Monday, November 28, 2011

Book review: The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

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

Seventeen-year-old Annabel Chapman grew up as the daughter of a wealthy merchant in 14th century England. Several years ago, her family’s fortune was lost when her father’s ships sank in a storm. Soon after that, her father died from the pestilence. Since then, her family, who believed themselves better than the other villagers because they were once wealthy, has refused to do their share of the required fieldwork. Until now they have managed to get away with it, but with the death of the absent old lord, and the arrival of the new lord, his son, they now must accept the punishment for their actions. They must either pay a fine they cannot afford, or one of them must go to work for three years as a servant to the new lord of the manor. Annabel's family wants to force her to marry Bailiff Tom, a repulsive, cruel man who is old enough to be her father, because he says he is willing to pay their fine if he can marry her. To avoid being forced into an unwanted marriage, Annabel volunteers herself as an indentured servant. Although the new lord is said to be beastly, she knows anything would be better than marrying Tom, even though she would prefer to become a nun so she can study the Bible and learn about God’s word.

Lord Ranulf le Wyse is the new lord now that his father has died. Although he is young, he is very bitter. He was badly scarred by a wolf several years ago. His wife, who married him only for his wealth, was repulsed by him and was unfaithful, and died only two years into their marriage. As a result, he doesn’t trust women and vows never to marry or fall in love again. At first, he sees Annabel as just another beautiful young woman who is not to be trusted. However, soon a friendship grows between Annabel and Ranulf, a friendship that could become something more, if they can overcome their fears of love and marriage.

The Merchant’s Daughter is an enjoyable and very sweet historical romance set in England in 1352. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so there is a bit of a fairy tale feel to the story too. I think I enjoyed this book even more than the author’s first book, The Healer’s Apprentice, which I read last year. I love anything set during the Medieval era and I loved how sweet and touching the romance was. I felt so badly for the characters and so wanted them to have a happy ending - Annabel because her family was so cruel and wanted her to marry such an awful man, and Ranulf because he was so kind and noble yet had been treated so badly by his wife. If you enjoy historical fiction, fairy tale retellings, or more “clean” romance novels, I highly recommend The Merchant’s Daughter.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by author.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox - 11/20/11

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:

The Wild Queen by Carolyn Meyer

Mary is only six days old when she is crowned after the death of her father, five years old when she is sent to France to be raised alongside her future husband. Surrounded by friends and beloved by the royal family, Mary absorbs the culture, becoming more French than Scot. But when her frail young husband dies, Mary, now eighteen, is stripped of her title as Queen of France and set adrift in the harsh world, alone.
Determined to reign over what is rightfully hers, as well as to claim the throne of England to which she believes she is entitled, Mary returns to Scotland. The fiery young queen must sometimes go to brutal lengths to establish her sovereignty. And she is just as willful when it comes to her love life. Hoping that a husband will help her secure the coveted English throne, Mary marries again, but the love and security she longs for elude her. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a murder scandal that could cost her the crown. And her attempts to bargain with her formidable "sister queen," Elizabeth I of England, could cost her her very life.

The Merchant's Duaghter by Melanie Dickerson

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.


Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.
Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.
The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.
In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (Published by HarperTeen, June 12, 2012)

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.
But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

There's a few reasons why I can't wait to read this book. I love the idea of a dystopian retelling of a Jane Austen novel. And also, this book is going to be a standalone, and I think YA *really* needs more standalones. I'm tired of everything being a series, and having to wait years to find out the ending, since I'm not the most patient person!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In My Mailbox - 11/12/11

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

I haven't done IMM in a couple of weeks, so some of these books I got a while ago. I've kind of been in a reading slump lately, which is the reason for the lack of posting. Hopefully I'll get back into it soon.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.
An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.
Kate Klimo has masterfully created a new world, which at first seems to be an ancient one or perhaps another world altogether, but is in fact set on earth sometime far in the future.

The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner

Arnold Ruben has created a memory machine, a utopia housed in a picture palace, where the happiest memories replay forever, a haven in which he and his precious daughter can shelter from the war-clouds gathering over 1937 Britain. But on the day of her seventeenth birthday Amaryllis leaves Warlock Hall and the world she has known and wakes to find herself in a desolate and disturbing place. Something has gone terribly wrong with her father's plan. Against the tense backdrop of the second World War Sally Gardner explores families and what binds them, fathers and daughters, past histories, passions and cruelty, love and devastation in a novel rich in character and beautifully crafted.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with Jaclyn Dolamore, author of Between the Sea and Sky

Jaclyn Dolamore is the author of Between the Sea and Sky (which I really loved and reviewed here). She is also the author of Magic Under Glass and the upcoming sequel, Magic Under Stone.

The story of Between the Sea and Sky is very unique. What was your inspiration for it?

The romance between a mermaid and a winged boy was one I tried to write some years ago, but the way I interpreted the idea was inspired largely by Jane Austen novels and the films of Studio Ghibli (Hayao Miyazaki). I wanted to write a cozy sort of fantasy, where there is no villain or world to be saved, but conflicts coming from within the situation. And I wanted an Austen-esque touch of social humor. The Mediterranean-esque 19th century setting and the flying scene are definitely typical of Miyazaki movies like Howl's Moving Castle.

The setting has a very historical feel to it, was it inspired by any particular place or time?

Specifically, the setting is supposed to evoke Italy around 1800.

What are some of your own favorite books and authors?

The Emily books and diaries of L. M. Montgomery, the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I actually have a biography of Rose Wilder Lane to read right now), A True and Faithful Narrative by Katherine Sturtevant, Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate and In Pursuit of Love, Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell.

When you are not writing, how do you enjoy spending your time?

Reading is kind of a given... I like to cook, and I also like to eat: total foodie, and I'm particularly passionate about vegetables. They're underappreciated! I just went to an Afghani restaurant the other day and had these amazing turnips. Turnips! Amazing! Who knew? I love to comb thrift stores for vintage clothes although I don't get to do it as often as I'd like because I don't drive. And I spent more time watching TV than I'd like to admit. That's one of those things that just happens

And for a fun question - if you could choose, would you rather be a mermaid, or a winged person?

A winged person. I would love to be able to fly. I seriously get jealous when I watch birds.
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Drowsy Town kit by Irene Alexeeva