Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book review: Nightspell by Leah Cypess

Nightspell by Leah Cypess (Published by Greenwillow, May 31, 2011)

Several years ago, Darri's younger sister, Callie, was sent to Ghostland to be the future wife of Prince Kestin, the heir to the throne. Darri was horrified that her little sister would be sacrificed to make an alliance, forced to live out her life in a dreary country where the ghosts of the dead linger. Darri tried but was unable to persuade her father to change his plans. Now, several years later, she has finally convinced him to allow her to rescue Callie, if Darri herself takes Callie's place as Prince Kestin's future bride.

When Darri and her older brother, Varis, arrive in Ghostland, they find that Callie is changed from the little sister they remember. Callie has adjusted to her new life, but still resents Darri for not finding a way to keep her from being sent away years ago. Darri is horrifed by this place where she cannot even tell who is alive and who is dead, and the sister she tried so hard to save doesn't even want to be rescued.

I can't really say much more about the plot without giving away spoilers. There's a lot of political intrigue, secrets, and shocking revelations. I thought the concept of Ghostland was very interesting and the author did an excellent job with the worldbuilding. I was a little disappointed, however, that there was really no romance. I don't care if the romance is the main focus of the story or not but I prefer there to be at least some romance. I was also a bit disappointed by the ending, I can't really think what a sequel could be about, but at the same time I really wish some questions hadn't been left unanswered. If you are sick of paranormals and love high fantasy I think you would probably still enjoy this book, and I will definitely still read future books by the author, I just wish I knew what happened after the ending!

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, May 27, 2011

In My Mailbox - BEA 2011 edition

This week, I went to BookExpo America in New York City (BEA) and I got a ton of great books! This post would be really long if I listed all of them so I am going show the ones I am looking forward to reading the most. If you want to see the full list, I have a full list here on a Goodreads shelf. I also bought one book earlier in the week before BEA.


The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.

Some of my favorite books from BEA:

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...
Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

This fascinating story will capture any young reader with a thirst for adventure. "Beryl Above Africa" propels the reader into an evocative story with an unforgettable protagonist, while bringing the setting and time period to life. Immediately compelling and action-packed, this work of historical fiction explores the life of Beryl Markham, the fist person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. From raising horses and hunting during her childhood in Africa to learning to fly as a young woman, Beryl's inspiring life and adventures will keep readers voraciously turning the pages.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.
The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.
Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.
Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one—other than Celie, that is—takes time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan—and bookseller—favorite kicks off a brand new series that is sure to become a modern classic.

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

From the author of the critically acclaimed Elsewhere comes this brilliant novel about an impossible romance, a family living outside of the law, and the ties that forever bind us.
Chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is increasingly scarce, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine—going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until someone in her inner circle ends up poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight—at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafiya family.
Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I’ve Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and fantastic. (I think a future where chocolate is illegal is the scariest dystopian concept so far!)

David by Mary Hoffman

Michelangelo’s statue of David is famous around the world. Millions flock to Italy every year to admire the physical perfection of the young man captured within the marble. But the identity of the model has never been known . . . until now. In this epic tale, acclaimed author Mary Hoffman imagines the story of Gabriele, a naïve but incredibly handsome young man who is hired as Michelangelo’s model, only to find himself drawn into a world of spies, political treachery, and murder. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Florence in its most turbulent times, this is a rich, colorful and thrilling tale that gives life to one of the world’s greatest masterpieces.

Meet Marie-Grace by Sarah Masters Buckey

Marie-Grace Gardner has just arrived in New Orleans, and she hopes she never has to move again. When she meets Mademoiselle Océane, a talented opera singer, Marie-Grace longs to take lessons. She loves to sing, and she would like to get to know Cécile Rey, the confident girl who is Mademoiselle’s student. But Marie-Grace is shy, and starting school reminds her how hard it is to make friends and fit in. Can an unexpected adventure help her feel as if she belongs?

Meet Cécile by Denise Lewis Patrick

Cécile Rey can’t wait for Mardi Gras—the dazzling season of parties and costume balls in New Orleans. For the grandest event of all, the Children’s Ball, Cécile is determined to come up with a fantastic costume like no other. Everyone will notice her! But Mardi Gras season turns out to be even more exciting than Cécile expects when she meets a new girl named Marie-Grace Gardner. Together they form an unlikely friendship—and share a daring adventure!

(These two books are about the newest American Girl characters, who live in New Orleans in 1853. I used to be obsessed with the American Girls when I was younger, I still have my 4 dolls. So despite how short the books are I am excited to read these two new books, and the 1853 New Orleans setting sounds very interesting and unusual.)

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?
Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...
Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.
Glow is the most riveting series debut since The Hunger Games, and promises to thrill and challenge readers of all ages.

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf

Millionaire John Jacob Astor hopes to return from Egypt with his pregnant teen bride with a minimum of media scandal. A beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers the first stirrings of love. And an ancient iceberg lies patient, awaiting its fateful encounter. The voices in this remarkable re-creation of the Titanic disaster span classes and stations, from Margaret ("the unsinkable Molly") Brown to the captain who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of marks. Slipping in telegraphs, undertaker's reports, and other records, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse at the lives behind the tragedy, told with clear-eyed compassion and astounding emotional power.

Legend by Marie Lu

The United States is gone, along with its flooded coasts. North America's two warring nations, the western Republic and the eastern Colonies, have reached a breaking point. In the midst of this broken continent and dark new world are two teenagers who will go down in history....
Born into the slums of Los Angeles, fifteen-year old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. A mysterious boy with no recorded image or fingerprints. A boy who should no longer exist. A boy who watches over his family until one evening, when the plague patrols mark his family's door with an X--the sign of plague infection. A death sentence for any family too poor to afford the antidote. Desperate, Day has no choice; he must steal it.
Born to an elite family in Los Angeles' wealthy Ruby sector, fifteen-year old June is the Republic's most promising prodigy. A superintelligent girl destined for great things in the country's highest military circles. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country--until the day her brother Metias is murdered while on patrol during a break-in at the plague hospital.
Only one person could be responsible.
And now it's June's mission to hunt him down.
The truth they'll uncover will become legend.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

It could happen tomorrow...
A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."
Can one teen really survive on her own?
An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...
Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.
This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive. (the cover for this book is CREEPY!!!)

Pure by Julianna Baggott

A dystopian novel about a society of haves, who escaped an apocalypse in a futuristic dome-covered city, and have-nots, who survived the nearly destroyed outside world. The have-nots are almost entirely marked or mutated in some manner.
PURE centers around the story of Pressia, a 16-year-old survivor with a doll’s head fused into her left hand, and Partridge, an unmarked Pure who has escaped the Dome to find his mother, certain that she has survived the cataclysm.

This post is already really long and that's not even half the books so if you want to see the rest check the Goodreads list and I will be reviewing most of these in late summer or fall, depending on the release dates.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Dear Canada: That Fatal Night by Sarah Ellis

Dear Canada: That Fatal Night, The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton by Sarah Ellis (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2011)

In the aftermath of the Titanic disaster, a young girl must come to terms with haunting memories from the voyage.
It is May 1912, one month after the horrific sinking of the Titanic, and twelve-year-old survivor Dorothy Wilton is sent home from school in disgrace when she strikes another student. Although she's expelled, her sympathetic teacher encourages Dorothy to write an account of her experience on the ship, with the hopes that it will help Dorothy come to terms with her trauma.
And so begins a truly remarkable story, which reads like a time capsule of the era: Dorothy writes about visiting her bohemian grandparents in England before setting sail back home, the luxurious rooms and cabins on board, a new friend she makes, and the intriguing people they observe. However, amidst all of this storytelling, a shadow lurks, a secret Dorothy is too traumatized to acknowledge — a secret about her own actions on that fatal night, which may have had deadly consequences.
Through young Dorothy’s eyes, award-winning writer Sarah Ellis expertly takes a unique perspective on the Titanic tragedy, exploring the concept of survivor's guilt with devastating honesty.

I love the Dear America & Dear Canada series, and I love books about the Titanic, so I can't wait to read this book!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book review: Our Australian Girl: Poppy at Summerhill by Gabrielle Wang

Our Australian Girl: Poppy at Summerhill by Gabrielle Wang (Published by Puffin Books Australia, May 2, 2011)

Eleven-year-old Poppy, a half-Chinese, half-Aboriginal orphan, has disgused herself as a boy and run away from the mission where she lived with other Aboriginal orphans. She is hoping to reunite with her brother, who had run away earlier. However, Poppy is badly injured. She is rescued by Tom, an Aboriginal man, who takes her to recover at Summerhill, the home of the family he works for.

At Summerhill, Poppy is treated kindly by the owners and their daughter, Noni, who becomes friends with Poppy. Poppy is also able to learn about her Aboriginal heritage from Tom. But Noni's twin brother, Tom, hates Poppy and treats her horribly. He is also very suspicious of her, and Poppy is worried he will find out she is a girl and a runaway.

This book is the second of four books about Poppy from the Our Australian Girl series, which is about young girls during different times in Australian history. Poppy was a very likable character, she is smart, brave, and determined. I thoguht the history in this book was very interesting as I don't know a lot about Australian history, the only other books I have read set in Australia were some of the books from the My Australian Story series. I'm sure young girls living in Australia who are interested in their country's history will love this book, but as an adult living in America, I enjoyed it too, and I look forward to reading the other two books about Poppy when they are published later this year.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In My Mailbox - 5/21/11

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

Here are the new books I got this week. I will be going to BookExpo America (BEA) next week (so excited!), so next week's IMM will include all the books I get there.

For review:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Eve by Anna Carey

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood

Sixteen-year-old Jessamine Luxton is heartbroken. Her true love, Weed, the strange but intriguing young man who came into her life so suddenly, has disappeared. How could he have left her with no farewell, and no word since?
Jessamine may not know why Weed vanished, but she does suspect that her own father, Thomas, may have had something to do with it. Thomas, who was so obsessed with Weed’s secret knowledge of dangerous plants that he would do anything to learn it. This suspicion—and her experiences with poisons—have changed her. She is no longer innocent, and now she has her own intimate knowledge of the power of the plants.
So when Jessamine learns that Weed is alive and in danger, she will do whatever it takes to be reunited with him.
She is, after all, her father’s daughter....

Starcroseed by Josephine Angelini

How do you defy destiny?
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.


Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer

It is the first century B.C. Cleopatra, the third of the pharaoh's six children, is the one that her father has chosen to be the next queen of Egypt. But when King Ptolemy is forced into exile, Cleopatra is left alone to fend for herself in a palace rife with intrigue and murder. Smart, courageous, ambitious and sensuously beautiful, she possesses the charm to cause two of history's most famous leaders to fall in love with her. But as her cruel sisters plot to steal the throne, Cleopatra realizes there is only one person on whom she can rely--herself.

Just a Girl by Jane Caro

Determined, passionate and headstrong, Elizabeth I shaped the destiny of a kingdom.
Her mother; Anne Boleyn, was executed by her father Henry VIII. From that moment on, Elizabeth competed with her two half-siblings for love and for Britain’s throne. In the gilded corridors of the royal palace, enemies she couldn’t see – as well as those bound to her by blood – plotted to destroy her.
Using her courage to survive and her wits to confound those who despised her, this young woman became one of the greatest monarchs the world has ever seen.
Even though she was just a girl, she had already lived a lifetime.

Our Australian Girl: A Friend for Grace by Sofie Laguna

Grace's journey continues in this, the second of four books about a convict girl who is given a second chance.
Grace is on board the Indispensable, being transported to New South Wales from London to start new her life as a convict servant. Even though she misses the horses on Fleet Street, she is happy to have her new friend Hannah with her, who makes even the most horrible situations magical. But when sickness sweeps the ship, who will survive? A dramatic and exciting insight into the trials of our convict ancestors, A Friend for Grace is a tale of bravery and friendship from a writer of immense talent.

Our Australian Girl: Letty and the Stranger's Lace by Alison Lloyd

Letty's journey continues in this, the second of exciting four books about a free-settler girl in a far-off land.
Letty and Lavinia have arrived in Sydney as free settlers. They've made the long ship's journey from England, but with no friends, no family, no jobs and only a hope chest between them, how will they survive so far from home? When Lavinia gets a job in the posh end of town, Letty is left alone, feeling sad and worthless. But a series of events leads her to a mysterious stranger who helps Letty realise that she is not as useless as she fears...

Our Australian Girl: Poppy at Sumerhill by Gabrielle Wang

Poppy at Summerhill is the second story in a set of four about the amazing journey of a young Chinese Aboriginal girl, who lives on a Christian mission in 1864. It is a story of bravery and love, as Poppy sets out to chase her brother after he escapes from the Mission in search of freedom and a better life.
In this second book, Poppy is taken in by caring homestead family, after a terrible accident leaves her injured. The family's aboriginal stockman, Tommy, awakens Poppy's Aboriginal roots and teaches her about their culture.

Our Australian Girl: Rose on Wheels by Sherryl Clark

Rose's journey continues in this, the second of four books about a Federation girl who's determined to do things her way.
Rose's Mother and Aunt Alice are fighting again, and Rose is caught in the middle. So when it looks as if Aunt Alice might leave, it's up to Rose to fix things! Will Rose ever be allowed to follow her own dreams and go to school? Will Aunt Alice really go to Adelaide, leaving Rose behind? And what is the matter with Edward? Rose on Wheels will have the hearts of young readers racing as they follow Rose's quest to be herself.

Book review: Our Australian Girl: A Friend for Grace by Sofie Laguna

Our Australian Girl: A Friend for Grace by Sofia Laguna (Published by Puffin Books Australia, May 2, 2011)

The year is 1808 and ten-year-old Grace is leaving London to sail to Australia as a convict after she was caught stealing. Grace doesn't miss much about London, where she was cold and hungry and neglected by her uncle, who was her only surviving relative, although she does miss the horses she used to visit. Leaving London gives Grace a chance at a new life, but she is also frightened about the long sea voyage and the unknown land that awaits her at the end of the journey.

Soon after boarding the ship, Grace becomes friends with a girl her age named Hannah. Hannah and her mother are also being sent to Australia as convicts. The two girls become friends and as the long voyage goes by, they become as close as sisters. Grace is grateful for her friendship with Hannah, as it makes the voyage bearable, but she also fears they will be separated when the ship arrives in Sydney Cove.

A Friend for Grace is the second in a series of four books about Grace, following Meet Grace. This series is part of a larger series called Our Australian Girl, which is a bit like the American Girls series, but set in Australia. Out of the four girls in the series, Grace is my favorite. I love the time period of the early 19th century and Grace is a very sympathetic character who had such a hard life just because she was poor. I am looking forward to reading the final two books, to be published later this year, which will follow Grace as she starts a new life in Australia.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey (Published by Walker Books, June 21, 2011)

Sixteen-year-old Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in the supernatural after being forced to assist her mother, a fradulent medium, since she was a little girl. Violet resents her mother for forcing her to participate in tricking many grieving people out of their money. Invited to the estate of Lord Jasper, a wealthy and prominent Spiritualist, Violet is angry that she must once again help perpetuate her mother's fraud. At the same time, Violet's mother is trying to push her into marriage with a wealthy young man, Xavier, who has been courting Violet. Xavier is kind and handsome, and marriage to him would mean she could finally escape her mother, but she can't seem to feel the same way about him that she does about Colin, the boy she grew up with after her mother took him in to work as her assistant.

Soon after arriving at Lord Jasper's estate, however, Violet learns that her romantic troubles are not her biggest problem. While her mother may be a fraud, ghosts are real - and Violet can suddenly see them. One ghost in particular will not leave her alone - the ghost of Rowena, a young girl Violet's age who died last year in what was apparently an accidental drowning. Rowena was actually murdered, and she will not rest until her murderer is brought to justice. Despite the danger, Violet is determined to solve the mystery so Rowena can finally rest in peace.

Haunting Violet is an enjoyable historical fantasy full of mystery and romance. Though it was rather predictable which of her two love interests Violet would choose, I enjoyed the mystery which kept me guessing until the end. At times the narration and dialogue did seem rather modern for a book set in 1872, but since I don't think it was supposed to be perfectly historically accurate it didn't bother me too much. Overall it was a fun read and I really liked that it was a standalone novel with a satisfying conclusion, which is something I'd like to see more of in young adult fiction, since these days it seems like almost every book is either part of a series or setting up for the possibility of one.

Book review: The Revenant by Sonia Gensler

The Revenant by Sonia Gensler (Published by Knopf, June 14, 2011)

When seventeen-year-old Willie learns she must leave school and return home to help her mother on the family farm, she is desperate to escape. After her beloved father, who was an actor, died several years ago, her mother quickly remarried, to a farmer that Willie dislikes. When a classmate who recently graduated, who had been hired to teach at the Cherokee Female Seminary in Indian Territory, decides to marry instead of accepting the position, Willie decides to assume her identity. Although she doesn't know anything about being a teacher and hasn't even graduated herself, Willie sees it as her only chance to escape.

Willie is very surprised by what she finds when she arrives at the school. She expected a rural country schoolhouse. Instead, she finds that most of her students are wealthy, educated girls from upper-class families of mixed white and Cherokee heritage. Willie struggles to keep up her ruse, as she is challenged by the older students. She also learns that the year before, a student at the school drowned under mysterious circumstances - and Willie has been given her old room. Willie doesn't believe in ghosts, but after a series of strange events she begins to wonder if the dead girl's ghost is haunting her room. Meanwhile, she is attracted to Eli, a student at the nearby boys' school, but a romance between a teacher and a student would be forbidden, even though they are the same age.

I really enjoyed The Revenant for its unusual, detailed historical setting and the chiling mystery and ghost story. However, I thought the romance was a bit underdeveloped. Willie and Eli were attracted to each other, but they never really got to spend much time together so the romance seemed a bit superficial. I would have liked to see it developed more. However I did still really enjoy the book and would recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction or a good old-fashioned ghost story.

Waiting on Wednesday: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (Published by Bloomsbury, October 11, 2011)

Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one—other than Celie, that is—takes time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan—and bookseller—favorite kicks off a brand new series that is sure to become a modern classic.

This is one of the books I am hoping to get at BEA next week. It looks really cute and fun!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In My Mailbox - 5/14/11

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

I only got one new book this week, it was an unrequested review copy. I haven't read the first book, so I'm not sure when I will get to read this book.

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

In the beginning there were nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorians. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth and went into hiding, who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives but who have extraordinary skills. The Mogadorians caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. They killed them all.
John Smith is Number Four, he has just met Number Six, and he knows the survival and the fate of Lorien—and Earth—now rest in their hands.
The first book in the Lorien Legacies series, I Am Number Four, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, earned great reviews, landed on several "best of the year" lists, and has been named an Indie Next Pick. With a major motion picture from Dreamworks based on the first book hitting theaters on February 18, 2011, the second adventure in this epic saga will leave fans hungry for more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Published by Zondervan, November 29, 2011)

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

I enjoyed Melanie Dickerson's first book, The Healer's Apprentice, so I am looking forward to reading her next book.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox - 5/8/11

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

Here are the new books I got this week.

For review:

Die for Me by Amy Plum

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life—and memories—behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.
Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant—an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.
In this incandescent debut, newcomer Amy Plum has created a powerful paranormal mythology with immortal revenants. The Paris setting comes enchantingly alive as a relentless struggle between good and evil takes place in its streets. Rich with romance, atmosphere, and thrills, Die for Me will leave readers breathlessly awaiting its sequel.

Hourglass by Myra McIntire

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?
Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut. (from Amazon Vine)


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. (signed copy won from the YA Historical Fiction Challenge)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Poison Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood (Published by HarperTeen, October 25, 2011)

Sixteen-year-old Jessamine Luxton is heartbroken. Her true love, Weed, the strange but intriguing young man who came into her life so suddenly, has disappeared. How could he have left her with no farewell, and no word since?
Jessamine may not know why Weed vanished, but she does suspect that her own father, Thomas, may have had something to do with it. Thomas, who was so obsessed with Weed’s secret knowledge of dangerous plants that he would do anything to learn it. This suspicion—and her experiences with poisons—have changed her. She is no longer innocent, and now she has her own intimate knowledge of the power of the plants.
So when Jessamine learns that Weed is alive and in danger, she will do whatever it takes to be reunited with him.
She is, after all, her father’s daughter....

Book one of this series ended on a cliffhanger so I can't wait to find out what happens next!
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