Month: March 2011 (page 2 of 7)

March Mini Reviews

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Book News to bring you…

Eep! I’m a forgetful book blogger, bookworms. During those hazy days when I had possibly-sorta-maybe (but really not) broken my wrist, I didn’t do much of anything. Mostly, I sat on my couch and read. In fact, I read two whole books that I completely forgot about! So I offer up the first-ever March Mini Reviews, to try to make up for the fact that I should have written about these books a long time ago. (FYI, I’m gonna go ahead and blame this on a combination of pain, Advil and chocolate.)

Seducing the Governess (Margo Maguire)

Raised by austere parents and shocked by the revelation of family secrets after their deaths, Mercy Franklin leaves home to take a position as a governess to a young girl at a remote estate. Nash Farris, Earl of Ashby, was never supposed to be the earl – he’s the third son, after all. Scarred both by battle and the premature deaths of his two brothers, he’s returned to Ashby Hall to try to restore the physically and emotionally devastated family home. Mercy and Nash are brought together by Emmy, Nash’s orphaned niece for whom he now cares and Mercy teaches. Despite their position as employer/employee, the attraction between them is undeniable, but there are other people with less-than-honorable intentions working against them. Then again, that’s never stopped Nash before.

Seducing the Governess is a thoroughly enjoyable historical romance with a perflectly flawed hero and heroine. Both Mercy and Nash have lived life overlooked in favor of others, but both also possess an innate inclination to help others and care for those in need. They are better together – Mercy learns to stand up for herself and take ownership of her opinions, while Nash shakes off the dark cloud that’s been hovering over his head. Rooting for them – and their happy-ever-after – was easy to do. I also really liked that Maguire wrote a balanced book. There’s a lot of humor, mostly courtesy of Nash’s fellow soliders who are acting as household staff, but there’s also the overlying mysteries surrounding Mercy’s family secrets and the circumstances of Nash’s brothers’ death. The ending is satisfying while still leaving enough open for the sequel. Definitely recommend.

Any Man of Mine (Rachel Gibson)

Needing a break after her mother’s death, Autumn Haven heads to Las Vegas to blow off some steam. She doesn’t except to meet Sam LeClaire, bad boy hockey player. She really doesn’t except their whirlwind affair to lead to a quickie Vegas wedding and an equally quick – and bitter – divorce. They would never have to see each other again – if it weren’t for their son, Connor. Six years after the disaster in Vegas, Autumn and Sam barely communicate and rarely see each other. The only thing they have in common is Connor. But when a work event brings them together, both are forced into a new, uncertain relationship with one another. They might have a future together, if only they can let go of the past.

I’ve read a number of Rachel Gibson’s books revolving around the players and staff of the Seattle Chinooks hockey team. Some of them are great, some not-so-great. Unfortunately, Any Man of Mine falls into the “not-so-great” category. I definitely didn’t hate it, but I had a hard time warming up to both Autumn and Sam. Autumn is understandably quite guarded with her heart, but she also holds too tightly to grudges and resentments from years past. She’s willing to risk losing Sam because she can’t (or won’t) let herself move past everything that happened all those years ago. Sam, meanwhile, is a self-admitted jerk and a mostly absentee father. While I really liked his determination to make up for his past mistakes, especially when it came to Connor, I never really bought the reason why – the change from carefree hockey player to devoted dad seemed so sudden that I just never thought it made a lot of sense. Though I wanted to like Any Many of Mine more than I did, I realized about halfway through the book that I was more interested in the periphery characters from past books than I was in the two main characters. If you’re a Rachel Gibson fan or have read the other Chinook books, you’ll probably like this one. Otherwise, feel free to skip it.

I received both of these books as e-book ARCs from NetGalley. I was not compensated in any way for these mini-reviews.

Frostbite

Just as Rose Hathaway is settling back into life at St. Vladimir Academy, a vicious Strigoi attack has everyone on high alert and brings more guardians to the school to help keep the students safe – guardians including Rose’s famous and distant mother. Instead of enjoying the Christmas season, Rose is trying to navigate her relationship with her mother, deal with her friend Mason’s unrequited crush on her and cope with her ultimately futile desire for her mentor, Dimitri. When the Strigoi launch another deadly attack, three of Rose’s friends rush to fight back and Rose must race to save them, knowing that saving them might cost all of them their lives.

In Frostbite, the second novel in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, Mead dives deeper into the world she’s created, stirring up new issues and throwing more and more challenges in Rose’s face. The delicate political balance between the Moroi and their dhampir guardians comes into play again, with Moroi royalty infighting and philosophical debates about Moroi learning to protect themselves, instead of always relying on guardians. Mead’s complex world-within-a-world really starts to develop; the maneuvering and manipulation of the royals is fascinating and gives characters like Lissa and Mia a chance to demonstrate their inner strength as they stand up for what they believe in. Though the action is a bit slow to start, it moves at a breakneck speed once it does. Mead writes thrilling scenes that keep you reading.

In my review of Vampire Academy, I mentioned I wished I knew more about Rose’s family. Ask, and you shall receive. In Frostbite, Rose’s mother shows up and it’s anything but a happy family reunion. Rose and her mother have a tenuous, complicated relationship and, at first glance, neither really likes the other at all. Rose harbors years of resentment and resists any attempts at bonding, while Rose’s mother is weary of Rose’s antagonism. In some ways, it’s almost funny to see Rose complain so much about her mother, when she’s actually so much like her. Rose is often so tough, with a lot of bravado, but her relationship with her mom causes her vulnerability to slip through the cracks. Watching both Rose and Janine learn to see each other in a new light is a nice reminder that, for all her strength and wise-beyond-her-years knowledge, Rose is still a teen who might sometimes need her mom.

As Rose tries to make peace with her mother, she’s also trying to accept the boundaries of her relationship with Dimitri. Despite all the obstacles in their way, things between Rose and Dimitri still heat up. The scenes between them practically sizzle chemistry. The title of the book might be Frostbite, but the swoon factor is hot! Even when Rose is acting childish or immature, you still commiserate with and understand her frustration – she’s been trained to put someone else’s wants and needs first her whole life, but she’s still a teen girl who has wants and needs of her own. And, even though I ultimately want to see Rose and Dimitri together, I liked the introduction of Moroi bad boy Adrian into the story. He’s going to be a fun complication.

I was glad to see that Mead didn’t over-use the spirit bond between Rose and Lissa. There are a lot of intriguing possibilities surrounding the mysterious spirit element and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Mead does with it. I still have so many unanswered questions, particularly about how Lissa’s spirit-influenced moods affect Rose because of the bond.

With it’s heart racing plot and intricate plot and character development, Richelle Mead’s Frostbite builds upon the first book in the Vampire Academy series and then takes off in its own direction. Mead has created an engrossing and fascinating world and one extremely awesome, kick-ass heroine. I highly recommend this book – and the series. I can’t wait to see what Rose does next. Knowing her, it will probably make me shake my head and laugh at the same time.

[Photo Credit: Richelle Mead’s website]

Word of the Week (17)

It’s another Word of the Week! 15 down, infinite numbers to go…

Ensorcelled (“en-sore-sulled”)

Verb; from Dictionary.com:

1. To bewitch
2. To enchant, to fascinate

“And it was ensorcelled to seek you out,” Dad added. He looked so worried and angry that I decided not to give him a hard time for using a word like ensorcelled. (Demonglass, Rachel Hawkins)

As a verb, ensorcell can mean to bewitch or bewilder someone. It can also be used as an adjective, meaning “under a spell.” The word shares an Old French origin with “sorcerer,” which we all know is another name for a magician or practitioner of magic. The word gained popularity in the 19th century when the Arabian Nights tales (the stories Scheherazade told to stay alive) were translated into English. One such tale was “The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince.” It’s fitting that Hawkins uses it in her book, as she writes about magic as well.

Your turn, bookworms – who would you ensorcell if you had magical powers?

[Photo Credit: Google Images]

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