Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: To Die For by Sandra Byrd @TudorTidbits #ToDieForVirtualBookTour

To Die For: A Novel of Anne BoleynTo Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Howard Books
Publish Date: August 9, 2011
Paperback, 352 pages 
Fiction, Historical, Christian
 ISBN: 978-1439183113

My Review:
My thoughts:  I was really looking forward to reading To Die For, although I'm not a huge history buff nor do I have a great interest in Anne Boleyn.  But I did have a curiosity about her story and this fiction account sounded very interesting to me so I jumped at the chance to be a part of the tour.  And my tour stop came at the right time.  Right after Hurricane Irene went right over us (yes I walked around outside in the eye of the storm) and the storm passed and we made sure all that were near and dear to us were okay, it was the next day.  Yes we spent 24-hours pretty much in the hurricane.  It was rough, but we were pretty blessed.  On Sunday we woke up to sparkling blue skies, a messy yard and no power.  Perfect time to read.  So I dove right into To Die For with little to no interruption and I'm glad there were no interruptions because this is a book that is hard to put down.

From the first page you are introduced to Meg and Anne, friends from childhood they are bound together and pledge to do all together.  As Anne goes off to serve in court and Meg suffers at home, Anne finds a way to get Meg to court with her and eventually Meg becomes wrapped up in the intrigue of being at court.  That was one of the things I loved about the book.  It had history, romance, religion and lots of intrigue. I never quite knew what would happen next.

As the story advances and Anne moves forward to become Henry's wife, we see a different side of Anne than the one that is typically seen in the history books or played out in the media.  And who knows whether Ms. Byrd is far off or not.  There really are two sides to every story and this definitely would not be the first time history has gotten it wrong.  Either way, fact or fiction, it lends itself to an excellent story.  One that feels real and makes the reader really feel for Anne and for Meg and feel that Anne truly got in over her head.  To see how, read the book.

But there is even more layers to the book than that.  This is not a simple story by any means.  I am still thinking about the story and the characters.  I especially liked Meg who I really feel is the main character.  She is the servant in a way to Anne, but Anne most of the time always treats her as an equal and Meg's loyalty is unwavering.  It's amazing to witness.  The friendship between them is amazing.  Meg's character is stellar and Ms. Byrd does an excellent job creating the characters in this book, from the frivolous to the important from the evil to the truly pure at heart, they all are woven beautifully into the story.

To Die For is truly an amazing story.  It tops my rating scale.  At this time it is the best book I have read this year and I look forward to more books Ms. Byrd has to offer in this genre.  I feel her research was wonderful and her storytelling is natural and with this winning combination, To Die For is just a novel you must read.

My Rating: 5.0+/5.0

About the Book:
To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.

Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.

Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book—Meg.

About the Author: 
Sandra Byrd has published a number of books in the Christian YA market but is now making her debut in adult historical fiction. She also previously published a contemporary women's series, French Twist, which includes the Christy finalist Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and its sequels, Bon AppÉtit (2008) and Piece de Resistance (2009).


FTC Information: I received this book through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep @Jennifer_Estep

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Publish Date: July 26, 2011
Paperback, 350 pages 
Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal
 ISBN: 978-1402244186
Mythos Academy #1

My Review:
My thoughts:  Touch of Frost was a definite breath of fresh air in the paranormal young adult genre.  Using mythology as a basis, author Jennifer Estep creates an interesting parallel world that Gwen Frost lives in and doesn’t even understand herself.  Gwen has known her power her entire life, but it wasn’t until that day she picked up the hairbrush and saw into Paige’s life that her life turned upside down and she ended up in the Mythos academy amongst the Valkyries, Amazons, Spartans, Greeks and other Gods and great strong people.  Only Gwen can’t figure out how she fits in among these people.

I like Gwen, she’s strong and sure of herself, but she still has doubts.  She doesn’t sit around and think poor pitiful me. When she discovers Jasmine’s body she immediately starts to investigate to see what happened and this sets the stage for the book.  I enjoyed her investigation and the unlikely friends she makes along the way and the mysterious Logan Quinn as well.

Touch of Frost sets the stage for this series and has a great story.  I enjoyed the mystery and learning about the school and some of the main players.  I look forward to the next book in this series, Kiss of Frost which will be out in December 2011.  Ms. Estep has done a wonderful job creating a world and a great cast of characters for a series that I will be following for quite awhile.

My Rating: 4.75/5.0

About the Book:

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

About the Author: 
Jen­nifer Estep is a USA Today bestselling author, prowl­ing the streets of her imag­i­na­tion in search of her next fan­tasy idea.

Jen­nifer writes the Ele­men­tal Assas­sin urban fan­tasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assas­sin code­named the Spi­der who can con­trol the ele­ments of Ice and Stone. When she's not busy killing peo­ple and right­ing wrongs, Gin runs a bar­be­cue restau­rant called the Pork Pit in the fic­tional south­ern metrop­o­lis of Ash­land. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vam­pires, and ele­men­tals - Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Books in the series are Spider's Bite (2010), Web of Lies (2010), Venom (2010), and Tan­gled Threads (2011). Spider's Revenge, the fifth book in the series, will be released in Octo­ber 2011. By a Thread, the sixth book, will be released in February 2012, with the seventh book (untitled) tentatively set to be published in the fall of 2012.

Jen­nifer also writes the Mythos Acad­emy young adult urban fan­tasy series for Kens­ing­ton. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psy­chom­e­try, or the abil­ity to know an object's his­tory just by touch­ing it. After a seri­ous freakout with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Acad­emy, a school for the descen­dents of ancient war­riors like Spar­tans, Ama­zon, Valkyries, and more.

The first book, Touch of Frost, will be out in August 2011, while the sec­ond book, Kiss of Frost, will hit shelves in Decem­ber 2011. First Frost, a prequel e-story to the series, will be released in July 2011.


FTC Information: I received this book from the publisher through Teen Book Scene for an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Teaser Tuesday - August 30


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 
"Why don't we go into the living room?"  Tucker asked.  "I could use a cup of coffee."  In truth he could use a cold shower, but that seemed a bit obvious.
From Deep Disclosure by Dee Davis

Deep Disclosure

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson @jessleeanderson

Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publish Date: September 13, 2011
Paperback, 198 pages 
Fiction, Young Adult
 ISBN: 978-1571316998

My Review:
My thoughts:  Calli is an interesting look at a fifteen year-old-girls life.  Calli’s life is a little different from the start.  She has two mom’s, which isn’t all that different, but she does get made fun of from time-to-time.  But then she gets a foster sister as well.  At first Calli is excited, but then Cherish doesn’t seem to fit the mold of sister that she wanted.  She’s sassy, rude and then of all things, she kisses Calli’s boyfriend Dub.

That kiss sets off a series of events that changes Calli and makes the book.  The book seems to be about the choices that we make and the consequences.  It is well written and really teaches a beautiful lesson.  Calli learns the lesson, takes responsibility in her on way and grows.  Things change and she rolls with the changes.  It’s fascinating to watch and an interesting book from beginning to end.  I don’t want to give anything away, but everything is handled really well in the book.  Ms. Anderson writes in a way that’s easy to understand and keeps you interested from the first page until the last.

Calli is a great book, it deals with interesting issues and captivates the readers.  I won’t forget this book anytime soon.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:

Fifteen-year-old Calli has just about everything she could want in life—two loving moms, a good-looking boyfriend, and a best friend who has always been there for support. An only child, Calli is excited when her parents announce that they want to be foster parents. Unfortunately, being a foster sister to Cherish is not at all what Calli expected. First Cherish steals Calli’s boyfriend, then begins to pit Calli’s moms against one another, and she even steals Calli’s iPod. Tired of being pushed around and determined to get even, Calli steals one of Cherish’s necklaces. But this plan for revenge goes horribly awry, and Cherish ends up in juvenile detention.

Isolating herself from her moms, her boyfriend, and even her best friend, Calli wrestles with her guilt and tries to figure out a way to undo the damage she’s caused. When her moms are asked to take on another foster child, Calli sees an opportunity to make amends for her past mistakes.

Funny, moving, and emotionally rich, Calli is a portrait of an endearing young woman caught between adolescence and adulthood, striving to do the right thing even when all of her options seem wrong.

About the Author: 

Jessica Lee Anderson is the author of Trudy (winner of the 2005 Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature), Border Crossing (Quick Picks Nomination, Cynsational Book of 2009), as well as the forthcoming young adult novel, Calli (2011). She's published two nonfiction readers, as well as fiction and nonfiction for a variety of magazines including Highlights for Children. Jessica graduated from Hollins University with a Master of Arts in Children's Literature, and instructed at the Institute of Children's Literature for five years. She is a member of The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels and hopes to be more sweetheart than scoundrel. She lives near Austin, Texas with her husband and two crazy dogs.


FTC Information: I received this book through Teen Book Scene for an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.