Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Dear America: With the Might of Angels by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Dear America: With the Might of Angels by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Published by Scholastic, September 1, 2011)

Coretta Scott King winner Andrea Davis Pinkney brings her talents to a brand-new Dear America diary about the Civil Rights Movement.
In the fall of 1955, twelve-year-old Dawn Rae Johnson's life turns upside down. After the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Dawnie learns she will be attending a previously all-white school. She's the only one of her friends to go to this new school and to leave the comfort of all that is familiar to face great uncertainty in the school year ahead.
However, not everyone supports integration and much of the town is outraged at the decision. Dawnie must endure the harsh realities of racism firsthand, while continuing to work hard to get a good education and prove she deserves the opportunity. But the backlash against Dawnie's attendance of an all-white school is more than she's prepared for. When her father loses his job as a result, and her little brother is constantly bullied, Dawnie has to wonder if it's worth it. In time, Dawnie learns that the true meaning of justice comes from remaining faithful to the integrity within oneself.

I'm usually not that interested in historical fiction set after World War II, but since this is a new Dear America book, I have to read it!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox - 3/26/11

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

This is going to be a long post this week because I have a lot of great books from my last trip to Strand Bookstore in NY City, I love to go there but it's a pain to travel into the city so I only go like 1-2 times a year. I also got a few other books in the mail which look really good as well.

Dear America: Cannons at Dawn by Kristiana Gregory

Kristiana Gregory returns with a stunning new sequel to the bestselling Dear America title THE WINTER OF RED SNOW!
Abigail Jane Stewart returns in this brand-new sequel to THE WINTER OF RED SNOW. The Revolutionary War toils on, but the Stewart family can no longer avoid getting involved. Abby's father joins the Continental Army, while Abby, her mother, and her siblings become camp followers. They face daily hardships alongside the troops and continue to spend time helping the Washingtons. Filled with romance and adventure, Abby's frontline view of the war captures the heartache and bravery of the soldiers, as well as the steep cost of freedom. (signed by the author! I will be posting a review & interview in April)

The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting

At age fifteen, Catherine’s life is about to change. Her mother has just died and Catherine can’t stand the thought of being sent to live with her aunt in Boston. She longs for a life of adventure.
After she discovers her father’s secret life as captain of the pirate ship Reprisal, her only thoughts are to join him on the high seas. Catherine imagines a life of sailing the blue waters of the Caribbean, the wind whipping at her back. She’s heard tales of bloodshed and brutality but her father’s ship would never be like that.
Catherine convinces her father to let her join him, disguised as a boy. But once the Reprisal sets sail, she finds life aboard a pirate ship is not for the faint of heart. If her secret is uncovered, punishment will be swift and brutal.

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates by Eva Gray

In a terrifying future world, four girls must depend on each other if they want to survive.
Louisa is nervous about being sent away to a boarding school -- but she’s excited, too. And she has her best friend, Maddie, to keep her company. The girls have to pretend to be twin sisters, which Louisa thinks just adds to the adventure!
Country Manor School isn’t all excitement, though. Louisa isn’t sure how she feels about her new roommates: athletic but snobby Rosie and everything’s-a-conspiracy Evelyn. Even Maddie seems different away from home, quiet and worried all the time.
Still, Louisa loves CMS -- the survival skills classes, the fresh air. She doesn’t even miss not having a TV, or the internet, or any contact with home. It’s for their own safety, after all. Or is it? (reviewed here)

Dear America: Standing in the Light by Mary Pope Osborne

One of the most popular Dear America diaries of all time, bestselling author Mary Pope Osborne's STANDING IN THE LIGHT is now back in print with a gorgeous new cover!
Catharine Carey Logan and her family have enjoyed a peaceful and prosperous life as the Quakers and Delaware Indians share a mutually trusting relationship. Recently, however, this friendship has been threatened by violence against the Indians. Then, Catharine and her brother are taken captive by the Lenape in retaliation. At first, Catharine is afraid of her captors. But when a handsome brave begins to teach her about the ways of the Lenape, she comes to see that all people share the same joys, hopes, and fears. Osborne crafts a thrilling story of romance and danger and remarkable courage. (bought the new edition for my collection, reviewed here)

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.
Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

The Eternal Sea by Angie Frazier

Romance and adventure are just around the corner . . .
After the thrilling journey that led Camille through the dangerous discovery of love, secrets, and a magical stone that grants immortality, Camille has everything she wants. She's escaped the men who wanted her dead, and now she is ready to build a new life with Oscar, her one true love. But things are not to be so simple. Oscar is acting strangely, and before they can even board a ship from Australia back home, to San Francisco, Camille learns that the journey is not over. If she does not follow the magic of the curse of Umandu, her life and Ocar's could be in grave danger.

Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Schecter

"The Luxe" meets the ancient world in the extraordinary story of Cleopatra's daughter.
Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra & Mark Antony—the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, & when war finally comes, Selene faces the loss of all she's ever loved. Forced to build a new life in Octavianus's household in Rome, she finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies—until she reaches out to claim her own.
This stunning novel brings to life the personalities & passions of one of the greatest dramas in history, & offers a wonderful new heroine in Selene.

Titanic, Book 2: Collision Course by Gordon Korman

From bestselling author Gordon Korman, a second heart-stopping adventure aboard the unluckiest ship of all.
The Titanic has hit the high seas--and moves steadily toward its doom. Within the luxury of the cabins and the dark underbelly of the ship, mysteries unfold--a secret killer who may be on board, a legacy that may be jeopardized, and a vital truth that will soon be revealed. For Paddy, Sophie, Juliana, and Alfie, life on the Titanic brings both hiding and seeking, as their lives become irrevocably intertwined.
And then, of course, an iceberg appears, and the stage is set for the final scene.

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl's unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares.
Epidemics, floods, droughts--for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she's rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can't continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There's something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C. Wrede

From New York Times #1 bestselling author Patricia C. Wrede, the second in the series of magic on the western frontier.

Eff is an unlucky thirteenth child - her twin brother, Lan, is a powerful seventh son of a seventh son. And yet, Eff is the one who saved the day for the settlements west of the Great Barrier. Her unique ways of doing magic and seeing the world, and her fascination with the magical creatures and land in the Great Plains push Eff to work toward joining an expedition heading west. But things are changing on the frontier.
There are new professors of magic for Eff and Lan to learn to work with. There's tension between William and his father. And there are new threats on the frontier and at home. To help, Eff must travel beyond the Barrier, and come to terms with her magical abilities—and those of her brother, to stop the newest threat encroaching on the settlers.
With wit, magic, and a touch of good pioneer sense, Patricia C. Wrede weaves a fantastic tale of the very wild west.

Stones for My Father by Trilby Kent

The Boer War was disastrous for the British: 22,000 of them died. Close to 7,000 Boers died. Nobody knows how many Africans lost their lives, but the number is estimated to be around 20,000. This tragic, and little remembered, chapter in history is the backdrop for Trilby Kent’s powerful novel.
Corlie Roux’s father has always told her that God gave Africa to the Boers. Her life growing up on a farm in South Africa is not easy: it is beautiful, but it is also a harsh place where the heat can be so intense that the very raindrops sizzle. When her beloved father dies, she is left in the care of a cold, stern mother who clearly favors her two younger brothers. But she finds solace with her African maitie, Sipho, and in Africa itself.
Corlie’s world is about to vanish: the British are invading and driving Boers from their farms. The families who do not surrender escape to hidden laagers in the bush to help fight off the British. When Corlie’s laager is discovered, she and the others are sent to an internment camp.
Corlie is strong and can draw on her knowledge of the land she loves, but is that enough to help her survive the starvation, disease, and loss that befalls her in the camp?

My Australian Story: My Father's War by Sophie Masson

Marie's dad has been away for two years, fighting on the Somme battlefields in northern France. For months there has been no word from him, no letters or postcards. Marie and her mother are sick with worry, so they decide to stop waiting-and instead travel to France, to try to find out what has happened to him. There she experiences first-hand what war is like, as she tries to piece together the clues behind her dad's disappearance. Will Marie ever see her father again?

The Understudy's Revenge by Sophie Masson

London, March 1860: When mysterious Oliver Parry walks into the King's Room rehearsal rooms to audition for a new production of Hamlet, Millie Osborne is intrigued. Why is he so secretive? What is his interest in the company? When Millie and her friend Seth start investigating, they uncover a tale of secret identities, betrayal, lies, revenge—and perhaps even murder.

Book review: Titanic, Book One: Unsinkable by Gordon Korman

Titanic, Book One: Unsinkable by Gordon Korman (Published by Scholastic, May 1, 2011)

As the Titanic sets sail from Southampton, England on her maiden voyage in April 1912, among the many passengers and crew on board are four young teenagers with very different lives: Juliana, Sophie, Paddy, and Alfie. Juliana and Sophie are two girls who are both traveling in first class. Juliana is traveling with her father, a wealthy earl, on a business trip to New York. She is embarassed by her father, who is often drunk and foolish and wastes money gambling. Like Juliana, Sophie is also embarrassed by the parent she is travelling with. Her mother is a famous suffragette who was thrown out of England and now they must return home to America. Paddy is a pickpocket from the slums of Belfast who accidentally stowed away in some cargo while hiding from gangsters. And Alfie is a young steward who lied about his age so that he could get hired to work on the Titanic.

These four young passengers don't have much in common at first, but they are soon thrown together by events on board the ship. Alfie finds himself helping Paddy so that his own secret of being too young to work on the ship is not revealed. He also learns there may be an infamous murderer on board. Juliana and Sophie thought their biggest worries during the voyage would be dealing with their embarrassing parents and avoiding their boring dinner companion, but soon they too are involved.

Unsinkable is the first book in the newest adventure trilogy by Gordon Korman. He has written several similar series before which I read years ago (I particularly liked his Island and Dive series) though this is his first with a historical setting. As the first book in the series it mostly introduces the characters and their situations, and how they meet on board the ship. All four of the characters are unique and sympathetic, although they are a bit stereotypical at times. The book does end on a cliffhanger, with books two and three to be published in August and September, and I wish it were sooner because I can't wait to find out what happens to these characters. The story of the Titanic is one people have been fascinated by for years and with the 100th anniversary next year I am sure this will be a popular series.

Book review: Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates by Eva Gray

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates by Eva Gray (Published by Scholastic, May 1, 2011)

In the near future, life in the United States has changed as a result of a series of natural disasters as well as a war that has gone on for as long as thirteen-year-old Louisa can remember. Many wealthy parents are sending their children to boarding schools in the wilderness in hopes of keeping them safe. Louisa's parents are wealthy doctors, and they have arranged for her to attend a boarding school named Country Manner School with her best friend, Maddie, by giving Maddie a new identity as Louisa's twin sister.

At CMS, Louisa and Maddie are roommates with two other girls, Rosie and Evelyn. Louisa and Rosie both love being at CMS, enjoying the fresh air and survival skills classes after growing up in a polluted city. But Maddie is unhappy. She misses her real family and hates the rules of the school. Evelyn doesn't like CMS, but for a different reason. She is suspicious about CMS and doesn't believe the adults there who tell them all the rules are for their own safety.

I think younger readers interested in the dystopian genre but not quite ready for older young adult books will enjoy this book. However, I think that the background of the story was underdeveloped. There's pretty much nothing in the book at all about what is going on out there besides the fact that there were some really bad natural disasters and now the United States is involved in a war against "the Alliance," but there's never any explanation of what exactly the Alliance is, or why there is a war. There are going to be three more books in the series so hopefully there will be some answers in the other books.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (Published by HarperCollins, September 6, 2011)

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling—and downright silly—curse. Ridiculous though the curse may be, whoever breaks it will win a handsome reward.
Sharp-witted Reveka, an herbalist’s apprentice, has little use for princesses, with their snooty attitudes and impractical clothing. She does, however, have use for the reward money that could buy her a position as a master herbalist.
But curses don’t like to be broken, and Reveka’s efforts lead her to deeper mysteries. As she struggles to understand the curse, she meets a shadowy stranger (as charming as he is unsettling) and discovers a blighted land in desperate need of healing. Soon the irreverent apprentice is faced with a daunting choice. Will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?
Enchanting and funny, Merrie Haskell’s debut novel is part “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” part “Beauty and the Beast,” part “Persephone,” and wholly original.

This book looks like it will be a really good fairy tale retelling and I love the cover.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book review: Dear America: Standing in the Light by Mary Pope Osborne

Dear America: Standing in the Light by Mary Pope Osborne (New edition published by Scholastic, May 1, 2011; originally published in 1998)

Thirteen-year-old Catharine Logan, called Caty by her family and friends, lives in the Delaware Valley in Pennsylvania in 1763. Though she lives on the frontier, her life is somewhat carefree when the book begins. Her biggest worry is that she wants a boy at school named Jess Owen to notice her, but because she a Quaker she is worried about becoming vain, for vanity is a sin for Quakers. Then she learns that a group of settlers have massacred the residents of a peaceful Indian village. Caty becomes terrified that the Indians will retaliate by attacking settlers. Her worst fear comes true when Caty and her younger brother, Thomas, are captured by Lenape Indians.

Caty and her brother Thomas are treated well by the Lenapes, even though they are catpvies. They are adopted and shown kindness by their captors, as if they were members of the tribe. Still, Caty rebels every chance she gets. It is not until she becomes friends with Snow Hunter, a young man who was captured by the Lenapes as a child and chose to remain with the tribe, that Caty finds some hapiness in her new life, and she begins to wonder - does she even want to be rescued anymore?

I really enjoyed Standing in the Light when I first read in back in 1998, when it was originally published. I've always enjoyed historical fiction about Indian captives so I was glad when the Dear America series published a book about a girl captured by Indians. Caty was a likeable narrator and her adjustment to her new life seemed realistic. It was a little unbelievable that Caty was able to continue writing in her diary during her captivity but I was able to accept it due to the format of the series. Highly recommended for readers who enjoyed other Dear America books or who enjoy historical fiction about this subject.

Book review: The Grace Mysteries: Assassin & Betrayal by Grace Cavendish

The Grace Mysteries: Assassin and Betrayal by Patricia Finney writing as Grace Cavendish (Published by Delacorte Press, April 5, 2011)

This is a 2-in-1 rerelease of the first two books from the series, which was originally titled The Lady Grace Mysteries. These books are written in the form of a diary kept by Lady Grace Cavendish, a fictional Maid of Honor to Queen Elizabeth I, as she solves various mysteries at court.

Book 1, Assassin: Lady Grace Cavendish grew up at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. When her mother died after accidentally drinking poison meant for the queen, Elizabeth takes on the responsibility of giving Grace a home at court and eventually finding her a husband. Now thirteen years old in the spring of 1569, Grace is a Maid of Honor to the queen, and the time has come for her betrothal. Even though she will not have to marry for three more years, Grace still dreads being betrothed. Elizabeth plans a lavish ball where Grace may choose her future husband from among three suitors. Everything goes as planned, until the day after the ball -- when one of Grace's rejected suitors is found dead, and the man she has chosen for her betrothed is the prime suspect - but Grace thinks he is innocent. Now Grace must solve the mystery and find the real killer.

Book 2, Betrayal: When Lady Sarah, a fellow Maid of Honor to Queen Elizabeth I, disappears, apparently having eloped with the dashing young Captain Drake, thirteen-year-old Lady Grace Cavendish takes it upon herself to discover the truth of Lady Sarah's whereabouts. Her discoveries lead her to believe that rather than leaving of her own free will, Lady Sarah may have been kidnapped. Grace decides to disguise herself as a boy, and along with her friend Masou, a tumbler at the court, stows away aboard Captain Drake's ship in the hope of rescuing her, but in doing so she has put herself in danger, too.

I highly recommend this series to middle grade and young adult readers who love books set in Tudor England or historical fiction written as a diary (like the Dear America and Royal Diaries series). Though I'm not sure the dress on the new cover is from the correct time period (it looks more 17th-18th century to me!) it is a pretty cover and I hope it will attract some new readers to the series, and I am glad to see the publisher giving the series another chance.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox - 3/20/11

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

This is two weeks of books since I forgot to post IMM last week!

For review:

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon

The Gods have abandoned Ai Ling.
Her mysterious power haunts her day and night, and she leaves home—with just the moon as her guide—overwhelmed by her memories and visions and an unbearable sense of dread. For Ai Ling knows that Chen Yong is vulnerable to corrupt enchantments from the under-world. How can she do nothing when she has the skill and power to fight at his side? A dream has told her where he is, the name of the ship he is traveling on, his destination. So she steals off and stows away on board.
The ocean voyage brings with it brutal danger, haunting revelations, and new friendships, but also the premonition of a very real and terrifying threat. Zhong Ye—the powerful sorcerer whom Ai Ling believed she had vanquished in the Palace of Fragrant Dreams—is trapped in Hell, neither alive nor dead. Can he reach from beyond the grave to reunite with Silver Phoenix and destroy Chen Yong? And destroy whatever chance Ai Ling has at happiness, at love?
In this sequel to the acclaimed novel Silver Phoenix, four lives are woven together and four destinies become one, now and forever.

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.
But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.
Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.
It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more. (I already had the hardcover, so I am probably going to use this paperback copy as a contest prize soon)

Relic Master: The Dark City by Catherine Fisher

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters - some human, some not -that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it.

Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Heiress of one empire and prisoner of another, it is up to the daughter of Cleopatra to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers...
To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene's parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can't hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother's dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Traitor's Kiss by Pauline Francis

Traitor's Kiss by Pauline Francis (Published by Usborne, July 1, 2011)

This is the captivating true story of the young Elizabeth I, as she struggles to survive the treacherous world of Tudor England. After the death of her father, Henry VIII, a young Elizabeth journeys to London to live with her father's widow, Katherine Parr, and her new husband, Thomas Seymour, brother-in-law to King Edward. Surrounded by malicious whisperings of her late mother's witchcraft, Elizabeth is desperate to escape suspicion and discover the truth about her mother. A young stranger asserting Anne's Boleyn's innocence sends her on search a that takes her on a dangerous midnight journey to Bedlam, the hospital for the insane, to meet her mother's former lady-in-waiting. This encounter changes the way she views her mother - and herself. Meanwhile, at home, Elizabeth's reputation is increasingly under threat, as her stepfather, Thomas Seymour makes unwanted advances toward her. Her stepmother witnesses a kiss and Elizabeth is sent back to Hertfordshire in disgrace. Here she falls seriously ill and rumours abound that she is hiding a pregnancy. When Thomas Seymour is arrested for treason in a plot to overthrow King Edward, Elizabeth is implicated by association. Now it is up to her to defend her integrity - and her life...From the author of the best-selling Raven Queen comes a new masterpiece of historical fiction.

I still need to read this author's first two young adult historical fiction novels, but I am really looking forward to this one as I think Elizabeth had a fascinating life and I love reading about the Tudor era.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book review: My Royal Story: Henry VIII's Wives by Alison Prince

My Royal Story: Henry VIII's Wives by Alison Prince (Published by Scholastic UK, March 7, 2011)

This book tells the story of Henry VIII's wives through the diary of a fictional young girl, Beatrice Townhill, during the years 1536 to 1548. Beatrice begins writing in her diary when she is ten years old. Her father is the king's huntsman, so as a special birthday present she is taken to court to meet Henry and his new wife, Jane Seymour. This book is also a a sequel to the author's previous books in the My Story series, about ladies in waiting to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, as Beatrice meets Eva and her daughter, Elinor, the main characters from those books, and learns about Catherine and Anne by reading their own diaries from when they were young girls at court.

After Jane Seymour dies giving birth to a son, Henry decides to marry again, and Beatrice, who is now old enough, is chosen to be a lady-in-waiting at court. Over the years, she serves as a lady-in-waiting to his last three wives, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Katherine Parr. She also grows up, falls in love, marries, and has children of her own.

This was the longest book from the My Story series and also one of my favorites, as I love reading historical fiction set during the Tudor era. Although I have enjoyed all the books I have read from the series, often I wished for them to be longer and more detailed. So I am happy that for this book, the author was allowed to write it to be much longer than the others in the series, given that it is set over twelve years and covers quite a lot of history.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Published by Tor Teen, October 1, 2011)

London, December 1871
Orphaned and picking pockets in London’s Charing Cross station to support not only herself, but her ‘family’ of orphans, sixteen year-old Tiki steals the Queen’s ring and thinks she’s solved their problems. That is, until Rieker, a pickpocket from the North End, suspects her in the theft and tells her that the ring is really a reservoir that holds a truce between the British and Faerie courts.
When he warns her that the fey will do anything, including murder, to recover the ring, Tiki is unsure whether to believe him or not. To complicate matters, Rieker seems to know something about the unusual birthmark on Tiki’s wrist. But when Tiki and her family are threatened the game changes.
In a dazzling debut that takes you from the gritty slums of Victorian London to the glittering ballrooms of the Royal Palace to the menacing Otherworld, you won’t want to miss this thrilling tale of mystery, adventure and romance.

This book sounds like it will be a really good historical fantasy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (Published by Harcourt, March 7, 2011)

In the spring of 1889, sixteen-year-old Amelia van de Broek leaves her small village in Maine to visit her cousins in Baltimore, and hopefully find a suitable man to marry there. Amelia's cousin Zora is the same age as her and the girls quickly become friends. Amelia enjoys life in Baltimore, having friends and a social life and attending parties. But then two things happen that disrupt Amelia's happiness with her new life.

First, at sunset, Amelia begins to see visions of the future. And second, she falls in love with a handsome young man named Nathaniel Witherspoon, but he is an artist and would not be considered a suitable husband for her. Amelia's forbidden romance with Nathaniel, who has a secret of his own, threatens her place in society. And soon the visions she thought at first to be harmless become dark and sinister.

I think that this book would appeal most to readers who enjoy historical fiction, as well as those who love paranormal romances but are looking to read something different than the typical book from that genre. I love fantasy novels but I am so tired of modern paranormals, and historical fiction is my favorite genre, so this book was like the perfect mix of genres for me. The historical setting of Baltimore in 1889 is really well described, and the style that the book is written in really suits the historical setting, it is very lovely and detailed and descriptive.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book review: In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap

In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap (Published by Bloomsbury, April 12, 2011)

When sixteen-year-old Molly Fraser loses her job as a maid in 1854 London due to being falsely accused of stealing from her employers, she doesn't know what to do. She will not be able to find another job as a maid without a reference, and she is desperate to avoid working in a factory. Then she learns that Florence Nightingale in looking for nurses to care for the soldiers injured fighting in the Crimean War. When she is rejected due to her lack of experience as a nurse, Molly decides that she will not give up, and decides to sneak onto the ship in hopes she will be given a chance instead of being sent back home.

Molly is not quite prepared for the reality of war when they arrive in Turkey. She is saddened and horrified by the conditions there and the terrible injuries of the soldiers, but she soon finds she has a natural talent for nursing. She also finds her heart torn between two men - the handsome and exciting Dr. Maclean, a young doctor at the hospital, and kind, dependable Will, who worked with Molly in London, helped her when she lost her job, and who has joined the army to be near her. Molly is confused by her feelings and must decide which of the two men she loves while caring for the wounded soldiers and hoping and praying that no harm comes to Will.

In the Shadow of the Lamp is a novel sure to be enjoyed by readers who love history and romance. The historical setting is unique and well-written and brings the setting of the Crimean War to life. The main character of Molly was very believable and likeable, I found myself turning the pages eager to find out what would happen to her next. I would highly recommend this book to readers who enjoyed Susanne Dunlap's previous novels or who enjoy young adult historical romance.

Interview with Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon, authors of The Secrets Journeys of Jack London

Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon are the authors of the new historical paranormal series The Secret Journeys of Jack London. Book one, The Wild, is one sale now. To learn more about The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild, you can view the electronic press kit, and there are links to the other stops for the blog tour here.

How did you get the idea to do a historical paranormal series about the young Jack London? It's quite an unusual concept next to all the modern paranormal YA books out there.

CG: When writers spend time hanging around other writers, crazy ideas come up all the time, and some of them solidify, but rarely do them come together as perfectly as this one. Tim and I were at World Horror Convention in Toronto, out having Thai food and drinks with about a dozen other people. He can tell you where it sprang from (that's his story to tell), but the conversation came around to "vampire polar bears," and I perked up immediately. I insisted that we had to write that, and somehow the two of us decided that it had to be the "true" story of Jack London's adventures in the frozen north. Pretty soon, we had a trilogy of books in mind. I should note that there are no vampire polar bears in the first two books...but we'll get to them. In any case, we walked out of that dinner having made a deal with a publisher who happened to be sitting at the table with us, but his business partner didn't like the terms of the deal, so we had to find another home for it...and the end result is one of the most beautiful books I've ever been involved in.

TL: From little seeds... Chris and I first met up when he asked me to write a short story or his Hellboy anthology Odder Jobs. Soon after that he commissioned an original Hellboy novel from me, Unnatural Selection, for Simon & Schuster. Then, when an editor at S&S was looking for someone to novelise the 30 Days of Night movie, my name came up. Now, back to the meal in this Thai restaurant in Toronto. Plates were being scraped, extra bottles of wine ordered. Chats stretched back and forth across the table, and someone (I can't remember who), asked me if I'd added any significant scenes to the 30 Days of Night novelisation. I told them about the one large scene I'd added which I think would have looked incredible in the movie––when a Polar bear wanders into Barrow, and the vampires stalking the town 'play' with it, like a cat plays with a mouse, before slaughtering it. "So did they kill it?" I was asked. "I guess so," I said. "Otherwise ... vampire Polar bears." And from Chris across the table I heard, "You know what? We can totally do that!" And I said, "Yeah, vampire Polar bears in Alaska, stalking Jack London." The seed was planted.

What kind of research did you do for the historical setting? Are most of the supernatural elements invented by you or did you base them on mythology or legends?

CG: We did a lot of research about Jack London's life and work, as well as about the Yukon territory during that time period. It's fascinating stuff, full of desperation and hope in equal measure. The supernatural elements are variations on existing legends. We took the parts we liked and crafted them into something we hope is unique.

TL: I found the research hugely enjoyable. We had to re-read The Call of the Wild first, of course, and I hadn't read that book since my teens. Still a stunning piece of work. Then we read a couple of Jack London biographies, and I also read some of his short stories and autobiographical work. Researching the period and place was also a lot of fun, and a little traumatic at times. Those were harsh times, and it's incredible learning what trials Jack London went through on his search for gold. And, of course, his search for adventure that would drive him all through his tragically short life. I discovered my favourite quote whilst researching Jack, and we used it in the front of the book: "The function of man is to live, not to exist". You tend to see the same idea quoted all over the place now as, "One life. Live it." But I prefer Jack's ...

What was the process of co-writing the book like? (this is something I've always been interested in learning more about when I read a book by multiple authors!)

CG: Tim and I tend to work differently from my other collaborative experiences. We start with an outline, of course, and we do trade off chapters, each writing one and then sending it off for the other to edit. Then the other author writes the next chapter and so on. But Tim and I also usually write a chapter and then get on the phone and discuss in detail what should come next, not relying on the outline so heavily.

TL: It's a really organic process, as Chris intimated. And while the actual sitting down writing bit is done on our own, we're in almost constant contact about the book, talking most days and making sure we're both on the same page about where we're going. The outline's always there, but we've found that once we start a novel we rarely look at the outline again. The novel takes over and steers itself as we discover more about the story. We're about to start our seventh book together, and it's a very satisfying partnership. Although I do all the hard work, of course.

Do you have plans for more books in the series and if so can you give us any hints about them?

CG: We've already written the second book, THE SECRET JOURNEYS OF JACK LONDON: THE SEA WOLVES, which will be out in 2012. We're just beginning work on the third in the trilogy.

TL: ... which will be called WHITE FANGS. And which will feature those creatures mentioned above.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
TL: Only that we hope you enjoy the book, and keep your eyes on cinema schedules! Fox own the rights, and Chris and I have already delivered our screenplay.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

In My Mailbox - 3/5/11

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:

Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Laurel’s world is rocked on the first day of her senior year when she spots Tamani—the faerie sentry with whom she shares an electrifying connection—posing as a transfer student. Before she can deal with the repercussions this will have on her relationship with her human boyfriend, David, Laurel meets new student Yuki—who turns out to also be a faerie.
Eager to distract herself from the brewing rivalry between David and Tamani, Laurel focuses her attention on figuring out how a “wild” faerie like Yuki could exist outside of Avalon. Laurel is soon forced to confront a danger darker than anything she’s ever imagined—and this time she may not have Tamani or David by her side.
Illusions is poised to delight and amaze readers with heart-pounding suspense, breathtaking romance, and a cliff-hanger ending that will leave them desperate for the fourth and final novel in the series.

Abandon by Meg Cabot

New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld.
When Pierce first sees him, she thinks he is a murderer. She's right about one thing -- he does take lives. But not in the way she ever imagined. Pierce is drawn to the dark stranger even as she tries to uncover the mystery surrounding the tragic death of someone close to her. As she gets closer to the truth -- and the stranger -- unexpected secrets are revealed, even in her own heart.


My Royal Story: Henry VIII's Wives by Alison Prince

On her 10th birthday in 1536 Beatrice meets the King and his new queen, Jane Seymour, at Greenwich Palace. That same day, her friends Eva and Elinor entrust her with their old diaries. Reading these, she comes to understand the lives of two earlier queens, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, as she enters the service of not just one of Henry's queens, but three.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Fateful by Claudia Gray (Published by HarperTeen, September 13, 2011)

Readers who loved Claudia Gray’s New York Times bestselling Evernight series will be captivated by this latest tale, filled with her trademark blend of paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance.
In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship they’re sailing on reaches the United States, she’ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets....
Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and they’re stalking him—and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.
Featuring the opulent backdrop of the Titanic, Fateful’s publication is poised to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the ship’s doomed maiden voyage. It is sure to be a hit among Titanic buffs and fans of paranormal romance alike.

I used to be obsessed with Titanic books and have been fascinated with the story of the Titanic for years, so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it! I usually wait until there's a cover for Waiting on Wednesday but I saw the full summary was out and there was no cover yet so I decided to just post it anyway. (mostly because I'm out of books for WoW that aren't fall releases....)

Guest post from Clare B. Dunke, author of By These Ten Bones

This guest post from Clare B. Dunkle is part of the blog tour for the paperback release of her novel By These Ten Bones. I am also hosting a contest to win either By These Ten Bones or another book by Clare, The House of Dead Maids. You can enter here through March 8. Also to see photos of some of the locations from the story you can visit Clare's website. And now for the guest post!

My werewolf story, BY THESE TEN BONES, has just been released in paperback. It’s an old-fashioned girl-meets-monster love story set in medieval Scotland, and the werewolf in it follows classic folklore rules: he changes into a ruthless killing machine at each full moon. When I wrote the book back in 2004, I had just finished writing three other girl-meets-monster stories, The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy, and the heroines of those stories were classic folklore heroines. But for BY THESE TEN BONES, I wanted to write a different kind of female lead.

Picture the typical folklore-based fantasy heroine. What do you see? She’s missing at least one parent, if not two. The family she lives with mistreats her and may even try to kill her; if not, that’s a sign that they’re probably about to die. She’s homeless and in want or else living in the home of strangers, and if she’s working as a servant, it’s probably work beneath her social class. Also, we can lay pretty good odds that she’ll make a critical journey into unfamiliar surroundings before the story is through.

We writers of folklore-based fantasy have a very good reason for creating this kind of heroine: the folklore did it first. Think of a favorite folktale or two in which a female is the focus of the story, and you’ll find that they come pretty close to the heroine you pictured above. Cinderella is motherless, in want, and living as a servant. Cap o’Rushes, my favorite Cinderella-style heroine, is homeless because her father threw her out. Snow White has had to flee into the woods to escape a wicked stepmother, and she’s living with the strangest of little strangers. The bride of the Black Bull of Norroway has to wander far from home and serve a stranger for seven years, and the heroine of the Seven Swans story has the worst setup of them all: she’s motherless, saddled with an evil stepmother, estranged from her brothers, in want, living among strangers, and forced to be mute.

This formula works well both in folklore and in fiction because it’s when the traditional family unit breaks down that adventures can happen. No one would set out to find his or her fortune if everything were fine at home. But I wanted to do something different with Maddie, the heroine of BY THESE TEN BONES, so Maddie lives in a happy home, and both her parents manage to remain alive, loving, and supportive throughout the story. She isn’t in want, either; she considers herself well off. She’s comfortable in her surroundings and her society and knows the laws of both; the locals know her, like her, and accept her. And as for the journey, Maddie doesn’t go further than an hour’s walk from home during the entire course of the book.

Even more unusual for the fantasy genre is Maddie’s personality. She has no great dreams, she has no astounding talents, and she isn’t full of angst or bitterness. I’ll be the first to admit that angry protagonists are easier and more enjoyable to write because they seem to have more depth and come to life more vividly. But I reveled in Maddie’s sheer normality when I wrote her: she doesn’t have an enemy in the world and sees no reason to make one. Her peaceful relationship with her parents was actually rather tricky to write because good relationships don’t provide an author with exciting episodes to record, and the characters involved can easily come off as saccharine. But again, I enjoyed the chance to create good parents for one of my heroines. We fantasy writers don’t always get to do that.

It’s the male in my story who has all the bad luck. Paul, the young woodcarver Maddie falls in love with, comes into the story on one of those long, unhappy journeys that fantasy characters so often take. He’s the one who’s friendless and in want. Maddie is the character who’s holding all the cards and gets the opportunity to determine the story’s outcome.

I have to admit that this book is a favorite of mine because of Maddie’s cheerful, optimistic nature. Maybe she lacks the sheer drama of a haunted, hunted princess on the run, but in her own way, she’s even more remarkable. Maddie is a normal girl from a normal home, with a set of normal parents. In this genre, that’s the most unusual thing a heroine can be.

Book review: Deadly by Julie Chibaro

Deadly by Julie Chibaro (Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, February 22, 2011)

Prudence Galewski is nothing like the average sixteen-year-old girl living in New York City in 1906. Unlike most of her classmates Mrs. Browning's School for Girls, she's not interested in learning to be a housewife or to find a job that is proper for a young lady. Instead, Prudence is interested in learning about the human body and illness. So when she is offered a job at the Department of Health and Sanitation, Prudence eagerly accepts and leaves school to begin her new job.

At her new job, Prudence works as an assistant to Mr. Soper, who is tracking cases of typhoid in the city and nearby. Prudence finds her job fascinating as she can finally learn about some of the things she has always been curious about. Eventually their search leads them to Mary Mallon, the infamous "Typhoid Mary," a healthy woman who was somehow spreading the disease.

Deadly is written in the form of Prudence's diary, so it reminded me of the Dear America series which I love, but written for slightly older readers. Prudence was a very determined and likable character. In a time when women were beginning to gain more rights and job opportunities, Prudence was determined not to be an average young woman with an ordinary life, but to follow her interests, even though it meant working in a field where there were few women at the time. Readers who enjoy historical fiction with strong female characters are sure to enjoy Prudence's story.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Book review: By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle

By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle (Published by Square Fish, February 15, 2011)

Maddie lives in a small town in the Scottish Highlands during the Middle Ages. It is very rare for strangers to visit the town; a couple of times a year, traveling merchants might come by with their wares. One such group of travelers includes a mysterious young man who is extremely talented at woodcarving. Maddie is immediately drawn to the stranger, and he to her. But then strange things begin to happen in the village. The young carver is attacked, and Maddie thinks she saw and heard the monster who did it. Living in a time when most people were superstitious, she readily accepts that some evil creature is responsible.

As the young man recovers in her home, he and Maddie become close. She is the only one he will really talk to. She learns his name is Paul, and she also learns the dark secret he carries. Realizing that she has fallen in love with Paul, Maddie must decide how much she is willing to giving up in order to help him without putting her town and everyone else she loves at risk.

By These Ten Bones is a very original novel compared to most werewolf romances. It was set in Medieval times when most people were still superstitious and believed in the supernatural and the forces of evil. For that reason I thought that the plot and characters were a lot more believable than in most paranormal romances that are set in modern times. This book is written more like a folk tale, and so there isn't as much character development, but the setting really came alive, it was quite spooky at times! The descriptions of the Scottish Highlands were very detailed and I was not surprised to find out the author visited there before writing this book. If you are looking for something to read that is different from the usual young adult paranormal romance, I would recommend this book.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.
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