Book Review: Fracture by Megan Miranda know the mark of a good writer when you are so deeply engrossed in a story and engaged with the characters to the point that you want to slap them over the head and shake some sense into them. Maybe you have some friends like that…those two who have been friends for ages and are perfect for each other, but something is holding them back from taking that next step. Then a choice is made and there is no turning back.

Life is full of choices.

Delaney made a choice when she kissed Carson Levine on Decker Phillips’ couch, breaking the cardinal rule of best friends. She made another choice when she followed Decker Phillips across the ice. He made a choice by leaving her behind.

Three minutes without air is all you need to lose consciousness. At four minutes brain damage begins. At five minutes, you should be dead. Definitely at ten. Delaney was under the ice for eleven minutes.
She shouldn’t have survived, but she did. She shouldn’t be fine, but she is– or is she? 
People are dying and Delaney knows who they are before it happens. Can she help before it is too late or is she the cause? Is she alone in this ability?

Delaney is a girl who should be dead or at least brain damaged. She survived a horrific accident to suddenly find herself with the ability to predict when someone is dying. As if being a teenager wasn’t enough; she might be in love with her best friend, her standing as class valedictorian is in jeopardy, and her parents think she might be crazy.

Megan Miranda blends together ethical debate, the tragedy of death, and the drama of teenage love in this debut YA novel born from the author’s fascination with scientific mysteries like those of the brain. Fracture is a fast paced and thought provoking novel delving into the world of miracles and medicine. Readers of Meg Cabot and Lurlene McDaniel will enjoy.

  • Fracture by Megan Miranda 

    Reading level: Ages 12 and up

  • Publisher: Walker Childrens; 1 edition (January 17, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0802723098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802723093

Book Review: Between the Sea and Sky

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 25, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1599904349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599904344

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore takes Little Mermaid and spins it to whole new heights –literally.

Esmerine is a mermaid, well actually a siren; just like her older sister Dosinia. Receiving her belt should have been one of the best things that could happen to her, but she is still uneasy. Not only are her and her sister the first in her family to be chosen to be sirens, but she also has a history of being the mermaid who was friends with that winged boy. She also has a fondness for books, which don’t do too well underwater. Then Dosinia goes missing and there are rumors from Land that she has been spirited away to the mountains by her new human husband.

Convinced that Dosinia was tricked into giving up her belt, a keeper of siren magic, to her new husband and thus trapped forever as a two-legger; Esmerine decides to investigate by journeying above the waves and onto Land. Mermaids don’t do too well on Land, not even sirens with all their magic. Their feet feel unbearable pain which means they can barely walk. When a mermaid gives up her belt to a human, the pain goes away. Esmerine has no intention of giving up her belt.

Stranded in the middle of town with aching feet, she is surprised to discover that Alandare, the winged friend from her childhood, is working at a bookstore in town. Alandare agrees to help Esmerine find her sister, but their friendship has changed. It is both more and less at the same time, with neither one wanting the other to give up who and what they are. Is there any in-between for a girl of the sea and a man of the air?

What I loved best about the book was that Esmerine wasn’t just a mermaid, she was a siren. Also while Alandare had wings, they are more like those of a bat and not the angelic feathers that most winged people are described as having. It kept things interesting. Esmerine’s love of books had me thinking more of Belle than Ariel, which meant instant “like”. There were also allusion to other legends, history, and tropes. Stealing a siren’s belt for example, mirrored the tales of fishermen stealing the skins of their selkie brides to keep them on land. Alandare was a bit of a radical in his love of enlightenment era-ish pamphlets on philosophy. So this book was a delightful mix of traditional tale and more.

Dolamore does what she does best, taking a traditional tale and rethinking it. This story has been ten years in the making as it began with the seeds of a thought, “what if?”. Dolamore went back to the good parts of that story to create Between the Sea and Sky. You will be hooked right until the very end wondering if the two will work out their differences.

Book Review: Taming of the Rake

Article first published as Book Review: The Taming of the Rake by Kasey Michaels on Blogcritics.

The Taming of the Rake (Hqn)
The Taming of the Rake
By Kasey Michaels
HQN Books

I am not always a fan of Harlequin titles, but Kasey Michaels is one of my favorite historical romance writers, a New York Times Bestselling Author, she must be doing something right. Which is exactly what she has done with her latest offering from Harlequin. The Taming of the Rake is due to be released on July 26, 2011. It is the first book in a new trilogy about the Blackthorn Brothers.

Michaels begins her new novel with an introduction stating that while she has written a few rakes and bad boys, she has never written a bastard, well at least not according to the legal definition. She stays true to the time period by making her three bastard brothers outcasts to pristine ton society.

Oliver “Beau” Blackthorn is the oldest son of an English Marquess. He should have had it all, there is only one slight problem…he is the illegitimate result of the Marquess’ love affair with an actress. Young Oliver is immune to the ramifications of what being a bastard means in society because despite the misfortune of his birth, he and his brothers are loved, educated, and rich. He is also a young man in love. Love can put such blinders on everything.

Lady Chelsea Mills-Beckman is witness to these blinders after Oliver proposes marriage to her sister Lady Madelyn, which doesn’t go quite as expected. As if the heartbreak wasn’t enough for poor Oliver, he is thrashed by her brother for even thinking a bastard could rise above his station in such a way. She was only a child at the time and could do nothing but watch Oliver proudly walk away, bloody and bruised.

Flash forward years later, Lady Chelsea’s brother has found religion, at least the kind of religion where women should be subservient. What better way to show his support of his direct link to God then to give Lady Chelsea’s hand in marriage to the wet-lipped Reverend Francis Flotley? Desperate to escape her bleak future, Lady Chelsea runs away to the one person who hates her brother more– Oliver!

All three brothers are named after characters in Shakespeare’s plays and the titles of the novels also pay tribute to the bard. Just as in Taming of the Shrew, Lady Chelsea watches as suitors come to pay court to her sister. In this role, however she is cast as the mischievous younger sister. The buildup of Lady Chelsea and Oliver’s relationship was very well written and believable. When they first meet, she plays tricks on him like convincing him that Lady Madelyn would be upset to receive the beautiful bouquet of flowers as they make her sneeze. After throwing them out the door, Lady Madelyn is piqued that she did not receive a gift like flowers from her visitor. Lady Chelsea has a good heart, however, as can be seen in the tears she sheds for young Oliver and all the mischief she gets herself into while trying to help others.

It is Oliver who is cast as the bad tempered one, only he didn’t start out that way. The prologue was the best part of this novel because Michaels does a wonderful job representing just how naive Oliver was to his own situation. It would take something heart-crushing to turn such a wide-eyed young man into a hardened survivor closed off to love. The proud man who walks through Mayfair with dignity after a beating is a very different man from the one who came to pay court. This set up was perfect for the story and sets the stage for how a good man could possibly turn to vengeance and revenge.

Hopefully, A Midsummer Night’s Sin and Much Ado about Rogues will not be too far behind. It will be interesting to see what Shakespearean twists can be applied to the stories about the additional two brothers as they find their true places in society and their hearts.

O is for Olivia Parker ‘s Guarding A Notorious Lady

So far on the blog, we have seen reviews for picture books, Young Adult, graphic novels, and craft books. Now it is time for some guilty pleasure reading. I am not a big fan of contemporary literature, I prefer my reading to send me either to another realm or another time. That is why I love historical romances. I especially love the stories where the love interest is the best friend or the guy who is always getting the girl out of trouble.

Guarding a Notorious Lady by Olivia Parker due out May 31st is such book. In this case it is the conundrum of falling for the little sister of your childhood friend, a little sister who is not quite so little anymore, and whom the task fails to guard her reputation while said brother is out of town on his wedding trip.

Wonderfully this story opens in a bookstore (for all truly great stories begin in a bookstore or library) where Lady Rosalind is attempting to snoop on a promising couple in the stacks; she is a matchmaking meddler after all. Unfortunately, a certain gentleman keeps blocking her view.

Nicholas Kincaid, the Marquess of Winterbourne, has already started in his duties of guarding the younger sister of his childhood friend. This mischievous lady has always managed to get under his skin though to be truthful she can’t really help it if suitors decide to serenade her in the middle of the night. He’ll just have to be handy with a ready pot, book, or slipper to throw at them.

What is a good historical romance without some scandal and treading on society’s unspoken rules? Readers of Parker’s other novels will be sure to recognize previous characters and elements (which in my opinion are the signature of a truly great historical romance). This is a delightfully fun read!