Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pre-BEA Buzz Tour: Crewel by Jennifer Albin

BEA is just a few days away and one of the books that will be there is the awesome debut novel Crewel by Gennifer Albin. It's dystopian but totally unlike any dystopian I've ever read - seriously, the concept is just *genuis.* The main character, sixteen-year-old Adelice, has the ability to weave time with matter (which I think is totally awesome and unique!). The world building and characterization were wonderful. Adelice was an amazing main character, and not just because of her very cool powers. Crewel made me feel many emotions while reading, it was at times sad, scary, thrilling, mysterious, and shocking. Seriously, this is one book you do not want to miss if you will be at BEA. And if you aren't able to make it to BEA, Macmillan and Gennifer Albin have some great prizes up for grabs. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below the prizes.

Grand Prize – An anniversary package of books and swag courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

First Prize – A signed ARC of Crewel with bookmark

Second and Third Prize – Crewel bookmarks and buttons

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other stops on the Pre-BEA Buzz Tour for Crewel:

Making the Grade (5/28)
Hobbitsies (5/29)
Books Over Boys (5/30)
Starting the Next Chapter (6/1)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Langdown Manor by Sue Reid

Langdown Manor by Sue Reid (Published by Scholastic UK, September 6, 2012)

Struggling to conform to the rigid certainties of the English upper classes and their traditions, Polly believes that she has found her soulmate in Fred, the young and ambitious groom, who feels as out of place in service as she does at the Hall. When they fall for each other their romance has to be kept secret - both from Polly's relations, and the rest of the staff. But it's not easy living a double life, Polly finds and - swept up into the glamorous world of Edwardian high society - Polly's head is soon turned by all the attention.

I love this era as a setting for historical fiction so I can't wait to read this book. Although it does sound *really* similar to Wentworth Hall, which I read recently.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book review: Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill (Published by Bloomsbury, June 5, 2012)

Dead Reckoning is a book with a very unique premise for a young adult novel. It's set in the Old West after the Civil War. There are three main characters, Jett, Honoria, and White Fox. Jett is a girl living disgused as a boy as she searches for her missing brother. Honoria is a rich sociliate who is also an inventor. And White Fox is a scout for the army who is looking for for a missing family. This may sound like a fairly typical western at first. What makes it unique is that it has zombies, yes, zombies in the Old West.

I wanted to love this book because the premise sounded so awesome. It was a fun and unique read, but it just was missing something that kept me from loving it. Perhaps it was the lack of romance. I don't think romance needs to be the main focus in every book, but I personally would have enjoyed it more if one of the characters had a romantic subplot. However, perhaps readers sick of young adult romances would appreciate that this one is romance-free.

So even though I personally didn't love this book, I'd still say it's worth a try, if you think it sounds interesting, due to the fact that it has such a unique concept and story. And some readers may appreciate the lack of romance.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mailbox Monday - 5/28/12

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Martha's Bookshelf for the month of May.

Here are the new books I got this week:

Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman

In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of "oddities," including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the "monsters" and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that he has been his own worst deceiver. The rowdy world of market fairs in Elizabethan England is the colorful backdrop for Newbery medalist Cushman's new comic masterpiece.

Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.

Stalked by Kristiana Gregory

When Rikke Svendsen, a 15-year old Danish servant arrives at Ellis Island, she realizes that a fellow passenger on her voyage across the Atlantic--whose advances she had spurned--is stalking her. In the chaos of immigration and trying to flee him, she gets stranded in New York instead of being able to meet family in Racine Wisconsin. Relieved to have eluded the man, she finds work in the tenements as a seamstress for a film company and struggles to earn money for a train ticket north. Meanwhile, through letters and telegrams, she learns that mysterious accidents are befalling her loved ones in Racine with deadly results. As Rikke pieces together clues, frantic for her sweetheart Viggo, she seeks to unravel what or who is behind the terror.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver captivated readers with Delirium, the first book in a thrilling dystopian trilogy in which Lena Haloway dared to fall in love with Alex and escape the cure, the government-mandated procedure that renders a person immune to the disease of love. Lena and Alex staked their lives on leaving their oppressive society, but only Lena broke free.
Pandemonium continues Lena’s gripping story. After escaping from Portland, Maine, Lena makes it to the Wilds and becomes part of an Invalid community, where she transforms herself into a warrior for the resistance. A future without Alex is unimaginable, but Lena pushes forward and fights, both for him and for a world in which love is no longer considered a disease. Swept up in a volatile mix of revolutionaries and counterinsurgents, Lena struggles to survive—and wonders if she may be falling in love again.
Full of danger, forbidden romance, and exquisite writing, Lauren Oliver’s sequel to Delirium races forward at a breathtaking pace and is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes action of The Hunger Games and the bittersweet love story of Romeo & Juliet.

Destined by Aprilynne Pike

Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful—and deadly—of all, and Klea plans to use her to help conquer and destroy Avalon. But Klea's reach extends far beyond one wild Winter faerie. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares to face what may be Avalon's final days, in the stunning conclusion to the Wings series.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book review: Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl (Published by Viking Books, June 14, 2012)

Seventeen-year-old Althea Crawley, the heroine of Keeping the Castle, is in quite a bind. The family estate of Crawley Castle is quite literally falling apart. There is no money to repair it - Althea's father died, leaving the family nothing, and when her mother later married a rich man, he died just a few weeks later, before he could help repair the castle, and leaving two more mouths to feed - Prudence and Charity, Althea's wicked stepsisters. If there is to be anything left of the castle for Althea's little brother, Alexander, to inherit, Althea must marry a rich man who will help her family. Unfortunately, there aren't very many rich, eligible young men in the small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo - until their new neighbor, Lord Boring, moves in.

The new Lord Boring is young and handsome and has inherited his uncle's title and home. As soon as she meets him, Althea becomes certain she must persuade him to marry her. After all, he's rich and handsome - the perfect husband! And Althea is young and beautiful, so surely she would make the perfect wife for him. But Althea's stepsister Charity has also taken an interest in Lord Boring, while the very rude Mr. Fredericks, Lord Boring's estate manager and cousin, always seems to be around to cause trouble.

Keeping the Castle is a delightful parody of the traditional Regency romance. It's cute, hilarious, and just so much fun to read. Most young adult books are very dark and can be depressing at times, and although I enjoy many of the "dark" books, it's also nice to read something that's light and fluffy from time to time. And Keeping the Castle fits that description perfectly. If you are looking for a light, charming, historical read, then I highly recommend Keeping the Castle.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Seeking Eden by Anne Turnbull

Seeking Eden by Anne Turnbull (Published by Walker Books UK, June 7, 2012)

Will and Susanna Heywood, now in their thirties, move, with their four children, to Pennsylvania, where freedom of religious thought is everyone's right. This is the story of their eldest child, Josiah, who finds work with George Bainbrigg in the dock area of Philadelphia and falls in love with his daughter, Kate. When they travel to Barbados on business and stay with Friends who are harassed by local laws, Josiah is shocked to learn that Quakers have slaves and that his boss deals in the slave trade. Once they return home, Josiah and Kate try to help two slaves who are in love, Antony and Patience, to attain their freedom - knowing the risks involved may result in lives that are even more unbearable.

I read and loved the first two books in this series, No Shame, No Fear, and Forged in the Fire, several years ago. Those books told the story of Will and Susanna's romance (and I highly recommend them!) and I can't wait to read this book to find out what happened next to them and their family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Published by Henry Holt, June 5, 2012)

Alina Starkov has always seen herself as a poor orphan that's completely ordinary and good at nothing. After her parents died, she grew up in an orphanage. Her only friend was Mal, a boy her age, but now that they have grown up, they aren't as close as they once were. Their nation, Ravka, is at war, threatened both by external forces and the monsters from the Shadow Fold, a swath of land, created by some supernatural darkness, that cuts the country in two, and so after leaving the orphanage, they were required to join the military. Alina isn't even very good at her job there, no matter how hard she tries. But then, during an expedition into the Shadow Fold, she saves the lives of her companions with a power she never knew she had, and her life changes forever. Alina is separated from everyone she knows and taken to the capital where she is trained to use her new power along with the other Grisha, the elite magic users of her world who are led by the mysterious Darkling. She doesn't know who to trust, struggles to control her power and misses Mal, who hasn't returned her letters.

From the start, I loved how unique the setting of Shadow and Bone is. Most high fantasy seems to be set in worlds inspired by western Europe in the Middle Ages, but the world of Ravka is based on late nineteenth-century Russia. I'm not sure how true to Russian culture the setting is, but it definitely has a unique flavor that sets it apart from other books. I think the setting was my favorite thing about this book. I also loved how unique the story and supernatural elements were. I don't think I've seen another book with a plot similar to this one!

I really enjoyed this book but it does have a few small flaws, although these didn't detract very much from my enjoyment of the story. I thought Alina seemed to obsess a bit too much over her appearance, and how plain and ordinary she was. I also guessed really early on who the villain would end up being, although I'm not sure if it was intended to be predictable or not. But overall I loved how different this book was from the typical young adult fantasy and I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy to find out what happens next. Despite these small flaws, if you are looking to read something different from the young adult fantasy genre, I highly recommend Shadow and Bone.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Book review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 8, 2012)

In Struck by Jennifer Bosworth, Mia Price, the main character, lives in a near-future Los Angeles devastated by a catastrophic earthquake. Mia has a rather unique, special power - she can survive lightning strikes, and has become addicted to the power of being struck by lightning. She has scars all over her body from being hit by lightning so many times. In the aftermath of the earthquake, she has to deal with a lot. Her mother is unable to cope, so it's up to Mia to keep her family alive. There are also two cults that have rose to power after the disaster, and both have taken an interest in Mia and her power.

Overall, Struck was a good debut novel, but I didn't love it. I liked that that the premise was different from most young adult dystopian novels. I've been put off lately by a lot of young adult novels due to how similar some are to others, so it was nice to read a story with a very unique premise. There are a lot of religious themes, which I didn't mind, but I know religion in books is a touchy subject for some people. While I did like the story and premise, I didn't think the romance, between Mia and her love interest Jeremy, was very believable. It just seemed to happen way too fast rather than developing over the course of the book. Instant-love is a plot device I've become really tired of lately in young adult books.

Despite these flaws, I would still try future books by Jennifer Bosworth. For a first-time author, I think she came up with a really good story/premise and I'd love to see what she does with a bit more writing experience under her belt. If you are looking to read a young adult dystopian novel with a unique premise I'd give this one a try, unless you really hate religious themes.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mailbox Monday - 5/14/12

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Martha's Bookshelf for the month of May.

Here are the new books I got this week:

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have been cursed with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby has spent nearly half her life desperately trying to hide the fact that she’s outwitted the camp’s sorting system—that she isn’t powerless, or safe. She’s one of the dangerous ones… and everyone knows what happens to them.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of teens who escaped their own camp, pursued along the way by terrifying bounty hunters. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close to him. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Before the end, Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living. (I *LOVED* Brightly Woven, so I was so excited to win the contest for this ARC!)

Dark Destiny by M.J. Putney

Tory and her friends are celebrating the success of a second mission to aid WWII Britain when an urgent summons calls them back to their own time: Napoleon is on the brink of invading England. Can a handful of young mages stop an army? In desperation, Merlin’s Irregulars ask Rebecca Weiss, an untrained telepath from 1940, to come back to 1804 and change Napoleon’s mind before it’s too late. As Tory and Allarde make a commitment that will cost him his inheritance, Rebecca promises to do what she can to stop Napoleon even though she is unsure of her magical abilities. But Tory and her friends saved the Weiss family from Nazi imprisonment, and Rebecca will risk anything, even her life and her budding relationship with Nick Rainford, to repay them. A daring mission takes Tory and Rebecca and their friends into the heart of the Army of Boulogne, where Napoleon is plotting invasion. But while their success may save England, they must still face the bittersweet consequences of their decisions when they return home.

Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw

Kate is the one person gifted enough to work the magic held in the ancient book of Wintercraft. And everyone wants her, either to lock her up or to use her as the ultimate weapon. Her rare power is being able to walk freely through the veil between life and death, and she cannot control it.
Hunted by the Blackwatch—the elite assassins of the enemy—and by her own people, Kate flees deep into tunnels beneath the graveyard city. And she is still inextricably linked to the murderer and traitor Silas Dane, who has crossed the ocean and walked straight into the enemy's hands.
As the Blackwatch closes in, Kate and Silas will face terrors that only they can keep from destroying Albion. And time is running out.

Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London

This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.
Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters....
Darkness Before Dawn is a fresh new story with captivating characters, unexpected plot twists, a fascinating setting, and a compelling voice. Written under the name J. A. London by a talented mother-son team, the trilogy is perfect for fans of True Blood and the House of Night and Morganville Vampires series.

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.
Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

Wake by Amanda Hocking

Beautiful. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Thea, and Lexi have caught everyone's attention, including the eye of practical Harper. But it's her sister, Gemma, they've chosen to be part of their group.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma seems to have it all - carefree, pretty, and falling in love with the boy next door. But her greatest passion has always been the water. She craves late night swims under the stars, where she can be alone yet belong to the sea. Lately she's had company. Penn, Thea, and Lexi spend their nights dancing, singing, and partying on the cove--and one night Gemma joins them. When she wakes up groggy on the beach the next morning, she knows something has changed.
Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. As she uncovers the truth about her new mythical powers, Gemma is forced to choose between staying with those she loves or entering a dark world brimming with unimaginable secrets.

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Can true love be forgotten?
As the only scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.
Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out—a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies' cry for blood is growing louder.
As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen's sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

Rift by Andrea Cremer

Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer's internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!
Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.
With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.

Once by Anna Carey

Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?
Brimming with danger and star-crossed romance, and featuring a vivid dystopian landscape, this electrifying follow-up to Eve, which bestselling author Lauren Kate called “a gripping, unforgettable adventure—and a fresh look at what it means to love” is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes adventure of The Hunger Games and the irresistible love story of Romeo and Juliet.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she should help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends’ ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city.
Picking up where Princess Academy left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.
But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday - 5/7/12

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Martha's Bookshelf for the month of May.

Here are the new books I got this week:

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors--or suitors of any kind--in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There's only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans . . . This witty take on the classic Regency--Patrice Kindl's first novel in a decade--is like literary champagne!

Venom by Fiona Paul

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Garriger

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.
First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

Day of the Cyclone by Penny Draper

June, 1912. 12-year-old Ella is surprised by an unusual birthday gift from her father: a Brownie camera and the advice to seek pictures of things that 'don't belong'. This is how Ella first notices Billy, a boy at her school. They become good friends, although Ella is sure Billy is keeping something from her.
Ella soon realizes there are others to whom the 'don't belong' tag applies. They include herself! Helping out at her mother's IODE group, Ella finds out about women's rights - or the lack of them.
When Ella's mother's purse is raided, suspicion falls on Billy. Then, just as Ella is learning surprising things about both her mother and her mysterious friend, the cyclone arrives. The substandard housing of the poor is worst-hit. How can Ella, armed only with her camera, help her friend?

Our Australian Girl: Alice and the Apple Blossom Fair by Davina Bell

It's 1918, and Alice has never felt lonelier. Her father is missing at sea, her brother Teddy is away at war, and she's not allowed to speak to her best friend anymore. Alice tries to forget her worries by having a stall at the Apple Blossom Fair. But when strange events start happening in the town, everything goes wrong … Will the war ever be over, and will life for Alice ever be the same again?
Follow Alice on her adventure in the second of four stories about a gifted girl in a time of war.

Our Australian Girl: Nellie and the Secret Letter by Penny Matthews

It's 1849, and Nellie is starting her new life as a kitchen maid in a grand Adelaide house with her best friend, Mary. But Nellie's desire to live out her dreams soon leads to a battle with the spiteful cook, Bessie Rudge… Can Nellie keep her temper and avoid being thrown out to beg on the streets? And why is Mary acting so strangely?
Follow Nellie on the second of four exciting stories about an Irish girl with a big heart, in search of the freedom to be herself.
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