Saturday, October 30, 2010

Enchanting the Lady (Relics of Merlin, #1)Enchanting the Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not usually the biggest fan of romance novels. Normally the over the top cheesiness of the dialogue and the pathetic, damsel-in-distress type heroines usually have me running to the nearest bucket to barf.

Shockingly though, I was pleasantly surprised by Enchanting the Lady. Set in the late 1880's London in an alternate universe, ranks and titles are not wholly based on legacy but rather on the amount of magic you have which is tested before you are introduced into society. Which is unfortunate for the current Duchess-of-Honour Stonehaven, a Miss Felicity Seymour, as the possibility of being tested and found wanting could become a reality. If Felicity loses her title, not only will her lands and home be taken away but her dowry will go up in smoke and with that any chance of making a suitable marriage. With nothing but her name, who would marry let alone look twice at Felicity?

True, the damsel-in-distress is somewhat DENSE in this story but when you realise Felicity has been sheltered, shunned & ignored for most of her adult life, her ignorance & naivety can be forgiven... to a point. There might be parts in this story where you literally might want to slap her and yell "Wake up!!!" or possibly give her a comforting hug.

To make up for this, there is the steamy hot baronet Sir Terrence Blackwell. A were-lion, relic hunter & bodyguard to Prince Albert, Terrence is tolerated by a society that blatantly discriminates against his kind. His heart hardened by the recent death of his brother Thomas at the hands of a woman who misused one of Merlin's Relics, Terrence is surprised when he's more intrigued by Felicity herself than the hint of relic magic that he scents on her. Who is this mysterious, beautiful woman who is shunned and ignored by all her peers? Is she an evil villain or a innocent victim?

As his primal animal instincts go into mating overdrive, Terrence finds himself making "Relic Mission" related excuses in order to spend more time in Felicity's company. So while Terrence is trying to hold his desires in check whenever he's around her, Felicity is mostly completely ignorant of the torturous situation she has put Terrence in. Hilarious!!!

Though the story does seem to drag in places, overall it is an entertaining read, especially as a relationship blossoms between Felicity and Terrence. Perfect for a day where you want to read a little romance with minimal cheesiness.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie (Books of Faerie, #2)Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dee & James are back in the dark sequel to Stiefvater's Lament.

Things are decidedly awkward between Dee and James, formerly the best of friends until a fateful text that ruined their friendship at the end of the last book. Now starting at their new art school, Thornking-Ash, they barely hang out and the air between them is heavy with the tension of words that have been left unsaid.

James is still as cocky and witty as in Lament. You often feel like either giving James a hug or a slap behind the head, depending on the situation. Nothing new there but his comical observations and one-liners are still as entertaining as ever. Dee, on the other hand... well apart from littering some of the pages of the book with unsent texts to James in lame failed attempts to bare her soul and the occasional odd Emo appearances that makes you want to slap her...really hard... or push her off a tall building, Dee barely registers in this book until the end. So without a doubt, Ballad is mostly from the view point of James, picking up where the last book left off.

Apart from the new friends James makes at Thornking-Ash, such as Sullivan a pretty cool down to earth teacher that let's kids drink coffee during lessons, my favourite character in this book is Nuala. Known as a leanan sidhe, Nuala is a solitary fey who inspires gifted humans to new creative soaring heights before feeding off their energy when they end up dying before their time. This beautiful but deadly muse has now decided to make her new mark James but he is adamant not to play her game. What follows is an entertaining & often comical battle of the wills/wits as Nuala tries to convince James to make a deal with her and James tries to lead a semi normal life. Key word - TRIES. Understandably hard when Nuala can turn into your deepest desire or worst nightmare. Still, as the story progresses you find that there maybe more to Nuala than she lets on.

Meanwhile Thornking-Ash is more than what it appears to be as well and as characters from the previous book start showing up during the course of the story you realise that there might be some unfinished business left to attend to and new dangers to face.

Overall it wasn't a bad book and it wasn't what I expected, which was surprising in a good way. As entertaining as it was to witness James finally "grow a pair" as Nuala puts it, I really hope there is a 3rd book that answers my old questions from the 1st book and the new questions from the 2nd book.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PolymerPolymer by Sally Rogers-Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read this story when I was 9 years old and it was my introduction to the Sci-Fi genre. It was a completely amazing story and I haven't forgotten it since. And as much as I will try, I don't think any review will give it enough justice.

The story centers around Polly "Polymer" Meridian, a 18 year old naive, self-centered yet hilarious girl who lives on a luxury space station surrounded by beauty/art and leads a life of frivolous decadence with her friends until her fateful graduation day when everything she knows changes forever.

Polly's Delta space station is attacked and invaded by the Gloman Empire, a ruthless military based civilization who conquers everything it sets it's sights on. Within minutes most of Polly's friends are dead, her home is destroyed and she catches the eye of a particular Gloman invader for all the wrong reasons. Being thrust into a intergalactic war will become the least of Polly's problems as she is forced to question everything she has ever known. Using courage, wit and a little bit of luck Polly will have to find a way to survive the series of events that follows the invasion which not only changes her life but might change the history of the universe forever.

This book is EPIC. First published in 1995 it's a fast-paced space adventure with interesting alien species, seemly elemental magical alien worlds, excitingly dangerous espionage, grievous betrayal, hilarious witty dialogue and steamy romance. The funny banter between Polly and Captain "Ray" Nemo by itself is a pretty entertaining read.

When I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of Polymer after 15 years I was ecstatic. Once I started reading the story again I could not put it down and was reminded why I loved the book so much. Polymer is a story told by a funny and engaging heroine who sucks you in from the very beginning and there was not a single time where I felt I could have put the book down voluntarily... just ask my fiance!!!

I don't want to spoil it for you as sooooo much happens in Polymer. So I'll just say it's a story that cannot be missed and that it is truly a once in a lifetime read that will become a much loved favourite before the last page is turned.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (Books of Faerie, #1)Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deirdre "Dee" Monaghan always thought herself a plain & ordinary, completely invisible to those around her. That is until she meets incredibly hunky & mysterious Luke Dillon. A gifted flautist with dark, dangerous secrets who has taken more than a passing interest in Dee.

After performing a completely awe inspiring duet with Luke at a local music competition, it sets off a series of strange & dangerous events that causes Dee to change her views of those around her as well as herself as she finds out she's far from ordinary... Dee is a "cloverhand"; a human with unique supernatural abilities which fairies seem to gravitate towards the closer it gets to Solstice and not all of them are... friendly...

It's a dark tale that reminiscent of the Holly Black's Tithe but is filled with Stiefvater's own brand of witty banter, which lightens the mood of the book when it gets perilously close to being too heavy. The comic relief of Dee's cute best friend James alone has had me chuckling more than once at his funny observations and lighthearted one-liners. The exchanges between Dee & Luke as she tries to figure out who or what he is exactly is also quite entertaining, especially as their little friendship becomes something more than either of them expected...

A good read, though the ending leaves things unsaid and left me wanting just a little more. I guess it's all the more reason to read the sequel Ballad. Happy reading.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

The DressmakerThe Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, I debated for a while whether or not to get this book... When I read the back of the book it reminded me of stories I had read before that had started with so much promise but in the end disappointed me with a badly put together/completely dissatisfying conclusions. So I ummed and ahhhed for awhile before I finally gave in...

First of all, I want to say if the summary blurb at the back of the book mentioning teen pregnancy makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you off reading this book, please reconsider. Especially if you like historical fiction and heroines that come into their own after many soul weary trials and heartaches.

The Dressmaker follows the life of Ellen Gowan, a woman that deals with so much bad fortune, tragedy & betrayal from such a young age in this book that you can't help but cheer her on when Ellen finds the strength to pick herself up, brush herself off and follow her dreams. There are many times in this book where the trials that Ellen goes through are sufficiently heartbreaking that my heart goes out to her, especially when she occasionally begins to see a silver lining, only for it to disappear again.

Among the cast of characters in this book there is Polly, a maid from her original family home whose destiny seems entwined with Ellen's and who eventually becomes her pillar of strength in hard times. Oriana, her beloved cousin and sister, if not in blood at least in heart, who faces her own personal trials and must find the courage overcome her fears. Raoul de Valentin, a charming rogue with his best interests at heart. And yummy handsome Connor Moncrieff, an unrequited first love from Ellen's youth who is without a doubt the absolute prefect gentleman. Seriously, this guy is what girls dream about.

Connor aside, the other bonus to the book was reading the beautiful creations created by Ellen Gowan as she strives to become successful modiste & mantua maker. You almost feel like you know what it would be like to wear a gown made by Madame Gowan.

If this was a movie at the cinema I would pay to see it. If it was a TV movie, I would happily sit down and watch it. If it was a Dvd I would buy it straight out. It was a very addictive read. It's rare to find a book that hooks you at the beginning and keeps you snared all the way through to the end.

Oh and yes, the ending certainly did not disappoint me, at all.

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