Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner 5 of 5 stars.
She is beautiful, she is a princess, and Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, but something in Helen of Sparta just itches for more our of life. Unlike her prissy sister, Clytemnestra, she takes no pleasure in weaving and embroidery. And despite what her mother says, she's not even close to being interested in getting married. Instead, she wants to do combat training with her brothers, go on heroic adventures, and be free to do what she wishes and find out who she is.
Not one to count on the gods--or her looks--to take care of her, Helen sets out to get what she wants with steely determination and a sassy attitude. And while it's that attitude that makes Helen a few enemies--such as the self-proclaimed "son of Poseidon," Theseus--it's also what intrigues, charms, and amuses those who become her friends, from the famed huntress Atalanta to the young priestess who is the Oracle of Delphi.
Nobody's Princess is the story of Helen of Sparta before she became "the face that launched a thousand ships". The Helen in this story would never have any part of being a prize, a trophy more than a person. Helen knows from a young age that she wants freedom, not domestic duties. She is willing to fight for them no matter how long it takes. Then when her sister is married to the prince of Mykenae and Helen gets her first taste of freedom, she isn't about to let go.
Again, rereading another favorite. I believe I loved it even more this time. The first time I read it, along with the sequel Nobody's Prize, I was horrified that Esther Friesner wasn't writing one last book, what happened during the Trojan War, how Helen actually felt about it. I decided for a while that I would write the third book if she wouldn't. I gave up that idea quickly enough and I see the wisdom in why she wouldn't write another one. Though, I honestly wish she would. These books are amazing. Helen is the strong female character everyone falls in love with instantly. Her brothers and the kind you wish you had. Her adventures weave through real Greek exploits even if she wasn't known to be in them. It is a wonderful book that I would recommend to ANYONE!
For fans of: Esther Friends, Gail Carson Levine, historical fiction, The Iliad
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley 5 of 5 stars.
Beckon the sea,
I'll come to thee...
Shed seven tears,
Perchance seven years...
At the age of ten, Gwen Cooke had a strange encounter with a boy with dark, slightly tilted eyes. He came to her on the beach, whispered strange words in her ear, and then disappeared. Shortly thereafter, her family moved away from their seaside home and Gwen never saw the boy again.
Now seventeen, Gwen is returning to her childhood home. Her nana asked her to come. But Gwen knows it's time to go back for another reason: She yearns for the sea. Perhaps the sea itself is calling to her. Perhaps the memory of the boy and his haunting words are drawing her back to the place they met. Perhaps it's time for her to face her destiny.
I ran out of new books to read so I decided to reread an old favorite. I have read this book at least six times and it never gets old. Terri Farley's prose moves the story along with breathtaking speed and beauty. The characters are all believable and well created. The setting is spectacular. It is a truly sweet love story. I will admit the only downfall to this book--and honestly I'm not sure you would call it a downfall--is the ending has always left me feeling sort of hollow. If it doesn't make you cry it makes you stare off into space and wonder why? Why did it end the way it did. And then you sit there even longer thinking about how the story could begin again. Perhaps that is a good thing. Maybe more books should leave us thinking.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Gladiator Sandals…got some?
I’ve been asked about the sandals on the cover of GIRL IN THE ARENA. They were a find by my editor at Bloomsbury. And I know, I know, they don’t have the exact number of straps as Lyn has…but close. The model, by the way, is a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet. And the bracelet she’s wearing cost tens of thousands of dollars (I kid you not) and was on loan from Barneys New York. The nail polish was my choice. I thought Lyn would wear navy blue, at least that day. For those of you thinking about becoming a YA author, I can honestly say: Yes, my editor called me to ask what color nail polish Lyn would wear. That was a pretty cool day.
I know that fashion is fickle but Gladiator sandals have been going strong for a while. I’ve been seeing some modified ones lately with the cuff around the ankle and different types of Roman sandals though not strictly gladiator. Here are my daughter’s pair of Glad sandals from England.
If you’d like to send me a downloadable photo of your sandals, with or without your feet in them, I’ll put some of them up on my site. I’ll only post the first name you want to give me (feel free to make one up) and no other information will be posted. You know, I’m a mom so I am not giving out your personal info to anyone. You can see my privacy statement. I can only take photos in jpg or pdf format.
And have you noticed, the thing for spring is the toga? At least that’s what they’re saying over at the NYTs. Click here to see the modern toga. I think I’ll go watch Roman Holiday now. You know that great movie with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck…
Post by Lise Haines author of the new book Girl in the Arena
Visit her official website here!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Waiting is the hardest part of all...
My birthday is October 27-which happens to also be the release date of the second Warrior Princess book by Frewin Jones!-and my wishlist is already pretty long... It seems though that I am always checking out my favorite authors first. Frewin Jones, Gail Carson Levine, Libba Bray, Esther Friesner... On and on the list could stretch.
I want to know about some of your favorite authors and what books you are waiting on this fall. So, drop me a line and let me know what books are going to have you waiting at the door of the book store, or maybe have already had you pre-ordering them on Amazon.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines 5 of 5 stars.
During the week, Lyn lives in a big house in Cambridge and hangs out with friends in Harvard Square. But over the weekend, she cheers her father on as he gears up for neo-gladiator competition--a high-profile televised blood sport that rivals the NFL. Lyn's father is the top player in the league, and the paparazzi that have always swarmed him have started to dog Lyn's every move. All this fame comes with another price--Lyn's family lives with the constant presence of violence, uncertainty, and a strict cultural code set by the Gladiator Sports Association. When a skilled young fighter slays Lyn's father, the GSA imposes an unthinkable sentence--Lyn must marry her father's murderer. Though her mother has made a career of marrying into Glad culture, Lyn is prepared to do whatever it takes to claim her independence. Even if it means going into the arena herself. (Summary from book)
Lyn is a strong young woman being raised by a manic mother and four warrior fathers. These fathers participate in Glad sport. She has watched her fathers kill and watched her fathers die. The Gladiator Sports Association has strict rules pertaining to the Glad families. Her mother is on her seventh husband (the only one Lyn has cared for) and after that she is not allowed to marry or love again, not a Gladiator and not a common man either. When Lyn's father falls in the arena, Lyn's dowry bracelet ends up in his hands. Now the GSA is forcing Lyn to marry her father's killer, that or take away everything they own. With her mother breaking down and a special needs younger brother a heavy burden falls on Lyn's shoulders. The fact that Uber, her father's killer is a good man doesn't make matters better when she finds herself facing the choice of marrying or fighting him.
This is the first novel by Lise Haines that I have read and she is certainly an amazing author. She introduced the Glad culture, intertwining it in history and modern day, in a way that wasn't imposing or undescriptive but fluid and natural. All of the character's are believable and very real. The book isn't as horrifically bloody as it sounds, you would find gorier scenes in the Inheritance books. All and all this is a wonderful book and I would suggest it to anyone.
For fans of: Lise Haines, The Hunger Games, Graceling
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Fire by Kristin Cashore to be released October 2009.
She is the last of her kind...
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her. Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next.
Why I want to read it: Because I absolutely adored Graceling. Its one of my all time favorites! Plus, I love the cover!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Okay... So, I feel like jumping up and down and yelling "OMG! OMG! OMG!" like really bad right now. Haha! I just watched the VMA's and this new trailer for New Moon and was completely thrilled. The first trailer I saw I was a bit skeptical but this... I honestly believe the movie might actually be better than the book just this once... Taylor Lautner is completely gorgeous, he and Kristen Stewart are such amazing actors its unbelievable!
Now, at least I still have a few months to figure out how I'm going to keep the squeals down in the movie theater...
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray 5 of 5 stars.
It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father alaudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength to turn catty schoolgirls into loyal friends, and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic on herself and forged unlikely alliances with headstrong Felicity and timid Ann; with Kartik, an exotic young Indian man whose companionship is forbidden; and with the fearsome creatures of the realms. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.
Rule-breaking Felicity must do as she's told or risk losing her inheritance, and Ann's dream of a life onstage slips away. The Order, the mysterious group Gemma's mother was once part of, is grappling for conrol of the realms, as are the Rakshana. It is there that the girls meet their adored fried Pippa, who is not the same... or is she? The power to change everything--both in and out of the realms-- rests in Gemma's hands.
The Sweet Far Thing leaves me a bit speechless. It continues the story of Gemma Doyle as started with A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels with the same wonderful prose of Libba Bray. It shows the struggle we face when given any bit of power. A struggle between who we are and who the power is making us become. The story is surprising and even though it is a fantasy it does not follow the rules of a fairy tale. It does not leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling that the world is right and pure. That things are fair in the least. Though it be incredibly dark, it is a wonderful book, a wonderful trilogy, and I would suggest it to anyone.
For fans of: Libba Bray
Friday, September 11, 2009
Based on novels of the same name, Vampire Diaries follows Elena, a young heroine, who is the object of passion for two vampire brothers. Four months after the tragic car accident that killed their parents, 17-year-old Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev, DeGrassi: The Next Generation) and her 15-year-old brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen, Everwood) are still trying to cope with their grief and move on with their lives. Elena has always been the star student; beautiful, popular and involved with school and friends, but now she finds herself struggling to hide her sadness from the world. As the school year begins, Elena and her friends are fascinated by a handsome and mysterious new student, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley, Army Wives). Stefan and Elena are immediately drawn to one another, and Elena has no way of knowing that Stefan is a centuries-old vampire, struggling to live peacefully among humans, while his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder, Lost) is the embodiment of vampire violence and brutality. Now these two vampire brothers - one good, one evil - are at war for Elena's soul and for the souls of her friends, family and all the residents of the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.
As some of you may know, I am not the biggest fan of the whole vampire craze. I admit that I haven't read the Vampire Diaries but a friend of mine has and she loved them. So, I decided to watch the show, and I was surprised. The beginning seemed very similar to Twilight to me, but it veered away from that soon after. I really did enjoy watching it, and the music was awesome. Sadly, I have a feeling I shouldn't expect any werewolves in this series. =(
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
A Pearl Among Princess by Coleen Paratore 5 of 5 stars.
Welcome to Miramore, where princes learn to be charming...
It's summer on Miramore, and that means one thing: The island will be full of princes in training. This year the rules have changed and a "PIT" may even woo a servant girl--and whisk her away on his royal boat. Since that's the only way to leave Miramore catching a prince's fancy would let Gracepearl Coal chase the faraway destiny that haunts her dreams. If only her heart didn't belong to Mackree the stable boy! As the giggly girls of the island primp for the ball and the princes prepare for the tournament, Gracepearl is torn: Must she betray her true love to discover her destiny? And will she be charming enough to have that choice? (Summary from ARC)
Gracepearl knows she is meant for something more. Something far, far away from Miramore. She dreams of faces, desperate, needy faces all calling to her. She knows she must answer but the only way to do this is by leaving with one of the princes that come to Miramore to train in the Charming Arts. With two princes handsome vying for her affections this wouldn't be so hard if it weren't for the fact that she is already in love with Mackree, a stable boy. Mackree know that Gracepearl wants more than Miramore so he stays away from her, gives her freedom to leave.
What will Gracepearl choose? Does there really have to be a choice?
A Pearl Among Princes is a lovely story. I wouldn't really categorize it under "young adult" but it is still a great read. It is full of nursery rhymes that make you giggle to remember. Coleen Paratore has certainly created a fairy tale worthy to stand beside Cinderella. The characters are lovely and well imagined. The book isn't thick in plot, but in wonderful writing. The ending is pleasantly surprising, and I would suggest this book to anyone with a love of fairy tales.
For fans of: Gail Carson Levine, Shannon Hale, fairy tales
Sea by Heidi R. Kling- To be released: Summer 2010
Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy, Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.
She knows they can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers. And Sea’s real adventure begins.
Why I want to read this: The summary sounds awesome and the cover is gorgeous. It reminds me a bit of Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley, one of my all-time favorites!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray 5 of 5 stars.
Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Acadmey--spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Simon Middleton. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify--visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.
The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world to which Gemma takes them. To the girls' great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.
But all is not well in the realms--or out. Kartik is back desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face to face with her late mother's greatest friend, now Gemma's foe--Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task...(Summary from book)
Rebel Angels was wonderful! Honestly, I liked it twice as much as A Great and Terrible Beauty, which I loved as well! These books show what lengths people will go to for power. How anyone can become corrupted by it and change into something far different than they once were. The characters are all believable, and for a fantasy novel this book has a heavy dose of harsh reality. This darkens the story a bit, but I think it makes it even more likable. Libba Bray is a wonderful writer but she doesn't sugar coat anything.
For fans of: To Catch a Pirate, Jane Austen, Gail Carson Levine, fantasy, historical fiction
Friday, September 4, 2009
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis 5 of 5 stars.
When Shelby is packed off to "brat camp" as punishment for one too many broken curfews, things start looking up when she meets fellow camper (and son of a rock star!) Austin Bridges III. But soon Shelby realizes there's more to Authin than crush material--he wants her help guarding a dark family secret. Shelby knows that bad boys get her into trouble...but who is she to turn her back on a guy in need, especially such a good-looking one?(sumary from book)
Add a bit of Cinderella's evil step-mother to a Beauty and the Beast style tale and you get Shelby's story. Her mother died three years ago. Her chemist dad became rich for his new cosmetic and married a horrible woman with way to much plastic surgery. It isn't so surprising that Shelby would feel the need to rebel. But what she didn't know is that her new step-mother's persuasive powers could get her sent to brat camp... Luckily- or perhaps, unluckily- this brat camp is where a hot rock star's son/werewolf is spending his summer as well. Between pushy counselors and a very heavy, very scary secret, can Shelby keep it together and help save her new friend, even when a desert brat camp in hell is hanging over her head?
Never Cry Werewolf is a short read. Some of my favorite books are short, and this one is now among them. Heather Davis creates a unique and quirky voice for Shelby that I totally love. The plot is wonderful, the characters, if not always believable, awesome, and the writing to die for. I'm not big into supernatural novels, but I have a love for Jacob Black like plenty of other girls, and this book looked pretty cool. Austin is closer to your more "classic" werewolf than Jacob, but I think that's part of what makes the story more unique and likable.
For fans of: Twilight, Gail Carson Levine, Supernatural fiction
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones 3 of 5 stars.
Between hookups, makeups, and breakups, there isn't a day at Lapeer High School without drama turning to trauma turning to tears.
And tears are just as essential as air for Cassandra Gray. She and her family are vampires who thirst for human sorrow, and the energy that they soak in from a good crying jag can keep them fueled up for days.
Anytime a friend needs a shoulder to cry on, Cass is there. Anytime a boyfriend gets too secure, she breaks his heart. Cass's work as a school peer counselor and hospital volunteer also provides the perfect cover and access to her family's energy source. But she to her family's energy source. But she is getting tired of all the lies and manipulation--especially now that she's actually fallen in love with a human. Can she bear to betray her family for a chance at happiness and a life lived with joy?
To say this book wasn't what I expected would be a major understatement. In a few words, it sucked. The plot wasn't that horrible, though, it was the way it was written. The main character wasn't genuine in any way until the last bit of the book. The beginning was painful to read. The majority of it was to tell the truth. Maybe its just me, but I wouldn't suggest this book to anyone.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Graceling by Kristin Cashore 5 of 5 stars.
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight-- she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graces as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace--0r about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away.
On the back of this book is a quote from LA Times. It says, "Graceling offers a fresh view of the process of learning self-mastery and has a knee-weakening romance that easily rivals that of Twilight." That Graceling rivals Twilight is a complete understatement. It far exceeds Stephanie Meyer's awkward writing and Bella's lustiness.
Kristin Cashore's writing is amazing. The vividness and reality with which she tells Katsa's story is enchanting. Her characters are beautiful and real. Katsa is the perfect example of a strong female character. A young woman who hates herself for her Grace with killing and who wants power over he life. She is a no nonsense kind of person and I think she is even a character you can look up to. The other characters in the story are just as charming and sure to capture your heart.
The book is fast paced but still captures the beauty of Katsa's world with ease. There is plenty of action, adventure, mystery, and intrigue. It has all the elements of a wonderful fantasy.
For fans of: Inheritance Cycle, Twilight, Gail Carson Levine... etc, etc