Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review: The Ruby Talisman by Belinda Murrell

If you like French History or you are curious about what it might have been like for Aristocrats during the French Revolution The Ruby Tailsman is the book for you.

Often you find fiction books based around the French Revolution to be romanticized and it barely touches upon the nitty, gritty often bloody facts that surround that era. Not this book, Paris wasn't always the city of love. But what happens when there is no dashing hero to help save the day???

Tilly is a average teenage girl dealing with the divorce of her parents with the usual teen angst. Her mother, clutching her last straw & unable to cope with her daughter's attitude anymore, sends Tilly to her Aunt Kara for the weekend. Here Tilly is shown a priceless family heirloom, a gorgeous gold & ruby necklace, that had  once belonged to her french ancestress Amelie-Mathilde-Louise de Montjoyeuse.

When Tilly falls asleep with the necklace on she wakes to find herself transported back in time to the side of Amelie, a young naive girl living as lady in decadent luxury & in sore need of a friend. Unaware that she is about to witness a country at the brink of civil war, everything Amelie has ever known will change forever and Tilly, using every scrap of information she learned in school about the french revolution, must find a way to save Amelie or risk losing everything herself.

Drawing inspiration from Madame Campan's Memoirs of the Private Life of Marie Antoinette (1818) and Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey (2001), this book has bloody murders, angry crazed mobs, sword fighting and even a chance meeting with the legendary tragic Queen herself. Not to mention the author has also included a translation of french words used in the book at the beginning and interesting facts about French History at the end of the book, so you are bound to learn something new. An interesting read but definitely not a lighthearted fairytale story for little kids.

 Pages: 233 pages

If you like French Revolution Fiction try The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review: The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro

The latched clicked.
The locked door swung open.
Cate blinked, blinded by the brightness.
It was large square room with high ceilings and a wall of french windows leading to a balcony overlooking the rose garden. All around the room, the most delicate plasterwork and cornicing shone, covered in gilt; bright gold garlands twining against creamy white walls. the effect was dazzling.

Cate (aka Katie)  is trying to run away from New York and her past. When her aunt Rachel offers her a job as an assistant to help auction catalog a deceased estate's assets at Endsleigh, a Manor in the English countryside, she jumps the chance to getaway; but when Cate lockpicks a forgotten gilded room that had been hidden for over a generation and stumbles upon a shoebox filled with secrets, she becomes obsessed with the Blythe sisters and in particular popular socialite Diana "Baby" Blythe who disappeared under mysterious circumstances...

Cate untied the frayed silk ribbon and lifted the lid. Wrapped between layers of crumpled newspaper was a pair of delicate silver dancing shoes.

Following the clues Cate finds within the shoebox she pieces together the events that happened over 60 years ago. With Cate is Jack, tall, dark & handsome who also works for Rachel but a man also tortured by his past. Against his better judgment Jack feels himself drawn to the enigma that is Cate but can he truly move on from past events enough to grasp a hopeful future within his reach?

Nothing is as it seems in this book. Although you might think that you have it all figured out, it will surprise you again and again. A good historical fiction mystery read that includes real facts & also explores the past of the main characters as well as the mysterious Blythe sisters.

Can the secrets of one woman's past change another woman's future?

Book Review: Forest Born by Shannon Hale

What good was she to her family broken? She could not keep pretending to be the same Rin, the never-failing Rin, the helpful Rin, not when she was about to break apart like the burned-through wood. The trees had changed for some reason, and she was no longer welcomed in the Forest. 

The fourth book set in the magical world of Bayern, this story is about Rinna, Razo's younger sister & a true forest girl at heart.

Rinna (aka Rin) is haunted by a selfish act she committed in the past. Petrified of the person she could become Rin has buried a special power she barely understands deep within herself and tries hard to be the perfect daughter. But since that incident Rin has lost her special calming bond with the trees of the forest and feels alienated within her own family. When Razo offers to let Rin to join him in the palace, she jumps at the chance to escape from the Forest.

Welcomed as part of the palace household Rin is initially intrigued by the "Fire Sisters" Dasha, Enna & Isi and finds friendship/acceptance where she least expects it. But when an enemy from Bayern's past threatens her new friends, is Rin strong enough to face the evil that could destroy the people she loves? Can Rin resist temptation of her darker self?

The story itself is not a bad read and is a good adventure/coming into your own story but if you're expecting the same romance you found in the previous books in the series you might be disappointed.

Book Series: The Books of Bayern
Books in the Series: The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets
Books by the same Author: Book of a Thousand Days, The Princess Academy

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Book Review: The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

My name is Zita, and I am the thirteenth of thirteen princesses. My twelve sisters have become the subject of legend, even in farway kingdoms, but I am sure that you have never heard of me.

Another tale for lovers of Fairy Tales with a fresh twist.

Zita works in the kitchen with the palace cook and is known for baking delicious pastries but anyone who'd look at her would not consider her more than a palace maid. With flaming curly hair and green eyes, you wouldn't think she was related to the pale blond & blue eyed beauties, the princesses of King Arician & Queen Amara. Being the 13th and last born girl in a long line of daughters of a king who only wanted sons, she was named Zita after the patron Saint of Servants. Blamed for the death of her mother in child birth, Zita was disowned and banished to the servant quarters, away from the sight of the King.

As Zita grows older and learns of her past, she is secretly welcomed among her sisters with open arms and for one night a week, with the help of a forgotten dumbwaiter, can spend time in the company of her sisters freely. Shortly after Zita's birthday her all of her sisters are suddenly stricken down with a strange sickness. Weak and sickly pale, the princesses do not eat & sleep away the day. Only Zita has noticed their dancing slippers worn away each morning.

With the help of Babette the witch, the stable boy Breckin & Milek the soldier, Zita must face her fears & find away to save her sisters from a strong mysterious enchantment that is killing them.

Not a bad re-telling of an old Brothers Grimm fairy tale The 12 Dancing Princesses from author Diane Zahler. It has magic, romance, revenge & redemption. A good read, with a surprising climax.

Note: If you like this book or are a fan of the original tale try Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing, an old favourite of mine.

Pages: 243 pages.

Book Review: The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric

Where's our Studious Son? Who's our Lost Daughter?
Our Undrowned Child plucked from the water,
Who shall save us from a Traitor's tortures?
That secret's hidden in the old Bone Orchard.

The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric is unlike any other book I have previously read. It is a book full of historically interesting facts about Venice with a fantastical twists but also includes a wide variety of colourful characters, human and not human.

The story is set in 1899 & is told from the viewpoint of the two main characters; Teodora (aka Teo) a girl from Naples & Lorenzo (aka Renzo) a boy from Venice. My first impression is that the story is very heavy for a child. The book covers everything from death to betrayal to racial discrimination to violent/bloody battle scenes to evil revenge centuries old. It's definitely not a lighthearted child's fairy tale.

The book begins with tragedy as generations of a single family drown in the Venice lagoon one fog filled night under mysterious-magical circumstances and of the baby whose body was never found...

Fast forward to "present day" and Venice is under threat of destruction. The best scientists from around the world are being sent to Venice in the hope they can figure out way to save the drowning city scientifically. Teo is the bookish daughter of two such scientists and a visit to Venice seems like a dream come true but it all turns into  nightmare from the moment a book called The Key to the Secret City falls on her head.

As the lines of an old prophecy begin to come true, Teo, with the help of a local Venice boy called Renzo, must find a way to save the city from an ancient enemy and travel throughout Venice encountering many strange/wonderful creatures. One of which are mermaids who talk like sailors & have a love of spices. The mermaids were one of my favourites and often gave comedic relief in this dark story.

If you want to read something new and unlike any other story you have read before, give this dark tale a go.

P.S. At the end of the story the author has included facts about the history Venice and where you can find places you read of in the book. It might surprise you to learn what was actually true...

Pages: 396 pages

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Salvation has it's price...

The long awaited 5th book of the highly popular Vampire Academy series didn't disappoint. The 4th book ended with Rose hearing the rumour of a Spirit-user who could turn Strigoi back into the Dhampirs or Moroi they once were, raising her hopes of saving the soul of her beloved Dimitri.

Right from the beginning shadowkissed/wise-cracking Rose has a few issues to face. Not only does Rose have to figure out how the Spirit-user turned Strigoi back and pass her final Guardian exams but she has also has major boy problems.

On one side Rose has Adrian, a totally hot moroi Spirit-user/Dreamwalker who absolutely adores her & who is also willing to put aside his bad habits to make her happy; but his aunt is the Queen of the moroi who has made her disapproval of Rose very clear & has the power to assign her to a desk job instead being Guardian of Lissa.

On the other side is Dimitri, her gorgeous ex-instructor/ex-lover turned Strigoi who sends her creepy love letters every week. Dimitri has made it very clear that if he can't have Rose as his Strigoi partner for eternity he'll make sure that no else will have her.

Rose isn't the only one with boy problems. Lissa and Christian are still loggerheads since the last book. Christian still can't forgive Lissa for her out of control behavior and things she said/did under influence of Avery. Lissa is still battles her demons/depressions that is a result of using her Spirit power, which isn't helped by the fact she goes green with envy when she notices Christian in the company of other female moroi.

I don't want to ruin the story but there is a lot that happens in this book and you definitely won't see the end coming.

I can't wait for the release for the sixth and final Vampire Academy book... Last Sacrifice.

Pages: 489 pages

Other Books in the Series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss & Blood Promise.