Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher


Knightley Academy
Author: Violet Haberdasher
Publication: Aladdin; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)

Description: Henry Grim has never been in trouble for borrowing a sword from the headmaster?s private stores. He has never discovered a forbidden room in a foreign castle, or received a death threat over breakfast.


All Henry knows is life as an orphaned servant boy at the Midsummer School, bullied by the privileged sons of aristocracy. But all that changes when Henry is the first commoner to pass the entrance exam for the prestigious Knightley Academy, where he will be trained as a modern-day knight alongside the cleverest and bravest fourteen-year-olds in the country.

Henry and his roommates, two other students from decidedly un-Knightley backgrounds, are not exactly greeted with open arms by their classmates. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that someone is going to great lengths to sabotage the trio's chances at becoming knights. But Henry soon learns that there is more at stake than his future at Knightley, and only he can sound the alarm. Is anyone going to believe a former servant on the brink of expulsion?

Brimming with wry humor, page-turning suspense, and surprising twists, this first adventure in a memorable new series is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.


My Thoughts: This was a good middle grade story that reminded me of Harry Potter but without the magic, In this alternate world, war has been outlawed by treaty and the training schools for knights are now essentially training police officers. Only aristocrats need apply in this segregated society! However, Henry is allowed to take the entrance exam and admitted to the adademy along with two other commoners. They are not treated well by the other first year students. The are subject to acts of sabotage. But beyond the boys' immediate problems is the larger one that the neighboring country might be ignoring the treaty and preparing for a war. 

I thought Henry was an interesting character - bright, honest, loyal. His friends who represented a religious minority and an ethnic minority were well-drawn characters too with distinct personalities outside of their minorities. They also befriend the daughter of the Headmaster whose actions underscore the fact the women are second class citizens in the society. Even though the characters' basic descriptions were stereotypical - the poor servant boy, the Jewish student, the Indian student, and the rebellious girl - they had other unique and interesting character traits. 

I hope that there will be sequels as the large problem with the neighboring country was not resolved. Our characters' problem was resolved. They have managed to stay in the Knightley Academy.

Recommended for middle grade and young adult readers who are fans of boarding schools, adventures, and historical fiction.

Favorite Quote:
The library, like everything at Knightley Academy, was far grander than its counterpart at the Midsummer School. The books stretched upward for two stories, requiring both ladders and a wrap-around balcony for access. The ceiling, painted in fresco, was a dome depicting the celestial sphere and the myths of the constellations. Between every three seats at the long tables sat a green reading lamp, and the chairs, although worn from centuries of use, were comfortable.

Challenges: In the Middle Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher




Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of 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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser
This week my teaser is from Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher. The story is about a common boy who is admitted to a school for knights even though only aristocrats were admitted previously. It is middle grade fiction.
Henry almost laughed. At the Midsummer School, he'd been bossed around and piled with extra work from the kitchen staff, and now they were terrified of him.
I am enjoying the story so far. Henry is being bullied by classmates who resent his academic prowess. But his is making friends with the other commoners who were admitted and with the Headmaster's daughter. By the way, the cover I show isn't my cover. It is the cover shown for the Kindle Edition.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review: Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey

Blood Feud
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publication: Walker Books for Young Readers (June 22, 2010)

Description: It's been centuries since Isabeau St. Croix barely survived the French Revolution. Now she's made her way back to the living and she must face the ultimate test by confronting the evil British lord who left her for dead the day she turned into a vampire. That's if she can control her affection for Logan Drake, a vampire whose bite is as sweet as the revenge she seeks. 

The clans are gathering for Helena's royal coronation as the next vampire queen, and new alliances are beginning to form now that the old rifts of Lady Natasha's reign have started to heal. But with a new common enemy, Leander Montmarte—a vicious leader who hopes to force Solange to marry him and usurp the power of the throne for himself—the clans must stand together to preserve the peace he threatens to destroy.

This second adventure in the Drake Chronicles—told from both Logan's and Isabeau's perspectives—has all the same butt-kicking action, heart-pounding romances and snarky humor that readers loved in Hearts at Stake, as well as exciting new revelations about the vampire dynasties to keep readers coming back for more.

My Thoughts: This was another great episode in the Drake Chronicles. Logan is the fashion-conscious brother but that doesn't mean he isn't also a great warrior. He just looks really good when he fights. He is a young vampire and thoroughly modern. Isabeau is the daughter of a French duke and she survived the French Revolution. But then she was turned into a vampire and buried for 200 years. She became a part of the Hounds (Cwn Mamau) who raise and train fierce dogs and who haven't forgotten how to use magic.Magic has told her that she will find her mate among the Drakes. Logan is more than OK with that.

But before they can move on to happily ever after, they have to deal with Montmartre who wants to be king and Greyhaven, who turned Isabeau to a vampire and wants to stage a coup and become king himself. Add that to the distrust the different groups of vampires have for each other and it is easy to see that the path will not be smooth.

I liked both main characters. I also like the style of the book with each chapter being narrated by one of the main characters. The flashbacks to the Isabeau's human life also added interest and depth to the story. The dialog between Isabeau and Logan was fun.

The only thing I didn't like about this story was that there wasn't enough of Lucy and Solange.

Recommended for all lovers of vampire stories.


Favorite Quote: Isabeau and Logan are speaking. Logan is the one who doesn't understand.


"I don't want to worry them. And they wouldn't understand anyway."
"I don't understand," I shot back.
"I know. But you're still here, you're still helping. You're not trying to stop me."
I shook my head. "I am so trying to stop you - I'm just doing a piss-poor job of it, apparently."
Challenges: Paranormal Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis


Whisper
Author: Phoebe Kitanidis
Publication: Balzer + Bray; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)

Description: I'd love a cup of coffee. . . . I wish she didn't hide how pretty she is. . . . I hope she didn't find out what Ben said about her. . . . I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin. . . .

Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good—to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives—especially Joy's—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.


Whisper is an exhilarating debut novel from talented newcomer Phoebe Kitanidis.


My Thoughts: This was an interesting story that really made me rethink any desire that I might have to hear other people's thoughts. 

Joy seems to me to be a very young 15 in that she is so concerned with being a "pleaser" and trying to always make the other people around her happy. She has managed to turn her talent for hearing "whispers" into a social asset and has gained acceptance with the good crowd at school by being able to give the other girls what they want. Watching Joy learn to cope with her gift was interesting. Having her learn to relate to people without her gift was an eye-opener for her. She didn't know how to relate to her friends without cheating.

Jessica, know as Icka, has taken a different path and uses her gifts to make life more miserable for those around her especially Joy. She is willing to try anything to get rid of her gift. But Joy's gift seems to be changing now that she is getting older. She is hearing some of the darker thoughts of those around her and hearing what her friends really think about her. 

Joy and Jessica's mom also hears whispers but she only seems to hear surface thoughts. Their father doesn't hear whispers and seems detached from the family. He is always thinking about work. This makes Joy uneasy because she doesn't know what she should do for him to make him happy.

Then, Jessica goes missing and only Joy can hear her. She makes a new friend who is willing to help her try to find Jessica and finds out she is not as alone as she had thought. She also finds new ways to use her gift and to relate to people.

I recommend this book to YAs who are interested in the paranormal and the ins and outs of high school life. 

Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (June 27, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.

I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

I didn't do too badly this week. I am trying not to add more books each week than I can read it a week. I am getting closer.

I added these books by 2010 YA Debut Authors. All of them are paranormals of one variety or other.
Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis has been on my radar for a while but this week I finally found a copy at Amazon Marketplace to buy.

13 to Life by Shannon Delany was a highly anticipated new werewolf book. I pre-ordered it months ago and it arrived this week.

Deception (Haunting Emma) by Lee Nichols was also highly anticipated. I ordered this one from The Book Depository.

I also got these books.
Blood Feud by Alyandra Harvey is the second in the Hearts at Stake series. I am eager to read it.

A Different Day, A Different Destiny by Annette Laing follows Don't Know Where, Don't Know When which was sent to me by the author. I loved it and want to know more about the characters and have more adventures in history.

That was my mailbox this week. What did you get in yours?

Summer Break Reading Challenge #2 - Wordle

Our second challenge is to create a Wordle for a favorite book.

Here is my Wordle for A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede. The title links to my review. I love her books. These are about Regency England but in this Regency England there is magic. I highly recommend the books.
I use Wordle with my sixth graders and have them do Wordle book reviews. They have to pick some of the key words in the story to create theirs since they don't write a book review first. I have them copy and paste a picture of the cover of the book too. It is a fun project and the results help decorate my media center.

Here is a sample of what the finished product would look like:



Friday, June 25, 2010

Review; The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 5, 2010)

Description: Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

My Thoughts: I did enjoy this look at the vampire world from the viewpoint of a new vampire. Bree was a 15-year-old abused street kid starving for food and attention when she was turned. Her experience was very different than the experience we have seen from Bella's view of the Cullen family. Bree was pretty much terrorized and kept ignorant by her maker. Bree, however, wasn't stupid. I liked how she questioned what she saw and how she was tentatively starting to make friends.

This is a minor addition to the Twilight saga. I thought it was well-written and interesting to read. I felt really sorry for Bree.

I recommend this to Twilight fans who want every possible detail about the world.

Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany


13 to Life
Author: Shannon Delany
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)

Description: Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing.  Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town.  It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…

My Thoughts: Jessie is keeping it together after her mother's death even though she relives the accident in nightmares frequently. She has even befriended Sarah, the mean girl who caused the accident and lost her memory in the crash. She isn't attracted to the new boy at first. She is too busy crushing on the cute guy on the football team. In fact, she pushes Pietr toward Sarah. He is attracted to her though. He rides the school bus with her, takes advantage of the fact that she has been appointed his guide to the new school, and gets a job at her farm doing chores. He finds all kinds of opportunities to be around her. It isn't long before she is attracted. And is even more attracted when she finds out that he has lost his parents too.

Meanwhile, she is collecting clippings and doing research about a strange incident in a nearby town. People think there was a werewolf attack and they know the Russian mafia is showing up. Jessie thinks she sees some sort of strange animal around her farm. And Peter's guardian is involved some way with Russians who seem awfully shady.

This was a great story. I liked the way the werewolf myth was handled. I thought both Jessie and Pietr were well-written characters. I liked both of them. Now, I'm not so sure about Sarah. I'm afraid she is changing back to her mean girl ways. I look forward to reading the sequels and learning more about the characters and the world.  

The book has a website.

I recommend this book to middle graders and YAs and all who love werewolves. I couldn't put it down. The story grabbed me and didn't let me go until I had finished the book. 

Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: Deception (A Haunting Emma novel) by Lee Nichols

Deception (A Haunting Emma novel)
Author: Lee Nichols
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)

Description: When Emma Vaile's parents leave on mysterious business trip, it gives her the perfect excuse to be a rebellious teen. Throw some parties, get a tattoo (or maybe just a piercing), and enjoy the first few weeks of her junior year. Then her best friend stops talking to her, the cops crash her party, and Emma finds herself in the hands of a new guardian—her college-age "knight in J.Crew armor," Bennett Stern—and on a plane to his museum-like mansion in New England.


After enrolling at Thatcher Academy, Emma settles in by making friends with the popular legacy crowd. But she can't shake the strange visions that are haunting her. She has memories of Thatcher she can't explain, as if she's returning home to a place she's never been. Emma doesn't trust anyone anymore—except maybe Bennett. But he's about to reveal a ghostly secret to Emma. One that will explain the visions . . . and make Emma fear for her life.


My Thoughts: This was a good start to a series. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered. We do learn quite a bit about Emma as she learns about herself. 

The story begins with Emma being left alone at home while her parents take off for parts unknown. She has no way to contact them or her brother who is also away. She is also even more isolated when her best friend refuses to answer messages from her and her best friend's mother quits her job in Emma's parents' antiquities store and moves to be closer to her daughter. She is betrayed by a new friend and finds herself in foster care before Bennett arrives.

Bennett is the young man who was her brother's best friend but she hasn't seen him for two years. He is also the object of her first crush. Bennett takes her across the country, installs her in a house turned museum, and more or less abandons her. She makes friends at the school she is attending and begins seeing ghosts both at school and at home. At first, she is sure that she is going crazy. But she learns, from Bennett and the housekeeper that he installs to look after her, that she is a ghostkeeper. So is he and so is the rest of her family. 

Emma is reassured to know that she isn't crazy but isn't happy about that this talent is getting stronger. Especially because someone or something is killing ghostkeepers and targeting her. This something gets closer and closer and Emma is not at all sure that she can win the fight against it.

I am very eager to read the next book in the series. I recommend this book for YAs who like ghosts and romances. 

Favorite Quote:

I was ridiculously excited about the plane ride - I hadn't left San Francisco since the Incident, when i was seven. Pre-Incident, my passport looked like I had been adopted by the Jolie-Pitts, but one doctor had said, "She needs stability," and my parents had anchored me to the city.
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Break Reading Challenge Goals

Summer Break Reading Challenge Activity #1


Here is the challenge from Karin:
Okay everyone, here's how we're going to start.  I want you to post your reading goals for the summer. The prize up for grabs is BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver.
You know, for  me, a big part of summer is the lazy, laid back attitude. During the school year I am driven and always have plans and lists and goals. I'm not sure I want to set any goals except "read as much as I can."

I could set a goal like "I will read a book a day". I just checked LibraryThing to find out that I have read 23 books since June 8 (my first official day of summer vacation). But I don't want to feel forced to read if I want to do something else for a few days.

I could set a goal that I will read all the YA books I brought home with me for the summer. But I brought home some excellent adult books that I have been eager to read for a while too.

I think I'm going to stick with the reading as much as I can goal. 

I would really like to read all the books in at least two of the crates I brought home with me for the summer. I think a more realistic goal is that I read more books than I buy this summer. That will be hard enough, I bought 3 books today and got 10 already this week. 

These tempting YAs arrived this week:
Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey
13 to Life by Shannon Delaney
A Different Day, A Different Destiny by Annette Laing

These tempting adult books arrived this week:

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Mission of Honor by David Weber

By the way, I would like to disqualify myself for this challenge's prize. I bought Before I Fall when it came out, tried to read it, and donated it to my HS Media Center unfinished. It was not a book that I could get into despite the numerous, glowing reviews that the book received.

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins


Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)

Description: Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it's not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you're a normal teenage girl, but when you're half human, half mermaid, like Lily, there's no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily's mermaid identity is a secret that can't get out, since she's not just any mermaid—she's a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn't feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she's been living on land and going to Seaview High School ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems—like her obnoxious biker-boy neighbor, Quince Fletcher—but it has that one major perk: Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren't really the casual dating type—the instant they "bond," it's for life.


When Lily's attempt to win Brody's love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily ever after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

My Thoughts: I hesitated quite a while before I decided to buy this book. I was really put-off by the blue lips on the cover. Then I remembered how much I had enjoyed Oh. My. Gods. and Goddess Boot Camp and took the plunge (sorry about that). However, this was a cute, quick read and everything that I have come to expect in a book by Tera Lynn Childs. 


I loved all the fishy idioms that Lily used. However, I kept wanting to shake Lily and tell her to "buy a clue". She was so single-minded in pursuit of Brody that she didn't even notice how great Quince was. I thought the descriptions of a teenage crush were right on. I could sympathize with Lily as she was afraid to talk to her crush. I just wish we could have had more from Quince's point of view. 

I thought the descriptions of mermaid life and the kingdom of Thalassinia were fascinating. 

I recommend this book to Middle Graders and YAs who want a quick light read that is very like contemporary romance fiction but with mermaids.


Here is the book trailer:


Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Teaser: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of 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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
I can make all the plans in the world, be fully ready to follow through, and then the instant he's within sight, I totally clam up. I'm lucky if I'm able to breathe, let alone tell him how I feel. Hormones are cruel like that.
Here's the description from Amazon: Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it's not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you're a normal teenage girl, but when you're half human, half mermaid, like Lily, there's no such thing as a simple crush.


Lily's mermaid identity is a secret that can't get out, since she's not just any mermaid—she's a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn't feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she's been living on land and going to Seaview High School ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems—like her obnoxious biker-boy neighbor, Quince Fletcher—but it has that one major perk: Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren't really the casual dating type—the instant they "bond," it's for life.


When Lily's attempt to win Brody's love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily ever after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned. 


So far this is a cute romance.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Review: Sea by Heidi R. Kling

Sea
Author: Heidi R. Kling
Publication: Putnam Juvenile (June 10, 2010)


Description: Still haunted by nightmares of her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to Indonesia with her father’s relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post traumatic stress disorder—something Sienna knows a lot about. Since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean three years before, Sienna doesn’t do anything if it involves the ocean or planes, so this trip is a big step forward.


But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage, and just so happens to be HOT. When Deni hears a rumor that his father may be alive, Sienna doesn’t think twice about running away with him to the epicenter of the disaster. Unfortunately, what they find there could break both their hearts.


My Thoughts: This was an interesting story about grief and moving on. Sienna has stopped taking any sort of risk since her mother was lost somewhere in Thailand or the Indian Ocean. She no longer surfs, flies in airplanes, or explores her relationship with Spider who was a childhood friend. She suffers from frequent nightmares about plane crashes. She just wants to hide and hope that her mother is not dead but will be found and return to her. Her father, a psychiatrist, convinces her to come along to an orphanage in Indonesia while he works with children who survived a tsunami and are suffering from post-traumatic stress. To say that Sienna is reluctant to go vastly understates her feelings. But she is convinced eventually.


Once in Indonesia Sienna is at first overwhelmed with the cultural differences and the poverty but soon adjusts and begins to care for the younger children in her dorm. Then there is Deni... Their first meeting was like a "Romeo and Juliet" moment. Their eyes met and they were immediately attracted. They have a lot in common -- lost parents, nightmares, post-traumatic stress, and hope that their lost parent is just lost and not dead. They form a forbidden friendship. He is 17, she is 15. He is Muslim, she is not. The rules of the orphanage forbid boys and girls from spending time together. Together they explore the area around the orphanage and learn more about each other.


Naturally, she supports him when he hears that someone has been asking about him at his home and goes with him to check out the rumors. What they learn changes both of their lives.


I liked the character of Sienna. I thought she reacted as many children do who lose a parent. She hasn't been able to come to any sort of closure and resents that her father seems to have been able to move on with his life. She particularly resents the woman she sees as his new girlfriend. I thought the way she changed as a result of her trip was realistic. 


This was an interesting book of contemporary fiction. I recommend it to lovers of realistic fiction. 


Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge


Review: A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede

A Matter of Magic
Author: Patricia C. Wrede


Publication: Orb Books; Second Edition edition (June 8, 2010)

Description: When a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into a traveling magician’s wagon, Kim doesn’t hesitate. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London, Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. A hard life and lean times have schooled her in one lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But when the magician catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for. Until he suggests she become his apprentice; then the real trouble begins.

Kim soon finds herself entangled with murderers, thieves, and cloak-and-dagger politics, all while trying to learn how to become both a proper lady and a magician in her own right. Magic and intrigue go hand in hand in 
Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Ward, two fast-paced novels filled with mystery and romance, set against the intricate backdrop of Regency England.

My Thoughts: I have been a fan of Ms. Wrede's books for years. I remember being entranced with Sorcery and Cecelia (written with Caroline Stevermer) and searching used bookstores to find multiple copies. I loved her Enchanted Forest  series and still recommend them to my middle school fantasy lovers. I remember reading Mairelon the Magician and The Magician's Ward when they were first published in 1991 and 1997. I was eager to replace my old, worn paperbacks with this new edition.

These books are wonderful - well-written and funny. They are Regency romances with magic. Our hero is Richard Merrill, first known to our heroine as Mairelon. He is a well-to-do, upper class wizard who we first meet as he is trying to track down a set of magical objects that society thinks he has stolen. Our heroine is Kim who was raised on the street to be a thief and who is hired to break into Mairelon's wagon to see if he has a certain object. By the way, she has been passing as a boy for a number of years but Mairelon sees right through her disguise. He catches her but doesn't turn her in to the law. Rather, he makes her his apprentice in the hunt for treasure. Our heroine spends a good part of the story exasperated with him and trying to keep him out of trouble. The story gets increasingly funny as more and more people of various station and for various reasons join the hunt for the missing magical objects.

The second story has Kim living in London as Mairelon's ward and learning to be a wizard. This time the problem resolves around some books containing magic spells and the variety of people who want to gather the books to perform the spells. Kim also has the problem of finding her place in high society. She doesn't think society will accept her and doesn't want to embarrass Mairelon. 

Both stories were excellent. I just wish Ms. Wrede would write more adventures for Kim and Mairelon.

Favorite Quote:


"Freddy! Oh, Freddy, do something!" Marianne cried. With a sudden spurt of strength, she jerked her arm from Jack's grasp and ran to Freddy, where she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her head in his shoulder, effectively preventing him from doing anything even if he had wanted to.
Or, perhaps, this:


"Lady Granleigh!" gasped Marianne. She turned as white as St. Clair's cravat and fainted into Freddy's arms. Unfortunately, Freddy was as dumbfounded as she by the new arrivals, and he failed to catch her in time. He overbalanced, and the two of them toppled backward into a chair and crashed to the floor in a shower of splinters.
These books are highly recommended for adults and young adults who like magic, Regency novels, and magic.

Challenges: Flashback Reading Challenge, In the Middle Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Flashback Reading Challenge





Review: Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing



Don't Know Where, Don't Know When
Author: Annette Laing
Publication: Confusion Press (August 20, 2007)

Description: What a nightmare. 

Hannah Dias, California Girl with Attitude, and Alex, her laid-back brother, have moved from exciting San Francisco to boring Snipesville, Georgia. Life doesn't improve when they meet Brandon, a dorky kid who is plotting his escape from the Deep South, and the weird Professor, who has a strange secret. 

Suddenly, the kids are catapulted thousands of miles and almost seventy years to England during World War Two. 

They fall into a world of stinging nettles, dragon ladies, bomb blasts, ugly underwear, stinky sandwiches, painful punishments, and non-absorbing toilet paper. They learn so much more than they could ever learn in a history class. Not that they want to learn it. 

But they can't go home unless they find George Braithwaite, whoever he is, and whatever it is that he has to do with Snipesville.



My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. It made learning about history not only painless but very interesting as well. Hannah and Alex are typical 21st Century kids who are unhappy about moving from California to a small town in Georgia. Brandon is a native of the small town and can hardly wait to grow up and leave. They meet when they are sent by their parents to summer activities at the local college. After finding a WWII identity card in a library book and meeting an unusual history professor, they are transported in time to a small town in England in 1940 where they are assumed to be evacuees. Brandon is separated from them and finds himself in England in 1915. They need to find George Braithwaite, the owner of the identity card, in order to get home again. They are aided in their search by the historian who goes by many names and who pops up now and again to give them clues.

The heart of this book was the relationships that were formed between our time travelers and the people who actually lived in the times they visited. The three children need help to learn about the time they are living in. Hannah and Alex are first fostered with the Archers but then move to the home of Mrs. Devenish, a local magistrate who is housing her granddaughter and an evacuee from the East End of London. They are doing whatever they can to avoid the evil Mr. Smedley and locate George Braithwaite. 

Meanwhile, Brandon is in 1915 working as an apprentice to dentist Dr. Gordon and living with his family including his daughter Peggy who is in love with a soldier and his nephew Oliver who is an orphan. I liked that we saw how the people changed from 1915 to 1940. It was interesting trying to figure out the relationships.

This was a great introduction to history. I found it emotionally engaging. In fact, I cried as I read Chapter 15. As soon as I finished the book, I headed right to Amazon.com and bought a copy of A Different Day, A Different Destiny. I want to know what is next for Hannah, Alex, and Brandon.

You can find out more about the author and the books at Annette Laing's website. I recommend the books to middle grade classrooms, middle grade students, or history lovers of any age.

Challenges: In the Middle Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kristen's Huge TBR Readathon Finishing Line


I am taking part in Kristen's Huge TBR Readathon this week. It runs from 8 AM Monday, June 14 until midnight Sunday, June 20. I will be updating this daily but not posting it until the end.

Monday:

  • I finished reading Sanctuary Unbound by Moira Rogers and also read Short Stories from Red Rock Pass by Moira Rogers.
  • Then I wrote my blog post about the whole Red Rock Pass series.
  • I began to read Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey.
Total pages read: about 600 (The two Rogers books were ebooks without page numbers.)

Tuesday:

I spent the whole morning reading the posts in my Google Reader and reading and commenting on the Teaser Tuesday posts.
  • After lunch, I began reading Naamah's Curse again. I began at page 340. Finished at 5 PM and finished the review. (p 340 - 567)
  • My next book is hopefully both lighter and shorter. I have chosen Heist Society by Ally Carter for my next read. I finished this book at 10:30 and wrote the review. (287 p.)
  • My next book is going to be Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes because I am in the mood for werewolves. Read chapters 1 - 5 (to page 64)
Pages read: 578

Wednesday:


Today will be a split up reading day because I will be spending the middle of the day at the casino.
  • I began reading Raised By Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes when I woke up. (p. 65 - 418) and finished it at 11 PM. There was a 8 hour gap when I was at the casino.
  • Finished the review for Raised by Wolves and scheduled it for tomorrow. 
  • Next book up is Death Echo by Elizabeth Lowell that I received as a part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
Pages read: 353

Thursday:

Slept in this morning and then caught up on my email and Google Reader. Didn't start reading until after lunch. Finally have a lovely sunny day - the first since I got here on June 8.
Began Death Echo after lunch and finished at 7:45 PM. Wrote and posted the review.
Next book: The Magic Thief: Found by Sarah Prineas. This is third in this middle grade series. Finished at 11:43 (358 p.).

Pages read: 650

Friday:
  • Wrote and scheduled the review for The Magic Thief' Found by Sarah Prineas.
  • Spent time reading email and reading the posts in my Google Reader.
  • I looked through the dozen books closest to my hands and chose Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns for my next read. I like to shift around between genres when choosing books and this one has been getting good buzz. 
  • Finished Assassin's Honor at 10:00 PM and wrote the review. Scheduled the review for Sunday.
  • Next book: Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing. This is a middle grade book that was sent to me by the author. This is a book about time travel.
  • Started the review for Don't Know Where, Don't Know When.
Pages read: 342

Saturday:

Just one more day of the readathon. It was another lovely day outside but I spent the day indoors doing household chores.
  • I read Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing and really loved it. I think it would be great for middle graders. I had to add to my TBR stack by buying the second book in the series.
  • For my next book I chose A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede. This combined volume includes Mairelon the Magician and The Magician's Ward. I read these when they first came out in 1991 and 1997 but not since. I am eager to see if they are still as good as I recall.
  • Read first half of A Matter of Magic (226 p.)
Pages read: 434

Sunday:

This final day of the readathon has dawned warm and sunny. I woke early this morning and spent until 10:30 checking my email and Google Reader. I had to check out a bunch of IMM posts. I did manage to resist and not add any books to my TBR stack. The one I was most interested in isn't published until November. (Virals by Kathy Reichs)
  • I am diving into A Matter of Magic again and reading The Magician's Ward.
  • Finished A Matter of Magic at 6 PM. (220 p.)
  • Wrote and scheduled the review.
  • So many people mentioned that they also wanted to read Sea by Heidi R. Kling which was in my IMM this week that I decided to read it next.
Pages read: 304

Summary:

Adult Books:
  1. Sanctuary Unbound by Moira Rogers
  2. Short Stories from Red Rock Pass by Moira Rogers
  3. Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey
  4. Death Echo by Elizabeth Lowell
  5. Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns
YA/MG Books:
  1. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  2. Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  3. The Magic Thief: Found by Sarah Prineas
  4. Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing
  5. A Matter of Magic (Mairelon the Magician & The Magician's Ward) by Patricia C. Wrede
Books begun but not finished: Sea by Heidi R. Kling

Total books read: 11
Total Pages Read: 3261