Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Deadly Voyage: RMS Titanic by Hugh Brewster

I Am Canada: Deadly Voyge: RMS Titanic by Hugh Brewster

Fourteen-year-old Jamie Laidlaw is returning to Canada from England aboard the Titanic. In his four days on board, he busies himself with new friends, finding ways to explore the ship’s forbidden areas, and generally landing himself in trouble.
When disaster strikes and the horrifying scramble for survival ensues, Jamie is on the front lines — struggling to help free the lifeboats and get people on board them. When a huge wave washes over the ship’s sloping deck, it’s time for Jamie to take action — and take his fate into his own hands. With hundreds of others, he dives into the sea, hoping he will find a way to survive.
Since its launch in Fall 2010, the I Am Canada series has been praised for its accurate and energetic exploration of fascinating moments in Canadian history, through the eyes of young men who lived through them. In Deadly Voyage, award-winning author and noted Titanic historian Hugh Brewster draws from his vast knowledge of that fateful journey to create an enthralling tale of historical fiction — the ultimate adventure, whose terrifying end we know all too well

I love reading historical fiction about the Titanic, and with the 100th anniversary next year, there are several new books being published in the next few months. I usually prefer books with female main characters, but I will be reading this one because it's about the Titanic, and also the series is a male version of the Dear Canada series, which I love. I actually have three other books from the I Am Canada series on my shelf already, but I still need to read them.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In My Mailbox - 6/25/11

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:

Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.
Albion is at war . . . and losing.
The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.
And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.
As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate's discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she'll make a pact with a murderer to do it.
Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.


Cross my Heart by Sasha Gould

Laura della Scala knows nothing beyond the convent walls which have trapped and bound her since she was twelve years old. A single night will change her life. She will soon learn the difference between an arranged marriage and true, reckless love. Venice is a dangerous city. Intrigue, romance and power lie at its heart and secrets run through the blood of its rulers. They call Laura 'La Muta'. The Silent One. She is about to break her silence ...but at what cost?

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.
But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?
Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book review: The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

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

This creative and original retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" is set in Sylvania, a fictional region of Romania, in the fifteenth century. Thirteen-year-old Reveka has recently arrived at Castle Sylvian, where she is an apprentice to the castle's herbalist. Because her mother died when she was a baby and her father was a soldier, Reveka grew up in a convent until her father retired from the army, and it was there that she was first trained in herbalism. Unlike most girls, Reveka hopes never to marry and would prefer to become the herbalist for a convent, but she is not wealthy enough to obtain such a position.

For several years now, the twelve princesses of Sylvania have been cursed. Their dancing shoes are worn out every morning, but no one knows where they go at night. Anyone who stays with them at night to try to find out is cursed with a sleep that no one has woken from. Their father, Prince Vasile, is desperate to break the curse so his daughters can leave the castle to marry, because he has no sons and needs a grandson to be his heir. So he has offered a reward - if a man solves the mystery, he can marry one of the princesses, and if a woman solves the mystery, she will receive a dowry. Reveka knows she could use that dowry to join a convent as an herbalist, so she decides to investigate, and discovers a far more complicated msytery than she ever expected, leaving her with difficult choices.

I love fairy tale retellings, and The Princess Curse is now among my favorites in the genre. It's a wonderful mix of fairy tale, mythology, and historical fantasy, and Reveka is a delightful and entertaining narrator. I also loved the unusual setting of Medieval Romania, which really came to life. The Princess Curse is an enchanting debut novel by Merrie Haskell, and I look forward to reading her future books - in particular, I'd love to read a sequel to this book, because while it has a satisfying conclusion, I'd definitely love to read more of Reveka's adventures.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Book review: Fateful by Claudia Gray

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

For years, Tess Davies has worked as a maid for the Lisle family at their manor house in England. But she has always dreamed of a better life, and now that she has saved up enough money, she has decided leave her job. And she gets the perfect opportunity when she is chosen to accompany the Lisles on an ocean voyage to New York. A new country is the perfect place to start a new life. And they are sailing on the maiden voyage of the largest, most elegant ship ever built, the RMS Titanic.

Shortly before boarding the ship, Tess meets Alec Marlowe, a handsome first class passenger. He saves her life - then warns her to stay away. Alec clearly has a terrible secret, but Tess is drawn to him despite that. The two quickly find themselves falling in love, but the biggest obstacle to their relationship isn't their different social classes. An evil brotherhood of werewolves is stalking Alec, determined to force him to join them - and now they are after Tess, too. And as if that wasn't enough, they will face a far greater danger before the voyage is over.

I have been fascinated by the story of the Titanic for many years (even before the movie was released) so when I first heard about the plot of Fateful, I was a bit aghast at the idea of a novel about werewolves set on the Titanic. But I'll read just about anything set on the Titanic so I knew I had to read it, and I'm really glad I did, because this book turned out to be really good - it's one of my favorite books I've read recently, and probably my favorite paranormal romance ever. I loved the romance between Tess and Alec. They were adorable together and it was so sweet how protective and caring he was towards her, unlike in some paranormal romances where the guy acts like a jerk because of some supernatural curse that made his life miserable and the poor girl falls in love with him anyway for some reason. If you love historical romance, paranormal romance, or books about the Titanic, I highly recommend Fateful.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book review: Meet Marie-Grace by Sarah Masters Buckey

Meet Marie-Grace by Sarah Masters Buckey (Published by American Girl, August 30, 2011)

Nine-year-old Marie-Grace Gardner was born in New Orleans, where she lived with her father, an American doctor, and her mother, who came from a French family, until her mother and baby brother died in an epidemic. After her mother's death, Marie-Grace and her father moved north, where her father grew up. Now, in January 1853, Marie-Grace and her her father have finally moved back to New Orleans.

Marie-Grace is happy to be back in New Orleans and hopes she never has to move again, since she and her father moved many times in the past four years. She is excited to explore New Orleans, see her relatives from her mother's side of the family again, and go to school, where she can hopefully make friends. But the girls at school are unkind to her and she feels like an outsider. Her only friend is C├ęcile, a young girl her age who is a free person of color from a wealthy family in New Orleans. The two girls meet at the opera house where Marie-Grace hopes to take singing lessons, and quickly become friends.

I loved the American Girls series growing up and I credit it, along with the Little House and Dear America books, for helping me develop a love for historical fiction. Even though I am an adult now, I was very interested when I saw that the newest American Girl series would be from the perspectives of two girls from very different backgrounds growing up in New Orleans in 1853. The historical setting is very interesting since New Orleans was such a multicultural city and very different from the rest of the United States in the mid 19th century. I think young girls will enjoy this series while hopefully learning a bit about a very unique place and time from American history.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Book review: Titanic, Book Two: Collision Course by Gordon Korman

Titanic, Book Two: Collision Course by Gordon Korman (Published by Scholastic, August 1, 2011)

This book picks up right where book one, Unsinkable, ended, and continues the story of four young teenagers on the Titanic. Juliana and Sophie are both passengers in first class, Alfie is a young steward who lied about his age so that he could work on the Titanic with his father, and Paddy accidentally stowed away in the ship's cargo while hiding from gangsters in Belfast, where the ship was built. Although the four teens had very little in common, they were thrown together by events on board the ship.

Paddy's secret has been discovered, and now he must travel throughout the ship, hiding from his pursuers. Juliana has learned the terrible reason why her father brought her on his business trip to America, and now she is desperate to escape. Meanwhile, they have discovered that a serial killer is hiding among the Titanic's passangers, but how can they discover his identity on a ship with so many passengers? Unfortunately, an even worse danger lies ahead when the Titanic collides with an iceberg.

This book was a good continuation of the story from the first book and once again ends on a cliffhanger. Unfortunately, I now how to wait until September, when the final book in the trilogy will be published, to find out what happens to all the characters when the ship sinks - that's what I get for reading an advance copy! Although the series is written for middle grade readers, I recommend it to anyone who is fascinated by the Titanic. Although if you hate cliffhangers, you may want to just wait until September, so you can read the whole series together.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Velvet by Mary Hooper

Velvet by Mary Hooper (Published by Bloomsbury UK, September 5, 2011)

Rose is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Rose is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Rose is noticed by Madame X, a famed medium, who asks Rose to come to work for her. Rose is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Rose realises that Madame X is not all that she says she is, and Rose's very life is in danger ...A romantic and thrillingly exciting new novel from an acclaimed and much-loved historical writer for teens.

I have read and enjoyed several other young adult historical novels by Mary Hooper, so I am really looking forward to reading her next book.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In My Mailbox - 6/18/11

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:

Eternity: A Fallen Angel Novel by Heather Terrell

The end . . or a new beginning?
As Ellie comes to grips with her destiny as the Elect One, her relationship with Michael grows tense. When she meets a mysterious boy names Rafe, things get even more complicated.
Yet the time has come for the Elect One to stand against the group of fallen angels who are bent on destroying the world. In order to face the immeasurable malevolence heading her way, Ellie tries to put her personal life aside. But she soon learns that whoever holds her heart also holds the key to mankind’s salvation — or destruction. As the end days approach, Ellie is faced with an epic decision. Who does her heart really belong to? And is her love strong enough to save the world?

Fateful by Claudia Gray

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 already had a copy of this book which I read and loved, so I donated this one to an ARC tour site)


The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and priviledge. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.
But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.
As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.
At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston

Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker… but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins.
Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time—literally—maybe even get a date.
This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every… never.

Ghosts of the Titanic by Jule Lawson

A teenage boy finds himself caught up in a century-old mystery — aboard the Titanic!
Kevin and his family are enroute to Halifax to check out a house they have mysteriously inherited from a man named Angus Seaton — mysterious because none of them have any clue who he was or why they would be named in his will.
While at the house, Kevin does his own investigating and discovers some old artifacts hidden behind a wall, including enigmatic photographs dating back to 1911, which show a young woman and her baby.
This puzzling discovery leads to troubling dreams for Kevin — haunting dreams and a voice that plagues him, a voice he cannot escape. Someone — somehwere — needs his help. One night he tries to answer the call, and finds himself in another reality, another time, in a flooded corridor...
... aboard the ship Titanic.
In this ghostly new mystery by award—winning writer Julie Lawson, the terror, anxiety and reality of the sinking of the Titanic comes to life, as a teenage boy tries to right the wrongs of the past... and put some troubled souls to rest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges (Published by Delacorte Books, January 10, 2012)

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.
An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

The historical setting for this book looks really interesting and unique, and I have really enjoyed the last few historical fantasies I read, so I am really looking forward to reading this book.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In My Mailbox - 6/12/11

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

Here are the new books I got this week:

For review:

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. (Finished copy, I already read the ARC and reviewed it here.)


The Western Mysteries: The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence

When desperados kill a preacher and his wife in a small frontier town, their foster child P.K. is forced to go on the run. P.K. must get a valuable letter to the Recorder’s Office before anyone else can get their hands on it. It’s not easy: Virginia City in 1862 is a glorified mining camp on a barren mountain above a great vein of silver. Seething with miners below ground and hustlers above, it’s a dangerous place, full of gamblers, hurdy girls, saloon-keepers and gunmen, all of them on the make. When twelve year-old P.K. Pinkerton arrives there, homeless, penniless and hunted, things don’t look good. But armed with a Smith & Wesson seven-shooter and a knack for disguises, P.K. takes on the tricksters and desperados who are out to get him and he finds possible allies: Sam Clemens, the new reporter for the paper, a gambler called ‘Poker Face Jace’ who knows how to tell if someone is bluffing, a derringer-packing Soiled Dove, and a Chinese photographer’s apprentice called Ping. (I love Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries series, so I am looking forward to reading her new series! I also got a signed bookplate and poster from the author in the mail)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

In My Mailbox - 6/4/11

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

Here are the new books I got this week. Since I got so many books at BEA, I am trying not to buy that many, but I'm not sure how long that will last or how successful I'll be...

For review:

Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan

One of the most notoriously eligible bachelors in Europe is finally ready to marry . . .
For fiercely independent Grier Hadley, being the illegitimate daughter of one of London's most unsavory characters has only one advantage: an enormous, ill-gotten dowry.
Prince Sevastian Maksimi knows where his duty lies: he must find a well-bred young lady—one with a considerable fortune to her name—wed her promptly, and get to the business of producing an heir.
The last thing Grier needs is some unattainable prince curling her toes with his smoldering glances and wicked suggestions. As far as Sev is concerned, she lacks the breeding to become a princess. And yet one kiss from this arresting female is all it takes for him to realize that anyone else in his arms would be unthinkable . . .
(this ARC just showed up in the mail. I don't know why, since I only read a couple of adult historical romances each year and I think it's been a long time since I reviewed any. But, since it's historical, I'll try it and see if I enjoy it.)

Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer

It is the first century B.C. Cleopatra, the third of the pharaoh's six children, is the one that her father has chosen to be the next queen of Egypt. But when King Ptolemy is forced into exile, Cleopatra is left alone to fend for herself in a palace rife with intrigue and murder. Smart, courageous, ambitious and sensuously beautiful, she possesses the charm to cause two of history's most famous leaders to fall in love with her. But as her cruel sisters plot to steal the throne, Cleopatra realizes there is only one person on whom she can rely--herself.

Nightspell by Leah Cypess

A stand-alone companion novel to the much-acclaimed MISTWOOD. When Darri rides into Ghostland, a country where the living walk with the dead, she has only one goal: to rescue her younger sister Callie, who was sent to Ghostland as a hostage four years ago. But Callie has changed in those four years, and now has secrets of her own. In her quest to save her sister from herself, Darri will be forced to outmaneuver a handsome ghost prince, an ancient sorcerer, and a manipulative tribal warrior (who happens to be her brother). When Darri discovers the source of the spell that has kept the dead in Ghostland chained to this earth, she faces a decision that will force her to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned - and lead her into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens the very balance of power between the living and the dead.
(finished hardcover copy, I had already received an ARC which I reviewed here)


Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead. But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner

Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner (Published by HarperCollins Australia, July 1, 2011)

England,1640. Sixteen-year-old Isabella is forced to flee her home when her father’s radical ideas lead him into a suicidal stand against Oliver Cromwell’s army. Taking refuge in Amsterdam and desperate to find a means to survive, Isabella finds work with an elderly printer, Master de Aquila,and his enigmatic young assistant, Willem.
When Master de Aquila travels to Venice to find a publisher brave enough to print his daring new book, Isabella accompanies him and discovers a world of possibility -where women work alongside men as equal partners, and where books and beliefs are treasured.
But in a continent torn apart by religious intolerance, constant danger lurks for those who don’t watch their words. And when the agents of the Spanish Inquisition kidnap de Aquila to stop him printing his book, Isabella and Willem become reluctant allies in a daring chase across Europe to rescue him from certain death.

This book looks so good that I will have to order it online from Australia. The historical setting sounds really interesting!

Book review: Forgiven by Janet Fox

Forgiven by Janet Fox (Published by Penguin Books, June 2, 2011)

Kula Baker was raised near Yellowstone by her father, an outlaw. She never knew her mother, who was forced to return home when Kula was a baby and later died. Now that Kula is older, her father does not think it is safe for her to live with him, and he wants her to have a better life. So he arranges for Kula to move to the city of Bozeman, Montana, to work as a servant to a kind woman named Mrs. Gale. But Kula wants more than that. She wants to find a rich man to marry, one who will treat her well and raise her social status. Just when Kula is starting to adjust to life in the city, her father comes to find her. He has been falsely accused of murder, and Kula watches as he is arrested. His last words to her are to go to San Francisco and find a box, the contents of which could save him.

Kula sets out for San Francisco, desperate to save her father's life. As she searches for the box, she meets many people, including two young men to whom Kula is attracted, and she is not sure who she can trust. One of those young men, Will Henderson, is rich and handsome and is everything Kula has always wanted in a husband. There is also David Wong, who is exactly the opposite. He is Chinese, an outsider, and he is not rich. But Kula can't seem to forget him. Kula also faces danger as she encounters many villains in San Francisco, some of whom are after the same box she is, and others who would exploit the helpless for their own gain, while discovering that what she always thought she wanted might not actually be what her heart truly wants.

From the start, Forgiven drew me in. I felt sympathy for Kula, who lived a hard life and dreamed of something more. As she journeys to San Francisco, the book is full of romance, adventure, and a very complicated mystery. There is quite a bit of history which is both interesting and sad, as Kula learns of child slavery and experiences the San Francisco Earthquake in April 1906. Although this book is a companion novel to Janet Fox's previous novel, Faithful, the story in this book stands alone and it is not neccesary to have read the first book to enjoy Forgiven, although I would recommend it, as I really enjoyed Faithful too! I highly recommend this book to readers who love young adult historical fiction.

Disclosure: review copy provided by publisher.

Guest post from Janet Fox, author of Forgiven

I loved Janet Fox's new novel Forgiven (reviewed here), so I am excited to start off the blog tour with this guest post from Janet.

One of my favorite aspects of writing historical fiction is the research. I try to find a variety of sources – contemporary, original, fiction, nonfiction – and dive in to immerse myself in the period. When I dove into the research behind Kula’s story I thought I’d find a rich and sparkling San Francisco, a city of glamour and art, of Nob Hill and the opera (almost all destroyed by the 1906 earthquake, but that’s another story.) I had no idea that I’d discover a dark underworld of child exploitation, and how deeply that underworld would affect me.
I made my first discovery of this aspect of life in San Francisco at the turn of the last century when I read Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, a novel set in the 1800s. One of her main characters is a doctor who treats, and tries to save, the young “sing-song girls” (so called because of the way they enticed their customers from their tiny windows by chanting) locked in their dank cribs. Then I picked up the non-fiction classic The Barbary Coast (Herbert Asbury). Asbury does not shrink from depicting the raw and brief life suffered by these child prisoners, sold or kidnapped into slavery in China and transported across the Pacific in the holds of ships, in which they received their first dose of abuse. Asbury quotes primary sources – newspapers, court documents – with raw facts about the girls. After that I unearthed photographs and newspaper articles about these children (the range of ages was 1 to 18 years) when I searched the online San Francisco archives.
These girls haunted me, they haunted my dreams, and I knew I had to include something of their tragedy in Forgiven. They haunted Kula, too, and made her realize that she was more a child of privilege than she’d ever imagined in comparison to the sing-song girls.
What continues to haunt me is that the kind of exploitation they suffered still goes on, all over the world. This reality has made me want to play a part, however small, in ridding the world of an undeniable evil.
An evil that I uncovered while I was doing research for Forgiven – which I think shows the power of searching the past.

Janet Fox will donate a portion of the proceeds from FORGIVEN to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. To learn more about what you can do to help agencies that actively fight the exploitation and trafficking of children, visit the following websites:

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children


Stop Child Trafficking

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