29 October 2009

Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer


Lady Serena Spenborough's papa has died and left her inheritance in a trust controlled by, of all people, her high-handed ex-fiancé (obviously, dear papa had harbored certain hopes!). Now of "reduced" means, Lady Serena and her (very) young step-mama take up residence in Bath where Serena becomes reacquainted with a man who had loved her long ago. Meanwhile, the ex-fiancé is up to shenanigans of his own with a terrified young thing just out of the schoolroom!

I must admit that, shockingly, I did not think this Heyer romance was all the crack. Ivo's behavior towards Emily, when he wanted her to jilt him, was rather reprehensible. Especially as he only became engaged to her because Serena had engaged herself to the Major! Not good ton, dahlings.

Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer (Harlequin Books, 2004)

22 October 2009

"Black like iron, white like a swan."

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, 2009).

I have a great weakness for retold tales and one of my favorite childhood fairy stories was the "Twelve Dancing Princesses," so how could I resist Princess of the Midnight Ball?

Galen, a young orphan soldier returned home from a terrible war, takes a job with his uncle tending the royal gardens. In the gardens, he meets Princess Rose and is smitten. Hearing there is a mystery surrounding Rose and her eleven sisters -- they wear their dancing shoes out at a prodigious rate -- he sets out to uncover the truth ...

The author did a nice job of weaving in many of the details from the "original" fairy tale while still creating a novel not overly bogged down in detail -- indeed, the novels moves along quickly and remains adequately suspenseful even though we all know the ending! My only disappointment with Princess of the Midnight Ball was in its shallowness of characterization -- aside from Rose and Galen, many characters had little in the way of individual personalities but were simply represented as a particular type (Hyacinth was churchy, the King was shouty, Uncle Reiner was shouty ...)

18 October 2009

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood


I am glad we have all remembered our sunhats.

I never read Oryx and Crake. Meant to, most certainly, but had been on a pretty strong Sheri S. Tepper bender when Atwood’s novel was released and didn’t have it in me to start what I presumed would be just another post-apocalyptic green feminist novel. Then, a few months ago, I read the first ten pages on yearoftheflood.com and, woo-boy, I could not wait to get my hot little handses the companion novel.

Oh, Year of the Flood was great! A future world in which shadowy corporations manipulate everything from suburban gated communities while cities go to pot? A future world policed by a sinister storm trooper-esque security force called CorpSeCorps? A future world in which chicken nuggets grow on stalks (you can feel better about eating them because they never had eyes)? And then there are those crazy hippy God's Gardeners with their rooftop gardens and terrible hymns!

I was having a rip-roaring good time right up until the last dozen or so pages, when I lost track of the story. At that point, I think it would have been a good idea to have put Year of the Flood aside and picked up Oryx and Crake for, without knowing the ending of Oryx and Crake, the companion novel’s ending didn’t make a lot of sense to me and I had a horrible feeling I was missing something important.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (Talese, 2009)

13 October 2009

"'We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits ...'"

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (Harper Teen, 2007).

For centuries, the Summer King has been searching for his Queen while his mother, the Winter Queen, thwarts and binds him with the help of the Dark Court. Sometimes, he finds a special girl that might be The One. Alas, most of those special girls choose to skip the Queenship test and become Summer Girls – perpetually happy and, um, "sexually open." Some special girls do take the test and fail, becoming the Winter Girl – bound to thwart the Summer King in his search for his Queen. O, woe, waily, waily. Soon Winter will rule us all.

All their lives, Aislinn and her Gran have been able to see faeries – not twee Victorian flower fairies, but horrible, cruel, monstrous faeries. She and her Gran have lived carefully, trying not to attract faery attention for fear of what would happen if their Sight was discovered. Would the faeries blind them? Kill them? Or something worse?

And now two faeries are following Aislinn …

Wicked Lovely is a delicious bit of urban fantasy. When I first picked it up, I was a little worried that the novel would annoy me the same Twilight did with its whole “monster wants girl” theme, but Wicked Lovely takes it to a very different conclusion. Ash knows she does not love the monster and that her desire is a danger to her self and those she loves. Yet, it is inevitable that she should become the Summer Queen … isn’t it?

(I think, if you liked Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, then you might enjoy Wicked Lovely).

06 October 2009

April Lady by Georgette Heyer


Nell, a young bride still unused to her new wealth, finds she has overspent her quarterly allowance and has acquired a (to her) frightful debt. Desperate that her husband, Cadross, not know, she turns to her gamester brother. While her brother is skint, he does have a Cunning Plan.

Which fails. So he concocts another plan. Which does not go as ... planned. Meanwhile, Nell's behavior towards her husband becomes increasingly distant and formal. Cadross begins to think all his friends were right when they said Nell was marrying him for his money and title. And Nell (thanks to bad advice from her Mama) fears Cadross married her out of convenience and will never believe she loves him -- especially now that she is in debt up to her eyeballs.

And then there is Cadross's sister, Letitia! Pretty, headstrong Letitia who is up to no good with an upstanding young man of prospect but no position ... she will turn their love into something out of a horrid novel, see if she won't.

Oh, the silliness! A lovely bit of fluff to read on a blustery October day.

April Lady by Georgette Heyer (Harlequin, 2005)

04 October 2009

Shame

After by Amy Efaw (Viking, 2009).
Devon Davenport works hard to be a straight-A and star soccer player. She is going to go somewhere with her life. She is not going to be like her mother. And life seemed to be going Devon's way, until That Morning.

That Morning, the baby was discovered in the trash behind Devon's apartment building. That Morning, the police found Devon home sick from school ...

After
is a tightly-written novel about a heartbreaking subject. It was impossible not to become emotionally invested in this book -- so much so that I wouldn't mind a sequel. What happens after After?