Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Foster

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Foster (Published by HarperCollins, February 5, 2013)

The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

This book sounds like it has a very unique premise. I can't wait to read it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday - 7/23/12

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Mrs. Q Book Addict for the month of July.

This post has the last two weeks of books, since I forgot to post last week.

Debutantes by Cora Harrison

It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.
Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.
But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.

Spy for the Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin

As lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, the beautiful Ginette - known as Jenny - is the young queen's closest childhood friend. Growing up in the elegant but ruthless French court, surrounded by enemies and traitors - not least the jealous, manipulative Catherine de Medici, and Mary's own scheming half-brother, James - Jenny has always been fiercely loyal to her mistress. But when she overhears a mysterious whispered plot, closely followed by several unexplained deaths at court, she puts her own life in danger and turns spy for Mary.
Jenny quickly realises not a soul at court can be trusted, and when she and Mary return to their Scottish homeland for Mary to claim her throne, they face even greater peril. Desperate to protect her friend from those who would slit her throat to steal her crown, while battling her feelings for the charismatic nobleman Duncan Alexander, Jenny becomes embroiled in a dangerous web of secrets, betrayals and lies.

The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer

The last words of a dying woman would change the life of young Thomas. Raised behind monastery walls, he knows nothing of his mysterious past or imminent destiny. But now, in the heart of medieval England, a darkness threatens to strangle truth. An ancient order tightens their ghostly grip on power, creating fear and exiling those who would oppose them. Thomas is determined fulfill his calling and bring light into the mysterious world of the Druids and leaves the monastery on an important quest.
Thomas quickly finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he must put his faith in unusual companions—a cryptic knight, a child thief, and the beautiful, silent woman whom may not be all she seems. From the solitary life of an orphan, Thomas now finds himself tangled in the roots of both camaraderie and suspicion.
Can he trust those who would join his battle…or will his fears force him to go on alone?

Ned Kelly's Secret by Sophie Masson

Hugo and his father are travelling through Australia, on the trail of tales of the gold rush. But after they're ambushed on the road by the notorious outlaw Harry Power, they decide to chase something wilder and far more exciting - the stories of the bushrangers. In Benalla, Hugo befriends a boy from the bush, a boy who's brave, bold and will do anything for his clan. A boy with a dark and dangerous secret - 15-year-old Ned Kelly!

Ransomwood by Sherryl Jordan

Spurned by her lover, and with her uncle threatening to marry her off to his odious widowed brother, Gwenifer is almost relieved to be sent away to escort the magistrate’s old, blind mother to Ransomwood, where the tears of the statue of the Holy Mother are said to have healing qualities. Together with Harry, the village halfwit, who is escaping a sentence of hanging for being in charge of an ox that trampled a child almost to death, they embark on a perilous journey … each of them looking for a different kind of healing.

The Forgotten Pearl by Belinda Murrell

In 1941, Poppy lives in Darwin, a peaceful paradise far from the war. But when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, then Australia, everything Poppy holds dear is threatened - her family, her neighbours, her friends and her beloved pets. Her brother Edward is taken prisoner-of-war. Her home town becomes a war zone, as the Japanese raid over and over again.
Terrified for their lives, Poppy and her mother flee to Sydney, only to find that the danger follows them there. Poppy must face her war with courage and determination. Will her world ever be the same again?

Our Australian Girl: Nellie's Quest by Penny Matthews

It's 1850 and Nellie's best friend, Mary, is gravely ill. To provide Mary with the care she needs, Nellie must break a promise and go on a quest to find the Thompson family. But will they be able to help? And who will Nellie turn to when her own life is in danger?
Follow Nellie on her adventure in the third of four exciting stories about an Irish girl with a big heart, in search of the freedom to be herself

Our Australian Girl: Alice of Peppermint Grove by Davina Bell

The war is over, summer has arrived and Alice is filled with hope that life with her family will finally return to normal. However, as peace is negotiated overseas, nothing at home goes as expected. Mama loses her job at the bank, the country is gripped with the deadly Spanish Influenza, and the role of the Fairy Snow Queen in the local dance recital causes problems between Alice and her best friend, Jilly. Even the return from Europe of Teddy, Alice's big brother, can't fix everything … or can it?

Frostfire by Zoe Marriott

Frost is cursed - possessed by a wolf demon that brings death everywhere she goes. Desperate to find a cure, she flees her home, only to be captured by the Ruan Hill Guard. Trapped until she can prove she is not an enemy, Frost grows increasingly close to the Guard’s charismatic leader Luca and his second in command, the tortured Arian. Torn between two very different men, Frost fears that she may not be able to protect either of them ... from herself.

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Book two of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I am not including the publisher's summary because it has a LOT of spoilers for the people who haven't read the first book or seen season one of the TV show.

 The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

It all began with nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorians, who scattered on Earth and went into hiding, who look like ordinary teenagers, but who have extraordinary skills. The Mogadorians killed Number One, Number Two, and Number Three. They tried to kill Number Four...and failed.
Number Four (aka John Smith) has now teamed up with Number Nine, while Six has gone off to find the others. With the Mogadorians hot on their trail and time running out, they must find a way to come together before it’s too late. Their power is in numbers.
The first two books in the Lorien Legacies series, I Am Number Four and The Power of Six, were both #1 New York Times bestsellers, and I Am Number Four became a major motion picture. Fans are hooked as the battle to determine Earth’s fate draws near.

Moonlight and Ashes by Sophie Masson

The story of Cinderella as you've never heard it before ...
A girl whose fortunes have plummeted from wealthy aristocrat to servant-girl. A magic hazel twig. A prince. A desperate escape from danger.
This is not the story of a girl whose fairy godmother arranges her future for her. This is the story of Selena, who will take charge of her own destiny, and learn that her magic is not to be feared but celebrated.
Pure fairytale - with all the romance, magic and adventure that goes along with it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson (Published by Zondervan, December 25, 2012)

A daring rescue. A difficult choice.
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?
Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.
When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

I really enjoyed Melanie Dickerson's other two fairy tale retellings, so I can't wait to read her third. I really like that one of the main characters is the son of the couple from the author's first book, The Healer's Apprentice.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Song of Ice and Fire Read-a-long week two

Hi to everyone participating in Bookalicious's Song of Ice and Fire read-a-long. By now, you should be around 50% done with book one, A Game of Thrones. For this week, the discussion topic is the female characters in the book. Even though the series is set in a medieval society where men have all the rights and power, there are many strong female characters in the series who do not just sit there and accept this, but who find ways to fight for some control over their own lives.

What are some of the ways that the female characters in A Game of Thrones gain power, despite living in a society where they are often considered powerless? Which of these characters do you admire?  You can either make your own post on your blog (if you have one), or if you don't, you can share your thoughts in a reply to this post.

Personally, my favorite female character in the series is Arya Stark.

At the start of the book series, Arya is only nine years old, but she has to grow up fast. As the daughter of a noble family, Arya is expected to learn to be a proper lady so she can marry well when she is old enough. But Arya is not interested in being a lady. She would much prefer to learn how to fight, instead of learning how to sew. She has her own sword, Needle, and she's not afraid to learn how to use it.

Another female character who starts out powerless but who becomes much stronger is Daenerys Targaryen.

Daenerys starts out in a very powerless position. Her family, the Targaryens, ruled Westeros for hundreds of years until they lost the throne in a rebellion. She grew up in exile with the only other surviving member of her family, her older brother, and she is forced, when she is only thirteen years old, to marry a stranger from a very different culture to aid her brother's quest to return to Westeros and retake the throne. But rather than being a doormat, she learns how to gain some power in her relationship with her husband, and becomes a much stronger person (and better potential ruler) than her brother is.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis (Published by Razorbill, January 15, 2013)

The final book in the trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis!
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. Amy and Elder must race to uncover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. But as each new discovery brings more danger, Amy and Elder will have to look inward to the very fabric of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been meaningless.

I can't wait to read this book to find out how the series ends. But I am annoyed the publisher changed the cover, because now my series won't match. :(

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday - 7/9/12

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Mrs. Q Book Addict for the month of July.

I haven't posted a Mailbox Monday for a couple of weeks (I kept forgetting!), so this is several weeks of books.

Outpost by Ann Aguirre

Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.
To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.
Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy
Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself--who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim.
Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright--who just happens to be Heather's "new" fiancE. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, "this" reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated.

Poison by Bridget Zinn

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin's magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin's stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
A Game of Thrones
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Song of Ice and Fire Read-a-long week one

I love the HBO series Game of Thrones, but haven't gotten to read the books yet. So I decided to join Bookalicious's Song of Ice and Fire read-a-long. The goal for July is to finish reading book one, A Game of Thrones. For week one, the task is to choose your house. While I am not sure they will end up winning in the end, I have chosen the Starks because they are noble and honorable, while still being (mostly) awesome.

The Stark family sigil is a direwolf, and their motto is Winter is Coming. Which makes sense, since their family home is in Winterfell, where it's very cold, even in the summer. Imagine what it must be like when it's actually winter there!

Ned Stark is the Lord of Winterfell, head of the Stark house and father of the Stark children. He is very brave and honorable - unfortunately, sometimes too honorable.

Catelyn Stark is Ned's wife and the mother of Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon. She was too cruel sometimes to Jon Snow, Ned's bastard son, but she loved her children and wanted the best for them.

Jon Snow is Ned's bastard son. At the start of the book series, he is fourteen years old. Not much is known about his mother. Ned brought him to Winterfell to be raised alongside his legitimate children. He resents being a bastard and not fitting in entirely, and eventually joins the Night's Watch, which guards The Wall, a giant wall along the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms.

Robb Stark is the eldest of the trueborn Stark children. He is also fourteen years old at the beginning of the series. He has been raised to be his father's heir. Like his father, he is honorable and loyal to his family.

Sansa Stark is the older of the Stark daughters, and is eleven years old at the start of the series. She is very ladylike, and hopes to marry well. She annoys me a bit at the start of the series, but based on what I know from the TV show, I think I'll like her more later on in the series.

Arya Stark is the younger Stark daughter. She is nine years old when the series starts. Unlike her sister Sansa, Arya doesn't want to be a lady. She has no interest in sewing or pretty clothes and would prefer to learn how to fight with a sword. She was close to her half-brother Jon, who gave her a sword she named Needle as a parting gift before he left for The Wall.  Arya is awesome and one of my favorite characters from the series.

Bran Stark is seven years old at the start of the series. He likes to climb and explore which unfortunately gets him into a lot of trouble and he ends up crippled. After that, he forms a very strong connection with his pet direwolf, Summer.

Rickon Stark is the youngest Stark child, and is three years old at the start of the series. He is too young to have done much, but he's adorable. He names his pet direwolf Shaggydog - how cute is that?!

So which house would you align yourself with in the world of Westeros, and who is your favorite character? And if you are interested, be sure to sign up for the read-a-long!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book review: All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls

All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls (Published by Scholastic UK, March 1, 2012)

Fourteen-year-old Isabel lives in a small village in England that has recently suffered from bad weather and food shortages. When the villagers hear news of a strange new disease, they are concerned by how fast it is spreading through the country. This plague strikes everyone equally, whether they are young or old, weak or strong. Nearly half the population of England dies. Many people believe the end of the world has come. Those that survive are left struggling to rebuild their homes and lives. If you read a lot of dystopian novels set in a bleak possible future, this plot probably sounds somewhat familiar. But All Fall Down is set in 1349, when a devastating pandemic of bubonic plague killed between one-third and one-half of Europe's population, changing that society forever.

When the story opens, Isabel is content with her life. She loves her father, stepmother, and five siblings. It is already planned that when she is older, she will marry Robin, a boy she grew up with in the village, who is one of her best friends. Like most Medieval peasants, she's never travelled away from her village. Her family is not truly free, as they must work for the local lord, Sir Edmund. But Isabel knows no other life, and doesn't want anything to change. This made her character seem very realistic, since that's likely how a real girl back then would have thought. She doesn't want to rise above her station in life. She's just an ordinary person with an ordinary life that is completely turned upside down by tragedy.

As the story progresses, Isabel can do nothing but watch as many of her family and friends are killed by the plague. She and some of those she cares about survive, entirely by chance, but are left to figure out how to go on living in a very changed world. The ending was realistic, but honestly (and this is just a personal preference) I wish it had been slightly happier. It was hopeful and not entirely grim, but it didn't end the way I really hoped it would, and I can't say more than that without it being a huge spoiler. But that doesn't reflect on the quality of the writing at all, and I think that this is a story that will appeal to readers who don't normally read historical fiction, since it reads a lot like a dystopian novel. But instead of speculating about possible future disasters and how humanity might react and find a way to survive, the author tells the story of a real disaster which decimated the population of countless countries and caused enormous and permanent social changes.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book review: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb (Published by Random House UK, July 5, 2012)

Meg Lytton is a witch - a real one - which is a very dangerous secret to have for a young woman in Tudor England in 1554. She has been trained in her craft by her Aunt Jane, and she knows she never wants to give it up. Unfortunately, the cruel witch finder Marcus Dent has taken a liking to Meg and wants to marry her, and he must not discover her secret. For a time, Meg has avoided him, as she has been sent to serve Elizabeth, Henry VIII's daughter, who has been sent by her older sister, Queen Mary, to live at the ruined palace at Woodstock.

Not long after Meg arrives at Woodstock, two Spanish priests arrive, sent by Elizabeth's older sister, who is against the Protestant religion. One of these priests, Alejandro, is young and handsome, and Meg is attracted to him, even though a witch and a priest could never be together. And there is still the problem of Meg's unwanted suitor, Marcus Dent, who she fears will learn her secret - and the punishment for witchcraft is death.

I particularly enjoy books set in Tudor England, so I loved the historical setting for Witchstruck. Meg is a likeable heroine in a very difficult situation. I think this is the first book I have read with a historical setting about a "real" witch facing persecution (rather than a girl wrongly accused of being a witch). I also really liked the inclusion of the young Elizabeth as a side character. I was hoping for a bit more development of the romance between Meg and Alejandro based on the back cover summary, but as this is the first book in a series, I am sure there will be more development of their relationship later on. If you like historical fantasy, or are looking for a paranormal romance that's different than the usual, I think you will really enjoy Witchstruck.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.
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