Folly by Marthe Jocelyn

Mary Finn is a fourteen-year-old country girl who finds work as a scullery maid in Victorian London. She has always been a girl of common sense, very helpful and skilful, until Caden Tucker enters her life. Mary immediately falls for the handsome soldier and their passion for each other leads to Mary’s downfall.

Intertwined with Mary’s tale is the story of James Nelligan, who is a remarkable and clever foundling. At the age of six, the boy is taken from his foster family and brought to a foundling hospital in London. As the story unfolds, the reader will be surprised to find out that their stories are connected.

Ever since I read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, I have developed a passion for the Victorian Era and I tend to read every book that is set in that period. Thus, when I first heard of Folly I knew I had to read it, since the synopsis piqued my interest. I was eager to read this book because I knew I would love it. And I am so glad that I had the chance to read this novel because it was wonderful in every way.

Folly was a gripping tale that left me longing for more, as it was full of romance, passion and jealousy.  I enjoyed every single page of this captivating book and I was desperate to find out how it would end. But as it happens with all the books I love, I was sad when I finished reading it because I wanted to learn more about Mary, James, Caden and Oliver. I could not help but feel moved by James and his tragic tale and I felt sad when I read about his days at the foundling hospital. It was touching to read about all these children who didn’t know where they came from and who their parents were. I also enjoyed reading about Mary and I sympathized with her and her awkward situation. But what I liked most about this book was the fact that Marthe Jocelyn has done such a wonderful job reviving the streets of Victorian London with her vivid descriptions, her authentic language, and her attention to detail. I just felt that this book was refreshing and different from anything that I have read lately. Folly stood out and impressed me with every single page. And the reason why this book is so striking is because Folly was inspired by Jocelyn’s family history. The author knew that her grandfather was an orphan, but she was shocked to learn the true story of his birth. Although he was raised in a foundling hospital in London, his parents had been very much alive. It was his own mother who brought him there, but Marthe Jocelyn wasn’t able to learn why her grandfather was left there by his mother. Moved by this discovery, the author was inspired to write Folly. And I am so glad that she did because it was an incredible and realistic novel that will linger in my mind for a long time! I am looking forward to reading other books by this talented author and I would recommend Folly to everyone who is interested in the Victorian Period and to those who like to read a fascinating and suspenseful tale!

I would like to thank the author and her publicist Casey Lloyd from Random House for sending me a copy of this engaging book!

Andreea

The Queen Must Die by K.A.S. Quinn

Katie is a lonely N.Y.C. girl who doesn’t have any friends since nobody seems to be interested in her, not even her mother Mimi. Katie can’t confide in her mother as Mimi is too preoccupied with getting married – every time she meets a new man, Katie’s mother feels the need to marry him. Thus, having no one to talk to, Katie likes to spend her time reading books. However, one day, when the young girl reads a book about Queen Victoria’s daughters, a peculiar thing happens – she finds herself lying under a sofa in Buckingham Palace, at the height of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Together with her new friends – Princess Alice, the young daughter of Queen Victoria, and James O’Reilly, the son of the royal doctor – Katie tries to find out why she has been sent back in time. However, there are other mysteries that need to be solved as well. For example, there are Katie’s strange visions and the frightening creatures that keep following her everywhere. As the young girl tries to discover the truth behind these strange happenings, she finds out something even more disturbing – dark forces have constructed a plot to assassinate the Queen. Thus, Katie and her friends must find a way to stop this unthinkable thing from happening. However, the young heroine must pay heed, as these supernatural creatures are out to get her. Will Katie be able to save the Queen and save herself? And will she be able to return to N.Y.C.?

The Queen Must Die is the first of The Chronicles of the Tempus trilogy and it’s an engaging children’s book packed with suspense, mysteries, secrets and many adventures. Filled with both fact and fiction, this novel narrates the exciting story of a young girl who feels alone and who is looking for distraction. Katie takes comfort in books; reading is her passion since she can embark on journeys and travel all over the world while sitting in her N.Y.C. bedroom. Books transport her into new worlds and she can meet new and interesting people that way. However, Katie didn’t expect that one day, she would literally be transported to another time and place. The young girl starts the most intriguing adventure of her life, but in the end, she gains more than just a thrilling experience – she learns so many things about life and furthermore, she gains new friends that appreciate and support her.

The Queen Must Die is a wonderful book about family, friendship and courage. It was a delight to read this book, as I love the Victorian Period, and thus I really enjoyed reading about Queen Victoria, the Royal Family and Buckingham Palace. I liked to read about Katie’s adventures in London and I especially liked the theme of time travel and the supernatural elements in this novel. As I mentioned before, I normally don’t read series, but I will read this one since it’s refreshing, captivating and fascinating. I am looking forward to reading the second instalment, The Queen At War, which will be published in 2011.

I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in the Victorian Period and to everyone who likes to read books about time travel.

Note: I would like to thank Atlantic Books for sending me a copy of this great book!

Andreea

The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

Some of you may remember that I reviewed The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber last year. And you may remember that I loved this book very much because it was beautiful and haunting. I know that I was sad when I finished reading it because I longed for more. Luckily, Percy Parker’s story continues now, as the author has written a sequel, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. The second book in the Strangely Beautiful saga is just as wonderful as the first one and I loved everything about it! But now let’s have a closer look at this lovely sequel:

In The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, we find Percy Parker united with her true love, Professor Alexi Rychman. After many trials and dangers, Percy has now found someone who appreciates her for who she really is and the mysterious girl finally feels accepted and loved. Furthermore, the heroine has also made new friends, the members of The Guard. Percy’s friends stand by her side no matter what nightmares might come and together, they are ready to face the forces of evil that want to overrun Victorian London. However, Percy needs to pay heed, as she will soon have to deal with betrayals, jealousy and revenge. Therefore, our heroine will need to keep faith in order to fulfill her duty and her destiny. Will The Guard be able to protect the young girl with snow-white skin and hair from the dangers that await her? And what about Alexi? Is their love strong enough to overcome any obstacle? Torn between duty and love, Percy realizes that she needs to be brave and strong in order to withstand the great storm that will approach. Furthermore, she needs to trust her instincts as well as her beloved Alexi, because she can only succeed and win the battle against evil if he is by her side!

I wish I could tell you more about this book, but I am afraid that I would spoil the story. Thus, I hope that you’ll pick up these novels and read them, as they are both engaging and intriguing. Just as the first book in the Strangely Beautiful saga, The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker will draw the reader in from page one and he/she will sympathize with the protagonists and care deeply about them. Leanna Renee Hieber has again created a fascinating tale full of myth and spiritualism with a touch of gothic and mystery and the author has managed to draft a satisfying and believable sequel that will entrance readers once again. This wonderful second novel is packed with suspense, romance, fantasy and the paranormal and readers will delight in Percy’s story, as there are some twists and turns, as well as other surprises to be discovered!

I must say that I loved this book as much as I loved the first one and I was again very sad when I finished reading it. Also, it occurred to me that I normally don’t read series because I haven’t found one that I actually liked. Thus, the Strangely Beautiful saga is the first one that piqued my interest and I was really excited about this sequel. I wanted to find out more about Percy Parker and her destiny and I must say that I am very pleased with The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker because I liked everything about it – the lyrical language, the beautiful descriptions, the supernatural elements, the Victorian setting and of course the romance between Percy and Alexi. Everything in this book is depicted so vividly and beautifully and the author has created such a special atmosphere, which is full of charm and magic. I can’t really explain it, but while reading these two books, I felt transported to Victorian London and I could imagine being there, together with Percy and The Guard, witnessing all those mythic creatures and ethereal beings.

The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker is an imaginative tale that will appeal to fantasy fans and to everyone who likes to read a fascinating love story set against the backdrop of a dark and mythical Victorian London. For those who want to find out more about the Strangely Beautiful saga (trailers, excerpts and more), please visit the author’s website here.

Note: The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker is scheduled for release on the 27th of April.

I would like to thank the author for sending me a signed copy of her wonderful book!

So what about you? Do you read series? What is your favorite one?

The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

In 1853, twelve-year-old orphan Mary Quinn is struggling to survive on the unsafe streets of shady London by committing crimes. But one day, she is unwary and is caught housebreaking and therefore, Mary is sentenced to hang. Luckily, she is rescued by a mysterious woman, who is dressed as a prison warden. The woman turns out to be Anne Treleaven, the head teacher at Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls and she offers Mary an exceptional education at her school. There, she is able to acquire fine manners and other special skills. After finishing her education, Anne reveals to seventeen-year-old Mary that the academy is in fact a cover for The Agency – a top secret female investigative unit. Acknowledging Mary’s intelligence, bravery and good skills of observations, Anne encourages Mary to join The Agency and thus, put her hard training to the test.

Mary is intrigued by this new opportunity and therefore, takes up this thrilling challenge with great expectations. Her first assignment as a female investigator is to infiltrate the Thorold household in order to collect information on Mr. Thorold’s missing cargo ships. In the guise of a lady’s companion, Mary must work fast and find out the truth about Mr. Thorold’s business. But in the Thorold household, nothing is quite as it seems and Mary must be careful in deciding whom she can trust. Everyone seems to have dark little secrets: Mrs. Thorold acts rather suspiciously, her daughter Angelica is spoiled and seems to hide something and Mr. Thorold’s secretary Michael Gray flirts with Mary. And then there’s also James Easton, an arrogant, yet very attractive young man. His brother George is one of Angelica’s suitors and they have met several times. But why is James always behaving so strangely and why does he follow her everywhere? Can she really trust him or will she put herself in great danger by cooperating with him? And why is Mary trying to avoid talking about her past and parents?

The Agency: A Spy in the House is a delightful novel set in the heart of Victorian London, where shady and dangerous things are taking place. Y.S. Lee has written a compelling tale packed with suspense, action, mystery, intrigues and romance. Readers will enjoy accompanying Mary on her dangerous journey through the dusky streets of Victorian London and witnessing how this young and clever detective discovers secrets and fights the demons of her troubled childhood. I really loved this captivating tale and I wanted to read more about Mary and her fascinating adventures! The Agency: A Spy in the House is Y.S. Lee’s first novel and it’s part of a trilogy. Therefore, there will be a second novel in the Agency series, called The Body at the Tower and it will be published in August in the States. I can’t wait to read the promising sequel!

For more information on the Agency series, please visit the author’s website here. There, you can also enter a contest to win a copy of The Agency: A Spy in the House and other prizes.

Note: I would like to thank the author and her publicist Tracy Miracle from Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this engaging book!

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renne Hieber

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is set in the heart of Victorian London, where dark and mysterious things are taking place. Dangerous spirits are haunting this beautiful city and six people have been chosen to safeguard the mortal world from these supernatural terrors. This group, known as The Guard, awaits the fulfillment of the Prophecy, which promises that a last member will join their circle in time and help them fight against the forces of evil.

Nineteen years later, orphan Percy Parker arrives at the Athens Academy in Victorian London. The eighteen-year-old immediately feels out of place at her new school, since she is not like any other girl. Her strange and unique appearance sets her apart from the other students and Percy finds it hard to make friends. The students and professors think that she looks odd and thus, they keep their distance; but if they gave this timid girl a chance, they would find out that she is unique in every way. Percy speaks multiple languages and she has the ability to see ghosts and speak to them. Furthermore, she is often haunted by strange visions. However, Percy does not know why these peculiar things are happening to her. The shy girl yearns for acceptance and wants to be like everybody else, therefore she doesn’t want to tell anyone about her abilities. Percy doesn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention to herself, so she tries to behave like the other students. She tries to focus on school and she is concerned about the fact that she has to attend math classes. She is a bright student, but she isn’t good at math and therefore, she hates it. Maybe her attractive Professor Alexi will be able to change her mind. There’s just something about him that fascinates Percy and she cannot stop thinking about him. What does this mysterious Alexi have to hide? And what do these two unlikely characters have in common?

Vivienne at Serendipity mentioned this refreshing novel and when I read the synopsis, I knew that I had to get my hands on this book!

Thus, I was very happy when I received a copy from Dorchester Publishing and I couldn’t wait to read it! I just loved this compelling novel, since it drew me in from the beginning and it took me on an unforgettable journey through Victorian London!

Leanna Renee Hieber has created a charming and imaginative gothic story that is full of spiritualism, mystery and romance. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is an engaging novel and I was immediately captivated by the lyrical language, the mythic themes and the well-drawn characters. In the beginning, Percy is described as a shy girl who has no self-confidence, but when she meets Professor Alexi, she gains strength and courage. Alexi, unlike the others, doesn’t feel intimidated by her appearance; he appreciates Percy and becomes aware of the fact that she is a beautiful young girl who is intelligent, kind and special in every way! All in all, this book is lovely and beautifully written; I really liked everything about it, especially the Victorian setting and the gothic and supernatural elements. This is indeed a strangely beautiful tale!

For more information (trailer, excerpts and prologue), please visit Leanna Renee Hieber’s website.