Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Secret by Julie Garwood


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.

A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray


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.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cities featured in the Legend of the Caryph

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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The inspiration for Legend of the Caryph

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!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Touched by Love by Tracy Garrett


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.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning


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

MY RATING: 4, because I just can't help myself

Welcome to my first blog

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!