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Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Artist's Healer (Grace-By-The-Sea #3, Regency)
After helping to deal with the previous French agents, Abigail Archer has found herself with a gunshot wound to her arm. Though she would rather be painting or selling items from her shop in the village, Abigail is stuck in bed. No matter how often she informs Dr. Linus Bennett that she is ready to be up doing things, he insists she remain immobile. As for her mother, Mrs. Archer tends to the doctor's nine-year-old son, Ethan, during the day. The handsome doctor works at the village's spa during the day, tending patients.
Dr. Bennett has rarely had a patient with such a stubborn nature or eagerness to be up and about. If she is not more careful, Abigail could lose her entire arm. Yet the more time he spends with her, the more he comes to care for her. His son, Ethan, has certainly taking a liking to Abigail and her mother. So when it becomes apparent that at least three more French agents are in the area, Linus discovers that he will do everything in his power to protect his new village - especially Ethan, Abigail, and her mother.
**** FOUR STARS! Though each story in the series stands alone, if you have read the previous tales, you will see some familiar secondary characters and find out what has become of them. As for Abigail and Linus, I found myself vastly amused to watch them go toe-to-toe. The both obviously care strongly for everyone in the village and both are intelligent. Never does the author have them do stupid or crazy stuff to further along the plot line. (I have always considered that to be weak writing.) There is no miscommunications either. Everything is straight up. I look forward to more stories from this cozy village by the sea. ****
Author: Kelly McCullough
Title - Magic, Madness, and Mischief (Book One)
Kalvan is thirteen-years-old. As with many boys his age these days, he lives with his mother, Genevieve Monroe, and his stepfather, Oscar. Unlike many boys his age, Kalvan is coming into his magic; something he did not know really existed. His magic element is fire and, if he cannot learn to control it quickly, it will consume him from within, as it did his mother.
During some much needed alone time, Kalvan (accidently and unknowingly) binds a magical hare to him. Not only can the rabbit talk, but it is made of fire and can help Kalvan with his newly found magic – and his math.
Events speed up and begin to spiral out of control as Oscar proves to be more than an uncaring stepfather. Much more and much worse. Kalvan must find the fire in his heart and defeat the Winter King or more than just his mother will suffer.
***** FIVE STARS! Author Kelly McCullough proves that he can thrive in the Young Adult (Fantasy) genre just as well as he does the adult one. That said, even adults will enjoy this new series. Fire magic, Water magic, Earth magic, Air magic, talking animals – what is not to like? I devoured this novel in a single evening and can hardly wait to begin the next book (Spirits, Spells, and Snark) tomorrow. Absolutely scrumptious and highly recommended! *****
Author: Kelly McCullough
Title - Spirits, Spells, and Snark
(Magic, Madness, and Mischief, Book Two)
We return to Kalvan, a thirteen-year-old boy with fire magic. He dueled the Winter King and defeated him. However, in breaking the Winter King’s power, be broke the spell that helped his mother stay sane. As his mother slowly descends deeper into her madness, unexpected help arrives in the form of Aunt Noelle. Problem is that Noelle has been dead many years and she can only remain until the Summer King is crowned. Another problem is that Oscar has returned and has plans for the crown. But Kalvan, though he hates the thought, is showing an affinity for Earth/Stone magic as well as fire. Good thing, since he will need all the help and magic he can get to rescue his biological father from his stone prison.
***** FIVE STARS! If you have not read the first book in this series, stop now and go get it. You need to read the first book in order to fully understand the plot and the story’s characters.
Kelly McCullough writes stories that pull you, kicking and screaming, into their depths. Trust me when I say you will never want to be let go. Young and old alike will love this tale of magic, madness, enemies, and friends. I read the entire thing in one sitting. Very well done indeed! *****
Author: Christina Bauer
Title - Wolves and Roses
(Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1 - TEEN PARANORMAL)
Magicorum members are either shifter, fairy, or witch. Members can be human if they have magic in their lives. Bryar “Bry” Rose is human but has three aunt fairies raising her. Bry wants nothing more than to be a normal human, go to a normal high school, and have zero to do with the magical world. This is not possible because Bry has been cursed her entire life with a sleeping spell. Bry carries around an inhaler, made by her aunts, which she uses whenever she gets that odd feeling. Not using it means she falls asleep with her eyes wide open and staring. At the age of eighteen – in three days – her aunts expect her to wed. (That is just part of the Sleeping Beauty Template she is expected to follow.) The aunts even have the groom picked out. Too bad Bry hates the self-centered jerk and has no intention of marrying him. She is more interested in the dark, growly man invading her dreams lately. Bry soon learns the guy is real! He is a werewolf (shifter) named Knox. From the moment she meets Knox, her life changes.
**** FOUR STARS! This story feels like it should target adults instead of teens. I do not recommend anyone under the age of seventeen to read it. From the moment Knox enters the picture, his inner wolf keeps yelling things like “Mate”, “Protect Mate”, and “Pups.” Still, the story was engrossing to me. My biggest problem is that Bry seems a bit immature to me. She makes poor choices that end badly. (Example: if someone knocks on your door and refuses to answer when you ask who it is, you should NOT open the door, especially with everything going on in Bry’s life.)
Though Bry is the main character, there are three others just as important. Knox is the second most important. Each chapter has Bry’s name or Knox’s name listed as the title. The story is written in the First Person and each chapter follows whoever’s name is listed.
Fans of the “Twilight” saga will enjoy this book. The story has a bit of the same feel to it. Teens living in an adult, though magical, world. This story stands alone, but it leaves enough open to be continued in the next title. ****
Author: Christina Bauer
Title - Moonlight and Midtown
(Fairy Tales of the Magicorum Novella 1.5)
This is a novella that takes place between books one and two. In it, Bry must deal with her inner wolf trying to go feral. (She has not had much time to learn how to keep her wolf in check yet.) Then, Bry and Elle go shopping in some fairy stores. Bry is in the market for some indestructible clothing so she may shift forms and not rip off her clothes. (It is awful to change back into human form and find yourself nude.)
**** FOUR STARS! You do not have to read this novella, but Queen Nyxa’s attack in the store will be mentioned in the second full book of the series. (I am sure we will see more of Nyxa in the future.) Nothing serious happens in this short story. It is just a day or two in Bry’s life as she adjusts to her magical world. I found it to be very entertaining. Be warned that the characters are not well developed. After all, development was done in the previous title. Readers are expected to already know Bry and her friends. ****
Author: Christina Bauer
Title - Shifters and Glyphs
(Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #2)
Bryar Rose, Knox, Alec, and Elle are on the hunt for a mystical fountain. Whether it will be used to increase the population’s magical powers or destroy all magic forever remains to be seen. It is all up to Bry … and even she has no idea which she will choose. First comes the problem of locating it. The rest they will deal with later. Something odd is going on with Knox too. Now if he is around Bry, he is in pain. The longer he is around her, the worse the pain becomes. However, if Knox steps away from Bry’s side, he gets better. Being away from his “Mate” is not a good choice though.
**** FOUR STARS! This story picks up shortly after the first title ends. Bry is finally going to high school, though not without a spot of trouble. She has finally found her Mate, though not without trouble either. Now she must find a magical fountain and figure out what to do with it. My synopsis does not tell everything that is going on either. There are some dark entities after Bry too.
If you have not read the first book, the author explains enough that you will not be totally lost; however, you cannot full enjoy this story without knowing the complete backgrounds of the characters. Life the first, this tale has the inner wolves yelling things like “My Mate” and “cubs”. (Get used to it.)
Twilight fans will enjoy this series, though instead of vampires it deals mainly with werewolves, fairies, and witches/wizards. Also like the first book, Bry comes off as immature, yet she does seem to think things through sometimes. Knox responds to attacks wrong, in my opinion. (If someone meant to kill or even harm my mate, I would not let them remain in my home, much less act civil toward them. I would attack back! ****
Author: Lenora Bell
Title - How the Duke Was Won
(The Disgraceful Dukes #2)
James Warren never expected his father and older brother to die, but now he is the Duke of Harland. His plans are to marry a lady with a spotless reputation, sire an heir, ensure the success of his new cocoa manufactory, and then return to his business in Trinidad. He invited four ladies and their mothers to his home in Surrey. After only a few days, James would choose his new duchess.
Charlene Beckett is the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan. It is an answer to all of her prayers when Lady Desmond makes her an offer. Charlene agrees to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke’s proposal. The other ladies battled for prestige, glory, and the thrill of being called “Her Grace.” But Charlene is fighting for freedom, her sister’s innocence, and her mother’s health.
***** FIVE STARS! OMG! I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of novels set within the Regency Era. It is rare when I find one that has no life threatening danger, yet holds onto my interest as if it overflowed with suspense. I only managed to put this book down once – to order pizza because I certainly was not going to take the time to cook anything.
The character of Charlene is a strong one, yet very loving. The new earl, James, is selfish at first but quickly changes. He has also brought his illegitimate daughter from Trinidad, to the surprise of the Society ladies. Of course, this young girl plays a key role in helping Charlene and James in various ways. She is absolutely precious!
Though I have never read anything from this author before, Lenora Bell has made a new fan in me. I will be looking into the first title of this series and will definitely be reading the next. I cannot recommend this story highly enough. Stellar! *****
Author: Kelly McCullough
Title - School for Sidekicks (YA)
Evan Quick is a geek when it comes to superheroes. He has always dreamed of being one of the people who developed powers; however, metahumans are rare. Then super villains attack during his class field trip. He somehow survives a death ray and actually saves his idol, Captain Commanding, before everything goes black. Evan wakes up at AMO, the Academy for Metahuman Operatives, and discovers that he is now part of the amazing world of Masks and Hoods.
Evan quickly learns that being part of the metahuman world is not as great as he thought it would be. Not only are there normal human classes but one must actually have a license to be a hero. In order to get a hero license, Evan would have to be the sidekick of a real superhero. Problem is that his idol, Captain Commanding, has blacklisted Evan. (Seems the hero is embarrassed at having to be saved by a kid.) Luckily for Evan, there is one hero who loves thumbing his nose at Captain Commanding and asks the AMO to allow him to mentor Evan.
Foxman gives Evan the sidekick name of Meerkat and whisks him to the Den. (Foxman’s Den is much like the Bat Cave.) Though Meerkat finds Denmother (the A.I. running the Den) to be cool and all the gadgets awesome, Foxman has zero interest in fighting crime. In fact, Foxman readily admits to being a “has-been” who is perfectly content to remain semi-retired. So in between taking classes like Combat with Dinnerware and Banter Basics, Evan must convince Foxman to become a real hero once again.
***** FIVE STARS! McCullough’s diabolic gaze lifts from the Adult Fantasy genre and shifts to the Young Adult Fantasy genre, where he will (no doubt) contaminate the minds of the next generation of readers; those lucky ducks! The target audience is listed as grades four and up; however, I urge anyone past their teenage years to pick up this title as well. (My husband and I love this story!)
Evan’s adventures will open your eyes to all the problems of being a real sidekick. It is especially difficult for a sidekick such as Evan/Meerkat, who has a superhero mentor that is as good as Batman when it comes to fighting, strategy, and using gadgets that his brilliant mind creates, but has some interesting flaws as well. Evan’s time at school is just as interesting. Each student (and teacher) has different abilities and the school has many secrets that it keeps from the students. In other words, there is a lot more going on that I tell in my synopsis. I actually feel sorry of anyone who misses out on this gem! Outstanding! *****
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Title - Instinct (Chronicles of Nick)
Nick Gautier deals with zombies, demons, vampires, shifters, all sorts of creatures and people every day. Many of those are his friends and allies. Thanks to them, Nick has survived everything that has been thrown his way. Just as Nick begins to hope that his life is finally back to normal, everything goes to hell – literally.
Nick has accepted the demon that lives within him. Now he must learn to control it. This is not an easy task while trying to keep a low profile. The dark gods are still after Nick. Now that those dark gods know where to find Nick, they will stop at nothing to get him.
**** FOUR STARS! Author Sherrilyn Kenyon’s cast of characters are well developed and seem to become more real with each story. Nick’s character in particular is evolving, growing, and I can see glimpses into what Nick could one day become – and it is fabulous! Some secrets of the Primordial gods are revealed in this installment and readers will learn more about Kody, his mother. These characters are not the only interesting ones in the story either. (Not by a long shot.)
It does not matter if you are male or female. I feel that anyone from the ages of teen to adult would love this story. Heck, they would love the entire series. There is very little language, a lot of Nick’s trademark sarcasm, and an ample supply of action. The only real down side (of the entire series) is that each story seems to have cliff hanger endings. It is no wonder to me that this series (and the author’s “Dark-Hunter” series) are soon to be major motion pictures. Tales by Sherrilyn Kenyon are major awesomeness! ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Bride Ship (Frontier Bachelors #1)
Our story begins January 16, 1866, at Pier 2, New York Harbor. Allegra Banks Howard is now a widow with a four-year-old daughter named Gillian. Allegra refuses to be the woman the Howards expects her to be and she absolutely will not allow Gillian to be molded into what the Howards will demand and then to be forced to marry and to live at the whim of the prominent family. To keep this from happening, Allegra and Gillian snuck out of the Howard mansion in Boston two weeks prior. The pair joins Asa Mercer’s expedition along with several other women. Their destination is Seattle, where women are needed and they would have a chance to begin their lives anew.
Six years ago Clayton “Clay” Howard decided to leave society and head west. He had wanted Allegra to go with him. She refused and ended up marrying his brother. Having recently heard of his brother’s death. Clay returns and follows Allegra to the New York Harbor. But his Allegra has changed and she refuses to return to Boston; therefore, Clay decides to travel with her.
Allegra needs Clay’s wilderness savvy, but she refuses to rekindle what they once shared. Too bad her heart disagrees.
***** FOUR & A HALF STARS! Most of this story takes place aboard ship. Allegra “Allie” has two friends that she becomes close to. I dearly hope to see Madeleine and Catherine get their stories told in the near future. (By the way, I enjoyed the tales Clay told the ladies about the beautiful, but dangerous, lands they would see.)
The author not only paints vivid sceneries for her readers, but also fully develops her characters. I came to care for several and hated to see the story end. I never wanted to slap sense into a character for stupidity. Regina Scott is above writing such nonsense or insulting the intelligence of her readers. I believe this is why I always get excited whenever I spot a new Regina Scott title in the book stores. This author R-O-C-KS! *****
Author: Katharine Ashe
Title - I Adored a Lord (Prince Catchers)
Ravenna Caulfield was the adopted daughter of a poor country vicar. Ravenna ran free and had a wonderful way with animals. She learned all she could about how to care for them. At the age of seventeen, the Reverend Caulfield allowed Ravenna to seek employment (of caring for the animals) in an unknown gentleman’s distant household with nothing but a great black dog (named Beast) to defend her. Of course, Mr. Pettigrew had no idea that his new employee was to be a woman and he could not allow a lady to reside with him for the sake of her reputation. It had been Ravenna’s idea for Pettigrew to apply for a transfer of guardianship and the reverend allowed it with no trouble. Thus Pettigrew and Sir Beverley came to care for Ravenna as if she were their own. The two men had the pleasure of watching the lady continue to grow and bloom. Her talent of caring for animals also continued to grow. But when Beast finally died, Ravenna’s heart broke and she became depressed.
Mr. Pettigrew and Sir Beverley, at the urging of Ravenna’s older sister, accepts an invitation to a house party hosted by Prince Sebastiao of Portugal. The house party is set in the remote mountains of France in early March. Ravenna has no interest in the prince but is drawn to the animals. While visiting the stables at night, she is caught by an unknown man. The man tackles her and then he kisses her. She hits him with a door and then a pitchfork and bites him. This is how Ravenna and Lord Vitor Courtenay meet.
Vitor has known battle for so long that all he now wants is to dash off to another dangerous mission. Instead he is playing babysitter to his spoiled prince of a half-brother and his international cast of potential brides. Even if Vitor were allowed to leave he could not, because the castle is now snowbound. Vitor’s stolen kiss in the stables causes him guilt, but he is unable to stay away from the intriguing lady. And when Ravenna comes across a corpse in a suit of armor, the need to protect her is strong. Ravenna and Vitor quickly find themselves wrapped in a mystery they’re perfectly paired to solve.
**** FOUR STARS! This story may be wrapped in the form of a historical romance, but is actually a challenging who-dunit mystery with a large cast of suspects. With a snowbound castle set in remote mountains, I got the feeling of the old types of stories where all the suspects are gathered into one room for the climatic revealing of the killer’s identity. I did not know which part I was enjoying more, the unusual romance or trying to figure out who the murderer was (based on the clues) before the main characters managed to.
Katharine Ashe writes with an eloquence that kept me enthralled with the story and begging for more once the last page had been turned. ****
Author: C.H. Admirand
Title - Patience (The Three Vices #1)
Set in London, 1815. Three years ago Lady Patience Wainwright had been betrayed by Lord Alasdair. Having been through the humiliation and hideous gossip due to a man she trusted, Patience now finds it impossible to trust any man. Patience is selfless. She never thinks of herself. She has a good, pure heart and goes out of her way for those in need of assistance. Her biggest problem is that she acts without thinking things through first, especially when it comes to caring about how Society will view her after her actions. This is how Patience came to be on the field one early morning when her dear friend, Oliver Higginbotham, was to duel a viscount.
Phillip Carrington, Viscount Rexley, is stunned to see that he has shot the wrong gentleman. When Rexley realizes that the wounded person is actually a lady, he is horrified. The lady left quickly and he was unable to ask about her identity. So imagine Rexley’s surprise to learn that the lady his father has betrothed him to is no other than the lady who should never have been out on a field of honor. Rexley did not want to wed, especially a lady who acted like anything but; however, his family’s honor demands it. The more time he spends with Patience, the more Rexley becomes enamored of her. Once wed, he could lay down the law to Patience. For now, Rexley is too busy trying to figure out why his father recently tried to commit suicide, who is blackmailing his father and why, and who is out masquerading as him (Rexley) and accosting ladies.
***** FIVE STARS! C.H. Admirand has crafted a brilliant love story, filled with action, humor, and drama, that often had me sitting on the edge of my seat. The heroine, Patience, does not have a selfish bone in her body, but the red head is prone to obstinacy and to rushing into action whenever someone needs help – especially if it is someone she cares for. As for the hero, Rexley, I admired his honor and the dedication he has for his family; however, once the pair are wed, Rexley makes the HUGE mistake of demanding Patience to change simply by telling her to obey him. (Needless-to-say, that does not work out well for him.)
It seems to me that C.H. Admirand gets better with every story she writes – and I believe this is the best yet! I can hardly wait until the cousins’ (Charity and Prudence) have their stories told. Stupendous! *****
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Author: Sarah MacLean
Title - No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
(Third Rule of Scoundrels)
He is the Killer Duke. Twelve years ago he was accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. At the time, he had not known that the lady he was about to take to his bed was supposed to become his newest stepmother. His father was three times her age. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple had been exiled by his father and shunned by the rest of the aristocracy. But now Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for over a decade. Though he is wealthy and powerful, he is still considered to be beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara comes out of hiding, offering the one thing he has dreamed of … absolution.
It had been a young, desperate Mara that had disappeared twelve years ago. She planned never to return, but when her brother gambles away not only all of his money, but hers, at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world that he is no killer. Mara well knows that Temple would not care what had happened that night long ago, nor why she had framed him for murder.
Though she deserves his anger, Temple soon finds that it is difficult to resist the pull of the mysterious and maddening woman who often smells of lemons. Yet he would give her no mercy. He would ruin her, return to his rightful place, and never look back.
***** FIVE STARS! As I read, I could not help but wonder why Mara would frame a man for her murder on the eve of her wedding and then disappear. Where did Mara hide? What has she been doing for twelve years? I had so many questions. Temple was an innocent. He was collateral damage. Therefore, I found myself on Temple’s side from the start.
Sarah MacLean has given her main characters dark and difficult backgrounds, so when they finally meet again the emotions run high; volatile. MacLean does not simply toss an ordinary main character to her readers. She makes them unique, such as giving Mara miss-matched eyes. This makes the people more believable. With strong characters and intensely emotional clashes, Sarah MacLean’s Third Rule of Scoundrels is un-put-down-able! *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Husband Campaign (Regency)
Set in Derbyshire, England. The story begins in July, 1815.
John, Lord Hascot, lost his ability to trust when his elder twin brother, James, stole the woman he had been about to propose to. Since then John has devoted his life to his horses on Hollyoak Farm. A horse from Lord Hascot is coveted, but John will only sell a horse to one who meets his standards. In addition to his declining to sell to just anyone with money, John has a reputation for incivility. Needless-to-say, marriage is the last thing John is contemplating when he spies Lady Amelia Jacoby asleep in his stable. Bad weather has trapped the couple together and, to save her reputation, the pair soon wed.
Lady Amelia understands that John does not expect any heirs. He only offers the shelter of a home, funds to furnish and decorate it, funds for clothing, and his utmost respect. He would keep his wedding vows and she would manage the house, staff, and deal with unexpected guests. For Amelia, loves comes softly and unexpectedly. She soon decides to begin a campaign to win her husband’s heart, for her sake and his.
When the Dowager Lady Hascot arrives unannounced, with Major David Kensington on her arm, John realizes that the visit has all the makings of a disaster. Caroline may be the Dowager, but she is not John’s mother. She is his brother’s widow. The resident veterinarian, Dr. Fletcher, and Amelia believe that their guests are here for some purpose other than making the acquaintance of John’s new wife … and they are correct.
**** FOUR STARS! Regina Scott has written a story true to the Regency era. The characters, as well as the circumstances, are totally believable and highly entertaining. (I became very attached to Amelia’s outspoken maid.) As for Lord Hascot, John is not only loyal but honorable. He never lies to Amelia, even before they wed. His horses mean much to him. He cannot tolerate anyone who is mean to an animal. He also does not suffer fools, stupidity, or any person who does not prove they are honorable.
Regina Scott’s writing style is as graceful as her heroine. She does not toss in a lot of rare words that would have readers reaching for the dictionary every few minutes. This story is easy to read and flows smoothly. My interest was captured almost immediately and I never found myself getting bored. An excellent tale for all who enjoy a good Regency, Historical Romance, or just want a realistic love story. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Wife Campaign (Regency)
Whitfield “Whit” Calder, Earl of Danning, has a very loyal and devoted valet named Peter Quimby. Quimby has been Whit’s valet since Whit inherited the earldom around the age of fifteen. This means that Quimby knows his duties thoroughly enough to anticipate Whit’s needs before they even cross his employer’s mind. Whit knows this. Whit appreciates this. Whit values this. On the down side, this also means that Whit would never seriously consider firing Quimby whenever the valet does something for Whit’s own good.
Whenever Whit is able to leave his duties behind and have some stress-free time alone, he travels to Fern Lodge, his fishing retreat. But this time Whit arrives at Fern Lodge to find his home being invaded by three eligible young ladies and their parents. Unknown to Whit, his loyal valet sent each lady an invitation to attend a house party where (or so the invitation eluded) the earl would propose marriage to her. Each lady thought that she was the only one invited. Each lady was happy and ready to accept the proposal – except one.
Ruby Hollingsford believes she will never find love with an aristocrat for various reasons. Ruby has been tricked into attending the Earl of Danning’s gathering by her father, but she certainly will not compete for the earl’s attentions. Yet, Whit is not the selfish aristocrat she envisioned. And with a little trust, two weeks may prove to be ample time for an unlikely couple to fall into love.
***** FIVE STARS! My synopsis of the story does not do it justice. To me, the author hits the nail on its head when she describes the snobbishness and drama that Society had (back in the era) for those lower in rank. This is, to say, no matter how rich Ruby is now, she still has no title and her father is in trade. There is also some danger involved in the tale, but I cannot discuss it without spoilers (which I refuse to do.) Once you read this book, you should understand why I will always snatch up any title with this author’s name on it. If the book has the name Regina Scott on its cover, it is sure to please. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Courting Campaign (Master Matchmakers #1,Regency)
Set in the Grange, near the Peak District, Derbyshire, England. It begins in June, 1815.
Miss Emma Prymont has been Alice’s nanny for three months and would protect her young charge with her life. During this time, Emma has seen how lonely the child has been. Her mother is deceased and her father is too wrapped up in his work to take notice. The cook, Mr. Jennings, believes Sir Nicholas Rotherford needs a new wife and that Emma would be perfect. Emma refuses to wed a scientist; however, she agrees to do her best to bring father and daughter closer together. With the cook’s help, Emma shows the workaholic scientist just what Alice needs.
Ever since scandal destroyed his career, Nicholas has secluded himself in the Grange and has devoted all his time to his new invention. He is developing a special lamp that miners can carry into the ground so they can see their way safely. Now his daughter’s sweet, quick-witted nanny is proving to be an unexpected distraction. Emma challenges Sir Nicholas to see things differently – Alice, his role as a father, even his work. But she does it with a general good nature and pragmatic approach he cannot refute.
***** FIVE STARS! In this Inspirational Regency Romance, Regina Scott’s heroine grew up an abused orphan. Her foster father was involved in destroying the hero’s career. This is how the author ensures that the pair has the same interest of natural philosophy. (Especially in the making of lamps for underground miners.) Though Emma is in hiding from her foster family, knowing that her past could very well pop up to cause trouble kept me in suspense, as did the conflicts with Sir Rotherford’s widowed sister-in-law who ran the household and knows about Emma’s past. The main characters are not above praying to the Lord for guidance. (That is why this is dubbed and “Inspirational” story.)
If you are searching for a historical romance that does not have characters you would want to hit upside the head due to miscommunications or stupidity, then this story is for you. The sweet, intelligent, and lovable characters will warm your heart while the romance and suspense keeps your eyes glued to the pages. Perfect. *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Heiress’s Homecoming (Everard Legacy #4, Regency)
Set in Cumberland, England. The year is 1813. After his wife died giving birth to Jamie, Will ran off with the diplomatic corps. Only the death of his older brother brought him home. If he had not been called home to claim the title and assume its responsibilities, Will might never have seen his son grow up. Now he is William Wentworth, Earl of Kendrick, and his son, Jamie, is an impressive young man at seventeen years of age. Will suspects that his neighbors, the Everards, were connected with his brother’s death eight years ago; therefore he wanted nothing to do with them. But Jamie had grown up with Lady Samantha Everard as his best friend. Upon meeting the young lady, Will can easily understand why.
Baroness Samantha Everard will lose Dallsten Manor and the bulk of her fortune if she does not wed by her twenty-fifth birthday. That fateful day is less than a fortnight away. Until a few odd years ago, Samantha had not known that she had any living family members. Since she met her three handsome cousins and watched them fall in love and begin having children, Samantha’s life has been filled with so much joy. But if she has learned nothing else, Samantha knows that those in her family feel their emotions stronger than most others. Samantha fears that she may repeat her mother’s mistake of marrying someone she loves only to realize a few years later that it had been only an illusion. It would be a few years of false love, followed by a lifetime of misery. Therefore, Samantha is fiercely determined not to wed in order to keep her inheritance – even if that means losing her home and becoming the poor relative of the family.
Will knows from his son that Samantha is under a great deal of pressure, yet Jamie refuses to divulge her secrets. Even with his years of diplomacy, Will is unable to convince the lady to tell him what is wrong. But when Will notices that Samantha is being stalked, he becomes even more determined to solve the mysteries surrounding her.
***** FOUR & A HALF STARS! This is the final book in the Everard Quartet. There is not as much danger as in the previous titles of the series, but there is enough suspense to keep readers glued to their seats until the very end. (For those who would like to look up the Cousins’ stories: The Rogue’s Reform is the story of Jerome and Adele. The Captain’s Courtship is the story of Captain Richard and Lady Clair. The Rake’s Redemption is the story of Vaughn and Imogene.) Those who have read the prior stories have seen Samantha grow into a lovely and intelligent lady, who is very good at horseback riding and fencing. Now we see the results of her unusual life. And I could not be happier.
It is pretty obvious who the bad guy of this story is, but that does not lessen the suspense at all. About the half-way point of the book, Samantha’s cousins arrive with their families. Vaughn is the only one who plays an important role though. After all, Samantha cannot reveal any of the information about Will’s brother and she certainly is not going to put her personal problems on display for him or anyone else. I admire that about Samantha’s character. She is a strong role model. I would also like to mention to readers that this is an Inspirational Regency Romance, meaning that the main characters often say a short prayer or recall a Bible verse. Do not fret if you are not a Christian though. The author does not shove religion down the reader’s throat. It is one of the traits that I love so much about this author. Regina Scott’s stories seem to come directly from her heart. Highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Sophia Nash
Title - The Duke Diaries (Royal Entourage, Regency)
Rory Lennox, the Duke of Abshire, is new to his title, which was bestowed upon him for services rendered to the Crown. As the story opens, Rory is caught in bed with his archenemy’s still-innocent sister, Miss Verity Fitzroy, the morning after the (soon to be well known) bachelor party. Verity refuses to wed Rory, preferring to be sent away until things blow over. But once settled in Derbyshire, Verity becomes so bored that she actually agrees to educate the children in the village while their teacher is away for a fortnight or so. When Rory appears, Verity knows it is his intension to persuade her into accepting his hand in marriage. While Verity has always been fascinated by Rory, she has too much pride to wed a man against his will. In the end, she agrees to an engagement, which she insists that she will break off at the end of the season, even if it renders her unmarriageable. (Not that it matters, as she never intends to ever wed.)
Meanwhile, a London newspaper begins to publish excerpts from a mysterious diary, detailing the most shameful exploits of the most scandalous bachelor party (which was also attended by the Prince Regent.) These stories could easily incite the country to riot, as they come so soon after the French Revolution. Rumor is that Rory recorded his friends’ misdeeds, but Verity knows he is innocent. Should the truth be revealed, it could destroy any hope of happiness for Verity. But when a series of mysterious accidents takes place, Rory realizes he must face down his greatest fears not only to save Verity, but to win her hand and her heart.
**** FOUR STARS! Author Sophia Nash sharpened her claws on certain gentlemen during the previous titles of this series. Now, to my utter delight, Nash sinks those slender talons deeply into the lives of Rory and Verity. I have been quoted in the past as describing Sophia Nash as “having an awe-inspiring, book-writing talent” and this story shows exactly why.
Unlike many other Heroines, this one has a backbone and can think for herself. She is not responsible for the stories printed, though they do come from her missing diaries. And unlike other Heroes, this one is certain of his actions (mostly) and has no urge to flaunt his brave acts from during the war to prove anything. The author has created believable characters and taken strides to keep events true to history. I found myself curious at some points and laughing aloud at others. Mystery, suspense, and romance collide to give readers a fun and memorable story. ****
Author: Yelena Black
Title - Dance of Shadows (Book 1/Young Adult)
As with her mother and sister before her, Vanessa Adler is poised to be a star. To her, ballet is everything. As she dances, Vanessa loses herself to the music. She feels as if all else fades away. She becomes the music. And becoming the music is exactly what the New York Ballet Academy tries to teach their talented students.
Vanessa’s older sister, Margaret, had been attending NYBA when she disappeared. Though Vanessa loves ballet, finding out what happened to her sister is Vanessa’s main priority. Along the way, Vanessa meets new friends and deals with petty seniors. Then one of her new friends goes missing, just like Margaret, and Vanessa learns of the school’s dark secret.
*** THREE STARS! This paranormal drama gives a glimpse into the world of ballet. The dancers make the moves appear to be easy. The truth is just the opposite. It is a lot of hard work. It is leaving blood and sweat on the floor daily after hours of training.
This story begins as Vanessa is settling into her dorm at NYBA. After the first chapter, the pace speeds up and the story starts to feel more sinister. By the ending, the story seems to vibrate with paranormal danger. However, the middle section slows down to a crawl. Not much happens and the story drags a bit. Threads are left dangling to be picked up in the second title of this trilogy, but readers are not left with a huge cliffhanger.
Author Yelena Black’s writing style is as graceful as the dance she writes about. It flows smoothly, is easy to read, and paints a vivid picture. I look forward to the next installment. ***
Author: Jennifer Rush
Title - Altered (Young Adult Sci-Fi)
Anna Mason lives with her dad in New York’s farmland. Dad is a scientist and works for the Branch. In the basement, four male teenagers live in cells. The teens suffered from amnesia, an unplanned side effect of their alterations. The Branch is trying to create the perfect team of soldiers by gene manipulation.
Nick is brooding. He seems to find Anna disgusting to be near. He gives Anna the creeps. Cas is always hungry. He wants to eat constantly and never gains an ounce of weight. He has the best motor skills, but the worst recall. Anna finds him to be playful and very entertaining. Trev is smart, caring, and has a photographic memory. Anna considers him to be her best friend. He is the one that Anna can confide her secrets to. Then there is Sam. Sam is the leader of the group and has a talent for languages. He is the strongest and has stolen Anna’s heart.
When the Branch decides it is time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Strangely, Anna’s dad insists that she go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. Anna soon discovers that she is somehow connected to Sam and the others. Anna tries to figure out what is going on and she quickly begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. As Branch agents pursue them, the five teenagers hunt for clues to their pasts. And the secrets seem to never end.
***** FIVE STARS! I am having a difficult time believing that this is the author’s debut novel. My interest was piqued on the very first sentence. I was hooked shortly thereafter. I ended up reading the entire story within a single afternoon. Then I did something that is extremely rare for me – I reread it! I found it to be just as riveting the second time through.
Unlike most books today, this one does not slow down in the middle. The story is fast paced with twists and surprises littered throughout the adventure. (The most curious clue to me was the tattoo of birch trees that covers Sam’s back.) I actually feel sorry for anyone that misses this compelling read. Un-freaking-believable! *****
Author: Amanda Hocking
Title - Wake (Watersong #1, Teen Paranormal)
The town of Capri is always filled with tourists during the warmer months. So when Penn, Lexi, and Thea show up, no one notices anything odd for awhile. The only thing different in the area lately is the fact that some people have gone missing. But soon everyone is talking about Penn, Lexi, and Thea. They are super gorgeous. They are the kind you want to hate, but you actually envy. They have captured the attention of everybody in Capri, but is Gemma the three girls seem to want.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma Fisher is pretty, carefree, and enjoys nothing more than swimming. Even though school is out, she still has swim practice. Gemma is in training. She has dreams of being in the Olympics someday. But swim practice is work, not fun. Fun, for Gemma, is her nightly swim in the bay. It is just Gemma and the water and the stars. Oh, there is also the boy next door, Alex. He has always been just a friend and he plans to go to college in a couple of months, but this summer they are taking their relationship to the next level.
Then one night while swimming in the bay, Gemma is spotted by Penn, Lexi, and Thea. They have been trying to get Gemma to join their group, but something just seems off about them. This night Gemma is unable to say no or walk away. It is as if the three girls cast a spell on her. The next morning Gemma wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing that something is different.
Gemma is stronger, faster, heals crazy fast, and is more beautiful than ever. Penn, Lexi, and Thea have somehow altered Gemma – all the way down to her cellular level. Whatever they did cannot be reversed either. As Gemma finds out more about her new, unwanted powers, she learns that she has only two options. Gemma can stay with those she loves and die in the near future or she can accept what she has become, join the three girls, and enter their dark world.
**** FOUR STARS! This is the first in the four-book Watersong series. It’s about a young girl who is transformed, against her will, into (what was thought to be) a mythical creature. Though major threads are left dangling, this first installment ends in a good spot. The backgrounds of the main and secondary characters are well developed. However, the backgrounds of Penn, Lexi, and Thea are not revealed and fully explained until about the middle of the story. It is obvious that the author adores mythology and has done considerable research on the material. Her writing style is appealing, easy to follow, and flows smoother than a calm sea. This series is destined to win awards. I foresee a bright future for Amanda Hocking and many new fans. ****
Author: Amanda Hocking
Title - Lullaby (Watersong #2)
Gemma Fisher now has Penn, Lexi, and Thea’s curse; along with all their strange powers. To keep the creepy trio from killing those she loves, Gemma agrees to leave with the three sirens and to obey Penn’s commands. That does not mean that Gemma would give in to the unspeakable hungers that plague her. Those hungers grow stronger with every day that passes. Gemma knows that it is only a matter of time before she succumbs to the bloody urges.
Harper refuses to give up searching for her younger sister. No matter what, Harper is determined to locate Gemma and bring her home. Daniel joins Harper in the quest. But even if they manage to find Gemma and return to Capri, how could they possibly change her back to normal? Slowly, but surely, Gemma is losing her humanity. And the other deadly sirens will never let Gemma go … alive.
FIVE STARS! This is the second novel in the riveting new fantasy quartet by Amanda Hocking. This author is more than simply an up-and-comer. Instead, Hocking has already arrived. She has pulled up a chair, plugged in her trusty computer, and taken her rightful place at the virtual mahogany table beside the other elite authors in the Teen Fantasy genre.
This story opens where the first left off. Gemma and her new siren sisters are no longer in Capri, Maryland. They have moved way down the east coast and into a massive white mansion with a handsome rich man named Sawyer. Readers see events unfold from both Gemma and Harper’s eyes. This way the readers can see what Gemma is going through, as well as how Harper and her team are researching data to help rescue Gemma. If nothing else, I have learned that being a mermaid/siren is not as glamorous as it sounds.
Amanda Hocking mixes contemporary teen life with mythology, adds a bit of suspense, drama, and romance, to create a thrilling saga that I doubt I will ever be able to forget. Breathtaking! *****
Author: Victoria Alexander
Title - The Importance of Being Wicked (1/29/13 - Regency)
Lady Miranda Garrett is twenty-eight years of age and has been a widow for three years. Shortly after their marriage, John founded the construction company of Garret and Tempest. The Mr. Tempest part of the firm’s name helped with the funding needed to begin the business, but he has never set foot in the company’s door. He only asked that the money be repaid over time – with no interest – and his name to be used in the firm’s title. Miranda has always been interested in drawing buildings and eventually became the brilliant architect behind the company’s curtains. Because no one would hire a company run by a woman, Miranda let John take credit for her work. Upon John’s death, Miranda and her small staff of employees kept the business going, but never revealed who the firm’s architect really was, especially not to Miranda’s own family.
Winfield “Win” Elliott, Viscount Stillwell and heir to the Earl of Fairborough, very much regrets that Fairborough Hall caught fire; however, he knows that the damage could have been far worse. Win contracts Garrett and Tempest to do the reconstruction. He is startled when Miranda arrives to represent the firm and survey Fairborough Hall’s damage. His first thought is that the lady looks more like a governess than a Viscount’s widow. Her clothing is years out of fashion, her hair is arranged in a stiff manner, and she wear the most dreadful shoes. Win quickly comes to realize that the lady knows much about architecture and construction and, with a bit of clever manipulating, manages to convince him to improve the plumbing and even (Heaven forbid!) install electricity. Though Win understands that a man (Emmett) will handle the construction crew and that the elusive Mr. Tempest will draw up the plans, he is still uncomfortable knowing that Miranda will be on site to oversee everything. After all, it is such a long way for a woman to travel daily. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on whom you ask), his mother solves the problem. Margaret knows Miranda’s mother from long ago and insists that Miranda stay with them at Millworth Manor until Fairborough Hall’s restoration is complete.
The more time that Win spends in Miranda’s presence, the more confused Win becomes about her. For Win, charming women was almost a natural skill. Miranda is the first woman who did not easily fall for him. Every encounter with her leaves him frustrated. Miranda is annoying, argumentative, intelligent, and obviously hiding something from him. And frankly, it is every little boy’s dream to be with his pretty governess. Perhaps that is why Win cannot seem to stay away from the lady.
***** FIVE STARS! Once again Victoria Alexander has done a masterful job at creating believable characters that stay true to Society’s rules of the Era. By the time Miranda meets Win, he has already had three broken engagements. Throughout the story, bits are revealed about each former fiancée. I found myself curious as to what had happened. Who was at fault? Was there something too wicked about Win? Therefore, I was thrilled to find that the author included a novella after Miranda’s story. The novella is broken down into three sections. Each section gives the name of Win’s fiancée and tells what actually happened to cancel the wedding. So with this book, you get a full-length story, as well as a novella. (Score!)
Both Miranda and Win love a good argument, ahem; I mean a good debate, so they are often challenging each other. This causes a lot of witty dialogue and utterly hilarious situations. I laughed so hard at one section (when the couple finally decides to hit the bedroom together) that I marked the first three pages for my husband to read later. He laughed almost as much as I did. This is because the author has an outstanding writing style that allows the reader to easily picture the scenes in their minds.
The secondary characters are entertaining as well. Miranda’s family is lively. When the parents, siblings and their spouses all get together for dinner, things are never boring. Win’s family is not so dramatic, but they are not dull either. All characters, be they main or secondary, have well developed backgrounds. The plot moves at a good pace. And I cannot wait to read the story all over again. I feel very sorry for anyone who misses this fantastic tale. *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Rake’s Redemption
(Everard Legacy #3, Inspirational Regency)
Set in London, England, spring 1805. Lady Imogene Devary is the only surviving child of Robert Devary, the Marquess of Widmore; therefore, it is no wonder that the father dotes on her. At least he did until recently. Lord Widmore has been spending more and more time away, dealing with matters at the War Office.
Vaughn Everard is an infamous duelist and poet. He is also the cousin of Lord Jerome Everard and (former) Captain Richard Everard. The three cousins are searching for the killer of Arthur Everard, their uncle. At the same time, the cousins are helping Samantha with her first Season. Three weeks ago, a man connected to the Marquess of Widmore had warned them that the marquess meant to topple the crown. Though Vaughn has qualms about dragging an innocent lady into his quest for revenge, his conscience assures him that as the daughter of his enemy, she is fair game to help uncover the truth.
Imogene cannot believe that her father is guilty of the crimes Vaughn suspects. He does not know her father. The marquess would never commit murder in cold blood or collude with the French to overthrow the crown. Yes, her father’s actions have been odd lately, but that does not make him guilty. Then Imogene and Vaughn discover a terrifying plot. Only together can they learn the truth and protect their newfound love and England’s very future.
**** FOUR STARS! This is a stand-alone story; however, I urge you to read the first two titles so that you may fully sympathize with the cousins’ mission. Otherwise, Vaughn may come across as too stone-hearted at times. (The first title is The Rogue’s Reform. The second title is The Captain’s Courtship.) Characters from the previous titles make cameos, but the only one that actually plays some minor parts is Samantha. Samantha tends to speak her mind, which I believe is often very entertaining; but this time around Samantha comes across as more childish than previously. Yet I still cannot help but like her. (Samantha’s story will be told in early March, 2013. The title will be The Heiress’s Homecoming.)
Romance, mystery, suspense, and drama collide to ensure that readers will never find themselves bored. I can only hope that Samantha’s story is as intriguing as this one. ****
Authors: Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston
Title - Earth Unaware
(The First Formic War / Teen Sci-Fi)
Victor Delgado may only be a teenager, but he and his father are the best mechanics on the ship. The big corporate miners have stores of spare parts and resources on their ships. As free miners, Victor’s people make do with what they have. If something needs fixing, they pull out the junked parts and use their imaginations. Victor is a genius innovator. His inventions keep the family operation running smoothly in the Kuiper Belt. His life forever changes when Edimar “Mar” spots something odd in space.
Fourteen-year-old Mar is an apprentice spotter. Her job is to watch for movement in space: comets, asteroids, anything that might pose a collision threat to the ship. Mar notices an insanely fast mass moving in the far distance. Its velocity decreases over time and natural objects in space do not slow down on their own. Her gruff father would belittle her if this turned out to be nothing, so she contacts Victor. He agrees with her assessment. This object could very well be a near-lightspeed alien ship.
First contact is deadly. The aliens seem to be descended from insectlike creatures, so the free miners begin calling them “hormigas” (ants). These technologically superior creatures have no regard for human life. They have unimaginable firepower, a proven malicious intent, and are rocketing toward Earth. There is no way for the free miners to warn Earth and Luna and everyone in the Belts of what is coming. If ever there were a time to think “outside the box”, this was it. The fate of humanity will rest on one of Victor’s crazy ideas.
***** FOUR & A HALF STARS! My synopsis only touches the alien sections of this incredible story. This novel began as a back story to “Ender’s Game”. If you have not read Ender’s infamous story, please do so! “Ender’s Game” is one of the very best science fiction novels of our time (imho). You do not have to read “Ender’s Game” in order to thoroughly enjoy this book. After all, this tale takes place long before Ender is even born. Yet for those who have read about Ender, you will receive glimpses of major players in their younger days. For example, Ender knows that humanity lives due to the brilliant tactical maneuvers thought up by Mazer Rackham. In “Earth Unaware” I am allowed to see which special military team would choose Rackham as a possible candidate, who would train him, and how.
It is obvious that Card had given some serious thought into how the whole asteroid mining industry would work. This was not just a few ideas slapped together and presented to the public. Card & Johnston explain the economic infrastructure that exists to make survival in the Belt possible. They explain the amazing tools the miners use in their everyday lives. Then the authors up the ante by having Victor test a new gadgets and ideas that he dreams up on the fly. How the items work and why they were needed is detailed for the reader.
Fans of Robert Heinlein would especially enjoy the “Ender’s Series”, as well as this new story, “Earth Unaware”. The meticulous thoughts and beyond-his-time-ideas in which Heinlein penned into his novels can be found in Card’s as well. As with Robert Heinlein, the name of Orson Scott Card has made my short list of “Must Read” authors. And this new Formic War story is going to win awards – just watch. *****
Author: Orson Scott Card
Title - Ender’s Game (Teen Sci-Fi)
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin kept his government-issued monitor on until the age of six. That was a year longer than most. Many of the other kids are jealous, especially his older brother, Peter. When the bad boys at school corner him, Ender does what he has to. Shortly thereafter, Colonel Graff arrives at the Wiggin home and offers Ender the chance to attend Battle School.
It has been about eighty years since the last war with the buggers. The buggers almost managed to wipe humanity out of existence. Since then, the government has been trying to make officers for the next war; a war that could happen at any time. Battle School is where children are trained to become commanders. All the children are organized into armies and they compete in zero gravity war games.
Unknown to Ender (but well known to readers), Graff intends to make six-year-old Ender into the best battle commander in history. The future of humanity could very well depend on Ender becoming a perfect killing machine. Ender is bright, in perfect health, highly intelligent, and imaginative. To Ender, winning is everything. (To quote part of the book: “Ender Wiggin isn’t a killer. He just wins – thoroughly.”) To some others in the military, Graff is often too cruel to the children, especially to Ender. But Graff is doing what he believes is necessary for the preservation of the human race. Ender realizes early on that Graff is isolating him from the kids by using every low-down trick in the book – and several NOT in the book. The mind games are nothing new to Ender. He was used to dealing with Peter, who is a master manipulator. As Ender thinks up more and more amazing strategies to win the war games, he is also shaping himself into the very weapon Graff wants so badly.
***** FIVE STARS! This is one of the most impressive novels of our time (imho). The author takes a nascent child (Ender) and places him in a military school to (basically) sink or swim. Due to the exigencies of an upcoming war, the person in charge of Battle School (Graff) is unstinting in his mistreatment of all the children.
This story has already become required reading in some high schools. Teachers enjoy having their students debate on whether Graff is guilty of mistreatment of children or if his actions are justifiable. Another point of debate is the emotional and psychological toll on young Ender.
Though the story mainly focuses on Ender, some time is given to his brother and sister who are still back at home. Those Wiggin siblings are as intelligent as Ender, but instead of strategy they have more manipulative and/or persuasive abilities.
All-in-all, this is an excellent story for Science Fiction fans of any age. (Fans of Robert A. Heinlein will especially enjoy this tale. The meticulous thoughts and beyond-his-time-ideas can be found in this story too.) Un-Freaking-Believable! *****
Author: Orson Scott Card
Title - The Lost Gate (Mither Mage, Teen Sci-Fi)
Several centuries ago Loki closed all gates between the worlds. Many people with magic had been left behind. Humans without any trace of magical talent are now called drowthers. The drowthers no longer believe in magic. But Danny North has known since early childhood that his family has magic, and that he is different from his family. The North Family lives in an old rambling house. It is filled with dozens of Danny’s cousins, aunts, and uncles, all ruled by his father. Their home is in the mountains of western Virginia, far away from the towns, schools, and drowthers. Danny’s cousins are learning how to create fairies, ghosts, golems, trolls, and other magical things that drowthers believe to be only myths and legends. However, Danny has never shown an aptitude toward any magical talent or formed an outself.
For a long while, Danny believes he is simply a very fast runner. When he realizes that he is actually making and traveling through magical gates, Danny fears for his life. Since Loki, the greatest and strongest gatefather, closed all the gates, everyone in the Families watches each child for possible signs of becoming a gatemage. No gatemage is allowed to live. Danny is only thirteen-years-old when his secret is revealed. He quickly makes a gate and flees. Somehow, Danny must struggle to survive in the drowther world, hiding from those who would kill him, while he tries to figure out just how his powers work and how to make a gate do things that he consciously desires.
*** THREE STARS! The character of Danny is not the only focus of this story. About a quarter of the book focuses on Wad, a magical boy that spent several centuries living (trapped) within a tree. When the strange silent boy showed up one summer in Castle Nassassa’s kitchen garden, the night cook took him under her protection. At various times throughout Danny’s adventures the tale shifts to Wad’s. It is like reading two different books at once. Yet by the book’s end I understand how the two stories are linked.
Unlike Wad, Danny is an itinerant character. The author, Card, has the teenager traveling to various parts of America and meeting several less-than-savory people. It is interesting to watch Danny adapt to life on the streets. The story keeps a steady pace. The plot is solid, the characters are intriguing, and the content varies between philosophical and intense. Well done! ***
Author: Brenda Jernigan
Title - Black Magic (Time Travel Romance)
Story opens in Raleigh, North Carolina, 1980. Alexandria Dumont is a doctor of physical medicine and a doctor of rehabilitation medicine. While at a flea market, Alex purchases an oil painting from Hattie, an old Cajun woman. The painting shows a lovely plantation with a small lake in its front. Beside the lake is a young lady in a peach gown. The mystery lady is peering into the water. But the reflection does not show the beauty that surrounds it. Instead, it shows a home burned to the ground and the lady dressed in rags. When Alex moves her new portrait, a child's diary falls from its backing. That night Alex begins reading the journal as she falls asleep.
Alex wakes up the next morning to find herself in 1835. The only familiar things around Alex are her black medical bag and Hattie. In this time, Hattie is a free black woman who works as the housekeeper of River Bends, a large cotton plantation in New Orleans. Alex is unsure why she has fallen back to 1835 until she meets Melissa "Missy", a twelve-year-old crippled girl. Alex knows that she can help Missy walk again and convincing her brother/guardian, Brad Wentworth, is a challenge. But soon Alex is settling in at River Bends and working with Missy.
Brad Wentworth is a well known attorney, retired, who has never lost a case. Now he owns and operates the family's plantation and cares for his little sister. With Hattie's assurance that Alexandria is a very good doctor, Brad hires her to care for Missy. Even should his sister never walk again, Missy seems to deeply enjoy Alexandria's company. Though Brad is well known and his friends call him the master of seduction, Alexandria is not intimidated by him or impressed in the slightest. Brad is also about to announce his engagement to Julia Turner. Their marriage would merge their lands, making River Bends the largest plantation in New Orleans. So why can he not get the stubborn, lovely, redheaded doctor out of his head?
***** FIVE STARS! A little magic, a lot of suspense with some drama thrown in for good measure, and romance...what more could one want in a Time Travel Romance? Okay, let's toss some in a villain or two that readers cannot help but love to hate. This story has it all. Brenda Jernigan has written a compelling tale that hooked my interest instantly and refused to let go until the story was over. Alex's sojourn to 1835 was vividly detailed and stayed true to the time period. Julia's character seems to ooze evil at times. I looked forward to seeing her get what she deserved. And Brad's character could never be conceited while Alexandria was around. Alex is a strong character, independent, and has an indomitable spirit. Ms. Jernigan is a pro when it comes to foreshadowing ominous events and I found myself riveted by the mysterious Hattie and the enchanted with little Missy. The name of Brenda Jernigan is simply another way to pronounce the word "Rhapsody". Marvelous! *****
Authors: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Title - Dragon's Oath
(House of Night Novella Series #1)
In England, the year 1830, Bryan Lankford is the third son to the Earl of Lankford. When Lord Lankford becomes fed up with his son's antics, he disowns Bryan and banishes him to America. But at the dock, Bryan is Marked by a vampyre, a Tracker, and given the choice of staying at London's House of Night or boarding the dragon-prowed ship to America. To Bryan, the choice is easy. The new fledgling vampyre heads to America.
It is 1833. Twenty-two-year-old Anastasia is a fully Changed vampyre. She is also the youngest professor in the Tower Grove House of Night in St. Louis. Though young in age, she is an expert in spells and rituals. After fifteen students approach and beg Anastasia for a love potion to use on Dragon Lankford, the young professor decides it is time for action. With the permission of High Priestess Pandeia, Anastasia casts a drawing spell. Instead of attracting Dragon's attention to anyone, this drawing spell focuses on the fifteen students who are obsessed with the young Sword Master. Once cast, the fifteen fledglings will see Dragon clearly, without their romantic infatuations clouding their judgements. (Sort of an anti-Dragon Lankford spell.)
The spell works, but due to the real Bryan Dragon Lankford charging into her circle, the spell goes slightly awry. The honest truth about Dragon is revealed to more people than intended. Anastasia's spell draws the future Dragon before her. The fully Changed version is undeniably a Warrior and the conjured vampyre reveals to Anastasia the truth of their future romance. They are destined to be mates. But first, according to the future Dragon, Anastasia would need to be patient. The young, rash, arrogant, and egotistical Dragon would need time to grow and mature.
Sheriff Jesse Biddle hates vampyres and wants to destroy all of them. Unknown to the mortals he is sworn to protect, Biddle has a dark creature trapped within a silver cage and the sheriff craves its power. Anastasia's spell reveals the truth about Dragon to the monster. Biddle learns that Dragon "will extinguish the Dark light" unless he is stopped. If Sheriff Biddle wants the dark power, he must kill Anastasia, the Dragon's mate.
***** FIVE STARS! This is the first in a series of House of Night novellas. Each will reveal back stories about some of the House of Night's biggest characters. In this offshoot of the popular vampyre series, the life of Sword Master Dragon Lankford is told. The story opens in the present day. Dragon holds vigil over a young fledgling's funeral pyre. As he guards the fire, Dragon begins to remember the past. At the end of the story, readers return to the present day. Now that I know about Dragon's life with Anastasia, I understand the man's need for vengeance. The reason for his cold efficiency in duty makes perfect sense.
With this new novella series, readers will receive insights that may enhance the full-length HON series. I have high hopes that these novellas will help breathe some life back into the full-length series. *****
Authors: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Title - Lenobia's Vow (HoN Novella #2)
Set in the year 1788. Sixteen-year-old Lenobia Whitehall lives in France with her mother. Because she is the illegitimate daughter of the Baron of Bouillon, she works as a servant while her half-sister, Cecile, gets everything she desires. When Cecile suddenly dies, Lenobia's mother takes immediate action to ensure that her daughter has a better life than what France could offer. Lenobia is soon surrounded by other girls on a ship bound for New Orleans, where they will be married off to the city's richest Frenchmen. No one knows that it is Lenobia masquerading as Cecile. The girls are chaperoned by Sister Marie Madeleine Hachard and under the protection of the Ursuline Nuns. But even this may not be enough to save Lenobia.
Back in France, Lenobia had caught the eye of an evil bishop, Charles de Beaumont. The Catholic Church has sent the Bishop to New Orleans and he is traveling on the same ship as Lenobia. The evil bishop has an appetite for lovely young women and should he see Lenobia, the Bishop would expose her as a fraud. So Lenobia remains hidden in her cabin, feigning seasickness. But early each morning, Lenobia sneaks out to visit the ship's stables, where the handsome Creole man, Martin Rillieux, and his beautiful Percheron horses quickly capture her attention.
**** FOUR STARS! Those who follow the full-length "House of Night" series know Lenobia as one of Zoey's favorite professors. Lenobia played a big part in the recent release of "Destined" (HoN #9). In Zoey's time, Lenobia is the fearless horse mistress at Tulsa's House of Night.
This is the second title in the novella spin-off series. (The first is "Dragon's Oath".) This story tells the history of a mortal Lenobia in the year 1788. At the age of sixteen, Lenobia's life is already difficult. Most of the tale takes place on the ship. Readers learn about the mortal man that Lenobia falls in love with and why she eventually makes her vow to never love another. The cast of characters is small, but the story is big on suspense. I now see Lenobia's feisty character in a whole new light. Awesome! ****
Author: Cathy Maxwell
Title - The Seduction of Scandal
Set in the early 1800's. Ferris Parish was located on a piece of land that jutted boldly into Scotland, although only the wealthy took pride in English roots. The rest were descended from reivers, border raiders who had crossed between Scotland and England with impunity until the first earl of Bossley battled the raiders, offered protection to his people, and brought peace. That had been almost two-hundred years ago, and times had changed.
The current earl of Bossley is a hard, greedy, and ambitious man. His coffers are rich because he takes everything from his people - and often he takes more than his people have. Lord Bossley's son and heir is Lord Sherwin "Freddie". Freddie is determined to wed Lady Corinne Rosemont, youngest daughter of the seventh duke and duchess of Banfield. Once Freddie marries her in three weeks, Bossley will have more power than any man in England.
Lady Corinne wants nothing to do with Freddie. The man may be young and considered to be handsome, but Cory finds him repulsive. Pleading with her parents not to make her marry Freddie does no good. They are intent on the match, even after Cory walks into her room and finds Freddie in bed with her maid. Cory wishes she had the nerve to run off. Then it dawns on Cory that there actually IS a way. Lately there has been a masked highwayman in the area. The thief is called the Black Thorn and has been causing Bossley all sorts of grief. When Cory spies Major John Ashcroft, commander of the local militia, riding away in a carriage, she hides in the boot. Cory wants to sneak into London and hide away until after the wedding date has passed. When the Black Thorn holds up Major Ashcroft's carriage, Cory slips out of the boot. Not expecting her to be there, the major ends up shooting Cory. Instead of helping Cory, Major Ashcroft flees, abandoning her to the mercy of the thief.
Reverend Mr. William "Will" Norwich is the foster son of Lord Bossley. Will had been only three when Bossley took him off the street in Barbados. He owes his life to the earl; however, Will is unable to overlook the misery that Lord Bossley is causing to the people of Ferris. Though he feels much guilt in doing so, Will has been stealing the money his father tries to deliver to London and quietly divides it among the Ferris locals. Will knows that Major Ashcroft has a large amount in the carriage. Getting the money is easy, but seeing Cory shot and left for dead is not. The pastor cannot leave her alone, but by taking her with him, Will must reveal his identity. Once on the mend, Will wants to return Cory to her parents. But Cory insists that he hide her until after her wedding date. To keep the noose from his neck, Will agrees. Now if only he can keep her hidden from his foster family for three weeks. And if only he can keep his feelings hidden from her.
**** FOUR STARS! I have seen the damsel in distress with the highwayman scenario done often in the past; however, rarely have I seen it played out with the damsel blackmailing the highwayman and never have I seen the highwayman as a pastor. I could not help but find it intriguing. I am so grateful that I gave this story a chance!
Cory, the heroine, was not stupid or ignorant as many Regency ladies are often portrayed, but she was apt to do things spur-of-the-moment (without planning ahead). I admit that her recklessness irritated me a time or two. As for the bedeviled hero, Will's ambivalent feelings for Cory were so well described that I actually felt sorry for him. (Will often found himself in one quandary or another.) Not only did the author do a great job on background developments, but she also managed to discreetly insert a bit of mystery which later became a pretty nifty twist. Cathy Maxwell has taken an overdone plot and altered it until it became something unprecedented. Terrific! ****
Author: Karen Mahoney
Title - The Iron Witch (Iron Witch #1, Fantasy, Ages 13 and over)
Seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood is different. It is something she has known all her life. It is something Donna has hated since she was seven. That was when a nightmarish creature had attacked her in Ironwood Forest. Her father died protecting Donna, but not before the beast had maimed her arms. Since that horrible night, ten years ago, Donna has lived with Aunt Paige. Donna's mother is alive, but no one knows what happened to her during the event. Her mother now resides at an exclusive and very private Institute.
Donna's family is part of the Order of the Dragon. It is a secret society of centuries-old magic. The Order has two main tasks: to guard the secret of immortality and to protect humans from the otherworld. Which, of course, includes the inhabitants of Faerie. Faerie is another realm that exists right alongside ours. Maker, a very powerful alchemist, did many surgeries on Donna's arms. Now Donna is marked by an ancient alchemical magic. She wears gloves to cover what looks to be silver tattoos. Her skin is part pure iron. Donna has to be careful with the super strength it gives her. The strength is but one difference between her and normal teens. She has not learned everything as yet. Donna only goes to Ironbridge High School for tests and exams. Most days she goes to the Frost Estate and is tutored. (Donna thinks of this as being "home schooled". The Frost Estate is part of the Order, where only the members are allowed entrance.)
For the past few years, Navin "Nav" Sharma has been her best friend. When Nav begs Donna to attend an elite party with him she agrees, even though she knows that the other kids will not like her presence. When enough-is-enough, Donna seeks out some solitude and finds herself on the roof with one other guy. Donna realizes that nineteen-year-old Alexander "Xan" Grayson is not happy to have company on the roof at first, but that quickly changes. Xan seems to understand her as no other. Turns out that Xan is different too. He is not fully human. The iron in Donna's arms reacts to Xan and she decides to have Maker check on her tattoos. The unplanned visit to Maker and the appearance of a dark elf in the city sets off a chain of events that would forever change the lives of Donna, Nav, and Xan.
**** FOUR STARS! This is the first story of the Iron Witch series; therefore, it must form a strong foundation upon which future stories will build. I stress this to explain that readers will spend the first half of this book learning about Donna, and the magical world around her - especially about the Order. The second half is where the real danger and suspense enter the story. This is when Donna, Nav, and Xan get a nasty taste about what they will soon be up against. Though the story ends in a decent spot, several threads are left dangling. The second book is titled The Wood Queen (release date February 8, 2012) and should begin right where this one ends. The three main characters have well developed backgrounds, but the scenes jump around in the story and readers do not really understand them until far in the story. The other characters' backgrounds are a bit murky.
Personally, I enjoyed this story very much. I am interested to see where the author will go with the plot line. An enigmatically penned story that will entice your imagination. ****
Author: Julie Kagawa
Title - The Iron King (Iron Fey #1)
At the age of six Meghan's father disappeared while they were at the park. He was never found. Her mother moved them to a small, out-of-the-way town and remarried. Now Meghan Chase has a four-year-old half brother, Ethan, whom she adores. Other than with her best friend, Robin Goodfell, Meghan has always felt different than everyone else. On the day before her sixteenth birthday, which no one but Ethan and Robin seem to remember, Meghan begins paying more attention to what is around her. If only her humiliation at school could be simply a hallucination, like the gremlin she saw in class.
When a dark and handsome stranger begins watching her, Robin becomes very protective. Robin Goodfell is really Robin Goodfellow, also known as Puck. Meghan believes it all a prank until Puck takes her into Nevernever, the land of the Fae, and escorts her to King Oberon, her biological father. Puck had been sent to the mortal world and tasked with protecting the king's daughter. Meghan wants only to rescue her brother and go back home. Ethan had been kidnapped by a new breed of faery. To save Ethan, Meghan must convince Puck to help her escape her father, avoid being killed by Queen Titania and her minions, deal with an enemy prince named Ash - who's attitude toward her keeps running hot and cold - and find out where her brother is.
Can Meghan rescue her brother? Can she keep Puck and Ash from literally killing each other? Does she dare give her heart to a prince who might enjoy seeing her dead? And most of all, if Meghan manages to survive through the overwhelming obstacles before her, will her life ever be the same again?
**** FOUR STARS! Action, drama, suspense, and magic all blend together in order to serve a delicious banquet for readers to consume and enjoy. Being half-fey gives the character of Meghan high potential for the author's imagination to play with. Julie Kagawa will have readers begging for the next exciting installment. ****
Author: Julie Kagawa
Title - The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2)
Meghan Chase is half Summer faery princess and half human. She is now a prisoner to the Winter faery queen, Mab. When the Iron Knights steal the Scepter of the Seasons and kill Crown Prince Sage, the Winter Court believes that the Summer Court were to blame. With her own fey powers blocked, Meghan finds herself stuck right in the middle of a faery war. Winter Prince Ash has been indifferent to Meghan since he delivered her to Queen Mab. Feeling deserted by the prince she thought loved her, Meghan realizes that if she was to survive her stay in the Winter Palace she would have to become strong as iron.
To stop the war, Meghan needs to retrieve the Scepter of the Seasons from the Iron fae and return it to Mab. When Prince Ash helps Meghan begin the journey, he is branded as a traitor. His own brother, Prince Rowan, has his personal Thornguards hunting them everywhere. Meghan is joined on her quest for the scepter by the infamous Puck (who is still trying to show Meghan how he feels for her), an aloof faery cat named Grimalkin, and Ironhorse (who was once the Iron King's lieutenant). As Meghan grows a backbone of iron, she also comes to understand that even should she retrieve the scepter and stop the war, she and Ash would still be on opposite sides. Due to this, they would always be enemies and could never be together. Once the scepter was back where it belonged, they would part forever. Could Meghan's growing feelings for Puck help her through the upcoming heartbreak of losing Ash?
***** FIVE STARS! This second story of the series picks up where the first left off. If you have not read the first title (The Iron King), chances are you will find yourself lost or confused at times. I strongly urge you to read these stories in order. I found this episode to be just as enthralling as the first. It is creative, well written, and has believable characters that I could easily identify with. The character of Meghan shows that you need not have magic or be considered special in order to stand up for yourself and do what is right. I eagerly look forward to the third title's release. Author Julie Kagawa writes teen fantasy as no other! *****
Author: Julie Kagawa
Title - The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)
It has been one year since Meghan Chase first went into Faery. She is the half-human daughter of Oberon, the Summer King. After defeating the Iron King, Maghan inherited his iron glamour. Within her runs two types of magic, Summer and Iron. Problem is that the Summer and Iron powers clash whenever she tries to use one and this causes her to become extremely sick. By her side is Ash of the Unseelie Court. The Winter Prince has been exiled from Nevernever by his mother, Queen Mab, for loving Meghan. Meghan has been exiled by her father because she chose to follow Ash. Puck (Robin Goodfellow) is another outcast.
The three are still trying to decide how they will survive in the mortal world when they are recalled to Faery. The Summer and Winter Kingdoms have (amazingly) joined forces to battle against the Iron Fey, but their armies are slowly being crushed. The wyldwood grows smaller daily, as more and more land is absorbed into the Iron Kingdom, thus expanding the false king's realm. King Oberon and Queen Mab are willing to lift all three of their exiles, abolishing all crimes and rendering full pardons. In return, Meg would journey into the Iron Realm and assassinate the false king before all is lost.
**** FOUR STARS! This series is not the type that new readers can simply pick up anywhere and begin reading. They would be totally confused. So if you have not read the first two titles (The Iron King & The Iron Daughter), you may as well stop now and go purchase them. Trust me, they are worth it.
This story ends in such a way that the author can either choose to stop the series here or write one more episode. Personally, I am hoping for another title. I am not satisfied with how the love triangle currently stands, yet I have no idea what could be used as a main plot or what villain could be battled.
The character of Meghan comes across as a bit dense this time. More than once it takes Meghan a long time to see what is obvious to the reader. As the grand finale neared, Meghan's lack of thought became tedious. Grimalkin, the feline fey, usually ended up having to spell it out to Meghan. On another note, Meghan also contradicts herself. At one point in the story, Meghan confesses that she is not sure that she could actually bring herself to kill someone. She even worried about the nightmares that were sure to follow such an act. Problem is that Meghan had already killed one or two of the Winter fey during a battle only a few pages earlier.
Teens who love fantasy stories involving the Fey and magic will enjoy this entire series...as long as they can overlook a few flaws. ****
Author: Cynthia Hand
Title - Unearthly (Book One - Teen Paranormal)
Clara Gardner is sixteen-years-old when she finally receives the first vision which reveals her "purpose". Clara is part angel. Each angel-blood has a specific task she was put on this earth to accomplish. The purpose reveals itself in pieces. The first vision shows enough for Clara's mother to learn that Clara's purpose will be in Wyoming. They immediately move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Clara's younger brother, Jeffrey, is not happy but understands. After all, someday his purpose will reveal itself too.
In her visions, Clara sees a mysterious boy, surrounded by a deadly fire, and she feels a crushing grief. On her first school day (in the middle of the school year) Clara finds out the name of the boy from her visions is Christian Prescott. He is one of the popular kids. Being quarter angel means that Clara is faster, stronger, and smarter than humans. (For example, she is fluent in all languages.) Recently her "glory" has begun to shine. Glory is described as dazzling rays of light emanating from the hairs of the head and the sign of a heavenly being. Unable to control when the glow will appear, Clara and her mother attempt to color her blond hair. Clara is stuck with orange hair and nothing they do will alter the fact. As for Clara's other angel powers, she is still trying to master them. She is having trouble with flying especially. And for some unknown reason, Clara's mother is keeping secrets from her.
It is not long before Clara learns that she is not the only student with angel-blood. Angela Zerbino is half-angel and lives with her human mother. Clara and Angela are partners on a school project. Since Angela's mom is fully human, Angela has had to research angels and teach herself. Yet Angela already knows more than Clara and begins educating Clara about angel-bloods. This is how Clara learns about Black Wings (a.k.a. fallen angels). The Black Wings are building an army. They are going around recruiting or killing all the angel-bloods they come across. Angela is a White Wing, but her father is a full-blood Black Wing who had taken Angela's mother by force. Angela's biggest fear is that her father would learn of her existence and come to recruit or kill her.
Clara's best friend is Wendy Avery. Due to Wendy being totally human, Clara must keep quiet about her family's supernatural abilities. But Jeffrey is not being careful enough and this could cause problems. Wendy knows Clara is attracted to Christian. The whole school has seen Clara interest; however, most of the times Clara had been caught stating at Christian is because she had fallen into another trance/vision. Wendy has a twin brother, Tucker, who is a royal pain at first. Yet Clara soon finds herself falling in love with him. This begins to distract Clara from her purpose until her mother is forced to step in. Then the worst happens. A Black Wing discovers Clara - and the Black Wing is no stranger to her mother.
*** THREE STARS! I find myself a bit disappointed currently, but I have high hope that, in the next title, things will pick up and that events will begin to really take off. In this book, the first of a trilogy, I watch as Clara begins to receive visions about her purpose. Meeting Christian and piecing together clues from her visions seem to be the main plot in this installment. However, this drags so slowly that it is almost painful to me. (I almost quit reading twice.) There are several sub-plots: Clara being the weird new girl in school, making friends with a human and an angel-blood but trying to keep secrets from the human one, an infatuation with Christian, training with her mom, learning from Angela, falling in love with Tucker...
Teen females will be able to feel a connection with Clara since she must deal with the same things all typical teenagers do. At the same time, they will be enticed by the supernatural elements. (After all, no girl can honestly say that she would not be thrilled to find out that she is super special and has powers.) I believe the biggest problem for me is that the Black Wings are brought up very often, yet only a small taste is given of the real thing. One does not even show up until the end of the book. I am left feeling as if I were cheated somehow. Fortunately, the second title has been released. And again I state that I have high hope that this story will get better; however, I have no urge to continue reading any more of this trilogy. ***
Authors: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Title - Burned (House of Night #7)
Zoey Redbird's soul has shattered. As her friends watch over her mortal body (which is now devoid of all tattoos), Zoey's soul drifts in the Otherworld. Unless Zoey can face what has happened, pull her shattered pieces back together, and return to her body within seven days, it will be forever too late.
James Stark is Zoey's Guardian. He is the only living person who can reach her. However, the only way is for the Warrior in him to die so that the Shaman in ham can come forth. (Translation: Stark's body must remain on the edge of death so his soul may travel into the Otherworld to find and rescue Zoey.) Once there, Stark finds that Zoey is not alone. Heath Luck is with her. Worse, Neferet has Kalona's body tied up with Darkness and Kalona's spirit is also in the Otherworld. And unless Kalona kills Zoey (or simply keeps Zoey's soul from returning to her body in time), his immortal soul would become Neferet's to control and use.
Meanwhile, it has only been two days since Stevie Rae had almost been burned/killed by the rogue red fledglings at the depot. Stevie Rae has decided that it is time for her and her group of good red fledglings to take back their depot home. But unknown to her followers, Stevie Rae has saved the life of Rephaim, who is the son of Kalona. No one who sees Rephaim could ever mistake this creature as being human. He has the body of a human, black wings, the head of a raven, and the eyes of a human. Rephaim has vowed to stay with Stevie Rae until she tells him to leave. Should her fledglings learn of Stevie Rae's friendship with the Raven Mocker or that they share an Imprint, it could spell disaster.
*** THREE STARS! Though P.C. and Kristin Cast have proven in the past that they can come up with creative material and engaging characters, the ones used in this series are beginning to take a nose dive. Where Zoey's character began with inner strength and the need to fight for what she believed in, she now comes across as a wimp. The character of Stevie Rae has morphed into what Zoey's once was.
For the duration of this story, the series is at a standstill. Very little happens to move events forward. Things are beginning to drag. In an attempt to spice things up, the writing duo has inserted some mystical, yin-yang magick. However, the black bull, the white bull, and what they represent are only discussed. Nothing really interesting comes from it. "Darkness" takes hold of a secondary character, who "Changes" into a possible future problem. But all-in-all, anyone who decides to skip this installment of the series will not miss anything vital. ***
Authors: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Title - Awakened (House of Night #8)
Ever the master manipulator, Neferet has managed to bamboozle the Vampyre High Council into believing she has returned to the Light and has been reinstated as a High Priestess. Wanting revenge on Zoey Redbird, Neferet must first lure her back to Tulsa. Zoey and her Guardian Warrior, James Stark, have chosen to remain on the Isle of Skye for some rest. Everyone else has returned to Tulsa's House of Night only to find everything on the border of chaos.
Stevie Rae is the first-ever Red Vampyre High Priestess. She is still dealing with her emotions from breaking up with her boyfriend, Dallas, and her mixed feelings for Rephaim, the Raven Mocker that she shares an Imprint with. But the stress on Stevie Rae is beginning to show. So when a friend of their inner-circle dies, Stevie Rae makes the phone call which brings Zoey and Stark back to Tulsa. Though all know Neferet murdered their friend, no one has any proof and she has a solid alibi.
Rephaim, the son of Kalona, strives to keep his relationship with Stevie Rae from his father and Neferet. Torn between his respect for his father and his mixed feelings for Stevie Rae, Rephaim can neither betray his father, nor stop protecting this new friend. However, the Raven Mocker will soon be forced to choose between his immortal parent and the Red One. Until then, Rephaim will brainstorm for a way to remove Kalona's spirit from beneath Neferet's controlling thumb.
** TWO STARS! As with the previous book (Burned), little happens to move events along. As with what happened to Heath a couple of titles past, another character is culled from the series. Dallas, the rogue red fledglings, and Erik only have brief cameo parts in this installment of the series. To be honest, I cannot see any reason for Dallas, Erik, or the rogue fledglings to even have been mentioned.
The character of Zoey still comes across as weak and immature. Hiding away from her problems and leaving others in danger is simply out of Zoey's character. I no longer feel a connection to her. Instead, the character of Stevie Rae is toughing things out. Yet even Stevie Rae is avoiding her duties this time around. She blows off her close friend and Prophetess, Kramisha, often.(Sort of like: If I do not let Kramisha tell me the problem, then it does not really exist.)
Speaking of Kramisha's character, the Poet Laureate seems to be highly intelligent, so why can she not speak proper English? To me, this comes across as a racial slur - something I thought this generation had managed to filter out. Kramisha is more level-headed and has more backbone than any other character currently within the HON series. The authors really need to develop Kramisha's character more and give her more time in the spotlight.
P.C. and Kristin Cast are talented authors who have managed to create a mystical world full of strong characters for readers to cheer on and evil villains for them to hate. Even though the titles of Burned and Awakened are little more than fluff and filler, I have hope that the writing duo will bring back the high standards of entertainment readers had become accustomed to. **
Authors: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Title - Destined (House of Night #9)
Zoey Redbird is safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side. Stevie Rae, the first Red High Priestess, is safe with her mate, Rephaim, by her side too. Even Aphrodite, who is not really human or vampyre, has her Guardian Warrior, Darius, always close at hand. Though they and the others reside at the Tulsa Depot, each night they bus to the Tulsa House of Night for their daily lessons. It is difficult to get an education when you must keep your guard up constantly. But since the High Council cannot see Neferet for what she really is, the false High Priestess is still a major problem. The manipulative beauty has totally allied with the white bull (or Darkness). It is Darkness in its purest, most powerful form. The white bull has also given Neferet a gift, a creature she has named Aurox.
Aurox may look like a handsome young man, but he is Neferet's secret weapon. When the gorgeous teen fights, the bull within him begins to show. Neferet tells him never to think or feel for himself - to only do as she commands - but whenever Zoey is near, Aurox cannot help but feel. There is something strange, almost familiar, about the female fledgling.
Rephaim is a former Raven Mocker. Nyx has forgiven and blessed Rephaim. During the day he is a raven, but at night Rephaim is a boy. During school hours, Rephaim does his best to keep his distance from Dragon Lankford. At the same time, Rephaim must deal with his immortal father, Kalona, who claims to want a truce with his new group of friends. Neferet is a shared enemy and Kalona would be a powerful ally, but he still could not be trusted.
Neferet brings the rogue red fledglings and their leader, Dallas, back to the Tulsa House of Night. The bad blood between Dallas and Stevie Rae will cause a lot of trouble. In addition, Neferet has hired several humans to work on the campus. This will ensure that chaos will reign.
The Twins, Shaunee and Erin, are beginning to clash. All hope that it is nothing but a bump that happens with all BFFs from time-to-time. And Nyx sends Erik out to Track and Mark his first fledgling. But the new fledgling is unlike any before!
**** FOUR STARS! P.C. and Kristin Cast are bringing the HoN series back up to par. Professor Lenobia, the Horse Mistress, takes the spotlight a few times. (Lenobia's past is revealed in the HoN Novella "Lenobia's Vow".) Readers will see more of the feisty professor in the next installment.
In a shocking twist, one of the characters die and a new fledgling, with interesting powers, joins our group in the fight against Darkness. One other major event happens at the exciting end of this installment, but to even hint at what it is or who is involved would ruin the story. Just trust me, readers will see A LOT of changes this time around and the plot is finally moving forward again.
P.C. and Kristin Cast are back! And the future for this series looks better than ever. Stellar! ****
Author: Gena Showalter
Title - Intertwined (Book 1, Young Adult)
Everyone believes sixteen-year-old Haden "Aden" Stone is crazy, a schizophrenic. He has spent his entire life in juvie and various mental institutions; however, those four voices in his head are real. Aden has four souls living within him and each soul has a special paranormal ability. One soul can predict the future. A second soul can time travel. The third can possess others. The fourth cannot help raising the dead into flesh-eating zombies. Instead of being locked away, Aden now resides at the D&M Ranch in Crossroads, Oklahoma. It is a halfway house for wayward teens. For months Aden has been having visions of a beautiful girl who is filled with ancient secrets. A girl who will either save him or kill him.
Aden is fending off the zombies that he had accidently animated from a cemetery when Mary Ann Gray walks by. Somehow her simple presence causes the undead to crumble and the four loud voices in Aden's head to go silent. Of course, having silence for the first time in his whole life, Aden is compelled to follow the pretty teen in hopes of learning how she does it. Mary Ann and Aden find themselves attracted to each other, as if they were long lost siblings. Yet at the same time, they feel a wild urge to run away from each other in terror.
Mary Ann soon spies a large, black wolf following her everywhere. It seems to understand her words and actions. At the same time, Mary Ann is having problems with her boyfriend, Tucker Harbor, who is becoming violent and her best friend, Penny Parks, who is keeping secrets.
Aden is having more problems than usual too. Dealing with the other boys at the ranch is bad enough, but then the girl from his visions appears. According to Victoria, one week ago he had attacked her people (vampires) with overwhelming energy. Her father, the king, has sent Victoria and her werewolf bodyguard, Riley, to observe Aden. Vlad would decide Aden's fate once Victoria reported back. To top it all off, vampires and shifters are not the only beings that felt the blast of energy. Aden has become a magnet for anyone with supernatural abilities. Mary Ann falls into that category too. She is a neutralizer. No one can use their magical abilities when she is near.
As the four begin to form a wary alliance, things begin spiraling out of control. Crossroads, Oklahoma, is about to be flooded with all types of magical creatures and the collateral damage would be devastating.
***** FIVE STARS! Even with my long synopsis I have not touched upon even half of the plot, subplots, characters, or events. Whenever I began to believe that things could not possibly get any stranger, fascinating, or dangerous, the author would prove me wrong. As for the ending, the story does not end in a cliff-hanger; however, many threads are left dangling. The next title, Unraveled, will continue where this one stops.
Author Gena Showalter has created a fascinating world with strange and intriguing characters that readers cannot help but feel drawn to. From the first page, until the last, my eyes were compelled to keep reading long past my bed time. I guess that is a good word to describe this story: compelling. *****
Author: Gena Showalter
Title - Unraveled (Intertwined #2)
Humans believe that sixteen-year-old Haden "Aden" Stone is a schizophrenic. Aden lets them believe it. Actually, Aden is a human who attracts the supernatural like a magnet and has three other souls trapped in his head. Each soul has a special paranormal ability. The first soul can predict the future, the second can possess others, and the third cannot help raising the dead. Recently Aden's world has not simply become strange, it has totally altered. Thanks to Dmitri, a deceased betrothed of Victoria's, Aden is the unwilling king of the vampires. It is not a title Aden wants, however, the only way for someone else to obtain the title is by killing him.
Vlad's remains are sealed within the crypts to prevent any lingering rebels from hurting him further. It is still two weeks before Aden will officially be crowned, yet several vampires have already issued challenges. In addition, the Vampire Council is adamant that Aden wed. Aden's still beating heart belongs to Victoria, but there are other vampire princesses who insist on a chance to win his affections. To deny them the opportunity would cause a war. Then there is the problem of all the magical creatures that have come to Crossroads, Oklahoma, in search of Aden with plans of either using his power for their own agendas or destroying him.
During the day, Aden resides at the D&M Ranch, a halfway house for wayward teens, and tries to attend public school. This is not an easy thing to do since ghosts keep trying to strike up conversations with him, other students are being eaten by flesh-hungry goblins, and his therapist is not human and is determined to learn all of Aden's secrets.
Yet above all the problems, one stands out as the worst. Sealed within the crypts is the very much alive, very hungry, and very angry dethroned vampire king ... and Vlad wants his crown back!
**** FOUR STARS! Readers that have not read the first book ("Intertwined") may find themselves lost more often than not. This type of series, with a continuous running story line throughout them all, is one where would I prefer to wait until all titles are published. That way I can simply read them all back-to-back. If you have not begun reading this series, I highly suggest you wait and read this series that way.
A lot of new characters are introduced in this installment. Their species and relations to other characters can become confusing if the readers are not careful to keep it all straight in their heads. Though this story does not end with a cliff hanger, many major strings are left dangling to be picked up and continued within the next book. (Pretty much the same way as the first book ended.) Surprise changes occur to at least one of the major players. I cannot say more without spoilers, which I refuse to ever give in my reviews.
I found the author's writing style to be dark, yet irresistible. Gena Showalter has created a vibrant world filled with various paranormal creatures that few will be able to resist. Fabulous! ****
Author: Beth Revis
Title - Across the Universe
(Godspeed Gen-Ship #1)
Seventeen-year-old Amy Martin watches as her parents are prepped and then cryogenically frozen before deciding to leave everything and everyone she knows on Earth to join them in her own frozen chamber. They are stored, along with many others, in the bottom level of Godspeed, a generation ship. Amy's parents would be vital to terraforming the planet in which NASA has located in the Centauri system. Few people, such as Amy, are frozen if they do not possess a critical skill needed for either colonizing the new planet or survival. The journey is anticipated to take three hundred years.
Not everyone on the gen-ship is frozen. While Godspeed travels toward Centauri-Earth, the ship is staffed with people to keep it running until they arrive. Generations are born, live, and die on the gen-ship without ever seeing the stars. Fifty years before planet fall, someone unplugs Amy's cryo chamber, and she is nearly killed. If Amy is refrozen, chances are great that she would die.
Now, Amy faces fifty years trapped within a small enclosed world without her parents or anyone familiar. Even worse, nothing makes sense. The crew has forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical leader. The people Amy considers to be normal are considered to be insane by society and kept in the hospital's mental ward on medication. Meanwhile, the people who have lost any capacity for individual thoughts are running the gen-ship.
The job of Eldest is to protect the people, not just the ship itself. Eldest is also tasked with teaching Elder, who will one day become the next Eldest. Amy is currently the only one close to Elder's age. She desperately wants to trust Elder, but Amy cannot help but see how much the teen heir respects and looks up to Eldest. Then someone begins unplugging the frozen passengers and Amy fears for her parents' lives.
When Elder begins helping Amy to discover the murderer's identity, Eldest decides she is a threat to his monoethinic people. Eldest also notices Elder's attraction to Amy. The teen boy is becoming rebellious and has begun to seek answers about forbidden topics. It is time for the Eldest to consider drastic measures.
***** FIVE STARS! It is difficult for me to believe that this is the author's debut novel. I cannot think of a single complaint about the story, which is rare for me. In the book, a simplified blueprint of the gen-ship is given, so readers may easily envision the ship's layout and environment. The main characters are well developed and their backgrounds are slowly revealed as the story progresses.
This book is the first of three; however, I cannot discover any official title for the trilogy - not even on the author's web site. (For the sake of future people searching the Huntress Reviews web site for each title of this trilogy, I am tagging Across the Universe as "Godspeed Gen-Ship #1" and will change the number with each new title. I will alter that should I learn of an official name for the series at a future date.)
This story is filled with mystery, danger, suspense, and a blooming romance. But it also made me seriously THINK, which I believe to be a bonus. Though the story seems to target the Young Adult audience, adults will enjoy the adventure just as much. A creative futuristic space tale that will leave you eager for more. Stellar! *****
Author: L.J. Smith
Title - The Forbidden Game (Teen Paranormal)
(3-in-1 volume. Contains The Hunter, The Chase, The Kill)
The Hunter: Jenny Thornton's boyfriend, Tom Locke, is turning seventeen. For his birthday, Jenny has their closest friends over to celebrate. Summer is the sweetest of the group. Zach is the geek. Dee is an ebony huntress. Michael is the huskiest. Audrey has been Jenny's friend the longest and still competes with Dee (the newest member of their group) for Jenny's friendship. While searching for an interesting game they can all play together, Jenny finds herself in a bad part of town with two thugs stalking her. She flees into a strange game store and meets a teen boy with the strangest blue colored eyes and white hair. He convinces Jenny to purchase a special game, promising her that all the players will be treated to mystery, suspense, seduction, temptation, and secrets will be revealed. Once together and the adults out of the house, Jenny and her friends construct a Victorian house and paper dolls to represent themselves as the game instructions dictates. Then they pledge the oath on the box that the game is real and that they understand that by playing the game they put their lives at risk.
But this is no ordinary game. The players soon find themselves actually within the Victorian house they made. The Shadow Man, named Julian, is the boy from the game store. He informs Jenny that her friends have been scattered around the house, with has three stories and a turret on the top. Jenny is the main player. She must locate each friend's room and then help them face their greatest nightmare. If Jenny reaches the top, the door out of the game is there, waiting for them. However, Julian also informs Jenny that not all of her friends may survive and the game has a time limit. It began at nine o'clock in the evening. Jenny has until sunrise, at six-eleven, to get out of the game with her friends. If she loses, Jenny will be trapped in the Shadow World and belong to Julian.
The Chase: Jenny and her friends are still haunted by what happened to them while in Julian's game. One of her friends did not survive and they feel the loss. They told the truth of events to their parents and the police, but no one believes them. However, the nightmare is not really over. The two thugs who stole the game from Jenny's house had opened the game's box and played. Julian has been released and he wants Jenny. Another game is to be played. Julian will hunt each friend, one-by-one, and take them back to his secret base. Jenny must figure out where the base is hidden and reach it before Julian stops her, who is to be taken last. If Jenny wins, she will be released from the binding vow she made Julian previously. If she loses, Jenny must go with Julian to his world and stay with him forever.
The Kill: With Julian holding two of her friends in the Shadow World as hostage, Jenny and the others must go on a treasure hunt at a carnival. But horrible creatures await the teens as they fight for their survival and Jenny's freedom from Julian.
***** FIVE STARS! This volume includes the entire trilogy of the series. The stories are as seductive as silver and as deadly as a cobra. If there is an author more suspenseful in teen paranormal stories than L.J. Smith, I don't want to know about him! *****
Author: L.J. Smith
Title - Dark Visions (Teen Paranormal)
(3 in 1 volume / The Strange Power, The Possessed, The Passion)
The Strange Power: In Ohio, Kaitlyn "Kait" Fairchild has always been the strange girl that no one wanted anything to do with. If her weird eyes did not make people keep their distance, then the rumor of her being a witch sure did. Kait told herself she did not care, but secretly she wished she could be normal. Kait often gets the urge to draw. Though she does not know what she is drawing WHILE she is actually drawing it, once finished the picture foreshadows coming events. Now Kait's life is changing. Joyce is a representative for Mr. Zetes in California. Kait will spend one year at Mr. Z's institute in California where she, along with four other teens, will reside. They will not only have their psychic abilities tested, but also a chance to learn how to control their abilities. For Kait, it is a chance at having a normal life. She has only to learn to control her powers.
Lewis Chao's power is psychokinesis, mind over matter. Anna Eva Whiteraven can communicate with animals. Rob Kessler channels energy to heal others. Kait connects with them instantly and finally has friends. But the last boy in the group is Gabriel Wolfe, a strong telepath. He has been in lots of trouble with the law and has even been forced to kill. Gabriel wants nothing to do with the others. He looks out for no one but himself, having long since learned that helping others or caring for others leads only to trouble. But the teens soon learn that Mr. Z is not the nice, wealthy man they assumed. He has a hidden agenda for all five of them. Gabriel makes the mistake of helping Kait, the girl who fascinates him, and all five of the teens end up mind-linked. All five are connected, as if their minds are part of one web, linked together at all times. They can communicate without talking. They know where each other are and what they are thinking. Problem is that they cannot break the link. When the truth about Mr. Z is revealed, the five must flee for their lives.
The Possessed: Kait, Rob, Gabriel, Anna, and Lewis are fleeing from Mr. Z and Joyce. From Kait's dreams and art/visions, they seek a certain white house near the coast. Problem is that they have no idea where the white house is. There is a lot of coast bordering between California and Washington (state). Rob and Kait have fallen in love. Their mind-mates are happy for them, they can tell. Except for Gabriel, who keeps his shields up tight. He is the only one that has been able to keep his thoughts and feelings from the others. As the five search for the white house (that may be able to help them break the mind web and protect them from Mr. Z), they must also stay on guard. Mr. Z has great wealth, power, and connections. Police are on his side. Worse, Mr. Z has a group of other teen psychics with him now. These new teens were from the pilot study (before Kait's group) and they are not exactly sane. Now these evil teens, under Mr. Z's orders, are bombarding Kait and her mind-mates with horrible psychic attacks.
The Passion: Kait, Rob, Anna, and Lewis feel adrift. They cannot believe what Gabriel did at the white house. Nor can they bring themselves to believe the horrible consequences. Gabriel has returned to Mr. Z and is now the enemy. Kait and her friends guard the piece of pure crystal given to them from those in the white house. They must find a way to reach Mr. Z's corrupt crystal before they can use their pure shard to destroy it. To do this, Kait sneaks away from the others and convinces Gabriel that she is joining Mr. Z's side. With the other mind-mates far away, Gabriel cannot read them so Kait has only to guard her own mind from the strong telepath. Gabriel's feelings for Kait have not changed. If anything, they have grown. With Rob out of the picture, he finally has a chance to be with her. But soon Gabriel figures out that Kait is keeping secrets from him. Enclosing his mind from Kait again, he bluntly informs Kait that sooner or later the other teens will find out whatever it is she is hiding. And when that happens, Kait can expect no help from him. The other teens are all but insane. Kait is alone within the enemy's camp and it is only a matter of time, a very short amount of time, before she will be revealed as the spy she is.
**** FOUR STARS! This one volume encases the entire trilogy of this amazing and suspenseful series. This quixotic tale will grab readers by their throats and refuse to let go until the final page has been read. This author is a master at creating plausible characters that readers can easily relate to and empathize with. No one else can compare with L.J. Smith! ****
Author: Sandra Wilson
Title - The Wrong Miss Richmond (Regency)
Half-sisters Jane and Christina Richmond are as different as champagne and water, but they adore each other nonetheless. Jane is bright, cheerful, and often jumps into things without pausing to first consider the consequences, whereas Christina, the eldest, is reasonable, quiet, and believes reading is one of the best things a person can do.
Jane's fortune wins an advantageous arranged match with Robert Temple, Lord St. Clement. When Robert suddenly becomes one of England's richest lords, he never even considers dropping the arrangement in favor of wedding someone from his own social circles. Though he has never laid eyes on Jane, their letters have convinced Robert that they are perfect for each other. Jane, Christina, and their widowed father travel to Bath for the betrothal to be cemented during the autumn ball.
Things begin to go wrong when Jane becomes enthralled with a hot air balloon which is making ascents over the city. The handsome American balloonist, William Grenfell, offers Jane and Christina a closer look at his balloon and folly strikes. The balloon is accidently released. Jane and William find themselves floating above Bath's rooftops while the city's residents witness Jane's humiliation. Christina must quickly scurry around in hopes of rescuing Jane from herself. Even afterward, Robert forgives Jane's scandalous faux pas. Christina is relieved for Jane's sake, and though she has growing feelings for Robert, Christina is determined to keep them hidden from view.
***** FIVE STARS! There is more happening within this tale than I bother to mention in my synopsis. The Richmond sisters seem to float from one madcap plight to the next throughout the entire story. Full of humor, romance, and tantalizing adventures, this is one Regency Romance that I fully intend to read again in the future. A delightful romp with engaging characters and unusual circumstances. This one is not to be missed! *****
Author: Marley Gibson
Title - The Reason (Ghost Huntress #3, Teen)
Seventeen-year-old Kendall Moorehead and her friends have had much success with their ghost hunting. But every time Kendall believes she is getting a handle on her awakened powers, something else pops up. Recently Kendall has had a premonition of her own death. Though she is a bit scared, Kendall refuses to let it stop her from living her life. Jason Tillson, her boyfriend, seems to be more worried about it than she is.
Then the mayor, Donn Shy, asks Kendall to investigate the manor in which she and her stepdaughter live. The stepdaughter, Shelby-Nicole Holt, has been hearing weird footsteps in the attic since they moved in. Emily, Kendall's spirit guide, warns her not to do it. The bitter spirit within the mayor's manor is dangerous.
The investigation is put on a brief hold when tragedy strikes. Taylor, Kendall's best friend and the twin sister of Jason, goes home to find her mother on the floor unconscious. With their mother in the hospital and their future uncertain, Taylor stays with Kendall's family and Jason stays with a buddy until their father can be reached in Alaska. Until their dad can fly down to them (in Georgia), the group will focus on the mayor's ghost problem.
On the side, Kendall and another of her best friends, Celia Nichols, begin researching Emily. The spirit guide would never reveal anything about herself to Kendall and she has decided it is time to learn how, when, and why Emily had died.
**** FOUR STARS! For those who have not read the first two books in the series, you will not find yourself lost. (I know because I did not read them.) The author has done a terrific job of revealing all the characters without too much fuss. However, readers who did read them will see a lot of changes, some of which will affect future stories and the cast of characters. I found this to be an intriguing tale of teen paranormal abilities, ghost hunting, and sleuthing. Anyone, regardless of their age, cannot help but be interested if they keep an open mind. Well done! ****
Author: Sandra Heath Wilson
Title - Counterfeit Kisses (Traditional Regency, Reprint)
Most know the story of the Holland tiara, which had once belonged to Queen Henrietta Maria. It was famed for its twenty-five perfectly matched rubies. One hundred years ago it had come into the possession of the Hollands. The Fitzgeralds had laid false claim to it, but the Hollands won the case in court. When the next big scandal came along, everyone forgot about it. Only the Hollands and the Fitzgeralds continued to care about the tiara at all.
Stephen Holland from Lincolnshire comes to London to sell some land to raise a dowry for his twin sister's arranged marriage. He ends up drunk and gambling with Delavel Harmon, fifth Duke of Exton, who successfully cheats Stephen out of a fortune, as well as the tiara. Among those watching the card games is Sir Gareth Carew of Pengower, who tries times to convince young Stephen to cut his losses and leave the game table. Once over, Gareth escorts the drunken lad back to his sister, Susannah. Due to Stephen's drunken mumbling and Sir Gareth's sarcastic comments, Susannah is left holding Gareth to blame.
For over three years Susannah Leighton lives at Chinsura, in Bengal. After the death of her husband, the wealthy widow leaves India and returns to London. By her side is her Hindu maid, Anjuli, and her very vain and mischievous pet monkey, Chatterji. With a paste replica in her possession, Susannah is determined to purloin the Holland tiara from right under the nose of the wicked duke and have a bit of revenge on Sir Gareth - and maybe even on Fleur Fitzgerald, who is the duke's mistress.
As luck would have it, Susannah meets lady Jane, Duchess of Exton. (The wicked duke had wed her for money and because she is literally a Plain Jane. Seems the duke has a pathological dread of his wife cheating on him, even though he cheats on her.) Before Susannah knows what is happening, she and Gareth are traveling to Exton Park on a noble crusade to rescue the plain duchess from her husband's paranoia. From then on things become not only bizarre, but deadly. Susannah and Gareth must deal with a duke who seems to have an ulterior motive for every word he utters, a sneaky housekeeper who keeps turning up in odd places, a duchess who behaves very peculiarly, a strange gentleman who spies from the trees, a persistent nighttime intruder, and a monkey who enjoys causing all kinds of chaos (especially while riding Lady Jane's poodle like a horse.)
***** FIVE STARS! This is a reprint of the story originally published in May 2000 and I am thrilled to get it in a format more lasting then paperback. I especially enjoy this author's work because she writes, what I call, Traditional Regency. No steamy bedroom scenes. The entire story stays focused on the romance blooming between the two main characters, the big plot, and a few interesting subplots. Neither the hero, nor the heroine, is stupid. The secondary characters also have real roles to play. They are not relegated to the background. Then there are the two pets, who give a lot of humorous diversions and comic relief. They help make the entire adventure unforgettable. Sandra Heath Wilson writes stories that have a way of lingering in your mind long after you are finished reading it. *****
Author: Gail Ranstrom
Title - A Rake By Midnight
(Regency Romantic Suspense)
Shortly after Eugenia "Gina" O'Rourke's family arrived in London her sister, Cora, was kidnapped and murdered by a group of men calling themselves the Blood Wyvern Brotherhood. Soon afterward, Gina found herself kidnapped by the Brotherhood. As she resided upon their stone alter, her body totally exposed to the view of all, and a drug to keep her from struggling, Gina knew they planned to violate and murder her just as they had killed her sister. But rescue arrived in the nick of time. James Hunter, with the Home Office, had been the one to cover Gina and rush her to safety.
Now, a couple of months later, Gina is still uncomfortable whenever James is near. Since his brother is married to her sister, that is often. But knowing James witnessed her most humiliating moment is not her only problem. Gina feels the need to avenge Cora, as well as learn what had been done to herself during the blank spots in her memories caused by the drugs. To achieve this Gina must locate Cyril Henley, the only top man in the Brotherhood who had managed to escape that awful night. With the Home Office getting nowhere, Gina begins using other sources to find out where the evil man is hiding.
James Hunter cannot believe the lengths Gina is willing to go. In order to protect her, whether the little hellion likes it or not, James hounds her every move and encourages his peers to believe he is courting the feisty lady. Then the people around Gina begin to turn up dead. As one of the few people alive who could recognize the men from that horrible night, Gina's name is at the top of Henley's murder list. James must dodge killers who want to collect the bounty on his own head, locate Henley, and protect the brave lady who has managed to somehow get under his skin and into his heart.
***** FIVE STARS! Murder and mayhem stalks the ballrooms in this suspenseful romance. I could not blame Gina for wanting answers and revenge, but there were times in the story that I believe she was too reckless.
As with her previous novels, Ranstrom's characters, including the secondary ones, are so well developed that I began to feel as if I really knew them. They became MY friends. Then there is the author's astounding ability to craft such vivid scenes that I could almost smell the flowers in the gardens and hear the gun shots from unseen assassins. When it comes to Regency Romantic Suspense, absolutely no one can compare to Gail Ranstrom! *****
Author: Jeri Smith-Ready
Title - Shade (Teen Fantasy)
The Shift occurred seventeen years ago. Everyone born after the Shift can see and talk to ghosts. Aura Salvatore lives in Maryland with her aunt, Gina. Born one minute after the Shift, Aura was one of the first with the paranormal ability. Aunt Gina helps ghosts find peace and cross-over by helping them find vengeance/closure via law suits. Many post-Shifters work as court translators for this reason. But some ghosts allow bitterness to warp their souls. These rare ones are called Shades. They are dark, powerful, and dangerous. Once a ghost transforms into a shade, they can never cross-over. Leaders around the world created special government agencies to protect the post-Shifters. America's federal version is the Department of Metaphysical Purity "DMP". They even have their own highly trained Special Forces unit. These agents are called Obsidians. The Obsidians mainly hunt shades and lock them away forever in a Black Box.
Logan Keeley is Aura's boyfriend. He and his siblings have a band, The Keeley Brothers. Logan is excited because two recording companies want to sign them up. Aura is turning seventeen. As a birthday present to herself, Aura has decided she is finally ready to let her romance with Logan become physical. After Logan's crucial gig, during the after-party, Aura and Logan slip away for their first intimate time together. Instead, Logan overdoses and dies. He may no longer be alive, but Logan's ghost remains. His parents hope to help Logan cross-over by suing the recording company that gave him the drugs.
Then there is the new Scottish student, Zachary "Zach" Moore. He is assigned to help Aura with her ancient astronomy thesis project. Though she still grieves for Logan and talks to his ghost most nights, she finds herself attracted to the living Scot. It does not help that Zach is understanding or infuriatingly patient. As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever more complicated, she realizes that the DMP has taken a special interest in her. Worse, Zach is somehow involved.
**** FOUR STARS! Let me warn readers that this story has a major cliff-hanger ending. Little is actually resolved and now I find myself frustrated at having to wait. (Personally, I hate books with cliff-hanger endings so I probably will not bother reading any more of this series.) The author has done a good job in setting up the main characters' backgrounds. Understanding the nuances involving what post-Shifters have to deal with came slowly, as well as understanding the Obsidians and their Black Box, but I believe the author did very well in handling it all. It is a lot of information and it does not come across as if the details were being crammed into my head or thrown at me too fast. I believe any teenager who loves the paranormal mixed in with a bit of (a complex) romance will thoroughly enjoy this story. Stellar! ****
Author: Alice Kuipers
Title - Lost for Words (Teen Fiction)
Set in Islington, North London. Sixteen-year-old Sophie Baxter tries to cope after surviving the worst summer of her life. The story begins just after the school's Christmas holiday break. Sophie attends St. David's High. During the time period between the beginning of the new school year and now, Sophie has kept her emotions bottled up within herself. She refuses to speak about, or even remember, the incident which took her sister's life. Keeping it all to herself, Sophie's mental anguish has been pushing away her friends. She refuses to open up even to Lynda, the therapist her mother makes her go to; however, Sophia does accept a journal that Lynda gives her to write in.
Rosa-Leigh is a new girl in school. She has moved to the area from Canada. Since Sophie's long-time friendship with Abi has become rocky, Sophie begins to spend time with Rosa-Leigh. With the help of her new friend and the journal, Sophie struggles to deal with the trauma of surviving a horrible event, seeing her sister die, and finding a path to normalcy.
*** THREE STARS! This story reads much like a journal, complete with dates. It was difficult for me to keep that in mind, because normally in a journal the writer does not add in all the necessary narration scenes that had to be included within this tale. Exactly what the traumatic event was that happened is not explained until very late in the book. Since the author clearly did not want the reader to find out until then, I will not go into details. However, teen readers that have witnessed the tragic and unexpected death of a loved one could benefit from reading this story. I still cannot understand why the nature of Sophie's incident is kept so quiet from the public/reader. Anyone who is looking for a story about coping with the aftermath of this type of life-altering trauma will never be drawn to this title, because there is no topic-link mentioned for a search to latch on to.
Though Sophie's mother obviously lost a daughter, she did not actually witness the death or live through the terrifying even. However, the author has done a great job at showing the single-mother's grief and sense of helplessness in being unable to help Sophie. I do not believe that the mother's character could have been done better. To me, it seems flawless, phenomenal.
The story is set in London. If you have never lived there, be prepared for some different type of wording. This book, my copy at least, is published in America, so there will be no spelling confusions for American readers. (Many UK words have an extra letter, such as in the word "colour", or letters are altered, as in the word "centre". Since this is published in America, the words are spelled that way.) Yet American readers will spot a difference in many words and phrases. No big deal though, because it is obvious what they mean by the way in which they are used. (One easy example is "Mum" instead of "Mom".)
All-in-all, this is an entertaining read, though depressing. (Sophie is not a strong character.) If you are a teen who has actually witnessed the death of someone you love due to an unforeseen tragedy, this story may help you learning to cope with the maelstrom of emotions and nightmares that usually follow. ***
Author: Sandra Wilson
Title - A Change of Fortune (Traditional Regency)
It is the end of the year 1813. Young Leonie Conyngham is finishing up her time attending Miss Hart's Seminary for Young Ladies. Her beauty attracts the unwanted attentions of the notorious rake Rupert Allingham, the Duke of Thornbury. He and his equally despicable friend, Lord Edward Longhurst, place a bet in White's book as to which will be the first to deflower Leonie.
Miss Nadia Benckendorff is the cousin of the seminary's benefactress, Russian Countess Lieven. Nadia has beauty and lofty connections, but is virtually penniless and completely dependent upon the charity of her other family branches. She came to town to find a wealthy British husband and is not particular about the means she uses to achieve her aim. She has set her cap on Rupert. Jealous of Rupert's interest of Leonie, Nadia teams up with Lady Imogen Longhurst to get rid of her.
Leonie's fortune changes when she learns that her father is dead and his name is about to be dreadfully maligned. Leonie refuses to believe her father had stolen any money or gambled away his own fortune. To pay off the debt to the seminary, Leonie accepts a position as one of its teacher's assistants. The headmistress, Miss Emmeline Hart, is a cold and unfeeling woman who will do anything Countess Lieven demands.
Lady Imogen Longhurst is the tall, beautiful, and spiteful sister of Lord Edward. Everyone knows the announcement of her betrothal to Sir Guy de Lacey is to take place in the New Year. Imogen graduated from the seminary recently. She and Leonie dislike each other. (That is putting it mildly.) Sir Guy has no idea how awful Imogen truly is. He is the guardian of his twelve-year-old niece, Stella de Lacey. Since Imogen entered their lives, Stella has become rebellious, rude, and disrespectful. He refuses to believe Imogen is the horrible person Stella claims and that his niece is simply jealous that there is someone else in his life. Sir Guy installs Stella in the seminary, under Leonie's direct care, until such time as Stella changes her behavior toward Imogen.
Leonie must fight to save her own reputation from two unwanted men, try to help Stella (of whom she is growing very fond), as well as deal with the trouble being caused by Nadia, Imogen, and Countess Lieven. To top it all off, Leonie's feelings for Sir Guy are beginning to deepen. Can she resist the man she is falling in love with?
**** FOUR STARS! Sandra Wilson weaves high drama for her readers in this traditional Regency Romance. (By traditional I mean there are no bed scenes.) I admit to feeling overwhelmed by the numerous cast of characters toward the beginning of the story; however, once I got the names, titles, and relationships of everyone straight I had no troubles what-so-ever. Much time is spent on the multiple dramas being played out between all the various people, so the feelings between Leonie and Sir Guy do not get as well developed as I would have liked. Yet their romance still captured my interest and before I knew it, my entire rainy afternoon had disappeared. Well done! ****
Author: Catherine Jinks
Title - Living Hell (Teen, Space Sci-Fi)
Seventeen-year-old Cheney Sheppard only knows about life on earth from history books. Most everyone on the Plexus spacecraft have only experienced the calm daily routines on board their self-contained ship. It all changes when Plexus is hit by a mysterious, long drawn-out wave of radiation hurtling through space at the speed of light. Once the energy passes, everyone thought the trouble was over. They were wrong.
In only a few short moments, Cheney begins noticing changes with the ship. Somehow, the ship is being transformed into organic life. The equipment that once helped the people on board, such as street shuttles and remote controlled repair units, are now acting as if they are part of the living ship's biological defenses. Suddenly, people are being targeted and attacked. As the number of people rapidly dwindle, Cheney and his friends must find a way to protect themselves from the very ship that has kept them alive.
***** FIVE STARS! The drama starts almost from the beginning. Only a few pages prepare the reader by letting them see what life on the ship is like, through Cheney's eyes, before the wave of energy hits. Then the story becomes a blend of space horror and biology. I believe almost everyone, from the age of thirteen to one hundred, will be able to identify with the character of Cheney. He is a typical teen who makes the same mistakes as anyone else would. He is scared out of his wits, but will do whatever he must to protect himself and those with him. Fast paced and full of suspense, this book is unputdownable! *****
Authors: Patricia, Fredrick, & John McKissack
Title - The Clone Codes (Teen Sci-Fi)
This story begins in September, 2170. Thirteen-year-old Leanna Deberry has always thought of herself as a normal girl. When her mother runs frantically into the house one day, Leanna's life changes forever. Leanna's mother is an award-winning child psychologist and on this frightening day she is the first of many to be arrested and charged with treason.
The recently elected High Chancellor of The World Federation of Nations, Taylor Graham, is making good on his campaign promise to capture and prosecute dissident organizations. The Liberty Bell Movement, of which Leanna's mother is a member, wants to free clones "Seconds" from slavery and make cyborgs (humans with some artificial parts) equal to Firsts. Currently clones are concocted creatures produced by the Topas Corporation. They are hairless with skin color-coded to identify their function. (Such as powder blue skin for a domestic clone.) They have numbers instead of names, are only educated enough to fulfill their assigned tasks, and usually have a twelve-year life span.
With her mother arrested for being pro-clone, Leanna finds herself on the run with little more than a small backpack and her commglasses. Graham sics a ruthless bounty hunter, Joe Spiller, on Leanna to bring her in for questioning. But Leanna carries proof that clones are sentient beings and must keep it out of the government's hands.
Leanna must use her wits to evade those who would turn her in for a huge reward, bounty hunters, flesh-eating machines, and the law. She finds help in some unlikely places from sympathetic people with interesting resources and devices - not all of which are legal.
**** FOUR STARS! For me, the coolest items in this story are Leanna's commglasses and memory stick. The commglasses are a link to the virtual world. History would be much more interesting if I could put on a pair of commglasses, enter the virtual world, and actually feel as though I am living through events as they happened! As for the memory stick, it lets you see a picture and FEEL whatever emotion you were experiencing when it was made. These devices are not unrealistic either. Technology today is more advanced than you would believe. In fact, cloning an animal was successfully done long ago.
Time wise, this title covers the last three months in the year 2170. This appears to be the first in a series following Leanna's life. Anyone from the age of ten to adult will enjoy the story; however, the price of the book is high. This has been released in hardback, with the normal hardback price tag, but the tale is less than two hundred pages. (Around 173 pages.) The story stops in a good place, but the plot is left wide open. My advice is to wait for a paperback version. ****
Author: Laura Kinsale
Title - Lessons in French (Regency)
Lady Callista "Callie" Taillefaire had been seventeen when her father, the Earl of Shelford, caught her in the carriage house with Trevelyan "Trev" d'Augustin, Duc de Monceaux. Having interrupted the couple, only seconds from Callie being ruined, the furious earl rejected the young duc as a penniless nobody of unsteady character. Having been treated as a contemptible French scoundrel, Trev went to France.
Nine years have passed. Callie has recently gotten out of mourning for her father's death. Cousin Jasper is the new Earl of Shelford. He and his wife, Dolly, now reside at Shelford Hall. Having reached the age of twenty-seven, Callie has resigned herself to becoming a spinster. Three times Callie has been engaged. Three times Callie has been jilted. She now spends her time trying to be invisible at gatherings. Otherwise, Callie's time is divided between her animals and caring for Madame de Monceaux, Trev's dying mother. Once again Callie trying to fade into the background of a party when Trev enters the room.
During the previous nine years Trev has become embarrassingly wealthy by arranging boxing spectacles of both fixed and fair varieties. Having been exiled from England recently, Trev is staying one step ahead of the hangman's noose so he may be with his dying mother. Spying Callie, Trev's emotions rise from whatever grave he had buried them into so long ago. Before he disappears forever, Trev is determined to sweep Callie into one last adventure.
***** FIVE STARS! After a long self-exile one of my all-time favorite authors, Laura Kinsale, has returned! I could not be more thrilled. This time the story is a light romance and, as usual, the author manages to weave animals into the tale. No small animal such as a hedgehog, porcupine, skunk, or ferret during this adventure though. Instead, I found myself enchanted by a humongous bull named Hubert.
All the characters are well developed, including the secondary ones. The story is well written with various sub-plots to keep things moving along smoothly. There is a bit of mystery, some exciting romps, and odd but lovable characters as well. Laura Kinsale's stories are absolutely yummy! *****
Author: Victoria Alexander
Title - The Princess and the Pea (Regency Reprint)
Set in the year 1895. While Marybeth visited London she was told that she was not good enough for the Earl of Graystone. Once home in Chicago, Marybeth told her friends, Cecilia "Cece" and Emily White, all about it. Furious on behalf of her friend, Cece carefully manipulates her parents to take them for a London holiday. Cece fully intends to entice the Earl of Graystone with what he needs most, an American heiress to save his family's finances. Once the earl proposed, Cece planned to reject and humiliate him by informing the earl that he was not good enough for her.
Jared Grayson, the Earl of Graystone, is determined to marry the next American heiress he enjoys being with, whether she passes his mother's crazy tests or not. When Jared and his friend, Quentin Bainbridge, meet Cece and Emily, they are intrigued. Jared is enchanted with Cece and they are soon sneaking away together. They end up falling in love, even though Jared has no idea she is an American heiress and Cece has no idea he is the earl. Knowing he must marry for money, Jared breaks up with Cece - in a note.
When Jared and Cece meet at a ball, Jared is thrilled. Cece is an heiress and he loves her. It is perfect! However, Cece refuses. She wants to be married for love, whether she has a fortune or not. All thoughts of revenge are banished as Cece walks away. But Jared is determined to have Cece as his countess.
*** THREE STARS! Be warned that this is a reprint. It was released years ago with a different cover. I fell in love with Cece's daring personality instantly. The first half of the story kept slowing down too often for my tastes; however, once Jared's mother began devising some creative tests for Cece, to see if she was worthy of her son, things began to really take off! To me, the best parts of the story are watching to see how Cece overcomes the obstacles tossed directly into her path. ***
Title - At the Duke's Pleasure (Regency)
Author: Tracy Anne Warren
Edward Byron, tenth Duke of Clybourne, had been trained from an early age not to show emotions. No matter the provocations, a peer is always in control of both his thoughts and feelings. His marriage has been arranged to Lady Claire Marsden since he was a lad. When duty finally requires he wed, Edward decides the long-standing arrangement will do nicely. Edward thought his betrothed would be thrilled when he finally sends word that their wedding date is nearing. He quickly learns otherwise.
Lady Claire is twenty-one by the time Edward decides they are to wed. Claire has been in love with Edward since she met him five years ago. However, Claire does not wish to be wed without her love being returned, even if that means becoming a spinster. Claire informs Edward up front that she does not want a dutiful marriage, but rather a love match. When he refuses to release her from their engagement, Claire decides that her only escape is to force Edward to jilt her. Therefore, during the Season, Claire engages in various eyebrow-raising peccadilloes in hopes of Edward jilting her. Instead, Edward realizes her game and picks up her thrown gauntlet.
At the same time, Edward is secretly working to uncover the identity of a spy buried deep within the system - a mole who had access to information at the highest levels of government. Does Lady Claire even stand a chance of shaking Edward up, when even a dangerous spy fails?
***** FIVE STARS! Who could NOT love a lady with the courage to stand up for herself? I was thrilled as each antic Claire engaged in turned out to be grander than the one before! By the last one, Claire even had me admitting that I would never have dared to go half as far. Tracy Anne Warren has brazenly shown that she is one of the best Regency Romance authors of our time! *****
Title - Beautiful Creatures (Teen Fantasy)
Authors: Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
In the small Southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina, outsiders are not made welcome. That goes double for the new girl in school, Lena Duchannes, because she is the niece of Old Man Ravenwood, the town's strange recluse. But Ethan Wate finds himself drawn to the strange teen. The girl has been showing up in his nightmares even before he first met her.
Though Lena wants nothing to do with the other students, especially Ethan, the guy keeps trying to gain her friendship. As Ethan wedges himself into her life, his former friends and school mates begin to ostracize him, as well as Lena. You see, Lena has secrets. She tries her best to keep those secrets and her powers hidden from others. Lena's sixteenth birthday is only months away. Unlike everyone else in Gatlin, she is not Mortal. Lena is from a family of Casters. As with all members of Lena's family line, the day she turns sixteen she will be Claimed by either the Dark or the Light side. No one, not even Lena, can choose whether she becomes Evil or Good and once Claimed it cannot be undone.
***** FIVE STARS! A breathtaking story of love and dark magic. There is much more going on than I mention in my synopsis, but to tell more may cause spoilers. I try to avoid that. Though the primary and secondary characters are mostly teens, I fully believe that adult fantasy fans will enjoy this terrific story also. The characters are vivid and well developed. The plot builds quickly. I found myself reading late into the night. As for the ending, I never saw it coming. Outstanding and highly recommended. *****
Title - Spirited Brides
(2 books in 1 / Paranormal Regencies)
Author: Amanda McCabe
Title - Hannah (Daughters of the Sea / Ages 9-12)
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Hannah Albury is an orphan. She had been raised in the Boston Home for Little Wanderers. At the age of fifteen, Hannah leaves the orphanage and is sent to be the new scullery girl at Eighteen Louisburg Square in Boston. Hannah has no time to catch her breath once hired, because the Hawley family is returning from Paris. There is much work to be done before the family actually arrives home and even more to be done once they do.
Mr. and Mrs. Hawley have three daughters. Lila is the oldest and everyone is wary of her mood swings. The middle daughter, Clarice, always has her nose in a book. But it is the youngest, Henrietta, that Hannah secretly likes best. "Ettie" is very intelligent and looks at people and situations much more clearly than the others in her family.
Stannish Whitman Wheeler may only be nineteen-years-old, but he has become the most famous and sought-after artist around. He is a guest in the Hawley's house as he paints a portrait of the three daughters among the family's two exquisite Kirayhasi vases. The paintings on the eight feet high vases mesmerize Hannah. A crashing wave could be seen with a tail disappearing below it. Not the tail of a fish either. The scales on the tail seem to be a part of something infinitely feminine and lovely. Hannah feels some sort of connection with the vases. Only the sea pulls Hannah's attention more. Hannah has no idea what the strange yearnings are within her for the sea or why she leaves a ring of salt in her bathtub at night. However the artist, Mr. Wheeler, looks at Hannah as though he knows more about her than she does herself.
*** THREE STARS! As I read, I had no idea that I was also learning about the past. I never realized how many live-in servants a family in Boston's Upper Society needed to keep their home running smoothly; nor about the ranking system within the servants. The author did an excellent job in showing what life was like. However, in my opinion, a few of the early chapters were unnecessary. There was no real need have Hannah sent to Kansas, only to then be returned to the orphanage and start the story's beginning all over. I also have a small problem with the ending of this story. It left me with quite a few unanswered questions. The story felt unfinished, yet there is no indication that another book will be coming in the future. I understand that this is part of a series called Daughters of the Sea. Since this title is the name of one "daughter", I am pretty sure there will be titles of other "daughters". In fact, there is one very brief section within this tale where Hannah spies another young girl looking out to sea (and Hannah feels that young girl is similar to her). I feel that section was a wonderful touch to this story. Yet if the story of the other "daughters" leave me with unanswered questions such as this one did, I think I will pass on it. ***
Author: Max Turner
Title - Night Runner (Teen)
"Zack" Thomson's famous archaeologist father died years ago. He had been crushed in Libya when some ruins fell upon him. That day Zack became an orphan. Instead of being placed in a foster home or orphanage, Zack was admitted to a mental facility. Due to his strange allergies to the sun, among other things, it was the only place that could properly care for him.
For eight years Zack has been content residing in the mental hospital. Now he is fifteen-years-old. Other than Charlie Rutherford, who is one year older, Zack's only real friend has been Nurse Ophelia. Charlie visits at night on weekends and the two are simply teen guys doing teen things, such as playing video games on huge monitors. As for Nurse Ophelia, she makes the best strawberry smoothies. That is good since it is the ONLY thing Zack can eat. (Goes back to his allergies and medical conditions.) Yet everything changes when a man crashes through the lobby wall on a motorcycle and tells Zack to run.
Soon afterward Zack meets his uncle, Maximilian. This is how Zack learns that he has no allergies or medical conditions. Zack had been bitten by a vampire, Baron Vrolok, the day his father died. Maximilian is a vampire hunter and had been his father's partner. Before Maximilian can take over Zack's care and help him learn what he needs for survival, Everett Johansson arrives. Everett is in the service of the vampires, possibly Baron Vrolok, and Zack must flee.
**** FOUR STARS! I believe teens will enjoy this new vampire series most. After all, the main "good guys" are teens and the story-line follows young Zack; however, many adults may find themselves intrigued as well. I certainly was. (The author lives in Canada, so if you live in America please know that some words are spelled slightly different from what you are used to.) This story moves at a good, steady pace and more than a few surprises spring up to keep readers on their toes. All-in-all, this title builds a strong foundation on which the author could build a fascinating series. Lots of potential shows within these pages. I look forward to the next installment. ****
Author: A.J. Whitten
Title - The Well (Teen Horror)
Cooper Warner's fourteen-year-old life has taken a horrific turn for the worse. His perfect, but overprotective, stay-at-home mom's attitude has totally reversed. It is obvious to Cooper that she is trying to kill him. Sometimes she still seems normal. Other times pure evil looks out of her eyes. Even his brother, Faulkner, is noticing their mom's homicidal intentions toward Cooper. But not even Faulkner would believe him if Cooper admitted that something evil lives at the bottom of the property's old well and their mother is trying to feed him to it. That just sounds insane! So to whom should Cooper turn for help? Cooper's parents are divorced. His read father would tell Cooper that he is imagining it and that he needs to get to work completing his Hamlet paper. Faulkner has convinced himself that the problem does not really exist. His stepfather could care less about anything concerning Cooper, except how much water he uses. No one would believe the truth ... except Megan.
Cooper and Megan have known each other since they were little. Recently they have begun dating. So Megan decides to give Cooper the benefit of the doubt and help him stop whatever is supposed to be lurking at the bottom of the well. But when the creature grabs Megan, Cooper must face the fact that he will have to confront the creature on its own turf and kill it - before it kills his girlfriend.
**** THREE AND A HALF STARS! This book is not recommended for anyone under the age of twelve. The story reminds me not only of the classic title "Hamlet", but also of the horror movie "The Ring". (There is even a character named Ring in this story. Coincidence?) Though many things are over done in this tale, in my opinion, I still enjoyed the ways in which A.J. Whitten (Shirley and Amanda Jump) merged a bit of a classic and some movie-type horrors with a typical teenager's life. The author mentioned some star names that teens of today enjoy, but they were not really necessary and came across to me as cheesy. I believe this story will greatly appeal to teens; however, few adults will enjoy the dark drama. ****
Author: Julia Quinn
Title - What Happens In London (Regency)
Sir Harry Valentine has been fluent in English, Russian, and French since the age of twelve. After years in the Army, Harry now rents a residence south of Rudland House. The War Office often delivers documents to Harry which needs to be translated to English quickly. Harry spends most of his time in his office doing these translations; however, he keeps getting distracted by the fact that Lady Olivia Bevelstoke keeps standing at her window staring at him. Harry has no idea whether she is just a curious debutante or is actually a spy. After a couple of meetings Harry decides Lady Olivia is neither a spy, nor kind. In fact, Harry decides he does not like her at all.
When Harry is summoned to the offices at Horse Guards in Whitehall he knows the reason cannot be good. A Russian prince is visiting at the same time that three known sympathizers of Napoleon are in town. It is rumored the prince's late father had favored Napoleon, but no proof was ever found. It is also rumored that his fortunes have diminished and the prince seeks a bride. He has been paying much attention to Lady Olivia. Thus Harry has been ordered to keep an eye on the prince and to make sure Olivia did not unwittingly commit treason. As Harry spends time with Olivia he finds that she is not as cold and remote as he had assumed. Olivia is full of humor and mischief. Perhaps Harry's mission will not be as boring as he had once believed.
***** FIVE STARS! This story overflows with humor to help offset the serious spy content. Harry gives Olivia "a lurid gothic novel" that had been recommended by his sister. Over half of this story is sprinkled with hilarious gems from the gothic novel (which Olivia demanded Harry read and suffer through too). I absolutely could not hold back my laughter as the pair verbally rips the story to shreds often. Once again the author, Julia Quinn, shows readers how her story-telling talent puts her on the Best Seller lists so often. Absolutely marvelous! *****
Author: Catherine Hapka
Title - Love on Cue (Teen Romantic Comedy)
Maggie "Mags" Tannery is one of the shyest girls around. But when Mags gets on stage, she loses herself in a role and her shyness disappears. Perhaps this is why she often pictures anything dramatic happening in her life as some sort of humorous play in her mind. One of Maggie's biggest secrets is the crush she has on Derek O'Malley.
When Derek walks in and announces he wants to be in the drama club, everyone is confused. Derek is one of the best players on the school's baseball team. But due to a knee injury, he needs to find something else to do. Turns out Derek is a natural when it comes to acting. Mr. Fayne plans to do "Romeo & Juliet" so Mags just may get the chance to play the lead with Derek. Problems begin almost immediately. Mr. Fayne's heart takes a bad turn and Ms. Dana, his replacement, decides to put on a musical instead. But Mags cannot sing or dance in front of people. With her lead role in jeopardy, she turns to Nico Vasquez, the local music expert. The more time she spends with Nico, the more Mags begins to wonder who her dream guy really is.
**** FOUR STARS! This book was sent to me by Amazon's "Vine" program. Sometimes Amazon sends those in the program ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) which may still have errors since it is not the final product. My copy of this story seems to be the actual book released to the public. There is no mention of it being an ARC. If this is the actual book, then there are two major flaws. The first flaw is that the back cover blurb says Maggie's crush is named Daniel, instead of Derek. The second is that when Derek first appears everyone talks about him being on the baseball team, yet much later in the story Maggie mentions that whenever she goes to one of the school's football games she has never looks at anyone except Derek on the field. So, wrong name and a sudden switch of sports. This is why I subtracted one star from the rating.
Otherwise, this is a terrific story. The characters are intriguing. Calla, Maggie's best friend, almost steals the show several times (no pun intended), Nico has his own band, and everyone will be able to relate with Maggie. There is a lot of humor too. I found myself laughing or chuckling often. This is one romantic comedy that I am happy to recommend! ****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Dead Girl Walking
(Dead Girl #1, Teen Paranormal)
Seventeen-year-old Amber Borden is a typical teenager but with aspiring hopes of college, followed by an exciting career as an agent for celebrities. But the moment Amber receives news of getting a scholarship happens to also be the moment she is hit by a motor vehicle. Her body is in a coma, but Amber's spirit is in limbo with her Grammy Greta. Amber is given directions back to her body, but due to her lousy sense of direction, Amber takes a wrong turn and ends up in the wrong body.
Leah Montgomery is not only the most popular girl in school, but her family is extremely rich. Her life seems perfect! So when Amber wakes up in Leah's body she is shocked to hear that Leah has attempted suicide. It quickly becomes apparent that the entire Montgomery family is messed up. A more dysfunctional family would be hard to find. Amber's biggest problem is trying to figure out how to get back into her own body, before her organs are donated and the life support is unplugged.
***** Kudos to Amber for not wanting to become popular herself. Amber's ambitions are only to make friends of wealthy and talented people for possible networking strings in her future career. I cannot recall a more unique reason for wanting to be noticed. Few teens actually care enough about new students to make them feel welcome instead of as an outcast. She is my ideal vision of an angel. (No kidding.) The author has done an outstanding job of making Amber special, in more ways than one.
Every character has their own individual style, attitude, and set of quirks. By the time the story was over, I was even looking at one of the snobby, popular girls in a totally different light. (I will leave readers to find out which one that is and why.) As for the limbo scenes, the visit with Grammy Greta and Cola was fantastic. I have read a variety of different scenarios about what a person witnesses once dead, but Singleton's view is a refreshing change. I like her idea. I can hardly wait to read the second book and see what surprises are in store for me. Stellar! *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Dead Girl Dancing
(Dead Girl #2, Teen Paranormal)
Seventeen-year-old Amber Borden is glad to be finished with her duties as a Temp Lifer. She closes her eyes for the transfer and opens them to find out that she is NOT back in her own body. This time Amber is in the body of Sharayah "Rayah" Rockingham. Of all bodies to end up within, why did it have to be the older sister of Eli, the guy Amber really likes? Amber hardly finishes calling Eli to tell him where she is when everything starts to go wrong. The immediate problem is that Rayah has a major hangover. Then another Temp Lifer shows up (in a celebrity's body) to give Amber her Guidance Evaluation Manual "GEM". The GEM is a blank book that magically writes out answers to most questions. This is followed by a threatening text message on Rayah's cellular phone.
Before Eli can get to Rayah's college dorm, Amber is hustled off to Venice Beach for Spring Break with two of Rayah's wild college friends. Mauve has been Rayah's roommate for three months and is wild with the guys. Sadie seems totally nice, yet she is a klepto who not only steals from stores, but also from her friends. Amber is still trying to shake off the hangover and learn why Rayah cut off communications with her family when Mauve and Sadie pick up two guys during a traffic jam. Once at the beach things get even worse. Their beach condo turns out to be a dump in the bad section of town, the most wanted Dark Lifer is in the area, Rayah's stalker is close by, and time is running out!
***** Book two begins with Amber's second assignment. What girl wants to wake up and find out that she is the older sister of her boyfriend? Awkward! I would have thought the author could not have made the situation more interesting than that; however, she did. One problem after another rears its head, each worse than the last, making time fly by as I try to read faster and faster. You will not want to stop so be sure you have several free hours before you open this book. Unputdownable! *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Dead Girl in Love
(Dead Girl #3, Teen Paranormal)
Amber Borden thought she was through being a Temp Lifer. The first time she found herself in someone else's body had been due to a mistake. The second time had been much sooner than expected. Amber's deceased grandmother, Grammy Greta, who is the head of the Temp Life program on the other side, knows Amber does not want a third time. But when Grammy Greta informs Amber that the living body who now needs a Temp Lifer is Alyce, Amber agrees to one last assignment. After all, who better to BE Alyce than her best friend Amber? Not to mention that Amber feels she let Alyce down during the last assignment. Alyce had needed Amber and Amber had not been there for her. Now is Amber's chance to make it up to her.
Alyce has always kept herself distant from others. Amber is her only true close friend. But Amber quickly learns how little she really knows about Alyce's private life. The surprises begin the first second she wakes up in Alyce's body to find herself enclosed in a coffin! Alyce has been searching for "The Lost". That is the only thing her Temp Lifer's Guidance Evaluation Manual (GEM) will tell her. Oh, and that Alyce's problem has to do with love.
Figuring out what "The Lost" is turns out not to be Alyce's only secret from everyone. Alyce's mother has a mental problem. Alyce has been hiding and dealing with her mom's mood swings, personality changes, and basically having to be a mother to her own mom. Lucky for Amber she has a few friends "in the know" to help her out. Dustin, Amber's hacker/geek/activist friend, can help with learning what "The Lost" is and locating it. Grammy Greta is only a phone call away since she is the Temp Lifer in Amber's real body. But nobody can help Amber with the biggest problem of all. The Dark Lifer known as Gabe Deverau is back and he knows where Amber is. Either Amber helps Gabe get what he wants or her boyfriend, Eli, will pay for her defiance.
***** O-M-G! Linda Joy Singleton gets better and better with every story she pens. Any time I feel as though this author can no longer surprise me, she throws in a twist that bowls me over. I love it! The story clearly showed to me that grown ups do not always know everything. (For example, Grammy Greta may have once been Amber's age, but times have changed and she is overwhelmed with the new things taught in school. Not to mention the class work is done with computers now.)
Since this is the last of the Dead Girl trilogy, much more is going on than the previous two titles (Dead Girl Walking & Dead Girl Dancing). There are things happening in this story that I do not mention in the synopsis too. Twists and surprises spring up everywhere. The story never slows down so I never became bored. The story opens with a bang and hooks attentions instantly. I end this with a warning; do not begin reading this until you have a lot of free time. Outstanding! *****
Author: Amanda Ashby
Title - Zombie Queen of Newbury High
Mia Everett is a quiet, normal teen who goes to Newbury High School. So she is thrilled when Rob Ziggermann, a hot football player, asks her to the prom. But popular Samantha Griffin is determined to steal Rob away from Mia. Worried Samantha may succeed, Mia and her best friend, Candice Bailey, get a love potion from an herbalist and perform the ritual at a school assembly, near Rob. Problem is that the herbalist is really a Chaos Maker and the potion she has given Mia does not make someone fall in love, it makes everyone at the assembly slowly start turning into flesh-eating zombies. And since Mia did the spell, she is their queen. That is not a good thing. It means Mia is first on the zombie menu. Even Candice begins looking at Mia as if she is a tasty treat.
Chase Miller has only been at the school for six months. He sits in biology class with Mia. But the intelligent, shy boy is not typical. He is with the Department of Paranormal Containment (DPC). Having lived through a school infested with zombies before and being the sole survivor (only because he is one of the rare people immune to the zombie virus), he may be Mia's only chance of living through prom night.
**** FOUR STARS! In this story "Men in Black" meet "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (or in this case "Zombie Slayer"). This tale will have you keeping an eye on everyone at your prom for fear they may think you smell like chicken. This is a stand-alone story and I have not heard that it is the beginning of a new series, but I sure hope it is. I would love to read more of Mia, Candice, Chase, and the DPC. There is so much potential with this plot line and cast of characters. Fun, witty, and full of action. Bring on a series! ****
Author: Suzanne Allain
Title - Mr. Malcolm's List (Regency)
Set in London, 1818. The Honorable Jeremy Malcolm, second son of the Earl of Kilbourne, is considered to be the biggest catch of the season, but he has earned a reputation as a heartbreaker. Lord Cassidy "Cassie" is Malcolm's friend and decides to let him know the title he has received. Cassie's cousin, Julia Thistlewaite, believes it to be true. Malcolm had escorted Julia to an opera (once) and she has waited for him to call ever since. Julia feels humiliated when Malcolm does not come courting. Family loyalty has Cassie asking Malcolm about it. This is how Cassie learns that Malcolm has a list of qualifications for a bride. Malcolm has been escorting ladies to events or dancing with them at parties in order to test each. None of the ladies, including Julia, has met his qualifications. The biggest mistake Cassie ever makes is when he tells Julia about the list.
Selina Dalton was a paid companion to Mrs. Ossory. When Mrs. Ossory died, she left Selina a comfortable settlement that guaranteed her an independence the rest of her life. Selina is just getting ready to return to her parents' home when she receives an invitation from Julia to spend time with her in London. Selina accepts, excited at some time in town. Yet upon arriving, Selina learns that Julia only invited her to help humiliate Malcolm. Julia wants to present Selina as the perfect woman he is looking for, then allow him to discover that SHE has a list and he fails to meet her qualifications. But by nature, Selina is open and very honest. Even though Julia threatens to send Selina away should she refuse to help, Selina decides to spend some time with Malcolm to see if he really is one to play with ladies' emotions or if Julia is simply a spoiled brat with wounded pride.
Selina and Malcolm meet by accident in a library, during a party. Selina has no idea it is Malcolm and finds her time with him pleasant. Malcolm is soon paying calls to Selina. Then the nephew of Mrs. Ossory, Henry Ossory, meets up with Selina and gives Malcolm some competition, which irks Julia to no end. Malcolm invites them all to a house party at his estate, Hadley Hall, in Kent. Let the plots and schemes commence!
***** A lovely Regency Romance with witty dialogues and the ever important happy ending. This cast of characters has a wide variety of personal attitudes ranging from meek to hardheaded. The clashes between the personalities keeps things hopping almost as well as Julia's schemes. There is only once or twice that pride keeps a character from listening to an explanation, thus keeping things from easily being solved. Whenever I find myself wanting to smack a character it lessens the enjoyment of the story for me. Do not be disheartened though, this only happens once or twice and it actually fits with the character's personality. Highly recommended for all fans of the Regency genre. *****
Author: Sandra Heath
Title - A Country Cotillion (Regency)
Elizabeth is the young widow of James French. Their marriage had started out so lovingly. But her happy days with James were few because he changed. Elizabeth's days of wretchedness at his hands had seemed endless. So this time Elizabeth has agreed to wed Sir Alexander Norrington, a man opposite James in every possible way.
Eighteen-year-old Lady Isobel Crawford has never had any interest in her cousin, Elizabeth. Yet when Isobel falls in love with Sir Alexander at first sight, she decides to steal Elizabeth's prospective bridegroom. Isobel plots and schemes shamelessly to be with Sir Alexander often and prove herself to be so much better for him. When Elizabeth and Sir Alexander decide to leave town for awhile, Isabel engineers a way to go with them. Events could not have happened more perfectly for Isabel as the trio find themselves snowed in at Rainworth, the estate of Marcus Sheridan, eighth Duke of Arlington.
Marcus had come across Elizabeth once in town while she was being accosted by footpads. He went after the thieves and retrieved her stolen item, but she was gone when he returned with it. They never learned the names of each other. But when he sees her alight from the carriage of Sir Alexander, who happens to be a friend from his past, Marcus offers his home for them to stay the night. When his guests get snowed in, Marcus quickly begins to see what Isobel is up to.
***** There is no life threatening danger in these pages. The story reads exactly like the Regency novels I used to love so much (but were canceled about ten years ago). Flirting, betrayal, parties ... it is all here. The author writes with her usual aplomb, giving her readers the romance they long for. Sandra Heath writes pure bliss. *****
Author: Carl L. Wiley
Title - The Ring of Knowledge (Corwin #1, YA Fantasy)
Thirteen-year-old Corwin, heir to the throne of Plyorth, has lived with his uncle's family since his parents were murdered by Jolkur ten years prior. Corwin's uncle is King Harvor of Verzeal. Though Corwin never felt entirely welcome in Verzeal's castle, he received the training and lessons he would need to rule Plyorth wisely.
When the wizard, Natlock, appears in the form of a small hawk to Corwin, the young prince's tutor and advisor, Montecourt, informs him that the time has finally come for Corwin to embark on a life-changing journey.
Prince Corwin and two children from Plyorth, Javal and Veina, must travel through a dangerous forest in order to return Natlock (still in bird form) to his cottage before the transforming spell kills him. From there the trio must reach the kingdom of Plyorth. Prince Corwin quickly learns that returning to his kingdom is not the end of his journey, but only the beginning. Corwin must locate and retrieve Plyorth's three hidden treasures. The first hunt will be for the Ring of Knowledge. The trio set out with the evil Jolkur and his minion hot on their trail. A wood sprite named Antara and a forest creature named Krelp will aid the prince and perhaps someday become his friends. For now, an entire kingdom and its people's fates are resting on Corwin's success.
**** Though I do not see any target ages listed for this book, in my opinion it would be good for anyone between the ages of nine and sixteen. The price is high due to it being a hard back, but chances are this story will be read more than once. This story does not go into deep details on surroundings or characters' attitudes. However, it is easy to read, easy to understand, and small life lessons can be learned by the younger readers. I look forward to journeying along with Prince Corwin when he sets out for the second treasure. Very enticing! ****
Author: Marley Gibson
Title - The Awakening (Ghost Huntress #1, Teen)
Kendall Moorehead is used to the noisy city life of Chicago. When her family moves to Radisson, Georgia, Kendall finds it too quiet. The lack of city noise makes it impossible for her to sleep. Her parents place a white noise machine in the room and Kendall is actually beginning to fall asleep when she begins hearing voices coming through the machine.
Kendall begins her first day at high school. She makes friends with Celia Nichols who also happens to be her neighbor. The pair share an interest in Shakespeare and begin to open up to each other. Kendall explains the odd voices in her room and about the strange happenings at school. (Such as being able to actually feel the discomforts and pains of the other students.) Celia, who is incredibly intelligent, explains that the town is a hotbed of paranormal activity and that Kendall's historic home has its share of ghosts. The two decide to do a bit of ghost hunting. Celia knows a lot on the subject already and has deep pockets. Any ghost hunting equipment she does not already have, she can get fast.
In the meantime, Kendall's psychic abilities begin to grow. Being sensitive means having to learn control and how to protect herself from the more insistent spirits. Ghosts and spirits begin popping up everywhere as her abilities awaken. The girls need more team members to help with their ghost hunting. While Kendall makes more friends and the ghost huntress team grows, her mother becomes worried about Kendall's mental health. But when a mad spirit physically attacks her dad at his work, the ghost huntresses step in to do what they do best.
***** This is the first of a new paranormal series that is destined to sweep teens off their feet. Readers cannot help but learn about the scientific equipment that real ghost hunters use today. There are many shows about the ghost hunting topic, as well as many groups (online and off). The teens in this story are easy to relate with. All the main and secondary characters are well developed. The lesser characters have potential for use in future stories. The writing style is easy to follow and the story flows smoothly. I was surprised at how fast time seemed to fly as I read. I got so caught up in the story that I ended up reading the entire thing in one sitting. All-in-all, this is one amazing story and I can hardly wait for the second book. *****
Author: Lili St. Crow
Title - Strange Angels (Teen Paranormal)
Sixteen-year-old Dru Anderson and her father travel town to town hunting "Real World" bad guys like blood suckers, wulfen (werewolf), and occasionally zombies. Dru's father has trained her well in self defense, weapons, and anything else he thought she may need. Turns out for Dru that it is just the beginning of what she needs to know. When her dad is killed, his corpse is reanimated and sent to kill her. Having to put down a zombie made out of her father's body is traumatizing enough. But Dru was never told about her real heritage. Her genes make her very special and she is beginning to bloom into her powers. Unfortunately it also makes her a blinking neon target for every Real World creature. One ancient night creature in particular is hunting her, the very one that killed her mother long ago and her father recently.
On her side, Dru has Graves, an orphan teen who has recently been bitten by a wulfen, and Christophe, a half-human vampire hunter. Both guys are interested in her affections and neither will let Dru walk into the upcoming battle alone. They just might help Dru to survive the week, if she can keep from killing them herself.
***** Move over Buffy! You have met your match with Dru. Or at least Buffy will once Dru gets fully trained. This is the first book in the Strange Angels series. No cliff hanger ending to irritate readers. This story ends in a place that will leave you satisfied but eager for the next installment. Lili St. Crow is a pen name for the award winning author Lilith Saintcrow. I did not know that as I began reading, but once I found out I could see the similar writing style. Though the series is for teens, adults will be just as hooked. Dru is taking names and kicking major butts! *****
Author: C. Lee Tocci
Title - Stone Voice Rising (Teen Fantasy)
Keotak-se is the last of the True Stone Warriors. He is sent to pick up six-year-old Lilibit and escort her to the haven of Kiva. She is the Infant Stone Voice and is able to hear what the stones are whispering. In Kira, she will receive training to attain power enough to overthrow the corrupt Stone Voice. During the journey, Lilibit is stolen by Syxx.
Syxx the Deceiver is the servant of the Decreator. He holds the position of Operations Chief for the Nil and Voight Medical Research Institute "NAVMRI". It is a private institute researching healing, regeneration, and pain tolerance in humans. For five years they tested on Lilibit. (So Lilibit is now eleven-years-old.) Syxx had been told Lilibit had finally died. In truth, she was given to a rival company. When Syxx learns the girl is alive, he sends out his minions to find and capture her.
Todd Hawker is able to speak with birds and his scalp tingles whenever danger is near. He has gone through several foster homes due to these abilities. His latest home is shared with five other kids, all younger than he is. A mysterious eleven-year-old girl, who has obviously been through multiple surgeries and seems damaged, arrives. From then on the seven kids' lives changed forever. They begin on a journey through the Blue Mist Mountains, searching for a place called Kiva. As the group members slowly learn about each other they meet many magical beings. At the same time they must hide from NAVMRI who intends to capture the group before they reach Kiva or kill them.
**** I cannot understand why the author explains that Lilibit is Hawaiian in ancestry and that Marla is black, yet never mentions the races of the other five kids. To me, that is racism. Otherwise, this is a wonderful fantasy for anyone over the age of ten. Though I have not heard that this is the first of a series, the story ends with many loose strings. Therefore, I am guessing it is. Good reading here! ****
Author: Sophia Nash
Title - Love with the Perfect Scoundrel
(Widow's Club #3, Regency)
Grace Sheffey, Countess of Sheffield, is a widow at the young age of only twenty-seven. In the past twelve months she has been jilted by two fiancés and London's upper elite are having a delightful time chewing up and pitting out her reputation. No longer capable of holding her head up high or maintaining an unconcerned image, she flees London. Grace intended to return to the Isle of Mann, where she spent her childhood. Instead she found herself stuck in a blizzard when the carriage tipped over. Her driver and traveling companion go for help. It is only then Grace realizes she is injured, losing blood, and quickly freezing to death.
Michael Ranier has been a fugitive for years. He spent those years in the colonies (Virginia). He returned to England because he inherited property from a friend. En route to his new property (Brynlow) he found an angel dying in the blizzard. While tending to her injuries, with the help of a lad named Timmy, he does the worst thing possible - he fell in love with her. Too bad he could not possibly keep her.
***** I learned years ago that whenever I intend to begin a story written by Sophia Nash that I had better make sure the pizza has already been delivered. Otherwise the members of my family will have to eat cold cereal or sandwiches. This tale is no exception. The author begins with a strong willed lady in distress and then the tender roots of romance begin. From there the author builds tension that only seems to increase with each page turned. Within these pages you will experience pure romance at its very best! *****
Author: Sophia Nash
Title: A Dangerous Beauty
(Widow's Club #2, Regency)
Rosamunde is the daughter of the Earl of Twenlyne. She grew up wild and very loved. But she made a huge mistake. When her father demanded she wed the man she erred with, Rosamunde refused and became a ruined woman. She finally married a common man and suffered more than she would ever reveal to anyone. Her sister, Sylvia Langdon, went wherever Rosamunde did, no matter that it meant she would share her sister's tainted title.
When her abusive husband dies, Rosamunde flees from her late husband's cousin, who thinks to continue where his kin left off. Rosamunde and Sylvia accept an invitation to spend a season with the Dowager Duchess of Helston and join her unique Widows Club. Rosamunde wants only to stay in the shadows and catch no attention; however, the brother of her mistake is with Ata. Rosamunde does not believe the St. Aubyn family knows that she has a horrid past with their family. If they did, they never would have invited her to Cornwall and she has no where else to go.
Luc St. Aubyn, the Duke of Helston, never beds the same woman twice. He has the well-deserved titled of Lord Fire and Ice. He is as fire with the woman he chooses for the night and as ice the instant he wakes in the morn. Luc knows how cruel is father and the dukes before him were. Luc is still trying to build up the funds they lost. Luc is pulled toward Rosamunde, but knows that she has suffered much at the hands of her late husband and his family. He is determined to repair the repressed look within Rosamunde's eyes and try to make up at least a bit of what his family did to her.
***** This story is full of drama, bravery, and humor. From the first page I found myself enthralled by Rosamunde and her unbreakable spirit. Author Sophia Nash has proven that as great as she was with the short Regency Romances, she is even better with the longer ones! If this author's name is on the cover, do not even bother reading the back; simply BUY it. Sophia Nash is one of the best! *****
Author: Sandra Wilson
Title - Lady Jane's Ribbons (Regency)
The year is 1820. Caroline of Brunswick, Queen of England, has returned to claim her rights. Mobs walk the streets nightly in her favor. It has been six months since Lady Jane Derwent's hear was broken due to a humiliating visit from Alicia, Duchess of Brantingham. Alicia had been almost everywhere, on the arm of Lord Lewis Ardenley, Jane's intended. Alicia's horrid details of her involvement with Lewis was too much. Jane broke off with Lewis and left town to lick her wounds. It was the letters from her friend, Blanch Lyndon, that brought Jane back.
Blanch is the fiancé of her brother, Henry Derwent, fifth Earl of Felbridge. The problem is that Henry has become obsessed with stagecoach racing. Henry now owns the Fleece Inn and coaches his own stage in races. His bitter rival on the road is Edward Chapman, who is well known for his ruthlessness. Everyone is noticing how Henry keeps forgetting important functions, such as Blanch's birthday party. Blanch's father is now attempting to break the Felbridge betrothal.
When Jane spies an ad about a coaching inn being up for sale, she decides that it is the perfect opportunity to teach her brother a much needed lesson. Thus Jane becomes a silent partner with Mr. Wheddle and arrangements are made for her to be in the Midsummer Day race to Brighton. But Lewis does not seem to believe Jane is up for the task she has set for herself. Well perhaps Jane can teach him a lesson or two as well.
***** Author Sandra Wilson has created a wonderful romance with a good bit of adventure while keeping the time setting historically accurate. Even readers, such as I, who care nothing for races will find themselves enjoying this romp. Stellar! *****
Author: Rachel Caine
Title: Glass Houses
(Morganville Vampires, Bk1)
Claire Danvers thinks studying and learning are fun. It is no wonder she ends up going to college early. She is only sixteen, so her parents do not want her to live in a dorm too far away for them to drive to. Therefore, Claire ends up at Texas Prairie University (TPU). Claire plans to remain at TPU until she is eighteen and then transfer to a much bigger and better college. Since Claire is sixteen, she expects that the other students would treat her a bit harsh. After all, Claire is much younger than anyone else and prefers to study instead of party. However, she never expects to find out that she is the ONLY normal or sane student in town. It does not take long for Claire to honestly believe that she is the only sane person in TOWN!
Monica Morrell is the most popular girl. She is also the biggest bully. When Claire, accidently, makes Monica look stupid, she becomes Monica's personal punching bag. Worse, after being given a black eye and shoved down some steep stairs, Claire knows that Monica wants nothing less than to see her dead. Claire's only real choice is to find some sort of cheap housing off campus...TODAY!
Claire ends up at Glass House. It a blend of Tara from "Gone with the Wind" and the home of "The Munsters". Within twenty-four more hours, Claire learns why the town is odd. Vampires run the town! Humans who are under Protection from a vampire always wear their bracelets identifying them as such. These humans swear their entire lives to their Protector. They live, serve, and die at their Protector's whim. And anyone without a bracelet, such as Clair, is meat!
Claire now has three house mates. Eve works at the local coffee shop named Common Grounds. It is the only neutral territory around. Shane can only cook one thing, chili. He hates Monica even more than Claire does. (Monica returns his hateful feelings.) But the strangest is David. The house belongs to David. But David is never seen during the day, only at night. He is not a vampire though. He is one big mystery. The trio may seem almost as strange as the Morganville, but when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out at night for fresh blood, these three have Claire's back.
***** The only thing that I do not like about this novel is that it ends in the middle of a murder involving one of Claire's three house mates. Talk about a frustrating cliff hanger! So do NOT begin this novel until you purchase book two (The Dead Girls' Dance). If this book had ended three pages earlier, I would have given it the full five stars. Instead, it is getting 4.5 stars. Otherwise, this book is stellar! *****
Author: Rachel Caine
Title: The Dead Girls' Dance
(Morganville Vampires, Bk 2)
Claire Danvers is a genius. She thinks studying and learning are fun. Since she is only sixteen, her parents will not allow her to attend college far away. They want to be able to drive up anytime they believe Claire needs them. Therefore, Claire attends Texas Prairie University (TPU). Due to problems with the previous dorm's popular girl, Monica Morrell, trying to kill her, Claire lives off campus at Glass House with three other house mates.
Claire is only now getting used to knowing that vampires rule the town and the local humans are pledged to certain vampires as life-long servants and blood donors. Anyone without a bracelet showing that he has Protection is nothing more than meat if he roams the streets after dark. It is a little more tolerable, thanks to her roommates. Eve has become Claire's best friend. Shane has become Claire's boyfriend. David is still strange, even though Claire now understands why David is never seen during the day. No, David is not a vampire, but that would be a blessing compared to what he is now.
Now a fraternity is throwing its annual Dead Girls' Dance. Amazingly, Claire and Eve have been invited. They have no idea WHY they were issued the invitation though. Since Claire is so young, she would have declined, except that Shane's father, along with a gang of bikers, are on a vendetta to kill all vampires. If humans get in the way, that's just too bad.
***** This book picks up EXACTLY where the first left off. If you have not read book one (Glass Houses), then you will find yourself lost a few times. Thankfully, this time the story does not end in the middle of something horrible, like a murder. It does, however, leave many threads dangling. I am still confused on when Claire's two days dead line got extended by her parents. Did the author forget about it? Loop hole? Who knows? Hopefully, the dead line will be explained in the third novel (Midnight Alley), due for release October 2007. Teens and Young Adults will not be the only ones to be enthralled by this series. Worth 4.5 stars! If you like vampires, this is for you! *****
Author: Rachel Caine
Title - Midnight Alley
(Morganville Vampires #3)
This third book in the Morganville Vampires series begins where the second left off. Claire Danvers had signed a contract pledging herself to Amelie in return for the protection of those she cares for. Amelie is the town's Founder. She is the oldest, scariest vampire of all. Claire now wears a Patron bracelet.
Claire still resides in Glass House with Eve, Michael, and Shane. Michael and Shane are still buds, but there is some major friction between them now. Then there is Claire's archenemy, Monica Morell. Claire detects the strange scent of oddity, of something rotten, when Monica starts showing up and begins acting as though she wants to become one of Claire's closest friends.
Amelie demands Claire become an apprentice to an ancient vampire and begins some private lessons in his secluded home. Claire will soon discover why.
**** Holy bloodsuckers! Author Rachel Caine delights with this installment of the M.V. series. Readers will actually find out HOW and WHY the town of Morganville even exists. As I watched various characters turn from friend to enemy (within seconds) and the darker side of college life emerge, I detected flavors of P.N. Elrod and R.L. Stine. I can't help but wonder if the stories by Elrod and/or Stine had somehow inspired Caine as she began writing this series. Each installment had many hidden surprises that kept me on the edge of my seat. The only major down side is that each book left me hanging, like an old Batman show. ****
Author: Rachel Caine
Title - Feast of Fools (Morganville Vampires #4)
Sixteen-year-old (seventeen in a week, thank you very much) Clair Danvers is an "employee" of Amelie, one of Morganville's Founders. At the moment, Amelie is the head vampire of the town. Clair's parents arrive in town. Unfortunately, they are moving into the area. Of course, this is NOT something good since Morganville, Texas, is run by vampires and people outside of town do not know that vampires even exist. Even worse, her parents are not the only new people in town. Amelie's father, Mr. Bishop, has arrived along with two vampire companions, François (mail) and Ysandre (female). Records show that five hundred years ago Mr. Bishop had been killing off his enemies within the vampire community to make himself ruler of the world. And then something happened, and he dropped out of sight - until now. Amelie and Michael have been meeting about the new vampires, but refuse to inform Clair, Eve, or Shane what is going on. Shane, Claire's boyfriend, expresses his worries that the powerful trio have come for some type of revenge and/or to destroy the town.
Though Shane detests vampires, except Michael, Ysandre sends him a formal invitation to escort her to an upcoming masked ball in honor of Mr. Bishop. And when one receives an invitation, one dares not refuse.
At the same time, Amelie has Claire and a doctor working to increase the effectiveness of some red crystals. If successful, the crystals will help the vampires ward off the effects of a degenerative disease. However, it is beginning to sound as though the vampires will not be the only ones in trouble should they fail.
**** If you have not read the previous titles you may find yourself lost quite often. The author does give a quick "The story so far" just before beginning the story; however, in my opinion it is not detailed enough for new readers to really understand what is going on. Therefore, I recommend that readers seriously consider reading all three previous titles. I will list them out for you: Glass Houses (Book One), The Dead Girls' Dance (Book Two), and Midnight Alley (Book Three).
This story does not add much in the way of character development for secondary characters or for the characters for the bad boys/girls in the previous tales. However, it does give more depth to the vampire hierarchy, as well as to the differences in the way many of them think about humans and rules. The main focus of prior stories were on Clair, but this time Shane steals most of the spot light. All-in-all, this is terrific for those keeping up with the series and I look forward to the next installment. ****
Authors: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Title - Tempted (House of Night #6)
(This title begins immediately upon the ending of the previous title, Hunted. After having banished Kalona and Neferet from Tulsa, Zoey Redbird and her group begin their recovery. After an overnight rest, the group returns to Tulsa's House of Night and give help to those they are able. The school is still divided, many placing all blame squarely upon Zoey's shoulders. As the first ever fledgling High Priestess, Zoey must take the situation before the Vampyre High Council in Italy.
Stevie Rae is considered to be the High Priestess of the new Red vampyres. She has been keeping secrets from Zoey and knows that Zoey realizes it. Some of the bad red fledglings are still dwelling in the depot and Stevie Rae intends to give them one last chance to change. But Stevie Rae now has an even bigger secret. She has rescued a dying Raven Mocker.
*** THREE STARS! I could not decide between two or three stars. As much as I enjoy this series as a whole, I am disappointed with this installment. The first half of this story is mostly filler. Very little happens at all and the story drags slowly. In fact, over the first quarter is the same night as it was when Hunted ended. However, once the halfway point of the book passes, things begin to finally move forward. I would not feel right if I did not warn potential readers that this episode ends with a massive cliffhanger. Many readers, myself included, hate this type of ending.
All-in-all, this is an okay read, but nothing vital happens until its conclusion. Readers on a strict budget could skip this title, pick up the next, and miss nothing of importance. I sincerely hope the next title, Burned will be better. ***
Authors: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Title - Untamed (House of Night #4, Teen)
Zoey Redbird feels lower than she ever has in her life. Yesterday she had three boyfriends and today she has zero. Yesterday she had a close circle of friends and today none of them trust her. Yesterday Aphrodite was her nemesis and today she is the only one Zoey can confide in or trust.
Changes are still occurring so often that it seems all logic has disappeared from the world. It takes Aphrodite, ironically enough, to slap Zoey's former circle of friends into line. It better be fast too, because Neferet has announced a declaration of war against humans.
Help comes in the unexpected arrival of Shekinah, High Priestess of ALL vamps. Stopping the war before it began was simple for Shekinah; however, figuring out what is really happening at Oklahoma's House of Night will be extremely difficult. Neferet's acting abilities cast a dim light on Zoey's character, as well as those of her circle. Seems that Neferet has changed her loyalties from Nyx to Chaos and an ancient evil is about to be released upon an unsuspecting world.
***** There is so much going on in this installment that I cannot give a complete synopsis of it all. Stevie Rae and the other undead kids play a huge role this time. The situation with Erik has radically altered, but he is still a solid secondary character. Heath is mentioned only a bit and a new (famous) fledgling transfers in from the Chicago House of Night. Yet still, there is much more.
Again it is a cliffhanger ending and many readers will find themselves totally frustrated, but that also means there will be a fifth book and it will begin with a bang! Zoey's adventures are like catnip to felines. Delicious! *****
Authors: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Title - Betrayed (House of Night #2, Teen)
Zoey "Z" Redbird is a fledgling vampyre. She has managed to finally settle in at the House of Night finishing school. Z has been Chosen by the vampyre goddess, Nyx, and she has already kicked vampyre ghost butt. Yet still Zoey has a strange feeling something is wrong, like the stillness before a tornado or storm.
Zoey's Imprint with Heath remains and she still finds herself caring for the mortal teenager. The mutual attraction between Z and Erik, also a fledgling, remains as well. Yet Zoey is finding herself intrigued by Loren Blake as well. Loren is a part-time, temporary professor (of poetry class) at the academy. Zoey is sure he cannot be more than five or six years older than she, however, relationships between students and teachers are prohibited.
Zoey is about to conduct her first Full Moon Ritual as leader of the Dark Daughters and Sons. Zoey's life is full and she has little alone time for herself. It soon becomes apparent that she better make some time for a new problem. People Zoey knew from her prior human life are disappearing. When and where their bodies are eventually found, as well as the cause of deaths, point to the House of Night. To save all the humans and vampyres she cares for, Zoey must face a betrayal that could break her heart, if not her very soul. May Nyx protect her!
***** If you have not read the first book, MARKED, then I highly suggest you do so before beginning this title. If you do not, you will still be able to understand what is going on; however, you will not be privy to some references of Zoey's adventurous past and markings. Believe me when I say this series could be categorized as either Young Adult or Fantasy. It does not matter if you are male or female, this series will enthrall you against your will. Authors P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast are a dangerous writing duo with poisonous pens. Highly recommended. *****
Authors: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Title: Marked (House of Night #1, Teen)
Zoey Redbird's world is very much like our own, except that vampyres have always existed. Zoey is sixteen-years-old and having a typical day in school when she notices a Tracker standing beside her locker. Never really believing the Tracker is hunting for her, Zoey is genuinely shocked when the Tracker Marked her a fledgling vampyre. This means a crescent moon scar appears on Zoey's forehead and she has less than a day to reach the House of Night, a private boarding school for fledgling vampyres. Zoey's mother is no help. Her step-father all but hates her. Zoey goes to her Cherokee grandmother for help, but gets hurt along the way. While unconscious, Zoey has a vision from Nyx, the Vampire Goddess, who informs Zoey that she is very special and has been chosen to be the eyes and ears of Nyx. When Zoey awakens, she is with her grandmother at the House of Night.
Neferet is the High Priestess of the House of Night, as well as her new Mentor. Unlike before the vision, Zoey's crescent moon mark is now filled in. This is unheard of before going through The Change. Zoey soon learns that she has some amazing powers, yet no understanding of how to use them.
Zoey is not the only fledgling in school with special powers. Aphrodite is the leader of the Dark Daughters. She is in training to be a High Priestess; and Zoey has made Aphrodite's black list without even trying. Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage she needs to fulfill her destiny - with a little help from her new vampyre friends.
***** A solid foundation for a new supernatural series! It seems to target older teens, but adults will find themselves drawn to it as well. It looks as though the writing talent is a gene that runs strong in the Cast family tree. Terrific plot with well formed characters. I look forward to the next release of the Cast Duo. *****
Author: Emma Clayton
Title - Roar (YA Sci-Fi)
Set in the future. When a plague spreads throughout the animals and forests of the world humanity survives by building a wall around themselves. Ellie and Mika Smith are twelve-year-old twin siblings behind the wall in London. Ellie decides that there are just too many unanswered questions and the government is hiding at least one horrible secret. Risking exposure, Ellie and her monkey attempt to escape the human sanctuary.
Mika does not believe it when the government says Ellie drowned. Determined to find her, Mika will take the drugs from the Youth Development Foundation (YDF), compete in a horrid tournament, and deal with anything that is thrown at him.
**** Author Emma Clayton describes a very desolate future in this teen science-fiction story. It starts out with Ellie breaking out and just as I got used to reading the story from her point-of-view, it abruptly changes to Mika's. The characters are not as well developed as I would have liked; however, it is still a very good read. ****
Author: Jacquie D'Alessandro
Title - Seduced at Midnight
(Mayhem in Mayfair #3 / Regency)
Lady Julianne Bradley's parents could easily be called cold-hearted and uncaring. In fact, those are the nicer terms one could use to describe Lord and Lady Gatesbourne. Being the daughter of titled parents, Julianne always knew her marriage would be arranged by her father to the one with the highest title and wealth. Now that time has arrived. Instead of going through the motions of posting the bans and a long engagement to prepare for a lavish Society wedding (and help her to mentally prepare for a long, loveless life) Julianne learns that she is due to wed the Duke of Eastling within two weeks and immediately be stashed away in Cornwall. Though resigned to her fate, Julianne longs for love and passion. She wants what two of her friends were lucky enough to find in their marriages. When thinking of her imaginary love, Julianne always conjures up the image of Bow Street Runner Gideon Mayne. She met Gideon two months ago when he was investigating a series of murders plaguing Mayfair. His image is what Julianne sees whenever she devours the latest novel her bookclub is reading. You see, the Ladies Literary Society of London did not read boring, but acceptable, books. Instead, the books they chose to read are very sexually explicit.
The topic on everybody's tongues these days is about a murdering ghost robber. All the victims are wealthy ladies, found dead with their valuables missing. And it seems Julianne is next on the killer's list. Gideon is hired by Lord Gatesbourne to guard Julianne until she is safely wed and Eastling's responsibility. Gideon accepts, though he finds himself strongly attracted to Lady Julianne. While Gideon protects her from a murderer, who will protect him from Julianne?
***** A story by Jacquie D'Alessandro is to be slowly savored like fine wine. This author excels in making readers feel the same emotions her characters do. These emotions are so strong at times that they may punch you harder than brandy. And this latest installment of the Mayhem in Mayfair series is no exception. From beginning to end, this tale over flows with romance, passion, humor, and danger. I came to care deeply for the main couple (even the huge guard dog and the tiny ankle biter). I dreaded seeing the number of pages left to read dwindling and found myself reading slower and slower. Now if only I can make it until this author's next release. Astounding! *****
Author: Virginia Henley
Title - The Decadent Duke (Regency)
Lady Georgina "Georgy" Gordon's sisters have all married dukes or earls. As the last unwed daughter, Georgy knew that her mother, Jane, would now begin a campaign to win an even better match for her. How true! The manipulative matchmaking woman has already picked out Francis Russell, Duke of Bedford, for Georgina. Problem is that Georgy is more interested in the duke's younger brother, John.
**** To quote a sentence from within the book, "There is nothing more hypocritical than the British aristocracy." I have no idea about today, but the author clearly showed how true that was in the past.
During this story, King George is on the throne and slowly slipping into madness. I found myself having to read slowly at first because many named their children after the king. George, Georgina, Georgianna, Georgy, and more variations are found in the story. There are minor characters with the same names as the key characters. Georgina has a niece named after her and Georgianna has a daughter with the same name, but (thankfully) that daughter goes by her middle name instead. Having to keep them all straight took a lot of enjoyment out of the first section for me. As soon as the minor characters faded into the shadows a bit, I had no troubles. The games, scandals, and plots kept me intrigued and John's children were so delightful to read about. Many of the problems faced were due to simple miscommunications or pride though.
For those history buffs out there, the author made sure to include historical people and events. Prime Minister William Pitt entered the spot light a few times as he worked for the Act of Union. This is but one example of why I enjoy books by Virginia Henley. ****
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Title - Vibes (Ages 12 & Up)
Kristi Carmichael considers her life to be totally abnormal, especially since she hit puberty and her dad left. Her biggest problem is that since puberty she has been able to read minds. Kristi has learned that people are mean, selfish, and liars. The beautiful people, who eventually become the spoiled popular ones, are the most cruel. In fact, that is why Hildie Peterson is no longer Kristi's best friend. The moment they entered high school and boys began drooling over Hildie, Hildie walked away from Kristi and never looked back. Hildie's brother, Gusty, seems to have done the same. Every time Gusty looks at Kristi "sick" crosses his mind...not that Kristi would ever admit to anyone that it bothered her.
To drown out the thoughts of others, Kristi has become a loner and keeps loud opera music playing in her earphones. Scrawny Jacob Flax is the closest thing to a friend Kristi has, except for the new guy in school, Mallory St.Croix. But both of them have disturbing thoughts about Kristi's chest whenever they get close to her.
Now things are beginning to change and, in Kristi's opinion, not for the better. Her mom has gotten promoted to chief of surgery and now comes home at a decent time. This increases the chances that her mom will find out about Minnie Mouse, the cat Kristi keeps in the house (and the reason for her mom's allergies). Kristi has also been partnered with Gusty Peterson to do a huge project in Character Education. (Yeah, Kristi's school is not your typical high school either. There really is a class called Character Ed.) But the worst thing is that after disappearing for two years, Kristi's dad is returning and wants time with her. What next?
***** Kristi is the type of character that all teenaged girls can relate to. Most of her problems are similar to any female teenager. The only real difference is Kristi being able to hear people's thoughts or picture what is flashing through their minds. An engrossing story that you will find difficult to put down for any length of time. *****
Author: Gail Ranstrom
Title - Unlacing Lilly (Regency)
With no father to care for her mother or sisters, Lillian "Lilly" O'Rouke's family has had it rough. Cora, one of the sisters, had been murdered not too long ago, one of the victims of the Blood Wyvern Brotherhood. The Brotherhood would abduct ladies to be tortured and then sacrificed. The Brotherhood would have done the same to Gina and Bella O'Rouke, but for their timely rescue. (In Bella and Andrew Hunter's story titled "Lord Libertine". Bella married Lord Hunter and is happy; however, Gina has withdrawn within herself. To support and protect her family, Lilly accepts the marriage proposal from Edward Manlay, the Marquis of Olney. She has no idea of his horrid reputation though. But right after Edward's mother loans Lilly the Rutherford Sapphires and only moments before she is to walk down the aisle to wed, Lilly is kidnapped and a forged note left for the groom.
Devlin Farrell is the illegitimate son of a duke and desires revenge for his mother's murder. Since neither the duke, nor his heir, seems to care about anything but the family name, Devlin decides that scandal and public humiliation would be best. To do this Devlin kidnaps the bride and leaves a note informing Edward that he has been jilted. Devlin only intends to keep Lilly hidden a few days and to return Lilly to her family, unsullied. He never stops to think about Lilly's ruin, even though she is still chaste. To make matters worse, the resurgence of the Brotherhood has begun and a few low class ladies have already disappeared. Devlin had a hand to stopping the Brotherhood before, along with Andrew, Lilly's brother-in-law. Now Devlin must return Lilly, somehow make things right for her, accept that he has probably lost a close friend in Andrew, and help stop the Brotherhood all over again. Can Devlin forfeit his desire for vengeance in order to achieve his desire for Lilly?
***** Author Gail Ranstrom has quickly become one of my favorite Regency authors to date! After you read this story, or Lord Libertine, you will understand why. It is no wonder to me that the author is getting more and more fans. Ranstrom knows drama and she knows it well. Readers are kept enthralled not only the drama between the main characters, but also with sub-plots. The story never slows down in the middle and the secondary characters (gypsies are but a few) are fascinating. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Gail Ranstrom
Title - Lord Libertine (Regency)
Set in London, 1821. When her sister, Cora, is dying before her, Isabella "Bella" O'Rourke vows to find the killer and bring him to justice. The only thing Cora can tell Bella is that the man is a gentleman of the Ton, dark haired, licks his lips after every kiss, and his kisses taste bitter. Bella has no delusions about Cora's murderer. Cora had been bled from the wrists, partly skinned, her private parts mutilated, and had a wyvern dragon drawn (in her own blood) on her belly. Whoever this madman is, he is able to hide his dark soul beneath a handsome face and great charm.
Since the Home Office has no leads and stopped investigating, Bella can think of no way to locate her sister's killer except to kiss every dark haired gentleman she can during the Season and watch to see if he licks his lips or tastes bitter. Bella has no doubts that the hunt will destroy her reputation; however, she needs to protect her identity as much as possible so that her vigilante justice does not ruin her two remaining sisters chances of making a good match. The men have begun calling her Lady Lace. One dark haired and charming gentleman, Andrew Hunter, is fast becoming a problem. Bella finds herself attracted to him, but she cannot get him to give her a kiss. Yet she must find a way to make sure he is not the man she seeks. At the same time, the gentleman keeps scaring off the other gentleman she is trying to test.
Andrew "Drew" Hunter is known as Lord Libertine. After witnessing horrors during his time in the war (not to mention the horrible acts he had to commit to others), Drew is doing every wild thing he can imagine to keep himself from remembering. Drew has become numb and not even his wild nights are interesting any more. But then his former commanding officer and friend, Lord Wycliffe with the Home Office, convinces Drew to help locate a serial killer. Ladies are disappearing, only to turn up dead with ghastly wounds that speak of cult rituals. Lord Wycliffe had been present when Bella and Cora spoke. Cora had only been the first lady from the upper class to been kidnapped. The facts show that she won't be the last. The number of bodies is now in the double digits and the night of something called the Thirteenth Sabbath draws near. Drew must keep silent on what he knows from everyone, including from the tempting Lady Lace once he knows her secrets. But how can Drew keep the lady he adores from putting herself in danger without revealing Lord Wycliffe's secrets?
***** This may be a romance set during the Regency era of London, but it is overflowing with drama and gripping suspense! The identity of the killer is pretty obvious to the reader, but the author has more than a few twists and surprises in store. You will never grow bored of this excellent story and I highly recommend it to all. *****
Author: Victoria Rosendahl
Title - Bitter Tastes (Teen Mystery)
Moving to a new town and trying to fit into a different school is frightening and something Kathy does not want, but she has little choice. For one thing, she has an oddly formed hand that makes life difficult for her on a practical and emotional level each and marks her has different or weird to others. Yet, one girl, Martha, looks past it to befriend her. Such considerations take a backseat to murder when a woman who was kind to Kathy is murdered and the two girls begin trying to find out what really happened, no matter what the danger, for as they uncover secrets, the peril the young sleuths face increases.
**** While the story retains an innocence that is appealing, it still addresses very mature subjects and does not talk down to its target audience. If your pre-teen has read every Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, and so on and is looking for something new, they will not go wrong in picking this up. Even if they have not, they need to read this. ****
Author: Claudia Gray
Title - Evernight (Teen paranormal)
Bianca Oliver is not overly thrilled to be a new student at Evernight Academy, for one thing, her parents are on staff there and being the child of two teachers does not make life a bit simpler. Plus, she is not a part of the established cliques and feels like an outsider. It does make life a little more pleasant that not one, but two wonderful seeming guys are interested in her. Though Balthazar is handsome and easy to talk to, it's Lucas who wins her heart, but he's setting her up for a Romeo and Juliet situation. You see, Bianca, like many of the staff and students, is a vampire, but Lucas is not. Will she endanger everyone's secrets to pursue forbidden love?
***** This is a compelling story that melds coming of age, romance, urban fantasy, and more into a fast paced plot that draws you in, slowly at first, but when things pick up, so fast you cannot look away. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys vampire romance; it's even better than Twilight. *****
Author: Meg Cabot
Title - Allie Finkel's Rules for Girls: Moving Day (Teen)
Having rules in your life is a good thing, in fact, that could be a rule. Making rules as she goes through life is Allie Finkel's hobby. Her life until now has been a good one, but then, her parents decide to move across town, meaning, she will have to leave her school, her friends, her rock collection, everything important to her behind. What's more, they are moving into a haunted house and there might be a zombie hand that will strangle her whole family while they sleep there already. Allie has to put a stop to this whole plan, but there's a kink in that notion. Her parents have promised her a kitty of her very own if she's good about things and that could be worth risking a zombie hand. Besides, life has become somewhat uncomfortable for Allie at school since her former best friends have turned on her because her moving away ruined a birthday and Allie now sees them for the vain, shallow braggarts they are. Still, aren't bad best friends better than none?
*** Allie is a cute, witty heroine whose strong voice and quirky rules will make you laugh. Though not as sophisticated as her Princess or Mediator series, this is a great read for any Meg Cabot fan, especially the youngest of them. ***
Author: Barbara Metzger
Title - The Scandalous Life of a True Lady (Regency)
Harry Harmon's family line is able to detect lies. Daniel gets rashes when he hears or speaks lies. Rex sees colors. The earl heard notes of discord. As for Harry, the illegitimate son, he can taste an untruth, and they taste awful. The government considers them to be national treasures because their abilities allow them to ferret out information.
Harry is getting ready to retire from all his aliases and live out the remainder of his life in peace. But his alternate identity as the spymaster, Major Harrison, has many enemies. So while someone disguised as Major Harrison is in London appearing to die, Harry Harmon will be attending a gathering in the country to complete his last job. Harry is to spy on the people at the country house party hosted by Lord Gorham and his mistress, Claire. At least one of the guests is a traitor. Each gentleman is bringing his courtesan to compete in several categories. This means Harry requires a female who can pass as a courtesan, be loyal, and able to understand multiple languages. Above all, she must be honest. Enter Simone.
Simone Ryland has no guardian, dowry, or references. She also has a younger brother away at school and her money has run out. With no other recourse, Simone goes to Mrs. Burton's bawdy house in search of work. After a short interview, the madam sends Simone off with Harry. Unknown to Simone, she is about to claim her first alias character and perhaps find a bit of love along the way.
**** This type of Regency is best for those who enjoy danger, mystery, and intrigue in their stories. If you are looking for a typical Regency Romance about a couple getting together and possible scandals, then you will not enjoy this type of Regency Historical Romance. I have not read many novels by this author, Barbara Metzger, but if I go by the ones that I have picked up thus far, I must say that Metzger's cup of imagination seems to overflow. Stellar! ****
Author: Hetty St. James
Title - Bertie's Golden Treasure (Regency)
Set in England. In the year 1812, Lady Zenobia "Bertie" Hadleigh is a the impressible age of sixteen. She has a twin sister named Abyssinia "Bessie". Even though they are twins, they are dissimilar in looks and interests. One of their brothers is named Tyler. Tyler has a close friend named Sean Brett. The group talks Bertie into accompanying them to a circus. Bertie has no interest in exotic animals, gypsies, or anything else the circus offers, yet Bertie agrees to go simply to be near Sean, who she has had a crush on for quite some time now. A fortune teller predicts for Bessie a silver treasure and for Bertie a golden one. All is normal until the other three in Bertie's group decides to play a harmless prank on her. However, the prank goes horribly wrong and since Sean played the biggest part, Bertie's humiliation is complete. After such devastation, Bertie wants nothing more to do with Sean.
Nicholas "Nick" Hadleigh may be the oldest brother of Bertie, Bessie, and Tyler, but he is also the Earl of Woode and head of household. Nick is wed to Joan, who said during their engagement that she would be thrilled to sponsor the sisters in London when they reach of age. In reality, she wanted nothing to do with Nick's siblings and had them moved into the Dower House once they were wed; so Nick's siblings resided there for years being practically raised by their aunts. After the circus fiasco, Nick decides to take a little more interest in the lives of his brother and sisters. Five years pass.
Bertie is not twenty-one-years-old and Joan has run out of excuses to delay presenting Nick's sisters to society. Bessie has no interest in having a season in London and stays home, but Bertie is excited. Aunt Kate ends up sponsoring Bertie with Joan only assisting. After several horrible instances in London, Bertie quits London and goes home. Bertie has not been away long, but she finds that things there have changed. Though Bertie now only wishes to be left alone to enjoy the solitude of spinsterhood, the new Duke of Kilnarne shows up to make her his duchess. Nick, still in London, has already given his blessings to the match and the Duke of Kilnarne will not take no for an answer.
***** I found this story to be a wonderful delight. Drama abounds from the beginning to the ending. Fans of the more traditional style of Regency Romances will especially enjoy this tale of a prior era. Humorous, touching, and true to the Regency period, this is a book not to be missed! *****
Author: Brad Strickland
Title - The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer (Teen)
Imagine Encyclopedia Brown or the Bobbsey Twins being melded with Harry Potter or the Worst Witch. If you can conceive of that, then you have an idea of what the John Bellairs Mysteries are like. In this, a young wizard and his family live among mortals, but still have their own society. When it appears that a beloved uncle has fallen prey to a curse, it is up to John to solve the mystery and save his uncle and possibly himself from certain doom.
*** With great charm, no pun intended, this book breezes along and will surely captivate younger readers. Freshness and innocence balance out darker moments and natural humor flows from the notion of a boy using magic. ***
Author: Mari Mancusi
Title - Gamer Girl (Teen)
When Maddy Starr's parents split, her life changed - and not for the better, as far as she can tell. Maddy must leave her private school and all her friends to move in with her grandmother. Farmingdale, New Hampshire, is not across the country, but for Maddy it may as well be. On Maddy's first day at Hannah Dustin High, her grandmother makes her wear horrid clothes, escorts her to the main office, and even manages to totally embarrass and humiliate the most popular boy in school. Of course, this means Billy Henderson becomes an enemy before Maddy even speaks to him. His friends are there when it happens too. Maddy is given the nickname Freak Girl and becomes their favorite person to harass. Therefore, no one in the school will become friends with Maddy or help her with the Haters. (That is the nickname Maddy gives the popular kids.)
When Maddy gets Fields of Fantasy "FoF" for her birthday from her father, she is thrilled. Maddy quickly installs the PC game and begins playing. Maddy's character is an Elfin Princess named Allora. While online, Maddy sheds the role of an outcast and becomes a beautiful magician with powers to take down her enemies with a snap of her fingers and a wave of her wand/staff. Maddy's dad is in the game often too, but seldom has time to play with her. That is okay, because Allora meets SirLeo, a tank, who helps her learn the game and teaches her to role play. They even find a little online romance.
Maddy uses her virtual life to begin creating a manga graphic novel in her real life. With a bit of help from a cool teacher, Maddy even begins a manga club. Perhaps her virtual life and her new hobbies in real life can help Maddy gain some friends, as well as find ways to kick back at the Haters.
***** Being a gamer girl myself, I was instantly enthralled with Maddy and her virtual self. I saw many similarities to a popular MMORPG game (which I play) titled World of Warcraft "WoW". (I wonder if that is the game the author, Mari Mancusi, loosely based FoF on.)
Maddy is a character that any teen can relate to. But if you enjoy video games (online or off / PC or console), graphic novels, or manga (Japanese style of drawing) you just may find yourself reading at lightning speed. I read the entire story in a single afternoon. Mari Mancusi writes stories that are UNPUTDOWNABLE! *****
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Title - The Summoning (Teen Vampire)
When Chloe's ability to see ghosts draws unwelcome attention, she is deemed to be an at risk adolescent and sent to a group home where she can "be helped." Among the troubled youths there, she makes some instant enemies, but also, some very close friends, some of whom will prove to be vitally important in the days to come. Despite the purported high success rate of Lyle House, not every patient makes it out alive. Moreover, Chloe is not the only teen there who is not really troubled, just has powers. Two boys, Simon and Derek, introduce her to the idea of Supernaturals, beings like her who have something extra, whether it is spellcraft, necromancy, or other powers. Because of this, Lyle House is a very dangerous place for them, for something has been going on there for decades, something that threatens to destroy any Supernatural who walks through its doors. Chloe's admission there might not be a coincidence after all.
***** If you thought Kelley Armstrong to be an awesome writer going on her Women of the Otherworld series, then double your estimation by at least two when you read this. I still love her adult writing, but this really blows you away. Chloe's story is a compelling read that will keep you riveted right from the start, and grow more addictive as you turn the pages. I can hardly wait to see more. *****
Author: Jennifer Anne Kogler
Title - The Otherworldlies (Book One / Teen)
Fern McAllister and her twin brother, Sam, could not be more different. She has dark hair, he has blonde. He has lots of friends, she has not a single person to call her friend. But that is okay. Fern has always known she is different from everyone else. For example, Fern can talk to her dog and predict the weather. Recently Fern has had to start wearing sunglasses as she and Sam walk to their school, St. Gregory's. Sunlight has begun to hurt her eyes and skin. While sitting in class one day, Fern disappears into thin air and finds herself on the beach at Pirate's Cove. This is the beginning of the end for Fern's "normal" world.
Fern has another older brother, Eddie, and a single mother, Mary Lou. Her mom is fair, but tough. Often the siblings call their mother "The Commander", behind her back of course. It does not take long for her family to believe Fern and Sam about her newest powers. Other than teleportation, which gives her a huge headache, Fern's hearing has become extremely sharp. But even Fern has no idea about some other unique abilities she has developed. Fern is surprised when Lindsey Lin, a very popular student who is also the Student Body President for the middle grades, suddenly becomes her best friend. Lindsey has a secret life too and recognizes the changes happening to Fern. But Lindsey is not sure if Fern is a Rollin (good) or a Blout (bad).
Secret organizations come forth and explain that Fern has been under surveillance her entire life. They claim that they have only Fern's best interests at heart, but do they really? They claim that the leader of the Blouts, Vlad, is hunting Fern so he can kill her, but is Vlad really bad? It is ultimately up to Fern and Sam to figure it all out.
**** I cannot tell any more without major spoilers and I refuse to do that. This looks to be the first of a series about eleven special kids with supernatural powers. There is a whole secret race with powers living among the normal humans, but these eleven have more, according to a prophesy. I loved every minute reading this book and can hardly wait for the second in the series. Will it continue with Fern, have totally new characters, or introduce new characters along with Fern? We will have to wait and see. BRAVA! ****
Author: Nancy Springer
Title - The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (YA mystery)
For several months now, Enola Holmes, younger sister to the brilliant detective Sherlock and the equally clever Mycroft, has been on the lam from her siblings, trying to find her mother and also, doing what she can to help the poor and solve mysteries. Her latest case results from the covert plea of a young woman seeking her aid in preventing a forced marriage. Though she is not sure where her client is being held, Enola is determined to help her avoid a fate worse than death. However, she has to avoid a fate that, while not as unpleasant, would chafe her. In other words, keep her brothers, whose help she will need, from catching her and ending her freedom.
**** Reading this made me want to find the other books in the series and read Sherlock himself for the first time. This is an intelligent, fast paced, well written series that will charm and intrigue you. Though the mystery is not a brain teaser, really, it is attention grabbing and well paced. Especially worth mentioning is the excellent characterization that makes you care about what happens to the people involved. I recommend this to not only young readers, but to any Holmes fan. ****
Author: Peggy Kehret
Title - Stolen Children (YA)
Amy's life has been on a downward swing. Not only is she being inept, but her dad is killed shortly after she utters hateful words to him. Then, both she and the small girl she is sitting for are kidnapped by two armed men. For nearly the next week, Amy finds herself struggling desperately to keep the toddler calm and keep them both from being harmed, or even killed as two desperate, greedy men try to get money in exchange for their safe return. Since Amy has seen enough to identify them and she is not especially valuable, whether or not she'll see home again is iffy at best.
**** Even though this is a young adult novel, it's an edge of the seat thriller. Amy is a highly empathetic character with whom anyone who has had a horrible time of it can identify with immediately, You are drawn into the story from the start and no matter what your age, you will be rapidly turning pages to get to the end. ****
Author: Michael Grant
Title - Gone (Teen)
Following the abrupt disappearance of thousands of people, teen-agers and young children find themselves in a world where nothing makes sense. A group of them embark on a quest beyond mere survival, but one that seeks answers about what has happened. When they find the truth, the answers will not be pleasant or pretty and will shed light on one boy's family that reveals things he needed to know. Yet, that discovery shows that the song had it right, the truth hurts like Hell.
*** Superficially, there is something that will remind you of the Left Behind series; however, this is hardly the Rapture. Monsters, both human and otherwise, abound. This is a highly imaginative, yet harsh book. I'd advise only older teens with a level of maturity read it. That said, it is very well written and the author displays good use of imagery and symbolism. ***
Author: Donna MacMeans
Title - The Trouble with Moonlight (Regency)
To support her sisters and aunt, Lusinda "Sinda" Havershaw slips through the London nights to recover lost or stolen items for a fee. Sinda's family is one of the rare Nevidimi. Upon becoming a woman, many of them gain special talents. Sinda considers her talent to be a curse. Sinda soaks up moonlight and becomes invisible. Yet clothing does not turn invisible. This is why her recovery business must be done without any clothes. If the moon is not full, Sinda must take time to soak up moonlight in order to phase into invisibility. Whenever talk begins about ghosts and spirits, the Havershaw family moves away to avoid discovery.
British spy James Locke is in the middle of cracking open a safe when he hears footsteps approaching. He hides and ends up astonished when he witnesses a ruby necklace steal out of the safe without any help. As the ruby necklace retreats, James follows. Now knowing Sinda's ability, he enlists her reluctant services to help him locate and retrieve a list containing the name of British agents.
Lusinda wants nothing to do with espionage, but to protect her family and earn more money to help them through the winter months she agrees. As James teaches Sinda lock picking, safecracking, and other tools of the trade, the two begin to find their close proximity to be very distracting. But can Sinda trust James to keep her secrets? Can James allow someone to become close to him and risk them being used against him sometime in the future?
***** Though this story focuses on Lusinda, her sister, Portia, begins to show some talents too by the ending. I hope Portia (and perhaps Rhea) will get a story someday. That in no way means the sisters' will have the same ability though. The author makes it clear that chances are Portia's talent will be very different and even more fascinating. I cannot say more without spoilers, so I will stop now. This story's plot is mainly on retrieving the list of agents before it can reach the Russians. There are no real sub-plots, but there are some slight arrangements for possible future stories about some secondary characters. As with most great stories, this one begins in the middle of something exciting. In this case, it is James seeing the ruby necklace being taken by the invisible Sinda. The story does not slow down in the middle of the book, which is a delightful surprise for readers. All-in-all, this is an exciting trip into the dark alleys of treason. I look forward to the author's next book! *****
Author: Joanna Bourne
Title - My Lord and Spymaster (Regency)
Jessamyn "Jess" Whitby had once been a poor but cunning pickpocket. Due to her head for accounting though, she and her papa no longer have money troubles. Jess's main problem now is that her papa has been arrested, and due to hang, for treason. He is accused of being the murderer and traitor known as Cinq. Cinq has helped himself to secrets from the War Office and the Admiralty. Jess believes Cinq is really Sebastian Kennett. To prove this, Jess plays a damsel in distress and while clutching Sebastian she needs only lift the stolen papers from his person. Unfortunately for her, she has been marked for kidnapping and her would-be abductors move in during her play of damsel.
Sebastian knows a skilled pickpocket when he feels himself being searched by one. However, he is enticed by the enchanting lady doing the act of helpless female. The act quickly becomes reality. After rescuing Jess with the aid of his good friend Adrian (Head of Section for the British Intelligence Service), Sebastian learns that she is the daughter of the man he believes to be Cinq. Worse, according to Adrian the Service is using Jess to locate the real Cinq. Sebastian, well skilled with knives, intends to protect Jess to his last breath and eventually make her his.
***** Author Joanna Bourne has a new fan in me! All the characters are well developed with their own personality and set of quirks. But the author goes even further by giving them special touches, such as Jess having a ferret that dislikes Sebastian. The plot does not have any loop holes which I can find. It is very solid and kept me guessing. Secondary characters, such as those in Sebastian's home, are charming and add even more to the atmosphere. One or sub-plots keep things moving right along; I never found myself growing bored. No one writes Regency Romance as gracefully as Joanna Bourne! *****
Author: Ted Bell
Title - Nick of Time (YA Time Travel)
Finding a time travel device while seeking shelter from a storm proves to be the turning point of young Nick's life. Soon, he and his sister become the focus of a pirate from anther time's malicious acts and he is forced to journey back into the past in order to save those he cares about as well as the future itself, as his ancestors are being menaced as well. The present age has no shortage of evil either, something his younger sister will have to face. World War II is going on and her family is actively engaged in helping Winston Churchill keep the Nazis at bay. Together with an adult friend, young Katie will have to fight this contemporize evil while her brother fights pirates with their great grandfather several times over hundreds of years ago.
**** With complementary dual storylines that are well balanced, Mr. Bell has created a modern Tom Swift/Tom Sawyer like novel that will evoke fantastic dreams in his young readers. Suspense and adventure keep the pages turning, and though the language is geared to younger readers, it is not so simplistic as to repel older ones. This is a plot driven novel, with less characterization than I prefer, however, it is an exciting read, nonetheless, one sure to appeal to today's youth. ****
Author: Chuck Black
Title - Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione (YA)
As one of the knights who serve the Prince, Sir Kendrick accepts the mission to discover and stop the evil Lord Ra's plans, heading fearlessly into the dangers ahead. It seems that many young people in particular are being lost after partaking of the pleasures Lord Ra offers, and it is not on a mere physical level they are being harmed. Sir Kendrick finds himself in a war for the souls of the innocent.
*** I strongly suspect if I had read other books in the series that my enjoyment of this current one would have been enhanced, though it does stand alone fairly well. The allegory is strong, but does not beat you over the head. If you have a young person in your life who enjoys King Arthur, Robin Hood, etcetera, then this is a fine, Christian addition to their library that will not cause any parental concern about what they are exposing their children to, no matter how young. ***
Author: Anne Osterlund
Title - Aurelia (YA)
Aurelia is the crown princess of Tyralt. Everyone loves her. The people of Tyralt would rather see Aurelia on the throne than the king, her father. Her father is not a cruel ruler, but he thinks of no one besides himself. If that means more taxes to finance his parties, so be it. So if everyone loves Aurelia, who is trying to kill her?
Robert Vantauge's father had been the king's spy until they left the kingdom for a new life on the remote frontier. The king's current advisor wrote and begged the spy to return and help find the assassin. When Robert heard his father refusing to go, he goes in his father's place. Aurelia had been his friend as he grew up. He still cares very deeply for the princess and sets off to save her.
By order of the king, no one is to tell Princess Aurelia that someone is trying to kill her. She is to remain unaware. So Robert cannot tell Aurelia what is going on. But Aurelia refuses to be held back. She always has. She knows every escape route from the palace and its grounds. She knows every nook and cranny of the kingdom (the bad areas, as well as the good). And she knows something is going on, concerning her, and no one will tell her - not even the one she trusts above all others, Robert.
**** Personally, I enjoyed every page of this wonderful story until the ending. It will be up to each reader to decide whether the ending is satisfactory or not. To each her own. The plot is solid and engrossing. The characters are engaging. The clues to solve the mystery, before those in the book do, are all there. Though teens are the target audience for this book, adults will enjoy it just as much. Down right intriguing! ****
Author: Julie Harford
Title - If You Could Only Choose Your Mother (YA)
Five years ago, Marcie's mother walked out, and in the intervening years, her dad has dated some. The latest one is Eva, a rather maternal type who is actually older than he is, but all her good qualities only make Marcie resent her more; not that she wants her mother back, she just doesn't want another woman there either. Nor is she thrilled when her absentee parent demands that she and her brother come spend the summer in New York and to her wedding. Her attempts to cope with that only lead to arguments and humiliating incidents. Her best friend getting into trouble only adds to the tension, but then, something good happens and Marcie finally discovers what might be true love. With things looking up, Marcie is actually happy, until tragedy strikes and she is forced to face one of the scariest things that can happen to a teen, or to an adult for that matter. In the crisis though, she learns many very important things.
***** I have often advised adult readers to partake of young adult books, and this is no exception. Though darker than you might expect a teen book to be, the realism of it is never crass or overly depressing. Furthermore, the bleak moments make the light shine through all the more clearly when it comes. Marcie's is a powerful story, one that will get into your heart. Having watched my own dad suffer ill health, I have to say, those scenes almost hit too close to home, and made me wish I could hug the characters involved. *****
Author: Mary Janice Davidson, Anthony Alongi
Title - Jennifer Scales & the Messenger of Light (YA)
For a year now, Jennifer Scales has known she is half were-dragon half beaststalker. Somehow, mortal enemies found love to produce her. Magical being or not, she's still a teenager with all the angst and problems of high school, combined with those inherent in her nature, like having no choice but to turn into a dragon once a month and having people try to kill her. Now, the ante is upped when she finds that someone is out to kill everyone near and dear to her father and she has a long lost sibling who is not at all friendly.
*** Magic and mystery combine in this charming adventure that is written so well adults can enjoy it as well as kids. Imagine Trixie Belden as a lycanthrope and you will have some idea of what to expect. The authors have created a wonderful world for our minds to play in, so have fun. ***
Author: Mary Janice Davidson, Anthony Alongi
Title - Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace (YA)
As Jennifer makes the transition from child to adult, her body begins to change. Yes, that is normal, but her changes are not normal at all. For one thing, she virtually flies while playing soccer, her eyes glow silver, and she's growing wings. As it so happens, she is a were-dragon, something she was not aware of until the change made itself felt. Now, she's either a freak or people think she's dying. Though unhappy about this biological fact, Jennifer has no time for resentments to fester; she needs to cope with all that is happening, learn what it means to be a dragon, and avoid those who want to kill her kind on general principles.
**** If you are used to thinking of Mary Janice Davidson and hot sex in the same mental breath, think again. Her versatility as a writer is clear in this short, but sweet collaboration that speaks with the voice as if it was penned by one author. A refreshing sweetness is combined with wry humor as we are introduced to this world. It is plain to see why adults as well as teens are charmed. ****
Author: Terry Spear
Title - Vampire In My Dreams (Teen)
Ironically, it is when Marissa is hunting vampires that she meets her soul mate, who happens to be almost a vampire. Dominic has one shot at escaping a dark destiny, and the moment he sees Marissa, he knows she is the key to his return to being a normal human. Fortunately or unfortunately, Marissa is not a plain vanilla human; she's a witch, so he can't compel her cooperation, he has to win it. As soon as she truly comprehends what danger he is in and begins to love him, Marissa can't do otherwise, though, even if she is ticked about a slip up that could doom her as well. With time running out, the young couple has to defeat the dangerous female who sired Dominic or lose their souls forever.
**** Anyone who loves vampire stories should get this, regardless of their age. The legends are updated and reinvented with a fresh spin that holds your interest from the outset. There is just enough angst and tension to give this book an edge, yet light moments keep it from being dark or grim in any way. This is a world I'd gladly revisit. Ms. Spears' characters are believable, even with their gifts and powers, making them easy to care about. ****
Author: Peter David
Title - Tigerheart (Teen Fantasy)
Paul grew up with stories of pirates, fairies, and The Boy (aka, Peter Pan), but when he began to realize that perhaps, just maybe he was in fact, The Boy, his world changed. Pixies began to visit him and he started regularly visiting the land where Pan ruled. Yet, things are not what J.M. Barrie, much less Disney, made it out to be. He finds a world darker than his dreams, where he needs courage, and he finds he is not sure he wants to be The Boy.
**** If I had to pick only one word, I'd review this with the word unusual. Mr. David mirrors the linguistic style of Barrie and of Frank Baum, both writing intelligently and keeping it simple enough for young readers to comprehend at least the superficial meanings. Though there are parts that are unclear, this seems to be the author's intention, so I will not quibble. There is a psychological profundity like unto Alice or to the classic movie, Labyrinth, which may be explored or not, but you can enjoy the story without pondering it. ****
Author: Rochelle Mead
Title - Frostbite (Teen Paranormal)
As the world is enfolded in winter, Rose continues her training to make her an able bodyguard for the Moroi princess, Lissi, while fighting, with scant success, her overwhelming attraction to her mentor, Dimitri, and attempting to pass her classes. The Strigoi have become a greater threat, more openly and boldly attacking those vampires who have not turned to evil, making it more imperative for Rose and other dhampirs to be alert and ready to fight to the death. Distractions should be kept to a minimum, for everyone's sakes. However, between her mother's visit, school, the mental tie that has her inside her best friend/charge's mind at the most embarrassing of times, and the requited, but impossible love for Dimitri, as well as being in two potential triangles, Rose has plenty of distractions. That could cost her dearly.
*** Though not for the youngest of the young adult set, due to its realism and frankness, this is a compelling saga that will capture the imaginations of readers of any age old enough to appreciate the complexity of it. In Rose we have a heroine who is both uncertain and edgy, making for a multi-layered being through whose eyes we discover her world. Ms. Mead's world building skills are truly adept, and readers will want to follow her into the adult books she writes. ***
Author: Victoria Laurie
Title - Demons Are a Ghoul's Best Friend (Ghost Hunter #2, Teen)
When her niece's school becomes the focus of demonic attacks, M.J. and her fellow Ghost hunters make the journey to it, believing, wrongly, that it will be a simple matter of laying a troubled soul to rest. They were wrong. The ghost is an evil spirit, and one that will not be busted lightly. Coupled with the fight for respect from those who believe her to be nuts, M.J. has a true challenge on her hands.
*** I strongly advise new readers to get the first book in the series, What's a Ghoul to Do?, because I kept feeling like I was missing some background information I needed, having not read that book. However, beyond this issue, it's a fun read for those who enjoy ghost stories and promises to continue to be such as the series progresses. ***
Author: Kathryn Caskie
Title - How to Propose to a Prince (Long Regency)
Elizabeth is the youngest of the notorious Royle sisters. It is whispered that they are the daughters of the Prince of Wales, secreted away and raised by the personal physician. Whether true or not, the sisters are close to each other, as well as to the man who raised them. Elizabeth is the sister who has "the sight". Her dreams always come true. The only real problem is that they are only HALF true. No one is ever sure which part is correct and which part is not.
As the story opens, Elizabeth is telling her sister that she dreamed about her future husband. Elizabeth is positive he will be a prince and clearly recalls his features. Very shortly thereafter, they see the man while out shopping. They follow him into a store and hear the clerk call him "Your Highness". The man sternly informs them all that he is Sumner Lansdowne, Marquess of Whitevale, and NOT the prince. After he is gone, the clerk tells them that he saw the prince as he entered town. No one knows why the man will not admit that he is the prince.
Prince Leopold has secretly come to London to seek the hand of the Prince Regent's daughter, Charlotte. Word is that she is most amenable to his suit. Sumner Lansdowne is the cousin to Prince Leopold. From a distance, they look identical. Closely though, one may tell the difference, especially in their heights. To protect Leopold, Sumner poises as the prince at the Ton balls. There, he is reacquainted with Elizabeth. But someone in the area wants Prince Leopold dead. Sumner and Elizabeth soon find themselves with targets on their backs.
**** Mystery, intrigue, romance, or adventure, no matter what your tastes are you will find them satisfied in this story set within the Regency era of London. Since Elizabeth's dreams are only half right, there are plenty of humorous situations due to interpretation mistakes. This is one to pack in your traveling bag. Whether you go to the beach, the mountain, or simply to your back yard, this romance is the perfect accessory. ****
Author: Meg Cabot
Title - Princess Mia (YA)
Breaking up with the guy you have loved forever, losing your best friend, being completely falsely accused to wrecking her relationship with her boyfriend, and having someone set up a website dedicated to hating you is ample reason to be depressed, right? If you said yes, Princess Mia totally agrees with you; however, when she and her black mood hole up and hide from life, her royal father trundles her to the psychiatrist's office, where she is challenged to do one thing that scares her a day. For Mia, that is anything involving dealing with people. Aside from the aforementioned problems, she finds that Lilly, her former best friend's, former boyfriend, J.P., now wants to be the love of her life, and if she were not still nutty over Michael, he'd be tempting, which is not a good thing. Second, she has to come up with a speech to give some exclusive women's society. Then, she also has her Grandmere who is a problem just by living and breathing, school, the fact that she has begun to fill out, and her mortal enemy now is acting like her best friend. Could life possibly get more complex? Yes, it could, and she will have to get through all of it, while in the process giving her fans a story to celebrate.
**** The Princess is a charming heroine whose problems, even the ones we would never face, feel so real that you can not only sympathize with, but empathize and become deeply involved. Having read Ms. Cabot's work for adults as well as young people, I think I can safely say I'd read a cereal box if she wrote it. Three cheers for all involved. ****
Author: Robert B. Parker
Title - The Boxer and the Spy (YA)
When a shy classmate's body is found, everyone assumes he killed himself; that is, everyone but Toby Novak, who does not believe it. With the help of his best friend, Abby, he begins to probe the death, sure he'll discover a murder. Another source of help and support proves to be his mentor, a retired boxer whose lessons in discipline and strength prove invaluable in the investigation. Delving deeply into the politics of his small town high school leads Toby into trouble and dangers better faced by men far older than he. Yet, despite his youth and inexperience, his quest for truth and justice proves Toby is not a boy, but a young man.
*** Mr. Parker's fans, young and less young alike, should highly enjoy this new venture. In the tradition of Trixie Belden's imperfect, yet intrepid teen sleuth stories, Toby Novak makes a place for himself in his readers' hearts. Though somewhat milder than the author of Spenser's other works, nonetheless, there is a satisfying, emotionally intense quality to the work that makes it clear who wrote this. ***
Author: Melissa Marr
Title - Wicked Lovely (YA)
For nine centuries, Keenan has sought his soul mate, his Summer Queen, yet every mortal girl he thought her to be ran away or, if she dared the test to prove her rightful place, succumbed to a terrible fate. When all hope seems lost and he begins to fear that his mother, the Winter Queen, has won in denying him love and in hanging onto her cursed power, he finds Aislinn, a girl who has obeyed three rules her entire life, rules that warn her away from all Fey folk. Yet, though she wants only to be a normal teen-aged, high school girl and have a plain old boyfriend, she finds herself pursued by the king of the Fairies, and it's becoming harder and harder to run away. Torn between two worlds, two loves, the past, and the future, Aislinn finds herself forced to make a choice that could save or damn them all.
**** This is a book for anyone who enjoys a compelling tale. Elements of Tam Lin, Labyrinth (the David Bowie one, not Pan's), Joan D Vinge's Snow Queen, and classic fairy tales in general (not the Disney versions), are woven into a sweeping, micro-epic that touches the heart and sweeps you into a magnificent world all at once. This seems like only the beginning, but if it is the full story, you will still be satisfied. ****
Author: Jacquelyn Sylvan
Title - Surviving Serendipity (YA)
June's life was nice and normal, ordinary even, until one day she is whisked abruptly away to another planet, one where she is the heir to the throne, and it is her job to defeat the evil that threatens that world. That is only the first surprise. Ahead of her lies heartache, more stunning revelations, confrontations that can alter the fate of a world, many sacrifices, and love. What she always believed is no longer true, but there are many layers to the actual truth, and not all of them pleasant.
**** June's story is one that is intriguing and mature enough to capture an adult's fancy, yet appeal to older teens as well. Earth myths and alien worlds are effectively blended into an easy to read tale that is both familiar and new. ****
Author: Laura Preble
Title - Queen Geeks In Love (YA)
Shelby and her best friend, Becca, are geeks and proud enough of it to form a club that celebrates their status. As a new year begins, they are full of plans, but romance could complicate matters as Shelby tries to adjust to having a guy and two of the other queens fall for the same guy. Meanwhile, they try to put together a show to raise money for charity and for the club and handle the pressures of daily high school life.
*** Girls need not be perfect to be awesome is a fantastic message to send to young women, and the fact that it's done in a fun way is a bonus. I particularly enjoyed Shelby's very cool, absent minded professor-ish dad and her pet robot, Euphoria, who joins the ranks of user friendly, you know you want one of her robots, right along with R2, K-9, and KITT. ***
Author: Jenna Petersen
Title - Seduction is Forever (Regency)
Set in London, 1814. Emily Redgrave, Lady Allington, is a young woman of charm, beauty, intelligence, and grace. She is also a spy for the Crown. Six months ago Emily had been shot. However, Emily believes she is ready to return to the field.
Grant Ashbury, Lord Westfield, knows from experience that anyone he cares for will be in danger while he remains a spy. Seeing his late wife's lifeless eyes had taught him that. But now Grant want to get back into the field. He would gladly accept ANY case for a chance to prove to his superiors that he is ready.
Emily's mission is to protect Grant against the nameless, faceless enemies who seek his destruction. Grant's mission is to defend Emily for the same reason. Neither knew the missions were false. However, while Emily searched for Grant's enemies, she stumbled upon a real case of treason.
**** This story will keep all regency and historical romance fans on their toes! The first half of the book reads like a soothing and romantic Regency and then the author adds a touch of danger and suspense. An excellent way to enjoy a rainy evening. ****
Author: Carol Culver
Title - Manderley Prep (BFF #1, Teen)
Cindy Ellis's father had married Irina Vanderhoffer. Cindy instantly had a stepmother and two stepsisters. But then her father died, leaving Cindy alone in the world. Irina did little for Cindy. They lived in the Bay Area, in California. Cindy had to work in Irina's spa, while the two stepsisters played cheerleader and lusted (and often did much more than lust) at the school's athletes. Cindy wants only to get the best grades possible so she can get into a great college with a full scholarship. Afterward, well, Cindy's first priority is to get as far away from her self-centered and cruel stepsisters and her uncaring stepmother. The East Coast would be an ideal location.
Manderly Prep is the most exclusive high school around. To keep up her grades and point rankings (the new headmaster is ex-military and it shows), Cindy does extra credits. One is to sign up to tutor English to anyone in need. Cindy gets assigned Marco Valenti. He is the new foreign exchange student. Marco is a prince from Italy and Manderly's new team soccer star. Cindy's feelings for Marco catch her off guard, but she keeps a lid on them since she figures there is no way a hot guy like Marco could ever bother to look twice at a girl like her.
Brie and Lauren Vanderhoffer think of Cindy as their own little servant. Cindy always ignores anything they do to her and she does whatever they ask. But when the mean stepsisters start pulling mean jokes on Cindy to keep her away from Marco, Cindy realizes that the time has come for some serious payback.
**** This story may be set in modern day, but it has an awful lot of similarities to the fable named Cinderella. (Cindy with two wicked stepsisters, stepmother, pauper, servant, and even a prince.) However, I still found it to be a wonderful read. Ages teen and up only though, since there is adult material. I am looking forward to the next BFF novel. ****
Author: Lauren Royal
Title: The Art of Temptation(Regency)
In 1817, Sean Delaney has become a profitable businessman. He had taken a small inheritance and, within ten years, has acquired much wealth. The only blight in Sean's life is seeing how miserable his sister, Deidre, is.
Deidre's husband, John Hamilton, treats Deidre worse than dirt, but refuses to grant her the divorce she desires. That is, until now. John's a famous painter and his dying uncle is Samuel Hamilton, the Earl of Lincolnshire. John is Samuel's heir and insists John come stay with him during his final few weeks of life so they may come to know each other. John and his uncle have not seen each other since John's infancy. Of course, John cares nothing for the earl and wants only for the man to die and give over the title, estates, and wealth to him. John does not want to see the old man. John wants to spend those few weeks elsewhere, so he makes a deal with Sean. If Sean pretends to be John and stay with the earl until he passes away, John will grant Deidre the divorce.
Budding artist Lady Corinna Chase has her mind on improving her technique, not marriage. She hopes that one of her canvases will be selected for the annual Summer Exhibition. Corinna is soon one of an elite few who knows Sean is not really John. (After all, a painter cannot possibly be color blind, as Sean is.) Wanting the earl's last days to be happy ones, Corinna is more than happy to help Sean pull off his hoax. But neither Corinna, nor Sean, thought that they would become enamored of each other.
***** Though this story's main focus is on Corinna and Sean, it also delves into a sub-plot romance of Lady Rachael and Griffin (Corinna's brother). Somehow the sections with the secondary couple makes the story more realistic. Life often has more going on than one romance at any given time, correct? Perhaps this is the reason for my interest. Whatever the reason, author Lauren Royal proves that she knows what her readers enjoy. Brava! Encore! *****
Author: Stephanie Meyers
Title: Eclipse (YA Fantasy, Twilight #3)
An approaching graduation from high school is, naturally, a time of changes and angst for anyone. However, for Bella it is at least triply so. For her, graduation means that her life as a mortal will shortly end, not to mention her life as a single, young woman. She and the Cullens have been given a mandate that she must be changed into a vampire sooner rather than later, or she will be killed. However, the love of her life, Edward, has also said he will not change her without marriage. Complicating matters are her lingering feelings for Jake, the werewolf who befriended her and helped her heal when she lost Edward for a time, and her ties to mortality. Then, there is the fact that an angry vampiress wants to avenge the loss of her lover on Bella, something that is causing death and violence to enter the sleepy little town where she lives. The price of love can be very dear.
***** This, like Harry Potter, is a series that transcends adolescence to capture the imagination of adults as well. Bella's pain and the ethical questions she deals with strike a chord and make you truly think as you read, engaging more of your mind than your average beach read demands. There is action and an intriguingly imagined alternate world where preternatural beings walk among ordinary humans, but that is not what truly makes these books special. The emotions, the love, and the profundity of choices made is what makes these books that matter. *****
Author: J.K. Rowling
Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Teen)
The time has come for Harry Potter to meet his destiny and to end the spell of terror that Lord Voldemort has cast over the wizarding world for years. To achieve this end, he must abandon his lightweight, normal for a wizardly teen-aged agenda and set off on a quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes that hold bits of his nemesis' soul. However, the journey is a long one that will be grueling on physical, emotional, and mental levels. Harry will finally learn the truth, perhaps more than he wants to know, but all that he must know in order to make the most difficult decision of all.
***** I have no doubt that this is a somewhat useless review and my fellow Potter addicts will buy the book, if they have not already, regardless. Nonetheless, let me say it is a brilliant read. Though it ended on a somewhat more positive note than the Thomas Covenant series tends to, it left me with that same feeling the conclusion of one of Mr. Donaldson's novels does, a feeling of having seen something profound. All I can say to those who object to the books on Christian grounds is this; I am Christian and you'd have to be blind not to see the overtones of Christianity replete in the pages. Self-sacrifice, love, and redemption are the ties that bind the story together, not magic. There is not as much humor as in the prior novels in the series, but I didn't expect there to be. It is a dark read, a sad one, but a good sort of sadness. I was disappointed in some ways, but no story is perfectly able to please everyone in every aspect. It is a fitting end. *****
Author: Erin Lynn
Title: Demon Envy (Teen Vamp)
Kenzie Sutcliffe is sixteen-years-old. She lives in Ohio and has just begun her junior year in West Shore High School. Her best friend is named Isabella "Iz". She has a fourteen-year-old brother named Brandon and a five-year-old sister named Zoe. Kenzie has a crush on Adam and instinctively dislikes Amber (because she seems to have Barbie's perfect life). All-in-all, Kenzie looks and sounds like a typical teenaged girl. Then while simply trying to apply some prescription acne cream on her face, Kenzie accidentally opens a demon portal in her bath tub!
Levi looks like a normal teenaged boy. (Only Zoe can see his blue wings with green scales.) Levi had been in a demon prison for the last six months because he was not doing enough demonic activity. In other words, Levi was too nice. Demons feed off of other people's envy. So if Levi does not make people envious, jealous, or do any other sin, then he'd starve. Against her better judgement, Kenzie agrees to help Levi escape his servitude permanently; it is something that no demon has ever successfully accomplished before.
**** This teen book has a twist that most would never have expected; a NICE DEMON! (Isn't that an oxymoron?) Yet author Erin Lynn seems to make it work somehow. Humorous, fun, and some dangerous entities make this into a story you will totally enjoy. ****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title: Fatal Charm (The Seer #5, Teen)
Sabine Rose keeps quiet about her psychic abilities. They have already given her more grief than any one person should have to deal with in a life time. Yet these gifts may be what helps Sabine save Nona, her grandmother. Nona is slowly losing her memories. Unless Sabine and Dominic, Nona's young handyman and apprentice, can find the hidden remedy book of an ancestor, Nona will soon slip into a coma. So when Sabine moves back in with Nona in Sheridan Valley, she is ecstatic! All her new friends welcome her back with open arms.
Josh, Sabine's boyfriend, is big on helping kids. He convinces Sabine to sign up as a mentor during a camping trip for disadvantaged kids. It is a three-day weekend event to be held in less than two weeks. But Josh is also acting differently. He now has a three letter tattoo and refuses to discuss what the letters mean.
Josh is not the only one acting or feeling different. Sabine cannot stop herself from dreaming of Dominic or getting excited just by his close presence. Sabine is being pulled between two guys and is unable to decide which she honestly wants. But all that must wait, because Dominic has found the fourth, and last, missing charm. After over one hundred and fifty years, the charms are together again. Agnes, Sabine's ancestor, gave one charm to each of her four daughters long, long ago. Together they give all the clues needed to locate a remedy book Agnes hid. With all four charms in their possession, Sabine and Dominic are in a race against time to find the book and cure Nona.
If all that is not enough to keep Sabine busy, she also learns to astral travel. During one astral travel, Sabine spies on Jade, the half-sister she recently found out about. Dad refuses to tell his current family about Jade and her mother, Crystal. Sworn to secrecy, Sabine cannot help but resent Jade for her very existence. Yet when Sabine witnesses a murder during her astral spying, she immediately calls Dad. The victim looked like Crystal.
***** This is the fifth book of THE SEER series. If you do not read the previous books, you may find yourself a bit lost at times. All the secondary characters from the previous stories are mentioned, though a couple play no real part in this episode. The author ties up all loose strings and answers all the questions her readers have been eager to know. Yet, at the same time, the author COULD continue the series, using a few continuous running sub-plots. Will the story continue or end here? We, the readers, must wait and see. One thing is for sure, this is not one to miss! Fabulous! *****
Author: Richelle Mead
Title: Vampire Academy Teen)
The fact that two young women decide to run away from their exclusive boarding school might not be extraordinary under usual circumstances, but Lissa and Rose are not your average school girls. Lissa is a vampire princess and Rose is her dhampir guardian. When Lissa begins exhibiting powers that have seldom been seen among the good vampires since the time of a vampire saint, and it seems that someone is trying to drive her insane or hurt her, Rose feels that it is her duty to get the princess out of St. Vladmir's. Unfortunately, the adults in charge do not agree and bring them back to school where Rose is placed on under intense probation and finds herself training harder than ever for her role in life. The problems she sought to escape are still there, and might even have multiplied. Who is trustworthy is doubtful and the one person besides Lissa that Rose is sure will never betray her is a man she loves but is off limits.
*** Older teens and adults who want a tamer, but still intense novel will want to add this to their TBR list. Ms. Mead has completely re-envisioned vampire society, making it far more complex than most other authors do, which adds to the fascination. Rose is a very strong heroine, though she has a softer side it takes a while to discover. Her bad girl image does lead to some scenes that younger readers might not be ready for, or that their parents might not be ready for them to read, rather. The only real handicap in this story was the multiple flashbacks that sometimes made it unclear as to when an event was taking place in the timeline. ***
Author: Julie Kenner
Title: The Good Ghouls' Guide to Getting Even
(#1, Teen vampire)
Elizabeth “Beth” Frasier has a totally dysfunctional family. Her mother is a lawyer. Her father is a doctor. You would think having successful, well-to-do parents is a GOOD thing. On the contrary, it means they have ZERO time for her. Before they got divorced six months ago, all Beth’s parents did was fight and their grumpiness was hard to deal with. Now, the parents are still the exact same way. The only difference is that they live in separate places. However, their indifference toward Beth comes in handy on her sixteenth birthday though. (Yes, Beth’s dad forgot all about her Sweet Sixteenth birthday! As for Beth’s mom, she simply had her secretary order a gift certificate to a book store and then ending up giving it to Beth a day late!) But this means that neither parent even noticed that Beth never came home that night … or that Beth had become a vampire!
Beth has a major crush on Stephen Wills, the high school’s star football player. So Beth is thrilled when Stephen suddenly seems to take interest in her. Beth never expects Stephen to kill her or turn her into a vampire! But Stephen has a task that only Beth can do. After all, Beth is smart! She’s valedictorian. But all Beth wants is revenge against Stephen and the “popular girls” who lured her into Stephen’s clutches.
Beth’s best friend, Jenny, is on her side. So is Clayton, after he failed to stake her. According to Clayton, Beth can get her life back if she kills her “Creator” (A.K.A. her Master). Problem is that a vampire cant’ stake their Master. And once Beth drinks from a living person, she ‘s doomed for eternity. Should that happen, Clayton and his grandpa would be gunning for her again. Worse, college aged vampire hunters are in the immediate area. What’s an undead girl supposed to do?
***** I have not had this much fun with a teen book in a looong time! Beth is not only smart, but she is witty and filled with sass! Her friends are the same, but Beth just has it all in spades! The story is so great that I did not want it to end. So I am thrilled to find that there will be a second novel in this series. Don’t worry, this book will NOT leave you hanging. It is fun watching Beth and her friends get even with Stephen and the cheerleaders, as well as, against the various other popular kids who got her turned into a vampire. But the author, Julie Kenner, is a Master at story telling! Again, the ending does not leave you hanging, but it does set up a problem that will obviously have to be handled in a part two. “Buffy” and “Firefly”, move over! There is a new show in town. STELLAR! *****
Author: Julie Kenner
Title: Good Ghouls Do (#2, Teen Vampire)
Elizabeth "Beth" Frasier is the current valedictorian of Waterloo High School in Austin, Texas. She has a great boyfriend, Clayton Greene, a loyal best friend, Jenny, and an odd acquaintance with a cute college guy named Kevin. The down side is that Beth was tricked (earlier in the year) into becoming a vampire. Then she had to save Clayton from dying by changing him into a vampire as well. Kevin is a vampire hunter. The only reason Kevin has not staked them both is because they have yet to drink the blood of a LIVING person. Until such time, Beth and Clayton may still have a chance to become human again. To do so, they must figure out WHO Beth's maker/master is and then have the vampire staked.
Jenny is using her journalism skills to investigate students, teachers, and anyone else from the school in hope that the list of possibilities (suspects) can be narrowed down. Once trimmed to a decent size the hard part will begin. Jenny, Beth, Clayton, and Kevin must test the rest with holy water.
Of course there are major hurdles in the way. Someone, or a group of people, are trying to stake Beth into dust. Beth has just dodged an arrow from a crossbow when she overhears Clayton talking on the phone. And it definitely sounds like Clayton has hired someone to assassinate Beth so he can become human again. After all, Beth is Clayton's maker. Taking advantage of the romantic strain, Kevin is trying to win Beth's love and doing a very good job of it. There is also the fact that Beth stopped trying to figure out the day-walking formula for the higher up vampires of the school and it looks like they will have to force Beth to begin work on the formula anew. Lastly, there is another vampire clan in town; the Traditionalists. They do not want the day-walking formula to be found. If that means getting rid of Beth and anyone else in their way, then so be it.
***** If you missed the first book (The Good Ghoul's Guide To Getting Even) then run, don't walk, to the nearest book store and buy a copy! No, you do not HAVE to read the first book in order to enjoy this novel, but things will make a bit more sense to you if you do. Beth is smart, highly self-motivated, and very witty. Okay, sarcasm comes naturally to her, but that just makes her more realistic to readers, right? I am also very excited, because it LOOKS like there will be a third story to this undead adventure. Yippee! I can hardly wait! Author Julie Kenner will win awards with this new series. Out-freaking-standing! *****
Author: R.R. Smythe
Title: Into the Woods (YA Fantasy)
Set in Sureau, Scotland. The year is 1860. Seventeen-year-old Callum McClure lives with his mother and grandfather. They tend to Sureau's lighthouse. Callum goes to the Alexander School for the Gifted, via a scholarship. To keep the privilege of going to the school, Callum must keep his grades up.
Callum and his closest schoolmates are finding it extremely difficult to concentrate on studying this year though. Many villagers have fallen into a mysterious sleep. Trees and roots have grown, almost before their very eyes. It is as if the trees were weaving a root sarcophagus for each, individual sleeper. Even stranger, a message is emblazoned on the closet door of each sleeper's room: Stand. See. Remember. Choose.
Callum and his schoolmates must figure out what the four words mean quickly, or their parents will never awaken from their comas.
**** This Young Adult Fantasy will send chills down your spine. I, as the reader, followed Callum and witnessed everything he and his friends went through as they attempted to decipher the messages. At the same time, I watched Callum's mother, Ellsbeth, as she walked through the Netherwood. Each time Callum deciphered one of the four messages, some villagers awakened. Through the eyes of Ellsbeth, I saw the other sleepers wander, make mistakes, and be released from the Netherwood, leaving Ellsbeth alone. There is one thread left dangling, but do not fret. This IS a stand alone book. But that thread gives me hope that another book about the Netherwoods may someday come to pass. Excellent reading for any age of fantasy fans! ****
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Title: New Moon (Teen Paranormal)
In order to give Bella a chance at a "normal" life, Edward Cullen, the vampire who loves her, and his family leave town, disappearing as if they had never been there. Immediately, the girl enters a sort of "fugue" state, where she is only half alive and cares about nothing. She play acts at life until she realizes that when she experiences danger, she can "hear" Edward in her mind. Soon, however, Bella does not have to seek danger, it has found her. Another vampire wants her dead to avenge the murder of her lover and Bella's best friend has manifested his werewolf heritage. Though Bella might not care about the risk to herself, she has to deal with the danger or lose all those she loves.
***** This may be targeted to a teen audience, but there is much to draw adults into the plot. Bella's introspective narration is compelling and makes the words come to life. Her grief process will strike a chord with many who have known what it feels like to lose someone, and though her manner of coping is not advisable or possible in some aspects, the fact that she does manage to find hope again is encouraging. *****
Author: Meg Cabot
Title: How To Be Popular (Teen)
As the new school year begins, Steph Landry decides she is going to stop being "such a Steph", a phrase coined by the most popular girl in school five years ago after Steph spilled a red Big Gulp on Lauren by accident. The phrase has become the bane of Steph's existence, as everyone, even people who have never met her, commonally use her name to refer to gauched, inept, stupid, or clumsy acts. She decides to become popular by following a guidebook she found while helping her soon to be step-grandmother clean out a room so that Jason, Steph's best friend, will have a new room. Unfortunately, stopping being such a Steph virtually does stop Steph from being herself. Her opening sally into the realms of the popular leads her into organizing a talent auction to raise money for the senior trip, and as a result, she does catch the eye of the most popular guy in school, Mark Finley. However, he is her nemesis' boyfriend, and Lauren will not let anyone, especially Steph take anything from her, except abuse. Steph soon learns that popularity is not all it's cracked up to be and has to make some hard choices about what is truly important.
**** Though other books of Ms. Cabot's are probably more popular, ironically, this one is definitely her best. Steph's quest is one that anyone of any age can identify with and learn from. The end note contains a message that will leave you cheering, but this is not a preachy book. Truth is rendered in a breezy way that still hits you forcefully while it is making you smile. ****
Author: Meg Cabot
Title: Party Princess (Princess Diaries #7, Teen)
It may be some time before Princess Mia rules Genovia, but she is already getting a taste of governing as the President of the student body of her school. It is not going well. With three months left until the commencement, Mia is faced with bankruptcy and being unable to pay for the ceremony to be held at Lincoln Center. She does not want to resort to selling candles to make up the deficit, but that is a more appealing idea than having the valevictorian cause her bodily harm, if she can get past Lars, Mia's bodyguard. However, Grandmere has an idea. Unfortunately, when Grandmere or the princess' best friend, Lily, has an idea, Mia knows life is about to get "interesting," in the worst sense of the word. She's already dealing with a mountain of potential fall-out from Lilly's idea of creating a school-based literary journal whose sales will go toward meeting the budget. Now, Grandmere has the bright idea to put on a show. Her delivery of the suggesting somehow lacks the perkiness of Judy Garland telling Mickey Rooney that is what they ought to do. Now that the Queen Mother has spoken, so shall it be done. Being beaten senseless by an irate senior might be a better fate!
**** Mia's trials and tribulations continue to charm and amuse readers of all ages. Her angst has a ring of truth, even in the most ridiculous situations. Subtle in-jokes enhance the humor. If you need a laugh, or just to be reassured that things will get better, pick up a Princess story. ****
Author: Mari Mancusi
Title: Stake That (Teen)
Rayne's goal in life was to be a vampire; after all her boyfriend, Magnus, was one. However, Mag failed to differentiate between Rayne and her twin, Sunny, and bit the wrong girl. So, not only has Rayne lost her boyfriend, but she's lost her hope of unlife. You know the saying when a door closes, a window opens? Rayne's finding that to be true. It turns out she is the chosen one of this generation, the girl who is supposed to slay vampires, but only the bad ones. Slayers Inc, recognizes there are some good ones, like Magnus, and want him to stay in power. With an evil vampire out to take down Magnus using bio-weapons, Rayne has a double impetus to stake the dude. She also has help she is not sure she wants at first in the form of a very easy on the eyes, undercover vamp, Jareth. Of course, being a slayer and semi-dating a new vampire are not all fun and games. It is dangerous work, demanding sacrifices, and exposing Rayne to trolls on her blog that chronicles her adventures.
**** No matter how old you are, if you enjoyed Buffy and Angel, odds are you will love this as well. Rayne is a snappy, smart aleck heroine with a unique take on life. Laughs come fast and furious, even in the grimmest moments. I look forward to seeing how the series develops. ****
Author: Jacquie D'Alessandro
Title: Never A Lady (Long Regency)
Colin Oliver, Viscount Sutton, left his countryside estate in Cornwall for London. Recently, Colin has been having the feeling of impending doom. Recalling that his own mother died at the same age he currently is, Colin decides it is time to find a bride and provide heirs for the family line. Thus the unwanted, but necessary, trip to London is done. What Colin does not expect is to find a face from his past. Madame Alexandra Larchmont may be the most sought after fortune teller for all the Society parties lately, but four years ago she had been a thief who tried to pick his pockets. Since the night she escaped him, Colin feared for the unknown girl's fate. The question now is whether she has really changed her ways or if she is using her talent of reading cards to gain entry into the homes of the upper crust.
The cards have warned Alexandra for years about a certain man that would enter her life and turn it upside down. Yet she never expects to see him at a London soiree. In trying to slip away unnoticed, she ends up overhearing an assassination plot. Trying to stay out of danger, but unable to sit by and do nothing, Alexandra leaves the host of the party an anonymous letter, explaining what she had overheard. Later, when Alexandra learns the host has been murdered, she rightfully fears for her own life. The only person she can turn to is Lord Sutton. It does not seem as though the gentleman recalls their encounter four years ago, but the longer she stays in his presence, the higher the odds that he will remember her. Even worse, the man may figure out just how much she yearns for his touch.
***** Author Jacquie D'Alessandro has yet to disappoint me with any of her romantic and suspense filled tales. Until the unlikely day occurs of D'Alessandro suddenly getting writer's block so badly that she totally flops in story telling (Heaven Forbid!), I will remain one of her biggest fans. Once again, all the characters in the story are very well developed and totally believable. The main and secondary characters are so detailed that each seem to have their very own personality and little quirks. I not only came to care for the main characters, but also all the secondary and a few of the background characters as well. (Little Robbie is a perfect example.) Wimpy, fainting, and useless females need not apply to be in any D'Alessandro novel. The same can be said for stiff, recherché, and boring men. Excellent and highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Frewin Jones
Title: The Faerie Path(Teen)
A boating trip with her boyfriend to celebrate turning sixteen proves to be the pivotal moment of Anita's life. After an accident, the teens are taken to the hospital where she is given a book that tells the story of a Faery Princess who vanished on her wedding day. Not long after, she follows a phantom into the Faerie lands where she learns that she is that princess, Princess Tania. Her boyfriend, unfortunately, is not her intended, but his servant. Yet, Anita/Tania feels torn between two worlds, especially since she cannot remember being a princess. There is more going on that she comprehends, to be sure, and that's no fairy tale!
***** For either teens or adults with a young heart and mind, this is a lovely story to experience. Tania makes for a compelling heroine whose divided heart will cause a pang in yours. If you loved Labyrinth and wished there was more to the story, you can enter a world like that here and be satisfied. *****
Author: Willard Manus
Title: A Dog Called Leka (Teen)
Ben is a teenager who lives on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Ocean who just lost his parents a few months ago. Ben has been building a catamaran. He wants to be a sailor like his parents. One day a stray dog comes along and Ben does not like him. Ben does not want to become attached to the dog and have to leave him behind. But it is hard to say no to a hungry dog so Ben starts to feed the dog and gives him the name Leka. When Ben finishes the catamaran he starts sailing it. Ben has a job to take a family on a boat trip and he has to pick them up from across the ocean. Ben decides to take Leka with him. Will Ben make it with Leka to pick up the family? Read the book and find out about Ben and Leka’s exciting journey.
**** This book is very exciting! When you read this book you will not be able to put it down. A very good page turner. This book is also very interesting! ****
Author: Eloisa James
Title: Pleasure for Pleasure (Long Regency)
Out of the four Essex sisters, only Josie remains unwed. After turning one suitor down ("Berwick"), the so called gentleman had Lord Charles Darlington come up with a horrid nickname for Josie. Thus Josie is known as "the Scottish Sausage"! Ironically, Josie resembles the nickname only because she stuffs herself into a corset. She is more beautiful than anyone seems to realize.
Garret Langham, the Earl of Mayne, is a close friend of Josie's. He tutors Josie on the arts of flirtation and poise. Others begin a make over, teaching Josie what clothing compliments her natural figure. Once done, the nickname is useless as a taunt.
Problem is that Thurman believes himself to be the next witty nicknamer. In fact, Thurman believes himself even better than Darlington and he has decided to give Josie an even worse nickname, giving himself a grand reputation. But Josie's transformation ruins his plans. Thurman soon believes Josie is responsible for all his failures ...
**** The author never conceals Thurman's hatred for Josie, so I do not feel as though I have given out any spoilers. More is going on within this novel's plot and sub-plots than I let on. I was delighted with a few twists and surprises along the way. Each chapter begins with a snippet from an anonymous earl's memoirs about the women he has bedded in his life. All through the book, everyone (male and female alike) are trying to figure out WHO the author is. Also, Darlington is the rare leopard that actually changes its spots. I felt as though watching his transformation, in various sections of the story, was one of the high points within the entire novel, second only to Thea's transformation. BRAVA! ****
Author: Deborah Jackson
Title: Time Meddlers(Teen)
Sara Sachs is switching schools in the middle of sixth grade and does not want to be in Ottawa. She wants to be with her mom not in what she calls the wilderness with her dad. She is shocked when on the way to school her first day she sees a car drive right through a kid. Sara is very interested in what this boy is like because of what she saw. She soon finds out that Matt is the son a very famous scientist. Sara wants to meet his dad but Matt has never even seen him. His father disappeared when Matt was born. Together Sara and Matt figure out that Matt’s father knows the secret to time travel and figure that he is stuck in another time and they are determined to bring him back to the present. Will Sara and Matt be able to bring his dad back? Read the book and find out!
***** This is an excellent story. If you like adventure or time travel books, you will love this book. Once your start reading you will not be able to put it down! *****
Author: Deborah Jackson
Title: Time Meddlers(Young Adult)
Sarah Sachs is in the sixth grade. She and her dad moved from large Toronto to small Ottawa. As Sarah walks to her new school she is surprised to see a boy walk into the street without checking for oncoming vehicles. Her surprise turns into the first of many shocks when Sarah watches the skidding vehicle drive completely through the boy as if he was not there! This is how Sarah makes her first, though reluctant, friend Matt Barnes.
Professor Nathan Barnes is a famous scientist who has been missing since Matt's birth. Matt lives with his dad's assistant, Nadine, who is nice to him only when the public is looking. Matt wants nothing more than to know if his father is really alive somewhere or not. Sarah and Matt dive head-long into researching the answer.
The duo end up locating a machine that Dr. Barnes created for traveling into different eras. Before they know it, Sarah and Matt are dropped into the year 1615. Worse, they are in the middle of a war between the Algonquin and Iroquois notions. Knowing their own history, Matt wants to be a peace negotiator and halt the upcoming battles. This would save many lives. However, Sarah is not sure that Matt's idea is a good one since it could very well change history as they know it. If history changes, so will the future.
***** An extremely well done story that will have you rethinking your ideas on quantum theories. Though the tale involves multiple universes and the possibility of time travel, it is told in such a way that kids as young as the age of eight can easily understand everything. The book is recommended by the publisher for children between ages eight and twelve. However, I believe that young adults (teens) will highly enjoy the story as well.
The back of the book is filled with a short glossary, discussions for reading groups, and even some activities that could be done in the classroom. This novel is so exciting that kids will probably not even realize how much they are learning. Excellent! *****
Author: Lauren Royal
Title - Tempting Juliana (Long Regency)
Our story begins in June, 1816, at the Foundling Hospital in London. At the age of twenty-two, Lady Juliana Chase is only now about to begin her first Season in London. She and her sister, Corinna, are late getting a Season due to all the recent deaths in the family. While touring the Foundling Hospital's art gallery with her sister and a little girl who lives next door, Emily, Juliana does what she does best ... meddles. Juliana has a big heart and always wants to help everybody and fix everything. So seeing all the babies Juliana decides she will sew all the baby clothes needed by the hospital for the month. Unable to sew well over a hundred baby items by herself, she must persuade others to help her accomplish this huge task. Juliana has also taken little Emily under her wing. Emily has a pet garden snake that she takes with her everywhere (and I do mean EVERYWHERE). Juliana wants the child to learn that reptiles over five feet in length as pets is not considered acceptable.
Shortly thereafter Juliana learns that her good friend, Lady Amanda Wolverston, is due to marry Lord Malmsey, a man too old for her, within two weeks. It was arranged by her father and Amanda cannot get out of it. So Juliana begins meddling, of course. Juliana and Amanda want to have a younger man compromise Amanda. They choose James Trevor, the Earl of Stafford, who is ready to wed and begin his nursery. Juliana feels badly that Lord Malmsey would be losing a bride, so she simply HAS to match him up with someone else too. For herself, Juliana chooses David Harcourt, the Duke of Castleton. However, Juliana soon finds herself much more attracted to James than David.
James is not only an earl, but also a physician dedicated to wiping Smallpox off the face of the earth. He runs New Hope Institute to tend to the poor and give the children free vaccinations. While Juliana is running around to get James and Amanda together, she learns James cannot seem to keep a receptionist. You guessed it, Juliana meddles. But now that her heart is on the line, Juliana is about to learn that there is such a thing as meddling too much.
**** I could not help but feel that the character of Juliana was a little overdone on the meddling front. And I wanted to see more of little Emily than the author allowed. Otherwise, this story is fantastic, IMHO. To keep the story rolling smoothly, the author has a sub-plot romance between Juliana's brother, Griffin, the Marquess of Cainewood, and another young lady. I look forward to seeing that romance continue in the next sister's story (due for release in Fall 2007). ****
Author: Lorraine Heath
Title - A Duke of Her Own (Long Regency)
Set in London, 1888. Lady Louisa Wentworth is now twenty-six years old. With no dowry and only her breeding to offer for anyone considering marriage, Louisa decides to forget wedding and takes matters into her own hands. She places an ad within a lady's paper offering to chaperone a genteel American lady in need of social guidance. With all the recent American heiresses entering town, in hopes of marrying into titles, it is not long before Louisa is hired by the Rose Family.
Alexander "Alex" Wentworth is the sixth Earl of Ravensley and Louisa's brother. He is NOT happy about his sister hiring out as a chaperone, but admits they are in need of the money. Alex wants Louisa to help him wed one of the two Rose daughters, but his sister does not believe it would be a good match for either of the girls.
The Duke of Hawkhurst "Hawk" is one of Alex's close friends and also wants a good word put in with the Rose daughters. Louisa has feelings for Hawk, though she tries to keep it hidden. Besides, Hawk also needs to wed for money. But then Louisa and Hawk are caught in a compromising position.
**** A well done regency romance that will certainly capture your attention quickly. There is nothing truly new or original in the story; however, it is well worth your time and money. This is a terrific way to spend a rainy afternoon! ****
Author: Dorothy McFalls
Title - The Marriage List (Regency)
Radford, the fourth Viscount Evers, is injured while in the Peninsula. Being that close to death forces Radford to admit that he must settle down with a wife and beget an heir. He even has his irritating best friend, Lord Nathan Wynter, help him make up a list as to what he required of a potential viscountess. He sets his eye on Lady Lillian, the lovely and vain youngest daughter of the Duke of Newbury. However, it is a complicated and outrageous lady named Miss Margaret "May" Sheffers that intrigues him to the point of distraction.
May is the only one who dares to stand up and go toe-to-toe with the sufferable Viscount Evers. Her parents disappeared years ago in a South American jungle. Uncle Sires is trying to have May's parents declared dead. Therefore, all May's funds have been seized and are tied up in court. If Uncle Sires (a.k.a. the Earl of Redfield) succeeds, he will inherit all the money rightfully belonging to May. If that was the only problem, May could easily deal with it. However, Uncle Sires is trying to throw her into the arms of a man old enough to be her grandfather. If Uncle Sires has his way, May will be wed to the man within two weeks. Yet once May and Radford share one passionate kiss, things begin to change.
***** There are a few more secondary characters that add keep two sub-plots running and the story moving right along. I never found myself bored. In fact, I read this entire novel in one sitting. I could not put the book down. I feel bad for any Regency Romance fan who misses out on this fantastic novel! Highly recommended! *****
Author: Kathryn Caskie
Title - How to Seduce a Duke (Regency)
Set in London, 1814. The three Royle sisters are triplets, but they do not resemble each other a great deal. Their father had been a simple country physician, yet was able to set aside a large dowry for each of his daughters. Their Season is about to begin. They reside with their great-aunt, Prudence, who sleeps most of the time and is quite forgetful. When the sisters find a mysterious box from their father, the items within cause a huge stir. If the clues be true, then the three sisters may very well be the secret offspring of the Prince Regent and Mrs. Fitzherbert, his true love. Elizabeth and Anne are excited and eager to believe, but Mary, the reasonable and frugal one, does not believe it at all. Then the sisters are summoned to their guardian's resident. There, within a secret chamber, Lord Lotharian, Earl of Lotharian, and two other elderly gentlemen reveal an amazing story to the sisters. Still, there is no real evidence to prove their blood is even the slightest bit blue. Yet it does not matter. The men had promised their "father" to see them settled with good husbands of High Society.
The sisters are launched into Society by Lady Upperton. As Lady Upperton's protégées they automatically have entry to many door that would have been closed to them otherwise. Lady Upperton is thrilled to be a part of it all. Mary is to be the first sister matched by their sponsors. However, Mary already knows the man she wants to wed. It is Quinn, the newly belted Viscount Wetherly. Mary even convinces her sisters to powder themselves into disguise, as garden statues, to sneak a peek at him! That is good for everyone, including Quinn since he already has his eye on Mary as his future Viscountess. The only problem is Quinn's older brother, Rogan.
Rogan Wetherly, Duke of Blackstone, distrusts all women. He believes that all women are greedy winches out to trick unwary men into marriage by proclaiming love and devotion. Rogan has good reason for his beliefs and refuses to let his brother fall into any female's trap, especially Mary's. It is obvious that Mary has tossed out her lure in hopes of reeling Quinn in. So Rogan decides to pursue Mary in his brother's stead, but is the motives honorable?
***** A fabulous story that begins with a shock before morphing into one of the most intriguing reads I've had in a while! Are the three Royle sisters really princesses? It makes for an interesting sub-plot, that is for sure. Don't expect ME to tell, and you will have a wonderful time reading to find out. Author Kathryn Caskie may win awards for this novel. I eagerly await the next sister's tale. *****
Author: Caroline Linden
Title - What a Gentleman Wants (Regency)
Marcus Reece, duke of Exeter, had always acted to preserve the family name, and his twin brother's along with it. To keep his brother, David, from being called out for a duel of honor, Marcus again cleans up David's mess and sends him out of London for awhile. But David ends up injuring his leg when his carriage wrecked during a race in a small town called Middleborough. The vicar's widow, Hannah Preston, takes care of David as he heals. David comes to care for Hannah, and for her small daughter, Molly. David is sincere when he proposes to Hannah, but the day before the wedding he panics.
Hannah curses her own idiocy. With few choices open to her, she weds a gentleman she hardly knows. David escorts Hannah and Molly to London, says he must be away on business for a bit, and promptly disappears. Hannah does not learn that David forged Marcus's name to the marriage license until the cold and aloft duke appears before her in person with accusations. Of course, Hannah is ready to simply walk out. But before she can, David and Marcus's sister, Celia, and stepmother, Rosalind, arrives and proceeds to gush all over Hannah and Molly.
Reluctantly, Hannah agrees to play the part of Marcus's duchess for a while. In doing so, Hannah will help secure Molly's future and Marcus can keep his relatives from hating David. The entire mess would sort itself out within only a month or two. Meanwhile, Marcus can continue his investigation with Bow Street of a counterfeiting ring. David seems to be mixed up in entire counterfeiting scheme and Marcus hopes to prove his brother innocent. But with tempting Hannah nearby, Marcus is having trouble concentrating. Marcus learns that by playing the part of husband, he has a chance to claim happiness.
***** Caroline Linden's characters are so vivid that, for awhile, I forgot they were all part of a fictional piece. As I read, I could easily see the events unfold before me and felt as though I were a part of everything. An outstanding story that I hated to see end. BRAVA! *****
Author: Barbara Metzger
Title - Queen of Diamonds(Regency)
Everyone knows the story of the vanished Lady Charlotte "Lottie" Endicott and the huge reward for her safe return. At the age of three, Lottie was the only survivor of a stage coach ambush. Everyone was supposed to have died, including little Lottie. Instead of finishing the deed they were hired for, Dennis Godfrey and Ezra "Ize" Iscoll, decided to implement an exotic extortion scheme. Dennis has his spinster sister, Molly, take the child far away to raise as her own. Every few months Molly would quietly collect blackmail money from a special bank account. Lottie became "Queenie", whose father died while serving his country. As only a child can do, Queenie adapted and, therefore, forgot all about her previous life. Molly loved Queenie as if the child was her own daughter. She devoted herself to bringing up Queenie as a proper lady, having her educated as such too. Molly even made sure that a dowry would be ready when Queenie was due to wed. Queenie had no idea that it was all a lie until Molly whispered, on her death bed, that she had never really been married.
Alex, the Earl of Carde, and his brother, Jack, have never given up hope on locating their sister, Lottie. Queenie actually returned to London for a short time after Molly died. She spent much of that time with her friend, Hellen Pettigrew, who is the daughter of a "kept lady". Ize has Queenie convinced that she had been adopted by Molly and was supposed to be part of a con to make the Carde family believe she was their lost daughter so they could collect the reward money, but when the scheme fell through, Molly kept Queenie as her own. Queenie felt bad for the Carde family and planned to tell the current family about the con that never happened and about the rumor she heard long ago that little Lottie had died. But Ize kept her from doing so. When news spread that the Carde family was looking for a lady going by the name of Queenie in town, Queenie fled to France, thinking she would be sent to jail.
Now Queenie returns again to London. This time she is known as Madame Denise Lescartes, a dressmaker fresh from France. Hellen is still her best friend and joins Queenie as she opens her new shop. Lord Harking is in town, hunting down his sleazy brother-in-law who has stolen the family heirlooms (diamonds) and left his sister. While searching, Madame Denise catches his eye. Queenie is soon the talk of the ton and her business begins to boom. Yet as Queenie's desire for Harking grows, her lies begin to catch up with her.
***** Absolutely outstanding! The author, Barbara Metzger, has succeeded in creating a tale within a tale. I was hooked on the very first page and unable to tear myself away. Queenie is a strong role model, doing what has to be done to survive in one of England's roughest eras for women. Watching meek little Queenie transform into a strong businesswoman is spectacular. In no way could the author have possibly made this story any better. Full of wonderful characters that I could not help but love or hate (depending on who they were), lots of action, drama, tension, and simply fantastic! Highly recommended! *****
Author: Alex Flinn
Title - Fade To Black (Teen)
Alex is a teenage who is HIV positive. Not many people want to be around him. This book shows the hardships that Alex has to go through. This book also shows how he has to deal with certain things. A boy named Clinton is one of Alex’s worst enemies. Clinton hates Alex a lot. Can Alex turn Clinton into a friend and not an enemy? Read the book to find out.
**** I liked this book very much. This book shows what a person has to go through if they are HIV positive. I enjoyed this book very much. ****
Author: Alex Flinn
Title - Fade To Black (Teen)
Alejandro "Alex" Crusan is a seventeen-years-old Latino and HIV positive. His family moved from Miami to Pinedale, Florida. No one in his new school will touch him, much less befriend him. The only one that does not avoid Alex is Daria, the girl with Down Syndrome. Everyone avoids her too. But someone nearby hates Alex enough to learn his daily routine, followed by taking a baseball bat to Alex's car. The windows shatter, throwing tiny glass shards over Alex. The shards act as knives.
Daria does not lie. She tells the police what she saw. The police go after Clinton Cole.
Clinton has been very vocal on his feelings about Alex being HIV positive from the beginning. Everyone agrees with Clinton; however, no one believes Alex deserves what happened to him. When everyone begins avoiding Clinton, the teen starts to understand how Alex's isolation feels. Clinton swears he did not do it. Yet no one believes him.
**** Author Alex Flinn writes in a way that teens can relate to. She has taken a few taboo topics and created a mystery that young adults will enjoy trying to figure out, while learning about delicate subjects. I enjoyed the story very much and recommend it to all. ****
Author: Serena Robar
Title - Braced 2 Bite
(FIRST in a Teen Vampire Romance series!)
Sixteen-year-old Colby Blanchard lives in Seattle, is the head cheerleader, and keeps a 4.0 grade average. She knows what she wants in life and has a plan to obtain it. But it all falls apart when she is bitten and becomes Undead.
Colby's family is very supportive. Great-Aunt Chloe has dealt with vampires as a nurse during the wars and is the first family member to start helping out. Colby's mom starts digging up everything she can find on the internet to help Colby's transmission. And her orthodontist dad, who had her canine teeth removed when she was twelve, made her a "fang headgear set" to help her feed. Colby is upset to be Undead, but even more embarrassed that she has to have fang braces to survive. But those are not her biggest worries.
Thomas and Carl are with The Tribunal Group. They break the news to Colby that she is not a full-blooded vampire. She is a half-blood. Since one must have a license (which is a signet ring) to be accepted as Undead, Colby must appear before the three princes in a vampire court. If Colby is not accepted, she will be executed. Thomas wants to help her prepare, but if she is not accepted he is also the one who must eliminate her. That is definitely not what Colby wants to think about since she is crushing on Thomas. Yet there is more to Colby's intelligence and maturity than anyone else could possibly have guessed, including Colby! Oh, and one other bad piece of news, her creator keeps showing up.
***** An interesting new series for young adults revolving around vampire and human society. I was hooked almost immediately and could not stop reading until the last page had been turned! When the story ended I was so bummed. I wanted to know what happened later in life. Therefore, I was thrilled to learn that there will be a second novel titled "Fangs 4 Freaks" due for release in November 2006. YES! Author Serena Robar has created a fascinating world which blends high school and normal teen life with a darker world that hides in plain sight. I foresee awards in this author's future. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Sword Play (The Seer #4, Teen)
Sabine Rose is upset that her mother is making her move away from Nona and all her friends in Sheridan Valley. Sabine does not want to return to San Jose. Yes, it will be nice to see her sisters, who are twins, and her father; however, she does not care to be near her mother or the gossiping people at Arcadia High that actually had a petition made up to have her forced out of the school. There were over one hundred names on the petition, including her best friend's, Brianne. So going bad is not a cheery thought. It is made worse when the spirit of Kip Hurst shows up in her bedroom the night before she is due to leave. Kip died six months ago in a car wreck on prom night, shortly after he dropped his girlfriend off at home. Sabine tried to save Kip by telling him of her vision. When he died, everyone began whispering and blaming her! Now Kip is asking Sabine to "help her". Problem with that is that Kip did not say WHO she was to help.
Sabine is giving out candy on Halloween when Mr. Landreth, her fencing instructor, shows up at her door. He wants Sabine to get back into fencing, even though Sabine clearly states that she does not want to. Sly and persistent Mr. Landreth soon has her agreeing to help him teach beginners. The famous fencing club, known as the Foils, comes back into her life. Sabine used to be in the club, before she left for Nona's home. The only really tough one to see again is Brianne.
Ashley and Amy, her twin sisters, believe Kip wants Sabine to help his younger sister, Lucretia, out. Sabine believes that Kip wants her to help his ex-girlfriend, Aileen, out. At the same time, Dominic drives up from Sheridan Valley with a lead to locating the fourth and final charm that could help save Nona. Looks like time is the one thing Sabine does not have any more. The part that hurts Sabine the most though is that her boyfriend, Josh, had promised to drive up every weekend to spend time with her; however, he has not.
***** An excellent addition to the "Seer" series. Looks like things are beginning to wrap up for Sabine and those around her, in Sheridan Valley AND in San Jose. The next book may the final one. So keep an eye on the author's web site for any new updates. As for me, I could not put the book down. I began reading it in the morning and did not stop until the last page had been read. The author added in some startling twists too! My jaw almost hit the floor at one point. This is a MUST READ during your Summer Vacation! *****
Author: Kasey Michaels
Title - Beware of Virtuous Women
(Regency, A Romney Marsh Novel)
In this installment of the Becket series, Jack Eastwood plans to make a large splash in London society to catch the attention of a trio of men, one of which could very well be the leader of the Red Men Gang. Jack discusses his plans with Ainsley Becket and the unusual men that surround the gent. To make it all seem more real, Jack needs someone to play the part of his wife. Elly forcefully volunteers for the position.
Around the age of six, Eleanor "Elly" suffered an injury to her leg and foot while she was at sea. The injury left her with slight limp. Since then, she has been with (Captain) Ainsley Becket and his rag-tag clan in Romney Marsh. She is now twenty-one. She has sat quietly in the background, admiring and dreaming of Jack, but never trying to make him notice her. But when she learns the names of the three men Jack is after, she knows that she must seize this opportunity. In volunteering to play the role of Jack's wife, she not only gets to spend time with the man she secretly loves, but has a chance of finding out some answers about her childhood. The only problem Elly really has is keeping her personal secrets away from Jack's prying eyes.
Jack never paid much attention to the quiet lady whenever he was in Romney Marsh. But now that he sees Elly Jack cannot seem to take his eyes off of her. This fragile looking lady looks like a mouse to anyone who does not know better. There is strategy behind Elly's quietness and keen intelligence behind those oh, so innocent eyes. As Jack falls in love with Elly, he slowly learns that she is possibly even better at tactics than even he.
***** The Black Ghost is not mentioned often in this part of the Romney Marsh tale. You will see characters from previous episodes, but only briefly. Anyone who has not followed the story along will still find themselves enthralled with this dangerous romance. However, they could find themselves just a bit lost in the beginning. The author, anticipating this, gives a brief "Our Story So Far" section. If new readers will take just a moment to read this single page, they will have no trouble at all. Author Kasey Michaels either has a military background or a close family member who has such and helps her with these bold strategies. If I am wrong and Kasey Michaels simply imagined all this up on her own, then I believe myself fortunate never to have had her as an opponent in the Stratego game. All-in-all, I found this to be a brilliant addition to the Romney Marsh series and am eagerly awaiting the next release. *****
Author: Janet Muirhead Hill
Title - Danny's Dragon (YA)
Danny, who is ten-years-old, found out that his dad, who was a pilot, had died in the war in Iraq. At first, he cannot believe it, but after awhile he knows that it is true.
This book shows how Danny overcomes his dad’s death. He pretends that his horse, Dragon, really turns into a real dragon. In his dreams Danny and Dragon try to save his father. Danny has to learn to deal with new people including a boy who used to live in Iraq.
***** I liked this book very much. Everyone should read this great book. Danny’s Dragon is a real page turner, and you will not want to put the book down. This book is good for anyone who has had to deal with death. It is the real reality of losing someone you love. *****
Author: Morgan Leshay
Title - Redemption (Regency)
Devlin Montaign, Viscount Syndale, is one of the most notorious rakes around. He is known by most as "Lord Syn". Dev has been in the process of purchasing the old Valholen monastery for quite some time now. All that is left tor Dev to do is sign on the line. That is exactly when the cleric, Mr. Grigory, informs Dev that there is one extra item that MUST be done. Lord Syn must marry Lady Tian, the resident ghost that travelers call the St. Valentine's Angel. Devlin surprises everyone, including himself, by agreeing.
Lady Tian has been living at the monastery for quiet some time now. Only Grigory knows that she is there, as well as, who the lady really is. For several years travelers who have stayed over night at Valholen have spoken about the angel that appears and gives advice. But Devlin never believed any of it. Upon meeting Lady Tian, he could almost believe an angel has actually descended from the heavens just for him. But unknown to them, not everyone is happy about the union.
**** A wonderful regency tale with a bit of suspense thrown in. I found Tian to be very delightful, a mixture of innocence and cunning. However, I believe Lord Syn gave into his feelings for his angel way too easily considering how dark his past is said to be. The author added in a few secondary characters, friends of Dev's, that are an odd bunch indeed. One of these is Lord Merrick. He comes across as even more a rogue than Dev. I look forward to reading his story some day. If you are looking for an enchanting romance with some suspense and surprises, then this is the title you should look up. Recommended! ****
Author: Michael P. Spradlin
Title - Spy Goddess: To Hawaii, With Love
Rachel Buchanan is definitely a Beverly Hills girl. But when she fights the law, and loses, even her wealthy father cannot look the other way. That is how she ended up at the Blackthorn Academy, a boarding school in Pennsylvania. What her father did not know, and still does not know, is that the academy sits on top of a sophisticated crime lab and Rachel is training to be a spy. Whether Rachel likes it or not, there is a really evil man named Simon Blankenship, who believes himself to be "Mithras". Simon is after seven treasures that were hidden by Centurions during the Roman era. Simon also believes that Rachel is the reincarnation of the Goddess of Light, Etherea, and he will not rest until she is dead. Rachel is being trained by the school's headmaster, Jonathon Kim. Her group of friends include Pilar, who has psychic feelings, Alex, Pilar's boyfriend who is too macho for words, and Brent, a shy and mysterious super genius.
This time Mr. Kim and Mr. Quinn go to Hawaii, in search of one of the seven treasures. Problem is they are looking in the wrong place. So Rachel and her friends sneak out of the academy and head for Hawaii. Simon, and his dedicated, fanatical group of followers, are waiting for her. Sometimes being a goddess totally reeks!
***** Non-stop action, much like the animated series "Totally Spies". It does not matter if you are male or female, you are going to LOVE these spy novels! I hope they someday get picked up for a television series. STELLAR! *****
Author: Joan Bochmann
Title - Absaroka (YA)
Matt Reed is glad to be in Wyoming again. He has served his time in Vietnam and wants to forget the horrors he has witnessed. Matt's father, Jake, picks him up from the airport and together they return to the Rocking R. Shortly thereafter, Jake dies. Only then does Matt learn that the beloved ranch is mortgaged.
Paul Pringle, Matt's arch rival from their teenage years, used Jake's family problems to get his hands on the deed to the ranch. Matt has only six months to pay $100,000.00 plus foreclosure costs and attorneys' fees to get the ranch back. It seems impossible. Then Jill King informs Matt why Paul really wants the land. It will take the cunning of Jill, a Crow Indian friend named Joe Little Hawk, a herd of wild horses, and an old family friend named Hank to pull off a miracle.
**** The word "Absaroka" is from the Crow language. It means "Wyoming". This story is set during the time of the Vietnam War. I, as the reader, did not even realize that I was learning about the Native Americans that lived during that time, or about how life was. The biggest impact I had was seeing that people in this small town of Sheridan cared about each other and helped each other whenever possible. It is not something one sees often these days.
The story is written in simple terms. It seems to target the young adults; however, I feel that anyone over the age of fifteen can really appreciate the story, especially those who actually lived during these historical years. This is how life was. This story shows the value of family, friends, and honor. You will find yourself cheering Matt on as he struggles to regain the family land. Recommended reading. ****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Witch Ball (The Seer #3, Teen)
Sabine has returned to Nona's farm after her adventures in Pine Peaks. She and Dominic now have two of the charms. The search is on for the third. Without all the charms, the old remedy book cannot be found. That book is the only hope Nona has of getting well. The witch ball that was given to her by the relative in Pine Peaks is packed away in Sabine's room. Nona instantly disliked the ball and refuses to be anywhere near it. Nona believes it to be cursed. Well, she is partly right. It is not cursed, but there is something very wrong with it. Not even Opal can figure it out.
The Booster Club is having a carnival to raise money for charity. Sabine talks Manny into having a fortuneteller booth. Sabine forgets to bring the plastic "crystal ball", so Penny-Love makes a mad dash out to the farm to pick it up from Sabine's bed room. Unfortunately, the witch ball keeps showing up where it is not wanted. Instead of being packed away, the witch ball is sitting in plain sight for Penny-Love to snatch up and rush to Manny with. By the time Sabine checks on Manny, it is too late. Manny has already given out three predictions. He has no idea who the three people were OR what his prediction for each was. It's all a blank. Sabine would never have allowed Manny to predict her future if she had known he was using the witch ball. But it is too late to stop it now. Manny predicted that Sabine would die in exactly five days!
The witch ball has already caused some bizarre happenings, so no one will just drop the subject. The search is on for the previous three customers. Dominic, Manny, and Sabine need to find out what their predictions were and if they had come true. Time is ticking on.
***** Even better than the stories before, if that is possible. Sabine's mixed feelings about Josh and Dominic become a bit more defined, a little clearer. You are going to be hooked into this suspenseful adventure from the first page until the last. Linda Joy Singleton's stories are awesome! *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Last Dance
(The Seer #2, Teen)
Sabine Rose is still getting used to her psychic powers. She has managed to hide her powers from her boyfriend, Josh, and her closest friends. She hopes they will never find out either. She would hate to be labeled as a freak. Sabine is living with her grandmother, Nona, and a boy named Dominic. Dominic has a way with animals. He is able to communicate with them. Nona has sort of adopted Dominic and is helping him understand his abilities.
When Nona becomes ill, Sabine is desperate to help her. Family history says that others have been plagued with the same thing Nona is going through. The cure, an herbal potion, has been written down within an old book and has been past down from mother to daughter. However, the death of Nona's great-great-grandmother (Agnes) caused it to disappear. Agnes had four daughters but they ended up being separated. Each daughter kept a charm from Agnes. The charms would reveal the location of the hidden book. Nona gave her charm to Sabine.
With help, Sabine located one of Agnes's decedents. Thorn, Sabine's Goth friend, drives Sabine out to Pine Peaks to talk to this long lost relative. While they are there, they will stay with Thorn's Aunt Deb and Uncle Charles. Sabine wants nothing more than to concentrate on helping Nona, but a ghost has been entering Sabine's dreams seeking help. It just so happens that the ghost, Chloe, died in Pine Peaks about fifty years ago. In fact, the entire town celebrates Chloe's death every October! People from across the nation drive all the way to Pine Peaks, California, in hopes of seeing Chloe's ghost on stormy nights. The town is packed with tourists and media.
Chloe is one determined ghost and guides Sabine to learn the truth of why she died, who was involved, and how to set her free. But someone in town does not want the truth to be known. Someone who would kill to keep the world from learning what happened all those years ago.
***** As usual, Linda Joy Singleton seems to know exactly how to send chills down the spine of her reader! The characters are unusual and I found these teens with special abilities to be engrossing. You will have a hard time putting this book down. Expect to lose a few hours of sleep as the story gets more intense with each turn of the pages. Excellent! *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Don't Die Dragonfly
(The Seer #1, Teen)
Sabine Rose's psychic gift got her kicked out of her last school and sent to live with her grandmother, Nona, who also has the "family gift". So Sabine hides her abilities in her new school, pretending to be normal. She is on the school newspaper staff and helps Manny with his Mystic Manny column. Her best friend is a cheerleader and Sabine often helps the entire squad with their practices and banners. She has a fabulous new boyfriend, Josh, that she met while saving his life (and he will never find out how she knew he was in danger if she has anything to say about it.) It sounds as though Sabine has everything a normal teenager could ever wish for.
However, Sabine still sees ghosts, spirit guides, and visions. Josh's best friend is jealous of her. Dominic is Nona's newest house guest with his own special talent. Someone vandalized the school and some things have been stolen as well.
Manny has always wished he had some sort of psychic talent. Even though he does not, he is still very good natured and keeps an open mind. He knows Sabine is more than normal and confronts her with it. Once she opens up to him, Manny introduces her to Thorn. Thorn likes the Goth look. It keeps people from getting too close to her. Thorn has her own special "gift". Manny, Thorn, Dominic, and Sabine, team up to investigate the vandalism and theft. But someone knows Sabine is out to locate the vandalizer and begins to frame her for it all. In addition, Sabine keeps having visions of a teen girl with a dragonfly tattoo on her wrist being surrounding by danger and death. Somehow Sabine must prove her innocense and warn the mystery girl with the tattoo without revealing her psychic gift to everyone.
***** W-O-W-! You will not want to put this awesome book down! Sabine, Thorn, Dominic, and Manny make a wonderful investigation team. Just think of all the things this group could do if they stay together. It is better than the TV show "Charmed" could ever be. I cannot wait until book two, "Last Dance" comes out. *****
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Title - Sea Switch (Strange Encounters #3)
Cassie Strange sure does live up to her name! Strange things always seem to happen to her and her siblings. Her friends often find themselves mixed up in mayhem as well. Her dad has a TV show dedicated to proving myths, legends, and such as fakes. This time Cassie is off to a beach in Oregon to clean up the beach and for her dad to prove that mermaids do not exist. A Ripley's museum in that area claims to have the remains of one.
Cassie's best friend, Rosalie, is along for the adventure. Rosalie, unlike Cassie, is a tomboy. She LIVES for sports, any type, any time. Rosalie and Cassie could not BE any closer to each other even if they were sisters. However, Rosalie makes a new friend at the beach, Georgia, who is also a tomboy. Needless-to-say, Cassie and Georgia dislike each other on sight! Both want all of Rosalie's time. So when Rosalie went off briefly with Georgia, Cassie went sulking down the beach. That is how she meets Galena.
Galena is a real mermaid, but there is nothing sweet about her. Galena magically tricks Cassie into switching bodies. Now Galena is off with Cassie's friends and family on land, while poor Cassie is in a mermaid's body away from all those she holds dear. Worse yet, Galena is a criminal. Since Cassie is in Galena's body, she is arrested and facing charges for all of mean Galena's crimes! Cassie must somehow convince Galena's friends, as well as her own brother and Rosalie, that she is really Cassie in Galena's body. Then they must trick Galena into switching bodies again. And during it all, Cassie and her new mer-friends must avoid getting captured by humans.
***** "Superior!" This story could be no better. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It certainly shows that you should be careful what you wish for. I really liked the fact that the author included "Sea Monkeys" in the tale! I used to have some as pets years ago. They are making a come back and many sites are selling them again. As always, author Linda Joy Singleton continues to shine! Wonderful book. Excellent series. *****
Author: Sarah V. Richard
Title - Shadows Around Us
(Super Natural Young Adult Romance)
Chad is a paramedic when he meets Amy, who works in an ER's registration booth. They are attracted to each other and meet occasionally simply to chat. Amy, however, is stalked by an abusive ex-boyfriend named Jason. Jason not only physically abuses Amy for any imagined slight, but is constantly calling her on the cell phone to argue over nothing and force her to pay HIS bills.
Chad ends up dying when he over exerts himself jogging. In his afterlife, Chad meets Adam who will guide and teach him all he needs to know. As Chad learns from Adam, he keeps a watch over his mother and Amy.
**** This is a very short story, around 70 pages long. The author focuses on how one's actions can cause consequences, be they good or bad. Yet, the story also shows the signs of controlling boyfriends (or girlfriends). There are several other lessons as well, hidden within an imaginative love story set between "life" and the "after life".
This book will be available through the publishing company (link attached) and through B&N and Amazon. Be warned that there is graphic violence that would rate a PG-13 if it was to be shown on television or at a movie theater. So keep the younger kids away. However, anyone age 13 or above should be mature enough to handle the content. Wonderful tale that will grab your imagination and let it soar! The only way the story could have been better was if it had been longer. This author could have a great future as a teen romance writer! ****
Author: W. Royce Adams
Title - Jay (Teen Fiction)
Jay Thornton is sixteen-years-old. When his mom died, Jay knew he would be put in a foster home. Fear of the unknown had him running away instead. Jay "catches out" on a freight train thinking he would live the romantic hobo lifestyle, foot loose, free, and no one to tell him what to do. Instead, Jay discovers constant physical dangers, the fear of being caught by train gangs or the police, hunger, and facing the elements.
He joins another young man, only slightly older, who goes by the alias Liberty Two. As Jay slowly learns the life of the hobo, he does much thinking. Will he remain a hobo and merge into its hard lifestyle? Or will he return to the town he lived in and see if a foster home could give him a chance of a better life?
***** This is the sequel to a previous teen novel titled "Me & Jay". You do not have to read the first to enjoy this one though. This book begins two years after the previous book ended. Watching Jay, as his travels went along, gave me a glimpse into a subculture that I never dreamed existed. This story is a real eye opener. Though the story is fiction, the names in the book are real. The author lived this life for a time (and has the scar to prove it, according to the Forward in the book). Therefore, the author's experience allowed realism to shine through in his writing. I recommend both books, but this one is the best of the two, in my opinion. *****
Author: Sophia Nash
Title - A Passionate Endeavor (Regency)
Set in 1814. Lord Nicholas Huntington returns home wounded from the war in hopes of seeing his father who is near death. His father continues to live thanks to Dr. Kittridge, the most talented physician in all of Europe. As the good doctor cares for his father, the doctor's daughter takes care of Lord Nick. All Lord Nick wishes to do is return to the war and leave everything else to his half brother, Lord Edwin. Dealing with his stepmother and Edwin is just more than Nick can seem to stomach.
Miss Charlotte Kittridge is proud to be her father's nurse. She knows she is not pretty and accepts that she is long past her prime. She wants only to learn from her father and help care for his patients. When Lord Nicholas arrives unconscious and then slightly delirious, she jumps into her nurse role, even against her patient's wishes. Charlotte is attracted to the man, but keeps her distance and treats him like any other patient. She and her father are kept busy tending the two lords. Yet Fate gives them an added burden anyway. Charlotte's cousin, "Alexandre" Lord Gaston, arrives in all his flirting glory.
Lord Nicholas finds his eyes searching out Miss Charlotte far too often. Her delicate touch and intelligent mind keeps him fascinated. Even though he is drawn to the lady, he must keep his distance. He promised his father that he would never marry. Yet seeing Alexandre vie for Charlotte's passion is just too much for him to handle.
***** Once again author Sophia Nash entices readers to lose themselves within her latest regency novel. And once again I find myself extremely glad that I did. There is much more going on than I am able to reveal without spoilers and quite a few more characters, each with their own unique personality. The people are so believable that I feel as though I actually know them. Sophia Nash breathes life into her characters in a way so few authors can. Highly recommended reading. *****
Author: Barbara Metzger
Title - The Diamond Key (Regency)
Lady Victoria "Torrie" Keyes is called "The Keyes Diamond" for various reasons. Around her throat rests a charm shaped as a key, gleaming with gold and diamonds. Her father gave it to her on the evening of her come-out ball. Torrie, determined to find a love match like her parents' did, went through three Seasons searching for the man who could unlock her heart with no success. Then a trip to a London modiste ends with Torrie trapped as the shop goes up in flames. Torrie vows that if she lives she will marry her rescuer, no matter who he is.
Wynn, Lord Ingall, has been exiled from Society for years. Only recently has he been able to return. He has braved wildernesses and sailed all over. His only friend and companion has been Barbary, who looks and acts like a Barbary Coast pirate. The man is a gem when it comes to getting information from low lifes. Wynn's biggest challenge lately has been in finding a decent valet. Sounds simple. Turns out to be anything BUT simple. Same thing when it comes to the lovely Lady Keyes. After saving her from a burning building and returning her to her family, he finds it difficult to get rid of her. She insists on marrying him. Her father is opening several of Society's doors for him whether he accepts Torrie's proposal or not. If Wynn did not have so many pressing problems demanding his immediate attention, he may have taken Torrie more seriously. But old scandals are trying to resurface and lady friends from his past need help. Yet when it becomes clear that someone is out to get Torrie, Wynn's priorities change.
**** Author Barbara Metzger adds plenty of comedy to this wonderful romance to keep things from getting too dark. The valet problem is an ongoing theme that had me giggling throughout the entire story. The novel begins while Torrie is in the burning building, so this tale is sure to grab your attention from page one. It slows down just a bit during the middle, but the author keeps things rolling with Wynn's lady friends' problems and kidnapping attempts against Torrie. Readers will not be bored during this book. A wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon or simply to help you relax after a tiring day. Recommended. ****
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Title - Lady Fiasco (Regency)
Tyrell, Earl of Wesmont, believed his heart stopped working in Spain on the battlefields of Badajoz. So he is surprised when his heart keeps getting in the way when it comes to Fiona Hawthorn. Everyone, including Fiona, believes the lady to be jinxed. A few of her more famous nicknames are "Lady Fiasco", "the Duchess of Doom", and "the Countess of Calamity". Tyrell believes it is all superstitious nonsense. Yet he refuses to ever marry, especially her. This determination, along with his attraction to Fiona, causes him to act out at the lake and humiliate Fiona. When he goes to her home the next day to apologize, Tyrell learns from Lady Hawthorn (Fiona's stepmother) that the jinx left with her unpredictable Aunt Honore.
Honore, Countess Alameda, takes Fiona to Brighton for a brief visit with Prinny, the Prince Regent. From there they plan to go to London where Fiona will reside with Aunt Honore. Honore tell everyone that Fiona is being groomed as her protégée. She is delighted at the chaos that surrounds Fiona. Even better, Tyrell has arrived to make everything even more chaotic! What Aunt Honore did NOT foresee was her stepson, Lord Marcus, getting jealous of Fiona and deciding to get rid of the little chit.
**** Aunt Honore stole the scene very often. I fell in love with the impish countess. Tyrell came across as too cruel once or twice, but seemed to get over his cowardice pretty fast. Once chasing Fiona and her aunt, he became simply hard headed and stubborn. I found this tale to be extremely amusing. The character of Fiona is a complex one. She is feisty, brave, but definitely has a run of bad luck. This book will please all Regency fans and often bring a smile to your face. Delightful. ****
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Title - Cut From The Same Cloth(Regency)
Elizabeth "Izzie" Hampton is searching for a husband. But she has only her beauty to recommend her. Using her exquisite fashion sense, she creates gowns that attract the eyes and dazzles the senses. The only fly in the ointment is her brother's friend, Lord St. Cleve "Valen". For some boorish, unknown reason he begins to figure out ways to humiliate her in society. He even arrives at a society function in outrageous apparel that matches her dress! Elizabeth refuses to let him stamp her down. She is doing what she feels she must.
Valen finds the snobbish ways of the London society to be disgusting. After watching his grandfather making his mother's life miserable, he likes nothing more than to make fun at the Ton and all that they stand for. He believes Elizabeth to be the biggest snob of them all. Yet he cannot help but be attracted to her. Does not matter since his purse is not deep enough for her. He spies on what she purchases in order to match her dress and humiliate her. But then his spying ends up getting a shop keeper killed and Elizabeth almost strangled to death, right before his eyes. A man Valen (as "Red Hawk") has hunted for a long time believes Elizabeth is bait to lure him into one of Valen's traps. Knowing what the man has done to others, Valen is determined to sweep Elizabeth to safety. Only, in doing so, he learns that there is more to Elizabeth than he saw at first.
***** I must admit that I found Elizabeth to be too arrogant at the beginning. However, I soon understood why she had to be that way. The author, Kathleen Baldwin, did an excellent job in letting me (as the reader) see and understand why both main characters acted the way they did. I certainly did not believe the two would suit. Shows how wrong I am! With subtle pen strokes Kathleen Baldwin mixes threads consisting of romance, believable characters with realistic traits, humor, and a bit of danger to create a wondrous painting that will linger in your mind's eye long after you finish the story. Terrific! *****
Title - Enchanting Kittens (3 tales)
A Fairy Tail by Cindy Holbrook
The first of three tales takes up almost half the novel in length. It is also the best of the three, in my humble opinion. Blake Farewell is a powerful warlock. He is vain and goes through women. Marriage never enters his mind. At least, not until his father calls him in and informs him that he must wed a maiden who is half witch and half fey with a snowflake birthmark. He accepts his lot and starts out to make Alwayna love him. It should not take long. But Trillion wants all in the Farewell line to become slaves of the Fairies. To keep Blake from completing the quest in time, she turns Blake into an adorable black kitten. How can he possible make Alwayna fall in love with him if he is a kitten? Then he discovers that he has the power to turn back into his own form when he is alone with Alwayna. But time is short.
A Bewitching Minx by Nancy Lawrence
The second tale is about a lord who blames his pretty new neighbor, Amelia, for the unearthly sounds in the middle of the night. They keep him awake. But Amelia blames him for the same sounds. Neither can figure out where the sounds are coming from. However, it is easy to tell that Ameila's kitten is full of matchmaking antics. This little kitten will enchant your heart and make you believe anything is possible.
The Black Cat by Hayley Ann Solomon
The last tale is not as grand as the first two, but still quite amusing. A lord meets a lovely gypsy lady carrying a black cat who informs him that she is his destiny before she disappears. He has almost forgotten the lady when he wins the cat in a card game. He also won a lady, but refuses to accept that part of the wager. The cat, Venus, refuses to leave his side, even when he is out at social engagements. The cat leads him back to the mysterious beauty, but winning her hand is up to him.
***** All-in-all, a four star read. All three stories involve magic and charming kittens. It does not have to be anywhere near Halloween to enjoy these magical treats and I highly recommend this book to all. *****
Author: Celia H. Miles
Title - Mattie's Girl: An Appalachian Childhood
(Young Adult Fiction)
The story opens up in April 1945. June is nine-years-old. Her parents had recently dropped her off, at the home of Aunt Mattie and Uncle Cade, with only a pillowcase full of clothes. They reside in Jackson County of the North Carolina mountains. Uncle Cade is also the local sheriff.
The Rednell family reside at the Watsons' place. The daddy is often drunk and always cruel. Sheriff Cade has been called out to settle disputes at the Rednell's and calm the daddy down many times. This time, however, Uncle Cade is shot and killed. The daddy is arrested, but claims he did not do it. No one else is talking. Aunt Mattie and June are now all alone. It is from this time onward that everyone in the community begins calling June "Mattie's Girl".
Here the story suddenly shifts and time goes backwards. Most of the novel is set before the year of 1945. Only the beginning and a few chapters toward the end are set during June's life changing month of April 1945 and beyond. The reader learns about June's parents and what led them to abandon June with her aunt and uncle. Through June's eyes, readers learn how hard life really was in the mountains during this era of time. Readers learn about Halloween carnivals, home remedies, making toothbrushes from a sassafras bush, listening to radio shows, mad dogs, and even about Hog Killing Day. June's favorite thing to do is to read. Through her books and a few visitors, June learns that good grammar and a strong vocabulary can equal power. June's best friend is PeeDee Rednell. Even though her daddy is accused of killing her Uncle Cade, June and PeeDee remain close friends. Yet PeeDee's life is even worse than June could possibly imagine.
**** For teenagers, this story is a real eye opener. This is what life was like for their grandparents, before electricity reached the mountain homes. For older adults, this story is like going back in time, especially if they grew up in a mountain town. Author Celia Miles has done an excellent job in bringing the past to life in this fascinating story of a little girl named June. Readers will find themselves enthralled as they read about survival in such a poor community. Highly recommended reading. ****
Author: Mary Kay Thill
Title - Wablenica: Tale Of A Lakotah Orphan
(Young Adult Fiction / Grade 6 & Up)
"Rose" Marie Lamar lived in Chicago. At the age of eleven years, her mother died of cancer. Her father had died the previous year. The story opens up at the funeral of Rose's mom. Rose feels as though her life has shattered. She is now an orphan. She is sent to live with her Dad's Aunt Gloria in Iowa. Rose ends up struggling in several foster homes, none last long. Some people were good to her, others were bad.
A Lakotah guardian angel is sent by God to help Rose deal with all that is happening in her life. The angel is called Ruli (Running Under Lightning). With the help of Ruli and the heritage box Rose's mom left her, Rose begins to learn about her Native American family from the Pine Ridge reservation. These things go a long way in helping Rose through the foster homes.
During her last two foster homes, Rose attends the same school. In this school, Rose meets Megan Riley. They become close friends. The time Rose spends with Megan is wonderful and very special to both of the girls. Rose hopes that at the end of her long and lonely journey she will, somehow, find the new family she dreams of and a place to belong.
***** Anyone from age ten and up will find themselves enthralled with Rose and her strength as they read the tale of her hard journey. The book cleverly tells of the government systems, foster homes, and the harsh conditions, all the while entertaining the reader. It also gives much information on Native American heritage including ceremonies, some of the actual language, and traditions. You do not have to be Native American to enjoy this wonderful story. I am proud to highly recommend it to everyone! *****
Author:Janet Muirhead Hill
Title - Starlight Comes Home
(Starlight Series, Bk 6 / Ages 9 and up)
Miranda Stevens turns thirteen, but her life does not slow down at all. If anything, it speeds up and gets more complicated. Miranda did not realize that two guys are attracted to her. Her thoughts are mainly on her horse, Starlight, and those closest to her. Miranda's mom is due to deliver another baby, Margot dreams of being adopted by the Stevens and feels unwanted, and there are two new kids at school.
Laurie's cousin, Rose Marie, comes to live with Laurie's family for awhile. Rose Marie is seventeen. She is always in trouble, wears dark make up, smokes, and hangs out with a bad crowd. Envious and jealous of Miranda, Rose Marie begins turning all the kids against Miranda, including her closest. No one seems to like Miranda anymore ... and then Starlight disappears!
***** This is an excellent ending to the series. Throughout the books, Miranda has grown up and matured, making complicated decisions as she went. She shows that no matter how bad things become, one must do the right thing and hope for the best. Eventually, events will come together.
In my opinion, this series will attract more than just the girls who love horses. Miranda is a great role model. She is so realistic that kids cannot help but relate to Miranda and her problems. At the same time, readers can follow Miranda during all her adventures. Outstanding! *****
Author: Orson Scott Card
Title - First Meetings: In The Enderverse
(Young Adult Sci-Fi)
This novel is listed as "Young Adult" but so outstanding that any adult who has ever heard of the author Orson Scott Card, or of the famous characters "Bean" and "Ender" MUST get this book! This has four novellas. One is totally brand-new to the Ender collection and one is the original novella "Ender's Game" which appeared in 1977.
No matter how tempted you become, do NOT begin this book with "Ender's Game". These four stories work together. They are set in the order that they supposedly happened. So begin reading at the beginning, where you should! As a bonus, the book is fully illustrated throughout.
"The Polish Boy" © 2002 by Orson Scott Card first appeared in First Meetings: Three Stories From The Enderverse.
"Teacher's Pest" © 2003 by Orson Scott Card. This is the first appearance!
"Ender's Game" © 1977 by Orson Scott Card. First appeared in Analog magazine.
"Investment Counselor" © 2000 by Orson Scott Card. First appeared in Far Horizons, edited by Robert Silverberg.
***** Do I recommend it? Oh, yes! Orson Scott Card pleases his adult fans and makes some new young fans at the same time. Very clever. But what did you expect from a Sci-Fi Master? *****
Author: A. A. Browne
Title: SunBirds: #1 Beginnings (Young Adult 10 and up)
The humans (a.k.a. Raisers) do not know it, but there is a new intelligence on the planet that intends to wipe out the humans and become the new rulers!
This new intelligence has all the Fl-eyes (flies) on its side. The Fl-eyes have "made" a dimension called the W-D, which is controlled by a computer. The dimension was made to use matter and rearrange it into anything they wanted. The main part of the plan was to build a one-hundred thousand bug army out of matter. However, the W-D did not supply the matter, it only gave tools to work on it.
Another rule of the W-D is that only living matter could be used to create new living beings. Non-living matter could only be used to create non-living items. Therefore, the Fl-eyes had to get a fresh supply of living matter.
Aquarius is a handsome Indian Blue Peacock. He lives at the SunSet Hills farm. Andrew, his "Raiser", fed and watered all of them twice a day. Andrew helped his new peachick hatch from its shell. The peachick was even granted a name, Mocha. This is a special thing! Not all the animals on the farm received names!
The animals of SunSet Hills were afraid of the Raisers. The peachicks before Mocha had gotten weak and disappeared. All believed the Raisers were killing them. No one could ask the Raisers if it was true though, because humans could only hear in three dimensions, instead of four. When animals spoke, humans only heard garbled sounds instead of words.
Everything remained in confused chaos until Mr. Gleam, a beetle from an underground laboratory approached Aquarius.
**** Aquarius is the main character followed in this novel. The author, A. A. Browne, writes what he knows about. In this case, breeding and raising different types of peacocks. Apparently the author has a vivid imagination as well. Like the classic novel "Animal Farm", the animals can speak and have their own world. Yet A. A. Browne has gone a step further by giving the animals labs and high tech gadgets that surpass the humans.
This is the first of what is shaping up to be a GREAT series for anyone age ten or above. I loved every minute of it. ****
Author: A. A. Browne
Title: SunBirds: #2 Epidemic (Young Adult 10 and up)
Shadow, Aquarius, Sapphire, Bronze, Copper, and Emerald are the six who make up the group known as the "SunBirds".
The lead beetle scientist named Mr. Gleam has given the SunBirds three of his greatest inventions. These are Power Chips, the Reserver Information Outlet, and the World Com. As allies, the Beetle Kingdom and the animals of SunSet Hills farm take on the Fl-eyes (flies) and their ruler!
This time the story follows Shadow, a beautiful Indian Blue peahen. Her Power Chip is failing. The beetles cannot pin-point the problem. Worse, the Fl-eyes have a new biological weapon and Shadow is their main target! Knowing the Beetle Kingdom and the SunBirds have joined forces, the Fl-eyes have figured out a way to use the merger against their foes.
**** Author A. A. Browne continues his fantasy series. The first small part of the book is dedicated to recapping the first story in this series. Therefore, if you have not read the first book, you will still understand all that is happening. Yet I strongly recommend reading the first story since it will only enhance the pleasure. You would understand things more and feel like an "insider".
The second book is as good as the first, if not just a bit more so. The story is clearly expressed in a way that even those around age ten will easily understand what is happening. Recommended to all ages! ****
Author: A. A. Browne
Title: SunBirds: #3 Great Lengths (Young Adult 10 and up)
Sapphire is a Blackshouldered peacock from SunSet Hills farm. Due to a fight, he only has one eye. This third adventure follows his view point.
Queen Vigora is the new leader of the "wa-sps". She is a "ter-might" queen. In two days she plans a takeover at a nearby bird auction. If she and her allies can capture all the birds there and transport them all into her made-up dimension "W-D", there will be PLENTY of live matter in which to make bug armies for the upcoming war to eliminate the humans.
The pheasant called Lava plays a larger role this time around as well. Readers get a glimpse of what makes Lava so nutty at times. The glance into his past makes for some possible interesting future SunBird stories. Sapphire is not as gun-ho as he was in the previous stories either. In fact, Sapphire seems to be maturing a little bit with each book.
***** The author, A.A. Browne, has thrown in a territorial fight between the hawks and the owls as well. This little sub-plot makes for a great adventure. It MAY also foreshadow a future novel in this series. (I can only hope.) Very little is mentioned about the beetles this time around, but that in NO WAY detracts from this lively story from a young author who clearly understands the subject of peacocks. "BRAVO!" Mr. Browne. I can honestly tell everyone that books by A.A. Browne make for addictive reading! *****