her baby, William, are hiding at Rosewood from William's father, the son of Emma's former master. And Aleta, a young girl whose mother died as they fled from her abusive father, has also sought refuge at Rosewood, and is determined to never return home. Mayme and Katie have other worries as well. A loan is due soon at the bank, and if they don't pay, they will never be able to continue protecting their secret.

This book is a very good sequel to Angels Watching Over Me that continues the story of Mayme and Katie, and introduces some new characters as well. It brings to life the dangers of life in the South just after the end of the Civil War, and at the same time tells a heartwarming story of friendship. Though this series is categorized as adult fiction, I think many young adults would enjoy the series as well, since the main characters are teenagers. There are several other books about these characters as well, and I look forward to reading them to find out what happens next.

Book review: Angels Watching Over Me by Michael Phillips

Shenandoah Sisters: Angels Watching Over Me by Michael Phillips (Published by Bethany House, January 1, 2003)

Mayme Jukes and Katie Clairborne both grew up on plantations near the same town in Shenandoah County, North Carolina, but their lives were vastly different. Mayme was born into slavery, while Katie enjoyed a privileged life as the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. But in the final days of the Civil War, the two teenagers are thrown together when both their families are murdered by marauding outlaw soldiers.

Fleeing from the massacre of her family, Mayme stumbles across Katie's plantation, where she is the only survivor of the brutal attacks. Mayme stays to help Katie, and eventually the two girls become very close friends in spite of their differences. But can these two teenage girls survive on their own, and hide the truth from neighbors who don't know that they are all alone on the plantation?

Angels Watching Over Me is a heartwarming historical novel about two girls from very different backgrounds who, after suffering a common tragedy, come together to help each other out, eventually becoming the best of friends. Although categorized as an adult book, I think this novel would have the most a lot of appeal to young adult readers as well, because the main characters are teenagers. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series and finding out what happens to Mayme and Katie next.

Book review: Escape into the Night by Lois Walfrid Johnson

The Riverboat Adventures: Escape into the Night by Lois Walfrid Johnson (Published by Bethany House, July 1995)

Since her mother's death four years ago, twelve-year-old Libby Norstad has lived with her aunt and uncle in their Chicago mansion. In that time, she has seen her father only rarely, because he is a riverboat captain on the Mississippi River. Now that Libby is older, her father has decided that she will live with him on his riverboat, the Christina.

The year is 1857, and arguments over slavery are beginning to divide the nation. Libby has never had to think much about slavery, but she has always assumed that slaves are well-treated by their masters, and are better off that way than trying to make it on their own. But her new life aboard the Christina challenges her beliefs, when she discovers that Caleb, the ship's cabin boy, is active in the Underground Railroad. Caleb exposes Libby to the horrors of slavery, and she is forced to confront her beliefs about right and wrong for the first time in her life.

This book was well-written and full of interesting historical details, and Libby's character transformation was believable. I would recommend it to readers who are interested middle grade historical fiction about this topic, and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

Book review: Shadows on Stoney Creek by Wanda Luttrell

Sarah's Journey: Shadows on Stoney Creek by Wanda Luttrell (Published by Chariot Victor Publishing, September 1997)

Sarah Moore is now fourteen years old, and has returned for good to her family's home on the Kentucky frontier after finishing two years of studying with her cousins in Williamsburg. It's now the fall of 1779, and the Revolutionary War continues back east, but life in Kentucky is much the same as always. Sarah is happy to be reunited with her parents, brothers, and sister, but must readjust to the hardships of frontier life and the constant fear of an Indian attack.

Now that she is fourteen and will soon be a young woman, Sarah has to decide what she wants to do with her life. Soon, she decides that she would like to be a teacher, and to open Stoney Creek's first school so that the local pioneer children can be educated, just as she was back in Williamsburg. She worries about being a good teacher, since she is so young, but is determined to teach the children of Stoney Creek. At the same time, she and the other settlers must worry about a thief that has been stealing food and clothing from all the farms on Stoney Creek.

Shadows on Stoney Creek is a good conclusion to the Sarah's Journey series. I would recommend the entire series to middle grade readers who enjoy stories about pioneer or colonial life. The series brings to life a young girl's adventures in Virginia and Kentucky during the American Revolution, and has likable characters and interesting historical details.

Book review: Whispers in Williamsburg by Wanda Luttrell

Sarah's Journey: Whispers in Williamsburg by Wanda Luttrell (Published by Chariot Victor Publishing, July 1997)

It's November of 1778, and now that her mother and new baby sister, Elizabeth, have recovered, thirteen-year-old Sarah Moore has returned to the home of her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Williamsburg to continue her education. Sarah misses her family back on the Kentucky frontier, but before long she gets involved in a new adventure as she attempts to solve a very puzzling mystery.

Sarah's uncle is very opposed to slavery -- so why did she see him buying three slaves? And how could Marcus, the freed slave who works as a gardener at the Governor's Mansion and who has always been so kind to Sarah, be involved as well? And why are people in the streets of Williamsburg whispering the name of a Bible verse? What does it all mean? Sarah is determined find out the truth.

This book was probably my least favorite in the Sarah's Journey series, but I still enjoyed it - I just would have preferred to read more about her life on the frontier rather than her returning to Williamsburg again. Still, readers who enjoy the series will want to read this book, and overall it's a good series and different from other middle grade historical fiction set during the American Revolution.

Book review: Reunion in Kentucky by Wanda Luttrell

Sarah's Journey: Reunion in Kentucky by Wanda Luttrell (Published by Chariot Victor Publishing, January 1995)

It's June of 1778, and thirteen-year-old Sarah Moore has been living with her relatives in Williamsburg for a year when she receives the news that her mother and new baby sister are seriously ill back home on the Kentucky frontier. Sarah immediately leaves Williamsburg to return home, so that she can help her family.

When she arrives, she finds that their home has been destroyed during an Indian attack, her family is living at the fort, and her father and older brother have gone off to fight the Indians. Sarah must struggle with the challenges of living in this harsh frontier land, as she worries about her family and the ever present threat of another attack by the Indians.

Readers who enjoyed the previous two books about Sarah Moore will definitely want to read this one as well. Although the Sarah's Journey books are not among my top favorite middle grade historical novels, I still really enjoyed reading the series. I especially like the historical setting as there are not many historical novels out there about life on the frontier during the American Revolution.

Book review: Stranger in Williamsburg by Wanda Luttrell

Sarah's Journey: Stranger in Williamsburg by Wanda Luttrell (Published by Chariot Victor Publishing, January 1995)

It's the summer of 1777, and twelve-year-old Sarah Moore has left her family on the Kentucky frontier to live with relatives in Williamsburg, Virginia. In Kentucky, Sarah had longed to return to Virginia, but now that she is finally there, it no longer feels like home. She misses her family terribly, and worries about her oldest brother, a Patriot soldier who is fighting in the Revolutionary War.

When Sarah and her two older cousins, Tabitha and Abigail, get a new tutor, a beautiful, educated, and well-traveled French woman named Gabrielle, Sarah finally begins to feel happy again. But Sarah's Uncle Ethan suspects Gabrielle of being a Tory spy. Could Sarah's beloved tutor and friend really be their enemy?

Stranger in Williamsburg is the second book in the Sarah's Journey series, about the life of a young girl during the Revolutionary War. The author's descriptions of Williamsburg and the daily life there during the Revolutionary War were very interesting, although I think I enjoyed the first book a bit more. Still, the series is worth reading in order, and I would recommend the books to readers who enjoy middle grade historical fiction set during that time in history.

Book review: Home on Stoney Creek by Wanda Luttrell

Sarah's Journey: Home on Stoney Creek by Wanda Luttrell (Published by Chariot Victor Publishing, July 1994)

Eleven-year-old Sarah Moore was devastated when her father decided the family would move to the Kentucky frontier at the start of the American Revolution. She doesn't want to leave Virginia, where her friends and the only home she has ever known are, and she worries about her oldest brother, who has left home to join the Patriot army. She prays and prays to stay in Virginia but her prayers go unanswered, and her family sets out on the dangerous journey to the frontier.

The journey through the wilderness to Kentucky is dangerous as the family struggles through forests, across rivers, and over mountains. Reaching Kentucky, the Moores must struggle to build a home in the untamed wilderness. Sarah is desperately lonely and longs for her home in Virginia, vowing to return as soon as she can. But as time goes by she begins to realize that home is not a place, but being with your family.

I really liked the historical setting of this book and the details of pioneer life on the early frontier. Sarah is a likeable character that young readers will relate to, especially if they have ever had to move to a new home. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy middle grade historical fiction. The rest of the books in the series are enjoyable as well, and should be read in order.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

In My Mailbox - 10/2/10

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.

For review:

Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?


Contagion by Joanne Dahme

Rose Dugan is a young and beautiful woman living in Philadelphia in the late 19th century passionate about keeping Philadelphia’s water reservoir clean and healthy. But when Rose starts receiving threatening letters, warning her to convince her husband to shut down his plans for a water filtration system or else, things take a turn for the worse. A conspicuous murder and butting heads cause Rose to search for the culprit, the truth, and a way to keep the people of Philadelphia safe from contagion in more ways than one.

While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin

In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother. Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war. And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary.

Embers of Love by Tracie Peterson

The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family's business now that she's completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home--fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in. Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match.
Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in. But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie's jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles...for those dearest to her, and for herself.

Book review: Mystery of the Silver Coins by Lois Walfrid Johnson

Viking Quest: Mystery of the Silver Coins by Lois Walfrid Johnson (Published by Moody Publishers, August 1, 2003)

The day thirteen-year-old Bree O'Toole and was captured by Viking raiders, her life changed forever. Now she is far from her home in the green hills of Ireland, in a strange new country where all she has to look forward to is a life of slavery. Determined to escape that fate, Bree and one of the other captives, a younger girl named Lil, escape the Viking ship and head into the hills of Norway, hoping to make their way to a trading village where they can find safe passage back to Ireland. But the hardships she faces on her escape cause Bree to struggle to hold on to her courage and to her faith that God will protect her.

Meanwhile, as Bree's captor, the young Viking leader Mikkel, searches for her, he faces a personal struggle of his own: did he do the right thing by leading that raid? Meanwhile, Bree's older brother, Devin, who was set free before the Vikings left Ireland, is determined to find a way to go after his sister so that he can save her and bring her home, but he struggles with his feelings of anger and hate towards the Vikings who tore apart his family.

This was an excellent continuation of the first book in the Viking Quest series, Raiders from the Sea. The historical details are wonderful, and I loved the unique historical setting. I'd highly recommend this book to all readers who read the first book, but new readers should start at the beginning of the series, otherwise this book won't make as much sense. I look forward to reading the other three books in this series and seeing what happens to Bree, Devin, and Mikkel next.

Book review: Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson

Viking Quest: Raiders from the Sea by Lois Walfrid Johnson (Published by Moody Publishers, August 1, 2003)

Thirteen-year-old Bree O'Toole and her fourteen-year-old brother, Devin, live with their parents and younger siblings on a farm in Ireland in the late tenth century. Bree loves her beautiful home, and is grateful that even though she is a girl, she was given the opportunity to be educated at the monastery. But at the same time, she often longs to see faraway places. What she doesn't know is that soon her wish will come true, but in a terrible way.

One day, Bree rescues a young man from drowning, not realizing he is a Viking and by saving him she has put her family and village in danger. The Vikings capture Bree and Devin during their raid. Devin is later set free by the young Viking leader, Mikkel - the same young man Bree rescued from drowning. But as the Viking ship sails north across the sea, Bree has nothing to look forward to but a life of slavery, and she struggles to hold on to her courage.

Young readers who enjoyed other books by Lois Walfrid Johnson, or who have an interest in historical fiction about the Vikings or the early years of the Medieval era, are sure to enjoy this book. It is an exciting historical adventure, and I loved that it is set in a time period that I love to read about, but that is rarely featured in middle grade or young adult historical fiction. I look forward to reading the other books in this series to find out what happens next to the characters.

Book review: Dancing Through Fire by Kathryn Lasky

Portraits: Dancing Through Fire by Kathryn Lasky (Published by Scholastic, October 1, 2005)

Sylvie Bertrand is a young girl who is studying to be a ballerina at the Paris Opera Ballet School in 1870. Due to poverty, her mother had to leave the ballet to marry years ago and now she is living through her hopes and dreams for Sylvie - if she could not become a famous ballerina, then Sylvie must. Although Sylvie likes the ballet, sometimes she wonders if she will ever have a life beyond her mother's dreams. Her older sister, Chantal, hated the way her mother lived through her and decided to rebel, pretending to be lazy so she would be forced to leave the ballet.

When the Franco-Prussian War breaks out and Paris falls under siege, Sylvie gets a glimpse of the real world where there is sickness and starvation. She struggles with how it contrasts with the perfect fantasy world of the ballet. As the situation in Paris worsens, Sylvie decides she must do something to help and in her quest learns even more about the harshness of the real world, but she also learns that ballet is not just her mother's dream but hers as well.

I really loved Kathryn Lasky's books for the Dear America and Royal Diaries series, and this book is just as good as her contributions to those series. This was the first book in a middle grade historical fiction series titled Portraits. Each book was to imagine what the life of a young girl in a famous painting might have been like. This particular book is based on one of the ballet paintings of Degas. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled after only two books were published, which was really too bad because I really enjoyed this book and thought that the concept of the series was really unique and interesting.

Book review: Dear Canada: A Trail of Broken Dreams by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Dear Canada: A Trail of Broken Dreams: The Gold Rush Diary of Harriet Palmer by Barbara Haworth-Attard (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2004)

Twelve-year-old Harriet Palmer's father left several months ago to join the 1862 Cariboo Gold Rush, leaving his family behind at a fort halfway along the way. Now Harriet's mother has died after a difficult childbirth, along with the new baby, and Harriet has no way to support her ten-year-old brother William and four-year-old sister Luella. The three siblings are taken in by the Owens, a childless couple who live at the fort, but then Harriet learns that when they return to Toronto next year, the Owens plan to take William and Luella with them and leave Harriet behind as a servant to another family.

Harriet is determined not to allow what is left of her family to be torn apart. Disguising herself as a boy, she joins a party of miners headed for the gold fields, hoping and praying that she will find her father there. During the difficult journey, Harriet faces many dangers and hardships, but also makes new friends and finds adventure. But what awaits her at the end of her journey, and will she be able to find her father?

I really enjoyed this book from the Dear Canada series. Harriet is a wonderful character who was determined to help her family and do whatever it takes to accomplish her goal, and I enjoyed reading about her adventures and about life during the Cariboo Gold Rush. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoyed either the previous books in the Dear Canada series or books in the similar Dear America series.

Book review: Abby: Trouble in Tahiti by Pamela Walls

Abby: Trouble in Tahiti by Pamela Walls (Published by Tyndale Kids, April 4, 2002)

This is the seventh book in the South Seas Adventures series. This series is about the adventures of Abby Kendall, a young teenage girl, and her family and friends as they travel the South Seas in the late 1840s.

Fourteen-year-old Abby Kendall and her family and friends have sailed to the beautiful island nation of Tahiti. They plan to trade there, but they've also made the trip for a special event: Uncle Samuel's wedding to Lani, a beautiful half-Hawaiian woman who has traveled with them for several months. But while exploring the royal palace with one of their new Tahitian friends, Abby and Luke discover that Jean-Paul, a French artist, is being held captive. Jean-Paul is being forced to paint portraits for the Queen's evil cousin, Chief Ono. They also discover hints of a possible conspiracy against the Queen. While trying to help Jean-Paul, Abby herself is taken captive. As she tries to discover what is going on in the palace, Luke and the others must come up with a plan to rescue her.

Trouble in Tahiti is another great book from the South Seas Adventures series. As always, it was very enjoyable to read about Abby, her family and friends, and the new people they meet during their travels. I loved the exotic and unique setting of Tahiti, and the story was a real page-turner. Readers who have read the previous Abby adventures won't want to miss out on this book.

Book review: Abby: Into the Dragon's Den by Pamela Walls

Abby: Into the Dragon's Den by Pamela Walls (Published by Tyndale Kids, September 20, 2001)

This is the sixth book in the South Seas Adventures series. This series is about the adventures of Abby Kendall, a young teenage girl, and her family and friends as they travel the South Seas in the late 1840s.

Fourteen-year-old Abby Kendall and her family and friends are sailing through the Indonesian islands when they spot a peaceful little uncharted island. They decide to stop for a rest and to gather supplies there, and on the island meet Sulia, a native woman, and her eleven-year-old granddaughter, Paloa. Abby and Luke befriend Paloa and explore the beautiful jungles of the island. But the island is deceptively peaceful, with many dangers lurking, including giant lizards that remind Abby of dragons, powerful earthquakes, and a simmering volcano that threatens to erupt.

This book is another exciting adventure featuring Abby and her family and friends. I loved the unique setting of an Indonesian island, and as always the likable characters were very fun to read about. I recommend this book to readers who enjoyed the first five books in the South Seas Adventures series, and for new readers who think the series sounds interesting, I recommend starting with book one, Abby: Lost at Sea.

Book review: Abby: King's Ransom by Pamela Walls

Abby: King's Ransom by Pamela Walls (Published by Tyndale Kids, September 20, 2001)

This is the fifth book in the South Seas Adventures series. This series is about the adventures of Abby Kendall, a young teenage girl, and her family and friends as they travel the South Seas in the late 1840s.

Thirteen-year-old Abby Kendall and her friends and family are sailing to China on a trading venture when they come across a lifeless looking body floating on a barrel in the sea. Rescuing the stranger, they discover she is a young girl Abby's age, named Violet. Violet is a wealthy British girl who was sailing to join her father, who works in China for a trading company, when her ship was attacked and burned by pirates led by the infamous Zai Ching. But instead of being grateful for being rescued, Violet acts haughty and stuck-up, and steals the attention of everyone around her, especially Abby's best friend Luke and her mother. Abby's excitement at visiting the exotic land of China and exploring the city of Shanghai is spoiled by Violet's presence. When they must take Violet further south to join her father, a journey that means sailing through pirate-infested waters, Abby resents that they are now in danger because of Violet. Can Abby and Violet ever learn to get along?

This is yet another great book from the South Seas Adventures series. I really enjoyed reading this new adventure featuring Abby and her family and friends, and I loved the exotic and unique historical setting. I recommend this series to readers who enjoy middle grade historical fiction, especially if you think the unique setting sounds interesting.

Book review: Abby: Secret at Cutter Grove by Pamela Walls

Abby: Secret at Cutter Grove by Pamela Walls (Published by Tyndale Kids, April 1, 2001)

This is the fourth book in the South Seas Adventures series. This series is about the adventures of Abby Kendall, a young teenage girl, and her family and friends as they travel the South Seas in the late 1840s.

It's June of 1848, and thirteen-year-old Abby Kendall, her younger sister Sarah, and their friends Luke and Kini have returned to Hawaii with their gold from California, but they are too late to save the Kendall ranch. Abby's parents and uncle decide to search for a new home elsewhere in Hawaii, so they all sail to the island of Kauai to learn about the sugar business. They find jobs with the wealthy Rees Cutter, who owns a sugar plantation. Rees Cutter seems so kind and generous, but Abby and Luke hear bad things about him from some of the workers. In addition, they begin to suspect he may be involved in business dealings with the cruel and greedy Cap'n Jim Canter. Abby and Luke are determined to find out what's really going on at the Cutter Plantation, and their quest for the truth leads them into another dangerous adventure.

Readers who enjoyed the first three books about Abby will be sure to enjoy this one as well. I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy historical fiction. I love the unique settings and likable characters featured in this series, and after reading this book, couldn't wait to read the rest of the series to see what adventures await Abby and her friends next.
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