Tag Archives: books for young girls

YA Novel Color Song Brings Beautiful Fantasy and Imagery to a Young Girl’s Renaissance Quest



Color Song is the second book in the YA historical fiction Passion Blue series by Victoria Strauss, with the first book having the Passion Blue title. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear of Passion Blue prior to Color Song, and didn’t have time to catch up, but luckily Strauss wrote Color Song in a way that could still be enjoyed by someone who hadn’t read the first book! Color Song was a beautiful novel with a lovely voice and intricate details and emotions.I look forward to going back and reading the first novel too!

Giulia yearns to paint, but women aren’t artists in Renaissance Italy! She is sent to a convent instead, where she is strong enough to still keep her dream alive and strive towards her reality of being a painter. Strauss is good about letting first time readers know how the colors and the color of Passion Blue play into Giulia’s life. That color is very important. I thought that Strauss idea and imaginative writing and storytelling was very clever.

As Giulia runs away to Venice, dressed as a boy, to immerse into the world of art and become an apprentice, we easily can visually see her emotions, her excitement, her fears, and her astounding abilities. Strauss describes Venice with captivating prowess that pulled me in and kept me reading. I could see how not only adult readers would be entranced by this story, but young readers as well. For instance, my almost 11 year old is a higher level reader, and wants to be an artist, and I can imagine her snuggling up in her bed and being lost in the pages of this book!

Giulia can HEAR colors. What an amazing concept. Strauss writes about color so visually with only a pen and paper. She fills in her sentences with phrasing that allows us to SEE the colors that her character hears and read through our eyes not only the words on the page, but watch a canvas before us.

Not only does the book have beautiful imagery and light, there is also the struggle that Giulia has, the secret of the Passion Blue color recipe, new secrets that open up in Venice, fantastical dreams and supernatural elements, and her struggle to hide herself in a new city. There is suspense, angst, indecision, but also personal triumphs and hope. I love Strauss’s portrayal of Giulia. She is a brave, independent, and amazing young woman that many young girls, even in the modern world, can use as a role model.

I love historical fiction, and especially love historical fiction surrounding art, so this book was a treasure for me, but as well I am thrilled to find a YA historical! There just aren’t enough of these books for young women who don’t want to only read dystopian, sci-fi, or horror. With historical fiction, young women can learn history, culture, and as well still read about role models who overcame limitations that others created for them and be able to rise above the turmoil. With this novel, they can get their touch of fantasy as well. I also love fantasy and supernatural and there was just enough of that in this book to hold me spellbound.

I highly recommend Color Song for anyone, or any teen, who loves historical fiction, art, and culture, but especially a coming-of-age novel with some originality.


Color Song, Synopsis~

Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Skyscape (Amazon Children’s Publishing)
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover

Genre: YA Historical


By the author of the acclaimed Passion Blue, a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2012 and “a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion,” comes a fascinating companion novel.

Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed – or cursed – with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors she creates in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilità. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness, and rekindled her passion to become a painter – an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy.

But when a dying Humilità bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession – the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue – Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color for themselves. Faced with the prospect of lifelong imprisonment in the convent, forever barred from painting as a punishment for keeping Humilita’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice?

Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilità’s precious blue. And Venice, with its graceful gondolas and twisting canals, its gilded palazzi and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?

This compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to follow your true passion?

GIVEAWAY LINK! Click that link to enter the win the below prizes!!

2 Grand Prizes Winners:

One Kindle Paperwhite with custom Color Song cover, with Color Song and Passion Blue ebooks pre-loaded, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks), and signed paperback editions of Strauss’s Stone duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) (US only)

2 winners:

Signed hardcovers of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada)

5 winners:

Signed paperbacks of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada)

See more giveaway details by clicking on the tour button at bottom of the page. Run by Historcial Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Praise for Books by Strauss~

“Fantasy elements and a historical setting rich with sensuous detail are satisfying, but it’s Giulia’s achingly real search for her heart’s desire that resonates most today, when millions of girls still have limited choices. A rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion.” – Kirkus Reviews on PASSION BLUE (Starred Review, a Best Teen Book of 2012)

“Compelling…absorbing…An intriguing historical novel inspired by accounts of women artists in the Italian Renaissance.” – Booklist on PASSION BLUE

“Mysterious dreams, suspense-filled legends, the terror that unfolds as the dig ensues, and the fine characterizations weave together beautifully to make this adventure fantasy a winner.” – Booklist on GUARDIAN OF THE HILLS (Starred Review)

“A rich story about human nature, this fantasy is a thought-provoking page-turner. The characters are deeply etched, and the plot turns are credible yet arresting…A thoroughly enjoyable read.” – Kliatt on THE ARM OF THE STONE

“The plot is complex yet convincing, and the abundant, well-chosen details of the settings–as well as the carefully developed characters–make this high fantasy a superior and original novel.” – Publishers Weekly on THE GARDEN OF THE STONE (Starred Review)

Barnes & Noble

Victoria Strauss, Biography~

03_Victoria-StraussVictoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the STONE duology (THE ARM OF THE STONE and THE GARDEN OF THE STONE), and a historical novel for teens, PASSION BLUE. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.

An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), she’s co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009.

She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

For more information please visit Victoria’s Strauss’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

03_Color Song Tour Graphic

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Article on Shaping a Series, by YA author Anna Staniszewski of My Very UnFairytale Life Series

Guest Article: Shaping a Series

by Anna Staniszewski,
Author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending

When I sold my first book, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, it was a standalone novel with series potential. That meant there were tentative plans to make it a series, but I had to make sure the first book could stand on its own. I thought a lot about the overall shape of the first book and how to wrap things up in a satisfying way, though I did leave one thread open, just in case.

Luckily, my publisher bought two follow-up books—hooray! I started planning and writing and scratching my head. I wanted to make sure that each of the three books had that same satisfying beginning, middle, and end as the first book, but I also wanted the three books to have a strong overall shape.

I spent a lot of time making sure to resolve each smaller conflict in the books while making the larger question (will Jenny ever find her parents?) bigger and more important in each book. That way, I tried to create two ongoing story arcs throughout the series:

story arc graph

The biggest thing I discovered about this technique was how much everything needed to feel connected: a seemingly goofy side plot became important later on, etc. I realized that every character and plot twist had potential to have deeper meaning as the books continued. Because of all the cumulative experiences throughout the trilogy, my main character could hopefully change and grow and triumph by the end.

Anna Staniszewski, Biography~

Anna-Staniszewski4Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.

When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch.

She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life and its sequels, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail and My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending, all published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at www.annastan.com.

coverIn My Epic Fairy Tale Fail (November 2013) – Book 3 in the Series, Jenny is back with an all new adventure, and this time, her happily ever after seems light-years away. While Jenny’s search for her parents leads her to a rundown amusement park called Fairyland, she encounters creepily happy fairies and disgruntled leprechauns; Jenny is sure they are keeping her parents from her. With the help of some new-found friends, Jenny finds a way to rescue her parents and defy the crazy Queen Fairy, but at the expense of putting all magical worlds in danger.

“Plenty of laughs follow Jenny the Adventurer as she concludes her trilogy of comic quests in Fairy Land… Staniszewski’s ear for humor remains keen… It’s all great fun for middle school fantasy fans.”—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Anna Staniszewski:

Anna Staniszewski creates a magical world that’s totally relatable. You’ll find yourself wishing you were alongside Jenny fighting against unicorns (who aren’t as peaceful as you think) and traveling to fantastical realms.
Girls’ Life Magazine

A speedy and amusing ride that displays a confident, on-the-mark brand of humor, mostly through Jenny’s wisecracking narration. [The] inventive and lighthearted premise will keep readers entertained.
Publishers’ Weekly

“Returning with her deliciously droll wit and a brand new mission for her now-thirteen-year-old heroine, Anna delivers another breezy magical romp . . . the joking tone and thoughtful fairy tale play make this a fresh middle-grade read.”—Horn Book

The other books in the My Very UnFairy Tale Life Series:

other 1other 2Go to http://www.annastan.com/books/ to read first chapter excerpts and download her e-book prequel for free!

Don’t miss Anna’s upcoming new series!

The Dirt Diary By Anna Staniszweski, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN 9-781-4022- 8636-0 / January 7, 2014 / $6.99 US

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