Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book review: The Locked Garden by Gloria Whelan

The Locked Garden by Gloria Whelan (published by HarperCollins, June 2, 2009)

The year is 1900. Two years after the death of their mother, twelve-year-old Verna Martin and her six-year-old sister, Carlie, leave their home in the city. They are moving with their father, a psychiatrist, to an asylum in the countryside that is testing out new ideas for the treatment of the mentally ill. Their strict Aunt Maude, who has cared for them since their mother’s death, accompanies them.

Much to Verna’s surprise, the asylum is a lovely place, with trees, flowers, and animals. And the patients aren’t scary at all. One patient is Eleanor, a young woman who, thanks to the care and peaceful setting of the asylum, has improved enough to work. She comes to work at their house, to cook, clean, and help care for the sisters. Verna and Carlie become very close to Eleanor, and this causes Aunt Maude to become very jealous, which results in terrible consequences for Eleanor’s health, leaving Verna to try and fix the situation.

The Locked Garden is a very interesting historical novel for young readers about a topic not much explored in children’s historical fiction - the beginnings of modern mental health treatment. This book is both an interesting look at the subject as well as a touching story about family and friendship. I recommend it to young readers who like historical fiction as well as to readers who have enjoyed other books by the author.

New books this week - 3/28/09

Credit goes to The Story Siren for thinking up the In My Mailbox feature.

My Darlin' Clementine by Kristiana Gregory

It is 1868. Sixteen-year-old Clementine Kidd lives with her family in Gold Diggers Canyon in Idaho Territory. It's a rough mining town, with gunshots routinely fired in the local saloon, opium dens hidden in the alleys, and over thirty whiskey shops on Main Street alone. The family struggles to make ends meet, and Clementine's pa is a real problem, gambling the family's money away. Worse, he's joined a group of wild vigilantes, who take the law into their own hands. But Clementine has lots on her mind-she's courting with a handsome local boy, and also studying medicine on the sly, helped by the brilliant Chinese man who works for her family. Then one terrible night Clementine's ma disappears. Soon Clementine must make a decision that will change her life forever.

Fortune's Folly by Deva Fagan

Ever since her mother died and her father lost his shoemaking skills, Fortunata has survived by telling fake fortunes. But when she’s tricked into telling a grand fortune for a prince, she is faced with the impossible task of fulfilling her wild prophecy—or her father will be put to death. Now Fortunata has to help Prince Leonato secure a magic sword, vanquish a wicked witch, discover a long-lost golden shoe, and rescue the princess who fits it. If only she hadn’t fallen in love with the prince herself!

The Goldsmith's Daughter by Tanya Landman

In the golden city of Tenochtitlan, Emperor Montezuma rules with an iron rod and people live in fear of the gods. Itacate, a girl born under an ill-fated sky, is destined for a life of submission and domestic drudgery. But when her father, a goldsmith, discovers her talent for his craft, she starts to work as his apprentice, a secret she must keep in order to protect the lives of herself and her family. But danger awaits as Spanish strangers invade the city. And when Itacate’s work comes to the emperor’s attention and she falls in love with a stranger, her life takes an even more perilous turn. Can Itacate change her destiny and survive in this harsh new world?

The Tribe by Valerie Bloom

Maruka is different to the other girls; she likes to hunt and fish deep in the forest, even though it's dangerous. But she should have stayed in the village the day the Kalinas tribe came and stole her mother. She would have stopped them. Two years later, Maruka sees giant white sails rearing up on the horizon. She is sure of a Kalinas attack but a deadlier enemy wades ashore and plants a flag on the beach. Her tribe welcome the pale-skinned men but are repaid with treachery and forced to mine the white man's God - gold. Maruka knows that the tribes have one option: they must put aside their differences and defeat their common enemy. And if the tribes unite, Maruka might even find her mother again ...

Ghost Huntress: The Awakening by Marley Gibson

Ever since her family moved from Chicago to the small town of Radisson, Georgia, Kendall hasn't gotten a decent night's sleep. It's just too freaking quiet.
To remedy the situation, Kendall's father brings home a white-noise machine. The soothing sound of static should help Kendall drift off to la-la land.
But what Kendall hears is anything from relaxing: A voice comes through the machine. A voice? Has Kendall completely lost her mind? Or is she waking up to a world she never knew existed?

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Laurel has never been the kind of girl who believes in fairy tales and myths, fables and legends... until the day she learns the stunning truth about her own identity, forever changing her world.

Elvina's Mirror by Sylvie Weil

In 1097 Troyes, France, fourteen-year-old Elvina reaches out to a shunned family of German Jews, eventually drawing her grandfather, Bible and Talmud scholar Solomon ben Isaac, into helping her new friend's cousin Ephraim, whose memories of the Crusaders' cruelty have driven him mad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi

My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi (Published by Harcourt, May 4, 2009)

Claire Louise Corbett and her Confederate family flee their home as Union soldiers shell their town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. They venture out from the safety of a cave only three times a day, when the Union army takes their meals at eight in the morning, noon, and eight at night. Although many of the townspeople suffer from a lack of food, the Corbetts receive extra rations from Claire Louise's brother, Landon, a doctor with the Union army. When Claire Louise discovers her brother tending to a Confederate soldier who is responsible for Robert E. Lee's "lost order" (causing the South to lose the Battle of Antietam), she is forced to make a difficult choice between family and friends.
Award-winning historical novelist Ann Rinaldi paints a story of family, courage, and secrets during the forty-seven-day siege of Vicksburg, a battle that has sometimes been ignored in history because it ended the same day as the Battle of Gettysburg.

Ann Rinaldi is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction so this book is sure to be an enjoyable read. I've read a lot of books about the Civil War, but none about this particular event, so hopefully it will be different enough from all the other Civil War books out there.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fall 2009 books

I've already been looking at to pick out which Fall 2009 releases I want and here are some of the books I can't wait to read, with covers included when available:

Daughters of the Sea: Hannah by Kathryn Lasky (September)

Alice in Love and War
by Ann Turnbull (September)

Leigh Ann's Civil War by Ann Rinaldi (September)

Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy by L.A. Meyer (September)

Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle (September)

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner (September)

The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse (October)

Splendor: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen (October)

Warrior Princess: Destiny's Path by Frewin Jones (October)

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor (November)

What fall books are you dying to read? Post if you know of any really good ones!

New books this week - 3/21/09

Credit goes to The Story Siren for thinking up the In My Mailbox feature.

The Glass Maker's Daughter by V. Briceland

From enchanted champagne flutes to rituals that hold the city together, magic lies at heart of Cassaforte. Bearing a striking resemblance to Venice, this medieval city of canals is the home of Risa Divetri, whose future is about to be decided.

Risa has led the sheltered life of a nobleman's daughter, but now she's on the brink of adulthood. Soon she will leave home to study the family craft—creating and enchanting glass objects. The gods will choose which school is best for her. But then the impossible happens: Risa remains unchosen. The gods don't need her? The rejection sends Risa into a spiral of shame, anger, and confusion. If she's not meant to be a glass maker, what will she do?

An answer is found when Cassaforte's age-old magic begins to unravel and corruption threatens their kingdom. As she battles against dark forces, Risa's fiery spirit and untapped powers rise to the surface—leading her toward her true fate.

A Claim of Her Own by Stephanie Grace Whitson

It's 1876, and 20-year-old Mattie Flynn is determined to make a fresh start after fleeing from her sinister boss in the gambling house where she was employed as a singer. Mattie travels to Deadwood, South Dakota, in search of her younger brother, who went ahead of her in hopes of making a fortune in the gold mines.

All Mattie wants is a safe and respectable life for the two of them, but that doesn't seem to be her destiny as she faces more heartache and trials. Will the suspicious bottles of gold dust from her brother's claim be the key to her future...or does the handsome street preacher, who is always turning the other cheek, truly hold the answers to her deepest longings?

Pirates of the Caribbean: Legends of the Brethren Court #3: The Turning Tide by Rob Kidd

An army of shadows has been amassed. Its one goal: to destroy the Pirate Lords for their Shadow Lord-an alchemist who has created a special gold that grants him unfathomable power. But the soothsayer Tia Dalma has other plans for the Lords and cannot allow them to be destroyed. So she calls on the one man who can turn the tide-Captain Jack Sparrow...

In the midway point of the epic LEGENDS series, Jack Sparrow finds himself lost in the peaks of the Himalayas. How did a pirate captain wind up atop some of the world's taller mountains? That's exactly what his crew would like to know. And the only man who can answer that question is the Pirate Lord Sri Sumbaji of the Indian Ocean!

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Ai Ling has been marked by the Immortals; her destiny lies in the Emperor's palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. Se must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her ever step. And then she meets Chen Yong, a youngman with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. A heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance.

(SQUEE! Thank you to the Paperbackswap member who sent me this ARC!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book review: The King's Rose by Alisa Libby

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby (published by Dutton, March 19, 2009)

Born into the ambitious Howard family, Catherine has never had much control over her life and fate. Her cousin, the infamous Anne Boleyn, lured King Henry VIII into marriage then met a grisly end. Hoping for a marriage that will benefit the family, Catherine’s relatives send her to court in 1540, when she is fifteen. There, Catherine catches the eye of the king, who decides to divorce his current wife, Anne of Cleves, and marry her. Though Catherine would prefer to marry for love, one does not refuse the king, and even if she could, her family is determined to gain power through her marriage.

From the start, Catherine feels like she is living a lie, and playing a part to be the wife Henry desires. He wanted a pure, innocent maiden, and Catherine had a foolish and youthful love affair before coming to court, an event the king must never learn about. Woefully unprepared for the life she must live, Catherine struggles with her own immaturity and the conflicting desires of the king and her family, and is forced to make terrible choices that will lead to her doom.

The King’s Rose is a wonderful historical novel for young adults - and adults as well - about the life of King Henry VIII’s fifth and youngest wife, Catherine Howard. The author did a good job of bringing Catherine to life and making it understandable why she made the choices she did. Catherine is tragic figure - a young girl, unprepared for the life of a queen, forced into a terrible situation by her family in a time when a young woman had few choices and little right to control her own destiny. I highly recommend this book to readers who are fascinated by the Tudors as well as those who enjoy historical fiction in general.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn

The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn (Published by Simon Pulse, June 2, 2009)

A Retelling of "Anastasia"
Nadya is a mischievous kitchen girl in a Russian tavern. Having nearly drowned in the Iset River during the turmoil of the Revolution, she has no memory of her past and longs for the life she cannot remember.
Then two young men arrive at the tavern and announce that Nadya's long-lost grandmother has sent them to find her. Yearning for family and friendship, she agrees to accompany them to Paris for the joyful reunion. Nadya eagerly embarks on her journey, never dreaming it will be one of laughter, love -- and betrayal.

I've enjoyed many of the books in the Once Upon a Time series, and I loved the Royal Diaries book about Anastasia, so hopefully this will be a good read as well! I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New books this week - 3/14/09

Credit goes to The Story Siren for thinking up the In My Mailbox feature.

Anyway, I only got one new book this week (boo!) but it looks like a good one!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Book review: The Plague by Joanne Dahme

The Plague by Joanne Dahme (published by Running Press, May 4, 2009)

Nell and her younger brother George lost their parents to the plague in London, and were only rescued from the fate of being left orphaned and alone in the devastated city by chance. King Edward was traveling through the city to view the devastation of the plague for himself, and happened to notice Nell, who had a strong resemblance to his own daughter, Princess Joan. He decided to rescue the children and bring them to his castle so that Nell could be a companion and double for the princess.

Now, two years later, in 1348, fifteen-year-old Nell and nine-year-old George are accompanying the princess on her journey to marry Prince Pedro of Castile. Also along for the journey is the princess's sinister older brother, the Black Prince, who frightens Nell. At the start of the sea voyage, they hear rumors that the plague has returned, and upon their arrival at Bordeaux, they discover the rumors to be truth. When Princess Joan dies of the plague, the Black Prince decides that Nell, as the princess's look-a-like, must take her place so the political marriage can occur as planned. Nell knows that this deception cannot end well and is determined to run away with George and make her way back to England and the King to tell the truth of what happened. Her escape through the plague-stricken countryside is full of peril, and she is not sure which of her unlikely allies she can truly trust.

The Plague is an exciting and interesting historical novel that brings to life the plague of 1348, now known as the Black Death, which devastated Europe but which is little-written about for young adults. Although some of the events in the story seemed implausible at times, overall it was a gripping and enjoyable read that I would recommend for readers who enjoy young adult historical fiction. One thing I would have liked to have seen is a historical note about some of the real places, events, and people featured in the story, since many are not well-known to the average reader that would read this book.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle

Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle (Published by Henry Holt, September 29, 2009)

Penelope (Pen) Leland has come to Ireland to study magic and prove to herself that she is as good a witch as her twin sister, Persy. But when the dashing Niall Keating begins to pay her court, she can’t help being distracted from her studies. Little does Pen know, Niall is acting upon orders from his sorceress mother. And although it starts as a sham, Niall actually falls deeply in love with Pen, and she with him. But even if he halts his mother’s evil plan, will Pen be able to forgive him for trying to seduce her into a plot? And what of Pen’s magic, which seems to be increasingly powerful?

I *loved* Marissa Doyle's first book, Bewitching Season, which was about Pen's twin sister. I wish this book was coming out sooner, I can't wait to read it! September seems so far away. :(

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New books this week

Credit goes to The Story Siren for thinking up the In My Mailbox feature.

The Plague by Joanne Dahme

In a land overshadowed by death, fifteen year-old Nell’s uncanny resemblance to Princess Joan brings her to act as her double—what young girl wouldn’t want to leave a life of poverty and pretend to be a princess? But when the plague catches up to the royal entourage, thwarting the King’s plan for the princess to marry the Prince of Castile and seal an alliance between their kingdoms, Nell’s life could change forever. Princess Joan’s brother The Black Prince schemes to make the wedding go on declaring Nell will no longer double for Joan, she will become the princess and dupe Prince Pedro into marriage! With the aid and protection of a quirky band of friends—a Spanish minstrel, a monk, a gravedigger, a band of merchants—Nell must evade not only the Black Prince, a practitioner of the dark arts, but the plague as well, as she fights to return to the King and country.

The Locked Garden by Gloria Whelan

It's the year 1900, the dawn of a new century and a chance for a new beginning for Verna and Carlie, whose mother died two years ago. They are headed to their new home—the grounds of an asylum for the mentally ill. Their father, a doctor, has been hired to treat its patients while the girls are under the strict and watchful eye of their aunt Maude. The towering asylum, the murmuring patients with their tormented pasts, the exquisite locked garden at the center of the grounds—Verna perceives forbidden mystery and enchantment everywhere. Even Aunt Maude's temper will not keep her from striking out on her own exciting adventures.

But is Verna ready to confront all the secrets and emotions that have been locked within—even those of her own heart?

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Morgan Sparks has always known that she and her boyfriend, Cam, are made for each other. But when Cam’s cousin Pip comes to stay with the family, Cam seems depressed. Finally Cam confesses to Morgan what’s going on: Cam is a fairy. The night he was born, fairies came down and switched him with a healthy human boy. Nobody expected Cam to live, and nobody expected his biological brother, heir to the fairy throne, to die. But both things happened, and now the fairies want Cam back to take his rightful place as Fairy King.

Even as Cam physically changes, becoming more miserable each day, he and Morgan pledge to fool the fairies and stay together forever. But by the time Cam has to decide once and for all what to do, Morgan’s no longer sure what’s best for everyone, or whether her and Cam’s love can weather an uncertain future.

Children of the Dawnland by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

Twelve-year-old Twig is a talented Dreamer, although her mother has discouraged her from exploring her powers. When Twig begins to have recurring nightmares about a green light exploding from the sky and causing havoc for her people, she must find the courage to defy her mother and learn to be a Dreamer. Helping Twig on her quest are her best friend Greyhawk and Screech Owl, a shaman who has been banished from the village. Together, they must convince their people of the danger from the sky as well as the environmental changes that will devastate their world and force them on a great westward migration to the mysterious Duskland, far from the only home they’ve ever known...

And these last four are from my monthly order of historical romances from Harlequin:

In a Mother's Arms by Jillian Hart and Victoria Bylin

Finally a Family by Jillian Hart Widow Molly McKaslin won't marry for less than true love. But does handsome town doctor Sam Frost want a wife, or a housekeeper for his daughters? With the help of two little matchmakers, Molly might end up with the family of her dreams.

Home Again by Victoria Bylin When her troublemaking son vandalizes the town church, Cassie O'Rourke comes face-to-face with town sheriff—and former love—Gabe Wyatt. The honorable lawman offers to help tame her wild child, if he can come courting. For the love of her son, dare she entrust her heart to this man once more?

Spring Creek Bride by Janice Thompson

Can't Ida Mueller walk to town without being harangued by rowdy railroad men? The formerly lovely town of Spring Creek, Texas, has been overtaken by saloons and disorderly conduct. So when a handsome stranger arrives with plans to open a gambling hall next to her family's mercantile store, Ida makes plans of her own: to foil his! Someone has to save Spring Creek. And since Ida's convinced marriage isn't in her future, the Lord's work will be! But after one look into Mick Bradley's eyes—and heart—the plucky beauty might start hearing wedding bells!

His Substitute Bride by Elizabeth Lane

Dashing but cynical Quint Seavers lives for danger. A past betrayal has made him wary of love, and he has no idea that independent, practical Annie Gustavson holds a secret longtime passion for him. Nor does he realize that the only reason Annie has traveled to San Francisco is to win his love—or walk away forever.

When disaster strikes the city, Annie's courage and determination match his own—and suddenly Quint knows that she is exactly what has been missing from his life all along...

The Knight's Return by Joanne Rock

In dire need of a protector and escort, Irish princess Sorcha has no choice but to allow mercenary Hugh de Montagne to fulfill the role. Having been duped into marriage, then exiled in disgrace, Sorcha trusts no man. Yet something about the brooding warrior makes her yearn for his touch...

At the king's behest, Hugh must thwart Sorcha's enemies at all costs. He has no intention of taking a wife, but every day—and every night—he spends with the flame-haired princess leads him closer to temptation...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Troubadour by Mary Hoffman

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman (Published by Bloomsbury, August 18, 2009)

A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th-century Southern France. A troubadour, Bertran, witnesses the brutal murder of the Pope's legate, and risks his life to warn others of the war that he knows is certain to follow this act. The lands of the peaceable Cathars - deemed heretics - are now forfeit and under threat from crusaders who have been given authority by the Pope to take the Cathar domains by force. But the Pope is trying to track Bertran down and so is somebody else: Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertran but facing a loveless arranged marriage, flees her family and becomes a minstrel herself. Soon both Bertan and Elinor find themselves enveloped in a rising tide of bloodshed that threatens the very fabric of their society.

This book looks really great! I haven't seen any reviews yet, but I really enjoy love stories set in Medieval times, it's one of my favorite settings for historical fiction.

I Am Fabulous Award!

Thanks so much to GreenBeanTeenQueen for nominating me for the "Your Blog is Fabulous" award!

Here are the rules:
List five things you are obsessed with/addicted to and then nominate five other fabulous blogs to pass on this award on to!
My five things:
1. Books, obviously!
2. World of Warcraft - I need to try and play this less!
3. Chocolate - I can't be without my chocolate!
4. Grilled cheese - another food I can't live without!
5. And finally, the Internet in general - I'll never get rid of this addiction!

Blogs I am nominating:

1. Katie's Bookshelf
2. Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
3. Ashley's Bookshelf
4. Hope's Bookshelf
5. Starry Night

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New books this week

Credit goes to The Story Siren for coming up with the In My Mailbox feature.

Here are my new books for the week:

The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley

Kat's true identity is a secret, even from her. All she has ever known are Grace and Anna and their small village. Kat wants more - more than hours spent embroidering finery for wealthy ladies and more than Christian, the gentle young farmer courting her.
But there are wolves outside, Grace warns Waiting, with their eyes glowing in the dark . . . and Grace has given Kat safety and a home when no one else would.
Then a stranger appears in their cottage, bringing the mystery of Kat's birth with her. In one night, Kat's destiny finds her: She will leave. She will journey to London, and her skill with the needle will attract the notice of the magnificant Queen Elizabeth - and of the wolves of the court. She will discover what Grace would never tell her.
Everything will unravel.

Dark Guardian #1: Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne

Kayla is the nature lover, the all-American beauty who can't understand why she's so drawn to distant, brooding Lucas. Adopted as a young child, she has no way of knowing that she's inherited a terrifying—and thrilling—gene that will change her life forever.

Lucas is dangerous, gorgeous . . . and a werewolf. As leader of the Dark Guardians, shape-shifters who gather deep within the state park, he has sworn to protect his pack. But when Lucas finds his true soul mate, his love could put them all in harm's way.

As Lucas and Kayla struggle with their feelings for each other, a greater danger lurks: Humans have discovered the Dark Guardians and are planning their destruction. Kayla must choose between the life she knows and the love she feels certain is her destiny.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Escape by Sea by L.S. Lawrence

Although Sara has lived a privileged life as the daughter of a merchant and senator in ancient Carthage, everything changes when the Romans attack her city. Her only brother is killed, and she and her father are forced to flee for their lives. They hastily gather a cargo to trade across the sea, but soon face the Roman navy, pirates, a tempest, and jilted merchants bent on revenge. Then, just as Sara is settling into life aboard the ship, her father dies. With danger constantly at her back and no destination in sight, Sara must rely on her own wit to learn to trade and lead her ship to freedom.

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander

Desperate for a chance to start over, McKenna Ashford accepts her cousin's invitation and moves west with her rebellious younger brother to a not-so-quaint mountain town in Colorado. She discovers that life in Copper Creek is far from what she expected. Having practically raised Robert on her own, McKenna is burdened both with her failure as a parent and her deep conviction to not let her brother throw his life away.

Trusting has never come easily for her--especially in issues of the heart--and that inability to trust is put to the test when she meets U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon.

Hidden Voices by Pat Lowery Collins

It is a longing and search for love that motivates three girls living in the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage renowned for its extraordinary musical program. But for Rosalba, Anetta, and Luisa, the love they seek is not where they expect to find it. Set in the early 1700s in the heart of Venice, this remarkable novel deftly weaves the history of Antonio Vivaldi’s early musical career into the lives of three young women who excel in voice and instrument. Under the composer’s tutelage and care, the orphans find expression, sustenance, and passion. But can the sheltered life of the orphanage prepare them for the unthinkable dangers outside its walls?
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