Friday, May 31, 2013

Hedgie's Must Reads: May 2013

Summer is on its way! Hard to believe that May is over, Memorial Day weekend has passed, and we're on the cusp of June. Before you know it, it'll be September and then December! And then it will be time for my yearly Reading Wrap-Up! But we'll just look at May for now, and worry about that later. May was a surprisingly good month for books - better than April! It had its bad moments, but it was nothing like February, thank goodness. Here's the cream of the crop:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: Waterfall - Lisa T. Bergren

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Series: The River of Time #1
Genre: YA, time travel, romance
Published on February 1, 2011
Published by David C. Cook
Read From: 5.25.13 - 5.26.13

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeologist parents. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: Wednesdays in the Tower - Jessica Day George

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George
Series: Castle Glower #2
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on May 7, 2013
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 240
Read From: 5.24.13 - 5.24.13

Wednesday at Castle Glower is an ordinary, hum-drum sort of day. No new hallways, no extra turrets, no sudden changes. At least according to Princess Celie, who knows the Castle better than anyone. So Celie is surprised when, one Wednesday, she happens upon a new tower, with a new room, and a giant orange egg hidden inside. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: The Auslander - Paul Dowswell

The Auslander by Paul Dowswell
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on August 16, 2011
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 304
Read From: 5.23.13 - 5.24.13

"My name is Doktor Fischer. I have something very special to tell you. You boys have been chosen as candidates for the honor of being reclaimed by the German National Community. You will undergo further examinations to establish your racial value and whether or not you are worthy of such an honor. Some of you will fail." 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: Legacy of the Clockwork Key - Kristin Bailey

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey
Series: The Secret Order #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, steampunk
Published on March 4, 2013
Published by Simon Pulse
Pages: 409
Read From: 5.20.13 - 5.23.13

When a fire consumes Meg's home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key - a key only Meg can use - that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg has no choice but to

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Weekend Recommendations #5

This is my new (hopefully) weekly feature, where I get to go all fannish about two randomly-picked favvies (which may not actually be favorites, but got a rating of 3 smiley faces or higher) that I would recommend to friends! So, here are this week's two picks:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #2
Genre: YA, historical fantasy
Published on April 2, 2013
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books
Pages: 385
Read From: 5.19.13 - 5.20.13

Sybella arrives at the convent's doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. Naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, Sybella, the convent realizes, is one of their most dangerous weapons. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Sacrifice - Cayla Kluver

Sacrifice by Cayla Kluver
Series: Legacy Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Published on October 23, 2012
Published by Harlequin Teen
Pages: 438
Read From: 5.17.13 - 5.19.13

Alera, queen of a fallen kingdom, secretly in love with the enemy. Shashelle, daughter of a murdered father, rebel with a cause. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds - Cat Winters

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, supernatural
Published on April 2, 2013
Published by Amulet Books
Pages: 387
Read From: 5.16.13 - 5.17.13

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of an apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: Storybound - Marissa Burt

Storybound by Marissa Burt
Series: Storybound #1
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on April 3, 2012
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 416
Read From: 5.15.13 - 5.16.13

When Una Fairchild stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, she thinks nothing of opening the cover and diving in. But instead of paging through a regular novel, Una suddenly finds herself Written In to the land of Story - a world filled with Heroes and Villains and fairy-tale characters. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Stung - Bethany Wiggins

Stung by Bethany Wiggins
Series: Stung #1
Genre: YA, dystopian, romance
Published on April 2, 2013
Published by Walker Childrens
Pages: 304
Read From: 5.12.13 - 5.15.13

Fiona doesn't remember going to sleep. But when she awakens, her world no longer exists. Her house is abandoned and broken. Her neighborhood is barren and dead. And there is a tattoo on her right hand. A tattoo Fiona doesn't remember getting. . . .but somehow knows she must conceal at any cost. Because humanity has been divided. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekend Recommendations #4

This is my new (hopefully) weekly feature, where I get to go all fannish about two randomly-picked favvies (which may not actually be favorites, but got a rating of 3 smiley faces or higher) that I would recommend to friends! So, here are this week's two picks:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters - Suzanne Weyn

Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
Genre: YA, classic retelling, mystery
Published on January 1, 2013
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 250
Read From: 5.11.13 - 5.12.13

When Doctor Victor Frankenstein died, he left behind a legacy of horror. . . .as well as two unacknowledged, beautiful twin daughters. Now these girls are seventeen, and they've come to Frankenstein's castle to claim it as their inheritance. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: The Blue Djinn of Babylon - P. B. Kerr

The Blue Djinn of Babylon by P. B. Kerr
Series: Children of the Lamp #2
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy, adventure
Published on February 1, 2006
Published by Orchard Books
Pages: 371
Read From: 5.10.13 - 5.11.13

John and Philippa Gaunt, twelve-year-old twins who recently discovered themselves to be descended from a long line of djinn (which are commonly called genies) and who are now in possession of great magical powers, have only just returned from their adventures battling an evil djinn in Cairo and London. Now the mystery surrounding a powerful book of djinn magic lures the twins straight into their new extraordinary adventure. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Revolution 19 - Gregg Rosenblum

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
Series: Revolution 19 #1
Genre: YA, dystopian, futuristic, science fiction
Published on January 8, 2013
Published by Harper Teen
Pages: 265
Read From: 5.9.13 - 5.10.13

Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefield. Then they turned their weapons on us. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Character Interview: Anthony Maxwell

In preparation for the publication of Hazel West's new steampunk mystery novel - A Case of Poisons - due to be released to the public June 3, 2013, Hazel has invited me to interview the novel's protagonist, private detective Anthony Maxwell!


Anthony Maxwell is a private investigator, a consultant for the mostly incompetent inspectors at Scotland Yard, on occasion a writer, and always a lover of coffee. He has been working small cases for several years to pay the bills when he's introduced to the first multiple murder case of his career early one morning, when a witness catches a man trying to unload a body to bury in a nearby graveyard. Soon the first body is joined by three more in the course of a single morning and Anthony knows this is no ordinary serial murder case. And why is the murderer targeting beggars and urchin children? If that wasn't cause enough to worry, all the victims are covered with horrible wounds and show signs of exotic poisoning. Anthony, along with his partners Tobias - an ex-broadsman and well-known charmer - and Scamp - a street smart and talented young woman - work to find out who is murdering the helpless beggars and children in such horrifying ways. The first book in this new Victorian steampunk series takes the three companions to the limits of their abilities as they go up against canny murderers, bruisers who appear invincible, anarchist groups, and even ancient British royalty in the biggest case Anthony Maxwell has ever worked in his career.


Mara A: So, Anthony, what got you interested in being a private/consultant detective in the first place?

Anthony Maxwell: I suppose it was the allure of the chase, and perhaps the promise of adventure. Of course, most of the time, it’s not like that at all, but every once in a while I have a very exciting case. I think I knew I would like to be a detective since I was about fourteen—I was a solitary lad, and enjoyed books and puzzles. It wasn’t until I was at Oxford, though, and helped solve a string of thefts on the university grounds that my friends—half jokingly—said I would make a spiffing detective. I would have applied for a position at Scotland Yard, but the structure and the length of time it would have taken to become an inspector put me off. Therefore, I started up my own business.

Mara A: What was your first case?

Anthony Maxwell: Unofficially, the thefts I helped solve at Oxford, which were really just the cause of a particularly nasty personage thinking he was better than anyone else. My first case as a private detective is actually rather boring, and a bit embarrassing. I was asked to help track down someone’s cook, but it turned out her mistress had already given her leave and had just forgot (she was quite old). I sometimes find it amazing I actually wanted to continue my profession after that!

Mara A: Tell me a little bit about your childhood; did you have an interest in detective work even then?

Anthony Maxwell: As I said earlier, I had been interested in the prospect of detecting and solving mysteries for a long time, and did so enjoy a good mystery novel. I’ve had a lot of people feel sorry for me when I told them about my childhood, but I really was never worse for it. You see, my father died when I was very young, and my mother ran off with a sailor when I was about seven, so I was raised by my Aunt Meredith, who was, for all intents and purposes, my mother. She still lives in our family estate up north. Since I never had any brothers or sisters, I read books, and came up with my own stories. I had a few friends, but living in a secluded country estate meant I didn’t get to socialize with them a lot. I mostly helped my aunt run the estate and all that.

Mara A: You and Tobias have a really close brotherly friendship; where and how did you first meet him?

Anthony Maxwell: I met Tobias not long after I moved to London, as he was about to be soundly beaten by some men he had cheated at cards. He was a rather disreputable fellow when I met him, though still charming the ladies, of course. He was a very accomplished broadsman (a card sharp) and had unfortunately been found out by the fellows he was playing against that day. Lots of people ask me why I would save a fellow like Tobs, and truthfully, I don’t know—I suppose it might have been because he was so hopelessly outnumbered. But I have not regretted it at all, and he has certainly mended his ways since he joined me and Scamp in our tight-knit little group, and he’s always at my back when I need him.

Mara A: How'd you get Tobias involved in your work? Did he think you were completely mad at first, or was he excited to meet danger head-on with you?

Anthony Maxwell: Tobs is too kind to say anything about what he thought of me at first, but I suspect he must have thought me completely mad. Scamp, on the other hand, quite plainly told me the kind of man she thought I was when she first met me. No, Tobias is one of those men who is up for anything at any time. As soon as I explained to him what I did for a living, he instantly promised his assistance. Perhaps it was because he felt he was indebted to me, I was never sure, but it seemed a natural thing to him. His set of skills have certainly come in handy in several of my cases to date as well.

Mara A: I have to ask, who do you think is more brilliant: Dupin or Sherlock Holmes?

Anthony Maxwell: Well, Dupin is very clever in his own way, but I have always admired Holmes’ thought processes, and deductive reasoning more. Some of Dupin’s cases seem a little easy compared to ones Holmes has solved, so I would have to say in the end that Holmes is the more brilliant of the two. If they were ever to meet, I’m sure it would be a bloodbath, though.

Mara A: What was your first reaction when you moved to London? The big city can be pretty overwhelming at first.

Anthony Maxwell: It was a bit overwhelming, but I had gotten used to the city in part when I was at university in Oxford. I think my initial reaction to moving to London was simple excitement. I may be a scholar, and had lived most of my life prior in the country, but I have always enjoyed the hustle and bustle of city life. There’s always something going on to stimulate the senses, not to mention more cases. I was always fascinated by the different layers of classes in London as well, even if I don’t always agree with the prejudice toward lower classes. I enjoy the prospect of observing different layers of people instead of just one.

Mara A: You seem to know a lot about poisons; what was your first case that got you interested in studying poisons?

Anthony Maxwell: I’ve only worked three cases that involved poisons, including the case mentioned in my first chronicle. The first poisons case I worked (which was actually one of the first cases I worked with Inspector Garrett and Scotland Yard) dealt with a woman poisoning her husband to inherit his money. It was an awful business, but it was not very hard to solve either. My interest in poisons actually budded during my scientific studies at Oxford. I had never quite been able to grasp the technicalities behind such things as chemistry and microbiology, but toxicology was one thing I really did enjoy. I think I rather frightened my professor on several occasions with my knowledge!

Mara A: How did you first meet Archie and his boys?

Anthony Maxwell: Archie, like Scamp, I met when he was trying to pick my pocket. I’ll admit that all my friends, besides Inspector Garrett, of course, come from dubious backgrounds. I formed a respect and almost a fatherly attachment toward Archie first off. I had always felt terrible seeing the poor children begging on the streets, and when I met Archie and befriended him, I was happy to be able to help him and the children he protected. It took me a bit for him to actually trust me, but after a few attempts on my part, he eventually introduced me to the girls and boys he looks after. Since then, he has been a willing helper in many of my investigations.

Mara A: This is a classic question that for some reason everyone likes to know the answer to: what's your favorite color?

Anthony Maxwell: It would have to be red, and, no, I don’t consider it a sinister colour. It’s vibrant and rich, and looks so classy with black!

I would like to thank Hazel (and Anthony!) for this opportunity to do such a fun interview. Look for A Case of Poisons on Amazon and Createspace June 3rd! Also, if you are interested in donating money to Hazel's campaign to promote her new book A Case of Poisons - and receiving way awesome gifts in return! - follow this link!

Sir Anthony Maxwell

Monday, May 13, 2013

Review: Enchanted - Alethea Kontis

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Series: The Woodcutter Sisters #1
Genre: YA, fairytale retelling
Published on May 8, 2012
Published by Harcourt
Pages: 308
Read From: 5.9.13 - 5.9.13

It isn't easy being Sunday's child, not when you're the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday's only comfort is writing storied, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekend Recommendations #3

This is my new (hopefully) weekly feature, where I get to go all fannish about two randomly-picked favvies (which may not actually be favorites, but got a rating of 3 smiley faces or higher) that I would recommend to friends! So, here are this week's two picks:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Nightright - Anthony Horowitz

Nightrise by Anthony Horowitz
Series: The Gatekeepers #3
Genre: Middle Grade, horror, thriller
Published on May 1, 2007
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 368
Read From: 5.4.13 - 5.8.13

Scott and Jamie have always been different. Not only are they twins - they can read each other's minds. Their whole lives, people have taken advantage of this. Now it's going to get much, much worse. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: Out of the Easy - Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on February 12, 2013
Published by Philomel
Pages: 346
Read From: 5.3.13 - 5.4.13

It's 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in a police investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 2013 Book Haul

Back in April, I got some birthday money to spend on books (yay!). So this last weekend, I went down to my all-time favorite bookstore on a "book buying expedition." As usual, there were more titles I wanted than I had money, so I had to let prices determine which books I got and which I left for another time. It was an excellent day to go shopping. The sun was out, there was a nice breeze, and excitement in the air. After a yummy lunch of Thai food, my friend and I hit the bookstore. Three hours later . . .
May 2013 book purchases
Ten hardcovers in good condition for $56.00 - now that's a great deal. Within that stack of titles are:
  • I Am Rembrandt's Daughter by Lynn Cullen
  • Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
  • I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
  • The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
  • Lady Friday by Garth Nix
  • Nine Days a Queen by Ann Rinaldi
  • Outlaw Princess of Sherwood by Nancy Springer
  • The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer
  • Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  • Queen's Own Fool by Jane Yolen
I replaced two paperbacks (I Am Rembrandt's Daughter and Talking to Dragons), bought four stand-alones that I've been wanting forever and hadn't been able to find (I, CorianderDragon RiderNine Days a Queen, and Queen's Own Fool), and obtained four books that are part of series I need to finish buying (The Princess and the HoundLady FridayOutlaw Princess of Sherwood, and The Case of the Left-Handed Lady).

For a mid-year haul, I'd say it's not bad. Sadly, June will only have one book that I need to buy (Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood), but come September, October, November there's tons I'm going to be getting. Until then!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: Heart of Glass - Sasha Gould

Heart of Glass by Sasha Gould
Series: Cross My Heart #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery
Published on March 12, 2013
Published by Delacorte Books
Pages: 336
Read From: 5.2.13 - 5.3.13

Venice, 1585 
Three months have passed since Laura della Scala solved her sister's murder after joining the Segreta, a powerful society of women who trade protection for secrets. Now Laura is engaged to her true love, Roberto, and she has never been happier. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Veiled Rose - Anne Elisabeth Stengl

A copy was provided by the Author
in exchange for
an honest review.
Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood #2
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on July 1, 2011
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Pages: 375
Read From: 4.28.13 - 5.2.13

Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Weekend Recommendations #2

This is my new (hopefully) weekly feature, where I get to go all fannish about two randomly-picked favvies (which may not actually be favorites, but got a rating of 3 smiley faces or higher) that I would recommend to friends! So, here are this week's two picks:

Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: mystery, historical fiction, steampunk
Part of a Series: Dark Unwinding #1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Who'll Like It: More suited for girls than guys, historical fiction and mystery fans, would be better appreciated by ages fourteen and up.

Why I Liked It:

This was just an awesome mystery. It has great characters that I initially wasn't sure I liked, and as they grew with the story, I began to really appreciate them. This book elicited strong reactions and emotions, and that always lands a book in my favvies category. But what made me adore this book was the mystery itself. I never have to work all that hard to solve mystery stories, but with The Dark Unwinding, I never knew what was going to happen next. I was on pins and needles the whole time, and sometimes I wanted to scream, "Just tell me!!" But I knew it would all be explained, and whenever doubt started to creep in, I was proven wrong. A truly, truly awesome book - and it even has a steampunk fair with the automatons! And did I mention a crazy, eccentric uncle?

Title: A Curse Dark as Gold
Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce
Genre: fairytale retelling
Part of a Series: No
Rating: 5 out of 5
Who'll Like It: Girl-read, perfect for fans of fairytale retellings, set in a historical time period. If you love Rumpelstiltskin, this is for you.

Why I Liked It:

Yet another impressive fairytale retelling. Jack Spinner is an awesome villain, and Charlotte an easy protagonist with which to sympathize. I wish she had trusted Randell Woodstone a bit more, but I couldn't fault her for trying to protect him. I loved the writing style, and I loved the era, and I loved how the Author interlaced traditional elements of the Rumpelstiltskin story in with her own, new twists. It was just wonderful!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: Thirteenth Child - Patricia C. Wrede

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede
Series: Frontier Magic Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, alternate history, alternate reality, fantasy
Published on April 15, 2009
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 344
Read From: 4.28.13 - 5.1.13

Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he's supposed to possess amazing talent - and she's supposed to bring doom to everyone around her. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that protects settlers from the beasts of the wilderness. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: Black Ice - Andrew Lane

Black Ice by Andrew Lane
Series: Young Sherlock Holmes #3
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, Sherlockian fiction
Published on January 22, 2013
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 288
Read From: 4.25.13 - 4.28.13

When teenage Sherlock Holmes and Amyus Crowe, his American tutor, visit Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, in London one day in 1868, all they are expecting is lunch and some polite conversation. What they find shocks both of them to the core: a locked room, a dead body, and Mycroft holding

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: Heartless - Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on July 1, 2010
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Pages: 363
Read From: 4.23.13 - 4.27.13

Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon marry. She dreams of a charming prince, but when her first suitor arrives, he's not what she'd hoped. Prince Aethelbald, from the mysterious kingdom of Farthestshore, has traveled a great distance to prove his love - and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be on the hunt and blazing a path of terror.