Saturday, February 26, 2011

In My Mailbox - 2/26/11

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 Revenant by Sonia Gensler

When Willie arrives in Indian Territory, she knows only one thing: no one can find out who she really is. To escape a home she doesn't belong in anymore, she assumes the name of a former classmate and accepts a teaching job at the Cherokee Female Seminary.
Nothing prepares her for what she finds there. Her pupils are the daughters of the Cherokee elite—educated and more wealthy than she, and the school is cloaked in mystery. A student drowned in the river last year, and the girls whisper that she was killed by a jealous lover. Willie's room is the very room the dead girl slept in. The students say her spirit haunts it.
Willie doesn't believe in ghosts, but when strange things start happening at the school, she isn't sure anymore. She's also not sure what to make of a boy from the nearby boys' school who has taken an interest in her—his past is cloaked in secrets. Soon, even she has to admit that the revenant may be trying to tell her something. . . .

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.
Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.
Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.
But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book review: Belle's Song by K.M. Grant

Belle's Song by K.M. Grant (Published by Quercus Publishing, February 3, 2011)

Belle is the only child of a bellfounder living in London in 1387. Her mother died when she was young and Belle knows she is likely a disappointment to her father, for she cannot help him with his trade like a son could, and she is terrible at the traditional female chores of cooking and cleaning house. To make things worse, when she is fifteen her daydreaming contributes to an accident that leaves her father crippled. When she meets a group of pilgrims staying at the inn next door, including the the famous writer Chaucer, she decides she will travel with them to Canterbury to pray that her father will be healed.

When she joins the pilgrimage, Belle meets many people, including two attractive young men - Luke, who is Chaucer's scribe, and Walter, the son of a wealthy knight. She also meets the horrible Summoner Seekum, who forces her to spy on Chaucer for him. There is trouble in England, for many are unhappy with the young king and would like to see him overthrown, while others support the king and would even seek the help of their enemy, France, to save him. During her journey, Belle encounters adventure, danger, romance, political intrigue, terrible secrets, and more.

Honestly, I have really mixed feelings about this book. I did really like the historical setting and the basic plot. But I think there was just too much going on for one 300 page book. There was the pilgrimage, the political intrigue, the love triangle which included a very dangerous secret, some sort of family feud that led to a jousting tournament, blackmailing a bunch of really horrible people, and Belle's issues of self-harming and being rather.... obsessive compulsive is the right term, I think (which I was very surprised to see in a historical novel). I think this could have been a really good book but it just became too complicated and didn't need all of this. If you are really interested in the historical setting you might enjoy this book but I wouldn't really recommend it to occasional readers of historical fiction.

Book review: Our Australian Girl: Meet Poppy by Gabrielle Wang

Our Australian Girl: Meet Poppy by Gabrielle Wang (Published by Puffin Books Australia, January 31, 2011)

Eleven-year-old Poppy and her older brother Gus live in an orphanage, the Bird Creek Mission, in Australia in 1864. Their Aboriginal mother died when Poppy was a baby and they do not know what happened to their Chinese father, who was away at the time. Gus hates the mission and keeps running away, which gets him into trouble. When Poppy learns that Gus is to be sent far away to another mission, he decides to run away to the goldfields, promising to return for Poppy once he has made enough money.

Shortly after Gus leaves, Poppy learns she is to be sent away to work as a servant for a family that is moving to Sydney, which is far away from the mission. Poppy doesn't want to go because she is afraid that Gus will be unable to find her when he returns, and they will never see each other again. So she decides to run away in hopes she will find her brother.

This book is the first of four books about Poppy from the Our Australian Girl series, which is about young girls during different times in Australian history. Poppy was a very likable character, she is smart, brave, and determined. I found the history in this book to be very interesting as I don't know a lot about Australian history, the only other books I have read set in Australia were some of the books from the My Australian Story series. I'm sure young girls living in Australia who are interested in their country's history will love this book, but as an adult living in America, I really enjoyed it too!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interview with Julie Chibbaro, author of DEADLY, plus contest

As part of the blog tour for her new historical novel, Deadly, I have an interview with author Julie Chibbaro. I also am giving away five bookmarks signed by her, you can find information on the contest after the interview.

What inspired you to write Deadly? Why did you decide to tell the story in a diary format?

I wanted to write something totally out of my comfort zone, and a book that explores a scientific breakthrough in the early 20th century was exactly that challenge. As a teen, I was not the best student. I wondered if I could write a novel that would make subjects that bored me in school interesting. I feel sometimes I learned more about history from good historical novels than from textbooks. Science and history – I prefer them when someone can really tell me a good story, and explain to me why I should care. I wrote Deadly as a diary to give it that much more intimacy.

What kind of historical research did you do?

I love to look at old pictures and read old newspapers. There were about 20 different newspapers at the turn of the 20th century – and you can read them all on microfiche at the NY Public Library. I read the whole paper – the job section, the rentals, the birth, death, and marriage announcements, the ads – not just the articles that pertained to my story. This gave me a rounded picture of what it was like to live then. I also read source materials, articles written by George Soper about his hunt for the cause of the epidemic. A book by Judith Walzer Leavitt called Typhoid Mary helped enormously as well.

What do you hope readers learn from the book?

I’d like to be careful with the word “learn” because I tried very hard not to be pedantic in any way while writing Deadly. I’d like readers to finish it and say to themselves “Wow, I didn’t know any of that!” Just to give them some perspective on an earlier time in our history, and to think about how it relates to their lives today, and it does, in lots of ways. Typhoid is a salmonella bacteria. Typhoid Mary was a “healthy carrier” similar to some disease carriers today (e.g., HIV). How did they deal with these things then? What do we do differently today?

If you could go back in time for a day (with guaranteed safety!) what place and time would you like to visit?

I always love to read about/look at pictures of the 1960s. Not the war or the pain, but for the joy they seemed to have, a profound celebration of life with both their minds and bodies. They seemed much more willing to take wonderfully exciting risks with their lives.

What are some of your own favorite books and authors?

I am re-reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. I loved R.A. Nelson’s Teach Me and Matt Burgess’s Dogfight: A Love Story. One of my favorite books is The Alienist by Caleb Carr – that inspired me to write historical fiction.

Can you tell us anything about your next book?

My next book is about a graffiti artist (though he wouldn’t call himself that) and a poet (though she wouldn’t call herself that) who live in the parks of NYC. That’s about all I can say right now!

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you, Rebecca, for this chance to talk about myself and my book! I love to hear from readers, who can visit me and download an excerpt of Deadly from my website I’m also on FB (Deadly by Julie Chibbaro), and twitter (@juliechibbaro).

Contest info:

To enter to win one of five Deadly bookmarks signed by Julie Chibbaro, comment on this post with your email address.
Contest will run for 2 weeks, until March 10, 2011.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Emerald by Karen Wallace

Emerald by Karen Wallace (Published by Simon and Schuster UK, August 4, 2011)

Emerald St. John is in trouble. She has been condemned to marry a man she hates. Her enemies are conspiring to have her pet bear Molly torn apart in the baiting pits, and the man she loves is far away on the high seas. And she has stumbled into a web of spies with a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I. To save herself and the kingdom, she must beat the spies at their own game - which means transforming herself from a country girl into a Court lady. Can she do it in time? Set against a detailed and vivid recreation of a great Elizabethan manor house, EMERALD will bring to life a world where the most sophisticated rules of etiquette went hand in with brutality and superstition.

I love historical fiction set in the Tudor era so I am really looking forward to this book. Also the cover is very pretty!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Contest - By These Ten Bones & The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle

As part of the blog tour for the paperback release of By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle, I am giving away one copy each of By These Ten Bones and the author's previous book, The House of Dead Maids. I will also be participating in the tour again on March 2nd, when I will review the book as well as feature a guest post from the author. You can see a list of the other stops for the blog tour here.

Contest rules:
To enter, leave a comment on this post with your email address as well as which of the two books you would prefer to win.
Contest will run for 2 weeks, until March 8, 2011.

By These Ten Bones:

A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins the admiration of the weaver’s daughter, Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves.
There is an evil presence in the carver’s life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her-and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.

The House of Dead Maids:

Young Tabby Aykroyd has been brought to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be nursemaid to a foundling boy. He is a savage little creature, but the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse, as Tabby soon discovers. Why do scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House with a jealous devotion that extends beyond the grave?
As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces rising out of the land, she watches her young charge choose a different path. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the boy who will become Heathcliff has doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.

Book review: Our Australian Girl: Meet Letty by Alison Lloyd

Our Australian Girl: Meet Letty by Alison Lloyd (Published by Puffin Books Australia, January 31, 2011)

It's 1841, and Letty and her father have come to the docks to say goodbye to Letty's older sister, Lavinia, who is leaving on a long sea voyage from England to Australia. There are very few women in Australia, so the government is encouraging young women from England to emigrate to Australia. Unfortunately, Letty waits too long on the ship, and before she knows it she is stuck on board as the ship sails away.

The sea voyage is long and difficult and Letty misses her family. Lavinia tries to be kind to her but is frustrated at having to look after her younger sister who shouldn't be there and doesn't always listen to her. During the voyage, Letty experiences homesickness, bad weather, and the boredom of a long sea voyage, and also must care for Lavinia when she becomes ill.

This is the first of four books about Letty from the new Our Australian Girl series. This series reminds me of the American Girls books, since there are several characters living in different times in history, and each character has several books about her. Overall I liked this book, but I thought Letty was rather gullible at times, and too trusting of someone who was obviously not a true friend. However, I don't think this would bother younger readers as much, since it would probably be less predictable to them.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox - 2/19/11

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

Here are the new books I got this week:

For review:

Forgiven by Janet Fox

Kula Baker never expected to find herself on the streets of San Francisco, alone but for a letter of introduction. Though she has come to the city to save her father from a cruel fate, Kula soon finds herself swept up in a world of art and elegance—a world she hardly dared dream of back in Montana, where she was no more than the daughter of an outlaw. And then there is the handsome David Wong, whose smiling eyes and soft-spoken manner have an uncanny way of breaking through Kula's carefully crafted reserve. Yet when disaster strikes and the wreckage threatens all she holds dear, Kula realizes that only by unlocking her heart can she begin to carve a new future for herself.

Haunting Emma: Betrayal by Lee Nichols

Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she's battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she's flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and soul mate) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that's not something Bennett can handle. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school with fellow ghostkeeper, Natalie. When a new team of ghostkeepers arrive—one a snarky teen boy, the other a British scholar—Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. One they thought was good.
As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor.

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she's the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita's father banished her to the servants' quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.
Then, after Zita's twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends—Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier—Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot—and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.
A classic fairy tale with a bold twist, The Thirteenth Princess tells the unforgettable story of a magical castle, true love, spellbound princesses—and the young girl determined to save them all. (finished copy, reviewed ARC here)

A True Princess by Diane Zahler

Twelve-year-old Lilia is not a very good servant. In fact, she's terrible! She daydreams, she breaks dishes, and her cooking is awful. Still, she hardly deserves to be sold off to the mean-spirited miller and his family. Refusing to accept that dreadful fate, she decides to flee. With her best friend, Kai, and his sister, Karina, beside her, Lilia heads north to find the family she's never known. But danger awaits. . . .
As their quest leads the threesome through the mysterious and sinister Bitra Forest, they suddenly realize they are lost in the elves' domain. To Lilia's horror, Kai falls under an enchantment cast by the Elf King's beautiful daughter. The only way for Lilia to break the spell and save Kai is to find a jewel of ancient power that lies somewhere in the North Kingdoms. Yet the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it is hidden has been overrun with princess hopefuls trying to pass a magical test that will determine the prince's new bride. Lilia has only a few days to search every inch of the castle and find the jewel—or Kai will be lost to her forever. (finished copy, reviewed ARC here)

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. But when a plague of accusations descends on the village and witch fever erupts, L idda begins to realize 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?
Gripping and emotional, Ann Turner's retelling of the Salem witch trials captures one girl's brave soul-searching amidst a backdrop of fear and blame. (finished copy, reviewed ARC here)

Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley

When Melaia, a young priestess, witnesses the gruesome murder of a stranger in the temple courtyard, age-old legends recited in song suddenly come to life. She discovers wings on the stranger, and the murderer takes the shape of both a hawk and a man.
Angels. Shape-shifters. Myths and stories—until now.
Melaia finds herself in the middle of a blood feud between two immortal brothers who destroyed the stairway to heaven, stranding angels in the earthly realm. When the feud turns violent and Melaia becomes a target, she finds refuge with a band of angels attempting to restore the stairway. But the restoration is impossible without the repayment of an ancient debt—the “breath of angel, blood of man,” a payment that involves Melaia’s heart, soul, and destiny.

Exile by Anne Osterlund

Crown Princess Aurelia stands in the face of exile. Behind her are the sister who tried to kill her and the father who ignored it. In front of her are the entire kingdom and Robert—the friend she can't help but fall in love with. Aurelia may finally be living her dream . . . but danger is not far behind. When Aurelia and Robert are betrayed by the very guards assigned to protect them, their expedition becomes a fight for survival that carries them from frontier to desert sands. Even with a hunter on their tail, the risks—to their lives, the throne, their hearts—only fuels Aurelia's determination to see her kingdom. And when their perilous journey is finally complete, she will discover just how much her people need her, and just how much of a risk loving Robert can be.


Our Australian Girl: Meet Grace by Sofie Laguna

It's 1808 . . . and Grace is living with her uncle in London. They have no money, and Grace is always lonely and often hungry. The best part of her day is going to Fleet Street to talk to the horses that she loves so much. One afternoon Grace can't resist taking a shiny red apple from a grocer's cart - and then another... Before she knows it, Grace is being chased through the streets! Will she be caught and sent to prison - or worse? Meet Grace and join her adventure in the first of four exciting stories about a brave convict girl who is given a second chance. (reviewed here)

Our Australian Girl: Meet Letty by Alison Lloyd

It's 1841 . . . and Letty is on the docks in England, farewelling her bossy older sister who is about to take a long sea voyage to Australia. But then there is a mix-up,and before she knows it Letty finds herself on the ship too, travelling to New South Wales! How will Letty manage when her sister doesn't even want her on the ship? And what will it be like on the other side of the world? Meet Letty and join her adventure in the first of four exciting stories about a free settler girl and her new life in a far-off land.

Our Australian Girl: Meet Poppy by Gabrielle Wang

It's 1864 . . . and Poppy lives at bird Creek Mission near Echuca. Poppy hates the Mission, especially now that her brother, Gus, has run away to pan for gold. What is Poppy escaped, too? Would she survive alone in the bush? And would she ever find Gus, whom she loves more than anything in the world? Meet Poppy and join her adventure in the first of four stories about a Gold Rush girl who dream of a better life.

Our Australian Girl: Meet Rose by Sherryl Clark

It's 1900 . . . and Rose lives with her family in a big house in Melbourne. She wants to play cricket, climb trees and be an adventurer! But Rose's mother has other ideas. Then Rose's favourite young aunt comes to town, and everything changes. Will Rose's mother let Aunt Alice stay? And will Rose ever get to do the things she loves? Meet Rose and join her adventure in the first of four stories about a Federation girl who's determined to do things her way!

The Grave Robber's Secret by Anna Myers

The night his father forces him to help empty a grave to sell its contents to the medical college, Robby Hare swears he will never rob another grave. Yet he can't resist his fascination with the discoveries he knows the doctors will make as a result of their gruesome nighttime mission. Robby's wish for another way for his family to make ends meet is answered when William Burke and his daughter, Martha, come to live at their boarding house. Although he is grateful to avoid the graveyard, Robby senses something dangerous about Burke, and suspects him of involving his father in a broader web of evil—and possibly murder. Can Robby expose their scheme before innocent lives are lost?
In an exciting journey through the back alleys and graveyards of Philadelphia in the 1800s, to the halls of the nation's first hospital and the frontiers of medical research, Anna Myers will capture readers with the darker days of history.

A Bundle of Trouble by Kathryn Reiss

Rebecca is put in charge of the new neighbors' baby—and a kidnapper is on the loose in New York City! So when a strange boy shows up asking a few too many questions about the baby, Rebecca starts to worry. Could the child be in danger?

Book review: Sigrun's Secret by Marie-Louise Jensen

Sigrun's Secret by Marie-Louise Jensen (Published by Oxford University Press, January 6, 2011)

Fifteen-year-old Sigrun lives a peaceful life with her family on their farm in Iceland in the 9th century. All she knows about her family's history is that her father was once a chieftain in Norway and he and her mother moved to Iceland twenty years ago to start a settlement. Sigrun is happy because her brother and her best friend, Ingvar, have just returned from a year spent traveling to Ireland to trade. At first she barely recognizes Ingvar, who has grown into a young man during the past year. Sigrun is confused by the new feelings she has for her childhood friend.

Just as Sigrun begins to realize how she truly feels about Ingvar, her world falls apart. Her father is accused of being a murderer and an imposter and is banished from Iceland for three years, and Sigrun and her brother must go into exile with him while their mother stays behind to look after their farm. Sigrun is heartbroken at leaving behind her home, her friends, and Ingvar, when she has only just realized that she has fallen in love with him. After leaving Iceland, Sigrun, her brother, and their father travel to the city of Jorvik (now York, England), which was ruled by Scandanavians in the late 9th and early 10th centuries. Jorvik is very different from Sigrun's peaceful countryside home in Iceland, and she doesn't like living in a noisy and dirty city. I found this part of the story particularly interesting as I always had thought of the Vikings as just being raiders who attacked and then left and I didn't know they had controlled such a large part of what is now England.

I have loved everything I have read by Marie-Louise Jensen and Sigrun's Secret is no exception. All of her books have wonderful main characters and interesting and unusual historical settings. This book is a sequel of sorts to her previous book Daughter of Fire and Ice, which told the story of Sigrun's parents and their journey to Iceland. However you do not need to have read the previous book to enjoy or understand this one. If you enjoy historical fiction and historical romance I highly recommend this book and others by the author, and I can't wait to read her next book.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book review: Our Australian Girl: Meet Grace by Sofie Laguna

Our Australian Girl: Meet Grace by Sofie Laguna (Published by Puffin Books Australia, January 31, 2011)

Ten-year-old Grace lives with her uncle in London in 1808. She never knew her father, and her mother died when she was very young. Her uncle cannot work because of an injury, and so there is no money and Grace is often hungry. Her uncle often drinks and is unkind to her, but she has nowhere else to go except the streets. Grace's only happiness comes from going to Fleet Street and seeing the horses. Grace loves horses, and often dreams of having a horse of her own.

One day, starving and desperate, Grace cannot help herself and turns to thievery. She is caught and taken to prison. Life in prison is actually better than with her uncle, because at least she gets a meal every day. But she is afraid she will be hanged, for thieves often are. However, to Grace's surprise, she is given a chance at a new life, and sentenced to be transported to the colony of Sydney Cove, a place so far away some call it "the end of the world."

Meet Grace is the first of four books about the life of Grace, a young convict girl sent to Australia in the early nineteenth century. Grace was a very sympathetic character who suffered so much just from being born poor, for the life of poor children in 19th century London was extremely difficult. It was a bit depressing just reading about how miserable her life was and I hope she is able to make a new start in Australia and have a better life there. I definitely plan to read the rest of the books about her to find out. The Our Australian Girl series seems to be like an Australian version of the American Girls series except for slightly older readers, as there are several different series of books, each about a young girl living during a different time in Australian history. This series will likely be popular among young girls in Australia who are interested in reading about their country's history.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book review: Father of Lies by Ann Turner

Father of Lies by Ann Turner (Published by HarperTeen, February 8, 2011)

It is the winter of 1692 in the village of Salem, Massachusetts. Fourteen-year-old Lidda Johnson has always felt different from everyone else in her strict Puritan village. She longs to dance and sing and be free. She also has hallucinations and hears a voice inside her, a voice that calls himself Lucian. She doesn't understand why this is happening to her and is afraid to tell anyone. Her family has always thought her a bit odd, and as her behavior becomes stranger, she struggles to hide it from them.

Meanwhile, even worse trouble is stirring in Salem Village. Several young girls are having strange fits and blaming their afflictions on witchcraft. Lidda doesn't believe that her neighbors, who are good, ordinary people, could be witches who torment children. She knows that the girls are lying, but if she speaks up, she risks being accused of witchcraft herself, especially since she has always been different.

Father of Lies tells the story of the Salem Witch Trials from the unique and often disturbing viewpoint of a young girl suffering from bipolar disorder, a condition that was not yet understood in the 17th century. Despite how disturbed Lidda was, she seemed saner than most of the villagers, who were so willing to turn against their friends and neighbors because of the wild accusations of a few young girls. I thought this book was a very unique perspective on this disturbing time in history and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction. However, the ending was a bit abrupt; since this book was rather short I would have liked to read more about what happened to Lidda afer the ending, as I really think it could have been a bit longer.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine (Published by HarperCollins, May 10, 2011)

Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.
A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?
Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but luck is against her. She is saved from starvation by the dragon Meenore, who sends her on a dangerous mission inside the ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid at an ogre's feast, she finds herself cast in the role of a lifetime and pitted against a foe intent on murder.
Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine weaves an entrancing tale of a fearsome ogre, a dragon detective, and a remarkable heroine, who finds friendship where she least expects it, learns that there are many ways to mansion, and discovers that goodness and evil come in all shapes and sizes.

I have enjoyed Gail Carson Levine's fantasy novels for years so I am glad to see she has a new book being published soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book review: The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards

The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards (Published by Penguin Books UK, February 3, 2011)

This sequel to The Other Countess is set in 1584 and continues the story of Jane, one of the supporting characters from the first book. Jane was to marry Will Lacey, but broke off the betrothal so he would be free to marry his true love, Ellie, who was Jane's friend. But although she does not regret her decision, Jane's family was furious, and she was imprisoned in her own home and punished severely. She only escaped because a very kind elderly man married her to save her from her family. Though their marriage was in name only, Jane was very fond of her husband and grieved him when he died, because he was more of a father to her than her own ever was. His sons are horrible and forced her to leave her home, but thanks to a recommendation from her late husband, Jane is able to find a position at court as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I.

Shortly after arriving at court, to Jane's surprise she encounters James Lacey, the brother of the man she refused to marry. She still loves him, but he despises her at first because he doesn't know the real reason why she ended the betrothal, and thinks she jilted his brother. James soon learns the truth, but he does not feel he is good enough for Jane now, because he is haunted by atrocities he witnessed in war. He joins a voyage to the Americas to help scout a site for a possible future English colony in the New World, hoping the time away from home will help him recover from the terrible memories. However while James is gone, Jane's scheming relatives plot to force her into an unwanted marriage.

I enjoyed reading The Queen's Lady but I didn't like it as much as The Other Countess, which was one of my favorite books that I read last year. Jane was a character I didn't like at first but ended up sympathizing with by the end of the first book, her family truly is just awful! So I was glad to read the continuation of her story. But honestly, I wanted to slap James or something for being such an idiot and running off to deal with his problems without seeing how much Jane needed him, and thinking he was unworthy of her for reasons that I thought were pretty stupid. I would still recommend this book to readers who enjoyed the first book, or who haven't read it yet but enjoy historical romance, and I still plan to read the third book, The Rogue's Princess, which will be published in July 2011. I'm just a little disappointed that I didn't love this book as much as The Other Countess.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In My Mailbox - 2/12/11

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 Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards

1584 – Surrey, England When Lady Jane Rievaulx begins service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled at the court’s newest arrival . . . Master James Lacey. Despite her previous courtship with his older brother, James is the man she truly loves. And for his part, he cannot deny his fascination with her. However, James is setting sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Lady Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, there is only one man to save her. Will Master James return to his lady ­- before it’s too late?

Belle's Song by K.M. Grant

When Belle meets Luke, son of an alchemist and Scribe to the famous poet Chaucer, she is determined to travel with him to Canterbury on a pilgrimage. She hopes for a miracle: that her father will walk again. She also hopes to atone for her own part in his accident. It is a time of unrest across the country and the young King Richard II is just hanging on to his throne. A malign character on the pilgrimage suspects Chaucer of treason and slowly winds Belle into a political intrigue. At the same time, the impulsive Belle is drawn towards both Luke and to Walter, the wealthy son of a Knight. But Walter himself is in love with Luke...As the uprising against the King starts to draw pace and the web of intrigue around Belle and Chaucer tightens, Belle and her friends must risk everything to save their country and themselves...

Gladiator: Fight for Freedom by Simon Scarrow

It's Rome, 61 BC. Recruited as a gladiator, young Marcus Cornelius Primus faces a new life of brutal training, governed by strict rules, as he learns the skills of an elite warrior. But Marcus cannot simply forget his past. His father lies murdered by soldiers and his mother has been kidnapped and forced into slavery. Marcus is determined to find his father's old commander, Pompeius the Great, to seek justice for his family and set his mother free. Yet, unbeknown to him, Marcus is hiding a life-threatening secret. And if the Romans discover it, there will be no escape...

For review:

River of Time: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Most America teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romanitc hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds... until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a firce battle between knights of two opposing forces.
And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince, Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father's castle - a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle

A bone-chilling tale of werewolves and love, set in medieval Scotland
A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins the admiration of the weaver's daughter, Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves.
There is an evil presence in the carver's life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her-and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different.
That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.
A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation, Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world.

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

Interview with Mary Hooper, author of Fallen Grace

Mary Hooper is the author of Fallen Grace, a young adult historical novel set in Victorian England, which I recently reviewed. She has also written many other historical novels for young adults. To learn more about Mary Hooper and her books and to see the book trailer for Fallen Grace you can visit her website.

Fallen Grace is about a rather unique topic. What inspired you to write a historical novel for young adults about the Victorian funeral industry?

I have always been rather morbidly interested in the whys and wherefores of Victorian funerals; the mourning rites, the wonderful cemeteries and statues, the rituals to be gone through. (I loved the US TV show SIX FEET UNDER!)

What kind of historical research did you do while writing the novel?
I read lots of books, especially Mayhew's LONDON LABOUR AND THE LONDON POOR which deals with real people on the streets speaking in their own words.

Your young adult historical novels have been set in several different historical eras. If you could go back in time for a day (with guaranteed safety, of course!) what place and time would you like to visit?

I would be a favoured courtier of Charles II in one of his magnificent palaces. The Restoration (1660) was a pretty fun time in England - as long as you were rich, of course.

What are some of your own favorite books and authors?

You can't beat Dickens!

Can you tell us anything about your next book?
VELVET is set in 1900 and is about a poor girl who works in a steam laundry. After a mishap, she loses her job but is asked to go and work for a medium. She soon discovers, however, that there are more to this particular medium's visitations than meet the eye.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book review: No Moon by Irene N. Watts

No Moon by Irene N. Watts (Published by Tundra Books, April 13, 2010)

Fourteen-year-old Louisa Gardener is the second-oldest child in a large working-class family living in London in 1911. She left school a couple of years ago to help her mother with housework and caring for her younger siblings, but now she wants to have a real job, like her older sister Kathleen. Louisa is very lucky - on her first job interview, she is hired to be a nursemaid to two little girls, the daughters of a wealthy titled family in London, the Miltons. Louisa has always loved children, having helped to care for her four younger siblings. And it is a very good position, as the servants in this household are treated very well. Louisa is a bit unhappy that Nanny Macintosh, whom she assists in the nursery, is very strict, but overall she is happy with her job, and very fond of Alexandra and Portia, the little girls she helps care for.

Almost a year goes by, and Louisa is very settled in her routine of helping to care for the girls. She is also anticipating having time off to spend with her family, as Lord and Lady Milton are planning to bring the girls on a trip to New York to visit relatives. Because Louisa's little brother drowned during a trip to the seashore when Louisa was just five years old, Louisa is very afraid of water, and she blames herself for not protecting her brother, even though she was just a little girl herself. So she is quite relieved to be staying behind in London while Nanny Macintosh accompanies the girls and their parents on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. But then a few days before the trip, Nanny Macintosh falls down the stairs, and is too injured to travel. Louisa must take her place or lose her job. Will she be able to overcome her fear of the water to save herself and her young charges when disaster strikes?

Although the description on the back cover of this book makes it sound like the voyage on the Titanic is the major focus of the story, it actually doesn't take place until the second half of the novel. The first half is mostly about Louisa's life in London, settling into her new job, and the memories of her brother's death that haunt her years later. Even though it's not written as a diary, the writing style of this book still reminded me a lot of the Dear America series, and I think it would appeal to the same readers. My one complaint is that some of the historical facts seemed a bit forced, such as Louisa having a conversation about how there aren't enough lifeboats while talking a walk on the deck the day before the ship sinks.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book review: The Midnight Tunnel by Angie Frazier

The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery by Angie Frazier (Published by Scholastic, March 1, 2011)

Eleven year old Suzanna Snow, who prefers to be called Zanna, lives in the tiny seaside village of Loch Harbor, New Brunswick, in 1904. Her parents are the managers of an elegant hotel, the Rosemount. Ever summer, wealthy guests come to stay at the hotel. Zanna's parents have insisted that she begin to work in the hotel so that she can learn about it, hoping she will want to manage the hotel someday. But Zanna would much rather be a famous detective like her Uncle Bruce, who lives in Boston.

As the summer season starts, Zanna expects that as usual nothing much will happen, so she practices her detective skills by observing the guests. Then, during a terrible thunderstorm, Maddie, a little girl staying at the hotel with her family disappears. Zanna is sure she saw Maddie being led out of the hotel during the storm, but because she is a child, no one will believe her - not even her idolized Uncle Bruce, whi arrives from Boston to investigate the case. So Zanna decides she must investigate on her own, to try to solve the mystery and save Maddie.

I don't read quite as many middle grade books anymore, though I do read some, but I had to read this one because I loved Angie Frazier's debut young adult novel, Everlasting. And I am so glad I decided to! Zanna is such a fun and determined heroine and the unusual historical setting was described so well. If you know a young girl who loves historical fiction or mysteries this would be a great book to recommend, and even if you are older, you might enjoy it too, just like I did!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Historical fiction feature: life on the American frontier - part 2, middle grade books

I'm going to stop labeling these historical fiction booklists by month, because I seem to be too lazy to do one every month! Plus eventually I'll run out of topics anyway. This booklist will be include books set on the frontier, mostly in the old west but a few set further east during an earlier time period. This is part two of the list and includes the middle grade books. Over the years I have read and enjoyed most of these books, though there are a few I haven't read. This list is a lot longer than the list of young adult titles, it seems to be a more popular topic for middle grade novels, especially for the Dear America series! Also if you enjoy historical fiction and have any ideas for future lists you'd like to see, please comment, becuase I'm running out of ideas!

Dear America: Seeds of Hope by Kristiana Gregory: Susanna Fairchild and her family are on board a ship sailing from New York to the West, where they plan to start a new life in Oregon. But tragedy strikes when Susanna’s mother is lost to the sea. Hearing stories of great wealth, Susanna’s physician father decides he wants to join the hordes of men rushing to California to mine for gold.

Dear America: Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory: In her diary, thirteen-year-old Hattie chronicles her family’s arduous 1847 journey from Missouri to Oregon on the Oregon Trail.

Dear America: The Great Railroad Race by Kristiana Gregory: As the daughter of a newspaper reporter, fourteen-year-old Libby keeps a diary account of the exciting events surrounding her during the building of the railroad in the West in 1868.

Dear America: My Face to the Wind by Jim Murphy: Following her father’s death from a disease that swept through her Nebraska town in 1881, teenaged Sarah Jane must find work to support herself and records in her diary her experiences as a young school teacher.

Dear America: West to a Land of Plenty by Jim Murphy: While traveling in 1883 with her Italian American family (including a meddlesome little sister) and other immigrant pioneers to a utopian community in Idaho, fourteen-year-old Teresa keeps a diary of her experiences along the way.

Dear America: A Line in the Sand by Sherry Garland: In the journal she receives for her twelfth birthday in 1835, Lucinda Lawrence describes the hardships her family and other residents of the "Texas colonies" endure when they decide to face the Mexicans in a fight for their freedom.

Dear America: All the Stars in the Sky by Megan McDonald: A girl’s diary records the year 1848 during which she, her brother, mother, and stepfather traveled the Santa Fe trail from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe.

Dear America: Valley of the Moon by Sherry Garland: The 1845-1846 diary of thirteen-year-old Maria, servant to the wealthy Spanish family which took her in when her Indian mother died.

Dear America: Land of the Buffalo Bones by Marion Dane Bauer: Fourteen-year-old Polly Rodgers keeps a diary of her 1873 journey from England to Minnesota as part of a colony of eighty people seeking religious freedom, and of their first year struggling to make a life there, led by her father, a Baptist minister.

My Name is America: The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung by Laurence Yep: In 1852, during the height of the California Gold Rush, ten-year-old Wong Ming-Chung makes the dangerous trip to America to join his uncle on his hunt for a fortune. The true treasure for Ming-Chung, though, is America itself. In the midst of the lawless, often hostile environment, he is able to forge an international community of friends.

My Name is America: The Journal of Jedediah Barstow by Ellen Levine: In his 1845 diary, thirteen-year-old orphan Jedediah describes his wagon train journey to Oregon, in which he confronts rivers and sandy plains, bears and rattlesnakes, and the challenges of living with his fellow travelers.

My Name is America: The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds by Rodman Philbrick: Douglas Deeds, a fifteen-year-old orphan, keeps a journal of his travels by wagon train as a member of the ill-fated Donner Party, which became stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846-47.

My Name is America: The Journal of Augustus Pelletier by Kathryn Lasky: A fictional journal kept by twelve-year-old Augustus Pelletier, the youngest member of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery.

My America: Meg’s Prairie Diary by Kate McMullan: The diaries of a young girl who moves to Kansas with her family in the years before the Civil War. Titles are As Far as I Can See, For This Land, and A Fine Start.

My America: Joshua’s Oregon Trail Diary by Patricia Hermes: The diaries of a young boy who travels west with his family to settle in Oregon. Titles are Westward to Home, A Perfect Place, and The Wild Year.

Remember the Alamo by Lisa Waller Rogers: A thirteen-year-old girl keeps a diary of events during the Texas Revolution, as her life changes from dances and picnics to flight from Santa Anna’s army after the fall of the Alamo.

Get Along, Little Dogies by Lisa Waller Rogers: Fictional diary of a fourteen-year-old girl accompanying a cattle drive along the Chisolm Trail in 1878.

Bluestem by Frances Arrington: With their father away and their mother traumatized by some unknown event, eleven-year-old Polly and her younger sister are left to take care of themselves and their prairie homestead.

Prairie Whispers by Frances Arrington: Only twelve-year-old Colleen knows that her baby sister died just after she was born and that Colleen put another baby in her place, until the baby’s father shows up and makes trouble for her and her family on the South Dakota prairie in the 1860s.

Charlotte’s Rose by A.E. Cannon: As a twelve-year-old Welsh immigrant carries a motherless baby along the Mormon Trail in 1856, she comes to love the baby as her own and fear the day the baby’s father will reclaim her.

Calling Me Home by Patricia Hermes: Twelve-year-old Abbie struggles to accept her father’s desire to make a new home for his family on the Nebraska prairies of the late 1850s.

Journey to Nowhere by Mary Jane Auch: In 1815, while traveling by covered wagon to settle in the wilderness of western New York, eleven-year-old Mem experiences a flood and separation from her family. (Sequels: Frozen Summer and The Road to Home)

Danger Along the Ohio by Patricia Willis: Lost in the Ohio River Valley in May 1793, twelve-year-old Clare and her two brothers struggle to survive in the wilderness and to avoid capture by the Shawnee Indians.

Orphan Journey Home by Liza Ketchum: In 1828, while traveling from Illinois to Kentucky, twelve-year-old Jesse and her two brothers and sister lose their parents to the milk sickness and must try to finish the dangerous journey by themselves.

Prairie River series by Kristiana Gregory: Nessa can’t remember a home other than the orphange, and now she has no choice but to leave. Her plan is to escape on the next stagecoach west--one headed toward Prairie River, Kansas, a town in the middle of nowhere ... (titles are A Journey of Faith, A Grateful Harvest, Winter Tidings, and Hope Springs Eternal)

Orphan Runaways by Kristiana Gregory: Harrowing adventures accompany twelve-year-old Danny and his younger brother Judd when they run away from a San Francisco orphanage and search for their uncle in a gold rush boom town.

Nothing Here But Stones by Nancy Oswald: In 1882, ten-year-old Emma and her family, along with other Russian Jewish immigrants, arrive in Cotopaxi, Colorado, where they face inhospitable conditions as they attempt to start an agricultural colony, and lonely Emma is comforted by the horse whose life she saved.

Addie Across the Prairie by Laurie Lawlor: Unhappy to leave her home and friends, Addie reluctantly accompanies her family to the Dakota Territory and slowly begins to adjust to life on the prairie. (Sequels: Addie’s Dakota Winter and Addie’s Long Summer, there is also a prequel, Addie's Forever Friend, about her life before moving west, and another sequel called George on His Own about her brother.)

Gold in the Hills by Laurie Lawlor: When they are left with relatives while their father goes prospecting for gold in the Colorado mountains, ten-year-old Hattie and her older brother depend on their friendship with a recluse who lives nearby to make their lives bearable.

Crossing the Colorado Rockies, 1864 by Laurie Lawlor: As the Civil War rages, the Hitchcocks head from Pennsylvania toward the Rocky Mountains, certain they'll find gold! Thirteen-year-old Eda keeps a journal as they travel through hostile country and take shelter in a broken-down cabin.

Adventure on the Wilderness Road, 1775 by Laurie Lawlor: In 1775, while traveling with her family from Virginia to Kentucky, and joined by another family along the way, eleven-year-old Elizabeth reads Gulliver’s Travels to the children and keeps a journal of their adventures, which include a runaway slave, encounters with Cherokees, and a near-fatal accident.

West Along the Wagon Road, 1852 by Kathleen Duey: Eleven-year-old Harriet "Duck" Scott, who isn’t nearly as ladylike as her older sisters, finds many opportunities for adventure during an 1852 wagon train trip from Illinois to Oregon Territory, as her family deals with the loss of loved ones, quicksand, and a horse thief.

Survival: Death Valley by Kathleen Duey and Karen A. Bale: A brother and sister struggle to survive the rigors of Death Valley after their wagon breaks an axle and they set out alone to find help for their stranded family and injured father.

Home on Stoney Creek by Wanda Luttrell: Eleven-year-old Sarah is upset when her family leaves their home in Virginia to start a new life in Kentucky at the same time her beloved older brother goes off to fight with the American rebels against the British. (first book in the Sarah's Journey series)

Black-eyed Susan by Jennifer Armstrong: Ten-year-old Susie and her father love living on the South Dakota prairie with its vast, uninterrupted views of land and sky, but Susie’s mother greatly misses their old life in Ohio.

Whistler in the Dark by Kathleen Ernst: In 1868, twelve-year-old Emma and her widowed mother move to a tiny mining town in Colorado Territory to start a newspaper, but someone is determined to scare them away.

Riddle of the Prairie Bride by Kathryn Reiss: In 1878, twelve-year-old Ida Kate and her widowed father welcome a mail-order bride and her baby to their Kansas homestead, but Ida Kate soon suspects that the bride is not the woman with whom Papa has corresponded.

Hoofbeats of Danger by Holly Hughes: In 1860, eleven-year-old Annie, who lives at the Red Buttes Pony Express station in the Nebraska Territory, asks Pony Express rider Billy Cody to help her find the person responsible for sabotaging her favorite pony, Magpie.

Riding the Pony Express by Deborah Kent: Fifteen-year-old Lexie follows the Pony Express Trail in search of her brother.

Blackwater Creek by Deborah Kent: Erika and her family moved from Hungary to California in search of gold, but in 1849, when they have trouble paying their rent, Erila goes to work tending horses for their landlord and forms a bond with one of her charges.

Margret and Flynn, 1875 by Kathleen Duey: The year is 1875, and twelve-year-old orphan Margret and her sister, Libby, are living with the kind Mrs. Fredriksen in her sod house in rural Littleton, Colorado. Margret would be happy to stay forever, but she knows that Libby, with her basic distrust of anyone other than Margret, will have them moving soon enough. Then a tornado sweeps through, bringing with it an injured horse.

Katie and the Mustang series by Kathleen Duey: Adventures of a young girl on the Oregon Trail and her bond with her horse, a mustang.

Anisett Lundberg by Kathleen Duey: The small piece of gold which Anisett carries in her pocket causes grave danger for her family living in the rough world of the California gold camps.

Willow Chase by Kathleen Duey: In 1847, when her mother’s remarriage sends them on a difficult journey to California, Willow is swept overboard fording the South Platte River and must survive and search for her family.

Ellen Elizabeth Hawkins by Kathleen Duey: In Texas in 1886, Ellen finds her desire to be a cattle rancher discouraged by family members who do not think it a proper choice for a girl, but she proves her worth when drought threatens the ranch.

Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen: A fictionalized account of the journey made by nine-year-old Mary Ellen Todd and her family from their home in Arkansas westward over the Oregon Trail in 1852.

A Year Without Rain by D. Anne Love: Her mother’s death and a year-long drought has made life difficult for twelve-year-old Rachel and her family on their farm in the Dakotas, but when she learns that her father plans to get married again, it is almost more than Rachel can bear.

I Remember the Alamo by D. Anne Love: Twelve-year-old Jessie resents her father’s decision to move his family to San Antonio where they are caught up in the revolution of 1835-1836 including the siege of the Alamo.

Ransom’s Mark by Wendy Lawton: When thirteen-year-old Olive Oatman’s wagon train is raided by outlaw Indians, she and her sister are captured, only to be ransomed later by a band of Mohaves.

The Indian Paintbrush by Wendy Lawton: Novel about the childhood of Eliza Spalding Warren, the first white baby born in the Pacific Northwest.

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman: In 1849, twelve-year-old California Morning Whipple, who renames herself Lucy, is distraught when her mother moves the family from Massachusetts to a rough California mining town.

Letters from the Corrugated Castle by Joan Blos: A series of letters and newspaper articles reveals life in California in the 1850s, especially for thirteen-year-old Eldora, who was raised in Massachusetts as an orphan only to meet her influential mother in San Francisco, and Luke, who hopes to find a fortune in gold.

Dear Levi by Elvira Woodruff: Twelve-year-old Austin Ives writes letters to his younger brother describing his three-thousand-mile journey from their home in Pennsylvania to Oregon in 1851.

Julie Meyer by Dorothy and Thomas Hooper: Julie and her family join a wagon train traveling from Indiana to Oregon during the 1800s, enduring many challenges while on the difficult five-month journey.

I’m Sorry, Almira Ann by Jane Kurtz: Eight-year-old Sarah’s high spirits help make her family’s long journey from Missouri to Oregon more bearable, though they do cause both her and her best friend Almira Ann some problems.

Petticoat Party series by Kathleen Karr: Adventures of a girl on an all-female wagon train traveling to Oregon. Titles are Go West, Young Women; Phoebe’s Folly; Oregon, Sweet Oregon; and Gold Rush Phoebe.

In Care of Cassie Tucker by Ivy Ruckman: When her teenage cousin moves in with her family on their Nebraska farm in 1899, eleven-year-old Cassie learns a lot, including the meaning of "heathen" and "bigot."

Alice Rose and Sam by Kathryn Lasky: Alice Rose, an irrepressible twelve-year-old, shares adventures with Mark Twain, an outlandish reporter on her father’s newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada, during the 1860s.

The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz: Ten-year-old Ann overcomes loneliness and learns to appreciate the importance of her role in settling the wilderness of western Pennsylvania

A Paradise Called Texas by Janice Jordan Shefelman: Ten-year-old Ann overcomes loneliness and learns to appreciate the importance of her role in settling the wilderness of western Pennsylvania

My Brother, Abe by Harry Mazer: Forced off their land in Kentucky in 1816, nine-year-old Sarah Lincoln, known as Sally, and her family, including younger brother Abe, move to the Indiana frontier.

Anna’s Blizzard by Alison Hart: Having never excelled at schoolwork, twelve-year-old Anna discovers that she may know a few things about survival when the 1888 Children’s Blizzard traps her and her classmates in their Nebraska schoolhouse.

Silver Dollar Girl by Katherine Ayres: In 1885, unhappy living with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh, Valentine Harper disguises herself as a boy and runs away to Colorado determined to find her father who has gone there in search of gold.

The Journey Home by Isabelle Holland: Two orphan sisters in the late 1800s leave New York on the orphan train to seek a new home in the West. (Sequel: The Promised Land)

Historical fiction feature: life on the American frontier - part 1, young adult books

I'm going to stop labeling these historical fiction booklists by month, because I seem to be too lazy to do one every month! Plus eventually I'll run out of topics anyway. This booklist will be include books set on the frontier, mostly in the old west but a few set further east during an earlier time period. This is part one of the list and includes the young adult books, I will be making a separate post with the middle grade books. Over the years I have read and enjoyed most of these books, though there are a few I haven't read. Also if you enjoy historical fiction and have any ideas for future lists you'd like to see, please comment, becuase I'm running out of ideas!

Boston Jane by Jennifer Holm: Schooled in the lessons of etiquette for young ladies of 1854, Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia finds little use for manners during her long sea voyage to the Pacific Northwest and while living among the American traders and Chinook Indians of Washington Territory. (Sequels are Boston Jane: Wilderness Days and Boston Jane: The Claim)

The Staircase by Ann Rinaldi: In 1878, after her mother’s death on the way West, thirteen-year-old Lizzy Enders is left by her father at a convent school in Sante Fe, where she must deal with being the only non-Catholic student and where she plays a part in what some consider a miracle.

My Darlin’ Clementine by Kristiana Gregory: Expands on the folk song to tell of seventeen-year-old Clementine, whose dream of being a doctor is complicated by her drunken, gambling father, the lawlessness of 1866 Idaho Territory, and the affections of handsome Boone Reno.

Jenny of the Tetons by Kristiana Gregory: Orphaned by an Indian raid while traveling West with a wagon train, fifteen-year-old Carrie Hill is befriended by the English trapper Beaver Dick and taken to live with his Indian wife Jenny and their six children.

Away to the Goldfields by Pat Mitchell: Yearning for adventure and tired of farm life in New Hampshire, sixteen-year-old Mary Margaret Malarkey journeys to California in 1848 to find her father who arrived earlier to make his fortune in the goldfields.

A Heart for Any Fate by Linda Crew: Follows headstrong, optimistic, seventeen-year-old Lovisa King and her pioneer family, three generations strong, as they make the arduous journey west with a wagon train along the Oregon Trail.

Samantha and the Cowboy by Lorraine Heath: Historical romance about a teenage girl who disguises herself as a boy to work on a cattle drive and save her family’s farm, who puts herself in danger of discovery when she falls in love with a young cowboy.

Amelia and the Outlaw by Lorraine Heath: Historical romance about a teenage girl who falls in love with the young outlaw working off the remainder of his sentence on her family’s ranch.

The Devil’s Paintbox by Victoria McKernan: In 1865, fifteen-year-old Aiden and his thirteen-year-old sister Maddy, penniless orphans, leave drought-stricken Kansas on a wagon train hoping for a better life in Seattle, but find there are still many hardships to be faced.

Plainsong for Caitlin by Elizabeth M. Rees: A young teenage girl travels west with her sister, a mail order bride, only to fall in love with the man her sister is supposed to marry.

Stephanie: Heart of Gold by Cameron Dokey: When Stephanie learns her father has sent the man she loves to California in order to separate them, she stows away on a clipper ship and goes after him. After an exciting and almost fatal sea voyage she arrives in California to find the adventure and love of her life.

Heart of the Hills by Shelly Ritthaler: Traveling west in 1878 to help her pregnant aunt, sixteen-year-old Carrie Miller longs to return to her prosperous St. Louis fiancé, and is disillusioned by the greed and wilderness she encounters, until she finds true love with a local young man.

Sunfire: Young adult historical romance series set during various times in American history. Titles about life on the frontier are Margaret, Victoria, Caroline, Jessica, Josie, Julie, Amanda.

Daniel’s Walk by Michael Spooner: With little more than a bedroll, a change of clothes, and a Bible, fourteen-year-old Daniel LeBlanc begins walking the Oregon Trail in search of his father who, according to a mysterious visitor, is in big trouble and needs his son’s help.

Beyond the Divide by Kathryn Lasky: In 1849, a fourteen-year-old Amish girl defies convention by leaving her secure home in Pennsylvania to accompany her father across the continent by wagon train.

Fortune’s Journey by Bruce Coville: Sixteen-year-old Jenny faces many challenges on an overland journey to California in 1853 with the acting company that she inherited from her father.

Walking up a Rainbow by Theodore Taylor: In 1852, a fourteen-year-old orphan and her elderly guardian, accompanied by a tough drover and his crew, take several thousand sheep from Iowa to California, returning by ship through the Panama Canal, to raise money to save the girl’s home from a villainous debt collector.

West Against the Wind by Liza Ketchum: Fourteen-year-old Abby seeks both her father and the secret of a handsome but mysterious boy during an arduous journey by wagon train from the middle of the country to the Pacific coast in 1850.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book review: Dear America: A Light in the Storm by Karen Hesse

Dear America: A Light in the Storm by Karen Hesse (New edition published by Scholastic, March 1, 2011; originally published in 1999)

Fifteen-year-old Amelia Martin and her parents live at the lighthouse on Fenwick Island, off the coast of Delaware, where her father is the assistant lighthouse keeper, and Amelia often assists him. She begins her diary in December 1860, as the nation is divided by the subject of slavery on the eve of the Civil War. There is a similar divide in the marriage of Amelia's parents, who disagree about slavery, and it is destroying their relationship. Amelia used to not care about slavery, but now she finds herself taking the side of her father, who is very opposed to slavery.

Amelia must stand by helplessly as she watches both her parents' marriage and her country be torn apart. The state of Delaware, as a border state, is even more divided than most places. Many people that were once friends no longer speak to each other, while others avoid businesses they once shopped at due to differences of opinion about the war. The only thing Amelia can do is continue helping to keep the light in the lighthouse burning.

A Light in the Storm was an interesting book from the Dear America series that I first read when it was originally published in 1999. It wasn't one of my favorites from the series, but I enjoyed the descriptions of lighthouse life and the unique setting which sets the book apart from countless other historical novels set during the Civil War. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed other books from the Dear America series or who are interested in the historical setting.
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