Archive | September 2012

A Quick Thank You

Last week I received a lovely badge from WordPress:

I’m at 50 likes! *smiles wide* I just wanted to say a quick thank you to those who have liked my blog. I haven’t even had it for a year yet and I appreciate the encouragement. It’s an amazing feeling when you find a topic you’re passionate about. Thank you to everyone that reads, likes and comments! You’re the best!

Released Today! The Midwife’s Daughter by Patricia Ferguson

It’s 1900, in Cornwall, England, twin sister’s Bea and Violet attempt to work through their strained relationship. A severely ill orphaned child lies in a lonely cot. Her eyes hold Violet, how alike they are to her own daughter that has passed away. There’s just one big difference; the nameless child is black. Regardless of her colour Violet claims the girl as her own, raising her along the seaside.

Christened as Grace, she grows up in a racist world, praying to God that he turn her skin white. Time passes as Violet and Grace age. History evolves around them as they redefine the structure of family during a period of war and medical progression. Love knows no colour in this beautiful historical novel.

Although not a YA novel, this book was given to me for an honest review. Thus I’m making a onetime exception (although throughout the middle of the book Grace is a teenager – classic YA?). I am a fan of historical fiction and the book is fantastically written. With accents and language that bring the reader across any ocean to Cornwall, Ferguson has clearly down her research. Touching on sensitive topics as race and class, The Midwife’s Daughter will make you think about the past and how the future has progressed.

The Midwife’s Daughter hits stores today! Buy your copy now!

I was given this book as an ARC from Penguin Books, many thanks to the marketing and publicity team at Penguin Books UK!

Velvet by Mary Hooper

Homeless and starving, Velvet was fortunate to find a job at Ruffold’s Steam Laundry and a tiny room to call her own. In 1900 Victorian England, she fights for survival every day against the heat and backbreaking labour. When an opportunity arises for a higher position, Velvet works her fingers to the bone to keep her role as a personal laundress for the wealthy spiritual medium Madame Sayoya.

However, mistakes do happen and Velvet gets fired. By a stroke of luck she is welcomed into the home of her best client. Now a part of the spiritual community, Velvet follows the rules to a T to ensure every séance of Madame’s goes without issue. She falls in love with Madame’s handsome assistant George and plans her future of finery. As time passes, cracks form in her wonderful world and Velvet must face her past and confront dangerous secrets.

Velvet takes an age-old story of a struggling girl in London during a period when fortune-tellers, mediums and paying for spiritual consultants were a fashionable hobby. Mary Hooper takes it a step further by weaving other historical aspects that are less flattering about this time period. It’s an easy and engrossing read that will keep you turning pages to learn more about how mediums tricked innocent patrons and if Velvet can survive being stuck in a web of lies.

I’ve always had a fondness for historical fiction. Perhaps it began with C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books. I was always fascinated by historical England just as much as what occurred in Narnia. I absolutely fell in love with the imagery and storytelling of Victorian England. It’s extra enjoyable when part of the setting is around the corner from where one presently lives. Hooper does her research and she does it well. The tone, the language and the events of story are engaging without being dry. The only criticism I have about the book is how weak at times Velvet appears, and although I understand it’s a period equation, that’s how women behaved back then. I can’t help but wish there was a bit more spunk to her character.  If this title is on your to-read list, get it read! It’s a great YA book that’s got some romance but has more depth by placing survival as the main focus.

Olympic Mascot Statues Final

The mascots have left London and unfortunately I wasn’t able to find more. Due to lack of funds and running out of time I wasn’t able to find as many as I wanted. It happens. One’s priorities change and a focus on the important direction of one’s life is hard to distinguish. Here’s the final photos of the Olympic statues I was able to find!

Wenlock

Underwater Wenlock

Embankment Wenlock (please excuse the bride to be – she wouldn’t move)

Skyline Wenlock

Maritime Wenlock

Mandeville

Red Bus Wenlock

Gemstone Wenlock

Novel Wenlock

Filmstar Wenlock

Mandeville from the Olympic Park

Wenlock from the Olympic Park

And that’s all she saw folks!

Total count is 34/84! I’ll do better next time.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

So many covers! Top left – USA/UK/Sweden, Top right – Italy/Czech Republic, Bottom left – Spain, Bottom right – Spain (they’re in different languages)

Linh Cinder (surnames are said first) lives in New Beijing, is a sixteen-years-old mechanic and also happens to be a cyborg.  The ward of her stepmother that focuses only on her natural daughters Peony and Pearl, Cinder is forced to work to support the family. Her trade is so well known that even Prince Kai seeks her out for a royal android repair. The world is under attack by a mysterious plague that spreads in an unknown way and kills on a strict timeframe. There is no cure and cyborgs are used for test research.

Cinder’s stepmother Andri can’t resist sending her away to the royal palace as a test subject when her youngest stepsister falls ill with the plague. Devastated over losing and possibly infecting Peony, Cinder complies, desperate to do anything to save her life. Yet as the tests commence secrets and revelations come to light. Cinder’s crush on Kai seems light-years away as her past is uncovered and she fights for her right to exist in an anti-cyborg world.

I must give a shout out to Marissa Meyer who is from Tacoma, Washington State, my mom’s hometown. I was delighted after I finished the book to discover a Washington State writer wrote it. I think Meyer did a wonderful job at tackling the huge task of retelling the Cinderella fairytale. The basic story is still there which does make it a bit predictable but with a dystopian setting it’s a fun and refreshing read. As history repeats itself with this deathly plague, Meyer uses creative settings and impressive steam punk imagery to recast a modern Cinderella.

I loved the book; it had me on the edge of seat. Even when I knew a mile away certain things were going to happen, I think Meyer strategically worked the fairytale to her advantage. I’d be upset if she didn’t stick with the core story and she mixed other fairytale elements that succeed in a post apocalyptic world. I’d recommend Cinder in a heartbeat to anyone that wants a different, stronger Cinderella but isn’t ready to leave the dystopian genre.

There’s been a rumour going around that the second book, Scarlet isn’t going to be published. I’m happy to report that Amazon is already selling it in advance. Here’s the cover.

You can enter to win a signed advanced copy HERE: The contest ends September 30th.