Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Torrent (fiction)

Welcome to World Wednesday as we return to 14th century Tuscany with the third volume of The River of Time series, being released tomorrow.

Battles a-horseback and on foot.
Treachery and loyalty.
Faith and hope, gained and lost.
And, oh, you will so want to be with Gabi and Lia again as they time-travel to be with those they love!

Please be sure to read Waterfall (#1) and Cascade (#2) first so that you get the full backstory of how two bored American teen sisters become the She-Wolves of Siena and inextricably entwined with the people and destiny of Castello Forelli. Swashbuckling gal heroes - my favorite kind!

Book info: Torrent / Lisa T. Bergren. David C. Cook, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Traveling back in time, the Betarrini family hopes that they're not too late to save their friends in 14th century Tuscany. Bringing Dad with them is an unexpected blessing, but being separated from Marcello is causing Gabi such anguish and pain!

Once again, Gabi and Lia exit the ancient Etruscan tomb into a battle zone - this time they may have the upper hand as the Forellis have left weapons hidden for them. Ah, Castello Forelli has been rebuilt, but over it fly the flags of the treacherous Lord Paratore who started the border wars! Traveling the backways by night, the Betarrinis hope to find safety and information in the city.

How happy the people of Siena are to see that the battling Ladies Betarrini have returned to them from their mysterious travels! How delighted handsome young knight Marcello is to have Gabi back in his arms! How wonderful to see that his election to The Nine is benefiting the people of the region through Marcello's able decisionmaking.

But how sad the sisters are to discover that Fortino Forelli is a captive of Lord Paratore, being tortured despite all offers of ransom from his brother.

Can the She-Wolves of Siena help rescue the lord of Castello Forelli while keeping Gabi safe from Paratore's bitter desire for revenge? Is Lord Greco still a double-agent for Siena, or has he decided that Florence will win the war? Will the Betarrini family stay in the 1300s, knowing that the Black Plague is coming - or will Gabi be taken away from Marcello forever?

Swordplay, expert archery, the rough road to Rome, narrow escapes, and the power of true love - you won't want to miss this thrilling sequel to Waterfall and Cascade!
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sweetly, by Jackson Pearce (fiction) - gingerbread house, werewolves on the prowl

Welcome to Mysterious Monday and a truly frightening retelling of a classic fairy tale.

The story of Hansel and Gretel really is scary when you look at it afresh, as candy, cakes and a gingerbread house lure children into mortal peril in the eerie forest of the witch.

Jackson Pearce has given the Grimm Brothers version a mordant twist as rumors of possible witches near a small Southern town turn out to be much worse than anyone feared.

Published just last week, Sweetly will undoubtedly make the bestseller list - but you found it here first! Grab it at your local independent bookstore today, or get on the waiting list at your library - and lock your doors when you read it!

Book info: Sweetly / Jackson Pearce. Little Brown, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: In the woods of their childhood, Gretchen and Ansel lost their sister - even as the three held hands and ran from the sounds, she was snatched away from them. Their mother died from grief, their father mourns still, their stepmother finally pushing the now-teen siblings out of their home.

Driving as far away as their old car and their savings will carry them, they roll to a stop near Live Oak, a small South Carolina community that's dwindling away as modern life tempts its young people away to the big city. Young chocolate-maker Sophia invites them to stay with her at the charming sweetshop outside of town, lonely after her father and sister have left. Her candy creations taste magical; her hospitality is warm and authentic.

The townspeople of Live Oak are rather wary of the newcomers, but do warn them of strange occurrences in the woods near Sophia's place and even about Sophia herself. The missing persons posters in the Post Office all feature older teen girls - if they just moved away to the city as Sophia says, why haven't they contacted their families?

As Sophia's famous girls-only chocolate festival approaches, Gretchen meets a young man who claims knowledge about the monsters in the woods, monsters that sound like the ones in her recurring nightmares about her twin's disappearance.

Can Gretchen trust Samuel when folks in Live Oak say he's part of the trouble in the woods? Is there a link between the chocolate festival and the disappearing teens? Have she and Ansel walked into a trap created by their own past?

Enjoy this spooky, enthralling take on the Hansel and Gretel story with the lights on, windows locked, and shades drawn against what may be lurking in the woods near your house!