Saturday, January 28, 2012

In My Mailbox - 1/28/12

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

Here are the new books I got this week:

Dear Canada: Torn Apart by Susan Aihoshi

The harsh conditions of an internment camp become a reality for a young Japanese-Canadian girl.
It is 1941 and Mary Kobayashi, a Canadian-born Japanese girl enjoys her life in Vancouver. She likes school, she likes her friends, and she yearns above all else to own a bicycle. Although WWII is raging elsewhere in the world, it hasn't really impacted her life in B.C.
Then on December 7, 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. . . and everything changes.
Suddenly a war of suspicion and prejudice is waged on the home front and Japanese-Canadians are completely stripped of their rights, their jobs and their homes. Mary is terrified when her family is torn apart and sent to various work camps, while she and her two sisters are sent, alone, to a primitive camp in B.C.'s interior. Here Mary spends the duration of the war, scared and uncertain of how it will all end.
In Torn Apart, author Susan Aihoshi draws from the experiences of her own family during "The Uprooting" of the Japanese in B.C. during WWII. Through young Mary's eyes, readers experience this regrettable time in Canadian history firsthand.

I Am Canada: Behind Enemy Lines by Carol Matas

A young WWII gunner from the Prairies sees the horrors of war firsthand when he is captured by the Gestapo.
Eighteen-year-old Sam Frederiksen has come a long way from the Prairies. Trained to be a gunner in a Lancaster bomber during WWII, he is shot down over France. Battered and bruised, he does survive, and joins forces with the French Resistance... only to be betrayed by one of its members. He and other flyers from various Allied countries are rounded up by the Gestapo and held in Fresnes prison just outside of Paris.
Treated as spies, rather than POWs, these men are beaten, some tortured — then sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp in eastern Germany. It is here, in these wretched conditions, that Sam witnesses the darkest side of humanity — gas chambers, torture and starvation. Yet it is also here that he comes to understand the true resilience and unfathomable courage of the victims.
Author Carol Matas has won numerous awards for her previous novels about the Holocaust. Behind Enemy Lines is partially based on a true incident from WWII, in which 168 Allied airmen were captured and sent to Buchenwald. Twenty-six of these men were Canadian.

Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

In this companion book to the award-winning Stolen Child, a young girl is forced into slave labour in a munitions factory in Nazi Germany.
In Stolen Child, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch introduced readers to Larissa, a victim of Hitler's largely unknown Lebensborn program. In this companion novel, readers will learn the fate of Lida, her sister, who was also kidnapped by the Germans and forced into slave labour — an Ostarbeiter.
In addition to her other tasks, Lida's small hands make her the perfect candidate to handle delicate munitions work, so she is sent to a factory that makes bombs. The gruelling work and conditions leave her severely malnourished and emotionally traumatized, but overriding all of this is her concern and determination to find out what happened to her vulnerable younger sister.
With rumours of the Allies turning the tide in the war, Lida and her friends conspire to sabotage the bombs to help block the Nazis' war effort. When her work camp is finally liberated, she is able to begin her search to learn the fate of her sister.
In this exceptional novel Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch delivers a powerful story of hope and courage in the face of incredible odds.

Halflings by Heather Burch

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.
A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke

Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.
Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Legacy of Tril: Soulbound

The Legacy of Tril: Soulbound by Heather Brewer (Published by Penguin Books, July 5, 2012

What's worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you're treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there's the evil king who's determined to rule the world unless you can stop him...
Meet Kaya, a young woman with the power to heal and the determination to fight. But struggle as she will, she remains tied to three very different men: a hero who has forsaken glory, a tyrannical ruler who wants to use Kaya, and a warrior who's stolen her heart. Kaya learns the hard way that some ties can't be broken...and blood is the strongest bond of all.

This book sounds amazing and different from most of the YA fantasy out there. I can't wait to read it!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In My Mailbox - 1/21/12

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

Here are the new books I got this week:

My Story: No Way Back by Valerie Wilding

The riveting true story of eleven-year-old Mary Wade – one of the first and youngest British convicts to be transported to Australia. Raised in the slums of eighteenth century London, Mary is sentenced to death for a petty theft at the age of just eleven. While she is shut up in Newgate prison awaiting execution, her sentence is commuted to transportation to an Australian penal colony. So Mary sets sail aboard a prison ship to the other side of the world. Australia brings the promise of a new life, but it is also harsh and wild. Does Mary have what it takes to survive in this land of danger and opportunity? (already read and reviewed here)

Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker

If Sam Carroll hadn't shown up, she might have been able to get to her mother in time. Instead, Allie Everly finds herself at a funeral, mourning the loss of her beloved mother. She is dealt another blow when, a few hours later, she is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Beatrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept.
Poetry and letters written to her mother become the only things keeping Allie's heart from hardening completely. But then Sam arrives for the summer, and with him comes many confusing emotions, both toward him and the people around her. As World War II looms, Allie will be forced to decide whether hanging on to the past is worth losing her chance to be loved.

Titanic 100th Anniversary Reading Challenge

I said I was done joining reading challenges for 2012, then I came across this one. I've always been kind of obsessed with the Titanic (even before the movie came out) so I will have to join this one! You can find out more info and join the challenge here. I am going to try for the highest level, level 3, Going Down With the Ship, which is to read or watch a combination of 12 (twelve) Titanic related material. I'll mostly be reading books, but I also plan to watch the new Titanic miniseries that will be on TV in April.

Here are some of the books I might read:
By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer
Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke
Ghosts of the Titanic by Julie Lawson
The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf
Hearts that Survive: A Novel of the Titanic by Yvonne Lehman
Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic by Gregory Mone
Return to Titanic series by Steve Brezenoff (4 books)
Forget Me Not by Sue Lawson

While I can't include these books for the challenge, since I read them a while ago, here are some other Titanic books that I've reviewed on my blog, for anyone that is looking for Titanic books to read.

Dear America: Voyage on the Great Titanic by Ellen Emerson White
No Moon by Irene N. Watts
Titanic, Book One: Unsinkable by Gordon Korman
Titanic, Book Two: Collison Course by Gordon Korman
Titanic, Book Three: S.O.S. by Gordon Korman
Fateful by Claudia Gray
Dear Canada: That Fatal Night by Sarah Ellis
I Am Canada: Deadly Voyage by Hugh Brewester

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Story: No Way Back by Valerie Wilding

My Story: No Way Back by Valerie Wilding (Published by Scholastic, January 5, 2012)

Eleven-year-old Mary Wade is the oldest of seven children in a poor family living in London in 1789. Her father is usually away working, leaving her mother to care for the children alone. There is never enough money, and they are often cold and hungry. One day, hoping to help her mother, Mary makes a terrible decision that will change her life forever. With the help of her friend, Mary steals some clothing to sell. The next day, she is caught and arrested. At trial, she is convicted and sentenced to death, all for stealing a few pieces of clothing.

Mary spends the next few months in filthy Newgate Prison, wondering what will happen to her. She misses her family and is terrified she won't live to grow up and try to have a better life and have children of her own. Then her sentence is commuted to transportation to the new colony of New South Wales (present day Sydney, Australia). Mary is grateful for a chance to survive but sad she will never see England or her family again. The sea voyage is very long and Mary wonders what will await her at the end.

No Way Back is a bit different from the other books in the My Story series, since it is based on the life of a real person, unlike the other books, which describe real historical events from the point of view of a fictional main character. Mary Wade was one of the youngest convicts to be transported to Australia. She survived and thrived and grew up to have so many children that she now has thousands of descendents living today. It is also not an actual diary like the other books in the series (since Mary would not have had a diary to write in) but is written in the style of one. I enjoyed this book but I wish it had been a bit longer and more detailed. It ends with Mary's arrival in New South Wales and I would have liked to read about her life there. I think readers who enjoyed other books in the My Story series (or other similar series such as Dear America and Dear Canada) would enjoy this book as well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book review: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler (Published by HarperCollins, January 31, 2012)

Twelve-year-old Princess Meriel is the only girl in a family with five older brothers. Her mother died when she was very young, so it has just been Meriel, her brothers, and their father, the King, for as long as she can remember. Then one day her father returns home with a new wife, Lady Orianna. From the start, Meriel hates Lady Orianna. She doesn't trust her, especially after overhearing her argue with her father over the fact that if she has a son, he will never be king with five older brothers. The next day, when Meriel wakes up, her brothers are all gone. Lady Orianna says they have been sent away to school, but Meriel doesn't believe her.

Meriel is determined to find out the truth, but when she does, it is more awful than she ever could have imagined. Lady Orianna is a witch, and has cursed Meriel's brothers, transforming them all into swans. Meriel is the only one who can break the curse, but the task will be difficult. And she is running out of time, for it will soon be winter, and then her brothers will have to fly to a warmer land or they will die from the cold.

I was really looking forward to reading this book, since I enjoyed Diane Zahler's previous two fairy tale retellings, The Thirteenth Princess and A True Princess. I was not disappointed and enjoyed Princess of the Wild Swans as much as the previous two books. One of the things I really like about this author's books is that even though they are all set in magical lands, the settings are inspired by real places and cultures, and along with the traditional fairy tale stories she retells, she mixes in folklore and mythology from those places. The setting for this book reads like a fairy tale version of medieval Ireland, due to the Celtic names and folklore. I think readers who enjoyed Diane Zahler's previous books, or who enjoy fairy tale retellings or historical fantasy, would enjoy this book.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Voyage of the Sea Wolf by Eve Bunting

The Voyage of the Sea Wolf by Eve Bunting (Published by Sleeping Bear Press, February 1, 2012)

At the end of The Pirate Captain's Daughter, Catherine and cabin boy William are marooned on Pox Island by the murderous crew of the pirate ship Reprisal. The young lovers see no hope of escape.
In Voyage of the Sea Wolf, the continuing sage of Catherine's sea adventures, she and William are rescured from their island prison by the Sea Wolf, a pirate ship pursuing the Reprisal. Catherine worries that these new pirates will send her back to the island once they discover she's a girl. But then, she meets the captain of the Sea Wolf. A woman! Surely, Catherine thinks, the bloodshed and brutality she and William experienced aboard the Reprisal can't happen again, especially under the leadership of a female captian.
But just as things seem to be going their way, the captain takes a liking to William. Catherine is forbidden to see him.
If Catherine and William want to stay together, they must find a way to now escape from the Sea Wolf.

The ending of The Pirate Captain's Daughter was a huge cliffhanger, so I really want to find out what happens next. Luckily I won't have to wait too long, since the sequel will be published two weeks from now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book review: The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting

The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting (Published by Sleeping Bear Press, March 1, 2011)

Fifteen-year-old Catherine is the daughter of a pirate captain in the eighteenth century. He tried to keep his true occupation secret from his family, but Catherine learned the truth by eavesdropping. Since then, Catherine has longed to become a pirate, having developed a very romanticized view of pirates and life at sea. When Catherine's mother dies, she begs her father to let her join him on his pirate ship. She doesn't want to live in their house alone, especially when someone tried to rob them right before her mother died, and she finally sees a chance to make her dream of being a pirate come true. Catherine's father reluctantly agrees, as long as she disguises herself as a boy.

Catherine realizes right away that pirates and sailing ships are nothing like she imagined. The ship is dirty, the crew is rough, and some of them are cruel and violent as well. It is difficult for Catherine to keep her secret, especially when she begins to develop feelings for William, the young cabin boy who is one of the few kind pirates. Also, she realizes that he man who tried to rob her house is part of the crew. He wants something valuable from Catherine's father, and he is willing to do anything in oder to have it.

The Pirate Captain's Daughter is a quick, enjoyable read but there are a few flaws. It seemed rather improbable that Catherine's father would willingly allow her to join his ship's crew, knowing what some of the men were like. The story might have seemed more believable if it began with Catherine stowing away on the ship rather than being allowed to go. Also, the reading level seems more suited to a middle grade novel, but the content is definitely more appropriate for young adult readers. The ending is extremely abrupt, but I will forgive that since there will be a sequel published in February 2012, called Voyage of the Sea Wolf. I did enjoy the story, romance, and historical setting, so I recommend this book to readers who are interested in the topic and looking for a quick read, and I definitely will read the sequel to find out what happens next to Catherine.

In My Mailbox - 1/14/12

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

Here are the new books I got this week:

Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore

For star-crossed lovers Nimira and Erris, there can be no happily ever after until Erris is freed from the clockwork form in which his soul is trapped. And so they go in search of the sorcerer Ordoria Valdana, hoping he will know how to grant Erris real life again. When they learn that Valdana has mysteriously vanished, it’s not long before Nimira decides to take matters into her own hands—and begins to study the sorcerer’s spell books in secret. Yet even as she begins to understand the power and limitations of sorcery, it becomes clear that freeing Erris will bring danger—if not out-and-out war—as factions within the faerie world are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent him from regaining the throne.

A True Princess by Diane Zahler

Twelve-year-old Lilia must save her best friend, Kai, from a terrible enchantment caused by their perilous encounter with the Elf king and his beautiful daughter. Now the only way for Lilia to break the spell is to find a mysterious jewel of ancient power hidden somewhere in the North Kingdoms. But the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it lies is caught up in a different kind of search—the search for a true princess. (This is the paperback edition, I already read and reviewed the ARC last year, you can read my review here)

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment—cast by their conniving new stepmother—has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.
Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.
With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam—a beautiful half-witch and her clever brother—Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved. But if she fails…all will be lost.
With a mesmerizing voice and delightful imagination, Diane Zahler delivers an exceptionally dazzling retelling—full of magic, adventure, and fascinating characters. Fans of beautifully written and exciting fantasy novels, including those who love Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine, will be enthralled.

The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards

Magic, Djinn, Ogres, and Sorcerers. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings, long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying usurper who, even with his eyes closed, can see all.
When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must go to any lengths to rescue her. Along with her best friend, Ridhan—a silver-haired, violet-eyed boy of mysterious origins—and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all. (finished hardcover copy, you can read my review of the ARC here)

Winterling by Sarah Prineas

With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land.
Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the Mor rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter.
Sarah Prineas captivates in this fantasy-adventure about a girl who must find within herself the power to set right a terrible evil.

The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet

All Maya really wants is for her mother to be well again. But when her baby brother James goes missing, 12-year-old Maya has to take on the magical underworld of Paris, in which houses have bronze salamanders for door handles, the most beautiful people are all hooked on the sweet-smelling “anbar,” and a shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths has chosen Maya to be its next keeper. With the Cabinet’s help, Maya may be able to do for her mother what doctors cannot: save her from death, once and for all. But now that the clock is ticking for James, the price the Cabinet demands may be too high.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview with Melanie Dickerson, author of The Merchant's Daughter

Melanie Dickerson is the author of two fairy tale retellings for young adults, The Healer's Apprentice (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty) and The Merchant's Daughter (a retelling of Beauty and the Beast). I reviewed both books and you can read my review of The Healer's Apprentice here and my review of The Merchant's Daughter here. To learn more about Melanie and her books, and to see the book trailers for both novels, you can visit her website.

Why did you decide to become a writer of historical fiction? Have you always loved history?

I always liked history, but there were always certain time periods that I liked more than others, and some that I loved. The Medieval time period I loved.

Why did you decide to set your fairy tale retellings in the Medieval era?

There were a lot of reasons. Many of the stories probably originated in the Medieval period, and they fit in well with the way life was in that period. Also, I love that time period, so it just seemed natural to set my stories in that time.

What kind of research did you do to bring to life the historical settings for The Healer's Apprentice and The Merchant's Daughter?

I read some books on life in the middle ages, especially in Germany, while I was writing The Healer’s Apprentice, and I did a lot of searching on the internet for information. I read a lot of books on England in the 1300’s before I started writing The Merchant’s Daughter, and did a lot more research while I was writing the story. I try to check everything, to make sure I’m getting my facts straight. I consider that a big part of my job as a writer, and even though I know a lot about the period, I try not to assume that I know something, but double check to make sure.

Do you plan to write more fairy tale retellings? What is your own favorite fairy tale of all time?

I do have more fairy tale retellings in the works. So keep an eye out on my blog, website, and facebook page for announcements in the near future. :) And I think my favorite fairy tale has to be Beauty and the Beast. I love the theme of “love is blind” and character being more important than outward physical beauty.

What are some of your favorite books and authors?

I love all of Jane Austen’s books, and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is another favorite, and I loved Rafael Sabatini’s books when I was a teen, especially The Sea Hawk. My favorite contemporary authors are Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman, Linore Burkard, Kate DiCamillo, and Ruth Axtell.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for having me on your blog, Rebecca! I am excited about 2012 is bringing as far as my writing and future books. I hope you have a wonderful year, too! Happy reading!

Book review: The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards

The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards (Published by HarperCollins, January 17, 2012)

Thirteen-year-old Zardi lives in the kingdom of Arribitha, where the sultan has banned magic, and anyone even heard talking about magic can be arrested. Her best friend is Rhidan, a mysterious foreigner who was found abandoned as a baby and raised by Zardi's family. Rhidan longs to know of his origins, and receives a clue from Sinbad the Sailor, but Simbad must flee before Rhidan can get more answers.

The sultan of Arribitha is cruel and evil, and forces young girls to be take the position of "Praisemaker" - they are forced to announce executions and are eventually killed. Zardi's parents tried to have her and her sister married off so they cannot be chosen, but before they could do that, her older sister is chosen to be the next Praisemaker. Zardi and Rhidan must then go on a journey to save Zardi's sister and discover the truth about Rhidan's origins.

The Book of Wonders is an enjoyable middle grade fantasy inspired by the Arabian Nights stories. The main characters were very likable and I enjoyed the author's descriptions of all the exotic places they visited. This book is very different from anything I have read recently, and since I am sick of urban fantasy I am always looking for fantasy with a more historical or magical setting. If you are like me and enjoy fantasy with unusual settings, I think you would enjoy The Book of Wonders.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard (Published by HarperTeen, July 24, 2012)

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…
Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper — The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.
And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.
Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

This book sounds really original - it's a YA historical fantasy with zombies in it! Am I a total geek for thinking that sounds completely awesome?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

In My Mailbox - 1/7/12

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

Here are the new books I got this week:

Secret Letters by Leia Scheier

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and maybe even rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.
From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl’s fight to save herself, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Contest: Win a signed copy of Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Janet Lee Carey has generously offered one signed hardcover copy of her new historical fantasy, Dragonswood, for a contest. To enter, just fill out the form below! To learn more about Dragonswood, you can read my review, visit the author's website, or view the book trailer.

Book review: Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey (Published by Penguin Books, January 5, 2012)

The year is 1192 and seventeen-year-old Tess is a blacksmith's daughter on Wilde Island, which is a fictional island, although I think that based on the story, it's intended to be set near England. Wilde Island is the home to many humans, but also to dragons and fairies, who live in Dragonswood, a forest that is supposed to be their sanctuary. Although it is forbidden, Tess has often gone into Dragonswood - to get away from her horrible father, who physically abuses both Tess and her mother, but also because she feels drawn there. Tess fears being forced to marry, because she assumes most men will be like her abusive father. Tess also has a secret - she sees visions in fires. She must keep her power a secret, because the villagers fear witches and would burn her alive.

When Tess is accused of witchcraft despite carefully hiding her secret, and under torture names her two best friends, the three girls must escape their village and run for their lives. They are offered sanctuary by Garth, a young man who guards Dragonswood, and who Tess previously saw in her visions. Tess feels attracted to Garth, but doesn't believe he returns her feelings. She also thinks he is hiding something. Then Tess discovers a surprising truth about her own heritage, and the part she might play in a fairy prophecy.

I really liked the premise of Dragonswood. I love anything set in the Medieval era and I also love fantasy but I'm sick of all the modern paranormal books out there. So I think ther historical setting Dragonswood really makes it stand from the endless sea of young adult paranormal books. I really liked the character of Tess, who was very brave and strong despite her difficult life. I think the author was true to the way of life in the Medieval era, despite this being a fantasy novel. My only real complaint was that the ending seemed a bit abrupt (there is an epilogue, but the conclusion to the main story seemed like it was over a bit too fast), and I wish the romance had been developed a bit more. But overall I enjoyed the story a lot and I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fantasy or who are sick of all the typical young adult paranormal novels and want to read something different.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by author.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze (Published by Little Brown, May 8, 2012

Happily ever after is a thing of the past.
The year is 2090.
England is a barren land. Food is rationed. Oil has decimated the oceans. The people are restless.
A ruthless revolutionary enacts a plan to destroy the royal family, and in a moment, the king is dead. His heiress, Princess Mary, and her brother, Jamie, have been abducted, and no one knows their fate. Princess Eliza Windsor barely escapes, and finds herself scared and lost in London's dangerous streets.
With a mind for revenge and the safe recovery of her siblings, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. There she is tempted by her first taste of independence -- and true love. Ultimately she must summon her courage and fight to ensure that she does not become... The Last Princess.

This book sounds like a dystopian that will be unusual/different, since it is set in England. I wonder if Galaxy Craze is the author's real name!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In My Mailbox - 1/1/12

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

This is my first In My Mailbox of 2012. Unfortunately since the mail was slow this week due to holidays, most of the books I ordered online did not arrive. However I did get three new books this week.

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Vice and Virtue by Veronica Bennett

What happens when you marry for neither love nor money? 1700, London: a city so crowded and unregulated that anyone, should they so desire, could slip away - disappear down a back street and become someone else. After the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Aurora Eversedge is left without a dowry and agrees to marry a much older man who claims to be wealthy, though in poor health. On their wedding night, Edward Francis confesses that, in fact, he is penniless but that his health is robust - also that his proposal of marriage carried an ulterior motive: he wants Aurora to act as a spy for him. Edward's father had left his fortune to his sworn enemy, Josiah Deede. Edward suspects that Josiah murdered his father and is determined to regain his inheritance and bring Josiah Deede to justice. Aurora's first assignment is to make the acquaintance of Josiah's daughter, Celia, and son, Jos, at a Covent Garden theatre. "Vice and Virtue" is full of acute observation of social life that characterizes Jane Austen's work - the sort of book Jane Austen would have written if she wrote mysteries.

The Mastermind Plot by Angie Frazier

Suzanna "Zanna" Snow can hardly believe her luck: She's just arrived in Boston, the city she's wanted to visit for as long as she can remember. Think of all the mysteries waiting to be solved here! Her grandmother and cousin, Will, welcome her warmly, but her famous detective uncle, Bruce Snow, seems anything but pleased. He doesn't want Zanna meddling in his current case involving a string of mysterious warehouse fires along the harbor front. But Zanna can't help herself. Is someone setting the fires? Just when she thinks she's on to something, a strange man starts following her. Is he a threat? Zanna needs to solve the case before she has the chance to find out.
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