Queen of Someday

Finished Queen of Someday by Sherry Ficklin.  I received a copy from the author for review.

QoS Cover

TOUR PIC

Summary (from Goodreads):

ONE GIRL WILL BRING AN EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES…

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?”

This book is just completely fun.  It’s been compared to the CW show Reign, and I can absolutely see that comparison.  Unlike Reign, though, it held my attention for the entire thing (I watched, I think, two episodes of Reign.  Maybe three.)

I loved Sophie, who is completely pragmatic.  She’s there to marry Peter.  If she does, her family will be safe and she will be comfortable for the rest of her life.  She doesn’t love him and she knows he doesn’t love her, but she knows that love has nothing to do with it.  She has a responsibility to her family and to her own future and she’s going to fulfill it.

Except then she meets Alexander and all of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore.  And, not surprisingly, there is also a great deal of court intrigue (not surprising to anyone who’s read Katherine Longshore or Philippa Gregory).

This book is a complete delight and I cannot wait for the sequel.  I can’t wait to see what happens with Sophie and how she lives with the choices she made in this book.

Recommended.

Alice and Freda Forever

Finished Alice and Freda Forever by Alexis Coe.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation—it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.

Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter—and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail—including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.

Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes—painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.”

This book is absolutely heartbreaking.  It’s based on a true story, but one that I had never heard.

In the late 1800s, two women were in love.  Or at least one of them was.  And they were engaged to be married.  Except it was the late 1800s and they were two women.  So things didn’t go well when their families found out and they stopped talking, as their families demanded.  And then one of them ended up dead by the other one’s hand.

There are about a billion different ways this all could have been prevented, not the least of which is by one person (really, almost anyone who knew them) being aware of just how deep their friendship was and how unhinged Alice was at being denied access to Freda and stepping in to keep them separated.

While Alice’s story breaks my heart, she is not the hero of this story.  This story doesn’t have a hero but it has a ton of victims.

This book is so compelling and, while it’s incredibly short, it made me feel like I knew Alice and Freda.  A lot of research was obviously done, and it helps that things were included (love letters, court documents, etc).

This is an amazing book.  Highly recommended.

Ben Fox: Zombie Squirrel Specialist At Your Service

Finished Ben Fox: Zombie Squirrel Specialist At Your Service by Daisy Whitney.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ten-year-old Ben Fox has good friends, a great dog, and a lightning-fast little sister who drives him a bit batty. The only thing in the fifth grader’s life that’s truly annoying–well, besides having to wear braces on his feet every day–is the family’s wily Siamese cat, Percy.

Ben has always suspected something was off about Percy, who has never shown him or his beloved dog, Captain Sparkles, much affection. But now he’s sure something is off–Percy has raised an army of squirrel zombies in the backyard and they’re ready to take on the dog.

It’ll be up to Ben to figure out how to stop the dastardly cat before the dog falls prey to the feline’s nefarious plans, especially since Percy and his newly reanimated squirrel friends are gunning for nothing less than a full-scale Animal Zombie Apocalypse–when all the dogs start to behave like cats.

If only Ben could enlist his mom’s help in the undead animal war. But his mom is petrified of things that go bump in the night, so Ben’s only hope is to team up with his little sister. The battle won’t be easy though, because squirrel zombies are the most dangerous of all…”

This book is adorable and absolutely perfect for middlegrade audiences (especially so close to Halloween)!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Daisy Whitney fan, and this book didn’t disappoint.  I love the idea (and I have to admit that I find doggy doors a little suspect so this definitely played into my paranoia there).  This is her first middlegrade, and I hope there will be more.

One of the things I love most about her books is that the pets have really fun names and that’s true in this one: the dog’s name is Captain Sparkles.

I liked Ben and his sister Macy (and their mom, whose “punishments” are that Ben has to play nicely with Macy, who’s his little sister).  And how awesome is the fact that the cat (Percy) can literally summon up zombie squirrels?  (And that this is apparently a thing that animals can do, although it’s mostly kept very secret.)

Highly recommended.

Damsel Distressed Release Day Blitz (And Giveaway!)

Title: Damsel Distressed

Author: Kelsey Macke

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

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Synopsis: Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters’ story. Those girls don’t get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing

 

Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after–in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.

 

When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.

 

While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.

 

And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.

 

Enhance the experience with the companion soundtrack, Imogen Unlocked, by the author’s band, Wedding Day Rain.

 

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17788889-damsel-distressed?from_search=true

 

Damsel Distressed Website: http://www.DamselDistressed.com/

 

Damsel Distressed Tumblr: http://teamomgen.tumblr.com/

 

 

BUY LINKS:

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Damsel-Distressed-Kelsey-Macke/dp/1939392179/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412356141&sr=8-1&keywords=Damsel+Distressed

 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/damsel-distressed-kelsey-macke/1118587141?ean=9781939392176

 

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Damsel-Distressed-Kelsey-Macke/9781939392176

 

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Damsel-Distressed/book-RFTIcQw3o06PYIJYoZrJ5w/page1.html?s=2vx86xWXaUCEC0UUsDkVFQ&r=1

 

 

 

CD Track Listing + Short description:

 

Imogen Unlocked Track Listing:

 

  1. Heavy
  2. No Goodbye
  3. Something About
  4. Sinking
  5. Don’t Wake Me Up
  6. Let Me Go
  7. My Strength
  8. Unseen
  9. Always Speak Too Late
  10. The End is Just the Beginning
  11. Breathe Easy
  12. Edge of the Fall

 

CD Blurb:

 

Damsel Distressed is the story of Imogen, a girl who’s survived the years after her mother’s death by focusing squarely on her best friend, Grant, musical theatre, and lots of cheese. The book is full of humor and heart, and also contains a few surprises. Full page sketches are scattered throughout the novel, and each one contains a QR code that corresponds to a song from the book’s soundtrack. Imogen Unlocked is a 12-song album of original music written by the author and her husband Daron as their indie-pop band, Wedding Day Rain. Together, the book Damsel Distressed and the soundtrack Imogen Unlocked work together to tell the story of a girl who might just make her own Happily Ever After, if she can just hold herself together.

To enter the giveaway, click here.

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Author Bio and social media links:

 

Author Bio:

 

Kelsey Macke has been creative for as long as she can remember. From an early age she was on stage singing, penning poetry, and writing notebooks full of songs. When the idea for her debut novel, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, popped into her head, she was undeterred by the fact that she had no idea how to actually write a novel. Her bff, the internet, was her guide, and after much trial, error, and candy, she finished it, and set out to get it published… a process far more difficult than, the internet (now her mortal enemy), had lead her to believe.

Her whirlwind adventure was made even more unbelievable when she signed with fabulous agent, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and, shortly after, Danielle Ellison of Spencer Hill Contemporary bought her debut.

This innovative, mixed-media art project has given Kelsey an incredibly unique opportunity to join two of her passions: writing and making music with her husband as half of the folky, indie-pop band Wedding Day Rain.

DAMSEL DISTRESSED, and the companion album of original songs, Imogen Unlocked, are scheduled for release in October 2014.

 

 

Author Social Media Links:

 

Website: http://kelseymacke.com/home

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KelsNotChels

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkelseymacke

 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kelsnotchels

 

Tumblr: http://kelsnotchels.tumblr.com/

 

 

Bleed Like Me

Finished Bleed Like Me by C. Desir.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.”

It took me a very long time to get into this book, but once I did, it made the earlier struggle worth it.

First, you should know that it felt almost gratuitous in parts.  Gannon’s a cutter, and it describes the cuts and their effects on her.

And there is insta-love between Gannon and Brooks.  They immediately click and go from being strangers to a couple in no time whatsoever.

And this is not a good relationship.  The two of them separately are incredibly damaged people.  The two of them together?  Well, as a friend of Gannon’s says (and I’m paraphrasing), “You’re Romeo and Juliet.  We’re just waiting to see who stabs themselves and who takes the poison.”

For roughly the first half of the book, I felt incredibly disconnected from Gannon, which kept me from being able to connect with any part of the story.

Now, though, I feel like that may have been a deliberate choice from the author.  Gannon is disconnected from everyone (including herself) and is determined not to feel anything.  Cutting is her way of ensuring that she only feels things on her own terms.  Once she stops cutting, she starts feeling everything and then I started connecting with her and the story.

(If it was a deliberate choice—and again, I think it was—that was brilliant.)

So be aware that this story takes a while but is absolutely worth the effort.

The second half of the story is much better than the first.  It also absolutely shows the results of being in an unhealthy relationship.

This story will hurt while you’re reading it.  But it serves as an excellent cautionary tale.

Afterparty

Finished Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother — whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop…

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler’s spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.”

I had heard really good things about this from my blogging friends and it took me about two seconds to accept the pitch to review it.  (Primarily because it’s hard to type “Yes! Thank you!” when you are excited.)

There are a lot of books that center around dangerous relationships, but almost all of them focus on romantic relationships.  I’m sure there are others that center on friendship (Choker, maybe?) but this is the first one I’ve read.

When we meet Emma, she’s Queen Good Girl of the incredibly nice people.  She is a dutiful daughter and is …well, not necessarily HAPPY to do whatever her dad wants, but she’s incredibly content not to rock the boat).  Her mom has died of a drug overdose (Emma never really knew her) and she’s determined to prove that she’s just like her dad and has nothing at all in common with her mom.

And then she and her dad move to LA and THEN she becomes friends with Siobhan.  All of a sudden, there are things that are more important than being The Good Daughter.  Like parties.  And boys.

I spent the whole book hoping that things would end well for Emma and getting increasingly anxious because it started to seem less and less likely that it would.  Ann Redisch Stampler slowly amps up the tension until, by the end, I was at risk for major paper cuts from turning the pages as fast as I could.

Now I cannot wait to read Where It Began (the author’s first book)!

Highly recommended.

Bleed Like Me Release Event

bleed like me

Title: Bleed Like Me
Author: Christa Desir
Date of Publication: October 7th 2014

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About Bleed Like Me:

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy–like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers—even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks—until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

 

Amazon // Barnes & Noble

 

Q&A with Christa Desir:

When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?

I usually start with characters and a very vague idea of what their problem is. For example, in my alcoholic girl boxer book, I had a voice in my head of a girl who was really angry and had just gotten out of rehab. The rest of it came out (including her being a boxer) as I started writing.

Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?

My first book FAULT LINE is a book about a girl who is gang-raped at a party and is told from the POV of her boyfriend who did not attend the party. BLEED LIKE ME is told from a girl’s POV who is in a very co-dependent and unhealthy relationship. BLM is not exactly an “issue” book in the same way that FAULT LIINE is and even the things that come up in BLM aren’t as polarizing as FL. Books about rape can be very tricky, particularly if people are sexual violence survivors. BLEED is a different sort of book because it leaves the reader with questions about what we’re willing to sacrifice in order for someone to love us.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I find the business of publishing to be very challenging and when all that noise gets in my head, I think it is hard to write. I miss writing in a vacuum of pure writing and nothing else. Every morning I try to recreate that vacuum by writing for a few hours with no noise or internet or anything else, but I still can’t stop thinking about the business side of things. (For example: will this book be too controversial? Will schools not want to shelve it? Will people hate it because it’s not a happy ending and therefore sales will suffer?

What are your current projects?

I have a book about an alcoholic girl boxer that is coming out in January 2016. And I have a collaboration with author Jolene Perry that comes out in May 2016. I’m also working on a long-term pet project that is just for fun and just for me. Which makes me very happy. :-)

 

Excerpt:
Thirty-five days. Thirty-five fucking days. No Brooks. Be back in a month was a cruel joke. I deleted his text and stopped feeling anything at all.

Dennis had concocted a huge sale to get rid of the summer inventory. He wanted me to build wooden birdhouses to mark the sale aisles. It was the stupidest idea I’d ever heard, but he threatened to fire me if I didn’t do it and I thought he might be serious.

“Why don’t you just put sale signs over these aisles?”

“Shut it,” Dennis barked at me.

“I’m just saying, a bunch of birdhouses aren’t gonna let people know they can take fifty percent off of all the merchandise.”

“Quit your bitching. You’ve been in a surly mood this past month and you need to snap out of it.”

I gaped at him. Was I that obvious? “No, I haven’t.”

Dennis shook his head and exchanged a look with Ricardo. “Yes, you have. Now just finish putting your tools away and get your head in the game or I’m dropping you.”

I wasn’t the only surly one. Dennis had been on his period ever since Brooks had shown up drunk that day.

“You’re not dropping me. No one else can work the circular saw.”

“Ricardo can. And working the circular saw isn’t a requirement of the job.”

“It is if you have to build bullshit birdhouses,” I mumbled.

Dennis’s nostrils flared. “No more discussion. Tools away and you better be back here this weekend to work the sale.”

I opened my mouth to argue more, but Dennis held up his hand. When the hand came up, I knew Dennis was really pissed. I shut my mouth and moved to the storage garage. What did I care anyway? I had nowhere else to be.

The lights flickered as I stood surveying the piles of wood and tools littered along the floor. I sat down and started collecting nails, putting them into the tiny, labeled boxes Dennis housed them in. The door to the storage garage creaked open and my head whipped up.

Brooks. Heat I hadn’t felt in days surged into my body. My hands trembled and I clenched them into fists.

“Where the hell have you been?”

He took a tentative step toward me. “Rehab.”

“Really?” My hands unclenched and my eyes scanned his body as I got to my feet. He’d gotten thinner and something about his face looked not quite right.

“Yeah. Sue found some E in my duffel and sort of overreacted. I think fucking Ray tipped her off about it. She told me I needed to pull my shit together and get clean if I wanted to stay with her.”

He moved closer to me, and his hand reached out to trace the hoops in my ear. I shut my eyes for a second and allowed his long fingers to figure eight around the silver before I shook him off.

“You could’ve called me or returned my texts. It’s been thirty-five days. Longer than a month.” My breath came in short bursts, squeezed from the hole in my throat that had been shrinking since the moment he left.

His fingers moved to the now completely faded hickey on my neck. He circled it, his thumb brushing over the smoothness as he stared at me, took all of me in with his too keen eyes. Butterflies fluttered around my stomach. Then he dropped his mouth to my pale skin and sucked hard. My insides coiled, the butterflies stilled. I released a long shaky breath.

“They took my cell and it wasn’t the kind of rehab where you get to make a bunch of phone calls,” he said, nipping me with his teeth.

“Are you going to apologize?” I grabbed at my last vestiges of logic and pushed him off my neck.

“I don’t do apologies,” he said, and his hands circled my waist before he plunged his mouth onto mine. His tongue traced my bottom lip, pressing me to open.

Part of me wanted to push him away. Drop him before he bailed on me all over again. Make him beg for my forgiveness. But seeing him in front of me practically vibrating with want, everything fell out of my head. It was like an IV of Ecstasy pumped directly into my heart.

I clung to his neck. His hands slid beneath the back of my shirt, moving up and down my spine. I raked my fingers through his hair and opened my mouth wider. My entire body trembled with how much I’d missed him.

He pulled away for a second, dropping kisses along my jaw before whispering, “Does the door lock?”

I nodded, drawing in a quick breath. Dennis had installed a lock on the inside of the door a month after he realized how much time I spent alone working there.

Brooks released me and went to shut and lock the door.

“Let me see you,” he said, stepping toward me and lifting me on to Dennis’s work table. He moved his hands to the bottom of my shirt.

I stilled for a second and then helped him pull my shirt off. His hands shook a little when he lifted off the next layer of my thin tank top.

“You’re shaking.”

He grinned at me. “Anticipation.”

The lump in my throat got bigger. “Really?”

His hands moved over my stomach, sliding over old scars. “Really. It’s been a long thirty-five days.”
About Christa Desir:

christa desirI’m Christa Desir and I write young adult novels. I am an avid reader and have been in love with YA books ever since reading Judy Blume’s FOREVER (while hiding between the stacks in the library).

My first success with writing came at the age of five when I wrote a story about my sister and our neighbor Andy “kissing in the dushes.” My parents were so proud of this work, they framed it and showed it to every visitor who came to our house. My sister still has not forgiven me.

I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband, Julio, and our three children. When I’m not writing, I am an editor of romance novels. I am also a feminist, former rape victim advocate, lover of coffee and chocolate, and head of the PTA. It is a rare day when I don’t humiliate myself somehow, and I frequently blog about my embarrassing life moments.

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blog | Tumblr
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The Balancing Act

So I always mention that I have so many TV shows that I want to watch—and it keeps growing.  Currently it includes, but is not limited to, The Sopranos, The Wire, The Americans, Dexter, Friday Night Lights and the first seasons of Penny Dreadful and True Detective.

But I also really enjoy watching movies.  And I need a ridiculous amount of sleep to function.  And this is primarily a book blog (today notwithstanding).  I’m currently watching all the TV I can handle and still be able to do other things.

My TV schedule:

Monday: nothing

Tuesday: The Mindy Project, Sons of Anarchy (finally caught up, guys!)

Wednesday: Nashville, American Horror Story

Thursday:  Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder

Friday: The Amazing Race

Saturday: nothing

Sunday: nothing

That’s absolutely doable.  I’m also looking forward to Bates Motel and Parks and Rec coming back.

So I think what I’m going to start doing is watching shorter series (True Detective, Penny Dreadful) over the winter hiatus and then doing longer series (The Wire, The Sopranos) over the summer.  It’ll take forever, but that’s fine.  I have time.

Whisper From the Past Blog Hop

I’m happy to host Elizabeth Carsten Langston today!  She’s the author of the Whisper Falls series; the third book is out now.  (I have all three and am so excited to binge read them, hopefully soon.)

The Whisper Falls series has time travel elements, since all 3 books have settings in 18th/19th century North Carolina. I had to do a huge amount of historical research, which I absolutely love to do. Yet I also love reading historical fiction. When I was asked about doing a guest post on my favorite YA historicals, I was happy to agree. But there were two problems: (1) picking only ten and (2) deciding which were my favorites.

So here is my list of the most memorable YA historicals that I’ve read (with a few middle grades and one time travel thrown in). The books are in alphabetical order by title, because it wouldn’t be fair to rank them in any other way. They’ve all touched me as both a reader and a writer.

  1.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  2.  Fever 1793 by Laura Halse Anderson
  3.  The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams
  4.  Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  5.  Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
  6.  Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac
  7.  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  8.  The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley
  9.  Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  10.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Book 10, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, has long been one of my favorites.  Its hero is named Nathaniel “Nat” Eaton.  In the Whisper Falls series, I have a secondary character—Senator Nathaniel Eton. I promise you—I didn’t do that on purpose (Senator Eton’s name evolved from several different possibilities), but I’m pretty glad that it’s true.

I also want to mention several authors that I love to read: Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Louisa May Alcott.  Although they were writing contemporary fiction at the time, their books are classics and give us a wonderful look at the 19th century.

I’m always ready to read more historical fiction—so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

The Young Elites

Finished The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This sounded very different than Marie Lu’s Legend series and initially I was a little worried about how I’d enjoy it.  (Turns out I was worried for nothing; while the two series are not at all similar, both are incredibly enjoyable.)

I liked the idea of there being these “young elite” people who have these incredibly creepy powers.  (I sort of picture them as being like the kids in Village of the Damned, in terms of being able to make things happen with their mind.)

They view themselves as being descendents of the gods; not surprisingly, “regular people” view them a little differently—they’re considered demons and are hunted and killed on a regular basis, typically in creepy ways.

I feel like I’m just starting to get a handle with what’s going on, and I am so excited for the second book in the series.

I’m definitely in love with this series and can’t wait to see where Marie Lu goes next.

Highly recommended.