Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Future book reviews

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray


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.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shadow Music by Julie Garwood


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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ransom by Julie Garwood


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.