Sunday, February 28, 2010

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week.

Books I received for review:

My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent

Book 3 in the Soul Screamers series

The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

Three mail order brides stir things up when they arrive in Lookout, Texas.

The Spoils of Eden by Linda Chaikin

Eden Derrington and Rafe Easton are concerned about the welfare of an abandoned baby from a leper colony in Hawaii.

Books I checked out from the library:

The Courteous Cad by Catherine Palmer

Prudence Watson tries to do something about the horrible working conditions in a worsted mill. When she goes to confront the owner she is surprised to find that William Sherbourne is not at all what she expected.

What's in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review #17 The Blue Enchantress

The Blue Enchantress
By Marylu Tyndall
Publication date: August 2009

My review: 

In the second book of the Charles Towne Belles series, Hope Westcott finds herself in dire straits after running away with Lord Falkland, the love of her life. Instead of her happy ending, Hope is abandoned on the island of St. Kitts until rescue comes in the unexpected form of Captain Nathaniel Mason. Nathaniel vows to help Hope return to Charles Towne even though he wants to throttle her for the predicament she has put him in. He sees Hope as nothing more than a manipulative flirt and temptress. Hope is determined to change her ways but there is an evil malice that wants to destroy Hope and Nathaniel and a dangerous foe in their midst.

The Blue Enchantress is an adventurous story filled with romance, danger, and faith. Hope at first is an unlikeable character as she continues to use her flirt and throw herself at men but as the novel went on and she began to change and the reader gained an understanding into her painful past I started to like her more and more. It is sad to see the way that others treat Hope as though she is worthless, especially those in society. Nathaniel is an admirable and courageous man who is still coming to grips with his own past and as such he finds it hard to forgive Hope or believe in her. Hope's newfound friend Abigail is a brave young woman whose faith encourages Hope, Nathaniel, and the others they travel with. Hope's transformation is inspiring and even though I still like her sister Faith (from the first novel) more, Hope becomes a likeable character by the end of the book and I wanted to see her get a happy ending.

I really enjoyed The Blue Enchantress. At first I thought I wouldn't like this novel and I did put it off to the side for awhile when I found Hope annoying but I am glad that I continued. There is a strong message of faith and redemption as well as a page turning story. I continue to be a fan of Marylu Tyndall's Christian fiction novels and I am looking forward to reading the third book in the series, The Raven Saint.

Review #16 Heist Society

Heist Society
By Ally Carter
Publication date: February 9, 2010
My rating: ****

My review:

Katarina Bishop thought she'd left her life as a thief behind for good and set herself on a better path. She worked hard to get into a prestigious private school but in a matter of moments that future is gone. To save her father's life after he is falsely accused of stealing the art collection of a dangerous man, Kat must pull off an impossible heist and her only help is her teenage crew of thieves.

Heist Society has been compared to the Ocean's Eleven films and I would have to agree. The novel is fast paced as Kat and her gang travel the globe in pursuit of priceless art and the actual thief. Just like in Ocean's Eleven there is a crew of thieves working to pull off an impossible heist and there is plenty of humor and danger along the way. Kat is a strong character with a lot of street smarts and her best friend Hale exudes the charm of George Clooney. The other members of Kat's crew added comedy and the villain was suitably creepy. Of course with this type of story, there are plenty of implausible moments but I thought Heist Society was a fun read and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. If you are looking for a fun, lighthearted read, pick up Heist Society. I would suggest this book to fans of the Gallagher Girls series, and to those who enjoy YA chick lit. The rights to the film have been bought and I am hoping (probably futilely) that George Clooney will make a cameo appearance!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Review #15 Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures
By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publication date: December 2009
My rating: *****

My review:

Ethan Wate looks forward to the day he graduates high school so he can leave Gatlin, South Carolina for good. Then this stifling community with its small-minded citizens and traditions is stirred up with the arrival of Lena Duchannes, the beautiful niece of Macon Ravenwood, the town recluse. Ethan is shocked when he sees Lena because he recognizes her from his nightmarish dreams. While the town does its best to make Lena feel unwelcome, Ethan tries to find a way to save her from her fate.

Beautiful Creatures is a Southern gothic novel, a paranormal romance, and a suspense novel all rolled into one.  The novel is told from the point of Ethan and his voice sounds authentic. Usually paranormal romance is told from the viewpoint of the girl so I found this refreshing. Lena is a strong yet fragile girl who has faced a lifetime of loss and not fitting in. I love the way she fights back against the girls who try to antagonize her. I also liked the supporting characters, particularly Amma, the Wate family's supersitious housekeeper and cook, and Macon, Lena's mysterious uncle. Even the locations take on a character of their own, especially Ravenwood Manor, Lena's home.

I don't want to give away too much about the novel but it is beautifully written with haunting language. I particularly enjoyed the song that provided clues for Ethan and Lena throughout the novel. I would have to say that this is the best novel I've read this year and it is definitely one of my favorite YA novels. I would highly recommend this novel, especially to those who enjoy well written paranormal romance like Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver. I would also suggest this as a crossover novel for women who enjoyed  Twilight, although I believe Beautiful Creatures to be infinitely superior. If you haven't read Beautiful Creatures, add it to your TBR list. You won't be disappointed.

Friday Finds (5)

Friday Finds are books that you've heard about during the past week. Friday Finds is hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading.

My finds this week:

Traitor's Smile by Patricia Elliott

This sequel to The Pale Assassin follows Eugenie de Boncoeur's adventures after she flees France for England during the French Revolution. She may have reached safety with her English cousin Hetta but the Pale Assassin has not given up on possessing her and her brother's life is still in danger. Thanks to Rebecca's Book Blog for this find!

A Matter of Character by Robin Lee Hatcher

Description from author's website: "It's 1918, and Daphne McKinley, heiress to a small fortune, has found contentment in the town of Bethlehem Springs. But Daphne has a secret. A series of dime novels loosely based on local lore and featuring a nefarious villain known as Rawhide Rick has enjoyed modest popularity among readers. Nobody in Bethlehem Springs knows the man behind the stories … except Daphne. When newspaperman Joshua Crawford comes to town searching for the man who sullied the good name of his grandfather, Daphne finds herself at a crossroads, reassessing the power of her words, re-thinking how best to honor her gifts, and reconsidering what she wants out of life."

Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan

In this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Jasmin Field gets the lead in a play opposite the arrogant Oscar winning actor Harry Noble. I found this title at The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object.

100 Shades of White by Preethi Nair

Description from B&N: "Nalini and her two young children are transplanted from luxury in India to the bewildering confusion of London, only to be abandoned by her negligent husband. At first survival is a struggle, but Nalini turns to what she does best: cooking. Her mouthwatering pickles bring financial stability and domestic happiness, as well as affecting everyone who tastes them. Everyone, that is, except for her daughter, Maya. Maya loves fish fingers, burgers and chips. She's not interested in her history; that died with her father. Resisting the pull of her family, she follows her own chaotic journey which will take her back to India before she can face the truth about her parents, forgive them and herself - and admit that lime pickle is delicious, after all."

Thanks Books in the City for this find!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Prolific Blogger Award

Thank you to Darlyn at DArLyN&bOoKs for passing this award on to me!

There are a couple of rules for this award:

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

I would like to pass this award on to these awesome prolific bloggers:

1. Along For the Ride
2. The Library Lurker
3. YA Addict
4. The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object
5. The Book Shopaholic
6. Reading in Color
7. The Ninja Librarian

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

My pick this week:

The Dead-Tossed Waves
By Carrie Ryan
Publication date: March 9, 2010

Description from author's website: "Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves."

This is one of my most anticipated book releases of 2010 and although it is being released on March 9th I will probably have to wait a few more months to read it. I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth but I am not sure if this is a sequel, prequel, or companion novel and I look forward to finding out! If like me, you can't wait to read this book, read an excerpt from Carrie Ryan's website!

That's my WoW pick this week, what is yours?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Location! Location! (1)

Amelia at Imagination in Focus has a new feature on her blog where she finds images that go along with the book she is reading.

I am currently reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This novel is set in fictional Gatlin, South Carolina and one of the settings is the Ravenwood house which is a Greek Revival style home. Here is what I think it might look like:

This particular home is Forks of Cypress in Lauterdale County, Alabama. It was built by the architect William Nichols. Sadly this house was burned in 1966 (found on Wikipedia).

The authors also have some great pictures on the Beautiful Creatures blog that inspired them.

If you would like to participate in Location! Location!, visit Imagination in Focus for more details.

Teaser Tuesdays (4)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

"But all I could see was a beautiful girl in a long gray dress, under a white track jacket with the word Munich sewn on it, and beat-up black Converse peeking out underneath. A girl who wore a long silver chain around her neck, with tons of stuff dangling from it-a plastic ring from a bubblegum machine, a safety pin, and a bunch of other junk I was too far away to see. A girl who didn't look like she belonged in Gatlin. I couldn't take my eyes off her."

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
p. 32

What is your Teaser this week?

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Cover for Magic Under Glass

The U.S. cover of Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore sparked so much controversy over its "whitewashing" that Bloomsbury USA relented to pressure and reissued the book with a cover that reflects the character more accurately. While the original cover is lovely, it is obvious that the model is Caucasian and does not have the darker skin that Nimira is described to have in the novel.

Here is the original cover:

 Here is the new U.S. cover:

I think the new cover is absolutely beautiful and I am happy that Bloomsbury changed it. I hope that Bloomsbury will not continue to make this mistake in the future. I had hoped that after a similar problem with the cover of Liar by Justine Larbalestier that Bloomsbury would have learned their lesson. One can only hope this "whitewashing" mistake will not be repeated.

So what do you think of the cover? If you read the book, what did you think of it?

It's Monday What Are You Reading (4)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme that started out at J. Kaye's Book Blog but is now hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books.

Books I finished last week:

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen
Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee
Ash by Malinda Lo
The King's Rose by Alisa Libby

Books reviewed:

Tangled by Carolyn Mackler
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen
Ash by Malinda Lo

Currently reading:

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Planning to read this week:

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

The Secret Bride by Diane Haeger

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

What does your reading week look like?
Please leave a comment, I'd love to know what you've been reading!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week.

Books I received for review:

Still Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley

Sequel to Sucks to Be Me.

Revolve 2010 Biblezine

Books I purchased:
Heist Society by Ally Carter

Description from book: "When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected. Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help. For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history--or at least her family's (very crooked) history."

Books I checked out from the library:

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Description from book: "Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything."

Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn

Description from book: "Very LeFreak has a problem: she’s a crazed technology addict. Very can’t get enough of her iPhone, laptop, IMs, text messages, whatever. If there’s any chance the incoming message, call, text, or photo might be from her supersecret online crush, she’s going to answer, no matter what. Nothing is too important: sleep, friends in mid-conversation, class, a meeting with the dean about academic probation. Soon enough, though, this obsession costs Very everything and everyone. Can she learn to block out the noise so she can finally hear her heart?"

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Description from book: "Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her? Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love."

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

Description from author's website: "The Masque of the Black Tulip opens with the murder of a courier from the London War Office, his confidential dispatch for the Pink Carnation stolen. Meanwhile, the Black Tulip, France's deadliest spy, is in England with instructions to track down and kill the Pink Carnation. Only Henrietta Selwick and Miles Dorrington know where the Pink Carnation is stationed. Using a secret code book, Henrietta has deciphered a message detailing the threat of the Black Tulip. Meanwhile, the War Office has enlisted Miles to track down the notorious French spy before he (or she) can finish the deadly mission. But what Henrietta and Miles don't know is that while they are trying to find the Black Tulip (and possibly falling in love), the Black Tulip is watching them."

The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig

Description from the author's website: "Rebellion is brewing in Ireland, egged on by the unquenchable Black Tulip. The Pink Carnation and Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe (formerly of the League of the Purple Gentian) are on the case. But as the Irish uprising draws nearer and the Black Tulip grows bolder, Geoff finds himself struggling with a very different sort of problem. An unexpected wife."

What's in your mailbox this week?

Review #14 Ash

By Malinda Lo
Publication date: September 1, 2009

My review:

Ash has always loved hearing fairy tales and after her mother's death and father's remarriage the fairy tales are what help her through the tough times. When her dad dies suddenly, Ash is forced to work as a servant for her cruel stepmother and stepsisters since her father left so much debt behind. Ash is miserable with missing her mother and father and longing for her old home until she meets Sidhean, a powerful fairy who is taken with her, and Kaisa, the King's Huntress. Sidhean represents everything Ash used to long for as she read her fairy tales but her relationship with Kaisa becomes more real to her. Now she must make a difficult choice between the real world and the fairy tale.

Ash is a retelling of Cinderella with a twist. The elements of the original are there with the cruel stepmother and stepsisters but Ash goes beyond that to examine what happens when someone relies too much on the fairy tale/fantasy. There are fairytales sprinkled throughout the narrative but these are not the sanitized Disney-type fairytales. They are somewhat dark tales used by parents to teach children about living safely and wisely. For Ash, these tales have always represented a connection with her mother and it is only after she meets Sidhean and other fairies that she realizes the truth behind the stories. The love that grows between Kaisa and Ash and the intense connection between Ash and Sidhean are at the heart of the novel. Both relationships help Ash as she grieves the loss of her parents and deals with the new reality of being a servant.

The novel is beautifully written. I loved the use of fairytales. It reminded me a lot of Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt, one of my favorite YA novels. The scenes with the fairies were fantastically creepy and the world in which Ash lives is well drawn. I liked the character of Ash and I could connect with her. Unfortunately I could not connect with Kaisa or Sidhean very well and had trouble buying into the romance aspects of the novel. I was a little disappointed by the way the novel ended also. I felt it was abrupt. There were some story threads that I had hoped to see tied up. However I still enjoyed Ash and I hope to see more novels from Malinda Lo. She is definitely a YA author to watch.

Pick Your Lit Contest at YA Addict

Jami at YA Addict is celebrating reaching 50+ followers by having a Pick Your Lit Contest. You can enter to win one of the following books:

Gone by Lisa McMann

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

For more details and to enter the contest, visit YA Addict. The winner will be announced on March 12, 2010.

One Lovely Blog Award

I'm very happy that I've received the One Lovely Blog Award from Shantal at Booknerds are pretty too and from Christina at Confessions of a Book Addict. Thanks to both of you! It was very sweet of you.

The rules are:
  • Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
  • Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  • Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
I would like to pass this award on to the following lovely blogs:

1.Aleksandra's Corner
2.Alaine at Queen of Happy Endings
3. In the Library of Lady Violet
4. The Library Lurker
5. Literarily Speaking
6. Stories and Sweeties
7. Chrissy's World of Books
8. Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic
9.Rebecca's Book Blog
10.Reading the Best of the Best
11.Literary Wonders
12.Southern Bibliophile
13.The Lost Entwife
14.A Dazzling Distraction
15.Dead Book Darling

Friday, February 19, 2010

Review #13 The Oracle of Dating

The Oracle of Dating
By Allison van Diepen
Publication date: May 1, 2010

My review:

16-year-old Kayla has a secret that she is keeping from her parents, her friends, and her classmates: she is the Oracle of Dating, the love guru behind the popular dating advice blog and phone hotline. Even though she has only had two failed relationships herself, Kayla gives out practical dating advice for $5. Things are going smoothly until she starts to notice hot senior Jared Stewart and Kayla realizes she needs advice herself.

I found The Oracle of Dating to be a delightful and lighthearted look at relationships. Kayla is a funny and engaging character who is in some ways wise beyond her years. She offers usually sage advice to her older sister and her Oracle customers even though she has only been in two brief relationships herself. She does have a useful reference shelf of relationship self-help books of the Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus variety to augment her own wisdom. However she is in other ways just like any other regular teen facing dating woes, hanging out with friends, and dealing with school. Kayla and her friends party a little bit, sneaking into clubs with fake I.D.s, etc. so Kayla does act like a teen when not working as the Oracle of Dating.

From the beginning there are obvious sparks between Kayla and Jared and it is humorous to see Kayla try to keep from having any sort of attraction to him. Jared's character is also interesting and he perfectly complements Kayla. Kayla's friends unfortunately fall flat. They exist not as individuals but as interchangeable sidekicks for the most part. That is the one really disappointing thing about this novel. Hopefully in future books in the series we will get to know her friends better. Kayla's mother and stepfather are barely around but that is typical for YA novels. When they are around however they are likeable, especially Kayla's stepfather. Kayla's sister is important to Kayla and it is funny to see them interact. Kayla really cares for her sister and does her best to give her older sister good dating advice which I think is sweet.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable and entertaining novel. I even laughed out loud at times. This is the first Allison van Diepen novel I've read but I will definitely read the next book in this series. I think that teen girls who enjoy authors like Meg Cabot will really like The Oracle of Dating.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher for review purposes.

Review #12 The Lightkeeper's Daughter

The Lightkeeper's Daughter
By Colleen Coble
Publication date: January 12, 2010
Rating: ****1/2

My review:

Addie Sullivan has grown up as the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, aiding her mother Josephine after her father's death. But everything she's always believed about herself and her life comes into question when an injured man insists that she is not Addie Sullivan but Julia Eaton, an heiress who was believed to be lost at sea as a child. Addie agrees to go to the Eaton home as a governess to the young son of widower John North. Her true identity must be kept from her family while more proof is found. But someone doesn't want Addie to be reunited with her family and in her new home she doesn't know who she can trust.

Colleen Coble is known for writing suspenseful contemporary Christian fiction. I was surprised to learn that her new book would be a historical fiction novel set in the early 20th century and I wasn't sure if I would like it. However all my fears were laid to rest as she brought her trademark blend of romance and suspense to a historical setting. There are surprising plot twists that keep the pages turning and an unexpected resolution. Addie and John's romance is sweet and both characters are likeable. Addie has a lot of strengths and talents and as this is the first in a series I hope to see more of her in the rest of the books. I really liked the theme of family relationships and parent-child relationships in this novel. Addie's desire to be part of a family, John's concerns for his son's well being, the relationship between Addie and Josephine and the relationships between Addie and the other Eatons all added to the story. The novel made me think about where you draw the line when it comes to gaining approval from your family or honoring your parents' wishes and being true to yourself. 

I've always enjoyed Colleen Coble's suspense novels and I was surprisingly pleased with her new historical fiction novel. I eagerly await the next installment in the Mercy Falls series. I would recommend The Lightkeeper's Daughter to fans of Tracie Peterson and general readers of Christian romance.

Friday Finds (4)

Friday Finds are books that you've heard about during the past week. Friday Finds is hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading.

My finds this week:

The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper

This is a fictionalized account of the life of Kat Ashley, one of Queen Elizabeth I's most trusted ladies. As a fan of Tudor history I am particularly looking forward to reading this book.

Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter

Description from

"You’d think Polly Martin would have all the answers when it comes to love—after all, her grandmother is the famous syndicated advice columnist Miss Swoon. But after a junior year full of dating disasters, Polly has sworn off boys. This summer, she’s going to focus on herself for once. So Polly is happy when she finds out Grandma is moving in—think of all the great advice she’ll get. But Miss Swoon turns out to be a man-crazy sexagenarian! How can Polly stop herself from falling for Xander Cooper, the suddenly-hot skateboarder who keeps showing up while she’s working at Wild Waves water park, when Grandma is picking up guys at the bookstore and flirting with the dishwasher repairman?No advice column can prepare Polly for what happens when she goes on a group camping trip with three too many ex-boyfriends and the tempting Xander. Polly is forced to face her feelings and figure out if she can be in love—and still be herself."

Thanks to Dahlia at The Book Shopaholic for this find!

Not Quite Paradise by Adele Barker

Adele Barker writes of her experiences living in war-torn Sri Lanka for a year and then later when she returns during the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. I really want to read this book about the land of my ancestors. Thanks to Ramblings of a Librarian Assistant for this find!

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Description from author's website:

"After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It's Gaia's job to "advance" a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia's parents disappear. As Gaia's efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she faces the brutal injustice of the Enclave and discovers she alone holds the key to a secret code, a code of “birthmarked” babies and genetic merit. Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where a criminal is defined by her genes, and one girl can make all the difference." This looks like it will be as good as The Forest of Hands and Teeth!

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

The premise of Dreaming Anastasia is that during the Russian Revolution, Anastasia Romanov didn't die but was instead "rescued" by the witch Baba Yaga. In modern times, Anne starts having bizarre dreams about Anastasia.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

This is a retelling of Cinderella from the author of Princess of the Midnight Ball and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. I love fairy tales retold and I've enjoyed her other books so I am looking forward to this one.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review #11 Magic Under Glass

Magic Under Glass
By Jaclyn Dolamore
Publication date: January 2010
Rating: **** 1/2

My review:

Nimira thinks her fortunes have changed for the better when she takes a job with sorcerer Hollin Parry to sing with his piano playing automaton. When she hears that previous singers have fled the job believing that the automaton is haunted, Nimira dismisses the rumors and determines that she will prove to her new employer that she can handle the job. Then she meets the automaton and while practicing, he starts trying to communicate with her. Nimira finds out that the automaton is actually a fairy named Erris who has been cruelly trapped within the body of the automaton. He enlists Nimira's help in setting him free but she must find an elusive sorcerer who may hold the secret to Erris's freedom before it is too late.

Magic Under Glass is set in a Victorian-like world where magic is part of the every day experience yet magical creatures like fairies are not trusted. Nimira is from Tiansher, a country where people value music, dancing, and the arts. She is made to feel out of place in Lorinar where she is ridiculed as a "trouser girl" and for her darker skin. Hollin Parry seems to value Nimira and her talent and he defends her against the rude treatment of the other Lorinarians. Nimira may be treated well at Parry's home of Vestenveld but there are strange occurrences that unsettle her and the menace of dark magic hovers. This sense of the gothic adds to the suspensefulness of the novel as does the creepy sorcerer Mr. Smollings. Nimira's friendship with Erris happens quickly and in no time at all the two of them are in love even though they can only communicate through the tapping of the piano keys.

Overall I really enjoyed Magic Under Glass although it does have some minor flaws. I like how the novel examines racism, prejudice, and personal responsibility. Nimira grows as a person through her interactions with Erris, Hollin Parry, and the other characters. She examines her decisions and the way she looks at herself. I do wish that more time was devoted to developing the relationship between Erris and Nimira and the ending begs for a sequel. I would like to see more world building as well including more about the fairies and the sorcerers. I hope that Jaclyn Dolamore will write a sequel so all my questions will be answered! For a first novel this was a good read. I would recommend Magic Under Glass to fans of Jessica Day George (Princess of the Midnight Ball), Shannon Hale (Princess Academy), and Julie Berry (The Amaranth Enchantment). I look forward to seeing more from this author!

Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award

I have a new blog award from Reading in Color! Thank you Reading in Color for the Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award!

The conditions of the Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award are:

Thank the person who gave it to you and include a link to their blog

Copy the image and place it on your blog

Share 10 trivia facts about yourself

Pass the award on to 10 other fabulous bloggers

Leave comments on their blogs so they know they've won the award

Ten trivia facts about me:
1. I have been to four countries
2. I watch Jeopardy religiously and yell out the answers at the T.V. screen
3. Blue is my favorite color
4. I once wanted to be a paleontologist, a ballerina, and an astronaut
5. I cried when watching the new Star Trek film (at the beginning of the movie in case you were wondering)
6. I never finished reading Huckleberry Finn or Moby Dick even though I was an English major
7. English is not my first language but it is the only language I can speak fluently
8. I can't sew anything-I even have trouble reattaching buttons
9. If I could I would eat cereal for every meal
10. I am slightly klutzy and tend to trip over my own feet at least once a day

I'd like to pass this award on to these fabulous bloggers:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

400 Followers Giveaway at In Which A Girl Reads

To celebrate reaching 400 followers, Choco at In Which a Girl Reads is holding an international giveaway. The prize is a book of your choice from Book Depository up to a total cost of $20. For more details and to enter, visit In Which a Girl Reads. The deadline to enter is March 6, 2010.

Review #10 Tangled

By Carolyn Mackler
Publication date: December 29, 2009
Rating: *****

My review:

Tangled tells the story of four teens who vacation at the same resort at the same time and how their lives are changed by their encounters. Jena and her mom go to the Paradise resort at the invitation of her mom's wealthy best friend. Jena does not want to spend her spring break at Paradise because it will mean hanging out with the beautiful, perfect, sophisticated Skye, daughter of her mom's best friend. Next to Skye, Jenna feels positively frumpy. Skye's life is far from perfect however even though on the surface she seems to have everything she could possibly want. Handsome and charming Dakota has secrets of his own and Owen is too busy blogging to notice what is going on around him.

The novel starts with Jena's perspective in April while at the resort and then switches to Dakota in May, Skye in June, and finally ends with Owen in July. It is not until we read each character's perspective that we reach the full picture. Each character has their own voice and it works very well. I only wish we could spend more time with each of the characters. There are moments of humor and sadness as we see what the characters are going through. The teens are written very realistically and they face realistic situations. All four of the teens have grown by the end of the book. Skye and Dakota who both come across as jerks at one point or another during the novel are given depth. There is more to their stories and it is revealed slowly. The novel has layers and it builds to a very satisfying conclusion.

Tangled is the first novel by Carolyn Mackler that I've read but I definitely plan to read her other books. I would recommend this novel to fans of Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott and to those who like realistic teen fiction.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this title from the publisher for review purposes.

Blogger Buddy Award

Sara at Along For the Ride gave me the Blogger Buddy Award. Thanks Sara!  I would like to pass this on to some other bloggers whose blogs I enjoy:

Bookish in a Box
The Ninja Librarian
Learning to Trust
The Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object
The Bibliophile's Journal

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

My pick this week:

The Fool's Girl
By Celia Rees
Publication date: April 2010 (UK),  August 2010 (US)

Description from author's website:

"Violetta and Feste are in London, the year is 1601 and William Shakespeare is enjoying success at the Globe Theatre. But Violetta is not there to admire his plays; she is in England to retrieve her country's greatest treasure, stolen by the evil Malvolio, and she needs help. In an adventure that stretches from the shores of Illyria to the Forest of Arden, romance and danger go hand in hand. In a quest that could mean life or death, can Violetta manage to recover the precious relic and save her country and herself?"

I have read two novels by Celia Rees, Pirates! and Sovay and I loved both of them. I am looking forward to reading this book because of the connection with Shakespeare. Celia Rees came up with the idea for this book while watching the Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night. I can't wait to see what she does with this story that is based on Twelfth Night.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bliss Award

I received the Bliss (Happy 101) Award from Amelia at Imagination in Focus. Thanks Amelia!

The rules are that I must list 10 things that make me happy and then pass it on to 10 bloggers.

Ten things that make me happy (in no particular order):

1. My sister Reneta
2. My cat "niece" Kitty (that's her in my profile picture)
3. Playing Scrabble with my mom
4. Watching Bollywood films with my parents
5. Spending time with friends
6. Reading (especially YA books)
7. Christmas
8. Summer
9. Working on my blog
10. Drinking a cup of tea while reading a good book

Ten bloggers I would like to pass this award on to:

1. Valentine's Deserted Island

2. Tea Time With Marce

3. Once Upon a Bookcase

4. Book Love: Teen

5. BookHounds

6. BookMagic

7. Books (are) Critical

8. Bookworming in the 21st Century

9. Confessions of a Book Addict

10. Grammar Girl