This book is a follow-up to Life As We Knew It (see previous review), but instead of being a prequel or a sequel, it takes place at the same time. This story focuses on 17 year old Alex Morales who lives in New York City with his family. Busy with work and school, Alex is unaware that an asteroid is going to hit the moon until it happens. Alex's parents are missing and presumed dead so he is left with the care of his two teenage sisters. Parenting siblings would be difficult enough in normal times, but when every day is a fight for survival, one mistake could be fatal.
This book is even darker than the first one and really highlights the differences between the classes. The rich and powerful are being evacuated to "safe towns" while everyone else is being left to fend for themselves. Alex is also a more compelling character since he had already had a harder life than Miranda of Life As We Knew It before the disaster occurred. This author has opened a door which allows her to explore this devastating event through the eyes of numerous different characters. She has at least one guaranteed reader if she does.
BEST FEATURE: The choice to tell another version of the same story. It's an exciting concept and I want more.
WORST FEATURE: Alex's oldest sister, Brianna. This character seemed too unrealistic for this story... the one piece that really didn't seem to fit.
PARENTAL WARNING: no real sex or violence to speak of, but death is a constant theme; appropriate for teens
Do you slow down to look at an accident as you drive by? Do you watch The Weather Channel with excitement as a large hurricane bears down on a coast... and get disappointed if it loses steam before it hits? Are you a fan of disaster movies? Were you bummed when they cancelled Jericho? Did you stock up on canned goods for New Years 2000? If you can answer yes to any of the above, I have the series for you.
Miranda Evans is 16 years old. She's a normal teen looking forward to summer and getting her drivers license. Nothing much exciting happens in her Pennsylvania hometown so everyone is excited about the asteroid that is supposed to hit the moon. Teachers are giving moon-related homework and most of the town is planning to be outside to watch it happen. The astronomers are saying it's no big deal. Asteroids hit the moon all the time. Except this time... something went wrong. The impact forced the moon even closer to the Earth and all hell broke loose... tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions.
The book is written in journal style by Miranda and reminds me very strongly of Anne Frank. Although this is a fictional story, you can't help but see the similarities of two naive girls fighting for survival as the world falls apart around them. It also makes you think long and hard about the what-if's. Could this really happen and, if so, would I be prepared? Also food for thought... the harsh reality of the survival of the fittest, the have's versus the have-not's, family before strangers, where is the safest state to live, and is it ok to steal to survive? Who knew the moon could be this important? I know I'll never look at it the same way again.
BEST FEATURE: The plot. It sucked me in so hard I actually contemplated stocking some extra canned goods in the basement. You never know.
WORST FEATURE: Miranda's annoying habit of reporting what each meal was. When starvation is a real threat, food is obviously going to be an obession. Although mentioning it helped contribute to the realism, there could have been less of it.
PARENTAL WARNING: no real sex or violence to speak of, but death is a constant theme; appropriate for teens
The first book in a series, this story introduces seven of London's most eligible bachelors (all former spies recently returned from the war) who form the Bastion Club. The purpose of this gentlemen's club is to provide a refuge from society and support for their search for acceptable brides on their own terms.
Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham, has a more urgent need to marry than his comrades. If he doesn't marry within a year from when he inherited his title, he will keep the title, estates and numerous elderly dependents, but without the wealth to maintain them. Although he could care less about the title and its associated perks, Tristan's genuine affection for his relatives leaves him no choice but to honor the stipulations of his inheritance. As luck would have it, Tristan quickly discovers an appealing candidate living next door to the Bastion Club's headquarters where he is overseeing its renovation.
Leonora Carling is intelligent and independent. Past disappointments have taught her how to manage on her own. She wouldn't know how to ask for help even if it occurred to her to ask for it. That all changes after a series of attempted break-ins at her home cause her to seek assistance from Tristan. He is more than happy to help since he doesn't like the idea of Leonora being in danger and it offers him an opportunity to press his suit for her hand. Leonora may be stubborn, but Tristan excels at getting what he wants.
I like this book a lot better than the other one I've read by this author (Captain Jack's Woman). If you can get past the way too convenient plot device of seven men inheriting titles after the untimely demise of the title holders and/or their heirs, this is a promising series. When I compare it to the other book, the plot is better and the characters are more likeable. The writing style is still pretty jerky which is annoying, but sticking with it to the end was worth it.
BEST FEATURE: The mystery behind the break-ins. Who was the thief and what was he trying to steal from Leonora's house? The answer was never really obvious.
WORST FEATURE: The writing style. There were too many half and incomplete sentences which made reading difficult. Examples include:
- She hauled her gaze back up to his eyes. Blushed.
- Faint light from the distant hallway reached him as he closed the door, turned, straightened.
- Knew absolutely that it was only partially due to surprise. Sensed his own response to that fact. Ruthlessly reined it in.
PARENTAL WARNING: minor violence, but sexual content explicit enough to be considered adult only.
Beatrix is the youngest and quirkiest of the Hathaway siblings. Most of the time she prefers the company of animals to that of people. That might explain her unmarried state even though she's in her mid-twenties. She knows she should marry, but since all of her siblings married for love, Beatrix can't bring herself to settle for just anyone. When Beatrix's friend, Prudence, refuses to write back to a suitor who is a soldier away at war, she takes pity on the man and writes the letter for Prudence. When the soldier writes back, Beatrix continues the correspondence using Prudence's name and falls hopelessly in love with him in the process.
Captain Christopher Phelan was a shallow rake when he left for war, but the experiences of death and suffering have changed him. He knows that he would not have made it through the war without the letters from his beloved Prudence. When Christopher returns home as a hero and starts making plans to marry Prudence, he is disturbed by his reactions to his neighbor, Beatrix Hathaway. He used to think she was odd, but now there is a strange attraction. And for some reason, Prudence does not seem to remember what she wrote him in her letters. Chistopher is in love with the woman who wrote the letters, but he's no longer sure who that is.
Beatrix was my least favorite Hathaway, but this book changed that. I think this might be the best Lisa Kleypas book I've read to date. Kleypas writes the best quips of any writer I've ever read and older brother Leo's dialogue was especially entertaining. Of course, he usually runs away with his scenes. The part that really nailed it for me was the letters between Beatrix and Christopher. The progression of their feelings felt just right and who doesn't like the notion that someone could fall in love with who you are, sight unseen.
BEST FEATURE: The letters between Beatrix and Christopher.
WORST FEATURE: The simplification of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the author's use of this plot device since it would have been unrealistic for a soldier to come back unchanged after experiencing war. It's also a timely topic given Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem was that the book seemed to imply that the love of friends and family could quickly resolve the symptoms. But that's the good and the bad of a romance novel, love and happy endings are not always compatible with reality.
PARENTAL WARNING: Minor violence and sexual content that isn't overly explicit.
MY RATING: 5 - If you're a fan of romance novels than you need to read the Hathaway series.
Kathryn "Kit" Cranmer was raised to be a lady, but her rebellious streak and habit of dressing like a young man frequently land her in situations no well-bred lady should ever be in. Such as leading a gang of smugglers, just to name one example. Her success as a smuggler results in Kit crossing paths with the leader of a rival smuggling gang, Captain Jack.
Captain Jack is actually Jonathon, Lord Hendon... the High Commissioner appointed to stop the smuggling activity in the area. Since spies are one of the things being smuggled in and out of the country, Jack allows the illegal activity to continue so that they can trail the spies back to their source. In order to accomplish this, Jack needs total control of the smuggling in the area which means that he either needs to put a stop to Kit's gang or incorporate them into his own group. A power struggle is inevitable between these two strong personalities and, when Jack discovers that Kit the lad is actually Kit the young woman, he'll end up pursuing more than just spies.
This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Laurens and I wasn't overly impressed. The story is interesting and there are numerous sex scenes that practically scorch the pages they're written on, but the book is too long and the main characters were annoying. Jack is a bit of a sexist brute, but you could write that off as being historically accurate. It's Kit's character that ruins this book for me. She is spoiled and self-absorbed and her inability to maintain a coherent thought when Jack is touching her should be insulting to females everywhere. I have never hated a female literary character this much. Even Scarlett O'Hara had some redeeming qualities.
BEST FEATURE: The sex scenes. They were explicit enough and frequent enough to meet my romance requirements.
WORST FEATURE: Kit. Here's hoping that this character does not resurface in any other books I decide to read by this author.
PARENTAL WARNING: minor violence, but sexual content explicit enough to be considered adult only.
RATING: 2 - For die-hard romance lovers and Stephanie Laurens fans only. A friend recommended this author so I will be checking out the Bastion Club series next to see if I like them better.
This is the third book in a series that started with The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. This series does not follow a family so much as it follows a character from the prior book. In this case, the book follows Sebastian Grey who was the cousin of the romantic hero in the second book. Sebastian is handsome, charming, well-liked and the presumptive heir of an earl. If Sebastian's uncle, the current Earl of Newbury, has anything to say about it, he will never inherit the title, however.
After the unexpected death of his only son, the earl has been trying to find a new bride in order to produce another heir. The earl thinks he's found the perfect bride in Annabel Winslow, what with her wide hips and large family. It also does not hurt that her family is low on funds and getting desperate. Annabel does not want to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather and who probably had relations with her grandmother. Things get even more complicated when Sebastian and Annabel meet and become attracted to each other before they learn each other's identity. It's one thing to spurn an earl for another man and something else entirely when the other man is the earl's much-despised nephew. Sebastian does not care if he ever becomes an earl, but in the tug-of-war over Annabel, he intends to be the winner.
I really liked the plot in this story and Sebastian's character stole all of his scenes in the last book so I had high expectations for this one. Unfortunately, the book fell a little flat. Even though it was still a good read and it reveals a secret about Sebastian that I was not expecting, something was missing. Sebastian was an outstanding supporting character, but when the spotlight was on him alone, he didn't shine nearly as brightly.
BEST FEATURE: Sebastian's secret and no, I'm not going to tell you what it is.
WORST FEATURE: The incredible shrinking Sebastian. He wasn't half the man he was in the book that introduced him. What a pity.
PARENTAL WARNING: sexual content that is not overly explicit.
MY RATING: 3 - The Bridgerton Series is a tough act to follow.
Married By Morning is the 4th book in the Hathaway series which itself is a companion for Lisa Kleypas' wallflower series. With three of the five Hathaways happily married, it's older brother Leo's turn. After losing his fiance to a fever when he was younger, Leo swore he would never fall in love again and marriage to have an heir was not high on his list either.
However, there are a couple of obstacles in the way of Leo's permanent bachelorhood. Due to a bizarre twist in his inheritance, Leo has to marry and produce a son within five years of inheriting his title or the manor house that he and his family had lovingly remodeled into a home would revert back to his predecessor's widow and daughter. That would leave them the manor house that was originally part of the estate. Uninhabitable would be an understatement. But the biggest obstacle is his younger sister's companion, Catherine Marks. Leo and Catherine have fought like cat and dog since the day they met, but lately, there has also been a growing attraction that has been difficult for both of them to deny. Leo does not want to give in to it because he's afraid to love again and Catherine is afraid that a secret from her past will damage the Hathaway family. Will love overcome their fears?
This is another favorite series of mine. Lisa Kleypas writes some of the best Romance dialogue. I was really looking forward to this book because the antagonizing banter between Leo and Catherine was always one of the highlights in the other books they appeared in. Although I knew this day was coming, it was a little sad to see the verbal battles slowly being replaced by romantic interludes. All good things must come to an end I guess... even this series. There is only one Hathaway sibling left so savor this family while you can.
BEST FEATURE: The dialogue between Leo and Catherine... especially before they admitted to themselves that they were in love.
WORST FEATURE: The premise behind Leo having to get married to save the family home. It was complicated and confusing and, since it was not the reason Leo wanted to marry Catherine, it was ultimately unnecessary. This plot device only works when the couple marries for convenience and then discovers they love each other.
PARENTAL WARNING: sexual content explicit enough to be considered adult only.
MY RATING: 4 - Another great book in a must-read Romance series.
**SPOILER ALERT** DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOKS 3 & 4.
The fifth book in The Vampire Academy series begins where the last book left off. Rose is back at St. Vladimir's Academy to complete the trials for becoming a guardian. Although she managed to escape Dimitri, her former lover and now enemy, he has stayed in contact via letters threatening that when Rose graduates and leaves the academy's protective wards, he will hunt her down and kill her. Dimitri has reached the conclusion that they can't be together as he had hoped, but despite Dimitri's death threats and her feelings for new boyfriend Adrian, Rose still has hope. A slim beyond-a-longshot hope. Rose has heard that the brother of the man she put in prison is a spirit user who has brought a Strigoi back to life. She intends to find this man and learn the secret of restoring a Strigoi to life so she can do it to Dimitri, no matter how many lines she has to cross. Rose's best friend, Lissa, has agreed to help even though she has a few concerns of her own.
This book is about Rose's obsessive journey to do the impossible. This girl needs to get herself some impulse control. I won't ruin it by telling you if her plan succeeds, but I will say that, in the end, she ends up in the world's biggest mess. Now I can't wait for the next book to find out what happens. Things do not look good for our heroine.
BEST FEATURE: The ending. Talk about cliffhangers. The wait for the next book is going to be excruciating. Release date December 7, 2010 people!
WORST FEATURE: The agony of the love triangle. Most of the time, I have a clear favorite. Since I can't choose between Dimitri and Adrian, I don't know how Rose will manage it.
PARENTAL WARNING: Violence and minor sexual content; appropriate for teens.
First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh is the first book in a new series which focuses on the four Huxtable siblings... Margaret, Vanessa, Katherine and Stephen. Orphaned after the death of their vicar father, they have been living a quiet life in a small village. Their lives change significantly when Elliott Wallace, Viscount Lyngate, arrives to give the Huxtable Family shocking news. Due to the recent death of a distant family member, the teenage Stephen has become the next Earl of Merton. Loath to allow their brother to be taken off to a new home and educated in society without them, all three sisters agree to go with him.
Elliott is not happy about this development since he is already the guardian of the underage Stephen and responsible for teaching him how to manage his properties and educating him as a gentleman. Now he will have to introduce Stephen's sisters into society as well. None of Elliott's female relatives are available to help the sisters so the ideal solution is for Elliott to marry and have his wife perform that duty. And if his wife happens to be one of the sisters, all the better. That only leaves two left to marry off. It's not like he has any romantic notions about marriage, he knows he needs to marry and produce an heir. Elliott decides to offer for the eldest sister, Margaret, since she is beautiful and has been taking care of her younger siblings since the death of her father. The second eldest sister, Vanessa, has a different plan, however. Vanessa knows that Margaret is in love with someone else, but duty to her family would compel her to accept Elliott's proposal anyway. Although considered plain, Vanessa has a vivacious personality and is a widow. She also doesn't have any romantic notions about her future prospects so she persuades Elliott to marry her instead. Somewhere along the way, their marriage of convenience becomes an enduring romance, something neither one of the them could have anticipated.
The great thing about Ms. Balogh's books is that they all tend to be related. There are clear series dealing with specific families, but the series are frequently tied together by guest appearances from characters in other books. In essence, all of her books are part of one large series... and there are alot of books in that series. The other thing I like about this author is her ability to take a simple relationship story and make it interesting. There isn't alot of action or intrigue in her books, and yet every one of hers that I have read is a total page turner. I have no idea how she does it, I just enjoy the ride.
BEST FEATURE: The plain girl gets the gorgeous guy. The idea that a girl can use her personality to overcome an imperfect appearance has always been a popular concept with me. Fans of this type of story should also check out the Lifetime TV series, Drop Dead Diva.
WORST FEATURE: The behind the scenes development of the male lead. This book tells the story from both Vanessa's and Elliott's perspectives, but I felt that only Vanessa's emotional development was shown in its entirety. Elliott got to the same place in the end, but I don't feel that how he got there was fully explored.
PARENTAL WARNING: no violence and sexual content that isn't overly explicit.
MY RATING: 4 - Mary Balogh is one of the best Regency Romance authors out there and this book is just more proof of that... not that she needed it.
Infinity: Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Release date: May 25, 2010
Prequel to the Dark Hunter series
At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.
Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.
But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.
As if starting high school isn't hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?
Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Release date: May 18, 2010
Book 5 of the Vampire Academy series
After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin. But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there, somewhere.
She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him... forever.
That Perfect Someone by Johanna Lindsey
Release date: June 15, 2010
Continuation of the Malory family series
Nine years ago, Richard Allen fled England and his controlling father. Determined to live his own life, he took to the sea and settled in the Caribbean, joining a band of treasure-hunting pirates and adopting the persona of a carefree, seductive Frenchman named Jean Paul to guard the secrets of his past. When he slips back into England to carry out an urgent task, Richard becomes infatuated with a married woman, Georgina Malory. But his reckless attempt to woo Georgina at a masked ball turns out to be the worst mistake of his life because it brings him face to face with another beautiful woman.
Thrilled that her solicitors have finally come up with a way to free her from her betrothal contract to the Earl of Manford’s son who abandoned her years ago, heiress Julia Miller is ready for the marriage mart and hopes to find that perfect someone at her friend Georgina’s ball. Charmed by a masked Frenchman who gives her her first kiss, she can’t help but pursue this mysterious man—until she makes a shocking discovery. Now, to avoid falling into a ruthless nobleman’s trap, Julia must enter a risky, intimate charade with a man she never believed she could love.
Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
Release date: June 29, 2010
Continuation of the Hathaway family series
As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted…and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?
Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix’s friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it’s becoming clear that Christopher won’t come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru’s disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru’s letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep…and when Christopher comes home, he’s determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix’s innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can’t be denied…
Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
Release date: May 25, 2010
A continuation of the Hathaway family series.
For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.
Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
Release date: June 5, 2010
Fans of theTwilight saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.
A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh
Release date: May 18, 2010
Final book in the Huxtable family series
“The Devil was about to be tamed.” Her name is Hannah Reid. Born a commoner, she has been Duchess of Dunbarton ever since she was nineteen years old, the wife of an elderly duke to whom she has been rumored to be consistently and flagrantly unfaithful. Now the old duke is dead and, more womanly and beautiful than ever at thirty, Hannah has her freedom at last.
And she knows just what she wants to do with it. To the shock of a conventional friend, she announces her intention to take a lover—and not just any lover, but the most dangerous and delicious man in all of upper-class England: Constantine Huxtable.
Constantine’s illegitimacy has denied him the title of Earl, so now he denies himself nothing . . . or so the ton would have it. Rumored to be living the free and easy life of a sensualist in his country estate, he always chooses recent widows for his short-lived affairs. Hannah will fit the bill nicely.
But once these two passionate and scandalous figures find each other, they discover that it isn’t so easy to extricate oneself from the fires of desire—without getting singed. For the duchess and the dark lord each have startling secrets to reveal, and when all is said and done, neither will be able to say which one fell in love first, who tamed whom, and who has emerged from this game of hearts with the stronger hand.
Kate is a teenager living in a small mountain town in Australia. She doesn't consider herself to be pretty, and she certainly isn't popular. Her mother ran off when Kate was just a baby, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother, Jillian. Jillian and Kate are witches and the whole town suspects the truth even though they have been careful not to publicly demonstrate their abilities. Things start to look up when a new boy arrives in town. Jarrod Thornton is cute, if somewhat clumsy, and has powerful abilities he doesn't even seem to be aware of.
Any romantic hopes Kate has for Jarrod are quickly dashed when she discovers that he is in complete denial of his abilities. He thinks she's crazy for believing in such things. He has a desperate need to fit in so he hangs out with the in-crowd and is embarrased to even be seen with Kate. Jarrod might be oblivious to his gift, but he can't ignore the curse that is hanging over his family. As the bad luck, injuries, and accidents begin to intensify, Jarrod comes to share Kate's belief that someone with knowledge of the black arts cursed one of his ancestors with misfortune, a curse that has been inherited by each subsequent generation. The only way for Jarrod to stop the curse is to travel back in time and prevent it from being cast in the first place.
This book starts out slow. So slow, in fact, that I would put it down and then not be too excited about getting back into it again. Things improve tremendously when Jarrod and Kate travel back in time to stop the curse. There is alot more action and the characters are finally given a chance to develop a relationship. Up until that point, their tentative friendship wasn't really believable, what with Kate thinking he was a spineless coward and Jarrod thinking she was crazy. I was starting to wonder why they even wanted to be in the same room with each other. If you can get past the early stage of the book, you will be rewarded with a more interesting story and characters. The ending may be predictable, but it's still satisfying.
BEST FEATURE: The time travel. I'm always a sucker for this plot device. It's even more intriguing when the characters run across ancestors or descendants, depending on what direction in time they're traveling. Who hasn't mused about what life would be like if you go back and correct your mistakes?
WORST FEATURE: Part one of the book. I haven't read too many books that have started out this badly. Normally, the first few chapters of the book are written to grab your attention and draw you into the story. The author needs to make you care about these characters so that you keep reading. In this case, the first part of this book introduces the main characters, but you don't really care about them until part two.
PARENTAL WARNING: minor violence; sexual content is minimal and mostly consists of kissing
MY RATING: 2.5 - The beginning of the book drags it down, but it's still an interesting read nonetheless.
One of the advantages of discovering a book series that is already four books long is that you can read them all back to back. That's what I ended up doing with the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. I had originally planned to read the first book and then move on to some other books in my stack before reading the rest of the books in the series. I quickly changed my mind.
Vampire mythology in literature can differ from author to author. In Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy, there are two different types of vampires: the Moroi and the Strigoi. The Moroi are a mortal race of vampires that only needs blood as a supplement to a normal human diet. They do not kill to get that blood and usually get it from willing volunteers. Moroi can also walk in the sunlight, even though it weakens them, and they can do magic. The Strigoi are immortal vampires who usually kill their victims for blood. They are super fast and strong, the ultimate predator. Anyone who drinks a Strigoi's blood prior to death will become a Strigoi. A Strigoi that was formally a Moroi can no longer perform magic. Moroi are born, Strigoi are made.
The series is told in first person by Rose Hathaway. Rose is a Dhampir, half human, half vampire. Dhampirs are faster and stronger than Moroi and move about undetected in the human world, unaffected by the sun. Their abilities make them ideal for protecting their weaker Moroi cousins. Dhampirs who decide to go through the training can become guardians and are assigned to individual Moroi for their personal protection. Rose is a student at St. Vladimir's Academy where she is training to be a guardian. The academy also educates Moroi in the use of magic as well as the traditional school courses. Rose's best friend is Lissa Dragomir, the last of one of the Royal lines of Moroi. Because of their close friendship and an unusual supernatural bond, it's a virtual certainty that Rose will be Lissa's guardian when they graduate from the academy. It is concern for Lissa's safety that causes Rose to run away from the academy with Lissa in tow.
Their freedom can't last forever and after two years of living among humans, Rose and Lissa are captured and returned to the academy in disgrace. The danger that caused them to run away still exists, but there is some consolation in returning to their friends. Each girl will discover new revelations about themselves and their relationship. They will also manage to fall for guys who are deemed inappropriate by their respective cultures. All this while trying to evade the hidden danger that stalks them.
Book Two: Frostbite
A nearby Strigoi attack has put St. Vladimir's Academy and parents on edge during the holiday season so the Moroi royal families have invited all the students and their families to stay at a luxurious ski resort with sufficent security to keep everyone safe. Rose would normally be excited about this, but she feels like a bit of a third wheel around her best friend Lissa, and Lissa's new boyfriend, Christian. Rose is also jealous that her friend can have an open relationship since the guy Rose is in love with, Dimitri, is also her trainer and considered too old for her. She suspects he feels the same way about her, but he won't give in to his feelings because his sense of honor and responsibility are too strong. He is trying to move on with another woman, but even though there is a perfectly nice guy interested in Rose, she can't seem to shake her feelings for Dimitri long enough to reciprocate.
After three fellow students leave the resort to hunt down some Strigoi after another brutal attack, Rose and Christian go after them in an attempt to prevent them from getting hurt. Unfortunately Rose's worst nightmare plays out with tragic results.
Book Three: Shadow Kiss
Rose and Lissa return to St. Vladimir's Academy to deal with the fallout from what happened at the ski resort with some excess baggage in the form of Adrian Ivashkov. He has abilities similar to Lissa's and has come back to the academy as a guest so they can work together to learn more. Lissa's boyfriend, Christian, isn't too happy about that even though Adrian is clearly more interested in Rose romantically.
There is only one guy that Rose is interested in, however, and that's Dimitri. He may be older than her and her teacher, but the heart wants what the heart wants. She is determined to make this work no matter what.
Never a dull moment at St. Vladimir's. Due to weakened wards, a large group of Strigoi are able to get on campus resulting in a legendary battle that even Rose and her fellow novice guardians are forced to play a role in. In war, even when you win a battle you can still lose. Rose suffers a horrible loss and must decide between her best friend and the man she loves.
Book Four: Blood Promise
**SPOILER ALERT** DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK 3.
Rose and Dimitri made a promise to each other that if one of them was ever turned into a Strigoi, the other one would kill them to save their eternal soul. When Dimitri was captured by Strigoi during the battle at St. Vladimir's Academy and turned, Rose knew she needed to keep her promise. She decided to leave the academy on the day of her 18th birthday, leaving her best friend behind.
Rose starts her search in Dimitri's homeland, Russia. While still mourning his loss and struggling with how she could possibly kill the man she loves, Rose travels the country, making allies and killing random Strigoi along the way. Through her bond with Lissa, she is able to check in at home and discovers that all is not well with her best friend. Lissa is lost without Rose and falls into a party life-style with new friends which will ultimately lead to several poor decisions. Torn between her promise to Dimitri and needing to go home to her best friend, Rose decides to continue her search.
Her plan was simple, find Dimitri and kill him. Rose should have known better. Not only was she not prepared to see him again, she was not prepared for how much he still resembled the man she loved, in so many ways. Now she has another decision to make... kill him or let him kill her so they can be together forever.
**END OF SPOILER ALERT**
Bella and Edward who? For me, this series blew Twilight away, which had been the recent gold standard for supernatural love stories. There's alot going on here than just a love story. Rose has to make some agonizing choices and most of them have realistic and devastating consequences. All four books were impossible to put down. I think I set a new personal best time for how fast I could read a book without totally abandoning my family. The world that Richelle Mead has created is imaginative and compelling. I'm anxiously awaiting book 5 which should be out in a couple of weeks.
BEST FEATURE: It's hard to pick any one thing, but the story and the characters who are living it are the main event here.
WORST FEATURE: Poor editing... especially in the first two books. It was frequently annoying and something that a good proofreading software could prevent.
PARENTAL WARNING: violence and minor sexual content; appropriate for teens
MY RATING: 4.5 for the series overall. A totally addictive read.
Ethan Wate has lived in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina all of his life. Same buildings, same people, same routine, just a different day. He can't wait to escape and discover the world outside the historic time capsule of his hometown. He just has to survive high school. Getting to school on time is challenging enough, but Ethan is also struggling with the recent death of his mother and his father's subsequent withdrawal from life. Then there are the strange dreams Ethan has been having of a beautiful girl which quickly deteriorate into nightmares where she slips through his fingers.
Lena Duchannes is the new girl at school. Not only does she live in a creepy plantation with her hermit uncle and drive around in a hearse, but she's literally the girl of Ethan's dreams. Their connection is virtually instantaneous and devastating. Their families don't want them to be together, the entire school is treating Lena like an outcast, and even the residents of the town are on a bit of a witch hunt. They may not be far off the mark. Lena is not a normal girl, as Ethan quickly discovers. They say that love can conquer all, but there's no such thing as a sure thing.
If you're a fan of the Twilight series like I am, this book is for you. The books share a very similar story line, a human falling in love with a supernatural being in a small town with quirky characters. This writing team is very good at getting you to feel the emotions of this star-crossed couple. When they were angry, I was angry. When they were frustrated, I was frustrated. It's a rare achievement for a book since it does not have the visual cues that a movie has. I would have liked more detail on Lena's abilities and her family. It can get confusing at times since the authors created most of the supernatural elements from scratch which requires more explanation than a story about vampires. Sometimes I felt that explanation was lacking. At 563 pages, that's a minor complaint since the book already feels pretty complete. Give it a chance. You won't regret it.
BEST FEATURE: The town of Gatlin and its residents. They're hilarious. With their pronounced southern accents, Civil War re-enactments, and obsession with family trees, I would love to see a book that focused on them.
WORST FEATURE: The ending. Not a happy ending. Not an unhappy ending. I don't know if the authors are planning on a sequel, but I don't feel like I got closure with this one.
PARENTAL WARNING: violence and minor sexual content; appropriate for teens
MY RATING: 4 - a pleasant surprise. I'll be watching for new books by these authors.
Phantom Pleasures by Julie Leto introduces Alexa Chandler, the CEO of a luxury hotel chain who has found the ultimate project. Like most women, she has dreamed of being swept off her feet by a handsome man and whisked away to a romantic castle. Now she has inherited an island with a castle that she intends to turn into a luxury hotel. The castle, however, is already occupied... sort of. In the 1700's, Damon Forsyth was trapped in a portrait by dark magic and has been waiting centuries for someone to release him from his prison. Once Alexa gets Damon out of the painting, then the trouble really starts. The source of the magic that had been used to imprison Damon is being pursued by a secret sect who will stop at nothing to possess it.
I love romances and I love supernatural story lines so I was excited about reading this book when I read the summary. Things were looking promising until Alexa showed up. At that point, the dialogue took a nose dive into camp and never really recovered. Add several rauchy sex scenes and I felt like I'd stumbled into the literary version of a porno. I know what you're thinking. What's the difference between a porno and a romance novel? Good question. One uses what little plot there is to set up the next sex scene while the other uses a sex scene to advance the plot and show developing intimacy between the characters. The chemistry between the two main characters never really sparked either, they seemed too busy using each other to get to know each other. This book is actually the first in a series. Too bad I have no interest in reading the others.
BEST FEATURE: The idea. This story had so much potential... trapping several heroes in objects that have been lost. It's not a unique plot device, but I always find it interesting.
WORST FEATURE: The dialogue. It was too stilted... especially between the main characters. Reading it was like watching a movie with bad actors.
PARENTAL WARNING: numerous explicit sex scenes and some violence; best for adults only
MY RATING: 1.5 - a few good plot twists at the end kept this one afloat, but there is very little to recommend it.
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray is the conclusion of Gemma Doyle's story. Greed, politics and guilt-trips... no, it's not congress. It's what happens when you bind the magic of the realms to yourself and everyone wants a piece. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Gemma has the best of intentions. The magic had originally been controlled by the Order which was made up of witches like Gemma and her mother. Now Gemma plans to make an alliance with the other inhabitants of the realms and share the magic with them. But first, she wants to use her new power to help her friends secure their futures. The longer she delays, the more agitated her future allies get and things start to unravel. To add to the strain, some unexpected enemies have arrived on the scene.
As excited as I was to read the conclusion of this story, I was also sad when it was over. It has its highs and lows, but this fantasy series for girls is the best I've ever read. It touches on all the best themes: friendship, feminism, and the internal battle between the need to fit in and the desire to be special. Ah, the Victorian Age... how far we've come, but we still have a long way to go. This may be fiction, but there is no escaping reality. Not every character that you want to have a happy ending will get one. If that isn't an important life lesson, I don't know what is.
BEST FEATURE: Formula? What formula? A lot of literature follows an established pattern. Mystery novel? The bad guy gets caught. Romance? The star-crossed lovers get a happy ending. This author took the road less traveled and gave us an incredible story. Watch your back J.K. Rowling!
WORST FEATURE: The length. It's 819 pages long. Someone should take a hedge clipper to this thing. Cut 300 pages and the book would still be sublime and I wouldn't have thrown my back out picking it up to read.
PARENTAL WARNING: violence and minor sexual content; appropriate for teens
MY RATING: 4.5 for the book itself, 5 for the series over-all. The book was just too long.
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray is the follow-up to A Great And Terrible Beauty. Gemma Doyle and her friends, Felicity and Ann, are preparing to leave Spence Academy to spend the Christmas holiday in London with their families. This is a welcome relief for Gemma, who in the last few months, has discovered that her recently murdered mother had a secret identity, lost a good friend to suicide, and watched her father slide into addiction. Oh, and she also has the ability to open the door to the realms where magic is real and can be used to make wishes come true. It is also where the spirits of the dead gather before they cross over.
Gemma's hopes for a happy holiday quickly evaporate when she discovers that the magic is loose in the realms and is threatening to seep into her world. There is also the bittersweet discovery that her friend, Pippa, has not crossed over and is still in the realms. Although Pippa looks no different to her friends, they are worried that she will be corrupted by the dark spirits the longer she lingers in the realms. Gemma is the only one who can bind the magic. Several factions seek to manipulate her into binding the magic in their favor including her greatest enemy, Circe, and Kartik, the mysterious young man who brings out the teen angst in Gemma. To further complicate things, she has to accomplish this without her family discovering her secret.
As much as I loved the first book in this series, it pales in comparison to this one. The action and suspense is almost non-stop. Just when I thought I had things figured out... oops. There is also a very welcome wrinkle added in the form of one Simon Middleton who finds Gemma intriguing. He's both a gentleman and the bad boy all rolled into one. We wouldn't want to make things too easy on poor Kartik.
BEST FEATURE: The Who-Is-Circe Game. Sharp readers will catch a clue that will give you a second suspect to go with the obvious one which will keep you stumped over Circe's true identity until the climax of the book.
WORST FEATURE: The confusion over whether the girls enter the realms with their physical bodies or just with their minds. The implication in this book is that they physically enter the realms. There has been mention of them wearing the same clothing in the realms as they were wearing in the real world and they have brought at least one object out of the realms with them. However, the injuries they sustain do not carry over into the real world and when Pippa chose to stay in the realms, she died in real life and was buried. I could use some clarification on this.
PARENTAL WARNING: minor violence and sexual content; appropriate for teens
MY RATING: 5 - The faster pace pushed this one into the must-read category.
In Shadow Music by Julie Garwood, our heroine, Gabrielle, is the daughter of a princess and an English baron. King John has arranged a marriage for Gabrielle with a laird from the Scottish highlands in order to create an alliance for peace. Unfortunately, two other barons have been vying for her hand as well. While trying to prevent Gabrielle's marriage to the laird and claim her for themselves, the barons succeed in destroying her reputation instead. Gabrielle is an outcast without king or country and is taken in by the MacHugh clan. Knowing the only way to salvage her reputation is to make her his wife, Laird Colm MacHugh offers to marry her. What starts out as a marriage of convenience quickly becomes something else.
Although the plot is interesting and the book is well written, I had difficulty getting invested in any of the characters. The heroine was too lifeless and the hero was too harsh. The usual comic elements that I have come to expect from Ms. Garwood were mostly missing this time and the supporting characters had little to no personality. I'm not sure where this one went off the rails, but it was not what I was expecting.
BEST FEATURE: Any time Brodick Buchanan shows up. Although his character is more toned down than in Ransom, he's still the life of this party.
WORST FEATURE: The lack of sexual tension. A must for all good romance novels, this book was seriously lacking in heat.
PARENTAL WARNING: mild violence and sexual content that isn't overly explicit.
MY RATING: 2 - It's never a good sign when you'd rather read about the supporting characters than the main couple.
Ransom by Julie Garwood is a follow-up to The Secret and features several of the characters from that book. Two young sisters are separated by tragedy caused by a treasure and the secret it holds. The older sister, Christen, flees to Scotland and the younger sister, Gillian, is captured and kept in England as the ward of the man who killed her father. The treasure has mysteriously disappeared, but it was last seen in Christen's possession. Once Gillian reaches adulthood, her father's killer orders her to find her older sister and the treasure and bring them to him or he will kill her uncle. As she's leaving for Scotland, Gillian rescues a young boy named Alec who happens to be the son of Iain Maitland and the godson of Brodick Buchanan, both from The Secret. Gillian enlists Brodick's help in returning Alec to his parents and finding her sister. They also manage to fall in love with each other.
The above description doesn't really do the plot justice. There is alot going on here. It may be complicated, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a great story. This one was difficult to put down. I recommend reading The Secret first, however, so you have more of an emotional investment in the characters.
BEST FEATURE: Brodick. This man will get under your skin and stay there.
WORST FEATURE: Trying to squeeze two love stories into one romance novel. The romance of secondary characters Ramsey and Bridgid got short-changed. They really deserved their own book.
PARENTAL WARNING: mild violence and sexual content that isn't overly explicit.
MY RATING: 4 - I loved reading this one so much I might read it again.
I know what you're thinking. This book has been out forever. You should see my TBR pile. The Secret by Julie Garwood was recommended by a friend and is the first book in a series of three that share some related characters. I should also mention that I'm a sucker for a book series. Anyway... Judith Hampton is best friends with Frances Catherine Kirkaldy. Not a very shocking revelation unless you consider the fact that Judith is English and Frances Catherine is Scottish and they live in Great Britain during the 1200's. Any fan of historical romances will tell you that their friendship is a big no-no. By the time they figure out that they're supposed to be enemies, it's too late. The women in Frances Catherine's family have a history of dying in childbirth so Judith promises that she will be at her friend's side when the time comes for Frances Catherine to deliver her first child. When Frances Catherine marries and gets pregnant, she sends her brother-in-law, Iain Maitland, to escort Judith to Scotland. He's attracted to her, she's attracted to him... what could possibly go wrong? There are just a few pesky problems like the fact that their countries despise each other, Judith's views on women's rights are more liberal than the Scots', and then there's that secret mentioned in the title. Hey, it wouldn't be a romance novel if the happy ending occurred in the first 100 pages.
I will buy a book on the strength of Ms. Garwood's name alone. I know it's going to be a good story no matter what the topic is. She also knows how to right hilarious scenes which is much more difficult than inserting the occasional one-liner.
BEST FEATURE: The men. OMG, the men. They are so dreamy, I should have classified this as fantasy romance. Sigh.
WORST FEATURE: Overuse of the word 'appalling'. If you created a drinking game around this book for every time the word was used, you'd be plastered halfway through. Someone get that woman a thesaurus.
PARENTAL WARNING: mild violence and sexual content that isn't overly explicit
MY RATING: 3 - Loved the story, but loved the characters even more.
Gemma Doyle's mother dies under suspicious circumstances in India, and with her father slowly falling apart, her family decides to enroll her in a girl's school in England. The school's purpose is to groom its upper class girls for successful marriages and the lower class girls to become governesses, but it harbors dark secrets surrounding its past students and faculty. Gemma knows all about secrets since she has a few of her own. She has been having visions ever since the day her mother died. As Gemma struggles to try to fit in with the other girls and understand the purpose of her visions, she forms a strange bond with three fellow students. Their discovery of the school's secrets will lead them down a path of self-discovery and tragedy that will change their lives forever.
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray is a classic waiting to happen. It's a unique mash-up of Twilight and Harry Potter that takes place in Victorian England. Sounds like a crazy combination, right? Wrong. The supernatural elements in the book are interesting, but unnecessary. What will really grab your attention is the relationship between Gemma and her three friends. Given the inital descriptions of these girls, you would think they have nothing in common, and yet they become close friends. As the story progresses, you discover that the common link between the girls is their powerlessness to control their fate. It sucks to be a girl in the Victorian Age. The frustrations and sadness that the girls experience as they cope with their dysfunctional families and attempt to fight their fate are so genuine that I felt like I was the one drowning under the weight of their desperation. The best part... there are two more books that pick up where this one left off. Yeah!
BEST FEATURE: The opening chapter where Gemma's mother dies. The mother's death isn't half as devastating as what turned out to be Gemma's last words to her mother. Wow.
WORST FEATURE: The pacing. The story builds so slowly that things really start dragging in the mid-section. Of course, several classics I was forced to read in literature class were guilty of the same charge and still live on.
PARENTAL WARNING: minor violence and sexual content; appropriate for teens
MY RATING: 4.5 - So close, but not quite. When my daughter comes of age, this is going on her reading list.
Durham, North Carolina - The story starts in Durham where our heroine, Regan, is a college student at Duke University.
Newport, Rhode Island - Regan is rescued by members of the Order of the Caryph and is taken to a safe house in Newport. The safe house is a fortress-like mansion on an estate hidden in a forested area. It's definintely not on any tour routes and most locals don't even know it exists.
New York City - Headquarters for the Order of the Caryph is located in Manhattan in an old hotel known as the Orion-Clearview. The abandoned hotel was discovered by a member of the order and remodeled to suit their needs.
Atlanta, Georgia - The climax of the story begins in Atlanta where Regan and her new friends are attacked by a demon as the result of a betrayal.
The inspiration for the Legend of the Caryph series was a happy web surfing accident. While researching Stonehenge, I stumbled across a more obscure stone circle known as the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. The name caught my imagination and was the basis for the original nine caryphs in my story.
The Nine Ladies is a Bronze Age stone circle on Stanton Moor in Derbyshire's Peak District National Park. There are many myths associated with the circle, but the predominant one is that nine young women were turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on the sabbath. The circle has pagan associations, but its origins are still undetermined as far as I can tell.
The circle is very important to the Legend of the Caryph series and will get more attention as the story line advances in future books. I have a different take on the Nine Ladies myth and I can't wait to share it!
The time period is pre-Civil War Texas. In Touched by Love by Tracy Garrett, gun-for-hire, Jaret Walker, was hired to capture a man and escort him to a Mexican prison. What he didn't realize was the man he put in prison was accused of a crime he didn't commit to get him out of the way so that an unknown villian could steal the family ranch. Jaret tries to correct his mistake by rescuing the innocent man from prison, but the poor man gets shot in the process. Injured and unable to travel to his home, Jaret offers to go to the man's ranch to try to figure out who set him up and protect his sister, Isabel. Unfortunately for Jaret, most of the ranch employees are suspects and Isabel is insistent that she can take care of herself.
This being a romance, it's no surprise that the guy gets the girl and the bad guy gets what he deserves. There isn't a great deal of suspense here since the identity of the villian is anything but shocking. The author also trots out (pardon the pun) alot of western cliches to kill time until the final climax... a barn fire, a psychotic stallion that only our heroine can control, attempted murder by rattlesnake and poison, a fake marriage to prevent a hanging, two kidnappings, and so on. I think the only things missing were a bank/stage robbery and a stampede.
BEST FEATURE: The scene where the previously mentioned pyschotic stallion, crazed by the barn fire, threatens to trample our heroine. When Isabel finally gets the horse under control, she looks up and discovers Jaret standing close by with a rifle pointed at the animal's head. That sequence was written so well that it took my breath away.
WORST FEATURE: The inconsistencies... mainly the confusion over whether the villian is trying to kill Isabel or kidnap her for a forced marriage. Which is it?
PARENTAL WARNING: minor sexual content and violence
MY RATING: 2 - Strong effort, but for Western or Romance lovers only.
The latest book in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series is the best one yet. This book picks up where the last one left off. MacKayla (Mac) Lane has been captured by the enemy and the veil between our world and the fae has ruptured. Mac is rescued by the young sidhe seer, Dani, and is brought back from the edge of madness by Jericho Barrons. The war between the humans and the dark fae heats up and ends with an excruciating cliffhanger.
If you're looking for answers to the questions that have come up over the course of the series, you're going to be disappointed. The list of what we don't know is still longer than what we do. It frustrates me on a level similar to the Lost tv series, but in a good way. I prefer Moning's Highlander series which is a prequel of sorts to this series, but the Fever series does not disappoint.
BEST FEATURE: The verbal and nonverbal exchanges between Mac and Barrons. It's so hot it burns.
WORST FEATURE: Our heroine, Mac, still reads like a self-absorbed spoiled brat. This many books into the series, I would have liked to see more growth in her than just her confidence in her abilities. Although this lends a realness to the character, it frequently makes me want to slap her upside her fictional head.
PARENTAL WARNING: explicit sexual content, violence and language
Welcome to my first blog. My name is Lynn Moyle and I am a property claims adjuster by day and a budding writer by night. I'm married with children, frequently sleep-deprived and a serious book addict.
I started this blog with two goals in mind: to share information on the Legend of the Caryph series, including the next installment, which I am currently working on, and to provide reviews of the books I am currently reading. Since I read everything but instruction manuals, there is no telling what you might find here.
This blog will likely evolve over time, but for now, I'm keeping it simple. Comments are welcome on all topics. If you've read my book, please tell me what you thought. Thank you!
car – yph [kair-if] – A woman with supernatural abilities created to maintain the balance between good and evil. Regan Thompson was a normal college student with dreams of becoming a doctor. In one night, everything she cared about was wrenched away from her and she discovered that she was a caryph, and the inevitable target of a formidably powerful demon that is rising up against humanity. With the help of a secret society known as the Order of the Caryph, Regan will have to learn how to master her supernatural abilities in order to defend herself as well as mankind. An inexperienced college student, Regan will find friendship, love and confidence during her evolution into something entirely different. But an unexpected betrayal will raise the question, how do you fight someone who knows more about you than you do?
Author Lynn Moyle lives in Des Moines with her husband and two children. She is an avid reader as well as a writer, and has wanted to be an author since she was a child. She is currently working on the next installment of the Legend of the Caryph series, which will continue the story of Regan and the magical world she finds herself immersed in.