Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer

The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette by Carolyn Meyer (Published by Harcourt, April 12, 2010)

History paints her as a shallow party girl, a spoiled fashionista, a callous ruler. Perhaps no other royal has been so maligned--and so misunderstood--as Marie-Antoinette.
From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. She tried to please everyone--courtiers, her young husband, the king, the French people--but often fell short of their expectations. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman can't help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous fashions, and unimaginable luxuries. But as Marie-Antoinette's lifestyle gets ever more recklessly extravagant, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty--and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay.
In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last Queen of France.

I have loved everything I have read by Carolyn Meyer and I am sure this book will be no exception. I can't wait to see how she retells Marie Antoinette's story and I higly recommend reading her other books if you love historical fiction.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book review: Love Finds You in Last Chance, California by Miralee Ferrell

Love Finds You in Last Chance, California by Miralee Ferrell (Published by Summerside Press, February 1, 2009)

It is July 1877 in the town of Last Chance, California, and Alexia Travers is in quite a dilemma. The recent death of her father has left her the owner of his horse ranch, which is under mortgage with the bank. A woman alone in a man’s world, she struggles to keep the horse ranch running. She knows that the easy answer would be to marry so she would have a husband to help her, but she wants to succeed on her own.

When Justin Phillips, a recent widower, arrives in town with his young son, he shows up at Alexia’s ranch looking for work. She hires him, not knowing that he was sent for by her father before his death. Because she doesn’t know, she is suspicious of some strange things about Justin, such as his resemblance to a thief and questioning about whether the little boy with him is really his son.

Love Finds You in Last Chance, California is an enjoyable story that blends adventure, mystery, and a sweet love story. The main characters are likeable, and I liked that they fell in love slowly and naturally rather than love at first sight. This book is sure to be enjoyed by readers who enjoy inspirational fiction or western romances, and I will be keeping an eye out for future historical romances by this new author.

Book review: The Man from Pomegranate Street by Caroline Lawrence

The Roman Mysteries: The Man from Pomegranate Street by Caroline Lawrence (Published by Orion Books, June 18, 2009)

In this conclusion to the Roman Mysteries series, Flavia and her friends return to Rome in AD 81 to learn of the death of Emperor Titus. The death occurred under mysterious circumstances, and many wonder if Titus truly died of natural causes, or if he was assassinated by one of his many enemies.

This is the biggest mystery yet for Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia, and Lupus, but they are determined to solve it, hoping that doing so will clear their names with the new emperor, Domitian, who is Titus’s brother. However, trying to clear their names by solving the mystery ends up putting the friends in more danger, and they may not like some of the answers they find.

The Man from Pomegranate Street is a wonderful conclusion to the Roman Mysteries series, full of adventure, danger, mystery, and for some of the characters, romance. I’ve been reading this series since the first book was published, so I was very excited to read this final book and find out what happened to all the characters. Particularly I wanted to find out who Flavia would marry and I was not disappointed in the answer! Fans of the series are sure to want to read this book, it is an excellent conclusion that will not disappoint. For new readers who think the series sounds interesting, I recommend starting with book one, The Thieves of Ostia.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Book review: Splendor: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen

Splendor: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen (Published by HarperTeen, October 27, 2009)

Spoiler warning - I don’t give away the ending of this book in my review, but there are many spoilers for the previous three books in the series. So if you haven’t read them yet and don’t want what happens in them to be spoiled for you, I suggest not reading this review at this time!

It is summer 1900, a few month after the events of Envy, the third book in The Luxe series. Elizabeth is adjusting to her life after a marriage of convenience to Snowden Cairns, her late father’s business associate, and awaiting the birth of her child by Will Keller, her first love who was tragically killed shortly after their secret marriage, a marriage she must keep secret from the rest of New York society. Diana has left New York to search for Henry, who has gone to war, leaving behind his scheming wife Penelope. And Lina is enjoying her newfound wealth and being a part of the wealthy elite she always longed to join.

However, as always, their lives are soon further complicated by more secrets, schemes, and lies. Elizabeth begins to suspect that her husband is not being entirely honest with her, and may in fact be up to something unsavory. Diana and Henry reunite and long to build a life together, but the far-reaching influence of his wealthy and powerful father complicates matters. Penelope, furious with Henry, begins to look for attention and love elsewhere. And Lina finds herself at risk of losing everything she has gained if her dishonesty about her past is uncovered.

The final book in The Luxe series, Splendor does a good job of concluding the series and resolving most of the plotlines while still leaving some future events to the imagination of the readers. I suspect readers will be divided in opinion over the ending - personally I liked the conclusions for most of the characters, but I wish there had been a little more resolution for others. Whether you end up loving or hating the choices Anna Godbersen ended up making for her characters, ultimately I think she mostly wrote the ending the way it should be. It’s certainly not the ending I imagined or hoped for when I first started reading the series, but it fits considering the events that have taken place since the first book. Readers who read and enjoyed the previous three books in the series and want to know what happens to the characters will definitely want to read this book to judge the conclusion for themselves.

In My Mailbox - 10/24/09

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

Here are the new books I bought or received this week:

A Good Arriving by David McRobbie

Chimney sweep Ben escapes from a tyrannical boss, but his brave new life turns nasty and dangerous.
Helen wants nothing more than to stay on the family farm in rural England. Then a devastating change strips her of everything she knows and loves.
Amid their struggles, Helen and Ben leave England, bound for Australia. But before they even catch sight of their new land, they face a menace far worse than anything they met in the old country.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan

Juliana Brady is alone in an 1890s Montana mining town, with few prospects for making a living. But she is determined not to be dependent on the charity of others.
Josh McBride is trying to scrape up a living from his sheep herd while he builds his ranch. But when he discovers some rare stones on his property, he's tempted by the prospect of fast money.
When their paths cross, Juliana and Josh must make a choice--the world's riches and promises, or the eternal value of love.

Where Grace Abides by B.J. Hoff

In the compelling second book of The Riverhaven Years, readers are offered a closer look at the small Amish community of Riverhaven and the people who live, love and work there.
Rachel Brenneman finds her faith and her love for the forbidden “outsider”—Jeremiah Gant—sorely tested, while Gant’s own hopes and dreams are dealt a life-changing blow, rendering the vow he once made to Rachel seemingly impossible to honor.
Other characters introduced in Rachel’s Secret find their quiet, unassuming lives of faith jeopardized by a malicious outside influence, while those striving to help runaway slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad face deception and the danger of discovery.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson: Book One, A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis (Published by Simon & Schuster, April 20, 2010)

In nineteenth-century England, twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson knows she was born to be a magical Guardian and protector of Society—if she can find true acceptance in the secret order that expelled her mother. She’s ready to upend the rigid Order of the Guardians, whether the older members like it or not. And in a Society where magic is the greatest scandal of all, Kat is determined to use her powers to help her two older sisters find their own true loves, even if she has to turn highwayman, battle wild magic, and confront real ghosts along the way! History seamlessly merges with fantasy in this humorous and lively novel.

This is another Tenners book, and I think it sounds great! I love the combination of history and magic. And I think the cover is just adorable!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Contest winner

Wow, I got a lot of entries for my contest for Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. Thank you so much to everyone who entered!! The winner of the contest is: bookbutterflyangel. I will be contacting you by email to find out where to mail your book.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In My Mailbox - 10/17/09

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

Here are the new books I bought or received this week:

Splendor: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen

A spring turns into summer, Elizabeth relishes her new role as a young wife, while her sister, Diana, searches for adventure abroad. But when a surprising clue about their father's death comes to light, the Holland girls wonder at what cost a life of splendor comes.
Carolina Broad, society's newest darling, fans a flame from her past, oblivious to how it might burn her future. Penelope Schoonmaker is finally Manhattan royalty -- but when a real prince visits the city, she covets a title that comes with a crown. Her husband, Henry, bravely went to war, only to discover that his father's rule extends well beyond New York's shores and that fighting for love may prove a losing battle.
In the dramatic conclusion to the bestselling Luxe series, New York's most dazzling socialites chase dreams, cling to promises, and tempt fate. As society watches what will become of the city's oldest families and newest fortunes, one question remains: Will its stars fade away or will they shine ever brighter?

Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Adrianne is struggling with the harsh reality of poverty in her seaside village, only to be swept away to an underwater mermaid kingdom to be the bride of the Prince of the Sea. Chosen for her noble heart and character, Adrianne realizes that she has not seen herself clearly for who she is--someone who could be a princess. She must make a decision: embrace this strangely luxurious life under the sea, or return home to the ones she loves and the difficulties ahead...

On Viney's Mountain by Joan Donaldson

Strangers have come to Viney's mountain, and she is furious! The arrogant invaders are leveling acres of forest in her beloved home in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee to establish a Utopian democratic settlement in 1880, the dream of English writer and labor pioneer Thomas Hughes. Sixteen-year-old Viney Walker is determined to sabotage their plans, but her sister Lizzie is thrilled, convinced that she will find a wealthy husband among the newcomers. However, the independent-minded Viney hasn't reckoned on Charlie Breckenridge, a handsome Englishman who takes a fancy to her. She feigns a relationship with Charlie to put an end to the pressure from her family to find a man; but her plot backfires in surprising ways, changing Viney and her mountain forever.

Gateway by Sharon Shinn

As a Chinese adoptee in St. Louis, teenage Daiyu often feels out of place. When an elderly Asian jewelry seller at a street fair shows her a black jade ring—and tells her that "black jade" translates to "Daiyu"—she buys it as a talisman of her heritage. But it's more than that; it's magic. It takes Daiyu through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China. Almost immediately she is recruited as a spy, which means hours of training in manners and niceties and sleight of hand. It also means stealing time to be with handsome Kalen, who is in on the plan. There's only one problem. Once her task is done, she must go back to St. Louis and leave him behind forever....

Fallen by Lauren Kate

There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Published by Harcourt, April 1, 2010)

It's been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.
The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series so I am looking forward to the conclusion. Also I really like the cover, it's both creepy and lovely at the same time if that makes any sense.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book trailer for A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

My entry for the A Most Improper Magick book trailer competition. Read the rules and enter at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book review: The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw

The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw (Published by Steeple Hill, November 1, 2009)

Seventeen-year-old Pelonia is a young Christian woman living near Rome in 81 AD. She lived a comfortable life, sheltered from the dangers faced by Christians in Rome, until her greedy uncle had her father murdered and sold her into slavery. She is brought to Rome, where she is purchased by Caros, a former gladiator. Though still a young man, Caros has lived a difficult and violent life. After witnessing the horrific deaths of his family, he was sold into slavery at the age of fifteen and trained as a gladiator. Having won his freedom in the arena, he is now a lanista and runs a school where he trains gladiators.

When Caros sees Pelonia for sale, he is drawn to her beauty and innocence, decides she must be his, and purchases her to be a slave in his household. But he is unwilling to force her, and begins something like a courtship with her, determined to win her heart. Soon, he realizes she is the only person with whom he truly feels at peace. But although she is attracted to Caros, and realizes that she does truly love him, Pelonia fights her feelings, because he is not a believer in her faith, and she is determined to escape and find her surviving family so she can live as a free woman again.

The Gladiator is a wonderful story of faith and love set in Ancient Rome, a unique setting for a historical romance. Although a first time writer, author Carla Capshaw does a wonderful job of bringing the setting and characters to life, and I look forward to reading more from her. I highly recommend this book to readers who like inspirational romances or historical romances with unusual settings.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In My Mailbox - 10/10/09

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

Here are the new books I bought or received this week:

Warrior Princess: Destiny's Path by Frewin Jones

Branwen refuses to take orders from anyone—even the Shining Ones, the ancient gods whose power is feared throughout the land. They want her as their Chosen One, destined to save her country from the Saxons. But Branwen doubts she's 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?

Dido by Adele Geras

Love can be deadly. Especially when two girls fall for the same man - one a queen, the other her serving girl. Elissa knows she is playing with fire, but she can't resist. Queen Dido suspects nothing, until one fateful night... Secrets are revealed, hearts are broken and as dawn breaks, a terrible tragedy unfolds. A passionate tale of love, betrayal and revenge.

Paradise Red by K.M. Grant

As Raimon and Aimery set off to re-gain the flame and the heart of the Occitan, Hugh prepares to lay siege to the Cathar stronghold where the flame burns. Unbeknown to him, his wife Yolanda flees his castle and into the freezing snow. What is Yolanda running from? What underhand game is Aimery about to bring in to play? And will Raimon's passion for the flame cause him to lose Yolanda and even himself? K M Grant's spectacular novel weaves together the friendship, love and bitter rivalry of her wonderfully evoked characters in a finale to a superb trilogy of romance and adventure.

Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson

London, 1876 and Hetty Feather is just a tiny baby when her mother leaves her at the Foundling Hospital. The Hospital cares for abandoned children - but Hetty must first live with a foster family until she is big enough to go to school. Life in the countryside is hard but with her 'brothers' Jem and Gideon, she helps in the fields and plays imaginary games. Together they sneak off to visit the travelling circus and Hetty is mesmerised by the show, especially Madame Adeline and her performing horses. But Hetty's happiness is threatened once more when she is returned to the Foundling Hospital. The new life of awful uniforms and terrible food is a struggle for her. But now she has the chance to find her real mother. Could she really be the wonderful Madame Adeline? Or will Hetty find the truth is even more surprising?

The Winter Queen by Amanda McCabe

As Queen Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting, innocent Lady Rosamund is unprepared for the temptations of Court. She is swept up in the festivities of the yuletide season and, as seduction perfumes the air, Rosamund is drawn to darkly enticing Anton Gustavson...
With the coming of the glittering Frost Fair, they are tangled in a web of forbidden desire and dangerous secrets. For in this time of desperate plots and intrigues, Anton is more than just a handsome suitor—he may have endangered the life of the woman he is learning to love...

The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw

He won his fame—and his freedom—in the gory pits of Rome's Colosseum. Yet the greatest challenge for once-legendary gladiator Caros Viriathos comes to him through a slave. His slave, the beautiful and mysterious Pelonia Valeria. Her secret brings danger to his household but offers Caros a love like he's never known...
Should anyone learn she is a Christian, Pelonia will be executed. Her faith threatens not only herself, but her master. Can she convince a man who found fame through unforgiving brutality to show mercy? And when she's ultimately given the choice, will Pelonia choose freedom or the love of a gladiator?

Gingham Bride by Jillian Hart

Fiona O'Rourke doesn't believe in love—and certainly not in a marriage arranged by her cruel father. And even if her unexpected betrothed seems honorable and kind, can she trust his motives… or the attraction between them?
Ian McPherson came to Montana to salvage his family's dwindling fortune, not to take a wife. But he's instantly drawn to Fiona. He wants to protect her—even if that means pretending that they're engaged. In a season of surprises and miracles, there's nothing he won't give to show Fiona his love is for always.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fire Opal by Regina McBride

The Fire Opal by Regina McBride (Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, May 11, 2009)

There was a time when Maeve O'Tullagh led a simple life; a time when she and her mother, Nuala, collected kelp on the foreshore near their cottage in Ard Macha; a time when she played among the Celtic ruins with her older brothers and daydreamed about the legendary Holy Isles, an enchanted land ruled in a past age by a beautiful goddess.
But after Maeve's sister, Ishleen, is born, her mother sinks into a deep, impenetrable trance. For years, Maeve tries to help her mother "awaken," and then the unthinkable happens: Ishleen succumbs to the same mysterious ailment as Nuala.
Heartbroken to think that her sister and her mother might be lost to her forever, Maeve sets off on an unimaginable quest to a world filled with fantastical creatures, a web of secrets, a handsome, devious villain who will stop at nothing to have her hand in marriage—braving them all to retrieve a powerful glowing stone that will help her recover the souls of her loved ones and bring them home to Ard Macha.

This book is a historical fantasy set in 16th century Ireland. A mix of my two favorite genres in YA fiction with an interesting setting. Looking forward to reading this one!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

In My Mailbox - 10/3/09

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

Here are the new books I bought or received this week:

Daughter of Fire and Ice by Marie-Louise Jensen

Following an attack on her family, fifteen-year-old Thora is enslaved by a brutish Viking chieftain, Bjorn Svanson. A healer and a midwife, Thora is valuable. She also has visions of the future . . . and in one she foresees Svanson's death. When her prediction becomes reality, Thora recognizes that another of Svanson's slaves is a man she has seen before-a man from recurrent visions who is destined to be part of her future. Assuming Svanson's identity, the slave and Thora use the dead man's ships to escape. Their destination is Iceland, the then uncharted 'land of fire and ice'. To succeed they must first win over Svanson's crew, and their journey is fraught with hardship and danger. But their troubles are only just beginning. Soon, newcomers are among them and someone is stealing from Thora's medicines to cause terrible harm. Under suspicion herself, can Thora unmask the real culprit and clear her name? And can Thora and the man now known as Bjorn ever really hope that their pasts won't catch up with them?

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Patterson

Meli Lleshi is positive that her drawing of her teacher with his pelican nose started it all. The Lleshis are Albanians living in Kosovo, a country trying to fight off Serbian oppressors, and suddenly they are homeless refugees. Old and young alike, they find their courage tested by hunger, illness, the long, arduous journey, and danger on every side. Then, unexpectedly, they are brought to America by a church group and begin a new life in a small Vermont town. The events of 9/11 bring more challenges for this Muslim family--but this country is their home now and there can be no turning back.

Dear Canada: A Christmas to Remember

A wonderful seasonal anthology for Dear Canada readers, both old and new! A real treat for fans of this series, and all lovers of historical fiction! Eleven stories that each revisit a favourite character from books in the Dear Canada series are included in this special collection. These are completely original tales that stand alone as heartwarming Christmas stories, but also serve as a lovely "next chapter" to their original books. Each story is written by one of Canada’s top award-winning writers for children, including Jean Little, Sarah Ellis, Maxine Trottier, Carol Matas and more. This collection is a lovely companion to A Season of Miracles, and will be treasured year after year at holiday time!

My Story: No Survivors: The Diary of Jackie Simms, Hamilton, 1979 by Sharon Holt

Growing up in 1970s Hamilton, Jackie Simms is sustained by two great loves: the Swedish supergroup Abba, and her older brother’s friend, Davey. But Jeff and Davey have a great adventure planned that doesn’t include Jackie … a scenic flight to Antarctica.
Through the eyes of one who was left behind we experience the horror and the aftermath of the airline crash on Mt Erebus, New Zealand’s worst air disaster the 30th anniversary of which will be marked in November this year.

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena

"Clothilde." He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.
Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world is shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem; her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother's will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother's friend Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator's shop - until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.
Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guild he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.
Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?
Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman's shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston's soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

Contest: Win a copy of Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

I am giving away an unread, hardcover copy of Ice by Sarah Beth Durst, a wonderful modern-day fairytale retelling. I haven't finished my review of this book yet, but be sure to check back soon to read it!! In the meantime here is the book jacket summary for Ice:

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

Contest rules:
Please post with your email address to enter (you can type it out if you are worried about spammers)
Extra entries, please specify any you have:
+1 for new followers
+2 for current followers
+2 if you post a link on your blog to this contest (posting or sidebar)
+2 if you link to this contest on Twitter or any other social networking site

Contest will run for two weeks, until Saturday, October 17th. US mailing addresses only.

Good luck everyone!

Contest winners

I was overwhelmed by how many people entered my two contests. Thanks for entering!! I have used to choose the winners and they are:

HarperTeen classics prize pack: Lilibeth Ramos
Lady Macbeth's Daughter ARC: Kelsey

I have contacted the winners to find out where to send the prizes. I will be posting a new contest shortly so check back soon to enter!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book review: Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones

Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones (Published by HarperCollins, January 27, 2009)

In early medieval Wales, fifteen-year-old Princess Branwen’s world is turned upside down when her older brother is killed by Saxon invaders. Because she is her parents’ only surviving child, they decide to send her away to live somewhere they hope will be safer. Branwen’s new home is luxurious, but in this place a woman’s role is to marry, not to fight. But even bigger changes are in store for Branwen, when the ancient goddess Rhiannon tells Branwen of her destiny as a warrior and savior of her people, but leaves her to make the choice herself if she will follow the prophecy.

Branwen is now left with a difficult choice for her future. Does she do as her parents wish, and marry and live a quiet life and hope for peace? Or does she choose the more difficult path, and train as a warrior and face an uncertain future for the sake of her people? And if it is indeed her destiny to fight for her people, is her choice only an illusion?

Warrior Princess is the first book in a series about Branwen's adventures, and it was pretty obvious from reading it that it was going to be the first book in a series. It introduces the story, characters, and world, and quite well, I will add - the setting really comes alive. But once Branwen makes her decision about what her future will be, the outcome of her choice is left for future books in the series. If you like historical fantasy, I definitely recommend this book to you, but be prepared to be eagerly waiting for the rest of the books to be published.

Book review: Daughters of the Sea: Hannah by Kathryn Lasky

Daughters of the Sea: Hannah by Kathryn Lasky (Published by Scholastic, September 1, 2009)

Hannah Albury never knew her parents. She spent the first fifteen years of her life at The Boston Home for Little Wanderers, an orphanage. For as long as she can remember, she has felt drawn to the sea. But now that she is fifteen, she must leave the orphanage. First, she is sent west on the Orphan Train. But when she becomes strangely and mysteriously ill, Hannah knows she must return to live near the sea, and she is sent back to Boston.

Upon her return to the orphanage, a position is found for Hannah - she is to work as a housemaid for a wealthy family in Boston. Back near the sea, Hannah recovers, but she still senses that there is something different about her. A handsome young artist who has come to her employer’s home to paint a portrait of his daughters appears to know something about what is wrong with Hannah, but seems unwilling to give her the answers she seeks.

This book was more historical fiction with some fantasy elements, rather than fantasy with a historical setting as I had first assumed. I did overall enjoy this story but there were some unresolved plot threads that I hope are further visited in future books in the series, and I was a bit frustrated by the romance that ended abruptly without resolution. But the historical setting is well done, and the premise is interesting. I would recommend this book to readers who like historical fiction with a hint of magic, and I'm definitley interested in reading the rest of the series to see how the story concludes.

Book review: Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (Published by Little Brown, August 1, 2009)

Sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe and her twin sister, Alice, have never been close. But when their father dies, leaving the girls and their younger brother Henry orphans, disturbing events begin to happen that separate the girls even further. A strange mark appears on Lia’s wrist, and Alice is acting strange and even more distant.

Soon, Lia learns that she and Alice are part of an ancient prophecy that makes them mortal enemies. They both have a role to play - one good, one evil. And if events are not stopped, it could bring about the end of the world. Unsure where to turn with her parents dead, her sister now her enemy, and unable to confide in James, the young man she loves, Lia must find a way to avert tragedy and end the prophecy.

Set in 19th century New York, Prophecy of the Sisters is a chilling supernatural story with the feel of an old Gothic novel. I really liked that this book was a young adult fantasy set in historical times, which set it apart from other teen paranormal fiction that is mostly set in the present day. The ending is quite the cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to read the other two books in this trilogy to see how the story concludes. Unfortunately, the next book will not be out until August 2010, and I’m not sure how I’ll wait that long! I would definitely recommend this book to readers looking for an unusual young adult fantasy, you will not be disappointed.

Book review: A Faraway Island by Annika Thor

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor (Published by Random House, November 10, 2009)

Following the invasion of Austria by the Nazis, two young Jewish sisters from Vienna, twelve-year-old Stephie Steiner and her eight-year-old sister, Nellie, are sent away by their parents to safety in Sweden. Their parents hopes the family can reunite soon and travel to a safer country, but shortly after the sisters arrive in Sweden, World War II breaks out in Europe, trapping the two young girls in a strange and foreign country, away from their parents.

The two girls are placed in separate homes on a small island in Sweden, and have very different experiences. Nellie loves her foster parents, who have young children of their own. Stephie however is placed with a seemingly cold and unloving childless couple. While the younger Nellie quickly adapts to life in a strange new country, Stephie struggles to learn the new language, and feels like an outcast in school. Will she ever adjust to her new country and new life? And what will become of the parents she left behind?

Before reading A Faraway Island, I had never even heard of the story of the 500 Jewish refugee children Sweden accepted just before the start of World War II. The author, Annika Thor, grew up in a Jewish family in Sweden and had young refugee cousins who had fled the Nazis in Europe. She has published three other books about Stephie and Nellie in Sweden, that tell the rest of their story during and shortly after World War II, and I hope to see them published in English so I can find out the rest of of the story. This book would make a good choice for preteens looking to supplement their learning about World War II with historical fiction, as well as for any reader looking for a unique story set in this time period.

Book review: La Petite Four by Regina Scott

La Petite Four by Regina Scott (Published by Razorbill, May 29, 2008)

Lady Emily Southwell and her three best friends - Priscilla, Ariadne and Daphne - are known together as La Petite Four. Following their graduation from the Barnsley School for Young Ladies, they decide to plan the best coming-out ball of the season for Emily’s debut into Regency England society.

What wasn’t part of the plans, however, was Emily’s father betrothing her to the horrible Lord Robert. Emily and her friends are determined to find some way to stop the engagement. They decide to investigate Lord Robert to see if he is involved in anything that would cause Emily’s father to want to cancel the betrothal. Their investigation leads to adventure, danger, and an unexpected romance for Emily.

La Petite Four is a light and entertaining historical romance for teens set in Regency England. The mystery is a bit predictable as it is rather obvious from the beginning that Lord Robert is up to something sinister. However, it is still an enjoyable story that should appeal to readers looking for a quick and fun historical read, and who enjoyed books such as The Season by Sarah MacLean, Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle, and The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen.

Book review: Days of Toil and Tears by Sarah Ellis

Dear Canada: Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford by Sarah Ellis (Published by Scholastic Canada, February 1, 2008)

Young Flora Rutherford grew up in an orphanage in late 19th century Canada, where she and the other children spent their days dreaming up imaginary lives where they had families and homes. So Flora is thrilled when she learns she is to leave the orphanage now that her aunt and uncle have found jobs and a place to live in the mill town of Almonte, Ontario, and can finally provide a home for Flora.

Flora loves her aunt and uncle, who are very kind to her. And she is thrilled to have a family of her own after so many years living in the orphanage. But there is also hardship, as she must become a child laborer at the mill her aunt and uncle work at, rather than go to school and play with her friends as a child should. Flora describes everything that happens to her in a diary written to her parents who died when she was young.

Days of Toil and Tears is an excellent book from the Dear Canada series (a Canadian version of the Dear America series) that shows the hardships of life for poor children in the 1800s, who often had to give up their childhood and work grueling jobs so their families could surive. This is a good book to give to a preteen who enjoys historical fiction, and although I am much older than the target audience, I did really enjoy this book as I love historical fiction written in diary format - the Dear America series was my favorite series as a preteen and young teen and I was so sad when they stopped publishing them, so I was thrilled to find the Dear Canada series.

Book review: Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson

Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson (Published by Bethany House, September 1, 2009)

As a teenager, Lydia Sellers was forced to marry a cruel man to advance her father’s business interests. Now, after many unhappy years in an abusive marriage, twenty-eight year old Lydia is relieved by the death of her husband in the spring of 1871. Through a technicality in the will, she has inherited her husband’s entire fortune, and decides to leave Kansas City behind and go to live a quiet life with her aunt on the Alaskan frontier.

Arriving in Sitka, Alaska, Lydia meets the handsome young sawmill owner Kjell Bjorklund, and begins a relationship with him that may lead to romance. But then she discovers that she is pregnant with her late husband’s child, something she did not expect since she had many miscarriages during her marriage, leading her to believe she could not have children. Will Kjell still love her if she is having another man’s child? And how far will her greedy adult stepchildren go to claim the fortune they believe is rightfully theirs, especially now that she is having their father’s child?

Dawn’s Prelude is the first book in another new series from the prolific Tracie Peterson, who has written many inspirational historical romances. This book is an enjoyable read that combines a tender romance with suspense in an interesting historical setting. It is sure to be enjoyed by the author's many many fans, and is also a good choice for new readers looking to try something by this author.

Book review: Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Published by Bethany House, October 1, 2009)

In 1872 Russia, Mennonites Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt fear their oldest son will be forced into military service, which is against their religious beliefs. Because of this, they decide to immigrate to America, where they will be free to practice their faith. Joining the couple and their three sons on the journey is Eli, Reinhardt’s adopted brother.

The journey that should have been the start of their new life ends in tragedy, however, when Lillian’s husband and youngest son die on the sea voyage. In order to protect Lillian and her surviving children, and to keep the family together in America, Eli offers to marry Lillian in a marriage of convenience, to which she agrees. But as the family settles on a homestead in Kansas, Eli’s feelings towards Lillian change from obligation to love.

Fields of Grace is a sweet, inspirational historical romance that is sure to appeal to fans of the genre. The story of Mennonites immigrating to America for freedom of religion is an interesting one, and the message of faith, hope, and love in the face of tragedy is a positive and uplifting one.
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