Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book review: The Executioner's Daughter by Laura E. Williams

The Executioner's Daughter by Laura E. Williams (Published by Henry Holt, June 1, 2000; paperback reprint published June 12, 2007)

This novel was built upon the fact that during the Middle Ages, executioners and their families were shunned, forced to live outside the village walls and forbidden to attend church and social gatherings. Thirteen-year-old Lily, the fictional main character, is cursed from the moment she was born - her father is the village executioner. But because her mother is the one to assist her father in his duties, Lily keeps to herself in the forrest near their cottage, gathering herbs and healing wounded animals, and taking comfort in her mother when her father distances himself from them. Lily loses that one comfort when her mother sickens and dies. Now Lily is doomed to be her father's assistant at executions. A gentle, quiet girl, Lily cannot bear to see an animal in pain - she doesn't know how she can ever watch executions. But Lily won't resign herself to the fate assigned to her.

This book was an excellant historical novel that brought the time and place of England in the 1400s, gruesome details and all, to life. It was inspiring to read a story about a young girl who chose to fight her place in life in a time when most people were forced to accept whatever their circumstances in life turned out to be, whether they liked them or not. I highly recommend this novel to fans of historical novels ages twelve and up (the more gruesome details might disturb younger readers).

Book review: Nothing Here But Stones by Nancy Oswald

Nothing Here But Stones by Nancy Oswald (Published by Henry Holt, September 2, 2004)

Eleven-year-old Emma, her widowed father, her two sisters, and her baby brother have left their home in a small village in Russia to immigrate to America. In Russia, their lives were dangerous because they were Jews, and they were not allowed to own land. Emma's father dreams of building a better life for his family and being able to own a farm. Emma's family is part of a group of Russian Jewish immigrants hoping to build an agricultural colony on the Colorado frontier. But when they arrive in Colorado, they find they have been deceived. The land is poor, and their houses are unfinished. Emma must work hard to help her family, and she is desperately lonely and longs for her mother, who died in Russia shortly before the family left for America. It is only when she saves the life of an injured horse that she finally finds a friend.

I loved this unusual historical novel. I have read many historical fiction books about Jewish immigrants, but none about Jewish pioneers who settled on the frontier. I really enjoyed reading about this forgotten piece of history and I highly recommend this book to young readers who enjoy immigrant or pioneer stories.

Note: This is an older review that I wrote when the book was first published, hence it is shorter and less detailed than my more recent reviews. I added it to my blog so I could link to it for my Macmillan books post.

Amazon Fail

I don't usually post about these types of issues on my blog, but this one has been really bothering me today, and I felt compelled to post about it.

You know, I used to be a pretty loyal Amazon customer. Before I ever had this blog, back when I was a preteen, Amazon was a brand new shiny thing. How exciting - instead of waiting for the local bookstore to get my special order in stock, I can order it online, and have it delivered right to my house! And if not for Amazon, I might not ever have become a blogger, because when I was a preteen, Amazon's customer review feature was what first got me started reviewing the books I read and loved. I don't buy as much from them these days, but I still continued to be a customer from time to time. But if they continue their stance of today, no longer will I purchase anything from them. Because in their drive to keep their e-book monopoly, they have taken away from me the option to purchase from them the print books I, as a customer, wish to purchase.

If you follow authors on Twitter or Blogger, you likely have heard something of this. But the basics is, Macmillan, one of the major NY publishing houses, had their contract with Amazon for e-books up for expiration soon. Amazon has the e-book market monopoly right now with the Kindle, and they want to keep that monopoly, and keep selling expensive Kindles, by keeping the prices of popular e-books set at $9.99. Macmillan did not want to continue to allow this with their titles. You can read Macmillan's letter here about their stance on this issue: Macmillan wanted to follow a pricing plan ranging from $5.99-$14.99, with the higher prices reserved exclusively for new releases of hardcover books. Ebook readers - and I will not admit, I am not one of you, with the exception of free or cheap short stories by favorite authors released exclusively online (I can't stand to read anything longer in digital format), I am a 100% print books only reader - I realize you want the lower prices... I know, it can suck to pay more sometimes. But realize, you ARE getting the costs saved by not printing the books passed on to you. That ebook you paid $15 for, you would have to pay $18-$25 for a print copy.

Since becoming a book blogger, I have learned so much more about the publishing industry than I knew before. And by producing an e-book version instead of a printed edition, the publisher is really only saving a few dollars in printing costs - no more than that. And the e-book costs a few dollars less, and I just don't see how this is unfair. If the only price readers are willing to pay for an e-book is a price that will lead to an unsustainable business model, realize that it will hurt you in the end. If publishers can't make profits, they will not be able to publish as many new books by your favorite authors. When you pay $20 for a print book or $15 for an e-book, you aren't paying mainly for the cost of printing the book or the cost of formatting the file for the appropriate e-book reader device. You are paying the author, for his or her time and labor in writing that book. You are paying the editors. You are paying the people who design the cover and interior of the book. You are paying the publicists who market that book so that you, the reader, know about it. The trips to trade, educational, and library conventions to promote the book. The mailing of ARCs to reviewers and bloggers and librarians. All of that, much more than printing or formatting the final copy you read, is what made the book what it is. And when publishers can't make those costs back in selling you a copy of their book, everyone who loves books suffers, because they won't be able to publish as many books for us to read and enjoy.

And to those who say that the publishers want to cling to a dying business model - think about this. Even if someday far into the future (and hopefully not in my lifetime) all books are e-books, that doesn't mean they will just *poof* into digital existence. They will still need to be written, edited, and promoted by people who need to make a living. Whose time and labor is worth something. And if you want to cut those people out, if you want to drive these businesses away because they are "greedy" and "only care about their profits," you are going to (no offense to unpublished writers) end up with a lot of unedited, self-published books, and not much else. And how many Kindles will sell then? I'm guessing, not a whole lot. So before you call traditional publishers irrelevant in a changing and increasingly technological world - think about that.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In My Mailbox - 1/30/10

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

Here are my new books for this week:

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia knows her role in life. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess–a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.
While struggling with her new peasant life, Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins–long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control. Returning to the city to seek answers, she instead uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history forever.

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

At the age of four, Bryn watched a rabid werewolf brutally murder her parents. Alone in the world, she was rescued and taken in by Callum, the alpha of his pack. Now fifteen, Bryn's been raised as a human among werewolves, adhering to pack rule (mostly). Little fazes her.
But the pack's been keeping a secret, and when Bryn goes exploring against Callum's orders, she finds Chase, a newly turned teen Were locked in a cage. Terrifying memories of the attack on her mom and dad come flooding back. Bryn needs answers, and she needs Chase to get them. Suddenly, all allegiances to the pack no longer matter. It's Bryn and Chase against the werewolf world, whatever the consequences.

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.
This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other’s countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It’s got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry

Joan’s mother is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England. She loves them both—so what can she do when she’s forced to choose between them? As her parents’ arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn.
When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself with a man ten years her senior. She doesn’t love him, and she can’t quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond.
As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents’ worldview is warped by their political ambitions, and hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And, more important, whom to love?

My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.
The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.
Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk…
(Side note... I requested this from Amazon Vine... they sent me a finished copy... has anyone gotten a finished book from them before? They've always sent me only ARCs before. I am kinda disappointed because I prefer, by quite a lot, the original ARC cover and hoped to get it... I showed the original cover here so people would know what I am talking about...)

I also have one book I forgot to post about last week - a signed hardcover copy of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, which I won from the Book Angel contest.

Another awesome Tenners contest alert

Kate Milford, whose debut novel The Boneshaker (a historical fantasy/steampunk that sounds awesome) comes out in May 2010, is holding a huge contest on her Facebook fan page to give away an ARC of her book. The contest runs through March 1. The way it works is, whoever recruits the most people to become fans on Facebook wins an ARC, and one of their "recruits" will win an ARC as well! If you decide to sign up, be sure to mention that you found out about the contest from me, and spread the word for a chance to win as well!

To sign up, visit:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Help me decide what to read next

Ok, I have a really good TBR pile right now... and it's hard to decide. The book I am reading now is set, because I have to review it now, but for after that... I just can't decide. So I am taking a vote of sorts. Here are my choices and I am giving Goodreads links if you have never heard of them:

Alchemy and Meggy Swan by Karen Cushman
Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson
The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
Everlasting by Angie Frazier
Daughter of Fire and Ice by Marie-Louise Jensen
Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

And possibly The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry ( if it arrives before I finish The Thirteenth Princess..... but I don't know if it will.

Another awesome contest alert

Steph Su is having an AWESOME giveaway at her blog to celebrate her Blogoversary (something I neglected to do since I was sick during it... hmm, maybe I'll do a late Blogoversary post or something...). She is giving away some great ARCs including several on my wishlist. Visit the post for her giveaway here:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson (Published by Henry Holt, March 30, 2010)

Diribani never expected to meet a goddess at the village well, much less one who grants her a remarkable gift: flowers and precious jewels drop from her lips whenever she talks. Tana is happy for her beloved stepsister, yet when she encounters the goddess, she finds herself speaking snakes and toads.
While Diribani’s newfound wealth brings her a prince, Tana is chased out of the village because the province’s governor fears snakes, though thousands are dying of a plague spread by rats. As their fates hang in the balance, each sister struggles to understand her gift. Will it bring her wisdom, good fortune, love . . . or death?

I haven't read anything by Heather Tomlinson before but I love fairytale retellings and the setting for this one, which is based on pre-colonial India, sounds really interesting and unique.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My bookshelves

So, one of the blog features I've always liked is when other bloggers post pictures of their bookshelves. I love looking at books and other people's collections of books. So I thought I'd take a few photos of my bookshelves to share on my blog. The first two pictures are from my newest bookcase. It has most of my books purchased or received for review in the last few months. The last two pictures show the biggest of my older bookcases. It has a lot of books from the past few years. I have a small bookcase in my room that I didn't take pictures of because there's a lot of stuff piled in front of it (although you can see the corner of it in the four picture). And yes, I know that I have a *lot* of stuffed animals! The final picture is a mini-bookcase I made in my nightstand and has mostly my books from BEA 2009.

So here they are! You can click on the pictures to see bigger versions of the pictures. And if you have posted pictures of your bookshelves on your own blogs or websites, feel free to post a link in the comments.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In My Mailbox - 1/23/10

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

I had a really good book week. I went to Strand and was able to find a few books I have really been looking forward to reading, and I bought and received some other books as well. I am especially excited about Everlasting.

My new books for this week:

Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.
On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.
The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.
Beautifully written and feverishly paced, Everlasting is an unforgettable journey of passion, secrecy, and adventure.

Runaway: An Airhead Novel by Meg Cabot

Emerson Watts is on the run: from school, from work, from her family, from her friends, from herself.
With everyone she loves furious with her for something she can't explain, and nothing but the live Stark Angel fashion show on New Year's Eve to look forward to, Em's reached the end of her rope. . .what's the point of even going on?
But when she discovers the truth about Nikki's secret, she knows there's only one person she can turn to.
Will Christopher be able to put aside his personal feelings and help her expose her employer to the world? Is it even fair to get Christopher involved--since if he agrees, there's every chance that Stark Enterprises will try to have them both killed--this time, permanently?
Maybe it would be better for Em to just keep on running.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman

Fans of Karen Cushman's witty, satisfying novels will welcome Meggy Swann, newly come to London with her only friend, a goose named Louise. Meggy's mother was glad to be rid of her; her father, who sent for her, doesn't want her after all. Meggy is appalled by London,dirty and noisy, full of rogues and thieves, and difficult to get around in—not that getting around is ever easy for someone who walks with the help of two sticks.Just as her alchemist father pursues his Great Work of transforming base metal into gold, Meggy finds herself pursuing her own transformation. Earthy and colorful, Elizabethan London has its dark side, but it also has gifts in store for Meggy Swann.

The Last Dragon Chronicles: Dark Fire by Chris d'Lacey

David Rain was lost in the Arctic and it was up to his daughter, Alexa, to bring him back. This one little girl had the power to save her father, but when she found him, she uncovered a lot more than just David: Dragons have finally returned to Earth as well. . . .
Chris d'Lacey weaves another fiery and magical tale for readers in the fifth book of this NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series!

Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there and hone her skills as a Fall faerie. But Laurel quickly realizes that her human family and friends are still in mortal danger and the gateway to Avalon is more compromised than ever.
When it comes time to protect those she loves, will she depend on David, her human boyfriend, for help? Or will she turn to Tamani, the electrifying faerie with whom her connection is undeniable?

The Faerie Path: The Enchanted Quest by Frewin Jones

A terrible illness is sweeping through the Faerie Realm. Now, with a strange spirit guiding her, Tania must search outside the borders of Faerie—the dark and magical worlds beyond—for the only one who can help her renew the Faerie Covenant of Immortality.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

In her first novel for middle graders, distinguished author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the moving story of three sisters who travel to turbulent Oakland, California, in 1968 in search of the mother who abandoned them.
Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. And even though Delphine must look after her sisters during a summer trip to California to visit Cecile. To get them out of her hair, their mother decides that the girls will attend a day camp run by the Black Panthers. There, the sisters are transformed from naive “colored girls” into strong, proud black girls who become an important part of the community.

The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

In first-century Judea, the followers of the Way have burgeoned into a vibrant, growing community that cannot be ignored. Jerusalem is in turmoil as its religious leaders on one side, and their Roman rulers on the other, conspire to stamp out the fledgling Church. And Abigail, who thought she had finally found home and safety, is caught between the opposing forces.
Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail's hand in marriage. Ezra, a successful Hebrew merchant and widower with important connections among the Sanhedrin, is looking for a mother for his children. The Roman soldier Linux is fascinated by her winsome charm and possibly could offer the sanctuary--maybe even the love--for which she yearns. But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Will her faith and courage survive a heartbreak beyond comprehension as the followers face a gathering storm of persecution they never could have foreseen?

Angel's Den by Jamie Carie

In 1808, when Emma meets and marries Eric Montclaire (the famed “most handsome man west of the Appalachians”), this young daughter of prominent St. Louis citizens believes a fairy tale has just begun. Instead, her husband’s angelic looks quickly prove only to mask a monstrous soul all too capable of possessive emotions and physical abuse. Praying for mercy, she is devastated when Eric insists on her joining his yearlong group expedition to the Pacific Ocean, following the trail Lewis and Clark blazed just a few years earlier. By the time cartographer Luke Bowen realizes Emma’s plight, it’s too late to easily untangle what has become an epic web of lies, theft, murder, courtroom drama, and a deep longing for love.

I'm exhausted and doing the rest as a list, sorry for no pictures/summaries:
City of Cannibals by Ricki Thompson
Captivate by Carrie Jones
Winter's End by Jean-Claude Mourlevat
Hazel by Julie Hearn
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Darkest Powers: The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong
Shadow Mirror by Richie Tankersley Cusick

I also got a set of Valentine's Day picture books from HarperCollins (Yeah, a bit of an odd surprise package) that are pretty cute and I think they will make a nice gift for my niece after I am done writing some kind of review for them (I've never reviewed a picture book before, so I'm not sure exactly how!). If you are looking for a Valentine's Day gift for a young child, I think some of these books would be a good choice. The titles are:

Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine by Herman Parish (this book is ADORABLE, I loved Amelia Bedelia when I was a little girl)
Fancy Nancy: Heart to Heart bu Jane O'Connor
Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Love by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Pinkalicius: Love, Pinkalicious Reusable Sticker Book by Victoria Kann

Um, I think that's everything. If I missed something, which I very well might have, I'll just include it in next week's IMM post.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best YA Books You Haven't Read

The "Best Ya Books You Haven't Read" project was put together by Kelly at Thanks Kelly for all your hard work on this project! Be sure to visit her own post at

For my post, I decided to feature ten YA books I think are great but that haven't gotten a lot of attention. I hope this list will help readers find some great lesser-known YA books that they will enjoy reading. Give these books a try if you think they sound interesting, you will not be disappointed!

The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable

Calwyn has lived all her life behind the high ice-wall that guards the sisters of Antaris from the world of Tremaris. The sisters practice ice chantment -- one of the Nine Powers of chantment, a form of magic worked through music. But when Calwyn finds an Outlander man fallen, wounded, through the wall, she is drawn to him ... and drawn into a wondrous, dangerous adventure that takes her outside the wall and to the limits of her own powers, as she, the Outlander Darrow, and others unite to defeat the sorcerer Samis, who seeks to claim all Nine Powers and become the Singer of All Songs. (Fantasy, Book 1 in the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy. Books 2 and 3 are titled The Waterless Sea and The Tenth Power.)

The Moon Riders by Theresa Tomlinson

When a young Amazon woman, Myrina, becomes one of the warrior priestesses known as the Moon Riders, she is well prepared to perform their sacred dances, and hunt and fight when necessary. But the Moon Riders, who inhabit the plains of Troy, are drawn into the troubles of the city when they help Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia, escape from the sacrifice planned for her by her father. Hereafter, the Moon Riders are drawn into the siege and the ensuing battle. (Historical fantasy/mythology, sequel is titled Voyage of the Snake Lady)

No Shame, No Fear by Ann Turnbull

In England in 1662, a time of religious persecution, fifteen-year-old Susanna, a poor country girl and a Quaker, and seventeen-year-old William, a wealthy Anglican, meet and fall in love against all odds. (Historical fiction/romance, sequel is titled Forged in the Fire)

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper

It is 1665 and Hannah is full of excitement at the prospect of her first trip to London. She is going to help her sister, Sarah, in her candy shop, 'The Sugared Plum'. But Hannah does not get the welcoming reception she expected from her sister, because the Plague is taking hold of London. However, Hannah is determined to stay and together the two young women face the worst-with the possibility of their own demise, growing ever closer. But through it all they persevere with the support of their neighbors and each other. And at last, they find hope in a daring attempt to escape the city. (Historical fiction, sequel is titled Petals in the Ashes)

The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan

Marnie comes to the village of Tocurra as the reluctant wife of Sir Isake Isherwood. Her only friends are the local priest and Raven, the strange mad boy who seems lost in his own world. When Isake is killed in an accident, Marnie lives on in his cottage and makes an extraordinary discovery: Raven is not mad, but deaf. She creates a system of "hand words" and soon she and Raven forge a deep bond. But the villagers see witchcraft in the hand words. Can Marnie survive the trial of the iron bar? (Historical fiction/romance)

The Season by Sarah MacLean

Seventeen year old Lady Alexandra is strong-willed and sharp-tongued -- in a house full of older brothers and their friends, she had to learn to hold her own. Not the best makings for an aristocratic lady in Regency London. Yet her mother still dreams of marrying Alex off to someone safe, respectable, and wealthy. But between ball gown fittings, dances, and dinner parties, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get herself into what may be her biggest scrape yet.
When the Earl of Blackmoor is mysteriously killed, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. But will Alex's heart be stolen in the process? In an adventure brimming with espionage, murder, and other clandestine affairs, who could possibly have time to worry about finding a husband? Romance abounds as this year's season begins! (Historical fiction/romance/mystery)

Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline Cooney

Anaxandra is taken from her birth island at age 6 by King Nicander to be a companion to his crippled daughter, Princess Callisto. Six years later, her new island is sacked by pirates and she is the sole survivor. Alone with only her Medusa figurine, she reinvents herself as Princess Callisto when Menelaus, great king of Sparta, lands with his men. He takes her back to Sparta with him where Helen, his beautiful wife, does not believe that the red-headed child is Princess Callisto. Although fearful of the half-mortal, half-goddess Helen, Anaxandra is able to stay out of harm’s way—until the Trojan princes Paris and Aeneas arrive. Paris and Helen’s fascination with each other soon turns to passion and plunges Sparta and Troy into war. Can Anaxandra find the courage to reinvent herself once again, appease the gods, and save herself? (Historical fantasy/mythology)

The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle

When fifteen-year-old Æthelflæd is suddenly and reluctantly betrothed to an ally of her father, the king, her world will never be the same. For as a noblewoman in the late 800s, she will be expected to be meek and unlearned-and Flæd is anything but meek and unlearned. Her marriage will bring peace to her land, but while her royal blood makes her a valuable asset, she is also a vulnerable target. And when enemies attack, Flæd must draw upon her skills and fight to lead her people to safety and prove her worth as a princess-and as a warrior. (Historical fiction)

I am Morgan le Fay by Nancy Springer

Morgan is a willful, mischievous girl with mismatched eyes of emerald and violet. A girl of magic, whose childhood ends when King Uther Pendragon murders her father and steals away her mother. Then Pendragon dies and, in a warring country with no one to claim the throne, there are many who want Morgan dead. But Morgan has power, and magic. She is able to change the course of history, to become other, to determine her own fate-and, thus the fate of Britain. She will become Morgan le Fay. (Historical fantasy/Arthurian legend)

An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton

The year is 1162. Sixteen-year-old Jenny has always enjoyed her freedom as second daughter of a Norman nobleman in Teviotdale, Scotland. But when Jenny's sister, Isabel, disgraces the family by running away with a dangerous suitor, Jenny is thrust reluctantly into the role of elder daughter. While Jenny worries about her sister's future, her father's attention turns keenly toward Jenny, and finding her a worthy suitor.
When Jenny is chosen as a potential bride for William de Warenne, brother of the king of Scotland and heir to the crown, redemption of her family's name seems within reach. Amid formal banquets and jousting tournaments, she struggles to impress the aloof Earl William. At the same time, however, she finds herself drawn to Tam Lin, a mysterious young man. Rumored to have been kidnapped by fairies, Tam harbors a dark secret from his past that threatens everyone close to him . . . including Jenny. (Historical fantasy/romance)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another great contest alert

Jenny Moss is giving away an ARC of her second novel, Shadow, over at her blog. I recently reviewed Shadow here at my blog and loved it, so if you want a chance to read an advance copy be sure to visit her blog and enter the contest before January 25th.

About Shadow:

In a kingdom far away and long ago, it was prophesied at her birth that the queen would die before her sixteenth birthday. So Shadow, an orphan girl the same age as the young queen, was given the duty to watch her every move. And as prophesies do tend to come true, the queen is poisoned days before her birthday. When the castle is thrown into chaos, Shadow escapes with a young knight, whom she believes was betrothed to the queen.
Unsure of why she is following Sir Kenway, but determined to escape as far as possible from the castle, her long-time prison, Shadow sets off on an adventure with the handsome knight who has been charged with protecting her. As mystery builds, and romantic tension does, too, Shadow begins to wonder what her role in the kingdom truly is. Soon, she learns, it is up to her to save her land.

Waiting on Wednesday: The False Princess by Eilis O'Neil

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal (Published by EgmontUSA, July 13, 2010)

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia knows her role in life. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess–a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.
While struggling with her new peasant life, Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins–long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control. Returning to the city to seek answers, she instead uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history forever.

I love fantasy novels set in medieval worlds with royalty and castles and magic, so I think I'll really enjoy this book. I really like the cover art as well. This is also another Tenners book so I will be adding it to my list of books I hope to read for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Great contest alert

Sheila Nielson (a 2010 debut author) has a contest on her blog where you can enter to win an ARC of her book Forbidden Sea, which will be published by Scholastic in July. You can enter the contest here:

About Forbidden Sea:

When, one stormy night, a mermaid comes to take Adrianne Keynnman's sister, Cecily, down into the depths of te sea, Adrianne knows she must fight with every ounce of her strength to protect her little sister. On land, Adrianne toils away, trying to eke out a living for her mother, sister, and aunt, after a tragic accident stole her father. Now, life takes a strange and frightening turn as Adrianne's dreams are filled with the mermaid's singing . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book review: Shadow by Jenny Moss

Shadow by Jenny Moss (Published by Scholastic, April 1, 2010)

For as long as she can remember, the orphaned peasant girl called Shadow has spent every moment of her life following around Queen Audrey, the young queen of Deor, their kingdom. She has no memory of her real name or of her life before she became the queen’s “shadow.” The young queen was prophesized to die before her sixteenth birthday, and Shadow’s presence is supposed to somehow protect her, but Shadow doesn’t understand how, and longs to escape the dreary castle and the queen’s cruelty.

Shadow gets her wish in a different way than she had hoped for when tragedy strikes and Shadow is sent away from the castle under the protection of Sir Kenway, a handsome young knight that Shadow believes was in love with Queen Audrey. She doesn’t understand why she is special, why her life was saved, and why she must go on this journey with Sir Kenway. On their quest, they find danger, mystery, romance, long-buried secrets, and a destiny that Shadow never could have imagined.

Shadow, the second book by talented and versatile new young adult writer Jenny Moss, was a delight to read. It is a traditional fantasy set in a medieval world with knights and princesses, castles and evil wizards, and a quest to discover the main character’s destiny and save the kingdom. Most young adult fantasy books these days are urban fantasy, set in our modern world, so it was such a refreshing change to read a book set in a faraway and magical kingdom. I highly recommend this book to readers who are looking to read a story that is different from the typical young adult fantasy or who love fairy tale inspired fantasies such as those by Gail Carson Levine or Shannon Hale.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In My Mailbox - 1/16/10

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

Here are the new books I bought or received this week. If my stupid head cold is better I am going to Strand tomorrow so I will hopefully have some great books from there to post about next week.

The Lady Grace Mysteries: Loot by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler

When the crown jewels are stolen from a locked room in the castle right under Queen Elizabeth's nose - she's furious and asks Grace, her secret Lady Pursuivant, to investigate. This is the toughest mystery Grace has had to solve yet. The thief must be amongst them in the palace . . . Can Grace figure out their identity before it's too late?

Heartland Wedding by Renee Ryan

Rebecca Gunderson's fresh start in High Plains, Kansas, is destroyed when a deadly tornado wrecks the immigrant's new home—and her reputation. Everyone knows Rebecca rode out the storm with the town's blacksmith, and no one believes her time with Pete Benjamin was totally innocent. To protect her, Pete offers Rebecca his hand in marriage…but the grieving widower can't give her his heart. Is Rebecca trusting her happiness to a man trapped in the past? Or will faith and trust finally bring them through the storm to a brighter future?

The Substitute Bride by Janet Dean

Fleeing an arranged marriage, debutante Elizabeth Manning exchanges places with a mail-order bride bound for New Harmony, Iowa. Life on the frontier can't be worse than forced wedlock to pay her father's gambling debts. But Ted Logan's rustic lifestyle and rambunctious children prove to be more of a challenge than Elizabeth expects. She doesn't know how to be a mother or a wife. She doesn't even know how to tell Ted the truth about her past—especially as her feelings for him grow. Little does she know, Ted's hiding secrets of his own, and when their pasts collide, there's more than one heart at stake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi

The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi (Published by Harcourt, May 24, 2010)

Cornelia Greene is fed up with gossip about her mother. Caty Littlefield Greene was once a beautiful young bride who lifted the troops’ spirits at Valley Forge, but Cornelia knows that rumors of Caty’s past indiscretions hurt Nathanael Greene, Cornelia’s adored father. Yet, Caty claims that she’s just a flirt, and that flirting is a female necessity—a woman’s only means of power.
But Cornelia’s concern with her mother’s reputation fades to the background when she learns that Nathanael Greene may not even be her father. As she searches for the truth, she makes unexpected discoveries that lead her to a new understanding of love and family.

I am really excited to see Ann Rinaldi writing a new historical novel that is not set during the Civil War! Her books about the Colonial Era and American Revolution were always my favorites by her, so I can't wait to read this one. I'm unsure about the cover however, it's pretty but the people seem to be from the wrong time period, the clothing doesn't seem right for the late 1700s or early 1800s.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In My Mailbox - 1/9/10

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

Well, there was no trip to Strand due to the weather (boo!) but I did get some new books this week anyway.

Anxious Hearts by Tucker Shaw

“Evangeline,” he repeated, calling at a whisper. “Evangeline.” He was not calling that she may hear, he was calling that somehow her soul might know that he was devoted entirely to her, only to her. “Evangeline, I will find you.”
Eva and Gabe explore the golden forest of their seaside Maine town, unknowingly tracing the footsteps of two teens, Evangeline and Gabriel, who once lived in the idyllic wooded village of Acadia more than one hundred years ago. On the day that Evangeline and Gabriel were be wed, their village was attacked and the two were separated. And now in the present, Gabe has mysteriously disappeared from Eva.
A dreamlike, loose retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous love poem “Evangeline,” Anxious Hearts tells an epic tale of unrequited love and the hope that true love can be reunited.

The Bride Blunder by Kelly Eileen Hake

When Gavin Miller hires on to set up a gristmill for the prospering town of Buttonwood, Nebraska, he’s looking to build more than a business. For the first time, Gavin is in a position to request the hand of the woman he’s never forgotten, Miss Marguerite Chandler.
When Marguerite’s cousin steps down from the stage, Gavin realizes the terrible blunder he’s made. While he never forgot Marguerite was the French word for Daisy, he’d failed to recall that the two cousins shared their grandmother’s name, and Marge was the nickname of the wrong Miss Marguerite Chandler!
Marge rejects his offer of marriage when she discovers the truth and goes about setting up a school in town. She’s found a place in Buttonwood, but just when Gavin’s beginning to think maybe Marge holds a place in his life, a distraught Daisy descends upon the town with a broken heart—and a broken engagement.

A Bouquet for Iris by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver

Bored with life in Nashville and feeling unfulfilled, Iris yearns to do something meaningful. When the opportunity comes to travel to the Chattanooga area and become a nanny for two Cherokee orphans, Iris steps into her future. Attorney Adam Stuart knows better than to trust women or the government to do him right. But when the lovely Iris joins forces with him to protect the legal rights of the Indians he loves, he finds his heart in peril once again.

The Glassblower by Laurie Alice Eakes

Now that Colin Grassick, a master glass-blower from Scotland, has arrived to help at the Jordan glassworks, Meg Jordan's dreams of teaching the poor, local children are coming true. Finally, someone will have time to make windows for the rural New Jersey schoolhouse, to keep out the cold - and vandals. To Joseph Pyle, the wealthy, arrogant man to whom Meg will soon be betrothed, the destruction of Meg's new windows is inconsequential - as his wife, she will be forbidden from teaching. Why would Meg's father insist she marry a man like Joseph and stay away from the endearing Colin?

Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens by Kate Emerson

Pretty, flirtatious, and ambitious. Nan Bassett hopes that an appointment at the court of King Henry VIII will bring her a grand marriage. But soon after she becomes a maid of honor to Queen Jane, the queen dies in childbirth. As the court plunges into mourning, Nan sets her sights on the greatest match in the land...for the king has noticed her. After all, it wouldn't be the first time King Henry has chosen to wed a maid of honor. And in newly Protestant England, where plots to restore the old religion abound, Nan may be the only one who can reassure a suspicious king of her family's loyalty. But the favor of a king can be dangerous and chancy, not just for Nan, but for her family as well...and passionate Nan is guarding a secret, one that could put her future — and her life — in grave jeopardy should anyone discover the truth.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

The Poison Diares by Maryrose Wood (Published by HarperTeen, June 1, 2010)

Jessamine Luxson lives with her father, Thomas, an apothecary, in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle. Thomas’s pride and obsession is his locked garden full of dangerous plants, which Jessamine is forbidden to enter.
When a traveler brings an orphan to their cottage, he claims the boy has special gifts that Thomas might value. Jessamine is drawn to the strange but intriguing boy, called Weed. Soon their friendship deepens into love. Finally, Weed shares his secret: He can communicate with plants. For him they have distinct personalities—and some are even murderous. From the locked garden the poisonous plants call to Weed, luring him with promises of deadly power.
When Jessamine falls inexplicably ill, only Weed’s relationship with the Poisons can save her. But Thomas is determined to exploit Weed’s abilities, even if it risks Jessamine’s life—or drives Weed to the brink of madness.…

No cover yet, but I thought this book sounds amazing and I wanted to feature it for WoW for that reason even though there isn't a cover yet! It is the first in a Gothic trilogy set in the 18th century, so historical fantasy, which combines two of my favorite genres.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In My Mailbox - 1/2/10

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

I only got two books this week, but I'm really happy, because I really wanted Mistwood, and I think I'm making another trip to Strand soon too.

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Isabel is a shape-shifter, able to shift at will into any animal form. She senses that her power is great. She knows—deep in her soul—that she exists only to protect the king and the royal family. But when she awakens in Mistwood to the sound of approaching horses, she can’t remember anything and she flees. How long has she been in the forest? Who hurt her? Why is she hiding—because it is certain she is hiding. Who are these men riding after her with such determination? And most importantly, why can’t she shift?
Captured and thrust into the mysterious and dangerous royal court, Isabel must uncover her past, separate the truth of her heart from the legend of her magic, and, above all, keep the unbearably handsome new king safe. Even if protecting him means disaster for her.

My Story: The Sweep's Boy by Jim Eldridge

It's 1870 when the Workhouse Master hires Will out as a chimney sweep's boy. It's a hard, dirty, dangerous life, and it's not long before events take an even worse turn, as Will's climbing skill attract the attention of the evil Hutch, who needs just such a boy to help him with his burglary jobs...
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