Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren (Published by David C. Cook Publishing, February 1, 2011)

Lisa Tawn Bergren’s new YA series, River of Time, is romantic, historical fiction in which the plucky heroine doesn’t have to fear a vampire’s bite but must still fight for her life.
In Book One, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties.
Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds… until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves in the sixteenth-century—and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

This sounds like a really interesting new series, with a combination of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In My Mailbox - 9/25/10

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


Sphinx's Queen by Esther Friesner

Ancient Egypt springs to life in this enthralling sequel to Sphinx’s Princess. As she did in Nobody’s Princess and Nobody’s Prize, author Esther Friesner offers readers a fresh look at an iconic figure, blending historical fiction and mythology in a heady concoction.
Hunted . . . Overnight, every aspect of Nefertiti’s life has changed. She is no longer living at the royal palace as the intended bride of the crown prince. Instead, she is being chased by the prince and his soldiers for a crime she did not commit.
Hidden . . . Traveling with two of her dearest friends, including the crown prince’s brother, who helped her escape, Nefertiti takes shelter in the wild hills along the Nile’s west bank. She must rely on her own resourcefulness and skills (all those secret archery lessons prove very useful) as the fugitives fight to survive.
Haunted . . . But the need for justice gnaws at Nefertiti. She is determined to plead her case to the Pharaoh and set things right. As she begins to question long-held sacred beliefs—a questioning that could alter the fabric of Egyptian society—her extraordinary journey from commoner to royalty brings adventure, intrigue, and romance.

For review:

Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell

When Ellie Faneuil first sees Michael Chase she feels an instantaneous connection. But she does not realize how much they have in common, including the ability fly and to see what others are thinking - not to mention a taste for blood. Reveling in their new powers and their growing feelings for each other, Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way ... together.
But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict between fallen angels that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.

The Six Crowns: Trundle's Quest by Allan Jones and Gary Chalk

Trundle’s quest to find six fabled crowns begins with Trundle’s Quest, a plentifully illustrated book with short, cliff-hanger chapters and nonstop action. Trundle and the mysterious Esmeralda, two hedgehogs, face pirates, flying ships, high-speed chases, and a collection of memorable villains and friends . . . while striving to fulfill an ancient prophecy. For readers not quite ready for the longer Redwall series by Brian Jacques and for fans of classic animal adventures such as The Tale of Despereaux and My Father’s Dragon. This is the first in a six-book series. (this was a surprise review copy and it's more for younger readers, but it does look very cute!)

Plague: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant

Eight months after every person over the age of fourteen disappeared from the town of Perdidio Beach, California, the stakes are still rising. The kids in Perdido Beach are still starving. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.
But enemies in the FAYZ don’t just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate as sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they’ll escape—or even survive—life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love? (another surprise review copy.... anyone read this series and know if you have to read them in order? I'm guessing you probably should, but I'm not sure!)

Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh

Three years ago, Persia ran away from her drug-addict parents and found a home with the Outlaws, an underground theater troupe. With time, this motley band of mortals and fey, puppeteers and actors, becomes the loving family Persia never had, and soon Persia not only discovers a passion for theater but also falls in love with one of the other Outlaws. Life could not be more perfect.
Until an enemy makes an unfair accusation against the group and forces them to flee their world and hide in the neighboring realm of Faerie. But in Faerie, all is not flowers and rainbows. With bloodthirsty trolls, a hostile monarchy, and a dangerous code of magic, the fey world is far from the safe haven the Outlaws had hoped for....

Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Sixteen-year-old Tansy Piper moves with her grandfather and her mother, a horror writer, to the setting of her mother's next book--a secluded house outside of a tiny, desolate West Texas town. Lonely and upset over the move, Tansy escapes into her photography and the dark, seductive poems she finds hidden in the cellar, both of which lure her into the mind and world of a mysterious, troubled young man who died sixty years earlier.

Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson

First, six mysteriously pale new students show up at Sophie McGee’s high school. Then, Sophie’s childhood nemesis James reappears, still displaying a knack for making Sophie’s blood boil. When Sophie finds out that James has a connection to the new students, she decides to investigate...never expecting her life will quickly begin to resemble a campy horror movie, complete with budding crushes and bloodthirsty villains. (this sounds a bit like a parody of the vampire genre, I've read some reviews and it's supposed to be very funny)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book review: Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

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

Sixteen-year-old Emmajin is the oldest granddaughter of the great Khubilai Khan, ruler of the great and powerful Mongolian empire in the 13th century. Growing up in a society where fame and glory can only be earned through warfare, Emmajin competed with her male cousins and became skilled in archery and riding. Emmajin longs to join the army, now that she is old enough, but even in her society, women cannot be soldiers.

When she tells her grandfather, the Khan, about her longing to join the army, he instead gives her an assignment to get to know Marco Polo, a young foreigner visiting the Khan’s court, in order to find out about his homeland. Emmajin resents the assignment at first, since she is prejudiced against foreigners, but she soon comes to care for Marco as a friend, and even finds herself attracted to him. He also challenges her beliefs in a way no one else ever has, causing her to question for the first time the morality of the Mongol army’s brutality during war.

Daughter of Xanadu is a fascinating historical novel full of history, romance, and adventure. I really liked the historical setting, it was very interesting and I had never before read a book set in this place and time. Emmajin is a strong female character who struggles to find her place in a male dominated society. She must decide where her loyalty lies, as she deals with love and loss, grows and matures, and learns about the true reality of war. I would recommend this book to both teens and adults who enjoy historical fiction, the unique historical setting really makes it stand out from other books in the genre.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan (Published by Simon & Schuster, April 19, 2011)

It is India, 1918, six months after the end of World War I, and Rosalind awaits the return of her father from the war. Rosalind is kept from boarding school in England at her mother’s insistence. While her father has been at war, Rosalind sees the country slowly change. A man named Ghandi is coming to power, talking about nonviolence and independence from Britain. Rosalind longs to live the life that her heart tells her, not what her parents prescribe for her, but no one seems to listen.
This penetrating story, told with lush and vivid detail, contrasts Rosalind’s privilege and daily experiences in India with the hardship of the people around her. As she comes of age during this volatile period of history, will she find the courage to claim her own identity and become her own person?

I love Gloria Whelan's historical fiction and she hasn't had a new book in a couple of years so I am really excited to read this book. The historical setting sounds really interesting and unusual. I'm not sure how the cover fits the story though!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book review: Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Wildwing by Emily Whitman (Published by Greenwillow Books, September 21, 2010)

Growing up in 1915 England, fifteen-year-old Addy has always resented that she is poor and illegitimate, and longs to rise above her station in life. All these years, she has had to endure the cruel teasing of the other girls, who think she is a worthless nobody. Now, her mother has forced her to leave school and take a job as a maid to Mr. Greenwood, a rather eccentric man who never recovered from the death of his wife and the disappearance of their only child. Addy eventually learns to enjoy her job and the books Mr. Greenwood allows her to read. But then her mother threatens to send Addy away to become a live-in servant far from home. Investigating the mysterious locked room in Mr. Greenwood's house, she finds a strange contraption that turns out to be a time machine that takes Addy back in time to her town during the Middle Ages.

At first, Addy sees this as the perfect opportunity. She can escape her mother's plans and build a new life in another time. And when she is mistaken for a noblewoman, the Lady Matilda, her plan seems to be working perfectly. But then she learns Lady Matilda is the intended bride of a much-older nobleman, a fate difficult to accept now that she is falling in love with Will, a handsome young man who is the falconer's apprentice and far below Lady Matilda's social class. Can Addy find a way to be with Will and live the life she's always wanted?

Wildwing was a very enjoyable read that will appeal to readers of young adult historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. From the start I sympathized with Addy over the cruel treatment she endured from her classmates and her longing to escape a life of drudgery. The story was rather predictable at times, but even when I could guess what would happen I still enjoyed reading about it.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In My Mailbox - 9/18/10

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


The Secret of the Sealed Room by Bailey MacDonald

Indentured servant Patience Martin lives a hard life in 1721 Boston, but things get even harder when her demanding employer is found dead—in a bedroom locked from the inside. Powerful townsmen accuse Patience’s friend, Moll Bacon, of being a witch and the murderer, but with her own future in jeopardy, Patience doesn’t know how she can help prove Moll’s innocence—until she finds a new friend. Ben Franklin is a clever young printer’s apprentice with a fondness for wise aphorisms. Ben risks his own skin to protect Patience, and his cunning and ingenuity are a perfect match for her courage and determination. But will their friendship and teamwork be enough to solve the mystery, clear Moll, and free Patience from a harsh life of servitude?

For review:

Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Addy knows there's so much more to life than what she has. She must be destined for more than being a maid to an eccentric elderly man. And so when she finds a mysterious contraption in the gentleman's study, of course she steps inside. Of course she bumps into the wrong button. Suddenly Addy is in medieval England, mistaken for the young woman betrothed to the lord of the nearby manor. It's destiny. But is it home? And will she ever find her way back to her own time? Will she want to, once she's met the shy, handsome falconer's apprentice? (this is the hardcover, I was previously sent the ARC, and my review of it will be posted very soon!)

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Violet Ambrose can sense the echoes of those who’ve been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Jay is the only one outside her family who knows of her morbid ability. But when Violet discovers the body of a young boy she draws the attention of the FBI and is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that will endanger not only her secret but her life.

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

Life changes drastically for Ruth Livingstone the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her under an assumed name to a small village in New Jersey. There she dutifully awaits his acquittal, certain that her father, Reverend Livingstone, soon will be cleared of the outrageous accusations against him.
When tragic events transpire, Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River—a place where she can find a measure of peace amid her growing heartache. It is also here that she meets Jake Spencer, a man who both frustrates and intrigues her. Fearful of the newspapermen intent on tracking her down and unsure of whom to trust, Ruth knows she must carefully maintain her identity as Widow Malloy. But as love begins to slowly bloom, can the tenuous affection growing between Ruth and Jake withstand the secrets that separate them?

Masquerade by Nancy Moser

1886. Charlotte Gleason embarks from England with conflicting emotions. She is headed for New York to marry one of America's wealthiest heirs--a man she has never even met. When her doubts gain the upper hand, she swaps identities with her maid Dora. She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. But what begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl becomes a test of survival beyond her blackest nightmare.
For Dora, it's the chance of a lifetime. She is thrust into a fairy tale amid ball gowns and lavish mansions, yet is tormented by the possibility of discovery--and humiliation. And what of the man who believes she is indeed his intended? Is this what her heart truly longs for?

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a special plan for the future. Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible. But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well.
When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

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 book is for an ARC tour, I have to read it this week, so my review will be up very soon)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin

The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin (Published by Delacorte Books, December 14, 2010)

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?
Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden...
Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry...
From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties.... when anything goes.

This series sounds pretty similar to Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen, I guess the 1920s is a popular setting for YA historical fiction right now!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book review: Dear Canada: Banished from Our Home by Sharon Stewart

Dear Canada: Banished from Our Home by Sharon Stewart (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2004)

Twelve-year-old Angélique Richard has lived her whole life on a farm in Grand-Pre, Acadia, as part of a large, loving family. But the year is 1755, and life for everyone in Acadia is about to change forever. The British government has been imposing more and more restrictions on the Acadian people, due to the war with the French. Although the Acadians wish to remain neutral, the British refuse to trust them. Angélique's father and many of the other men are thrown in jail for signing a petition in protest of this unfair treatment, and even worse is to come for the people of Grand-Pre.

Angélique describes this all in her diary, first telling of everyday life - doing chores, going to church, fun times with her brothers, sisters, and cousins - and then the difficulties she faces as the British impose more restrictions on her people. This is followed by the unjustified deportation of her people, which results in separation from some of her family members and friends, and Angélique's struggle to remain hopeful in the heartbreak that follows, as her family searches for a new home, facing many hardships along the way.

This book is one of my favorite books from the Dear Canada series. Angélique is a wonderfully real character who brings to life the heartbreaking story of the Acadians and the tragedies they faced during their forced exile from their homeland. I highly recommend this book to readers who have enjoyed other Dear Canada books or books from the similar Dear America series.

Book review: Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan (Published by HarperCollins, July 26, 2005)

Rachel Sheridan was born and raised in British East Africa, the daughter of British missionary parents who ran a hospital there. Africa is the only home Rachel has ever known, and she loves it. But everything changes in 1919, when Rachel is thirteen. An influenza epidemic arrives and takes the lives of her parents. Because her parents were orphans, Rachel has no family to turn to, and is caught up in the devious plans of their wealthy neighbors, the Pritchards.

The Pritchards lost their daughter Valerie, who was Rachel's age, in the epidemic. Valerie was about to leave to visit her grandfather in England, and the Pritchards force Rachel to impersonate Valerie and take her place. They hope Rachel will win the grandfather's heart and persuade him to leave his estate and money to the Pritchards. Rachel is devastated to leave her beloved Africa and travel to cold, lonely England. She finds herself coming to care for her "Grandfather," but hates living a lie, and fears the Pritchards will someday follow her to England. At the same time, she is determined to find a way to return to Africa and reopen her parents' hospital.

Listening for Lions is another excellent historical novel by Gloria Whelan, who is one of my favorite authors. Rachel was a very likable and determined character, and I loved the unique storyline and historical setting -- the author brought the African and British settings to life. I recommend this book to readers who enjoyed other books by Gloria Whelan or who love historical fiction.

Book review: Dear Canada: The Death of My Country by Maxine Trottier

Dear Canada: The Death of My Country by Maxine Trottier (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2005)

When Geneviève was about five years old, she and her older brother, Chegual, were the sole survivors of a raid on their Abenaki village. They were rescued and brought to Quebec, where they were taken in by a childless couple, the apothecary and his wife. Not long after, the apothecary died, but his wife, Madame Claire, continued to raise the children. Geneviève eventually became more French than Abenaki following her education by the nuns, but her brother never adjusted and eventually left.

Now, Geneviève is twelve and the year is 1759. She continues to live in Quebec with her adoptive mother, Madame Claire. A war rages between France and England over control of some of the North American colonies, and Geneviève finds her peaceful life changing in many ways when the city of Quebec is put under siege by the British. Her brother returns to the city with his best friend, only for them to go off to battle to defend Quebec with other Indian allies.

This was one of the best books in the Dear Canada series. I loved the characters as well as the historical setting. Although it was very sad at times, it was also hopeful. Geneviève was an interesting character - part French, part Abenaki, but fully neither. She was able to give a unique view of the French and Indian War. I'd definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoyed other Dear Canada books or who enjoy the similar Dear America series.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Contest: The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry

Thanks to author Susan Conventry, I am hosting a contest to win a copy of her debut young adult historical novel, The Queen's Daughter:

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?

To find out more about Susan Coventry and The Queen's Daughter, you can visit her website. You can also read my review of the book and my interview with Susan Coventry.

US mailing addresses only
Must enter by Sunday, September 26th

To enter, post a comment with your email address
Extra entries:
+1 if you link to this contest anywhere (Twitter, blog, etc)
+1 if you read and comment on either my review or interview

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In My Mailbox - 9/11/10

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature. Here are my new books for this week. I got a bunch of review books this week in a very nice package from HarperTeen and also bought one book.

For review:

Entwined by Heather Dixon

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....

A True Princess by Diane Zahler

Twelve-year-old Lilia must save her best friend, Kai, from a terrible enchantment caused by their perilous encounter with the Elf-King and his beautiful daughter. Now the only way for Lilia to break the spell is to find a mysterious jewel of ancient power hidden somewhere in the North Kingdom. But the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it lies is caught up in a different kind of search—the search for a true princess.

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures hunting her, killing her. But when Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness.
Ellie’s role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives, and for truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what it is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place--and out of place, at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make--between honesty and deciet, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford

Eden first meets him on the beach. His opening line is unbelievably spectacular, really. But then so are his powers. Only she doesn't know that, in the beginning, and she falls in love. It will take what seems like a lifetime and a journey into death and back for her to discover that her own powers are considerable and unimaginable. He hasn't fallen yet. Will he? Will she? This is a deeply satisfying, dark, and inventive paranormal romance by debut novelist Leah Clifford. The first in a series.

Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston

“I don’t love Sonny Flannery.”
With a single lie, seventeen-year-old Kelley manages to protect the boy she loves and send him retreating into a haven for Lost Fae hidden below New York City. If she can figure out who’s after Sonny’s magick and uncover the reason why Janus Guards are being recruited to hunt innocent Faerie, Kelley might stand a chance at getting him back…but not before she must finally confront her own Faerie powers and master them.
The much-anticipated finale of Lesley Livingston’s ravishing trilogy that began with Wondrous Strange and gathered force in Darklight comes to a stormy head. Fans new and old will revel in the lush romance—and be swept away by the chaotic tempest that’s swirled Kelley and Sonny together.

Father of Lies by Ann Turner

Fourteen-year-old Lidda has always known she was different. She longs to escape Salem Village and its stifling rules—to be free to dance, to sing, to live as she chooses. And when accusations fly and witch fever erupts, Lidda realizes that she feels and sees things that others can’t, or won’t. But how will she expose the truth without being hung as a witch herself?


The Madman of Venice by Sophie Masson

Romance and mystery merge in this suspenseful tale inspired by Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
Venice in 1602 is a vibrant and charming city. Yet beneath this splendor lies a sinister underworld in which murderous pirates and conniving noblemen have woven a tangled network.
Along with his daughter, Celia; his clerk, Ned; and his sister, Mistress Bess Quickly, Master Ashby, a prosperous merchant, sets forth from London to Venice to investigate the pirate attacks that have been plaguing English ships. But the group's mission turns out to be far more than they bargained for when Ashby is beseeched to find Sarah Tedeschi, a Jewish girl who has vanished from the Venetian Ghetto after being accused of witchcraft by the powerful Countess of Montemoro.
Is Sarah's disapperance somehow connected to the pirate attacks? Nothing is what it seems as Ned and Celia uncover secrets that have been hidden for far too long.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury (Published by Atheneum, May 24, 2011)

This is Agnes Wilkins’ debut season and already she’s attracting the attention of one of England’s most eligible and desirable men: Lord Showalter. He’s been quite forward about his intentions and Agnes finds this at once thrilling and terrifying. He is handsome and wealthy and has this quirky interest in helping England amass the world’s finest collection of Egyptian artifacts. It could be a good match—but everything Agnes knows about courtship and high society romance comes from A. Lady novels, and it seems to be a rule that men who are too good to be true are usually hiding something.
But, what Showalter is hiding is not crumbling finances or boarish behavior. He is deceiving the whole British Empire. He is spy working for Napoleon, his orders smuggled into London in Egyptian artifacts—like the one Agnes pockets while at a mummy unwrapping party at Showalter’s home. Her innocent interest in this trinket (and childish need to keep it) jump starts a chain of events that bring out dangerous characters, dangerous circumstances, and the biggest danger of all—true love.

This book sounds like it will be such a fun read! Romance and adventure (and mummies!) set in 19th century England.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book review: The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (Published by Zondervan, September 14, 2010)

In 1386 in the town of Hagenheim, Germany, seventeen-year-old Rose is thankful to have found work as the apprentice of the town healer. If she can prove her worth, she will someday be the town healer, which means she would not be forced into an unwanted marriage with one of the horrible suitors her mother keeps forcing on her. However she often feels sick at the sight of blood and worries she will not be able to be a good healer, and thus lose her position. Wilhelm, Lord Hamlin, is the duke’s son and the future ruler of their region. He has been betrothed since childhood to a mysterious young noblewoman in hiding, whom he has never met. He must find and defeat the evil conjurer Moncore, so that his future wife may come out of hiding and they can marry.

When Wilhelm is injured and the healer is away, Rose, as the apprentice, must care for his injuries. The two find themselves drawn to each other from the start, but a love between them would be forbidden. Wilhelm is a nobleman and already betrothed, and he has an obligation to his betrothed, his family, and his people. Rose knows she is far below his social class and must focus on becoming a good healer so that she can avoid marriage to the most recent, horrible suitor her mother has chosen for her, a disgusting merchant, rather than spending her days longing for a love that can never be. But despite that, neither Wilhelm or Rose can stop thinking about each other.

The Healer’s Apprentice is a very romantic fairy tale inspired love story with a charming Medieval setting. The love between Rose and Wilhelm was very sweet, and both were strong and likeable characters. They seemed so real as they struggled with their feelings for each other which conflicted with their responsibilities and obligations to others. I highly recommend this very sweet and romantic love story to both teen and adult readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings or sweet historical romances.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In My Mailbox - 9/4/10

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature. Here are my new books this week. This week I made a trip to Strand Bookstore in New York City (which I have mentioned here a few times before) and got some ARCs there as well.

For review:

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.
When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star. . . .
Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich

Here follows the story of a most extraordinary year in the life of an Ojibwe family and of a girl named "Omakayas," or Little Frog, who lived a year of flight and adventure, pain and joy, in 1852.
When Omakayas is twelve winters old, she and her family set off on a harrowing journey. They travel by canoe westward from the shores of Lake Superior along the rivers of northern Minnesota, in search of a new home. While the family has prepared well, unexpected danger, enemies, and hardships will push them to the brink of survival. Omakayas continues to learn from the land and the spirits around her, and she discovers that no matter where she is, or how she is living, she has the one thing she needs to carry her through.

Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves—Legend’s Run is famous for them. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight. Brandon may be Celeste’s hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend’s Run.


Dear America: The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson (Hardcover copy, review here and author interview here)

One fateful day in December 1941, Piper Davis awaits news of her brother, a soldier on the battleship Arizona stationed in Pearl Harbor. Explosions rule the earth and sky, and Piper wonders what will become of her brother, and of her life in Seattle, as rationing and blackouts take hold. Soon, Piper is greeted by another grim situation - the incarceration of her Japanese neighbors.
Piper's father, a pastor for a Japanese Baptist Church, decides to follow his congregants when they are sent to an incarceration camp, bringing Piper along with him. She resents being uprooted, but as she learns about the harsh and heartbreaking realities of war, Piper begins to understand that she has the power to make a difference.

Dear America: The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory (New edition, review here)

Eleven-year-old Abigail Jane Stewart's fictionalized diary about her life, family, friends, and neighbors, and the sides they have to choose in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the height of the Revolutionary War, renders a vivid portrayal of one of the most memorable and crucial winters in American history. Abby's life with her family is quickly upended when they are awakened by the unfamiliar sound of drums. General George Washington is leading the Continental soldiers into their winter encampment at Valley Forge, PA. Hardship is a constant companion for soldiers and citizens alike throughout the winter, and in her diary, Abby pieces together the beauty, pain, and blessings of this long, revolutionary winter.

Dear America: A Journey to the New World by Kathryn Lasky (New edition, review here)

Twelve-year-old Remember Patience Whipple ("Mem" for short) has just arrived in the New World with her parents after a grueling 65-day journey on the MAYFLOWER. Mem has an irrepressible spirit, and leaps headfirst into life in her new home. Despite harsh conditions, Mem is fearless. She helps to care for the sick and wants more than anything to meet and befriend a Native American. Her wish comes true when she meets Squanto, who helps Mem and her family face a year of trial, tragedy, and thanksgiving.

Horse Diaries: Golden Sun by Whitney Sanderson

Oregon, 1790
Golden Sun is a chestnut snowflake Appaloosa. In summer, he treks through the mountains with his rider, a Nez Perce boy named Little Turtle, as he gathers healing plants. But when Little Turtle’s best friend falls ill, Golden Sun discovers his true calling. Here is Golden Sun’s his own words.

Strand ARCs:

Dear America: Like the Willow Tree by Lois Lowry

Suddenly orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine, are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shakers' unfamiliar way of life, Lydia must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know.
Now separated from her beloved brother, for men and women do not mix in this community, Lydia must adjust to many changes. But in time, and with her courageous spirit, she learns to find the joy in life again.

StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

16-year-old Digger thrives as a spy & sneak-thief among the feuding religious factions of Gerse. But when a routine job goes horribly wrong and her partner & lover Tegen is killed, she disguises herself in a group of young nobles & sneaks out of the city. Accepted as a lady-in-waiting at the stronghold of the powerful Nemair, she finds new peace & friendship (*and* some new targets). But when an old client from the city comes to the castle, she realizes her hosts may be planning the ultimate uprising against the king - & rather than true peace, she may be at the heart of the rebellion.

Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.
But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee

Meg Pickel’s older brother, Orion, has disappeared. One night, she steals out to look for him, and makes two surprising discoveries: She stumbles upon a séance that she suspects involves Orion, and she meets the author Charles Dickens, also unable to sleep, and roaming the London streets. He is a customer of Meg’s father, who owns a print shop, and a family friend. Mr. Dickens fears that the children of London aren’t safe, and is trying to solve the mystery of so many disappearances. If he can, then perhaps he’ll be able to write once again.

The Midnight Tunnel by Angie Frazier

It is 1905 and young Suzanna works at her family's inn in Loch Harbor, New Brunswick, where she is trained to be a well-mannered hostess and a charming lady. Suzanna has other ideas for her future--she wants to be a detective. When a young guest goes missing on a stormy summer night, Suzanna's famous detective uncle, and idol, comes to solve the case. But Suzanna learns that not everything is as it seems. With a little help from her friends, can she solve the mystery of the missing girl before her uncle gives up? (no cover available online)

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.
Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

Widow Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat and provide for her two young sons, though some days it feels as though her efforts are sabotaged at every turn. When her cattle come down with disease and her sons' lives are endangered, she must turn to Rand Brookston, Timber Ridge's physician and reluctant veterinarian. While Rachel appreciates his help, she squelches any feelings she might have for Rand--her own father was a doctor and his patients always took priority over his family. Rachel refuses to repeat the mistakes her mother made. But when she's courted by a wealthy client of the local resort, she faces a choice: self-sufficiency and security or the risk inherent in the deepest of loves.

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . .
Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom.
Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work.
She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family — if she can find it.
And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers guild — if only he can create a working head.
Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book review: Dear America: Voyage on the Great Titanic by Ellen Emerson White

Dear America: Voyage on the Great Titanic by Ellen Emerson White (New edition published by Scholastic, November 1, 2010; originally published in 1998)

When Margaret Ann Brady was seven years old, her father died, and her mother died not long after. Eventually, her brother left her at an orphanage in London and immigrated to America, hoping to find a good job there so that he could later pay for Margaret's passage to America and they could be reunited. When Margaret is thirteen, in the spring of 1912, she gets the opportunity to travel to America and join her brother in Boston, in a different way than expected. Mrs. Carstairs, a wealthy American woman, is returning home on the maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic, and wants a companion to keep her company during the voyage. She hires Margaret to be her companion, with passage to America as her payment.

First class on a ship like the Titanic is full of wonders to a young girl like Margaret, who grew up in poverty in a working-class neighborhood in London and later in an orphanage. She enjoys exploring the ship and meets Robert, a handsome young steward working on the ship. But the excitement of the voyage turns to tragedy when the Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks.

I first read this book when it was originally published years ago as part of the Dear America series, which is now being re-released for a new generation of readers. This book wasn’t one of my top favorites from the series, since I was a bit sick of Titanic books at the time - it was first published shortly after the Titanic movie was released, along with a lot of other novels about the Titanic. However, it is still a very enjoyable read, and both new and old fans of the Dear America series are sure to enjoy it.
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