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Showing posts from January, 2013

The Second Empress

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court is a historical fiction novel by Michelle Moran.

Napoleon has decided to divorce his wife Josephine in order to produce an heir. He decides upon the eighteen-year-old Marie-Louise, daughter of the king of Austria.

She has little choice in the matter. To refuse would plunge her country, her beloved family, into war and economic disaster. She does what is honorable as a princess and travels to France to be the second empress of France.

Except for Napoleon’s keen welcome, in which he wants to immediately get started on producing his successor, Marie-Louise finds herself not wanted by many. Napoleon’s sister Pauline is especially frustrated with her brother’s wife – angry that she was not chosen to be his empress instead.

Pauline does not give up easily however, and is determined to see her dream of ruling Egypt like the ancient Pharaoh did. Always there to comfort and support her is Pauline’s Haitian servant Paul – but his sympathy is begin…

What Boys Really Want

What Boys Really Want is a YA contemporary humor novel by Pete Hautman.

Lita and Adam have been friends since they were very young – just friends. So, they’d never hide anything from each other.

Right?

Well, Adam doesn’t hide the fact that he’s writing a book – a book about what boys really want. Kind of a self-help guide for girls in his high school. He figures he’ll make all sorts of money. But it’s turning out to be more difficult than he thought – and when he tries to turn to Lita for help, she’s more grumpy than usual.

Lita is the writer. She thinks it’s ridiculous that Adam is writing a book – Adam! Meanwhile her own novel is gathering dust in a drawer. The world has turned upside down.

Not to mention, Adam seems to be getting cozy with Blair – possibly the skankiest girl at school.

She wouldn’t try to break up their fledgling relationship. Or would she?

What Boys Really Want has a lot going on it. It’s a hodge-podge of high school relationships, friendships, ambitions, and teen…

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow is a historical fiction novel, the second in the Avenue of Dreams series, by Olivia Newport.

To read Charlotte’s story from the beginning, and not be spoiled as to what happens to Lucy, I strongly recommend that everyone read The Pursuit of Lucy Banning before this novel. Click on the title to read my review.

If you haven’t, there aren’t really spoilers in this review for Lucy at all – but I still believe you’ll get the full impact of Charlotte by reading them in order. Okay? :)

Chicago in 1893 is enamored with the World’s Colombian Exposition.

Charlotte Farrow, however, has her mind focused on one thing: the small boy that she has kept secret from her wealthy employers for almost a year. Her son.

Only visiting him twice a week on her moments of time off has been heart wrenching for Charlotte, and watching as another woman cares for him hurts. But it’s the only thing she can do to keep her job as a ladies/kitchen maid and try to save money. She would no…

Iron Hearted Violet

Iron Hearted Violet is a middle grade/YA fairy tale novel by Kelly Barnhill.

Princess Violet has never looked like a Real Princess. Her mismatched eye, lopsided face, blotchy skin, and feral hair would never be commended or gazed upon with admiration. Her wildness and intelligence also can be give way to being less meek and graceful than is expected.

But she is a princess nevertheless.

One day she and her best – and only – friend Demetrius stumble upon a hidden room during their exploration of the palace, they find a book that feels wrong.

Trying to forget they ever found the room or the book, years pass – and Violet always feels a pull from her deep curiosity to know more about it.

Yearning to learn, Violet picks up snatches of a forbidden story of a never-spoken-of evil being called the Nybbas. A story that he is imprisoned in their mirrored-sky world.

Is it more than a story? And what does the last dragon in existence have to do with it?

Violet doesn’t know yet – but she’s determi…

The Princess Trap

The Princess Trap is a YA contemporary royal intrigue novel by Kirsten Boie.

It’s also the sequel to Boie’s The Princess Plot (my review here), so if you want to read the story in the correct order you’ll want to start with the previous book and avoid this review for possible spoilers.

Final warning of potential spoilers!!

I actually wasn’t a fan of The Princess Plot, sadly. I could see the appeal for younger girls, perhaps. Especially readers that like more of an intrigue/complicated plot in their princess fluff. Since The Princess Trap was mailed out before I realized I was less than enchanted with the first, I decided to give it a shot.

Unfortunately, my opinion wasn’t much altered. Let’s first get a brief synopsis:

Now that Jenna knows she’s a princess in the country of Scandia life should be awesome, right?

Well, no. Instead, she’s having a hard time following all the new palace rules and etiquette that are new to her – plus, the ritzy boarding school she’s attending is populate…

Renegade

Renegade is a YA sci-fi romance by J. A. Sounders.

Sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters is the Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia of Elysium.

Her life is just about perfect.

She was selected among hundreds of children because of her ideal genes – and she’s been trained since the age of three for her role in their society.

But when a Surface Dweller named Gavin Hunter mistakenly makes his way into their underwater paradise – her world is turned upside down.

Evelyn begins to realize that her life is a lie.

Her memories have been modified.

The person she knows as Mother is not what she pretends to be.

Unwilling to leave Gavin to the fate of death, Evelyn plots his escape.

Can Evelyn also leave behind the secluded community that’s been her home all of her life?

Wow – for me Renegade started out really strong and then went into a steep downward spiral. Why? Well…

I loved the enigmatic, mystery-shrouded start with its creepy underwater land of rules and secrets. It felt as though …

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring is an inspirational historical romance by Amanda Cabot, and the second in the Westward Winds series.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading Summer of Promise first just because there are a couple of light spoilers as to how everything turns out in that book in Waiting for Spring. So, it’s up to you. If you’d like to read my review of Summer of Promise, click here.

Charlotte left Fort Laramie after the death of her husband and birth of her baby boy. It had been necessary since her husband’s revealed criminal behavior put herself and her child in danger – so in Cheyenne Charlotte has changed her last name and pieced a new life together.

After a long, hard year Charlotte is doing well with her dress shop. Her son is doing well – but a disability noticed after she left Fort Laramie has her keeping him sheltered.

Barrett Landry has been determined to do well for himself – being a cattle baron is good and fine, but being a political figure h…

The Girls of No Return

The Girls of No Return is a YA contemporary novel by Erin Saldin.

Alice Marshall School for Girls is in Idaho, across miles of wilderness separated by technology and civilization, to help girls that are sent there for a variety of issues.

Sixteen-year-old Lida has a strained relationship with her father, a brusque civility with her stepmother, and a secret.

When she arrives at AMS it’s like being at camp – yet not. She meets Boone, the veteran of the school that “welcomes” the newbies, Jules, whose happy-go-lucky attitude is at odds with their situation, and Gia, whose exotic accent, beauty, and enigmatic personality makes her the mystery on everyone’s mind.

Gia mesmerizes Lida – and when Gia starts to talk to her, befriend her, Lida feels special – particularly sought out.

But there’s a reason they’re all at AMS – and those hidden issues will come out – whether they want them to or not…

The Girls of No Return was an interesting read. And, by the way, I know that sentence is considere…

Queen of Babble in the Big City

Queen of Babble in the Big City is an adult rom-com of a novel by entertainment-reading extraordinaire Meg Cabot.

It’s also the second in a trilogy. Now, I’m going to be honest here – I’m very behind at finally getting to these. I’m diligent about keeping up with Meg Cabot because she’s been one of my favorites ever since I read The Mediator when I was in my early teens – but a few slipped through the cracks. Those that did were this trilogy and How to Be Popular. I’m still trying to grab a copy of the latter, but I’m happy to AT LONG LAST be reading these three books!

You may have already read them. Probably. But if you haven’t, do avoid this review and instead read my review of the first Queen of Babble here. Thanks!

Assuming only Babble-familiar readers are continuing:

Lizzie Nichols is back in the US – in New York City, to be exact. After a summer that started disastrous and ended heavenly, our chatty star finds herself in another pickle.

Her plans to move in with her best friend…

Glamour in Glass

Glamour in Glass is a Regency-period fantasy novel, and the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal.

If you haven’t read Shades of Milk and Honey – you definitely don’t want to read anything about Glamour in Glass! It’s just too good to have spoilers!! So, take a look at my review of Shades of Milk and Honeyhere and go read that (it was on my Stand-Out Books of 2012 list!) – then you will want to read Glamour in Glass!

I’m trusting that if you’re still reading, you’ve already read Shades of Milk and Honey – yes? Okay then:

If you loved, or even just liked, the Jane Austen homage Shades of Milk and Honey and the refreshingly new and fleshed-out magic of glamour it presented, you don’t need me to tell you to read Glamour in Glass really. I’m going to give you only the scantest of details.

After Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent are encouraged to honeymoon outside of England. The newlyweds go to Belgium where tension are still high but Vincent gets to vi…

Trapped

Trapped is a YA disaster thriller novel by Michael Northrop.

Scotty and his best friends Pete and Jason are used to snowy winters – but the snow coming down outside as they go through their high school day is worse than normal. A blizzard is coming, and school is closing early.

But the three decide to stay behind to wait for a ride from a parent, so they can work more on a project.

A decision they’ll never forget.

Scotty and his friends find that there are a total of seven people left in the school – and that no one is coming for them. They can’t. The snow isn’t stopping.

At first, being stuck in a big school with hot Krista and Julia doesn’t seem so bad, but as hours turn to days things start falling apart… it’s getting colder and there seems to be no end in sight.

Survival is slipping through their fingers…

Trapped was a fast, well-done read! Scotty’s narration from the get-go had an ominous, past-tense voice that allows you to know that Trapped is going to have serious consequences…

The Enchantress

The Enchantress is the sixth and final book in the YA fantasy adventure series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott.

Anybody who hasn’t read the first five novels in the series definitely should be leery about reading this review – inevitably it’ll contain some (if very mild) spoilers. So, you’re warned! I’d advise only readers of the series up to this point to continue reading…

If you have read The Alchemyst, The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, and The Warlock then I don’t think you need too much of a summary of the final book, I think, to want to read it – if just to see how it all turns out. So, this will be sparse.

Basically we start where we left off – the twins of legend, Sophie and Josh Newman, have been transported back in time ten thousand years to before the island of Danu Talis fell. They find themselves confronting two people very familiar to them – and wonder what exactly that means.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel are on their l…

Scrivener's Moon

Scrivener’s Moon is the third book in the YA sci-fi/dystopia series Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve.

As it is the third book in a series, if you haven’t read Fever Crumb or A Web of Air – I’d strongly recommend not reading this particular review! Instead, you can click on the corresponding titles to read the reviews of the previous novels. Don’t ruin the surprises!!

Only read on if you’re up-to-date on the Fever Crumb series:

Fever has been brought back to London – and finds it very changed. And all the changes can be linked back to her parents, rational Engineer Dr. Crumb and the last of the Scriven race Wavey Godshawk. Instead of the city centuries upon centuries old, it’s now a place resting on enormous caterpillar treads – almost ready to become a moving, traveling city.

Never totally at home in London even as she grew up there, Fever is now even more ill at ease. Especially after the situation she left behind in the island city of Mayda, where the boy who loved her, Arlo, now believe…

What Happens Next

What Happens Next is a YA contemporary fiction debut by Colleen Clayton.

A gorgeously written and moving novel, a quick synopsis is thus:

Cassidy “Sid” Murphy, with her fiery red curly hair and rounded figure has always stood out in a crowd – meaning teasing and embarrassment. But with her cheerleading and good grades, she gets by – especially with two best friends that she loves hanging out with.

When she goes on ski trip with her friends, a hot college guy named Dax Windsor seems amazed by the hair that she often can’t stand and doesn’t seem to mind the figure that hasn’t attracted any other boy at school – and as much as she hates to admit it, she’s flattered. And when he asks her to ditch her curfew and come to a party - she does.

But Dax isn’t who he says he is. When she wakes up with her head throbbing and a numbness coursing through her body, she’s confused. As it wears off she notices the pain, the blood, the fact that her sweater is inside out, and that a lock of her hair is …

Plain Kate

Happy New Year, you zany book loving fanatics!!!

Plain Kate is a YA fantasy novel by Erin Bow.

Plain Kate lives in a rural world that has magic – but magic is met with unease, suspicion, and fear. Believed witches are hunted and burned in the town square.

As a woodcarver’s daughter, Kate learned how to carve before she knew how to do much of anything else. And her immense ability has led some in her town to call her “witch-blade” and suspect her of witchcraft.

When her father’s death becomes one among many in the town, Kate’s world is rocked. She no longer had a home, and she can’t sell her woodworking. Her only friend is her cat, Taggle, who helps to keep her warm at night. She survives off the few kind people in the village.

Right when even harder times fall on the town, however, angry eyes turn to Kate. Their crops are ruined, and a mysterious, thick fog is covering the countryside. It’s not long before Plain Kate realizes she needs to leave town to save her life.

That’s when Linay…