Scarlet & Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

A new and addicting twist on the beloved tale of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.


Perhaps the most mysterious of Robin’s band is Will Scarlet. Here, Scarlet is a runaway from London whom Rob discovered stealing from him. Thievery, knives, and secrets are what Scarlet deals in, especially as only the band–Rob, Little John, and Much–and very few others know the biggest secret…that Scarlet is a girl. As the Sheriff orders heavier taxes on the people surrounding Nottingham Forest, its up to Rob, Little John, Much, and Scarlet to protect the people from his brutality. Even as they save lives, they garner more dangerous attention risking their necks, and with the Sheriff humiliated by the band’s actions, Prince John sends in Guy of Gisbourne, a known outlaw tracker. He’s Scarlet’s worst nightmare, and she knows if he finds out she’s actually Will Scarlet, it’ll mean the end of her life, and likely the end of Robin’s as well because he’s vowed to keep Scarlet safe. Can Scarlet outsmart Guy and the Sheriff even while her life and love hang in the balance and also hiding her true identity?

39335ee6a814675e423e46614986c5edLady Thief

In this sequel to Scarlet, our heroine has sacrificed herself for Robin’s sake, as he was being tortured and almost killed, and married Gisbourne, yet vowing she will never come to heed him as a wife should. However, Guy has a proposition for Scarlet when he finds that Prince John, Lady Isabel, and the Dowager Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and other nobles are descending upon the area to help name a new sheriff. Guy wants to be sheriff, and he can since he is now titled with Scarlet’s lands, but Robin, as the Earl of Huntingdon, also has right to vie for sheriff. Guy needs Scarlet to act like the lady she is and help him toady to Prince John, and in exchange Guy promises to divorce her so that she can marry Robin. Scarlet has long forgotten how to act like a lady, and most other women and men of the court seem determined to snub her as a stupid heathen, despite her proven (albeit unladylike) talents. No longer surrounded by her defending men of Rob, John, and Much, she must depend on Gisbourne and her own wits for everything. When Scarlet finds out her parents have come to visit, another big secret rears its head to show why even Prince John is out to ruin Scarlet’s life.

Note: Some sexual references, violent situations and language. If given a movie rating, PG.

This was one of the best retellings of Robin Hood that I’ve read. It’s an absolute favorite, and I’m going to buy them as soon as I can! (Perhaps I should mention that Robin Hood is like my favorite Disney movie ever, and so, I get my hands on anything that’s Robin affiliated.) Other YA retellings are Rowan Hood, The Outlaws of Sherwood, Pretty Crooked & Pretty Sly, and Robin: Lady of Legend. Expect to see Pretty Crooked and Pretty Sly up here soon enough! I can’t wait for the third Scarlet book which A.C. Gaughen is currently working on. Meanwhile, follow her on Twitter! She tweets what she’s reading about and updates on Scarlet3 as well as she’s just pretty funny!


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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen


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Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


It’s been some time since Andi’s younger brother was killed, but Andi and her mother are still tormented by his loss. Andi’s basically failing school, and the only thing that keeps her alive is her music. When Andi’s father discovers the tenuous mental states his family is in, he packs his ex-wife off to a mental ward and takes Andi with him to Paris. Her father is a very famous scientist who studies DNA and he’s in Paris to assist in DNA research on a 17th century heart for his old roommate, now a famous historian. The heart is believed to have belonged to Louis-Charles, the young son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI and dauphin of France who was orphaned, imprisoned, and very likely starved to death by his captors. Andi cannot help but compare Louis-Charles to her brother, and finds herself hoping that the heart does not belong to the poor boy. Struggling with her grief and guilt, she is granted permission to play an old 17th century guitar, and when she does so, she discovers a journal in the guitar case’s hidden compartment. The journal belongs to Alexandrine Paradis, a young girl from a family of players who was once Louis-Charles’s playmate. As Andi learns more about Alexandrine, Louis-Charles, and the deadly mayhem that was the Revolution, she discovers other secrets and they all push her into a process of healing.

While this book started out unusually, the premise and the ideas were quickly captivating. It is one of the best in-depth historical fiction books I have read although it doesn’t come close to the greatness that is Between Shades of Gray or Code Name Verity. It intertwines the stories of Andi and Alexandrine into almost one voice, as Andi heals from the guilt and pain left behind from her brother’s death. There is some suspension of reality involved as Andi takes a visit into the past, but overall, it is a great read.

Fun fact: the newest announced Assassin’s Creed video game is also going to take place during the French Revolution.



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The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

DeStefano writes a dystopian trilogy where a genetic disease now causes death for males at age 25 and females at age 20. Many doctors are supposedly working on a cure, but the populace is angry that their sons and daughters are dying. To attempt to live until a cure is found, wealthy families buy young brides for their sons so that their bloodline will live on. Girls are snatched off the street and basically sold into this form of slavery despite their wishes. The series chronicles one girl’s desperate struggle for freedom.


Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery lives with her twin brother after their scientist parents were killed by angry citizens. When she’s snatched off the streets by the Gatherers, she stands with 20 or 30 other girls as a few are selected to be brides. To her dismay, she is one of those few, noticed by her two different colored eyes. As she’s being taken away, she notices the rest of the girls are loaded into another truck and there are gunshots. She’s been bought to be a bride of Linden Ashby by his terrifying and wealthy doctor father, along with two other girls, Jenna and Cecily. Although Linden is sweet and mourning the loss of his first wife, Rhine will do whatever it takes to escape and find her brother. Her only true ally is a servant boy, Gabriel.


After Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the Ashby household, they make their way up the coast only to get nabbed by a deranged madam and her eccentric fairgrounds and her brothel girls. There they are drugged and made to perform in front of crowds of men. With the help of one of the girls who has a crippled child and the Madam’s most trusted boy, they escape again, only this time with illness and the silent, odd child. They journey back to New York, where Rhine can only thing of finding her brother. Instead, they find another home, of sorts, as Rhine slips even more into a deadly illness.


Back in the Ashby household, Linden finally wakes up to his father’s cruel machinations and fights to protect the remaining members of his family. Vaughn, Linden’s father, is still attempting to make a cure, and Rhine and her brother are the key. The finale of this series will have you rooting for Rhine, Linden, and Cecily to be cured while also discovering bit by bit the world in which they live.

While there is no graphic sexuality or language in this book, the ideas and violence of certain ideas might be too much for younger readers. I found this book to be disturbing, though many of the practices (stealing child brides and forcing them into polygamous marriages to breed children, etc.) are present in other less modern societies. This is certainly no The Hunger Games or Divergent in terms of fan appeal, but it is worth a read if you like dystopians with a different spin. The worst part of the series for me was how action seemed so slow at times, particularly in Fever where she actually has a fever and is very sick. I did have a hard time reading the scenes with Cecily and her little boy, but it was a Mom thing. I couldn’t imagine having a child knowing I would be dead in a few years and couldn’t provide for that child. It’s terrible burden for a mother to bear, and that depth of emotion and feeling, I thought, the series showed really well. Linden himself is pretty wonderful, and once he realizes the extent his father is a Machiavellian tyrant, he stands up for his family. As far as the reading goes, it was okay/good read. Nothing to get wildly excited about, IMO.






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Monument 14, Sky on Fire, and Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne

Are you ready for this? If tornadoes have been happening and you’re wigged out, perhaps it’s best not to pickup this series quite at this time. But seriously? I LOVED these books! A post-apocalyptic/contemporary fiction mash-up that deals with a cataclysmic disaster in the United States.

Monument 14

Monument-14In Monument, CO, fourteen children and teens are left stranded in a Greenway (basically a Wal-Mart) after a chain of weather disasters causes large hail to batter Monument and a nearby military facility to implode, releasing toxic chemical weapons into the atmosphere. Dean, our 16-year-old narrator, finds himself among the eldest of their group of kids, and is automatically thrust into a position of responsibility, especially for his younger genius brother Alex. Their teacher, Mrs. Wooly had left to get help for one of the teens, Josie, who was in shock from her injuries. Meanwhile, the kids must band together to survive, with each of them having their own responsibilities and taking care of the younger ones. However, the release of the chemical weapons makes everything that much more unpredictable as the bio-weapons target blood types and the known but ravaged world turns into a horrible nightmare. Beauty and savagery, innocence and corruption, love and hate, selflessness and selfishness, all intertwine and create a moving and gripping story that will suck you in and leave you begging to read more.

Book 2 & Spoilers below!


Monument 14: Sky on Fire

monument-14-2In the sequel, Alex and Dean have gone their separate ways. Alex travels with Nico, Josie, and a few of the children in the bus to drive to nearby Denver and hopefully get air evacuated, reunited with their parents, and rescue for the ones left behind. Dean has chosen to stay at Greenway, half because he is a type O and is terrified of going murderously berserk on the bus and half because he feels he must stay with Astrid, his type O friend and crush who also happens to be pregnant with Jake’s baby. Dean and Astrid also keep Chloe, another type O, Luna, the dog, and the 5-year-old twins, Caroline and Henry who were Dean’s neighbors. For both groups, the world around them is almost no longer recognizable and instead is a living, breathing nightmare. Alex, Nico, Josie, and the bus kids are traveling into an unknown and hostile territory, filled with dead bodies, decomposing and abandoned automobiles, manic type O’s, bloodthirsty street gangs, and the threat of chemical death. Dean’s little family, though it looks like they’re set to easily hole up in the Greenway, faces power outages, sickness, and threat of breach by anyone desperate and powerful enough to break in and take it from them. It has always been a question of survival, but now at the end, when they’ve done nothing but try to be a family, it’s a desperate bid to live and not lose anyone or their own sense of morality.

Book 3 & Spoilers below!

1382064522001-Monument-14-SAVAGE-DRIFT-cover Monument 14: Savage Drift

It’s over.

Dean, Alex, and the other survivors of the Monument 14 have escaped the disaster zone and made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Some of the kids have been reunited with their families, and everyone is making tentative plans for the future. And then, Niko learns that his lost love, Josie, has survived!

Or is it?

For Josie, separated from the group and presumed dead, life has gone from bad to worse. Trapped in a terrible prison camp with other exposed O’s and traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue. Meanwhile, scared by the government’s unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid—along with her two protectors, Dean and Jake—joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with Josie.

The final installment of the Monument 14 trilogy does not disappoint as once more the teens (and kids) fight to survive the aftermath of the disasters, while also caring for one another as family. Dean, Jake, Niko, and Astrid set out to rescue Josie, while also protecting Astrid from being stolen away in the night for government testing due to her pregnancy and the baby’s chemical exposure. Meanwhile, Josie has lost all hope and lives in the O prison camp as though isolated except for Mario, the eighty-year-old man who rescued her from staying O. Mario has sponsored other orphaned kids, and Josie does her best to shut them all out. When Mario and the kids are threatened by the guards, Josie takes the brunt of the punishment, making her a juicy target for the local gang and the guards. The final danger is that of the drifts, giant clouds of the chemical poisons that are rumored to be drifting across the land, rumors that the government will not admit are true. Their final dream is to be reunited at Niko’s uncle’s farm in Pennsylvania, but with all of the obstacles in their way, the journey is nigh to impossible. It’s a quick read to see if they can survive these latest adventures and finally have a bright future.

This series isn’t an easy read. It’s violent and disturbing and laid bare with the grittiness and ugliness of humanity. From sexuality to drug and alcohol abuse to excrement and murder, all are present and fairly obvious, but not overdone, in these books. It’s definitely a Read at Your Own Risk, but you’ll probably be glad you did (as long as you aren’t one of those types to be scared about something like this actually happening–if that’s you, maybe you’ll need to have a happy read to switch to when you need it. My strategy was that I read this series before reading My Life Next Door, posted earlier, and that was a great pick). The beautiful way these teens care for one another and others who become dependent on them makes this such an addictive and moving read, and one I couldn’t help but love. I also have a big soft spot for Dean, who despite his worst moments influenced by the chemical compounds, shows that he has such capacity for love and is an honorable young man determined to care for anyone less fortunate than he. They all show tremendous maturity and strength in the face of such catastrophe, and that is one thing that will touch readers if they pick up this series. Four solid stars, except for the fact that I wanted to read more!!!


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The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

The Tyrant’s Daughter

9bd7e814e9f34e9686ca3ca1a11c1467In a story inspired by both real and fictitious events, fifteen-year-old Laila has just had her whole world turned upside down. She’s been exiled from her country and now lives in a state of asylum in the United States with her mother and younger brother, since her father, the ruler of an unnamed Middle Eastern country, was assassinated by her uncle. Now her new freedoms and friendships have her questioning her whole past and her mother’s involvement with her uncle’s new regime. Was her father a dictator, a tyrant that murdered and starved their people or a King, like he told her and her brother? How does she reconcile that man with the loving father she knew? Is her mother working for her uncle, to further devastate their country, or should Laila continue trusting her to do the right thing? How will all of this affect Bastien, her younger brother, who is set to inherit the mantle of power though he’s only 7 years old? Is there any difference that Laila herself can make in helping her people or protecting her brother from the same fate?

While this unique coming-of-age story is mesmerizing and a fantastic read about exploring your own identity and reconciling your childhood beliefs to new, more mature realizations of the world, it is also one that is very hard to describe without betraying certain facts that are intrinsic to the plot. It is definitely a book that will speak to any reader, as growing up means learning entirely new meanings for the things you thought you knew. Laila transforms from a passive, afraid, and utterly naïve girl into a young woman who knows that she cannot accept the world at face value for underneath it can be seedy and utterly reviling with its destruction and contempt for humanity. With her growing knowledge, she must make a choice whether to do nothing and accept the ugliness or stand up and use her own gifts to stop it. Her new acquaintance with Amir brings a real face to her people, and Laila, though her family betrays her, realizes she can do nothing about their choices, but can stand in the gap to prevent new tyranny and suffering and she can provide responsibility and new direction to their future. Though Laila can be painted with the same pitch as her tyrant father, dictator uncle, and manipulative mother, she can also step out of their shadows and become her own person to do what is good for her people. The sins of the father need not be the sins of his offspring.

This could be one of those great reads for high school classrooms. I really loved how the story is still very moving and Laila can easily connect to the reader, while the actual plot events are partially taken from history but without any identifiable markers. It is more of a “what if” book than historically significant, but should be an eye-opener for any who blindly do not accept those from the Middle East. This should be read for the cultural insight alone, bridging the unknown of a Middle Eastern life and culture (especially those nations who have been involved in wars recently–those we might mistakenly describe as terrorists) and our familiar American one. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a single way this book could be better, except possibly by continuing the story.

Fun fact: the author is a former undercover CIA officer who was involved in international conflicts. She also doesn’t paint the common picture of the CIA, either, and shows that even our agents and government have their own agendas which might conflict with the common good of the nation.


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