Posts Categorized: YA historical fiction

The Time-Traveling Fashionista

13 Apr, 2011 by in the poppy tree, time traveling fashionista, YA historical fiction 1 comment

by Bianca Turestsky
Hardcover, 272 pages

Published April 5th 2011

by Poppy
ISBN 0316105422
Source: Publisher

3.5 stars

When Louise Lambert receives a mysterious invitation to a traveling vintage fashion sale in the mail, her normal life in suburban Connecticut is magically transformed into a time traveling adventure. After a brief encounter with two witchy salesladies and donning an evening gown that once belonged to a beautiful silent film star, Louise suddenly finds herself onboard a luxurious cruise ship in 1912. As Alice Baxter, the silent film star, Louise enjoys her access to an extensive closet of gorgeous vintage gowns and begins to get a feel for the challenges and the glamour of life during this decadent era. Until she realizes that she’s not just on any ship– she’s on the Titanic! Will Louise be able to save herself and change the course of history, or are she and her film star alter ego, destined to go down with a sinking ship in the most infamous sea disaster of the 20th century?

The Time- Traveling Fashionista is a fun middle grade read with absolutely stunning illustrations that will take you back to the early days of Vogue magazine. As a girl I was fascinated by the Titanic as well as history and this book would speak right to my young teen heart. Louise transforms from a seventh grader to world famous actress with just the switch of clothes and is magically transported back into time. She finds herself in all kinds of predicaments as she is wearing someone else’s identity and the ship she;s on is about to sink. Can she find a way to alter history and convince the crew of the calamity swiftly approaching? Will she make it out of the disaster herself or be stuck in the past?

I’m delighted by this new series and the only qualm I had with it was the slow pace and my wish for a little more action. The design of the pages and chapter headings is beauitful. It has a clean splash of romance and though based on history is a fun twist to an actual event. This would be a great gift for girls between 10-15. Thanks so much to the Hachette Group for a wonderful read.And be sure to “check out the gorgeously designed Poppy website, in honor of the book’s release! There are all sorts of goodies: excerpts, discussion forums, photos and videos.”

Teaser ARC Giveaway-Prisoners In The Palace

07 Feb, 2011 by in prisoners inthe palace, YA historical fiction 16 comments

Prisoners In The Palace
By Michaela MacColl
Paperback, 368 pages
Published Sept. 1, 2010
by Chronicle Books
ISBN 0811873005

London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady’s maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant’s world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?
Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe.

To enter to win an advanced reading copy of Prisoners in the Palace simply fill out this form. And be sure to visit Michaela’s website to read an excerpt now

Book Review-The Vespertine

10 Jan, 2011 by in saundra mitchell, the vespertine, YA historical fiction, ya paranormal 18 comments

The Vespertine
by Saundra Mitchell
304 pages
Expected publication: March 7, 2011
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s
5 stars

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

The Vespertine was a full sensory experience for me. I wanted to savor every page and soak in every detail. The first pull came from the fact that the majority of the novel is set in Baltimore, Maryland close to my childhood home. Main character Amelia van Broek describes places I know by heart and the sunsets she describes are ones I’ve seen. What most struck me about this book is that I truly felt the plot as if through Amelia’s eyes, I saw things as if I were there. I sympathized with her chosen fate and her motivation.

Written in first person poetic prose The Vespertine has an ethereal feel peppered with historical and paranormal elements. The back history is well researched and author Saundra Mitchell adds finishing touches that make it authentic to the Victorian age.. The tone is pulled between dark and tragic overlapped with frivolity during Amelia’s first summer season with her cousin Zora. The girls enjoy lighthearted outings with friends, picnics and archery. Their friendship as cousins is endearing and deep. All seems well enough, until Amelia begins to see glimmers of the future, premonitions that come at sunset. Soon the home is flooded with calling cards and visits from others seeking their fortune. When future telling turns to prophecies fulfilled all begin to question if Amelia possesses the power to make her foretold events come true.

1889 in Baltimore is also a summer of looking for the perfect husband, a coming of age. Formal dances with dresses made of lace and organza as well as courting and interested callers. Zora, Amelia’s cousin has her heart set on Thomas Rae, son of the local doctor. He is genuine and of impeccable manners, my favorite character in The Vespertine. Amelia, on the other hand, is dangerously and mysteriously drawn to Nathaniel Witherspoon, a fourteenth by profession– one hired to round out the odd 13 number at dinner parties. He’s an artist who smells of turpentine and oil paints, one below Amelia’s society. I personally found him a little creepy, but captivating none the less. Nathaniel holds a secret and Amelia wants to know more.

Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed this book. Everything from the beautiful poetic writing to the minor details of dress making and courtship. The Vespertine is more than just a book, it an emotional journey that will whisper to you long after you’ve shut the pages. Everything about it is haunting and lush. Saundra Mitchell masterfully writes in the actual voice of a young girl in the Victorian age; it’s is authentic, moving, and magical. I can not wait for the companion novel Spring Sweet to be released in 2012.

Thanks so much to Houghton Mifflin and Netgalley for allowing me to step into the world that is The Vespertine. Learn more by visiting

Saundra Mitchell has generously offered a tiny taste of The Vespertine for you, the readers of Fire and Ice. Delight in dance cards, sandalwood fans and more by filling out this form. Three winners will be drawn February 11, 2012.

Book Review- Contagion by Joanne Dahme

28 Oct, 2010 by in mystery, running press, YA historical fiction 2 comments

Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 28, 2010
by Running Press Kids
ISBN 0762437383
4.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads: In her fourth novel Joanne Dahme creates another page-turning tale in which a young woman named Rose strives to rid Philadelphia’s water of the deadly typhoid bacteria. Set in the late 19th century, Rose Dugan is a young wife who is actively involved in her community. But when her best friend is killed while working at Philadelphia’s Water Works’ gardens, the mystery around her death pulls Rose in. Will she save the city from a deadly typhoid outbreak that is threatening the city’s water system? Will Rose unravel the mystery behind her best friend’s murder—a fate that was actually meant for her?

If you are looking for a creepy Halloween read, look no further. Contagion is the perfect mix of history and mystery.

The first thing that drew me into this book was the setting. I spent much of my childhood visiting parks in Philadelphia so I could imagine the places described and air of the novel. Historically based novels are fascinating to me.

The main heroine is Rose, a young girl of 18 who is forced to grow up quickly she and her 25 year old husband are left without parents. Both are passed control of the family business. However, husband Patrick is a power hungry contractor who just keeps looking more sinister and slimy as the plot unravels. He’s one you’re going to loathe.

As the city of Philadelphia battles with numerous outbreaks of Typhoid the suspense and political mudslinging between Patrick and his competitors begins to increase. There are so many subplots going on, it feels like a cross between Sherlock Holmes, Clue and a creepy BBC mystery show I used to watch as a kid. But I just couldn’t put this book down!

I had a couple of distractions due to typos and punctuation problems in the finished copy. And, it bothered me that there is romance blooming between a married woman and widowed man…no matter the circumstances.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and all the work put in to making it solid historically. The author is versed in water issues and she explores the logistics of it with ease and in a way that is not boring for teens.

Contagion is a page turner with a twisty plot and rich descriptions. I’d say pick it up and give it a try for a night with all the lights on! Check out other titles by Joanne Dahm on Goodreads.