Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Pawn by Steven James

I liked this book! It was squeaky clean as far as language and sex goes. It was pretty gritty as far as violence, murder and torture goes, though. I was very engaged in the story--stayed up late to finish it (yeah, it was one of those). I liked the main characters.

From time to time I felt aware of the writing which, to me, indicates a little less quality of writing--a little self-consciousness on the part of the writer perhaps? But those were only moments. Mostly I was too into the story to notice the writing.

When it comes to murder mysteries, I prefer police procedurals and cozies--my least favorite kinds have crazy serial murderers, guys who love to torture and have sick desires and urges and histories. This one was a police procedural (which I like), but had a crazy serial murderer, which I don't like. Also I have to roll my eyes when our lead investigator flies a family member to stay with him in a safe house (at the location of the murder investigation) because he's worried about their relationship--especially when that family member is a young woman AND the case he's investigating is one where a serial killer is torturing and killing young women. And he's flying in this precious family member? Hello!?! That seemed pretty silly to me--an obvious device on the part of the writer to increase the tension in the story.

Other than those objections, I really did enjoy the book--it was gripping!

The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer

This is book one in "The Gideon Trilogy" and it's written for tweens--but I really enjoyed it. My daughter really liked it too.

Peter Schock and Kate Dyer have just met and are very different from each other, but because of a freak accident, they find themselves stranded together in the year 1763.

The titular Gideon is the first person they meet in 1763 and he believes their unlikely tale and promises to help them figure out how to return to 21st century England.

This is a fun adventure story that does NOT end satisfactorily because, of course, it's the first of three. My one faint complaint is that this is one of those books in which bad things happen over and over to our main characters. I get tired sometimes of all the fixes they have to get themselves out of. But! It's fun reading, even for a grown up and especially for kids.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer

Another Georgette Heyer! This one takes place after These Old Shades and is the story of Justin Alastair's son, the Marquis of Vidal. The son of Justin and Leonie is far too jaded for such a young man, but he takes after his father too much, perhaps. His latest depravity, though, introduces him to the first woman he's ever loved enough to settle down--she hopes.

I like this book best of the three, I think. I like who Justin has aged into, I really like his son and, as usual, I like Georgette Heyer's smart, common-sensical, independent heroines. A fun book. 

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

This is the book that continues the story begun in The Black Moth, although all the names have been changed. In this book we get to know more about the Duke of Avon (no longer the Duke of Andover), Justin Alastair (formerly known as Hugh Tracy Clare Belmanoir, also known as "Devil").

Our duke, Justin, collides with a red-haired urchin in a less-savory area of Paris. The young boy (Leon) strikes him as looking familiar so he does something totally unexpected--he adopts him as his page.

This is one of Georgette Heyer's books where a girl dresses up as a boy and is convincing at it...and yet when she dresses as a girl she is breathtakingly womanly. Even though this book was charming and entertaining and all of that, I still always stumble at the idea of the girl/boy cross-dressing thing being actually convincing. Doesn't seem likely. AND our romantic protagonist is a much, much older man, a reformed rake, in fact (the older man-younger woman type of romance makes my mother growl--could it be because she's an older woman married to an older man? :D). AND I didn't really like our female protagonist much either. But all those are just trifling objections because mostly I just love Georgette Heyer's style. Her dialogue is so clever and her characters are so likeable. Now--on to the last book in this little series, Devil's Cub.

The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer

I love Georgette Heyer! This one is the first book she wrote and it's about Jack Carstares who is estranged from his family and his country because of something he didn't really do. He has returned to England after years of exile--but instead of returning to his family, he becomes a highwayman. He meets the love of his life, Diana, when he rescues her from being kidnapped by the Duke of Andover....and there the adventure begins.

The funny thing about this book is that it introduces a set of characters who appear in two other Georgette Heyer books, These Old Shades and Devil's Cub--except all the names are changed in the last two books. Anyway, in The Black Moth we meet the Duke of Andover, who stars (with his name changed) in These Old Shades (we meet Jack and Diana again too--but their names are changed also. Why, I wonder?) and whose son stars in Devil's Cub. They're not an "official" trilogy but they sure seem to belong together.

I really like almost all Georgette Heyer books and this one is no exception. And it's kind of unique in that it's part of a little trilogy. I don't think Georgette Heyer wrote any others like that.

The Body in the Boudoir b y Katherine Hall Page

This is a charming mystery, one of an established series. Our main character, Faith, is looking back at an event from her past and telling us the story of her wedding to her beloved husband Tom.

I really hate writing summaries. Okay, here goes. Faith Sibley, daughter of a clergyman, vows never to marry one herself--until she meets the handsome, wonderful Thomas Fairchild, who sweeps her off her feet. She agrees to marry him and go with him to New England, leaving her beloved New York City and her catering business behind. But she has a lot to take care of in the city before she can go--and her first order of business is the wedding which they plan to have at Faith's adored Uncle Sky's mansion on Long Island.

But some mysterious things are happening. And then someone is murdered at Uncle Sky's house. She begins to feel that someone is trying to harm her.

I really liked this book. It was entertaining and I never guessed who the murderer was! The one thing that bothered me is that Tom Fairchild is a CLERGYMAN who presumably is conversant with the Bible and the commandments. But still he and Faith go to bed together before their marriage (no sex scene though). Strange. I just don't get that. I thought the commandments said something about sex outside of marriage.... Well. Silly me. Anyway, I really liked the book.

The Dawn of a Dream by Ann Shorey

Hmmm. This was a very clean romance that had a message that I found unattractive. Luellen O'Connell is shocked and betrayed when her husband of only a few months abandons her. Unfortunately, he leaves a very real part of himself behind and she is forced to live with the consequences. This is the story of her emotional recovery and her pursuit of her dream to get an education and be a school teacher.

The message I didn't like? That seemed a little 21st century for this 19th century book? It was that a woman's education and career is more important than any other consideration in her life. Our Luellen put it before every other loved one in her life. I admire Luellen's grit and determination, but I didn't agree with her choices. She made herself and others miserable in pursuit of her great obsession with her own career. Hm.

This was also one of those books that kind of beats the reader down with all the misfortunes that befall our main character. Poor Luellen just doesn't seem to get a break! It all ends well, though, I suppose.

All in all, it was an engaging and clean read with a hard-working protagonist who tries hard to do what she feels is right. If the book wasn't exactly to my taste, it was by no means an unpleasant or unsatisfying read.

Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley

A very charming book written for middle schoolers, Bella at Midnight feels a bit like the story of Cinderella, but better and fuller.

Bella is born a nobleman's daughter, but is rejected by her father and sent to live with a foster family, who raises her with love. When she's about 13, however, her father wishes her to return to his house and Bella's life is turned upside-down.

This is a charming little adventure full of magic, mystery and romance (and even a pair of glass slippers!). It praises virtue and goodness and has a happy ending. Just the kind of fairy-tale story I like (and my kids liked it too).