Thursday, September 29, 2011

ARC Review: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

Dark of the Moon
Author: Tracy Barrett
Publication: Harcourt Children's Books; None edition (September 20, 2011)


Description: Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.



So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.


Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that "monster" is Ariadne’s brother . . .




My Thoughts: This retelling of the myth of the Minotaur was a rich and thought-provoking read. It was also the story of two young people trying to find their place in the world. Ariadne is the daughter of She-Who-Is-Goddess and the next in line to be Goddess. She is learning from her mother both to be a midwife and to conduct the rituals of the Cretan religion. She is also alone and friendless because of the way a girl who will be goddess is revered and treated in their culture. 


Theseus is a picked-on country kid whose mother has told him that he is the son of a Poseidon which does not endear him to the other children of the village. When he finally learns that his father is the current King of Athens, he leaves home to meet him.


Theseus arrives in Athens just in time to be sent by his father as part of the tribute that must be sent to Crete every ten years. Along with him is Prokris who is a scheming young lady and also a part of the tribute. She is determined to become queen in Crete and pulls Theseus into her schemes. His father is willing to sentence this unknown son to death at the hands of the minotaur.


The minotaur is actually Ariadne's brother Asterion who is physically and mentally handicapped. But, because he was born to be the next Minos, he wasn't killed at birth. Ariadne is the only one who spends time with him and soothe him. Otherwise, he is confined to a few rooms in the labyrinthian storage areas of the palace where he doesn't pose a danger to anyone.


This story takes place at a time of great cultural change in Crete. Ariadne's mother did something when she was a new goddess that seems to have called down the wrath of the goddess. Witness, Asterion being born as he is and some poor harvests and some loss of faith. The old ways are losing their power with a lot of the people. Contact with other cultures that don't believe the same thing have also served to wear away at people's faith. Ariadne isn't sure what to believe and, when her mother dies in childbirth before she is fully trained, she is compelled to take on a role that she isn't ready for.

Theseus is also floundering wondering what his role is. After meeting Asterion he knows that the minotaur is to be pitied more than feared. But he doesn't know what will happen to him. Returning to Athens and the father who essentially threw him away doesn't sound like a plan.

This was a fascinating story with well developed characters. People who enjoy mythology should really find it interesting.

Favorite Quote:
"Before you were born," he answered. "There was that trouble at the Planting Festival a few years earlier, and then--"

"Trouble? What trouble?"

"Pasiphae hasn't told you?" I shook my head. "Then I mustn't. But you should ask her.""Does it have something to do with why Goddess is angry?"

He stroked my hair again and tucked a curl behind my ear. "It has everything to do with it." I waited for him to go on, but he was silent.
I received this ARC through the Amazon Vine program for review. You can get your copy there too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WoW: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for.

I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

Coming on Oct. 18 is Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This is book 3 in the Beautiful Creatures series. I have really enjoyed books 1 and 2 and can't wait to find out what happens next for Ethan and Lena.

Here is the product description:
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strangeand impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.
No happy ending? I'll have to see.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

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!

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett worked its way to the top of my TBR stack this week. I received the book from the Amazon Vine program. It is a retelling of the myth of the Minotaur told from two viewpoints. The first is Ariadne who is better known as She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess and Theseus. This story manages to humanize both characters and also includes a major culture clash and an ending of an era.

Teaser:
"I have never  believed that she was the daughter of Velchanos, you know." The thin, sour voice was familiar, but what it said was so strange that for a moment, I wondered if I had dreamt it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Road Trip: Scott Westerfeld

Saturday morning a friend and I headed up to the Twin Cities to find Wild Rumpus Bookstore and see Scott Westerfeld. I had programmed my GPS so we managed to get there without incident. Since we were early, we decided to go somewhere to look for lunch. We found a nice sandwich shop and then headed back to Wild Rumpus.

Unfortunately, I had coded in the wrong address and so we spent 20 minutes driving to East 43rd Street instead of West. Once we got there and realized our mistake, we had to turn around and head back to the correct address. We still managed to arrive - at the correct location - a couple of minutes before he began to speak.

Wild Rumpus is a fascinating children's bookstore. They have bunches of live critters wandering around the store and in assorted cages. Lots of little kids were having fun playing with the chickens. And one bird of some sort was continuing disrupting Scott's train of thought with its repeated calling. A few of the attendees also dressed up in costumes representing characters from the Leviathan trilogy and were fun to see.

Westerfeld's talk was entertaining and informative. He was very accommodating to his fans. We had brought book plates for the books in the media center instead of hauling the couple dozen we have. He very graciously signed all the bookplates for us.
I also got my personal copies of the trilogy signed. Now, I just have to find time to read them.

That was a fun trip. I can't wait to get a chance to visit Wild Rumpus again and explore more - but I'm still not petting a chicken!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (Sept. 25, 2011)

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 wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.


This week was a good week for adding books to my review stack. Sarah Beth Durst contacted me last Spring to see if I wanted to read and review Drink, Slay, Love. It sounded just like the sort of book I most enjoy. So I said "yes" and have been waiting and waiting. It arrived this week - not as an ARC but as a finished copy.

Here is the product description:
Pearl is your typical sixteen-year-old vampire—until the night a unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops. Now she’s experiencing a number of alarming symptoms: noticing her own reflection, feeling sympathy for a human victim, and being able to withstand the sun. Pearl’s immunity to sunlight thrills her family, who enroll her in high school so she can lure home tasty friends. Pearl quickly discovers that high school is very similar to vampire culture with its rigid rules, clear social hierarchy, and a might-makes-right attitude. But having a conscience makes it hard to cope with an evil plot the Vampire King has in store for the local humans. Will Pearl overcome her bloodsucking instincts in favor of her newly acquired conscience?

This acerbic antidote to other vampire romances is rife with gorgeous vampires, handsome were-unicorns, high school drama, and lots of action!
I also got my next two books from the Amazon Vine program.
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel was chosen largely because of this quote: "In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love." It sounded interesting and different and, even though I hate zombies, I hope to enjoy it. It comes out Oct. 18.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George is a middle-grade fantasy, the start of a new series, and by one of my favorite authors. I had to choose it for review. It will come out on Oct. 25.

That was what I got this week. What was in your mailbox?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ARC Review: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Sweet Venom
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (September 6, 2011)


Description: Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.


Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.




My Thoughts: This was an entertaining and very readable start to a new series. Each chapter is told in first person by one of the three girls. It isn't at all confusing, though, because each girl has a distinct voice. Grace is a computer geek who has a loving family but who feels socially awkward. She knows she is adopted. She also has a beloved older brother who was also adopted. Gretchen is the tough-as-nails goth girl who has been fighting the monsters since she was twelve. She ran away from home to escape abusive parents and was found by Ursula who was her mentor in learning about her heritage. Greer is the high-society girl who is a perfectionist who is stressed by trying to meet her mostly absent parents' very high expectations for her.


The girls are triplets, separated at birth to protect them, who are now finding each other at age sixteen because of a prophecy. They are the descendants of Medusa, who got a bad rep from Athena, but who was really a guardian to keep the monsters away from ordinary humans. Each generation three girls are born to continue the fight. This generation the girls are triplets and the Key Generation. They have a special task. 


I liked the interactions between the girls. Gretchen is upset and off-balance because Ursula is missing and the rules she has lived by for years seem to be changing. Grace is the most emotionally secure. She is eager to get to know her sisters and to get to know what their purpose is. Greer is the most reluctant to become involved because her life is the most different. When she first began seeing monsters at age five, her parents sent her to therapists to make her stop seeing them. Now she is seeing them again.


The boys who are part of the story are also interesting characters. Grace's brother Thane has secrets of his own. His friend Milo is Grace's crush and he seems to return the emotion. Nick is Gretchen's nemesis and no matter what she does to discourage him, he keeps coming back for more. Kyle is Greer's boyfriend mainly because he is the most popular boy at his private school like she is the most popular girl at hers. She puts up with him rather than loves him.


The one bad part about this story is that this book was mainly a set-up and introduction for the books that follow. We learn a lot about each of the girls and we see them meet and start to forge a unit. But there are so many unanswered questions. What is their purpose? Who are their enemies? Who are their allies? What roles will the boys have in the future. I can't wait to read more books to find out. 


Favorite Quote:
I blinked my eyes open to see Gretchen standing over me, looking like I'm the burning bag of dog poo left on her porch Halloween night. Why would she look at me like that when she obviously just saved my butt from snake-head lady?
I received an ARC through the Amazon Vine program. You can get your copy here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WoW: Seizure by Kathy Reichs

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for.

I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

Coming on Oct. 18 is Seizure by Kathy Reichs. This follows her debut YA - Virals - and continues the story. Here is the product description:
The second novel in the Virals trilogy from #1 bestselling author and inspiration for the TV series Bones - Kathy Reichs!

Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they've turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack! But now the very place that brought them together - the Loggerhead Island Research Institute - is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it!

So when Tory learns of an old Charleston legend about a famous she-pirate, Anne Bonney, whose fortune was never found, she can't believe her luck - buried treasure is exactly what she needs to save the Institute on Loggerhead! Trouble is, she and her friends aren't the only ones looking for it. And this time, the Virals' special powers may not be enough to dig them out of trouble . . .
While I didn't think the first book was perfect, I did find it enjoyable. I am eager to see what happens next in this story.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet Venom 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!

I just got a copy of Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs through the Amazon Vine program and I am really enjoy this story. Here is the product description:
Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.
I haven't met Greer yet. My teaser is Grace's self-assessment:
I'm tired of being the gutless doormat. It's time I found a spine and figured out how to use it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What Do You Do With ARCs?

I have a moral dilemma and I would love some input on this topic.

What do you do with ARCs after you finish reading them? I am starting to get quite a few piled up.

Here are my options as I see them:
  1. Donate them to my High School Media Center until I get the finished book. (But some are for adult books that would not be appropriate there.)
  2. Give them away in contests. (But, if the finished book is now available, won't I be cutting into the author's sales for the book? That seems wrong!)
  3. Throw them away. (I absolutely hate the idea of throwing away books although I can force myself to do so if it is the best option.)
Do you see any other options? What should I do?

BTW, I love getting eARCs from NetGalley because they don't cause this sort of dilemma. I don't feel bad when I delete the file from my Kindle after reading it and writing the review.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (Sept. 18, 2011)

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 wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.



This week I added three books to my massive TBR stack. Two of them were books for review and the other was a sequel to a book I reviewed earlier.
The Fate of the Muse by Derrolyn Anderson is the third in the author's self-published series - Marina's Tales. It is a paranormal romance featuring mermaids. She emailed me and asked if I would like to read the third book. I did enjoy the first two and wanted to know what came next for Marina. I got this book at Smashwords.

Dark Passage is the sequel to Dark Mirror and continues the adventures of this magic-using, time-traveling Regency teens. I liked the first story and needed to know what came next.

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs has intrigued me since I first heard about it. When I had a chance to get it through Amazon Vine, I couldn't resist. I like the mixing of the contemporary with characters out of Greek myth. And I also love the cover. 

Those were my additions this week. What did you get?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

ARC Review: The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay

The Last Dragon
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Rebecca Guay
Publication: Dark Horse (September 13, 2011)


Description: Master storyteller Jane Yolen (Owl Moon, Sword of the Rightful King) and celebrated fantasy artist Rebecca Guay (Swamp Thing, Magic: The Gathering) weave a textured and lyrical tale of adventure, homelands, and heroism the hard way.Two hundred years ago, humans drove the dragons from the islands of May. Now, the last of the dragons rises to wreak havoc anew — with only a healer’s daughter and a kite-flying would-be hero standing in its way.


My Thoughts: This was a lovely book with lush language and illustrations that were even more lush. This is a fairy tale about a land that fought and killed dragons and then forgot about them. Many generations later the last dragon hatches and wreaks havoc on the unprepared and unsuspecting populace. It is left to a dreamy young girl named Tansy and young man name Lancot who has been a storyteller and braggart to deal with this wyrm. 


Tansy is the daughter of the first human victim of the dragon. He was the village healer and she was his student. Now she has to use her healer's skills to find a way to defeat the dragon. 


The people have decided they need a hero and have sent three young boys to search for one while preparations are made at home. The boys encounter Lancot in an inn and are convinced by his stories that he is a great hero. He is lured to the fight (which he doesn't really believe in) by promises gold. When he arrives to find that there really is a dragon, he doesn't know what he can do. But he and Tansy come up with a plan and fall in love while executing it.

I have only seen the Adobe Digital Editions eARC of this story but I am already convinced that the illustrations will be gorgeous. They reminded me a bit of the work of Trina Schart Hyman in Saint George and the Dragon and Little Red Riding Hood or the work of Arthur Rackham. They have similar lushness and attention to detail but they are somehow softer and more romantic.

Lovers of fairy tales and graphic novels will be very satisfied with this book. I plan to get myself a copy for my  own bookshelves and certainly one for my high school media center.


Favorite Quote:
The fisherman stayed in the water and went upriver as far as he could, till the cold drove him out, his hands wrinkled as his grandpap's from their long soaking.
I received this eARC for review from NetGalley. You can get your copy here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages 
Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 
If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

The Friday 56
Rules:
  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Freda's Voice
  • Post a link along with your post back to Freda's Voice
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

I just received a ARC of Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs for review through the Amazon Vine program. This is the first book in a trilogy. Here is the product description:
Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.
I unpacked it after work and quickly read the beginning. It grabbed me and I am eager to have a chance to read the whole story.

Beginning:
Hydras have a distinctive odor. It's somewhere between the acid tang of burning hair and a boat full of rotting fish. You can smell them from miles away.
Well, you can't. But I can.
Friday 56:
So it's no wonder that I kind of want to lean into Nick and get even more contact. I want more of that warm feeling that's spreading from my arms up to my shoulders and down through the rest of my body.
I can't wait to dive into this book and find out why she can smell hydras and who Nick is.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dreamland by Alyson Noel Trailer and Giveaway

The third book in Alyson Noel's Riley Bloom series is out now. Dreamland continues Riley's adventures in the afterlife. Here is the product description:
Riley’s finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer’s dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it’s her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who’s been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.
Watch this trailer:



Enter my contest to win a copy for your self.

  • You must live in the US or Canada
  • You must fill out the form completely
  • You must enter by 6 PM, Sept. 23

Here is the entry form.


You can find out more about Alyson in these places.



Macmillan page for Alyson Noël: 
http://us.macmillan.com/author/alysonnoel

Become a Facebook fan: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAlysonNoel

Website: http://www.alysonnoel.com/



Good luck!


ARC Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Publication: Greenwillow Books (September 20, 2011)


Description: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.


Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.




My Thoughts: This was a very nice story. Elisa is the ignored younger princess who eats to ease the pain inside. She is fat. She is convinced that her older sister hates her. And she knows that her father ignores her. But she is the one who has the godstone in her navel. She is the one who is supposed to perform some sort of Service. Her only friends are her nurse, her maid, and her tutor. She is an excellent student of the sacred texts and has a very strong faith in God.


When the story begins she is preparing for her sudden marriage to King Alejandro. She finds him beautiful and he is kind to her but he is also rather indifferent to her. She doesn't know why she is being married and is afraid to ask. When they arrive at his home, after facing bandits in the jungle on the way and her saving Alejandro's life, he keeps their marriage secret. She finds that he is an indecisive king and not really getting ready for the enemy that threatens his country and hers. 


She is soon kidnapped and taken across the desert to the borders of the country where the war has already begun. She develops a purpose. Her education has taught her skills that might help the ragtag bunch of survivors harass the enemy. She starts them on a series of guerrilla attacks on the overwhelming large army that is poised to overrun the country. There are magicians in that army that also command godstones and use them for sorcery. This causes a crisis of faith for her as she tries to determine a way to help her country. She is constantly looking for her purpose. She does things that she never believed she could do.


Elisa grows and changes so much through this story. Her struggles, defeats and triumphs are well chronicled. She is a fascinating character. It was wonderful watching her grow into herself in this story. I recommend it to young fantasy lovers. 


Favorite Quote:
I went to the priest seeking an advantage, something that would help me play the game of power here in Joya d'Arena and make me significant to Alejandro. Instead, my path is more shadowy than ever.

Like a pig to the slaughter.

Now, it would be enough simply to survive.
I got this one for review at NetGalley. You can get your copy here


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WoW: Dark Passage by M. J. Putney

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It gives us a chance to highlight books that we are eagerly waiting for.

This week I am waiting for Dark Passage by M. J. Putney. I really enjoy Putney's adult novels and also really liked Dark Mirror when I had a chance to read it.

Here is the product description:
The Irregulars return home to 1803 England safely, but their worldview has changed.  Not only have their heroic efforts at Dunkirk given them pride and confidence but their dangerous mission has increased their magical powers.

Tory delights in the ever deepening bond she shares with Allarde until she discovers how powerfully he is connected to his ancient family estate—the lands he will not inherit unless he denies his magical powers and chooses a nonmagical mate. If Tory really loves him, she must walk away—but does she have the strength to leave the love of her life?

Cynthia’s heroic efforts at Dunkirk have won her the respect of the Irregulars, but her sharp tongue keeps everyone at a distance. Isolated and very alone at Lackland Abbey over the Christmas holidays, she reluctantly agrees to join Jack Rainford and his family for their celebration even though they’re commoners, far below her own noble rank. The warm welcome of the Rainfords makes her feel happier and more accepted than she has ever been. But she can’t possibly be falling in love with flirtatious Jack! Can she?

Then the Irregulars are drawn into a dangerous attempt to rescue a vitally important French scientist from Nazi-occupied France. Tory and Allarde must work together because countless lives are at stake. Disaster strikes and not only is their mission threatened, but their very lives. Can magic and their loyalty to each other help them survive to return home? 
This sounds like it will be another entertaining story with magic, time travel and romance. I can't wait to get it. Come on, big brown truck! Show up at my house, please.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

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!

This week the book that is nearest is The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. I have this one on my Kindle from NetGalley. It is an epic fantasy.

Here is the description:
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.
Here is my teaser:
I leave a newer, vibrant nation for an enormous beast of a country--one scorched by the sun, and stale with the traditions that made my ancestors leave in the first place. I've not had the courage to ask Papa or Alodia why. I'm afraid to learn they are glad to be rid of me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (Sept. 11, 2011)

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 wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.


After last week's abundance, this week's mailbox was almost empty. I added only one free book to my Kindle this week. I got:
Bright Young Things (with Bonus Material) by Anna Godbersen. I have been considering this book for a while and finally decided that the price was right. Here is the product description from Amazon:
For a limited time, the first book in New York Times bestselling author Anna Godbersen’s epic new series Bright Young Things is available for free. Also includes an excerpt from the forthcoming sequel Beautiful Days and fashion tips on how to achieve the perfect flapper look.

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star. . . .

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.
This isn't my usual style but I know that Anna Godbersen is a particular favorite of some of my high school girl readers. I need to see what the fascination is.

What did you get in your mailbox?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ARC Review: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt
Author: Jack Gantos
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)


Description: Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.


My Thoughts: It is hard to know how to describe this story. It is supposed to be a melding of events that are entirely true and wildly fictional. I, for one, have no idea which were which. This is historical fiction taking place in the summer of 1962 about a young boy named Jack Gantos in a poor Pennsylvania town. The town was almost a character in this novel. Norvelt was created and begun by Eleanor Roosevelt as a way for the poor to get homes. Now the town is dying and so are the elderly residents. This dying town is a source of conflict between Jack's parents. His mom is a life-long resident and doesn't want to leave. She embraces the lifestyle and the ideals that founded the town. His dad wants to move a way to get, as he says, "a bigger slice of the pie." His dad is convinced that the town is dead and sensible people leave.


Jack is caught in between this summer that he turns twelve. After a loaded gun incident and a "mowing down the corn that his mother has planted to feed the hungry to build the fallout shelter (or runway) his father wants." young Jack is grounded - perhaps for life. His only escape is when his mother lends him out to an elderly neighbor. Miss Volker is crippled by arthritis and needs Jack's help. She is also one of the original residents of Norvelt and was charged by Mrs. Roosevelt to be the nurse and medical examiner for the community. Miss Volker is determined to keep her promise to Mrs. Roosevelt to stay until the last original resident is gone. She has taken it upon herself to write obituaries for each of the elderly residents as they die. She needs Jack to do the writing and then type them up on her old typewriter. Miss Volker also adds history - both of the town and of the world - to each obituary.


When Jack isn't with Miss Volker, he is usually in his room reading his collection of Landmark biographies and reflecting on them, or, he is digging in the yard for his father's fallout shelter. Jack also is plagued by very frequent nose bleeds. Any time there is any stress or excitement, Jack's nose bleeds. His parents are too poor to have the doctor fix the problem - and he won't barter for the service as Jack's mom hopes. But Miss Volker has a plan that involves surgery on her kitchen table.

This was a quiet book that was filled with lots of quotable text and arresting images. What it wasn't filled with was much action. It reads to me as a quiet but sort-of weird, old-fashioned story of a slice of pretty ordinary life. Jack is an interesting and thoughtful observer of the events around him. But even his best friend Bunny Huffer thinks he is sort of weird.

I'm not sure what sort of reader that I could give this to. I think that it might make an appealing read-aloud title with a teacher leading the discussion about that time in history.


Favorite Quote:
"Even the devil wears clean underpants," she said, pointing the threatening tip of the hot iron at my skimpy towel. "And put on clean socks, pants, a belt, an undershirt, comb your hair, brush your teeth, and put on your shoes, and when you do all of that I'll be waiting at the door with your perfectly ironed white shirt and then you can leave the house."

"How do you remember all that stuff?" I asked over my shoulder as I ran back down the hall.

"I have it memorized," she shouted behind me, "because I'm forced to say it every day of your animal boy life!"
I received this ARC from Ksenia at Macmillan for review. You can get your copy here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages 
Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 
If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

The Friday 56
Rules:
  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Freda's Voice
  • Post a link along with your post back to Freda's Voice
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

I was recently sent Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos for review. The only previous books by Gantos that I have read were his Rotten Ralph series of picture books. This book has some of the same sort of quirky humor. It is described as a melding of things entirely true and things wildly fictional. I, for one, don't know which was which.

Beginning:
School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it. 
Friday 56:
It was odd how they never really ended a conversation. They just seemed to stop talking at some awkward, cliff-hanging moment and then Mom would attend to washing the dishes and Dad would silently read the newspaper.