Sunday, April 26, 2009

Elemental Magic by Sharon Shinn

“From wizards to weathermen, everyone has always known the powers of the four elements—natural forces that can direct the fates, change destiny, and unite lovers in the most unexpected ways. Now, those magical elements come together in perfect balance in new stories from four charmed authors.”

I only ended up reading one of the four stories, Bargain with the Wind by Sharon Shinn. It is a retelling of the Cinderella story, although I didn’t know that going into it. It is told from the perspective of Nettie, an old housekeeper at Grey Moraine. The Lord of the manor, Duncan quickly marries Charis, a strange girl passing through town. Nettie is cautious about the new mistress but soon becomes her confidante. I enjoyed the story, and am constantly surprised with Sharon Shinn’s work. She has quite the imagination and is constantly able to come up with brand new worlds filled with great characters.

Mystic & Rider by Sharon Shinn

“Clouds of unrest are darkening the land of Gillengaria. In the southern region, ill feeling toward magic and those who use it has risen to a dangerous level, though King Baryn has ordered that such men and women are to be tolerated. Whispers abound that he issued the decree because his new young wife is herself a mystic, who has used her powers to ensnare him. The king knows this—and he knows that he now sits uneasy on the throne. There are those barons of the Twelve Houses, who, out of their own ambition, might well use this growing dissent to overthrow him. So he dispatches the mystic woman Senneth on a journey to see firsthand how dire the situation might be. Accompanying her are Justin, a young Rider who distrusts the magical arts; Kirra, a healer and shape-changer born of the Twelve Houses; her servant, and lowborn Donnal, also a shape-shifter; and Tayse, the first among the King’s Riders. He too, holds a hard view of mystic in general—and Senneth in particular.”

If you enjoy a good fantasy novel, then this book is for you. It is the first in the Twelve Houses series and so there is a lot of background information and set-up for the rest of the series. It was distracting having to keep track of twelve different houses, and all the names of people that went along with them. It was a bit much, but luckily there are only a few of the houses that were the focus of the story.

Senneth is a wonderful character, she is super powerful and yet relies on her friends to help her get through her trials. I loved the scene when Senneth has to confront Coralinda (one of the villains in the novel). I also really loved Kirra’s character. She was also strong, yet carefree and playful. She played her role well and I look forward to having her as our main heroin in the next novel (although I will really miss hearing from Senneth and Tayse). Tayse is a great character, who is truly conflicted between his growing feelings for Senneth and his duty to the King. It isn’t a main part of the story, but it is nice to watch their relationship slowly grow. The rest of the cast was equally fun, I love all six of the main characters and seeing how they all interact together.

It’s a great book, and I really look forward to learning more about this wonderful world of Gillengaria. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Fantasy novels. I do warn you to not judge it by its cover; I really hated the cover and put off reading it for a long time because of that.

Book One: Mystic & Rider
Book Two: Thirteenth House
Book Three: Dark Moon Defender
Book Four: Reader & Raelynx
Book Five: Fortune & Fate
Queen in Winter

Saturday, April 25, 2009

To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker

“When Annalisa Townsend’s ship is set upon by pirates in search of her father’s treasure, one of the crew, James Sterling, discovers her in the hold. When he moves to take her necklace, she begs him not to, as it is all she has left of her mother. He accepts a kiss in exchange for the necklace. “A fair trade, m’lady,” he tells her afterward, before disappearing. A year later, with a forged letter of marquee, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the wretched James Sterling and reclaiming her father’s treasure from him. But now she’s in danger of him stealing something far more valuable this time: her heart.”

Okay, so this book kept popping up on my Amazon recommendations and I finally got around to picking up a copy from the library. I was actually surprised by how small it was, at only 226 pages and pretty large print it turned out to be a pretty quick read.

Since it was so short a lot was crammed in and unfortunately a lot of things were left out, such as character development. I just kept wishing throughout that this had been a full-blown novel. The skeleton of the story was great, and I felt a lot more time should have been spent on character and plot development. I was hooked after the first chapter, and it would have been fun to travel with Anna throughout that year to see her prepare to captain her own ship as well as her other training. In the meantime, we also could have seen what James was up to on his deserted island and other conquests. We could have learned more about his background and what made him become a pirate, and show that although he is a pirate he is also a good guy. Then when they finally do meet up again, a lot more time could have been spent on their adventure together and build a much stronger relationship. I felt like Anna fell for James a bit too quickly, and there wasn’t quite enough tension between them. The love-triangle was not developed near enough, and I think the author really missed the boat on that one. The end was a little disappointing. With the betrayal, and justice being served, to the final “happily ever after”, it all came together a bit too quickly and felt a little too rushed.

For what it is, I think it’s a fun book. It hooked me at the beginning and I was entertained throughout the story. So, if you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read filled with adventure, pirates, love and betrayal then this is your book!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Bracelet by Jennie Hansen

"As a servant for the wealthy Lady Burton, Georgiana is both surprised and flattered when her mistress's son Sydney ursues her. However, he insists on a hushed romance. To prove his love, and in celebration of their planned elopement, Sydney gives her a stunning bracelet. But Georgiana quickly discoveres the truth about Sydney and the cruel plan he has for her. In desperation, Georgiana decides she must flee."

Georgiana starts our really naïve and I had a hard time liking her at first. We learn quickly that Sydney isn’t all that he seems and Georgiana is soon running for her life. She mentions numerous times how she has been transferred from job to job because of men making unwanted advances on her, and then with her experience with Sydney I would have expected her to be a little doubtful or cautious when it came to men, but she’s not. As soon as she meets Robert she is in love and I found that a little hard to believe. Even if Robert is a fantastic guy, with everything she had been through I would expect her to be a little guarded in falling in love again, especially so soon. The only other thing that bothered me was how she would be faced with an impossible situation and things would just be resolved too quickly. There were so many things that happen to Georgiana in the first 100 pages that would normally take a while to get resolved, so that was a bit irksome.

I knew this was a Christian author and did except there to be some talk of religion, but when I had read a few chapters it seemed that it was just going to be a novel and not really include any religious talk. So, I was surprised when more than half-way through the book took a big turn into the whole religion aspect. The last part of the book really focuses on religion and Georgiana’s conversion. In a way this was nice, Georgiana is really able to grow as a character (and true to format, is converted rather quickly), and started making the right choices to finally start living the life that she wants to live.

It probably sounds like I hate the book, but I actually enjoyed it. I thought the main story idea was fun and the adventures the characters go on are engaging. The book moved along nicely and would recommend it as a fun read.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor

“Magpie Windwitch, granddaughter of the West Wind, is not like other faeries. While most of her kind lives in tranquil seclusion deep in their forest, escaped devils are creeping back into the world after millennia of imprisonment, and Magpie is all that stands in their way. With her faithful clan of crows, she travels the world hunting the bloodthirsty snags down, just has her hero, the legendary Bellatrix, did twenty-five thousand years ago. When the ancient evil of the Blackbringer is loosed from its prison, Magpie may be in over her head. This hunt will take her back to the great forest of Dreamdark, a place of legends and Djinn, cunning imps and tattooed warriors, where she must unravel the mystery of the greatest enemy her fold have ever known. Will the determination of one small faerie be enough to defeat the impenetrable darkness that threatens to unmake the world?

I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy books lately, and realized that although fairies are found in so many fantasy books; they usually aren’t the main character. I wanted to find a fun book in which fairies were the main character and was happy to find Blackbringer. I haven’t found one bad review about this book and everyone seems to love it, so I was excited to finally get my hands on it.

I was not disappointed, the story was fantastic! I loved the wonderful world of Dreamdark and the very interesting fairies that lived there. Little Magpie is just an amazing heroine. She is a very complex character. She is a fighter, very cunning, brave and yet also very kind and loving. She is extremely loyal and has a belief in the power of good. Her “clan” of crows are just as lovable. It is so endearing to see how they protect and take care of her. And last but not least, Talon. I just love little Talon, and although he isn’t quite like the other fairies it has made him a far better one in the end. He and Magpie are great together and it was fun watching their friendship develop (although, I hope it blossoms into more than a friendship, wink-wink).

Laini Taylor has created an amazing story, I couldn’t get over how creative the story was and how unique the characters were. I am excited to see what will happen in the next book and what adventures Magpie, Talon and the Crows find themselves in.

Book One: Blackbringer
Book Two: Silksinger

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

“My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again. All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me. Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home: for troubled teens. Yet the home inst what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House…before its skeletons come back to haunt me.”

I’m usually not really into ghost stories, so although the cover kind of called to me I wasn’t sure about a story where the main heroine can see and speak to ghosts. It actually turned out to be a pretty enjoyable read. It was clearly written as a first book in a series (browsing through the authors other works it seems she is fond of series. I hope this one ends up as a trilogy and not a long dragged out series.). Since it is the first, it was a bit slow at times, but I guess that it was meant to really develop the characters and set the background. I feel the next book will be a little more exciting. I thought Chloe and Derek had great chemistry, although their relationship, at this point, was not meant to be a romantic one. It seems that Chloe and Simon are the “couple” but I didn’t really feel any chemistry between them. I like Rae and I can see she will probably cause a lot of problems for everyone, but she seems to have good intentions. The book ends on a cliff-hanger and definitely left me wanting more. Luckily, book two will be released Aril 28, so I won’t have to wait long.

Book One: The Summoning
Book Two: The Awakening

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Splendor Cover

I was just playing on GoodReads and they have finally posted a cover for the new Splendor book, I can't wait until this comes out. I love this cover! The dress is gorgeous, I love the purple!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

“In 1837 London, young daughters of viscounts pined for handsome, titled husbands, not careers. And certainly not careers in magic. Shy, studious Persephone Leland would far rather devote herself to her secret magical studies than enter society and look for a suitable husband. But just as the inevitable season is about to begin, Persy and her twin sister discover that their governess in magic has been kidnapped as part of a plot to gain control of the Princess Victoria. Racing through Mayfair ballrooms and royal palaces, the sisters overcome bad millinery, shady royal spinsters, and a mysterious Irish wizard. And along the way, Persy learns that husband hunting isn’t such an odious task after all, if she can find the right quarry.”

I am a bit hesitant to write a review of this book. I actually did really enjoy the book, but can’t help thinking of a few things that bothered me. I thought the story idea was fun, but would have preferred if the whole thing had taken place in a fictional land instead of England. The magic in the story was really underdeveloped and could have been left out entirely. I think if it had taken place in a fictional place then the magic element could have been used a lot more. I started out liking Persephone. She is smart and magically gifted (more so than her twin Penelope). However, as the story moved on she becomes a little annoying. If she wasn’t complaining or feeling sorry for herself then she was just causing more trouble and alienating her sister. Neither sister seemed that concerned that their dear friend Ally has been kidnapped. For the majority of the story Ally (and their magical abilities) are absent.

I was surprised at the end when Ally ends up falling for one of her captures and I can’t help wondering if she is suffering from Stockholm syndrome. I had a hard time figuring out what she saw in him, she says “…here is a man I could love and respect.” What in the world is there to respect in a man who kidnaps you and would play a part in your possible death? She seems like someone who has really high standards and would do the right thing no matter what. Michael on the other hand is forced into a situation and instead of doing the right thing he caves. Maybe if more time had been spent with their relationship it would seem clearer, but for me it was a bit unbelievable.

I did enjoy the story and actually look forward to reading the next book, which luckily has Penelope as the main character.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

“For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overhearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily’s dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with his wife. Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and she immerses herself in all things ancient and begins to study Greek. Emily’s intellectual pursuits and her desire to learn more about Philip take her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, one of her husband’s favorite places. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. And to complicate matters, she’s juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprised about Philip and causes her to question the roles in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.”

I was really looking forward to reading this mystery and maybe my hopes were a little too high because I ended up being pretty disappointed. If you love art history, especially with a focus on ancient Greece then you will probably like this book. The majority of the book felt like a history lesson, there was more focus on the different pieces of art than there was on the actual mystery. It felt like the author was really pushing who the good-guy was and who the bad-guy was, so for me it made it really obvious who was who and what was going to happen. I may have enjoyed this more if I had actually liked Emily more. I couldn’t figure out what all these men saw in her? Maybe it was just me, but she was kind of a boring character. As for our hero (I won’t name him, to help keep some mystery), I could have really liked him, but he was rarely on the scene. I was a bit surprised by how much they ended up liking each other, when they spent so little time together (again, what is it about Emily that men love so much?) Throughout the book I couldn’t help thinking of the movie “Charade” with Audrey Hepburn, which had a very similar storyline. I’ve heard the next book is better, so I think I will give it a try.

Book One: And Only to Deceive
Book Two: A Poisoned Season
Book Three: A Fatal Waltz
Book Four: Tears of Pearl

Friday, April 10, 2009

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

“Keturah follows a legendary hart deep into the forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near—and learns then that death is a young lord, melancholy and stern. Renowned for her storytelling, Keturah is able to charm Lord Death with a story and gain a reprieve—but he grants her only a day, and within that day she must find true love. Keturah searches desperately, Lord Death hovering over all, until she confronts him one last time in the harrowing climax.”

Can a book be both cute and creepy? Yes! I wasn’t sure where this story was going to take me, and was surprised by how everything ended up. After her first encounter with Lord Death she must find her one true love. To help her, she visits the old witch in town who gives her a charmed eye that will show her who her true love is. I’m really not sure what to make of the story, I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but haven’t decided how I feel about the ending. I guess when you have Death as a character it’s going to make things eerie. I liked all the characters, and was happy that the author let us know what happens with each one. I think it’s an interesting story and definitely worth reading.

Other recommendations:
The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Messenger by Lois Lowry

“Six years earlier Matty had come to Village as a scrappy and devious little boy. Back then, he liked to call himself “the fiercest of the fierce,” but since that time, Matty had grown almost into a man under the care of Seer, a blind man whose special sight had earned him the name. Now Matty homes that he will soon be given his true name, and he hopes it will be Messenger. But strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to newcomers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the only people to safely travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter, Kira, to return with him before its too late. But Forest has grown hostile to Matty too, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.”

I was glad to see that Matt (from Gathering Blue) was the main character of this book. He has grown up a lot since the last time we saw him and is now living in the Village with Kira's father (the Seer). The Village is a place where people can come as a refuge from their previous homes. It is there that we are reunited with Jonas (from The Giver), who has become their Leader. I was happy to finally have some resolution on what happened with Jonas, and even to find out all the improvements that have taken place with Kira. For all three books I was just filled with frustration as I read. I appreciate the concept and what the author was going for, but in each case I felt the story ended too soon. Each had a hint of closure and the hope that everything will work out, but I was again left wanting more. It was frustrating to think that so much time and creativity had gone into each story and the endings just didn’t do it justice.

Book One: The Giver
Book Two: Gathering Blue
Book Three: Messenger

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

“Kira, an orphan with a twisted leg, lives in a world where the weak are cast aside. She fears for her future until she is spared y the all-powerful Council of Guardians. Kira is a gifted weaver and is given a task that no other community member can carry out. While her talent keeps her alive and brings certain privileges, Kira soon realizes that she is surrounded by mysteries and secrets. No one must know of her plans to uncover the truth about her world—and to find out what exists beyond it.”

This is a companion book to The Giver. The story once again sucks you in, and the entire time you’re wondering what is going on. Like Jonas, Kira is a great lead character. Lois is really able to write children characters well, and yet still entertain an adult audience. There were many clues along the way that the audience picks up on that Kira does not. Like The Giver the society that Kira lives in is lacking in love, with very sad effects. They are a completely brutal race. Kindness is rare, and questioned. Life isn’t valued and even “family” will turn on you if it benefits themselves. It was encouraging to see that the children in the story Matt, Thomas and Kira were able to become dear friends in such harsh circumstances.

I was again disappointed in the ending, although it was better than the first book. For me it felt like an abrupt end to the story, there should have at least been one more chapter. I was also disappointed with the character of Vandara, she was a great villain but was hardly used in the book. That was a huge lose end that should have been tied up. I’m nervous to read the last book, Messenger, in fear that the ending of the series will leave me just as dissatisfied as the first two books.

Once again this book reminded me of the movie The Village. I just noticed that I wrote about that in my review of The Giver. I’m beginning to think that M. Night Shyamalan read these books and based loosely based the movie on them.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

“One cruel night, Meggie’s father reads aloud from Inkheart, and an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of the book, landing in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie’s in the middle of the kind of adventure she thought only took place in fairy tales. Somehow she must master the magic that has conjured up this nightmare. Can she change the course of the story that has changed her life forever?”

This was a very fun, imaginative read. Who hasn’t wondered what it would be life if the characters we love (Edward) came to life? Unfortunately, you can’t always control what comes out of the books, such as Capricorn. A truly evil villain who was accidently brought into our world. Meggie is soon caught up in the middle of a very big adventure in search of a way to return Capricorn to his book, finding out what happened to her mother and meeting strange new friends along the way. I think any bookworm would love this story! Cornelia Funke obviously has a love of books and it shows throughout the story. I loved reading about Elinor’s library and have to admit I had a little library-envy going on. I was surprised by the revenge Capricorn took on Elinor’s library, I think he could have come up with a more useful course of action. The book had a satisfying ending, it could be a standalone book but I’m glad there are two more in the series. It will be fun to see what adventure they find themselves in next.

Book One: Inkheart
Book Two: Inkspell
Book Three: Inkdeath

A to Z Challenge 2009

I always notice different reading challenges on other blogs and thought I would finally participate in one. I saw this challenge on Chantele's blog and it sounded like a fun one to try. To find out the exact rules of the challenge you can visit the official website here. I chose to read books that start with each letter of the alphabet. I had a really hard time tracking down a book that started with "x" and finally settled on a childrends book. Below are the books I have chosen (they may change as the year goes on). The books I have read are in black and the ones I still need to read are in red.

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund
Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle
Court Duel by Sherwood Smith
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Envy by Anna Godbersen
Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
Giver by Lois Lowry
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Oh.My.Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Rumors by Anna Godbersen
Season by Sarah MacLean
Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
U
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones
Xavier and the Letter X
Y
Z

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley

“Legend tells of a mighty sword that makes its possessor invincible. But a curse falls on anyone who lifts the sword for conquest. Unafraid, King Kareed of Archeld pursues the sword and wins it from the King of Bellandra. When he returns home from battle, King Kareed carries two special gifts for his daughter, Princess Torina. One is a unique crystal in which she can view the future. The other is the defeated king’s son, Landen, who is to be her slave. Torina immediately releases Landen, who becomes a member of the king’s army and her close friend. But trouble lurks in the kingdom of Archeld, and people accuse Landen of plotting against the king. Torina refuses to believe that Landen would hurt her family. Then Torina begins seeing deadly visions in her crystal Can she save her father’s life and the future of her kingdom?”

I have read this book a few times, there is something fun about curling up and reading a book that you have read before. It’s fun to revisit favorite characters and reenter enchanting worlds. Victoria Hanley has come up with a great story with a marvelous plot, containing many twists and turns. Torina has a rare ability of a Seer, with the aid of her crystal she can see the future and past. When her evil fiancé finds out of this gift he is set on making her his slave, and taking over the kingdom. With quick wit she is able to escape and goes into hiding. Meanwhile, her childhood friend Landen also goes on the run for being falsely accused of killing Torina’s father, King Kareed. The majority of the book they are separated during their journeys. Usually I hate this in books, but for some reason in this book it is done so well and each character undergoes so much that when they are finally reunited they are better people and it is a sweet reunion. I love this book, it is one of my favorites and I recommend that everyone read it. It contains everything you want in a great book. I only wish they would make it into a movie!

Cover Comments: Like I said, I love this book…I hate the cover. If I saw this on a shelf I would probably just pass by. The girl on the cover looks about 13, while Torina is actually around 19. I wish they would have put a little more thought into the book and done a better job marketing. It just goes to show you, don’t judge a book by its cover!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott

“Shadows have fallen across the beautiful and lush Kingdom. The queen was attacked by an unnatural beast, and the healing skills of her daughter, Alexandra, cannot save her. Too soon the widowed king is spellbound by a frightening stranger—a woman whose eyes reflect no light. In a terrifying moment, all Alexandra knows disappears, including her beloved brothers, leaving her banished to a barren land unlike her own. Alexandra has more fits than even she realizes as she is confronted with magic, murder, and the strongest of evil forces. She is unflinchingly brave and clever as she struggles to reclaim what she knows is rightfully hers.”

This is a retelling of the Wild Swans by Hans Christen Anderson, and The Six Swans by the Brothers Grimm. Last October I had read Daughter of the Forest, which is another retelling of this famous fairytale, so I had that one in mind as I was reading this version. I really enjoyed Marriott’s version of the tale. Alexandra was a great character, and easy to like. I liked seeing the growth she goes through and how she eventually learns and accepts her full capabilities. The relationship with her and Gabriel is sweet, I wish we could have seen them together more, but overall it was satisfying. Zoe Marriott is a great new author and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

The Season by Sarah MacLean

“Seventeen-year-old Lady Alexandra Stafford doesn’t fit into the world of Regency London—she’s strong-willed, sharp-tongued, and she absolutely loathes dress fittings. Unfortunately, her mother has been waiting for years for Alex to be old enough to take part in the social whirlwind of London season so she can be married off to someone safe, respectable, wealthy, and almost certainly boring. But Alex is much more interested in adventure than romance. Between sumptuous balls, lavish dinner parties, and country weekends, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get entangled in her biggest scrape yet. When the Earl of Blackmoor is killed in a puzzling accident, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. It’s a mystery brimming with espionage, murder, and suspicion. As she and Gavin grow closer, will Alex’s heart be stolen in the process? Romance and danger fill the air, as this year’s season begins!”

This is one of those books that seemed to be calling to me. I had read a few reviews that sounded promising, and I really liked the cover. I was a little nervous that it was going to be too much like the Luxe novels, which I loved, but it was very unique and equally engaging. I thought this had a great story line, and things moved along nicely. The first part of the book seemed to focus more on the relationships and all the balls they were attending. While the second half focused more on the mystery and plot of the story. Overall, I thought it was a great, entertaining read. I enjoyed the relationship between Gavin and Alex and thought the book ended perfectly. My only complaint is that the author used the Lord’s name in vain and I personally hate seeing that in novels. That’s just a personal thing though, other than that I really enjoyed the story.

I don’t know if this is a stand-alone book or the first in a series. I truly hope that there will be at least two more books, from the perspective of Ella and Vivi. Ella was a clever character, it would be fun to see what adventure she finds herself in. Vivi is witty and I could see something brewing with her and one of Alex’s brothers, Will perhaps?

"The Season is frothy, girly, wicked, and wise to the tender, tenuous, and sometimes very strong ties between young people throughout the ages. With a backdrop of world events and enough nefariousness to go around, here is a romp for readers to lose themselves in."
-Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie

“Ruth’s grandmother lives in the forest, banished there for the “evil” that the townsfolk believed she practiced. But if studying the stars, learning about nature, and dreaming of flying are evil, then Ruth is guilty of it too. Whenever Ruth took food and supplies to her grandmother, she would sit with the old woman for hours, listening and learning. When she wasn’t in the woods, Ruth was learning the trade of her father, a blacksmith, now that her brother would never return from the Crusades. Amidst these dark days, a new man enters Ruth’s life. William is a noble with a hot temper and a bad name, and he makes her shiver. But the young man is prey to his heritage, a curse placed on his family ages ago, and each make of the family has strange blood running in his veins. Now Ruth must come face-to-face with his destiny at Grandma’s house…”

This is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood, a story that I have never really been that found of. However, I actually loved this book! It really brought the whole fairy tale to life, and gave the characters so much more depth. Ruth isn’t your typical girl. She is very pretty, but knows how to fight. She has a love of learning and nature, but works as a blacksmith. William is a great character and you really feel for him and the trails he has to live through. They have great chemistry together. You fall in love with Grandma, and I couldn’t help picturing walking through the beautiful woods to go for a visit at Grandma’s house. The story was full of love, passion, adventure and mystery. There are some parts which are a bit violent, so I wouldn’t recommend it to a young audience. My only complaint is that the book was too short; I would have loved it if it had been a full length novel and really delved into the characters and the story. Since the author was limit to page count, some parts did feel a little rushed, or tied up too quickly. Those were all easy to overlook though, the story as a whole was just fantastic.

Of all the Once Upon a Time books this is by far my favorite. Some of the others seemed to be out there, but this one was more along the lines of a traditional fairy tale and yet was still unique.

Envy by Anna Godbersen

“Two months after Elizabeth Holland’s dramatic homecoming, Manhattan eagerly awaits her return to the pinnacle of society. When Elizabeth refuses to rejoin her sister Diana’s side, however, those watching New York’s favorite family begin to suspect that all is not as it seems behind the stately doors of No. 17 Gramercy Park South. Farther uptown, Henry and Penelope Schoonmaker are the city’s most celebrated couple. But despite the glittering diamond ring on Penelope’s finger, the newlyweds share little more than scorn for each other. And while the newspapers call Penelope’s social-climbing best friend, Carolina Broad, an heiress, her fortune—and her fame—are anything but secure, especially now that one of society’s darlings is slipping tales to the eager press.”

What is it about these books? Once I start reading I couldn’t put them down. I once again was drawn up into the drama of 1900 New York society. I have a love-hate relationship with these characters, there are defiantly those that I am rooting for and those that really need to get what’s coming to them. I enjoyed this third book as much as the first two, maybe a little more. For the most part, the characters really grow and thought about the people around them and not just themselves. Diana is definitely my favorite, although she made some poor choices in this book, I am excited to see what adventure she gets herself into in the next installment. Henry continues to grow on me. He really starts to come into his own, and finally starts to stand up for himself. I’m not sure if it’s all a little too late, but I enjoyed the twist his path has taken and am eager to see how his character continues to grow. Elizabeth was a bit more real to me, it was obvious what her condition was at the beginning, but she wasn’t as whiny as she had been in previous books. Carolina and Penelope both continue to drive me crazy! I really hope things are able to work out for Teddy, not sure how this is going to happen now, but he is probably the only nice, good guy in the entire book and he deserves a little happiness. I am sad it will be about six months before the next book comes out. What am I suppose to do until then?

Book One: The Luxe
Book Two: Rumors
Book Three: Envy
Book Four: Slendor
 
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