Sunday, 28 November 2010

Introducing: YA Historical Fiction Challenge 2011


Please feel free to use this button
for the challenge to spread the word!
 When I wrote back in September at the end of Book Blogger Appreciation week that one of my blogging goals was to hold a challenge, I had in mind that it was going to be a YA historical fiction challenge because it is my favourite genre and what I read and review most. Also, as far as I know from searching around the Internet over the last couple of months, there isn't a historical fiction challenge particularly for young adult books. It is a wonderful genre that is growing in popularity very quickly as there have been many fantastic releases this year and upcoming ones for 2011. I hope it will encourage people to try the genre and make them fall in love with history!

The Challenge

Are you looking for  an escape from the contemporary world?
Are you a big historical fiction fan who has never delved into the YA section of the genre?
Or maybe you have been meaning to try a new genre for a while....?
Or are you a YA historical fiction lover already?

If so, this challenge is for you!

Levels

You can choose any of the following levels to aim for. I have started it from just reading one YA historical fiction novel in 2011 for those who just want to get a small taste of the genre to start off with:

1) Inquisitive- read 1-3 YA HF novel in 2011
2)  Fascinated- Read 5 YA HF novels in 2011
3)  Captivated- Read 10 YA HF novels in 2011
4)   Head over heels in love- Read 15 YA HF novels in 2011
5) Addicted-  Read 15+ YA HF novels in 2011

Rules
  • All books read for the challenge must be YA (or for slightly younger children.) For the purposes of this challenge, anything set in the past and centering around the historical period will count.
  • The challenge is open to everyone
  • It does not matter when the books were published or what time period they were set in but you may want to set yourself a small goal e.g. read 2 2011 releases
  • The challenge starts on 1st January 2011 and ends on December 31st and you can sign up from now

To help you find some of the best YA HF books, I have compiled a list of links to Amazon and Goodreads lists. A lot of them have the same books in but I hope that you find them helpful

Teen Historical Novels list (Goodreads)
New YA historical fiction 2010
New YA historical fiction 2011
Victorian YA novels
YA medieval HF
YA Elizabeth I HF
YA HF set in Colonial and Revolutionary America
Wonderful YA HF (Amazon)
Fun and exotic historical fiction for teenagers
The best historical fiction books for teens
Must read historical books for teenagers (created by me 2 years ago)
Shakespearean YA/MG fiction

I am looking forward to seeing how this challenge goes. I have a few ideas for posts about YA historical fiction planned for next year so keep a look out!

To sign up fill in the following form with your details:

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Book Review: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead

Summary from Goodreads

I'm not a fan of the photo of the
girl on the cover, it makes
her look mean
St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school—it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's—the very place where they're most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

My review and thoughts

Until Vampire Academy, I had never read any vampire books before. I'll admit that I thought I didn't like them and that they weren't my kind of book at all when I hadn't even read one. So, as the release of the last book in the Vampire Academy series is soon to be released, I thought I'd give the series a go.

At the beginning of the book, Rose and Lissa find themselves captured and taken back to the St Vladimir's academy hidden deep in the forests of Montana after two years of freedom in the human world. Mysteriously, they share a bond that means Rose can read Lissa's thoughts and emotions that helps Rose to protect Lissa but this must be kept a secret between them.  Rose must continue her Dhampir education in training as a guardian for a Moroi like Rose and Lissa must take up her position as the only Moroi royal left in the Dragomir line.The 2 girls soon realise that the social scene they find themselves in is completely different to the one that they left and several rumours have been circulating about them. Everyone seems to be abuzz in answering why they ran away, how they survived and why they have returned. However the truth would be more harming than any of the rumours and neither of the girls can afford to let their guard down.

It took me quite a while to get into the story, understand the world of the vampires and get used to the voice of the narrator Rose. I was not used to the shorter sentences and the way Rose narrates the story as if she is talking casually to you but I think this is what made the story so alluring for me once I was immersed in the  world of Vampire Academy. Also, I think the author did a fantastic job of building up the pace of the book by making sure all the background is clear first leading to the suspenseful and thrilling atmosphere that escalates at different points throughout the story.

I found Rose was a very hard character to like, especially at first because she is often aggressive, reckless, selfish towards other people as well as being your typical 'bad' high school girl stereotype. Underneath though, she is not as tough as she seems on the outside and really does care more than she shows. My favourite thing about her is her devotion to Lissa, which really bought out the best in her personality and helped her to develop slightly as a character.
On the other hand, I much preferred her best friend Lissa, who feels a sense of duty to her deceased family to mix with the other vampire royal in their elite social circle but feels uncomfortable and shy about it deep inside. Lissa seemed to be much more wary of others feelings, and is known as one of the nicest girls in the school. I love the fact that she can be very outgoing when she tries and chooses not to let her family and who she is go to her head. Throughout the book, we get to see glimpses of all sides of her character and how she develops and I liked how Rose had a bond with her that meant she could read her thoughts. I wish I could read the story from her point of view. She is perhaps the saving grace of this book for me because it was the danger that she was frequently in that kept me turning the pages to find out what happened.

I find it very interesting that Richelle Mead used supernatural figures in myths and legends to create the different races of Moroi, Dhampirs and Strigoi.  These different races and their place in society is very well explained and my understanding of them increased throughout and this helped to make the world of the book more complex and believable.

Verdict: Vampire Academy has a thrilling storyline set against a brutal social scene complete with mean girls and cliques that grabbed my attention and got the pages turning . I enjoyed it so I will read the rest of the series to find out what happens to the characters but I am not rushing out to buy the next book. I would also like to point out that it is not a completely clean read so I would recommend that teenagers under 14 should be a little bit cautious.

Giveaway to come

I am very excited to say that to celebrate the release of the last book in the series Last Sacrifice on December 7th, Penguin UK have given me 3 copies of either the first or last book in the series to give away but unfortunately this will be for UK entrants only. Sorry to all my US and international followers!
Look out for the giveaway post to come soon!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In My Mailbox 21/11/10

In My Mailbox is a feature held by the lovely Kristi at The Story Siren, which encourages bloggers to share what new books they have got every week.

The books I got this week (my camera is not working!)
  • An ARC of In The Shadow Of The Lamp by Susanne Dunlap (won in a giveaway on Susan's Facebook page)
Thank you so much to Susan for holding the fantastic early ARC giveaway for your Facebook fans and for being willing to ship it internationally. I am so excited about reading this one as it is YA historical fiction and about Florence Nightingale who is a historical figure I know quite a bit about but haven't read about in a historical fiction book.
I love the cover, I think it's really pretty and suits the story.
I couldn't resist reading the first chapter and so far it is fantastic and really made me want to read more of it! .It is set to be released in April 12th next year.
  • Captivate by Carrie Jones (from the library)
I am currently reading the first book in the series, Need and am planning on reading this one next in order to review Entice in time for its release date.

 haven't been able to read or post this week as much because I have been preparing for school exams. I'll try to do more this week but it should all be over in the next couple of weeks :D

What new books did you get this week?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Book Review: Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Summary

Enna's life was not meant to be simple. When her brother, Leifer, brings home a mysterious piece of vellum that teaches him how to set fires — without a spark, without flint — Enna cannot decide if this power is one she wants for herself, or something that should be extinguished forever.
And when Bayern, their country, goes to war, the choice becomes nearly unbearable. Enna never imagined that the warm, life-giving energy of a fire could destroy everything she loves, but she must now save herself and Bayern before fire consumes her entirely.

Shannon Hale's new tale is wholly original and spellbinding, a powerful companion to her highly acclaimed first book, The Goose Girl.

My review and thoughts

Enna Burning follows the story of Isi's best friend Enna and the war between Bayern and its neighbour. Whilst the Goose Girl was a loose fairy tale retelling, this sequel is completely its own original story. That is why it would be possible to read this book before before the first without too many problems but I really reccommend that anyone planning on reading it should read The Goose Girl first to understand the background to the story better and because it is such an enchanting story that you wouldn't want to miss it!

This book has a slightly different feel to Goose Girl as I found it to be more dark than the first book in the Books of Bayern. The Goose Girl gives a much clearer picture of the lands of Bayern and Kildendree but this one is much more character orientated. However, I loved it just as much as the Goose Girl, just in a different way as it was a more pacy read with a lot more action happening at once. I am happy to say though that the beautiful descriptions that give Shannon Hale her distinct writing style are retained and I was submerged into Enna's world just as much as Isi's.

Opening the pages of this book is a bit like returning home after a short break away as all the characters- such as Isi (Ani), Geric, Razo and Fin- and the setting felt so familiar to me. Despite this the start was a little slow moving but this is more than compensated for by the fact that once the story gets going, it really sucks you in.

Enna's character is the complete opposite of Isi's as she is much more headstrong, fiery, strong minded and opinionated, (which suits her magical gift well!) but she is also fiercely loyal as is Isi.  She is not as likable as Isi but I think that is what makes her such an interesting character.  I really enjoyed getting to know her character more as not much was revealed about her in the first book. Also, I liked seeing how she grew as a character throughout the book and dealt with the challenges and need of inner strength and courage that come special powers  as well as the effects that her gift with fire has on her. There are many times when she makes the wrong choices but she is very well meaning at heart and wants the best for all her friends and Bayern.

As I mentioned before, there was a lot more action because of the war between Bayern and its neighbour, which naturally creates quite a stir. Quite soon into the book, I was launched into scenes of violent battlefields but Hale descriptions of it are very clean but still manage to capture the brutality  of the war but also the tension within the young men fighting and their family.

I loved Shannon Hale's take on the use of magic because she shows that there is always a consequence to using it and that it cannot be used carelessly. Also, the magic of the natural elements and the balance that two of them can create as shown in this book is something I found more captivating than more fantastical magic perhaps because it is closer to reality. A lot of fantasy books just seem to take using powers it for granted and I found seeing the consequences making up a lot of the storyline very refreshing.

Verdict: The Goose Girl is a masterfully crafted wonderfully unique  and vivid story using the foundations of The Goose Girl that portrays war, bloodshed and magic along with the power of friendship and trust that brings out the best in everyone

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday; Entiwined by Heathor Dixon

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking The Spine where participants share upcoming books that they can't wait to get their hands on!

My pick this week is Enchanted by Heathor Dixon:

Goodreads description

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Product description

Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . .Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou

 I thought that the product description have a more detailed idea of the storyline so I included both of the summaries that I found.  I also love how Shannon Hale is mentioned in it as she is a brilliant author from the 2 books I've read of hers. I've seen it described as a retelling of the fairy tale of The Twelve Princesses, which I have heard of but don't know much but it sounds very magical. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, it's truly enough to make anyone want to pick it up.

It is scheduled to be released on the 29th March 2011, which seems such a long time away!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Late Rememberence Day Special: War themed books for teenagers

I thought that as a few days ago it waswas Remembrance Sunday I would take this special time to feature some of my favourite books set during a war time that are aimed at children, teenagers and young adults (with a couple of exceptions.) All links go to Goodreads.

Centering around soldiers
The Shell House by Linda Newbury

Jewish Holocaust and Nazis

Hitler Stole My Pink Rabbit series (The Other Way Around, A Small Person Far Away) by Judith Kerr
Rena's Promise by Rena Kornreich (adult autobiography)

Set in war and about the character's experiences of it

Party Shoes by Noel Streatfield
Standing in the Shadows by Jennie Walters (part of the Swallowclife Hall series)Josie Under Fire by Ann Turnball


This is only from books I have read, nearly all from WW1 or WW2 and set in Britain. If you have any other suggestions, I'd would love it if you shared them in the comments!




Sunday, 14 November 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is held by Kristi from the amazing Story Siren, where bloggers share what new books they have every week through the post, at the library or what they have bought.

This week I got:

An audio book of The Betrayal by Mary Hooper (won on Mary's Facebook page, thank you Mary!)

Need by Carrie Jones (borrowed from the library)

For review (from Penguin):

Vampire Academy (#1) by Richelle Mead - I am about half way through now and am really enjoying it

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

I am a huge fan of Godbersen's Luxe fan so I am very excited to receive this and can't wait to start reading it. The Penguin release date is in January so I will be reviewing it near then.

I have now run out of room on my bookshelves in my bedroom so I am very glad that my family's new guest room/study/library will be built and finished by the end of this month!

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Coverlicious (6) : Cover Wars- Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot


Coverlicious is a feature that I hold here, where I do spotlights on different things to do with covers from photos of cover art from different editions of book and trends in cover art to comparing US and UK versions of a cover or simply just posting about a cover that I have fallen in love with. I'm intending just to feature Coverlicious posts here but if you would like to join in or do a guest Coverlicious post, please see my contact page.


Cover Wars




The cover on the right is very pink and girly and is in the style of the Princess Diaries which is quite a nice theme within Meg Cabot's books. It might also make fans of her more likely to pick the book up.

The middle cover was created to fit in with the rest of the Avon Romance for teens series (which was created so by Avon Books so that teenagers had clean romance alternatives.) However, I think that it would not appeal to teenage girls  as much and it looks more like the typical adult romance cover. Also, the background is set in the countryside whilst most of the book takes place in London and Nicola's first love interest never visits her countryside home with her.  It is perhaps the most romantic and I don't dislike it but it is not my favourite.

The cover on the left is probably my favourite, I like the blue sky and London background along with the main character Nicola in the centre. I also love the purple swirly writing, which adds to the girly and fun feel.  Although, I don't like the 'squarish' and plain large capital letters printing Meg Cabot's name because they are too big and detract from the main part of the cover.

What do you think?

Friday, 12 November 2010

Hopping Away and Follow Friday!



















Welcome to any visitors who got here through the weekly Book Hop - especially those who are first time visitors- (a Book Party) organised by Jennifer @ Crazy for Books or Follow A Book Blog Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View so that book bloggers can share their blog with other book lovers and also find new blogs to 'follow.' To get involved all you have to do is post your blog link at the bottom of the 'linky list' on Crazy For Books and/or Parajunkee's View, answer the weekly question (for the hop) on your blog and get hopping around!

This weeks Book Hop question/topic is: "If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

Yes. I always try to read a series in order for example I received a review copy for Entice by Carrie Jones recently and I have ordered the first 2 books in the series so that I can read them first. Otherwise, I wouldn't understand the back story and events that have already happened! I am also reading the Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent Dyer but there are about 62  books in all. I have quite a few of them but if I am missing the next in order I have to buy it first- I don't want to miss out on it! The only exception to reading series out of order is Enid Blyton's Famous Five, which I read completely out of order but although there is a certain amount of chronology regarding the character's ages, each book is really its own adventure.


This week's Follow Friday question is:  What is your usual monthly book budget?

Since I'm 13 I don't really have one and I borrow most of my books from the library anyway. Occasionally, my mum will order a book off Amazon as a treat for me or we go to a second hand bookshop and buy a lot of books at once.


Don't forget to leave a link to your blog in a comment so I can check it out, I will try my best to reply :D

Thank you for stopping by and enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Book Review: Nicola and The Viscount by Meg Cabot

The cover style is similar to that of the
Princess Diaries
From the back cover:

Nicola could feel Lord Sebastian's heart beating. It was the most delightful feeling in the world. Surely it meant that The God liked her. More than simply liked her--loved her even. It had to! It just had to!



Miss Nicola Sparks has fallen in love, big time. The object of her dreams is the fabulously rich Lord Sebastian, he of the ice-blue eyes, golden hair, and full-on mastery of the dance floor. To Nicky, Lord S. is a god. But are gods always quite as perfect as they are meant to be?


A totally romantic story with an unforgettable heroine--from the best-selling author of The Princess Diaries.

My review and thoughts

Reading this blurb, it has exactly the same ingredients and wording that you would expect on a contemporary YA romance and on others of Meg Cabot's books but the big twist is that it is set in the past during the Regency/Georgian period. Which author could be better at trying her hand to a teenage regency romance?

Nicky Sparks is a young orphan who has been left her father's estate Beckwell Abbey, which brings in enough money annually to send her to a reputable boarding school for young ladies and to leave a reasonably comfortable life. At sixteen Nicky leaves school and is about to jump into her first glamorous society season along with her best friend Elanor Sheridan. She has already set her heart on the handsome and rich Lord Sebastian Bartholomew, the brother of her schoolfriend Honoria, who she and Elanor have nicknamed 'the God.'  She is sure that they are meant to be and are a match made in heaven but not everything is as it seems.

A while ago I read Cabot's other teen regency romance and I much preferred the main character Nicky to Vicky. They are very different in a lot of ways although they share the fact that they are both orphans: Vicky is a rich heiress and Nicky is poor, Vicky is quite proud and sometimes sarcastic and outspoken whilst Nicky is fairly naive, loyal and shyly passionate. I would much rather have Nicky as a best friend!
I liked that she was a romantic poetry fan and a good fashion designer who always manages to add a small adjustment to her old clothes to keep in style on a budget. The book is narrated in the third person but follows Nicky's thoughts, which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much.
A lot of the other characters were cliches as you have the handsome bad boy. the caring and teasing childhood friend, the cruel guardian Uncle and the foolish cousin but the reason why these are so well used is because they are the perfect ingredients and work really well together.
I loved the hero of the book who Nicky eventually ends up with (sigh- so romantic!) but I would have liked to know more about Sir Hugh, who is Elanor's betrothed.

From the first chapter, I found the plot quite predictable and whilst there were lots of twists and surprises along the way, I had guessed who Nicky ended up with very early on in the book.  I think this could be because the basic plot and character relationships of Victoria and the Rouge was extremely similar. Some of the end is a bit far fetched but it's not impossible that something similar could have happened to a young girl back then and it adds to the drama and suspense of the ending.
However, plot is not what this book is about because everything from the antics and journeys of the characters to the fashions, witty dialogue and scandals of London high society made it a really fun and light hearted read.

Not everything is historically accurate as far as my knowledge extends and there are not so many of or detailed period descriptions as you would find in a Georgette Heyer regency but this didn't detract from my enjoyment of it. There were lots of small detailed I picked up on that were not true to the time such as the familiarity of woman and men for example using shortened names and the fact that at times Nicky and other main characters sometimes behaved and thought as if they were modern girls. Although, this book is aimed at teenagers and I think that it is more likely to appeal to them this way. Also, this is what gives the book its unique sparkle. Sometimes you just want something to curl up and sink into easily without having to think or concentrate on too hard but enjoy reading romance and have a few laughs. Nicola and the Viscount did the trick for me!

What Meg Cabot has to say about her inspiration for the book (taken from her website):
When I was a teen I saw the movie Romancing the Stone, and knew at once that I wanted to be a historical romance writer just like Joan Wilder (because she got to go to work in her pajamas). I loved reading historical romances, especially ones with humor in them, by authors like Johanna Lindsey and Amanda Quick. It's a dream come true to see my books on the same shelves as theirs!


Verdict: Nicola and the Viscount is a light, girly and fun read that would be perfect to introduce young girls to the world of historical and regency romance or Meg Cabot. It kept the pages turning and I loved it! However I wouldn't recommend it to adults who are looking for something similar to Georgette Heyer/Jane Austen unless they are looking for an easy and light book.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along and have fun! Just do the following:


• Grab your current read and open to a random page
Share (preferably 2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

• 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!)

I am up to page 100, which is at the end of chapter 7 and where the quote comes from:

'In the stillness, the hungry crackling sound of fires wafted from the camp through her window. To Enna it seemed as if the sound itself could ignite the wooden shutters.'

Monday, 8 November 2010

Book Review and Trailer: The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

The absolutely beautiful cover!
Publisher Summary

Two Hearts. One Hope.Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her---a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

My review and thoughts

When I saw the cover and synopsis for this book I was instantly excited about finding a new YA historical fairy tale retelling but finding out there were Christian elements woven into it too was even better. As a Christian teen it can often be hard to find clean historical romance and The Healer's Apprentice combines all my favourite genres into one. What could be better? I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed.

Rose is a poor woodcutter's daughter who has received the honour of being chosen to be the healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle. Whilst she is thrilled at the chance to better herself and get away from her mother who wants her to marry a disgusting old man, Rose is terrified of blood. As if life is not complicated enough, she becomes friends with Lord Hamlin who quickly becomes enamoured by her dark beauty and personality but they can never be together because they are socially too far apart and he is engaged to a lady that he has never met.

Melanie Dickerson
Right from the first chapter I found myself immersed in a medieval world full of knights, ladies, lords and castles. We meet Rose and her best friend Hildy (who I would gladly have as a friend) as they gather in the marketplace with the rest of the villagers trying desperately to catch a glimpse of the handsome young Lords. It makes you realise that they are just like young girls of today in a fairy tale like historical setting.
Although it is told in the third person, the character's voices and thoughts shine through just as if it was told in the first person which was really effective and made everything seem so real. I could smell the herbs used by Rose and her teacher Frau Geruscha, hear the hoof beats of a gallant Knight as he rides his noble steed, see the vivid colours of finely embellished ball gowns and feel my heart pumping with Rose's when she is falling in love. The third person narration follows the characters of Rose and Lord Hamlin (Rupert) alternately, which I loved as it was great to get inside the heads of both the main characters. It also allowed me to enjoy the period details of two different worlds.

The characters are extremely likable and realistically flawed, both Rose and Rupert try to do the right thing and like all humans make mistakes along the way. Rose is sometimes timid and is self conscious when mixing with people above her at the castle but she is also very strong willed, fiercey loyal, kind, passionate and opinionated. Unlike most girls of her class she has been well educated by Frau Geruscha and can read. Although she wants to marry for love, a dream that is almost impossible to come true for girls like herself Rose does act like girls would in those times because she knows what is expected of her and what is proper or a young lady.
         Rupert is the man of every girl's dreams as he is handsome, strong, caring, dutiful and truthful. He is known as a man of honour who feels a strong sense of duty to the people of Hagenheim- to put their safety and interests above those of him and his heart. He is on a dangerous mission to hunt down Monocore, the evil man who is trying to demonise his secret betrothed, Lady Semolina. Over the years he has learnt to guard his heart and eyes to be faithful to his betrothed but Rose changes this and his world begins to shake.
The blooming romance between them is just so sweet and the way that it slowly progressed made it very believable and realistic. Everything about it is clean and just right for teens like me with parts that make your heart pound. I found myself desperately hoping for them to be together all the way through despite their social differences and that true love would conquer all so they would live happily ever after!
I thought that there was exactly the right balance between beautiful descriptions, action. adventure, intrigue and romance. Something was always happening and at times there was a lot of tension and anticipation but at the same time Melanie Dickerson managed fantastic character development too.
As well as the main storyline, there were also several sub plots which made the story richer and deeper. I especially enjoyed Rose's best friend Hildy's romance and its problems although I won't say any more than that about to revent spoilers.
The Christian threads that were woven through did not overwhelm the story and fitted in really well with the time period so don't think that this will affect any ones enjoyment of the book regardless of faith. However, I think that the characters and their faith will be an inspiration to young Christians.

Despite being loosely based on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, The Healer's Apprentice was more of its own story with many twists and turns along the way making it uniquely special in every way.

Verdict: The Healer's Apprentice is a beautiful fairy tale set in Medieval times with believable characters and a touching and sweet romance that is sure to warm the hearts of readers. I would highly recommend it to girls and women of approximately 12+ .It is a book that I feel I will re-read many times and treasure, it is definitely one of my favourites of this year. This is a amazing debut from Melanie and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Book Trailer

Without a doubt, this is the best book trailer I have seen! It's like a mini-movie: the costumes and settings are beautiful and it captures the esscence and magic of the book perfectly. I like that the same girl has been used on the cover as in this and she really does fit Rose's character. A must watch- I love it!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

In My Mailbox and reading updates

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and explores the content of our mailboxes on a weekly basis.

This week I got:

 Frederica by Georgette Heyer, which I won in Carolyn from Book Chick City's Book Blogger Appreciation week Friday giveaway. I haven't read any Heyer's for a while so I'm looking forward to diving back into her regency world again.

The Wrong Chalet School by Elinor M Brent Dyer- My school librarian mother kindly passed this out of print book onto me. I love The Chalet School series but I haven't got very far in it yet as I have so many other books that need to be read too

Reading updates:

Last Tuesday I finished The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (review coming soon)
Yesterday I finished Nicola and The Viscount by Meg Cabot (review coming soon)

I have now started Enna Burning by Shannon Hale, the sequel to The Goose Girl

I thought I'd also tell you that I have started reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee at the moment too through studying at school as I know it is a favourite of many bloggers.

Books I own/am borrowing that I plan to read soon:

  • Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace 
  • Angel by Zizou Corder
  • Witch Child by Celia Rees
  • I Coriander by Sally Gardner
  • Forest Born by Shannon Hale
  • River Secrets by Shannon Hale

Friday, 5 November 2010

Hopping Away and Follow Friday

A Very Big Welcome
Welcome to any visitors who got here through the weekly Book Hop - especially those who are first time visitors- (a Book Party) organised by Jennifer @ Crazy for Books or Follow A Book Blog Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View so that book bloggers can share their blog with other book lovers and also find new blogs to 'follow.' To get involved all you have to do is post your blog link at the bottom of the 'linky list' on Crazy For Books and/or Parajunkee's View, answer the weekly question (for the hop) on your blog and get hopping around!

This weeks Book Hop question/topic is: This week's question comes from Vicki who blogs at The Wolf's Den:

"What are your feelings on losing followers? Have you ever stopped following a blog?"

I love and appreciate all my followers and I would be sad to lose any but if the person didn't like the style of my posts,the content or the genres that I tend to review, then I understand why they want to unfollow and that's fine. I would rather that than the person keep following through GFC but not reading any posts. I think it is much better have a smaller number of followers who are genuinely interested in your content and visit regularly than lots of followers who followed in the hope of being followed back.
I gained a lot of followers during my 150+ followers giveaway but I didn't want people following just for the sake of entering so I gave away books from the main genre I review so if they are a new follower through the giveaway then it is likely that they will be interested in my posts and reviews.
Here, I have about 4 or five lovely followers who visit and comment regularly  out of all my and I do the same on their blogs too because I enjoy reading them.  

No, I haven't stopped following any blogs yet because I was very careful about which ones I followed when I first started blogging and made sure that I was interested in their content before following. However, when someone hops over and takes the time to leave a comment and link to their blog I will always visit them back to see what their blog is like and leave a comment even if I don't follow them. Currently, I 'follow' 150 blogs through GFC and whilst I have visited and read some of their posts when they caught my attention after scrolling through my dashboard feed, I only regularly visit a small handful.
Sorry for the very long answer!

This week's Follow Friday question is: Who are your favorite authors??

It's impossible to pick just one! I love Enid Blyton who was the author who really got me into loving reading and I was very upset when I had finished all of her main books when I was about 9. I also love Mary Hooper for introducing me to historical fiction, Eva Ibbotson who sadly passed away recently, Helen Dunmore for the Ingo series and Georgette Heyer for her wonderful regency romances!

Don't forget to leave a link to your blog in a comment so I can check it out, I will try my best to reply :D

Thank you for stopping by and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Book Review: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me a review copy of this book.

The newest edition and the cover
that I have.


Blurb Summary

Princess Anidori spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt's enthralling stories. Little does she realise how valuable her aunt's strange knowledge will be when she grows older. At the age of sixteen Ani is told that she must leave her homeland to marry someone she has never met. But fate has much worse in store for he in this original and magical tale of a girl who must understand her own incredible talent before she can overcome those who wish her harm. A story of betrayal, jealousy and romance.

My review and thoughts

I thought that I knew the story of the original Brother's Grimm fairytale from the Ladybird books I used to read when I was very small but it turned out that my vague memories of this did not match up to the story so I think I was remembering something different.
I decided to read The Goose Girl on one of the last days of the October school holiday week when I was feeling a bit tired and fed up of being in the house all day and I discovered a wonderful escape.
 I was introduced to Anidori, a young Princess who is gifted with being able to speak to animals after spending time with ad being her Aunt in early childhood. Ani feels foolish and insecure as she is shy and unable to converse uneasily with others without feeling awkward unlike her imperial mother The Queen and her lady in waiting Selia.
Soon after the death of her father, Ani is told that she will not become Queen by her mother and is sent to the land of Bayen to marry its Prince accompanied by her guards and lady in waiting. Yet it turns out that she does not know who she can trust and who would readily betray her for their power greediness.
Ani is a very relateable character and it was lovely to feel like I was accompanying her on her journey through hardship and sorrow, pain and joy in a quest of self discovery and to gain justice. Despite her anxious surface, Ani is really a strong character inside who will rise readily to challenges that involve bringing about justice and helping her friends. Ani's romance is adorable too although I won't give anything away about it!

What I loved about this book the most is that although it is fantasy to its very heart, Shannon Hale's writing made it seem completely real and true as though the lands of Bayern and Kildenree really exist. This is something I have rarely encountered and believe is the mark of a truly talented author.
The reason for this is her beautifully eloquent and evocative language that is at times also poetic but it is not in the typical fairy tale language of  'fluttering fairies' and 'happily ever afters' but dramatic and full of built up suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. There is even a battle scene near the end creating a tense atmosphere.

My favourite part of the book was near the end because that is when I felt the secondary characters came to life the most for me and their emotions jumped out the page. I won't give any spoilers about this though!

The Goose Girl has all the ingredients needed for a page turning fairy tale retelling and enchanted me with a tale set in two magical lands that tell of enchanting powers. I can't wait to read the rest of the series now, which follows the stories of secondary characters in this book!

I would recommend the Goose Girl to anyone who loves escaping to another world in a book, particularly children and teenagers.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Coverlicious: Lookalike YA historical fiction covers

Coverlicious is a feature that I hold here on this blog featuring book covers that I love, lookalike covers and US v. UK covers.

I noticed these lookalike YA historical fiction covers a while ago but my attention was brought to them again when it was discussed in the comments by Danya @ A Tapestry of Words in my last Coverlicious post about The Fool's Girl.


It appears as if the same stock image from a photographer has been used for all three covers with a little photoshopping incorporated to change the colour of the dress for The Education of Bet and to add the necklace for Whisper My Name. It also appears as if the girl on the cover of The Fool's Girl is younger because her hand is less wrinkly, I don't know if this is the light of the photo or if is has been digitally adjusted.

As Rebecca from Rebecca's Book Blog also pointed out to me, the dress does not really suit the Tudor time period that The Fool's Girl is set in however the cover was changed in the final print copies thankfully.

Have you spotted any look-alike covers recently?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

The beautiful cover
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along and have fun! Just do the following:

 
• Grab your current read and open to a random page

Share (preferably 2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

• 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!)

I don't want to give away much of the story and there were so many lovelyquotes that I could hardly choose between them so I decided to use the opening paragraph:

'The townspeople of Hagenheim craned their necks as they peered down the cobblestone street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Duke of Hagenheim's two handsome sons. The top-heavy , half-timbered houses hovered above the crows as if they too were eager to get a peek at Lord Hamlin and Lord Rupert.'

I finished The Healer's Apprentice last evening and it is among my favourite books now, it really is that wonderful! Look out for my review in the coming weeks.....