Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dark Moon Defender

Author: Sharon Shinn
Published: September 25, 2007 (Ace)
Category: Fantasy
Series: Twelve Houses #3
Rating: 9/10

This is my favorite of the Twelve Houses books so far. I felt like overall series storyline moved along nicely, and we also learn more about the mysterious Lirrenfolk who live over the mountains in eastern Gillengaria, with their own brand of magic. This is also the only book so far that I could see real romantic novel-ish elements.

Justin and Ellynor's romance was forbidden in a number of ways. First she's from the Lirrenlands, and Lirren women are not supposed to marry outsiders. If they do, one of her relatives will duel her suitor to the death. Most women will lie to their suitor, denying any affection rather than risking the death of a family member or her lover. Also, Ellynor's a novice at the Daughters of the Pale Moon convent, and is supposed to make like a nun and stay chaste. Justin, a King's Rider, sees the Lestra and her Daughters of the Pale Moon as enemies because the Lestra is hunting mystics and orchestrating a rebellion against the king.

Ellynor didn't know about the mystic hunting, and once she witnesses the Lestra burning down a house with its mystic owner inside, her eyes are opened and she must escape. Unfortunately, her cousin Rosurie, the reason she's there at the convent at all, doesn't want to leave. Rosurie had been a bad Lirren girl, falling in love with a boy from an enemy Lirren clan, and her family sent her to the convent until they settled the matter, and sent Ellynor to keep her company (and in check hopefully). Instead, Rosurie becomes a fanatic and drives herself into a coma with her religious fervor, and Ellynor delays her escape because of this, resulting in Justin's near-death by convent soldiers.

I was mad when Ellynor got captured after she and Justin made an escape from the convent. It was all her fault for wanting to stay so long with a relative of the Lestra, who she had healed previously. A servant betrays her and convent soldiers arrive to take Ellynor back to the convent that she'd wanted to escape so badly, and she's slated for burning at the stake, and needs rescuing yet again.

All characters from the previous books are back again, which is lovely, and they're more family-like than ever, particularly at the end, when Justin has to come up with an heirloom bride gift for Ellynor. Definitely the best so far!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The MacGregor Brides

Author: Nora Roberts
Published: 1997 (Silhouette)
Category: Romance
Series: The MacGregors
Rating: 8/10

This installment of the MacGregor family books tells the stories of three of Daniels granddaughters: Laura (daughter of Caine and Diana), Gwen (daughter of Serena and Justin), and Julia (daughter of Alan and Shelby).

My favorite was Gwen's story, partially because Branson Maguire discovered Daniel's plot and embraced it; he'd already fallen in love with Gwen. All the other couples fought Daniel's matchmaking, even though he'd found them the perfect partners.

The stories were nice, but the three women getting mad at Daniel for throwing their perfect matches at them was getting tiring. Each of them says they'll know when Daniel's setting them up, but they fall for it every time. The book is also charming because you get to see how their fathers deal with the idea of their baby girls getting married, or just kissing a guy (Caine's violent reaction, classic overprotective father, is the best).

Definitely read this if you're a fan of the MacGregors.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: August 2007 (Little Brown)
Category: Paranormal Romance/YA
Series: Twilight Saga #3
Rating: 9/10

Oh Stephenie Meyer, what have you done to me? Please provide another serving of textual crack so I can stop rereading my favorite parts of Twilight. Anyways, receiving Eclipse was a reward to myself for finishing my move into a new apartment. Also, if I had the book, I wouldn't have gotten any packing accomplished.

Eclipse picks up soon after New Moon left off, with Bella and Edward reunited and her preparing to become a vampire. However, more danger is on the horizon, with someone creating vampires in nearby Seattle, and someone is sneaking into Bella's room to steal her clothes for her scent, and the Volturi (heads of the vampire world) may come to take care of the Seattle problem and stop by to see if Bella's still a human. If she's not a vampire, she'll be killed because no humans are supposed to know about their world. At the same time, Edward is trying to push back Bella's changing, and comes up with the condition that he'll turn her if she marries him first, knowing that Bella has an aversion to marrying young. He's starting to get used to the idea of Bella becoming a vampire, but he doesn't want her to do it because she's afraid of the impending doom of a newborn vampire army hunting her. He wants her to do it of her own free will, not because she's afraid of being killed.

And to add to the angst, Jacob, Bella's pseudo best friend, werewolf, and other part of the love triangle, isn't giving up. Edward makes the good point to Jacob that even though Jacob may love Bella now, as a werewolf, he could imprint on his true mate when she comes along and leave Bella. I was going to give this a 10/10, but the Jacob portion of the storyline bugged me too much. Yes, it's good to have some romantic competition, but Jacob manipulated Bella, and most of the time, he was a little boy trying to act grown up. He knew acting depressed would make Bella feel bad and then he offers to die while fighting vampires so Bella can have what she wants. Ugh.

It's obvious I'm on "Team Edward," but it's mostly because Edward was willing to step back if that's what made Bella happy. Jacob did not take that route in his rough courtship, not taking "no" for an answer and disregarding Bella when she says she loves Edward. And near the end, Jacob has the nerve to say he's like that woman in the King Solomon story who gives up the baby rather than letting it get cut in half. Ummm.... Edward's been like that the whole time, so do you want a cookie or something? I spent most of the book saying, "I hate Jacob!" Stephenie Meyer better not make Bella flip back to Jacob in the last book!

Aside from the Jacob stuff, I loved everything else! Bring on Breaking Dawn!

I was introduced to the world of Twilight less than two weeks ago, and browsing fan sites on the internet is crazy. I find it funny that a lot of people don't agree with the casting of Robert Pattinson as Edward, but I think he's a good fit for the role. Just look at him... and that hair! I can't believe some people think Hayden Christiansen would be a good Edward Cullen. Gah, remember what he did to Star Wars? Or maybe the teenagers who're going nuts about Pattinson being casted were too young to remember the horror of Hayden Christiansen as Anakin Skywalker? I hope they'll give Pattinson a chance and at least see the acting before they string him up.

I'm very excited for the future of the series, especially after seeing this B&N video of Stephenie Meyer discussing Breaking Dawn and the next book after that, which is Twilight told from Edward's perspective (I think it's called Midnight Sun). Breaking Dawn is called the last book in the Twilight Saga because it's the last one told from Bella's perspective. Meyer also talks about how each book in the series drew from a classic, like the first was a little Pride and Prejudice, the second obviously Romeo and Juliet, and the third, and best interpretation so far, Wuthering Heights. She picked some great passages from Wuthering Heights to illustrate the love triangle, and ultimately, Bella's feelings for Edward.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Lost Duke of Wyndham

Author: Julia Quinn
Published: May 2008 (Avon)
Category: Historical Romance
Series: The Two Dukes of Wyndham #1
Rating: 6/10

Jack Audley, formerly a respected soldier and currently a highwayman, has just held up his grandmother's coach, and then kissed her companion, the lovely Grace Eversleigh, while grandmother, the dowager Duchess of Wyndham, fetched a miniature of his father. While on the way back to England from Ireland, Jack's father died in a shipwreck, and his family never knew that he'd married in Ireland and fathered a legitimate son. If the marriage record is found, Jack would become the true Duke of Wyndham, displacing his cousin, Thomas, who has been raised as the future duke.

Jack doesn't want the dukedom, but his grandmother, who still hasn't completely redeemed herself by the end of the book, is shoving it down his throat because she wants to restore him to his rightful place, mostly because she liked Jack's father more than Thomas's father. Usually this sort of older character is amusing and has a really soft heart, but the dowager didn't have many good moments and annoyed me most of the time. And then out of left field, it turns out Jack can't read, probably because of dyslexia, and that's partially why he doesn't want to be duke. I thought that was completely unnecessary; Jack didn't need that extra excuse to decline the dukedom. The responsibilities that come with the title are more than daunting to someone who never expected to inherit them. And did I really want to spend most of the book reading about a character who doesn't want the power and responsibility? That's why I didn't like the Spider-Man movies!

I felt like the romance took second place to Jack and Thomas dealing with the possible monumental changes to their lives. Once Grace and Jack's mutual attraction was established, it felt like their story was on autopilot, and I was kind of disappointed in The Lost Duke of Wyndham. I'm hoping that the sequel, Mr. Cavendish, I Presume is fantastic and makes up for this one.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Moon

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: September 2006 (Little Brown)
Category: Paranormal Romance/YA
Series: Twilight Saga #2
Rating: 8/10

So in my review of Twlight I mentioned that I couldn't wait to read the next book. Clearly, I didn't, as I whipped through New Moon in less than a day.... a working day. I should also mention that I got NO packing accomplished for my move this weekend. I'm so screwed with that, so I am not allowing myself to purchase the third book, Eclipse, until after I move.

This review is a bit difficult to write because I'm trying to judge based on the writing, not the fact that I was unhappy with a turn the story took. At the beginning of New Moon, one of Edward's family nearly kills Bella when she gets a paper cut. When Edward sees that Bella's association with him has put her in danger yet again, he breaks up with her, and not just in the "we're not dating anymore" way. His whole family leaves Forks, WA right after he tells her he doesn't want her.

Bella's heart breaks, and Meyer wrote it so well. I was sort of reminded of how my chest had that empty feeling right after a relationship ended. I love the way she showed time passing with nearly empty pages that just had the name of a month in the middle. That's how it feels when you've just had your heart ripped out by your true love. I won't say that's how it feels when you're young, because heartbreak is never easy.

You can guess that my main problem with the book is Edward leaving because I love him! I understand that he's doing it because he thinks he's bad for Bella. He doesn't want to change her into a vampire because he believes he'd be stealing her soul and humanity, and he's afraid she'll be hurt because she's a fragile human. You can't call him a jerk because he's thinks he's doing what's best for Bella, giving her a chance at life as a human. But then Bella begins filling the void in her chest by doing dangerous things, like riding motorcycles, approaching men in dark alleys, and jumping off cliffs.

Yes, this book was more teen angsty than Twilight, but it wasn't bad. The werewolves hinted at in Twilight make an appearance, and I hope this isn't going to be another unsatisfactory lycan vs. vampire thing like when I saw Underworld, but I'm going off on a tangent. The ending was good, but bittersweet, and is a pseudo-cliffhanger. I'm getting antsy here because I want the next book already!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: September 2006 (Little Brown)
Cateogry: Paranormal Romance/YA
Series: Twilight Saga #1
Rating: 10/10

I've finally given Twilight a try, and I'm so very glad I did. I was hesitant to pick it up these past couple years because of all the hype and the fact that it's YA vampire romance. I was afraid it would be very angsty Buffy-Angel stuff, and I fear that having past the 25 years old mark, I'm too old for this stuff. The last YA paranormal romance series I read was Cate Tiernan's Sweep series, and I think this book had far less angst than Sweep.

When Bella Swan's mother remarries, Bella decides to move from Phoenix to her father's house in a small town in Washington. She's not looking forward to leaving sunny Arizona for the rainy Pacific Northwest, but she wants her mom to enjoy traveling with her new professional athelete husband. On Bella's first day at school, all the boys are intrigued by the new girl, and she draws the attention of extraordinarily and eerily handsome Edward Cullen. He looks like he's angry at her, and she doesn't know why.

Edward's reacting poorly to his sudden and inexplicable attraction to Bella, a forbidden human. He tries running away from her, but it doesn't work, and he gives in to his desire to know her and be with her. It makes you think back to the cover image of the apple, as Bella is Edward's temptation. He has incredible self control, teaching himself to stand being near Bella without hurting her with his superhuman powers or his hunger for her blood.

I was expecting Edward's family to reject Bella, but for the most part, they're very accepting of Bella because she makes Edward happy. I thought they were going to pull one of those "She's not one of us!" things and be all close-minded. When the threat of other vampires comes to Bella, Edward's family bands together to keep her safe. In order to protect her, Edward and Bella must separate so she has a better chance of survival, and Meyer writes the pain of separation so well, you can practically feel the heartache.

Twilight is a beautiful story of first love, and not just any first love. It's true love in that Romeo and Juliet way, but hopefully without the tragic ending because they've got a lot working against them. I was up to the last chapter this morning and picked up the next book, New Moon, on the way to work because I didn't want to take my usual break between series books. I was sucked in within ten pages, which is rare for me, and I can't wait to read more!