Saturday, July 31, 2010

In My Mailbox - 7/31/10

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

Here are the new books I got this week:


The Poisoned House by Michael Ford

Abigail is a maidservant in Greave Hall, an elegant London household governed by the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs Cotton. Whilst the widowed master slips slowly into madness, Mrs Cotton gradually usurps the position of gentlewoman of the house. She wears his dead wife’s jewellery and clothes, entertains guests as though the house is her own and reserves her most despotic treatment for Abi.
In the dead of night, Abi makes a desperate bid for freedom, but is soon captured and returned to Greave Hall. As Mrs Cotton’s malice intensifies, a ghostly presence distracts Abi with clues to a deadly secret. And Abi now realises that she can trust no one in the house.

From Amazon Vine:

The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

In Rosamund's realm, happiness hinges on a few simple beliefs: For every princess there's a prince. The king has ultimate power. Stepmothers should never be trusted. And bad things come to those who break with Tradition….
But when Rosa is pursued by a murderous huntsman and then captured by dwarves, her beliefs go up in smoke. Determined to escape and save her kingdom from imminent invasion, she agrees to become the guinea pig in one of her stepmother's risky incantations—thus falling into a deep, deep sleep.
When awakened by a touchy-feely stranger, Rosa must choose between Tradition and her future…between a host of eligible princes and a handsome, fair-haired outsider. And learn the difference between being a princess and ruling as a queen.
The moral of the story? Sometimes a princess has to create her own happy endings….

Book review: Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein (Published by Bloomsbury, October 12, 2010)

When her father dies while fighting in the Netherlands in 1583, fourteen-year-old Catherine Archer is left orphaned and penniless. Her fortunes change, however, when in recognition of the fact that Cate’s father died in her service, Queen Elizabeth invites her to come live at court and serve as one of her maids of honor. Cate finds life at court to be rather complicated as no one there is truly free, but rather subject to the will of the Queen. That becomes all too clear when Cate’s secret romance with Sir Walter Ralegh, a handsome young courtier who is a favorite of the Queen’s, is discovered. The furious and jealous Queen sentences Cate to banishment in the new world of Virginia, while Ralegh, who hoped to govern the colony, is forced to remain behind and serve the Queen in England.

As she sets out on the sea voyage with the other Roanoke colonists, Cate is filled with many conflicting feelings. After hearing Ralegh’s tales of the wild and unsettled land of Virginia, and meeting the young Indian Manteo, brought back to England by a previous expedition, Cate had longed to travel to the new world and see it for herself. But she never expected so much hardship. The colonists are abandoned on Roanoke Island, and their governor must return to England to try and bring back supplies. The first years in the colony are filled with starvation, disease, and death. Seemingly abandoned by England, the colonists are on their own and must find a way to survive. Feeling abandoned by Walter Ralegh and now believing that he never truly loved her, Cate must set aside her memories of him, and her old life in England, so that she may survive and build a new life in this new world, perhaps even finding a new love along the way.

I have always been fascinated by the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, so having enjoyed Lisa Klein’s previous books, I was very excited when I first learned about this book. I am happy to say it did not disappoint at all and is in fact one of my favorite books so far this year. Through Cate’s story, which is filled with adventure and romance, the worlds of Elizabethan England and Roanoke Island in 1587 are brought to life, and the story ends with a plausible theory of what might have become of the lost colonists. I highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys historical fiction or who read and enjoyed the author’s previous novels.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang (Published by Delacorte Books, January 11, 2011)

Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin's determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the "manly arts" of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting 'dragons' and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.

This sounds like a really unusual and interesting historical novel, I don't believe I have ever read anything set in Asia during this time period.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book review: Dear America: The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory

Dear America: The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory (New edition published by Scholastic, September 1, 2010; originally published in 1996)

Abigail Jane Stewart, called Abby by her family and friends, is eleven years old and living in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania when the American army arrives there in December 1777. Abby is mostly worried about her mother and her new baby brother, because five of her brothers died in infancy and she is afraid for this new baby. She thinks war is an adventure and doesn’t understand how serious it is.

However, when Abby, her mother, and her two sisters get a job doing laundry for General Washington, Abby and her sisters learn firsthand about the horrors of war. Determined to do their part to help, they sew for the soldiers, and visit the sick and injured soldiers in the encampment. In the process, Abby matures and understands the sacrifices of the soldiers, and that freedom is worth fighting for.

I first read The Winter of Red Snow in 1996, when it was originally published as one of the first books in the Dear America series. Each book in the series is the fictional diary of a preteen or young teenage girl living during an important time in American history. Out of the many books in the series, this one remains one of my favorites. The Dear America series truly brings history to life and helped me develop a love for historical fiction, and I am glad to see the series is being brought back into print for a new generation of readers. Highly recommended.

Book review: Dear America: A Journey to the New World by Kathryn Lasky

Dear America: A Journey to the New World by Kathryn Lasky (New edition published by Scholastic, September 1, 2010; originally published in 1996)

Remember Patience Whipple, called Mem by her family, is twelve years old in 1620, when her family, in search of religious freedom, sails to the new world on the Mayflower. Mem is a bit frightened at the prospect of living in this wild new land, having heard tales of strange and frightening native people who attack the settlers. The sea voyage is long and tedious, full of seasickness, daily boredom, and teasing from the mean Billington boys.

When the Pilgrims arrive in the new world, Mem finds it is not the wild Indians they have to fear; rather, the danger they face is from hunger and disease. The first winter is long and cold, and many of the settlers become sick and die. Mem must deal with her fears for her family and friends, and eventually the loss of her mother, which leaves her struggling to find the strength and courage to go on.

I first read A Journey to the New World in 1996, when it was originally published as one of the first books in the Dear America series. Each book in the series is the fictional diary of a preteen or young teenage girl living during an important time in American history. Mem’s fictional diary is both entertaining and educational, bringing to life the journey on the Mayflower and the settling of Plymouth Colony, as well as the hopes, dreams, and fears of a young girl settling in a strange new land. The Dear America series truly brings history to life and helped me develop a love for historical fiction, and I am glad to see the series is being brought back into print for a new generation of readers. Highly recommended.

In My Mailbox - 7/24/10

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

Here are the new books I got this week:


Twilight's Serenade by Tracie Peterson

Britta Lindquist left Sitka six years ago in an attempt to distance herself from the love of her life, Yuri Belikov. Upon her return, she finds Yuri absent and his wife about to deliver a child. When tragic circumstances ensue, Britta suddenly finds herself caring for Yuri's children--and her life intertwining with the man she's tried so hard to forget.
But Britta's other great love is for the violin, and her talent is recognized by Brenton Maltese, a conductor from England. He proposes she accept the coveted first chair position in his orchestra--and also his hand in marriage. At a crossroads, Britta must determine what her heart truly longs for--and if she's willing to fight for it.


Promise of Tomorrow by S. Dionne Moore

Alaina Morrison loves Jack Kelly. So why won't he realize that all she wants is to get married and begin their new life together? She doesn't need a large home or new clothes or other things. She only needs him to actually spend time with her and to show how much he loves her. As dangerous floodwaters threaten their home of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, will Alaina and Jack allow God to bridge their growing differences with His unifying love?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Published by Philomel Books, March 22, 2011)

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina’s father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive.
It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

I love historical fiction and the subject of this book sounds really interesting and different. I don't think I've read any historical fiction with this setting before, so I am really looking forward to this book.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In My Mailbox - 7/17/10

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

I only got one book this week but it looks really good.

For review:

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

When Jill finds a rusty sword tip on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued—and little expects it will transport her through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Will a dark enchantment, salty kisses, and a duel with an evil pirate captain leave her stranded in the eighteenth century forever?

Drawing on piratical lore and historical fact, Carrie Vaughn creates a vivid world of swaying masts and swelling seas, where blood magic overrules the laws of nature, romance is in the air, and death can come at the single slip of a sword.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book review: Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson (Published by Scholastic, July 1, 2010)

Since her father died in an accident two years ago, fourteen-year-old Adrianne Keynnman and her family have struggled to survive. They once lived a comfortable life on Windwaithe Island, but now they live in a small cottage and Adrianne must work hard to help provide for her mother, cruel aunt, and beloved younger sister, Cecily. One night during a storm, Cecily runs away from home, and when rescuing her, Adrianne encounters a mermaid who tries to drag them down into the sea. Adrianne is able to rescue her sister, but continues to be haunted by the events of that night.

From that day on, Adrianne’s life only becomes more difficult. She must continue to work hard so that her family can survive, and endure the constant teasing of the local bullies, who think she is an easy target now that she is so poor. Only her friend Denn Young seems to support her, but her feelings of friendship for him are growing into something more, though she doubts he returns her feelings, since he seems to admire Cora Lynn, a beautiful girl who is spoiled and selfish. And now she must also struggle with her fears of the mermaid and the superstitious people of her island. As the mermaid continues to try and lure Adrianne into the sea, she realizes the mermaid wanted her, not Cecily.

I really enjoyed reading Forbidden Sea, the story was very different from anything I read before. It is an original story with the feel of an old-fashioned fairy tale. Adrianne is a strong and admirable heroine, she is determined and brave and sacrifices so much to help her family. Despite the many difficulties she faces, she remains strong and determined. I would recommend this book to both middle grade and young adult readers who enjoy fantasy and fairy tales, there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers but I think the story could appeal to some older readers as well. This is the author Sheila Nielson's first book and I would love to read more by her in the future!

Book review: Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill (Published by HarperTeen, June 29, 2010)

In the winter of 1692, hysteria overtook reason in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, as the accusations of a group of preteen and teenage girls lead to a witch hunt that resulted in the deaths of twenty innocent people who were executed. In Wicked Girls, author Stephanie Hemphill tells the story as a novel in verse, from the alternating perspectives of three of the accusers: Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, and Margaret Walcott, and attempts to explain what might have been the motivation behind their actions.

Ann Putnam Jr. is the oldest child in her family and the leader of the accusers. Her mother has lost several babies and is deeply disturbed as a result. Ann is presented in this book as just wanting attention and enjoying the attention her fits and accusations bring her. Margaret is her cousin who gets caught up in the hysteria as well and joins Ann in her accusations. This causes a conflict with the family of the young man she hopes to marry, as they think it is all nonsense. The third narrator is Mercy Lewis, an indentured servant to the Putnam family. She was the most sympathetic of the three. She had an extremely difficult life with the loss of her family to a brutal Indian attack and then years of servitude during which she was likely horribly abused prior to working for the Putnam family.

Wicked Girls is well written and I think the verse format worked well, even though I don’t usually read very many novels written in this format. Stephanie Hemphill does a good job of explaining the possible motivations behind the girls’ actions and making what they did somewhat understandable, though not excusable. I found it hard to sympathize with Ann and Margaret but I did find Mercy to be a sympathetic character, mostly because there is some historical evidence that two of the people she accused actually did contribute to the trauma she suffered in her life. This was definitely an interesting read and I would recommend it to readers interested in learning more about the possible psychological motives behind the Salem Witch Trials.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined by Heather Dixon (Published by Greenwillow Books, March 29, 2011)

Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.

Another new fairy tale retelling and it looks really good! I love the cover.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In My Mailbox - 7/10/10

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

I haven't really been keeping up with IMM the last couple weeks becuase I didn't get a ton of books really and I wasn't feeling well so I was too lazy to post. And now I don't remember everything I bought... so I am just going to list what I got this week.

From Amazon Vine:

The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A. Meyer

Jacky Faber, rich from her exploits diving for Spanish gold, has purchased the Lorelei Lee to carry passengers across the Atlantic. Believing she has been absolved of past sins against the Crown, Jacky docks in London to take on her crew, but is instead arrested and sentenced to life in the newly formed penal colony in Australia.
To add insult to injury, the Lorelei Lee is confiscated to carry Jacky and more than 200 female convicts to populate New South Wales. Not one to give in to self pity, Jacky rallies her sisters to "better" their position--resulting in wild escapades, brushes with danger, and much hilarity. Will Jacky find herself a founding mother of New South Wales, Australia? Not if she has anything to do about it!

For review:

The Healing Wars Book II: Blue Fire by Janice Hardy

Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.
Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Drowsy Town kit by Irene Alexeeva