Wednesday, September 7, 2011

 Time Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky.
272 pgs.
Target audience: Young adult
Rating: Wizard

 Vintage clothes come with their very own special history which takes on an altogether new meaning for young Louise, a fashion conscious vintage shopper. Just a she is thinking about what dress to wear for the upcoming school dance, she receives a mysterious invitation to a new vintage clothing shop. With her mousy brown air, braces and flat chest, Louise dreams of a life as a star in the golden age of Hollywood cinema. At first the new vintage shop seems like a joke with its run down appearance, eccentric owners and complete and utter lack of customers. But Louise soon finds herself enchanted by the plethora of fashion originals that surround her. As soon as she tries on a shimmering gown of pink perfection, she blacks out only to wake up on a grand ocean liner in the body of a famous Hollywood actress. In the mirror she sees herself, but to everyone else she's the talented Miss Baxter. This new role seems like a fun fantasy until she discovers over dinner that this isn't just any ship, it's the H.M.S. Titanic and we all know how that ends. Louise's time traveling adventure takes on an alarmingly desparate turn as she frantically tries to warn the captain of the impending crash all the while searching for a way back to her own time. The last chapter includes the detailed research Louise does on the people whom she met while on that fateful voyage bringing a historical depth to this fun new fantasy series.

(8/12/11) Genetically engineered perfection proves disastrous in Wither by Lauren DeStefano, a new addition to young adult dystopian fiction. Their success in creating a disease free and practically immortal humanity accidentally introduces a virus into human DNA. As a result all women live only to age twenty and men to age twenty-five. Panic, poverty and despair reign as girls as young as thirteen are farmed out to be married and turned into baby producing machines in a desparate attempt to preserve the human race. Rhine, kidnapped from her home which she shares with her brother, is sold into a polygamous marriage to a rich man, Linden. She and her sister wives, Cecily and Jenna, are trapped in a fancy prison-like mansion where they're expected to perform their new duties with enthusiasm while outside the rest of the world is trapped in poverty, crime and death. Their marriage is deemed necessary because Linden's father is a scientist bent on discovering a cure for the virus and he needs subjects.  Eager to escape and reunite with her brother, Rhine befriends one of the mansion's staff and together they uncover some alarming secrets behind the experiments done in the name of science in the dank and dismal basement forbidden to all but Linden's father. This was truly a gripping book, I could not put it down. A compelling start to the Chemical Garden Trilogy. Fans of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Bumped by Megan Mccafferty and Eve by Anna Carey (Published 10/11)n will eat this book up.

 (8/12/11) There are so many books based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses it's hard to imagine the uniqueness of another version but Heather Dixon pulls it off superbly in Entwined. Azalea is the oldest of the twelve daughters and heir to the throne. When their mother dies, the household is plunged into a strict mourning period where dancing is definitely not allowed. Azalea is the one who, after months of mourning and insurmountable boredom, discovers a secret passageway to an enchanted pavilion where she and her sisters dance each night away. While the darkly mysterious and alluring Keeper makes all the magic possible, his motives are not entirely honourable expecially where Azalea is concerned. As the secrets and lies from the past are revealed, Azalea realizes what true evil they are facing. The story turns dark and wonderfully gothic with unexpected twists and turns taking Grimm's classic tale to a new and suspenseful level. The characters are rich and well formed. The darker tone of this version will appeal to fans of Hunter's Moon by O.R. Melling and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.

(8/7/11) Wildwing by Emily Whitman. In 1913 England, Addy's prospects seem glim since she never knew her father and her mother scrapes a pittance of a living as a seamstress. Her only chance is to secure a position with Mr. Greenwood, a curmudgeony, batty old man who lives like a hermit. Mr. Greenwood is overcome with grief over the disappearance of his young son years ago, but Addy's young inquisitive presence rejuvenates him and they spend many an afternoon chatting over tea and books. One day Addy is alone exploring the old house when she stumbles upon an old lift in the library. No sooner than she steps iside that the door shuts and the lift starts to rumble and rattle. When  it stops she steps out onto a vast field apparently nowhere near 1913. Now she's in medieval Egland, mistaken for Lady Matilda who's presumed killed in a shipwreck and happens to be betrothed to Lord Hughes of a nearby manor. Addy is torn between finding her way back home and playing the role of a Lady whose every whim is catered to by an eager and extensive staff of servants. Here she could have everything she has ever wanted. But should she stay and assume another's identity even if that person is dead? The handsome young falconer's son may help make up her mind.  (Pub date 9/11)  Recommend this to readers new to fantasy, there is enough that is familiar. Also offer to fans of alternate histories such as Prisoner in the Palace by Michaela MacColl and Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors.

(8/5/11) Hollow  by Jessica Verday
As befits the title of the first installment in this trilogy, it is thoroughly steeped in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Abbey sruggles in the wake of her best friend's disappearance and presumed death from a legendary bridge. Unable to process her grief, Abbey splits her time between their favorite hang-outs, the Crane river bank and Washington Irving's grave. But the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery has much more in store for the troubled girl. She cautiously befriends an old caretaker, Nicholas, and a mysterioius and deliciously hot teen, Caspian who later reveal themselves to be mortal enemies. The more she finds out, the murkier and spookier reality becomes. The combination of Sleepy Hollow legend and romance lend this fantasy a surreal quality. This is not a scary horror book but more about forbidden romance. Highly recommended for fans of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and Shiver by Magge Stiefvater.

(8/1/11)  The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
is adventure at its finest. Elisa is the youngest princess of Oravalle, chosen at birth as the new bearer of the Godstone. As such she is destined to perform a great service. Overshadowed by her much thinner, more beautiful sister, Elisa doubts her worthiness. In a political move, she's betrothed to the king of a neighboring kingdom. No sooner has she arrived in Joya d'Arena to take on her new responsibilities, when a rebel faction kidnaps her. She's suddenly faced with obstacles almost too onerous to bear, but she slowly gains confidence in herself and the trust of others. There's danger, political intrigue, battles, betrayal and just the right amount of romance. Fans of Tamora Pierce's books will love this book. I certainly hope that Rae continues to write because it was a joy to read. (Pub date: 9/11) 

YA fiction is currently teeming with supernatural romances with no signs of slowing down. Girl falls for the impossibly gorgeous________ vampire, werewolf, immortal, angel, revenant - just fill in the blank. I'm thrilled since I cannot seem to get enough of them. I'll be the first to admit to picking up a book based on its cover and Die for Me  by Amy Plum was an instant hit.  After the death of their parents, Kate and Georgie move to Paris to live with their grandparents. The two sisters couldn't be more different. While the ever popular Georgie grieves by plunging herself into the French social scene, Kate prefers to draw into herself spending her days in museums or reading at sidewalk cafes until she sees Vincent, that is.He's of course gorgeous, aloof, mysterious and way out of her league. One night when Kate and Georgie are out late, they see the rescue of a young girl about to jump off a bridge. One of her rescuers is none other than Vincent who turns out to be a Revenant bound to a centuries-old war with their evil counterparts. This stunning debut is packed with romance, thrills and heart-stopping action. Also included is some great sword fighting scenes and lovely medieval weaponry. The Parisian backdrop literally comes alive in this brilliant addition to the supernatural romance genre.

I recently discovered the awesome Sweep series by Cate Tiernan. There are 15 in all and I read through them at lightning speed. This is the story of young Morgan who discovers Wiccan culture while under the roof of her adoptive Catholic parents. The more she delves into it, the more she finds out her true heritage. She and her friends are drawn into the Wiccan world by the new hottie, Cal, at school. Of course jealousy and backstabbing common to high school are still present. But then you add in circles, blood witches, books of shadows and rituals and the drama gets even better. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a book a shadows (BOS) so you have two stories overlaying each other. I just love that part.  Each book features the BOS of someone related to a character in the main story, often an ancestor.
I often compare this series to an addictive TV show. Each installment leaves you dying for more. The second book is the one with the major cliffhanger at the end. I mean it literally ends right in the middle of a critical scene. I had not gotten the 3rd book on hold yet at the library when I finished the 2nd one and was almost ready to buy it at the store, but mercifully it came in for me the next day. All's right with the world. It's like that TV series 24, you cannot read them out of order. So, if you like high school drama and intrigued by Wiccan Culture, this is definitely for you.

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