Archive for the ‘ARCs’ Category

Holtby Series #2: The Land of Green Ginger

May 15th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Classics, Fiction, Kelly, Literary Fiction
 

Following last week’s review of Anderby Wold, here’s the next in our Winifred Holtby series: The Land of Green Ginger.

Joanna dreams of the world beyond Yorkshire, the mystique of faraway places, and is in love with the idea of adventure. At eighteen she meets Teddy Leigh, and he sweeps her off her feet and into a quick marriage before heading to the trenches of World War I.

Teddy returns from the war, but the world isn’t as the magical fairyland Joanna hoped for. Teddy suffers from tuberculosis, and she has to care for him in addition to their two daughters and struggling farm.  She’s overwhelmed by her responsibilities, but she can still dream of the world she wants to see.

When Joanna is asked to take in a lodger it seems like the perfect solution to their financial woes. The lodger, a Hungarian named Paul, has seen the world, and is a healthy man. But Yorkshire in the aftermath of World War I isn’t welcoming to foreign labor, and the neighbors are suspicious of Joanna’s feelings. Will her family survive?

The Land of Green Ginger brings insight into Britain just after World War I while also illuminating the lives of women. Like South Riding and Ander by Wold, the sense of time and place is amazing.

The tuberculosis aspect of the novel is fascinating; it wasn’t until the 1940s that scientists were able to create an antibiotic to cure the disease. (Researchers are still batting TB, as the newer multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis, usually referred to as MDR-TB, has a strong foothold in parts of the world.) During the time period of the novel, patients with TB would go into sanitariums and be exposed to lots of fresh air and proper nutrition. If their immune system could fight the bacterial infection, they might go into remission with the infection dormant, but present. Teddy’s fight and fear of being stuck in a sanitarium is understandable, even if his relationship with his wife is troubling.

Next up: Poor Caroline, the third and final installment in our Holtby Series.

Title: The Land of Green Ginger

Author: Winifred Holtby

Read: March 2012

Source: ARC from Publisher

 

 

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Holtby Series #1: Anderby Wold

May 6th, 2012    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Classics, Fiction, Kelly, Literary Fiction
 

A little over a year ago, Masterpiece Theater introduced me to Winifred Holtby and her best-known novel, South Riding. After watching the mini-series, I read the novel, and adored it. Holtby is a strong voice of her time, and her work deserves a wider audience. So imagine my excitement when I was asked if I’d be interested in reading ARCs of the three novels Holtby wrote before South Riding, as they are being re-released this month.

Anderby Wold is set in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and follows the life of Mary Robson. Married to her old, unromantic cousin, Mary has managed to save her inheritance and get her family farm out of debt. Mary feels old before her time, and represents traditional Yorkshire.

Then David Rossiture, a young radical with dreams of organizing the workers. He brings his ideas of socialism into Mary’s world. His eloquence and energy are appealing to Mary, and show her the youthful life she’s never allowed herself to have. When these two worlds collide, whose life will shatter?

Fans of Holtby will want to pick this up and see her first novel. It’s simpler than South Riding, but Holtby’s insight into her changing world is evident.

Next up in our Holtby series: Land of Green Ginger.

 

Title: Anderby Wold

Author: Winifred Holtby

Source: ARC from Publisher

Read: March 2012

 

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Ghost on Black Mountain

October 13th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fiction, Kelly, Literary Fiction
 

Five women narrate the story of Nellie’s unfortunate marriage to Hobbs Pritchard in Ann Hite’s Ghost On Black Mountain.

Set during the backdrop of the depression, ghosts and a sense of magic is woven through the story. Seventeen year old Nellie meets Hobbs as she works in a soup kitchen, and she marries him despite her mother’s objections.

Hobbs takes Nellie home to Black Mountain, and his cruel nature is slowly revealed to Nellie. She also begins to see the ghosts of people Hobbs killed, and she has to decide: will she take action, or end up becoming a ghost herself?

Ghost on Black Mountain is great for fans of Southern fiction, paranormal stories, literary ghost stories, and Southern gothic. The sense of time and place is wonderful, and the writing will suck you from the first page until the last. The different narrators all bring a new perspective to the story.

Title: Ghost on Black Mountain
Author: Ann Hite
Date Read: September 2011
Source: E-Galley

 

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Where Unicorns Don’t Poop Rainbows

August 31st, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult
 

The first thing that attracted me to Drink Slay Love was the title. I hoped the novel had a sense of humor, and thankfully it did.

Sixteen-year old Pearl is the youngest vampire in a powerful family. When she’s getting a “snack” at the local Dairy Hut, she sees a unicorn. Which is a surprise to her, since unicorns don’t exist. She doesn’t take the unicorn seriously, a bad miscalculation since the unicorn stakes her in the back.

Pearl awakes the next day in the not-so-loving arms of her family. Instead of dying, Pearl can now walk in the daylight and more shockingly – she develops a conscience. Of course, she ends up going to high school, and a high-stakes adventure ensues.

Drink Slay Love is campy, kitschy, funny . . . in short, a great summer read. It made me laugh out loud, like when Pearl sarcastically says that unicorns poop rainbows. It pokes fun at other YA vampire novels. Durst adds lots of amusing details, like vampires learning about high school by watching John Hughes movies, and Pearl’s analysis of high school based on hunting and war theories.

Title: Drink Slay Love
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Source: Publisher E-Galley
Read: August 2011

 

 

 

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The Unwanteds: Dystopian Middle Grade novels mixes an idyllic magical world with a cold, repressive regime

August 2nd, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Middle Grade
 

In Quill, the people are divided into three groups: wanted, necessary, and unwanted. The unwanted are eliminated. Permanently. When thirteen-year old Alex is declared unwanted, he tries to stay strong and be grateful that his twin brother Aaron is wanted.

When Alex arrives at the eliminated site he’s shocked to find that instead of being killed he’s taken to the magical world of Artime. Created to protect the unwanted, who tend to be artists, musicians and other creative folk, Artime is a magical paradise with fun classes, talking statues, and more. Alex is finally able to express himself, as drawing, creative thinking, and expressing emotion are encouraged in Artime while banned in Quill.

Meanwhile, Aaron progresses in the Quill University and has come under the eye of the country’s dictator, Justine. Alex wishes Aaron was with him in Quill, feeling a bond between them that increases over time. This bond could destroy Artime’s very existence.

The Unwanteds would make a nice combination gift pack with The Giver by Lois Lowry and Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Fans of Harry Potter might also enjoy it. The world is a fun mixture of cold, repressive regime and colorful world in which children are taught to use their creativity to solve problems. Alex makes his own choices and faces consequences, yet he also has a strong mentor able to both understand and guide him.

Definitely recommended for middle grade readers.

Read by: Kelly

Title: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
Date read: July 2011
Source: ARC

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High fantasy YA: Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

August 2nd, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult
 

Ryder is a farmer in Witchland, trying to maintain the farm that’s fallen into his hands after the death of his father. His mother doesn’t help, as she spends most of her time high and trying to tell the future by throwing bones. But Ryder knows that fortune telling is hogwash, and that the witches that take a tithe from his farm each year to protect him are fakes.

In the Bitterlands, Falpian is a disappointment to his father and he’s been sent to a remote cabin on the border with Witchland to mourn the death of his twin brother. Needless to say, they’re brought together.

Bromance ensues.

Well, not exactly. Falpian and Ryder are opposing sides of a conflict, but they have a lot in common. Despite their quirks and different upbringings, they’re both noble and it’s clear they have a shared destiny.

Witchlanders is an interesting read. I appreciated the male protagonists. I also appreciated that while I saw a potential love interest for Ryder, the novel was about so much more and that area wasn’t explored at all. The world-building is strong and nuanced throughout the novel, slowly revealing the beliefs of the two cultures. I enjoyed the magic and the mythology, and I’m curious where the author will go in the rest of the series.

Read by: Kelly

Title: Witchlanders
Author: Lena Coakley
Read: July 2011
Source: ARC

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Mythology adapted to YA Lite-Horror Tale

August 2nd, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult
 

The classic mythological creatures the Furies are adapted to a teenage audience in Fury by Elizabeth Miles.

The novel starts out from the perspective of someone—identified later—attempting to commit suicide. One can only assume her attempt draws the Furies to Ascension, Maine for the beginning of the holiday season.

While lead character Emily is popular, she’s in the shadow of her best friend Gabby, and she secretly pines after a boy. Not just any boy: Gabby’s boyfriend, Zach. With Gabby gone for Christmas, will the temptation be too much for Em to handle?

Chase is the quarterback of the football team, and he spends his time trying to fit in with the popular kids and hide his trailer park upbringing. He studies life carefully, dressing and acting act right to create an impeccable facade. But why have the furies chosen him?

I enjoyed the voice of the novel. It felt more like a light horror novel than a paranormal romance. I wish we learned more about the furies and how they chose their targets. The author spends time detailing what the furies looked like without going into their characters. Was Chase’s punishment justified? Does Ty have a different sense of morality from her Fury-cousins? It’s hard to tell without more insight. The novel is clearly the first in a series and the end of Fury sets up the next book.

Read by: Kelly

Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Read: July 2011
Source: ARC

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A Goliath of a book

July 31st, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fiction, Kelly, Uncategorized
 

In Leviathan and Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld set up his own alternative, steampunk take on World War I. Germany and its allies are the “clankers”, countries who rely on mechanical devices. Great Britain is “Darwinist”, and they’ve developed ships with biological material. For example, the Leviathan is the premier warship in the British service, and it’s a whale hybrid. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry: it makes sense when you read the novels.

In Goliath, Austrian prince Alek has rejoined the Leviathan as a pseudo-captive after assisting an uprising in Turkey. Deryn is also back with the crew after helping Alek in Turkey, and she’s continuing to live her double life as Dylan. (She’s pretending to be a boy so she can fly.) There’s one problem: Alek knows that Deryn has a secret, although he doesn’t know what. And it doesn’t help that the perspicacious loris keeps calling Deryn Mr. Sharp.

Alek feels he has a destiny to fulfill, and he’s sure that stopping the war is part of it. Add in a crazy and potentially rogue scientist, unscrupulous journalists, and the Mexican revolution, and our heroes have plenty on their plates to deal with.

The novel has plenty of humor and action, and it comes to a satisfying if perhaps—in some aspects—unexpected conclusion. The writing is sharp, and as strong as the previous novels in the series. This is a great novel for teens and would also make a great introduction to steampunk for the uninitiated.
Read by: Kelly

Title: Goliath
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Read: July 2011
Source: Electronic Galley

 

 

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The Very Thought of You

July 15th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fiction, Kelly, Literary Fiction
 

verythoughtofyouSo far, 2011 has been the year of Yorkshire novels. The Red Riding Quartet shows the region at it’s darkest, while South Riding shows the region at a time of transition. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison is set in Yorkshire during World War II, and shows the spirit of England at its best as it rallied to protect their country.

During World War II, children were evacuated from the London to the countryside as a well-founded precaution to shield them from German bombings. The Very Thought of You follows the life of eight-year-old Anna Sands when she ends up at Ashton House, the fictional Yorkshire estate of Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton. The novel shifts perspective between various characters, including Anna’s mother back in London, the Ashtons, and other characters.

Thomas Ashton is wheelchair bound from polio, and his marriage with his beautiful wife is unraveling. Elizabeth Ashton expresses her desperation to have a child by drinking heavily. In London, Roberta feels guilty that Anna isn’t with her, but she’s also experiencing freedom from marriage and responsibility while enjoying her wartime position with the BBC. Meanwhile, Anna and the rest of the children on the Ashton Estate are growing up in a house that seems idyllic with it’s excellent education and caring teachers, yet they’re growing up without parents and individual attention.

The prose is beautiful, yet it relies on a telling voice to explain each characters emotions and actions.  Anna’s journey from eight-year to an unfulfilled wife and mother in her early thirties didn’t quite seem believable. Yet I still enjoyed reading this novel, and am happy I had the opportunity to do so.

Note: The Very Thought of You was nominated for an Orange award.

Read by: Kelly

Title: The Very Thought of You
Author: Rosie Alison
Source: ARC
Read: June 2011

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Persephone myth retold in Meg Cabot’s Abandon

March 29th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, ARCs, Fiction, Kelly, Young Adult
 

Meg CabotPierce knows what it’s like to die. After all, she drowned when she was fifteen. Her family just thinks she was resuscitated, but Pierce knows the truth. She escaped from the underworld.

In this retelling of the Persephone myth, Pierce is tied to John Hayden, a death deity of the underworld. His full powers and role are unclear, but he’s mysterious, dark, and handsome. He also wants Pierce.

Throughout the novel, Pierce’s history slowly unfolds, and the author will tease the reader with a small clue and then go into more detail later. Most of the book is shown in flashbacks, and the bulk of the action takes place towards the end of the book. I enjoyed this, in part because Pierce is a strong character and I enjoyed her voice.

This novel is the first in a trilogy, and I hope we’ll get more insight into Pierce’s friends and family. For example, Pierce’s cousin Alex is essentially a stranger to her when the story starts, and small aspects of his life are shown throughout the novel. He’s clearly meant to be a round character, and I look forward to seeing him come to life in the next two books (pun intended).

Abandon comes out on April 26, 2011.

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Date read: March 2011
Source: ARC from publisher

 

 

 

 

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