Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B Dunkle

For thousands of years, young women have been vanishing from Hallow Hill, never to be seen again. Now Kate and Emily have moved there with no idea of the land's dreadful heritage - until Marak decides to tell them himself. Marak is a powerful magician who claims to be the goblin king, and he has very specific plans for the two new girls who have trespassed into his kingdom . . .

I loved this book, it was extremly well written and the story was very original. It reminded me a bit of Beauty and the Beast, but an entirely different story. It starts out with a very eerie feeling, but as you read you become engrossed in the story and the characters. Slowly, you begin to fall for Marak, even though he is a goblin and is one of many who kidnap young human girls to make them their brides. I look forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy and would definately recommend this book to everyone.

Book One: The Hollow Kingdom
Book Two: Close Kin
Book Three: In the Coils of the Snake

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Cybele's Secret is the companion book to Wildwood Dancing. I don't feel like I can properly explain the plot of Cybele's Secret without giving away plot twists in Wildwood Dancing so I'll be brief. This book is told through Paula's perspective. (sister to Jena who narrates Wildwood) Paula travels to Turkey to acquire a religious artifact Cybele's Gift. Paula is a scholar and must solve puzzles and complete a quest to obtain the Gift. She also must choose between two very different men. Ultimately both test her in ways she never expected. Well, I realize that really doesn't give you a good idea of the plot....sorry.

I really enjoyed Cybele's Secret in spite of the fact that it lost much of the magic and whimsical elements from Wildwood. The two books are really quite different and it isn't until the end that it captured the feeling of Wildwood. The love story in Cybele's Secret was much more front and center than in Wildwood and I really enjoyed that part. Overall a really well written book. My only complaint, which is a personal problem, is that I don't enjoy reading about female oppression that was very central to Turkey during this time period. For some reason it just really rubs me the wrong way. It does however add an interesting obstacle that would be hard to achieve another way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer (part II)

Jessica has already written a review about this book, also providing a description of the book so I will skip that part and just add my review. Like many before me, I had a hard time getting into this book. I read over and over how it gets better after page 150. I really had to push myself to get to that point, and in those 150 pages not much happens. In summary, Wanderer (alien) has taken over Melanie’s (human) body. Melanie doesn’t give up, and slowly Wanderer begins to have compassion for the human race, falls for the memory of Melanie’s love interest, Jared, and decides to help Melanie return to her family. I’m still not sure why it took that many pages to figure all that out, but it did.

As the book moves on I slowly began to get into it a little more. I would find myself thinking “just one more chapter”, even though it was late at night and I was pretty tired. That is always a sign of a good book. Although, I don’t love the idea of body-snatchers and it’s always in the back of your mind that Melanie is trapped, I really started to like Wanda. I liked how Meyers was able to separate the relationship between Wanda and Ian, and Melanie and Jared. I enjoyed the story, but thought the book could have used a good edit, it just seemed a little too long or too descriptive in parts. I was happy with the ending. I am one that truly believes in the “happily ever after” and love when books have happy endings. I know some would think it’s not realistic, but I think happy endings are possible. It seems like Stephenie Meyers left it open for a sequel, it would be interesting to see what happens, and maybe in the future there will be a way for Souls and Humans to live together. I ended up liking the book a lot more than I thought I would.

Sorry Jess for writing another review, I just couldn’t help myself with this book. I guess we’re just drawn to the same books and we’ll constantly be overlapping each other. =)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

I must admit first off that I judged this book by it's cover. I was walking by a display at my local library and it caught my eye. I picked it up and on the back it said, "Reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen." I thought, "Well, I'll be the judge of that!" It turns out that Heyer has written more that 50 novels, the first being published in 1921, and is a well known historical novelist who writes mostly in the regency period. I can see why the comparison has been drawn to Jane Austen. The Reluctant Widow was every bit as witty as anything I have read from Austen but is refreshingly more fast paced. By that I just mean that the plot moved along nicely unlike Austen who sometimes, in my opinion, can get bogged down in description and set-up. Don't get me wrong though...Jane Austen is one of my all time favorite authors and I think that Heyer failed to create such layered characters as Austen.

The Reluctant Widow opens as Elinor Rochdale boards the wrong coach and ends up not at her prospective employer's home but at the estate of Eustance Chevoit, a dissipated and ruined young man on the verge of death. His cousin, Lord Ned Carolyn, persuades Elinor to marry Eustance as a simple business arrangement. By morning, Elinor is a a rich widow, but finds herself in the middle of housebreakers, uninvited guests and murder. I really enjoyed The Reluctant Widow and plan on reading more of Heyer. The characters just plain made me smile and the novel felt like a Jane Austen except without the brain cramp of trying to grasp the meaning of things. I give The Reluctant Widow 4 out of 5 Stars.

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

" The Covenant meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has now been stolen, and the sanctuary of Trinity must prepare for attack. Seph monitors the Weirwall, while Jack and Ellen trian their army of ghosts to face an onslaught of wizards. Even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting traps around the town's perimeter. To Jason Haley, it feels as though everyone but him has a role to play. Then he finds a powerful talisman--a huge opal called the Dragonheart--buried in a cave. When its power washes over him, he knows he's destined for a greter purpose than anyone ever imagined. Madison Moss hears the deductive call of the Dragonheart also, but she has other things on her mind. Maddie's been leaking dark magic ever since absorbing the blow that was meant to kill her boyfriend, Seph. If anyone finds our, she'll be banished from the sanctuary--and Seph--forever. Meanwhile, Trinity's enemies mean to win the war with the helf of the Dragonheart, and they know that Madison Moss is the only one who can get it for them. Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through a town that was meant to be a refuge. With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for, and what will the sacrifce?"

This is the last book in the Heir Trilogy. In Warrior Heir it is explained that there are five different magical groups. The Wizards, Enchanters, Sorcerers, Seers, and Warriors. I thought there would be a book about each group, having a main character like Jake in Warrior Heir, or Joseph in the Wizard Heir. So, I was disappointed when I heard that Dragon Heir would be the last in the series, I enjoyed the stories and was looking forward to reading more.

This is also a series that I would love to own and re-read, and wished I had the first two so I could have freshened up before reading Dragon Heir. Dragon Heir was great, the characters and story are fun and easy to follow. You really become attached to the different characters, and unlike some books it was fun reading from all the different perspectives. I had a hard time putting it down, and found the time just flew by as I read. The writing style was easy to get into and witty. I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fantasy, action, magic and a touch of romance.

I was a little sad with some of the things that happened; I won’t say what so I don’t ruin the story. I also would have liked if Leander and Linda were in the story more, they played big roles in the first two books and I missed them in this last installment.

Book One: The Warrior Heir
Book Two: The Wizard Heir
Book Three: The Dragon Heir

Friday, December 5, 2008

Legend of the Jewel by Nancy Campbell Allen

"Former Pinkerton spy Isabelle Webb needs a vacation. The broken leg she suffered while trying to warn President Lincoln of his impending assassination has mended a little, but her grief over his death has not. She and her young charge, Sally Rhodes, have an open itinerary when they board a steamer ship to Bombay. But upon meeting Utah blacksmith James Ashby, the two women opt to join the search for his younger brother Phillip, who's traveling abroad with the ill-reputed Thaddeus Sparks in search of a mystical treasure. Upon arrival in India, other passengers are interested in taking up the search. But the seeming good will of some soon turns dark on the streets of Bombay. As murder and kidnapping tears the group apart, James and Isabelle race to uncover the hidden motives and harrowing connections that threaten not only Phillip's life, but also their own."

It took me about twenty pages into the story to realize that this was a spin-off book from N.C. Allen's popular "Faith of our Fathers" series. It has been a few years since I read that series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and while reading this book it made me want to revisit that series and read up on Isabelle. I've read and enjoyed all of N.C. Allen's books, she always has interesting story ideas. "Legend of the Jewel" was a fun, quick read. It takes place in India right after the Civil War in America ended. I learned a lot about India and its history while reading the book, and thought it was a great setting for a mystery. Isabelle and James and their new relationship is fun to read about. It ends a bit too abruptly, without all the loose ends being tied up. I suppose this was done to better lead into the second book. I liked the story, although it wasn't my favorite of her books.
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