Book Spotlight: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Lil’ Diva wanted to read this one so badly, the librarian sped up getting their copy into the system so that she could borrow it. Have any of you read it?

stayJust listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 014241543X
ISBN-13: 978-0142415436

 

For interesting facts about the author, visit her website at http://gayleforman.com/

Different Kind of Knight: Princess of Valendria Series by Mary Waibel

different-kind-of-knight-333x500Through a twist of fate, Princess Gabrielle became First Knight of the King’s Elite Guard, a position always held by the second born male. She’s spent years proving to the Minsters of Faldaera she is capable of leading the king’s Army.

When mythical creatures plague her kingdom, Rielle is sent to capture Captain Brody, the alleged culprit behind the attacks and the man who broke her heart four years ago.

Brody, Crown Prince of Delphine, is living in self-imposed exile, atoning for the sins of his father. But Fate has different plans for him. Tired, beaten down, and ready to give up on life, he is tossed into the path of the one person he would do anything for―Princess Gabrielle.

With a traitor in her ranks, and a mark on her head, Brody joins forces with Rielle, hoping to keep the woman he loves safe.

Happily-ever-after is not guaranteed, and mythical creatures aren’t the only danger the couple face. As battles rage, Rielle has the chance to prove herself a capable leader, but will doing so cost her the love of her life?

Excerpt

Brody lifted his tankard and took a swallow of the bitter brew, wishing he could drown his sorrows away. He knew from experience it was the worst thing to do. Not only would his problems still be there the next day, but if experience held out, they would be worse. A raging headache and upset stomach interfered too much with crewing a ship.

“We could stay here a few more days, if you want,” Ruprecht said.

Brody raised a brow. “Are you reading my mind now?”

“No. I’ve just seen that look before.”

Before Brody could say anything, the door opened. A young woman, dressed in field armor, stepped inside with two knights flanking her. Her gaze swept the room, drifting past him, before returning and locking on him, eyes widening in surprise.

Brody cursed under his breath, recognition dawning as she exchanged words with the two men. The older one shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. The younger tapped a hand to his chest and slipped out the door. He couldn’t hear what she said, but by the flush that crept into the knight’s face, he was certain she hadn’t liked him disobeying her order.

Of all the people in Faldaera, she was the last person he ever thought to see. She should be at Griffonvul Castle, training with the men, not out for a pint. Surely her appearance here was a coincidence. Or was it? Had his aunt somehow learned of their stolen moment in the garden four years ago? He wouldn’t put it past her to have set something up with the princess.

As she stalked to his table, he took the opportunity to study her. Eyes, like honey flecked with chocolate, looked at him, a flicker of hurt in their amber depths. He wondered at it briefly as he studied the rest of her.

Strands of golden blonde hair pulled loose from her braid. Dirt and dried blood smeared her face and her leathers, as if she had ridden here from the battlefield. She was far from the beautiful princess he had danced with under the stars, but she still made his pulse jump.

“You.”

The derision filled word rang in the room, drawing the attention of his men. They shifted in their seats, hands drifting to weapons. He knew he need only give the sign and they would detain her.

“Princess Gabrielle. What a pleasant surprise.” He smirked, the twist of his lips blossoming into a full smile when her eyes narrowed.

“Surprise?” She laughed, the sound wrapping around him and squeezing his heart. “I don’t think so. What are you doing in Faldaera?”

He took a sip of ale, studying her over the mug. “Just passing through.” When she frowned, he decided to see how far he could push her. “Were you hoping I’d drop by the castle for a visit?”

“Hardly,” she replied, dryly. “Besides, you’d have a hard time finding me there, anyway.”

“Too busy out playing knight?”

“Playing?” The man at her side said, his hands flexing as if he’d like to take a swipe at Brody. “Do you have any idea to whom you are speaking?”

Brody grinned and winked at Rielle. “Oh, I know exactly to whom I’m speaking.”

“Then you should be more respectful,” the knight said.

“I apologize if I have offended you, Your Highness.”

Brody tipped his head forward, a lock of brown hair falling in his eye. He brushed it back just in time to catch Rielle rolling her eyes.

“It would take more than that to offend me. However, my men are a bit touchier on the subject than I am. You’d be wise to be careful with your words.”

Ah, she still had the same rapier wit he’d sampled the last time they met. He wondered if her kisses were still as sweet. If her skin was still as soft. If she would melt in his arms like she had that night.

“My father has requested an audience with you.”

Her words snapped him out of his thoughts. “Me? Whatever for?”

She laughed again, but this time it was a hollow, mirthless sound. “You truly thought no one would put the pieces together and figure it out?”

“Figure what out?”

“Your arrival in Faldaera corresponds perfectly with the increase in creature attacks. Then there’s the trident marking on their manacles. What are you after, Captain Brody?”

He grinned, relieved she hadn’t used his real title. Then her words registered, and he stared, stunned she would think Delphine responsible for what was happening here.

“I thought you knew me better.”

“So did I,” she whispered.

He swore he could see pain in her eyes, and he hated to think he had put it there.

“I have my orders. Will you come willingly?”

He looked at the man at her side again and grinned. “Traveling light, Princess?”

“My other men will be here soon.”

“Ah, but mine are here now.” He leaned forward. “Who do you think would win?”

Her face paled, and for a moment, he thought he’d gone too far.

“You’ve never seen me fight, Captain.”

“There’s a first time for everything. Do you remember our other firsts?” Her cheeks tinged, and she swayed. Brody frowned. “Are you all right?”

She looked up at him, and he saw fear in her eyes. Her mouth opened, but no sound came out.

“Rielle?”

Her eyes rolled back as her body went limp. Brody jumped to his feet, scooping her into her arms before she collided with the floor.

Books in this series:

Quest of the Hart (MuseItUp)

Charmed Memories (MuseItUp)

Different Kind of Knight (MuseItUp, 1/31/14)

Faery Marked (BookFishBooks, 2014)

Visit the author online at marywaibel.blogspot.com

Guest Book Review: Princess Madeline and the Dragon by Kirstin Pulioff

madeline

Book Review: Princess Madeline and the Dragon by Kirstin Pulioff
Series: Princess Madeline Series
Paperback: 118 pages
Publisher: Caliburn Books (December 10, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1623750709
ISBN-13: 978-1623750701
Genre: Fantasy/magic/adventure
Ages: 10+

Five Stars

All is well in the Kingdom of Soron; at least, that’s what everyone thinks. The village has been rebuilt since Prince Paulsen’s disastrous attack the previous autumn, and preparations are underway for the Spring Faire – a very important occasion. Princess Madeline is also preparing for her upcoming wedding to Daniel, and the prospect of establishing a new home in the North. The wizards, now welcomed back after their timely assistance during the previous troubles, have a new role to play. Madeline has been having strange dreams, and the Elder Wizard, in fact her Uncle Elias, is trying to teach her to harness her magical powers, inherited from her mother. Then things turn horribly upside-down, as we have been warned via the prologue, where Lord Hawthorne (hunting for dragons’ eggs) stumbles upon a rare clutch of these magical eggs. Amazingly, a green dragon appears and begins to ravage the kingdom. The fiery attack ends with King Theodore being badly burned to the point where he insists on Madeline’s marriage to Daniel right away; and he appoints Madeline’s twin brother Braden as King of Soron. The dragon is fast becoming a huge and dangerous problem. Will Madeline and Braden be able to decipher the clues left by their mother that spoke of the Age of Dragons? And why is the dragon suddenly attacking the kingdom?

Kirstin Pulioff has cleverly sown the clues to the final book in the first and second books, where seemingly innocuous items hold the key to solving the mystery of the green dragon. Braden, somewhat neglected in books one and two, comes into his own and pulls the readers’ focus as he takes charge of the kingdom, and finds the path of love not as smooth as he had hoped. Madeline has really grown up here, and her thoughts on resolving the kingdom’s dilemma differ greatly from her brother’s. Her way is based on love, reason, reconciliation, and truth. The wizard Elias also has a lot to teach both the characters and young readers and his words of wisdom are beautifully woven into this rich fantasy tapestry. Again the author’s gift for description stands her in good stead as the dragon, in all its flaming fury, is brought vividly to life in the pages of this magical fairy tale. Princess Madeline and the Dragon is well worth the wait as there is something for everyone: romance, love, enchantment, magicality, wizards, action, adventure, and of course … here be dragons!

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirstin Pulioff

pulioff

Book Review: The Escape of Princess Madeline
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Malachite Quills Publishing (November 28, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-1623750367
Genre: Fantasy/magic/adventure
Age: 12+

4 stars

Princess Madeline lives in the fairy tale kingdom of Soron, with a loving father and twin brother, Braden, a castle of servants at her beck and call, a charmed and pampered existence … and yet, she is not happy. For one thing, her father King Theodore has decided that at the ball to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, a suitor will be chosen for her. This indignity totally offends Madeline who is quite capable of making her own decisions. She wants freedom, independence, the ability to make her own choices, and—very importantly—to choose her future husband for herself. The only thing to do is run away; desperate measures for sure, but a drastic situation calls for an equally drastic response. Her disappearance throws the castle and indeed the whole kingdom into total turmoil, with Knight Daniel, her champion and protector, setting off to find her. Various princely suitors (mostly unsuitable!), but eager to court favour with the king, also set off on their own missions to retrieve the princess. Madeline, however brave she feels inside, is completely unprepared for life in the real world. Her inexperience and ignorance land her in the clutches of brigands. Daniel, meanwhile, has done the unforgivable; he has approached the wizards, now banished from the kingdom, for their help. Will he find Madeleine in time? Have the wizards betrayed him? And why is the creepy Prince Paulsen so interested in saving Madeleine?

This is a traditional fairy tale with a realistic twist. The princess does start out as a bit spoiled, but a few nights on her own, braving brigands and an inhospitable environment soon shake her up. Parents reading this will smile at the part where Madeline deeply regrets giving up what she had for what she thought she wanted: isn’t that what life is all about? This is a life lesson in a dynamic package as she comes to terms with her own selfish desires versus what her responsibilities as future princess would be. She also realises how much pain she has caused those who love her. The author’s strength lies in wonderful, rich descriptions that entice all the readers’ senses. From the opulence of the palace, to the terrors of the forest, to the magicality and enchantment of the wizard realm, the readers will experience it first-hand. Although the story seems simple, there is a strong back history that no doubt comes into play with the subsequent books. There is also a strong hint that certain people are not who they appear to be. I would have liked a more detailed back history, instead of a prologue to create Soron’s past and delve deeper into King Theodore’s painful memories. I hope this is developed more in the following books. Charming, and with enough fairy tale elements to satisfy young readers, this book sets a nice beginning for the Princess Madeleine Trilogy by Kirstin Pulioff.

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Voices of the Locusts by Christopher Cloud

Voices2_Ecover1-187x300

Sixteen-year old Jack O’Brien has never known the bittersweet stint of love, and romance is the farthest thing from his mind as he and his family arrives at a remote U.S. Air Force outpost in Japan where Jack’s father is base commander. The year is 1948. Jack’s life changes after a chance encounter with Fujiko Kobaysi, a beautiful and enchanting 17-year-old Japanese girl. Jack is immediately smitten.

Fujiko’s traditional parents are overly protective and monitor her every move, and Jack and Fujiko meet secretly at her garden, located some distance from her village. There is a good reason why Fujiko’s parents are so protective and Jack is devastated when Fujiko tells him that her parents have promised her in marriage to an older man, a practice common throughout Asia at the time. The marriage is only a months away. Jack devises a cunning plan, one that will overshadow her arranged marriage and bring Fujiko and him together.

Playing against a backdrop of swirling post-War social change, Voices of the Locusts tells the story of three families – one black, one white, one Asian. Told in Jack’s voice in vivid and sometimes haunting detail, Jack and Fujiko are frustrated in their romantic quest by story characters coming to terms (often violently) with the emotional scars of World War II.

PURCHASE FROM AMAZON: PAPERBACK OR KINDLE VERSION!

Author Chris Cloud

Christopher Cloud began writing fiction full time after a long career in journalism and public relations. Voices of the Locusts is his fourth novel. A multi-genre author, Chris Cloud’s choice of novels to write is determined not by genre, but by the weight of the story. Cloud graduated from the University of Missouri in 1967 with a degree in journalism. He has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist at newspapers in Texas, California, and Missouri. He was employed by a Fortune 100 company as a public relations executive, and later operated his own public relations agency. Cloud attended high school in Japan, and much of his Voices of the Locusts is based on personal experience. Cloud lives in Joplin, Missouri.

Visit Christopher online at http://christophercloud.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ron.hutchison.90