Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giveaway over on the Mary Stewart blog

Hi everyone! I'm still alive, just very busy with school. I'm popping in to announce that we're giving away a Mary Stewart book over on the Stewart blog. Never read Stewart??!! Here's your chance. It's an amazing book, so head on over and enter to win.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


My mom recently forwarded me a New York Times editorial titled "Some Thoughts on the Pleasures of Being a Re-Reader." It's a great article and describes exactly how I feel about re-reading. The author talks about how many people brag about never reading the same book twice, desiring to always discover new information. But she says, "At heart, I’m a re-reader. The point of reading outward, widely, has always been to find the books I want to re-read and then to re-read them." I always make fun of my mother because she reads the same books over and over and over again. Your chances are pretty good if you guess that Maurice Walsh's And No Quarter or Susan Howatch's The Wonder Worker are on her bedside table. She has read some new stuff on my suggestion and I'm always very proud of myself if one of those books becomes a re-reading favorite (Jennifer Crusie's books are an example).

But I looooove to re-read too. It's so comforting to settle into a book that you know you're going to love, because you've loved it before. I've spend the last couple weeks re-reading Harry Potter numbers 6 and 7. (Number 6 so that I'm ready for the movie to come out, and 7 because I couldn't stop myself.) Then none of my new books really called to me, so I've started re-reading Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness books.

Occasionally I think that I shouldn't be wasting my precious summer re-reading old books -- I should be discovering new great books. But then I realize that I only have a limited time available to read for fun, so I'll do whatever gives me the most pleasure. And right now that's re-reading favorites. :)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Upcoming books/Updates for my favorite authors

I've been web surfing, checking up on all my favorite authors. Here's the latest:

Kelley Armstrong: I still haven't gotten to reading her latest in the Otherworld series (Living with the Dead). It's definitely on the list for this summer. She's announced the next book in the series: Frostbitten, which will be out in November. Looks like Clay and Elena will be narrating. Woo hoo!

I've kind of lost interest in her other two ongoing series (YA Darkest Powers and thriller Nadia Stafford). They're just not quite my cuppa.

Mary Balogh has just put out the first four books in the Huxtable series. I've read the first and bought the second. But why is the fourth one in hardcover when all the others were paperback? I do not understand the reasoning there. The last book in the series will be out next year (I think).

Meljean Brook: The next Guardians book is out in October. Yay!

Lois McMaster Bujold is in the midst of writing a new Miles book. (Her MySpace blog says she's about halfway through.) This does not actually terribly excite me as I still have many, many older books in the Miles series still to read. It will take a couple years to catch up. But still good news for most fans.

Loretta Chase's newest is due out at the end of the month! Don't Tempt Me.

Jennifer Crusie has a pretty new website, but unfortunately no good news on upcoming books. She's planning to release a Mayer/Crusie sometime in 2009 and a solo book (!!!!) in 2010.

Sara Donati has announced the publication date for the next (and final) Wilderness book!!! YAYYYY!!!! This one makes me ecstatic. The Endless Forest (nice title) will be out January 26, 2010. Less than 8 months to wait.

Eva Ibbotson: Penguin has just republished The Magic Flutes as The Reluctant Heiress. Have already read it and will post a review soon. Preview: it's lovely.

Eloisa James: Just bought her newest last night. This Duchess of Mine is Jemma and Elijah's story. And she has another book coming out 7/28 -- A Duke of Her Own, which is Villier's story. Two books in one summer -- nice!

Susanna Kearsley is writing "a story of historical suspense set on the southern coast of Cornwall." Excellent! Will keep stalking her website for more details.

Carla Kelly: Bought her newest last night as well -- The Surgeon's Lady. This is the second in a trilogy, I believe. Don't know whether the third has been announced yet. Anyone know?

J.K. Rowling -- The 6th Harry Potter movie is out in mid-July. The previews look good. I need to start my pre-movie reread of Half-Blood Prince soon.

Sharon Shinn: I still haven't read Fortune and Fate, the newest in her Twelve Houses series. Gotta get to that soon. I'm excited about Quatrain (due out October 6) which is a book of four novellas, each set in a different world that she's created (especially excited about the one set in Samaria and the one set in the Summers at Castle Auburn world).

Mary Stewart -- Chicago Review Press is re-releasing My Brother Michael (one of my favorites!) in November.

Lean Mean Thirteen, Janet Evanovich

Author: Janet Evanovich
Published: 2007, St. Martin's Press
Category: Fiction
Rating: 5.5/10

I've had this book sitting in the TBR pile since it came out two years ago. I read the first 8 or so books in this series with absolute enjoyment -- really great reading. The later books just haven't been living up to the earlier ones. I'm not really sure why, though I'm guessing that it's because they're really all the same at this point. The characters aren't developing, the plots and the jokes all feel like slight variations on an earlier theme. And the love triangle, which was cute at first, is now just annoying.

But I picked this one up finally when I saw adds for Finger Lickin' Fifteen, which is due out at the end of the month. Lean Mean Thirteen was a fun read, though still pretty disappointing.

Stephanie is again broke and struggling in her job as a bounty hunter. She's chasing her usual list of crazy FTAs (failure to appear in court), this time including a grave robber and a taxidermist with anger management issues. She has another fight with her slimy ex-husband, Dickie Orr, and when Dickie goes MIA everyone thinks that she's murdered him. We soon find out that Dickie's law firm was definitely into some shady dealings and 40 million dollars is missing along with Dickie. The partners in his firm (who are really mobster-types) are all looking for Stephanie to find out where their money is.

This book had me rolling my eyes almost constantly. I think the problem is that Evanovich feels the need to top the craziness of the previous book. So while originally it was funny that Stephanie's cars all get destroyed, now she goes through 2-3 of them per book. It just all becomes too ridiculous. And if Joe Morelli asked my advice on his love life, I'd tell him to move on because he deserves better.

I'm not sure if I'll read #14. Any advice here? I'm definitely not shelling out hardcover price for it. Maybe one day I'll get it from the library. Or maybe I'll go back to One for the Money and start re-reading the next time I'm in the mood.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Secret Society Girl, Diana Peterfreund

Author: Diana Peterfreund
Published: 2007, Bantam
Category: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 7/10

I picked this one up from the library mostly because Li loves the series and I was looking for something light (not like what most of what I read isn't "light", but you know what I mean). There are currently four books out in the series.

Amy Haskel is a junior at ultra-preppy, ivy league Eli University. It's a big deal at this school to be chosen for one of the many secret societies, and junior year is when it happens. Amy is waiting to be tapped by the literary society, when she instead gets an invitation from Rose & Grave, the oldest and most notorious society on campus. She thinks at first it's a hoax, seeing as how Rose & Grave picks the most elite (and generally richest) students. And they've never before tapped women. We see Amy's crazy initiation, meet the very interesting and zany people also tapped that year, and watch the backlash as the society's alumni question the group's decision to admit women.

I did enjoy this book. It's sort of fun to live vicariously through Amy as she attends this swanky, elite university and hobnobs with the rich and beautiful people. It's saved from being Gossip-Girl-vapid by the fact that Amy is very down-to-earth and sensible, and surprisingly resistant to the snobbery. I've requested the second book from the library. :)

Powder and Patch, Georgette Heyer

Author: Georgette Heyer
Published: 1923, Mills & Boon originally, most recent edition is Harlequin, 2004
Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 7.5/10

I am still making my way through Georgette Heyer's huge list of historical romances. Someday I will run out of new Heyers to read and it will be a sad, sad day. But then I will re-read them all and be happy again.

Powder and Patch follows Philip Jettan, the son of a country squire. Philip loves his country life, and at 19 has no wish to taste the delights of town. He's also in love with the belle of the neighborhood, the beautiful Cleone. Cleone returns his affections, but is appalled by his lack of town polish. He's a bit of a country bumpkin, see, and in that age such coarseness is unforgivable in an English gentleman. So Philip, whose marriage proposal has been rejected, takes off for Paris and London to begin a transformation into the powdered, foppish man he thinks Cleone wants.

This book seemed shorter and simpler than many of Heyer's -- fewer characters and a less complicated plot. According to this bibliography, Powder and Patch was only Heyer's third novel and was originally titled The Transformation of Philip Jettan (which I think is a better title). Still a very charming read, though. Philip is a lovable character and it's fun to see how he transforms himself from a gauche boy into the toast of London.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall

Title: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Published: 2007, Random House
Category: Children's Fiction
Rating: 9/10

I can't remember how I discovered this book, but I am so so so happy I did. Because I love the Penderwicks! I want to be a Penderwick with all my soul. :)

The Penderwick family consists of four sisters, their absent-minded but devoted father, and a huge and badly behaved dog. Their mother died years ago, and it's fallen to the older sisters, especially the eldest, Rosalind, to take care of the youngest, an adorable four-year-old named Batty. This first book takes place during the family summer vacation -- they rent a cottage in rural Massachusetts. When they arrive they find out that the cottage is on the grounds of a great estate called Arundel, which is owned by an icy, snobby lady whose only forgiving trait is a son named Jeffrey who quickly becomes fast friends with the girls.

The Penderwicks get into all sorts of scrapes and have many summer adventures. We get to know each sister, who are all very much individuals. The book is funny and sweet, and just completely charming.

The book has a very 1950s sort of nostalgia to it; the girls don't play video games or watch TV, they play with dolls or run around outside exploring or playing soccer. My taste in books often runs a bit to the old-fashioned (some of my favorite authors are L.M. Montgomery, Mary Stewart, Louisa May Alcot, and Eva Ibbotson). Sweet nostalgic books are my comfort -- especially in children's literature. Cozy books you want to wrap around yourself are the best.

Title: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Published: 2008, Random House
Category: Children's Fiction
Rating: 9.5/10

The second in the Penderwick series. Jeanne Birdsall's website says that she's working on a third (yay!) and there will be five books in all (yay yay!). This book picks up almost immediately after the first one -- the Penderwicks are home again, returning to school and their normal activities. One thing upsets their happy equilibrium: their aunt arrives with a letter that their mother had written before she died, telling their father that it's time he started dating again. Mr. P doesn't really want to date, and the girls really really don't want him to date. So the sisters implement the Save-Daddy Plan to sabotage his reluctant efforts at dating.

I think I might have liked this one even better than the first. My favorite part was when Sky and Jane (the two middle sisters) switch homework assignments (one's good at science and the other's good at writing) with hilarious results. I can't wait to read the next book. :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Catch-up reviews

Did you know that root canals are really, really not fun? I do now. Sigh. Everyone thank their lucky stars for their healthy teeth -- they are so important!

Otherwise, I am enjoying my summer so far. Getting lots of good reading in. Here are some mini-reviews of books I've read over the last few weeks.

Title: Angelica
Author: Sharon Shinn
Published: 2003, Ace
Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 8.5/10
I started out not loving Shinn's Samaria series, but I have completely changed my mind. If you haven't read the series, you have to start with Archangel, or you'll really miss out. Angelica was published fourth in the series, but it actually takes place first (I think). But it should definitely be read after Archangel, Jovah's Angel, and The Alleluia Files.

More than a hundred years before Archangel, Samaria is visited at random intervals by mysterious strangers dressed all in black. They appear and disappear, leaving behind fires of utter destruction. The Archangel Gaaron is glad that his new Edori bride, Susannah, is a calm and capable woman who can help him through this crisis, while aiding him in the impossible task of controlling his wild sister Miriam. What Gaaron doesn’t know is that Susannah, who still mourns for her former lover, has a secret connection to the god Jovah—a secret that could save the whole planet. He also doesn’t know that his runaway sister has met one of the invaders and is prepared to risk everything to keep him alive.

I loved this one! So interesting. The theme is all about feeling out of place -- Susannah feels lonely and isolated among the angels and Gaaron's human sister, Miriam, feels isolated among the angels. It's so satisfying when they finally find their place that feels like "home." And the action is really exciting too.

Title: First Comes Marriage
Author: Mary Balogh
Published: 2009, Dell
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 6.5/10
The first in Balogh's new trilogy. Balogh is still an autobuy for me -- they're always comforting reads for me.

Against the scandal and seduction of Regency England, New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh introduces an extraordinary family—the fiery, sensual Huxtables. Vanessa is the second daughter, proud and daring, a young widow who has her own reason for pursuing the most eligible bachelor in London. One that has nothing to do with love. Or does it?

The arrival of Elliott Wallace, the irresistibly eligible Viscount Lyngate, has thrown the country village of Throckbridge into a tizzy. Desperate to rescue her eldest sister from a loveless union, Vanessa Huxtable Dew offers herself instead. In need of a wife, Elliott takes the audacious widow up on her unconventional proposal while he pursues an urgent mission of his own. But a strange thing happens on the way to the wedding night. Two strangers with absolutely nothing in common can’t keep their hands off each other. Now, as intrigue swirls around a past secret—one with a stunning connection to the Huxtables—Elliott and Vanessa are uncovering the glorious pleasures of the marriage bed…and discovering that when it comes to wedded bliss, love can’t be far behind.

Enjoyable, though not particularly memorable. I did like it enough to buy the second in the series, and I'm sure I'll read it next time I'm in the mood for a nice Regency. I liked the relationship among the Huxtables best (their parents died and they've taken care of each other for years) -- the romance in this one was a bit problematic. Why do the ugly ducklings always have to be so sweet and perfectly well-adjusted? I found Vanessa a bit annoying.

Title: Rachel's Holiday
Author: Marian Keyes
Published: 1998, Avon
Category: General Fiction/ Chick Lit
Rating: 6/10
I read this for a book group that met twice and then sadly died. I really enjoyed it though -- for all that I love to read, I've never been in a book club before. I might try to find another.

Twenty-seven and the miserable owner of size eight feet, Rachel Walsh enjoys two naughty habits: a lover who likes his leather pants tight, and a fondness for recreational drugs. But as Rachel learns, what goes up must come down. First she loses her job, then her lover, and then finds herself being marched off to the Cloisters, Dublin's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. Outraged—surely she's not thin enough to be an addict!—it suddenly dawns on Rachel that it's about time she had a vacation, and where better than a place crammed with jacuzzis, gyms, and rock stars going tepid turkey? What she gets instead, however, are middle-aged men in sweaters and enough group therapy to drive her to distraction.

This was a really fast, easy read (though it was long -- her editor could have slashed at least 200 pages). It was an interesting look at drug addiction -- it seemed to capture the experience well while still being funny and not too heavy. The gradual revelations about just how sad and pathetic Rachel's life had gotten were well done. I did find her extremely annoying at times -- her naivete and denial got old. And there is a sort-of love story, which I thought was distracting from the more important story of Rachel's recovery.

Title: Heart of Gold
Author: Sharon Shinn
Published: 2000, Ace
Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 7/10
Another Shinn -- this is one of her stand-alone novels.

Two races—the matriarchal indigo and the patriarchal gulden—uneasily co-exist in a single shared metropolis. Nolan, a young indigo male, loves his job working in a biological lab, though he knows he will soon be called home to his family estates to marry his longtime fiancee. Everything in his life changes when he meets Kitrini, a high-caste indigo woman who has defiantly thrown her lot in with the gulden. Issues of class, culture, gender, prejudice, loyalty, and honor shape their choices when Nolan and Kitrini realize that he holds the knowledge that could save the life of the man Kitrini has always loved.

Not my favorite Shinn. The premise is interesting, but I found the racial drama a bit heavy-handed. And I didn't like the way the heroine is in love with someone else (a terrorist, too!) for about 3/4 of the book. Makes her look a little inconsistent. Still a good read, though.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Library School: Semester 2

I'm not sure if anyone who reads this blog is at all interested in a librarian's education. But I know that when I was trying to decide whether to go to library school or not I had lots of questions about what it would be like. So I'll add my two cents, in case anyone is in a similar pickle. Short answer: Library school is awesome! Read on for the long answer.

I'm now officially halfway through my two-year program at UNC. Woot! First semester wrap-up is here. This semester I took:

Human-Information Interactions You might be thinking, what the hell does that mean? Well, I was asking that too. This is the basic information science theory class that we're all required to take. Basic questions covered: What is information? Why and how do people seek information in different contexts? How do we assess and evaluate information? I was dreading this class because it sounded abstract and theoretical and horrible. But I actually really enjoyed it. Good professor definitely helped.

Organization of Information This class was a giant headache, though I did learn a lot about how information professionals organize information (not only bibliographic info, but all kinds, including business). Our semester-long project was to invent a system of organization for any kind of "document" we wanted -- a classmate and I did board games, which was pretty fun. If that sounds interesting, you can see the whole project here.

Management for Information Professionals This class was a bit of a joke. I understand why it's a requirement (as librarians we will probably all have to supervise people), but it all seemed very much common sense to me. But it was a really, really easy class, so I'm not complaining. My final project was a website about work-life balance (beware: it's quite bull-shitty).

Web Development My favorite class this semester! I completely love making websites. We learned XHTML and CSS (and whoa, was I creating some seriously non-standard and messy HTML before this class). We also did a little PHP, which about made my head explode because I'd never had any programming. But I think I got the important bits. I created two websites for the class (both completely HAND-CODED, oh boy!): Body Systems (a pretend gym equipment company) and Durham Speaks (a prototype that may actually be used by the Durham Public Library for their oral history project).

So next year I get to take 7 more classes, write a master's paper, and find the perfect job. Hmmm. That's several months away, though. :)

This summer I'm continuing with my job at a branch library at UNC. And I also got a really cool internship georeferencing historic maps (so that we can overlay a historic map on a current google map and people can see how areas have changed over time). It's really fun!

I've got catch-up book reviews that I'll post soon. :)

More beautiful library photos here!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another books meme.

One more paper to clean up and I'm officially done with my semester. And halfway to my Masters degree! Phew. Good thing I have the summer to recharge. And read lots of fun books!!

So to ease myself back into blogging, a meme:

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Mary Stewart -- I own all her romantic suspense and historical fiction books. Two copies of most of them -- they take up at least two shelves.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. Two mass market copies that are falling apart from being read so many times. And I bought myself a hardcover 1920 edition off eBay a few months ago. Pretty! Loves it sooo much.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
NO. That is the stupidest grammar rule ever. “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.” --Winston Churchill

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Sir Peter Wimsey. He's funny and brilliant.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Hands down, The Blue Castle. It's my comfort book. Second place is probably Persuasion, by Jane Austen.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
I don't really remember. Was this the age I was reading The Baby-Sitters Club books? There was a Super Edition where all the girls went on a Disney cruise. That was definitely a favorite for a long time.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
I stopped keeping my reading spreadsheet this year, mostly because I wasn't reading much to put on there. And when I had time to read, I generally read sure-thing good books. But if I had to choose, I'd say either The Conquest, by Elizabeth Chadwick (yawn) or Rachel's Holiday, by Marian Keyes. Neither were horrible, just sort of meh.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Sharon Shinn's Archangel series. OR The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall. OR The Sharing Knife: Horizon. I can't decide.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
I'll go with The Penderwicks, because it'll make you young again.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I have no idea. I rarely read the sort of thing that wins the Noble Prize for Literature.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
The Blue Castle!! Or a Georgette Heyer book.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I hardly ever remember my dreams, but I definitely had a couple bad dreams last night about bat-malices (see question #32).

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
LOL. So many to choose from. Though this one probably takes the cake.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization, by Elaine Svenonius. We read this book for my organization of information class and it gave me so many headaches.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
I've been to a lot, but not any obscure ones. (And can any of Shakespeare's plays really be considered obscure?)

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

18) Roth or Updike?
Never read either! Oh dear.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Sedaris, I think.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
I haven't read any of them since high school. I really should try them as an adult.

21) Austen or Eliot?
I don't think I've ever read Eliot, but there's no way she's going to beat Austen.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Umm, "real" literature, obviously.

23) What is your favorite novel?
This Rought Magic, by Mary Stewart.

24) Play?
I haven't read too many plays, though I've seen lots. I LOVE musicals. The old-school big ones with lots of cheesy singing and choreographed dancing. The Music Man, Guys & Dolls, South Pacific.

25) Poem?
No thanks.

26) Essay?
I'm not really sure it counts as an essay, but I've loved "Caring for Your Introvert" by Jonathan Rauch ever since I discovered it years ago.

27) Short story?
I'm not much of a short story reader.

28) Work of nonfiction?
I don't read much nonficiton either! But I'm sure I can come up with something. Hmmmm. Martin's Hundred, by Ivor Noel Hume. Web Design in a Nutshell, by Jennifer Robbins. How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman.

29) Who is your favorite writer?
One? No way. Mary Stewart, L.M. Montgomery, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Eva Ibbotson, Jennifer Crusie, Sara Donati, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Shinn

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Dan Brown

31) What is your desert island book?
Are you tired of hearing about The Blue Castle yet?

32) And... what are you reading right now?
The Sharing Knife: Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold. It's fabulous!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Marrying the Captain, Carla Kelly

Title: Marrying the Captain
Author: Carla Kelly
Published: 2008, Harlequin
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7.5/10

Hi everyone! My semester is going really well -- really interesting classes that are keeping me busy. I have had some time to read, though. So hopefully I'll get some more reviews up soon(ish). :)

A new Carla Kelly book! Yay!

Nana Massie is living with her grandmother in a run-down inn in Plymouth, struggling to make enough profit to get by. With a war on and money scarce, they're on the brink. This all changes when Captain Oliver Worthy shows up to stay in the inn while his ship is being repaired. Unknown to Nana, Oliver has arrived basically to spy on her; Nana's father (she's illegitimate) is a cowardly little man high up in the Royal Navy and he's asked Oliver to go check up on Nana. Apparently, some years earlier Nana's father had tried to pay off one of his debts by handing Nana off as a mistress. Nana refused and hasn't spoken to him since. Oliver thinks Nana's father is a slimeball, but he still agrees to go see Nana. Once there, he's so taken with her that he fobs off the father and spends his time getting to know Nana.

They, of course, fall in love, but a happy ever after seems impossible. He's promised himself that he wouldn't marry while he's a navy captain, because he doesn't want to leave some heartbroken widow behind. And she doesn't think she's good enough for him because she's illegitimate.

I have to say that I was just the tiniest bit impatient with the first half of this book. It's a very sweet love story, but the action is a bit slow. The second half is definitely not slow. It's got spies, a hostage situation on enemy soil, and other adventures for Nana and Oliver. Plus a fabulous ending. Loved it!

Classic Carla Kelly. Characters you'd want to get to know in real life because they just seem so nice. Kind, honest, hardworking hero and spirited, but also pragmatic, heroine. Sweet romance and interesting historical setting. Fans who were disappointed by the slight gruesomeness of her last book, Beau Crusoe, should definitely give this one a try. It's much more similar to her older books. And who doesn't love a naval hero?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quickie reviews

All my best intentions about long, meaty reviews over the holidays did not come to pass. So, here are quickies on the books I've reading the last couple of months:

Title: The Thief
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Published: 2005, HarperCollins
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
Rating: 8/10

A young thief named Gen is offered freedom from prison if he can accomplish the impossible: steal Hamiathes's Gift, a jewel made by the gods that will give the wearer the undeniable right to rule the country. I read this book months ago, but it really stuck with me because it's beautifully written and has a really ingenious plot. Fabulous ending. There are two more books in the series, which I hope to get to soon.

Title: The Runaway Duke
Author: Julie Anne Long
Published: 2004, Warner Forever
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7/10

This one is Long's debut book – I've read several of her books and always enjoyed them. Tomboy Rebecca Tremaine runs away from home rather than marry the dreadful man her parents have chosen for her. She is helped by Connor Riordan, who has been acting as Rebecca's family's groom, but is in fact a duke in hiding. I like Long's books because they are very traditional romance novels, but I think the quality of the writing is higher than many.

Title: Demon Bound
Author: Meljean Brook
Published: 2008, Berkley
Category: Fantasy Romance
Rating: 7/10

Next installment in one of my favorite series. (Backstory huge, see Brook's website if you're not familiar with the series.) Novice Guardian Jake assigns himself to help Alice, a Guardian who years ago made a bargain with a demon that she would kill Michael. Jake and Alice must figure out a way to break the bargain, or Alice is doomed. Enjoyable with some excellent scenes, but not my favorite of the series. I just couldn't warm up to Alice, who, though an interesting character, never quite managed to be much besides creepy. The best part of this book were the new twists we got in the series-long plot arc – I am intrigued.

Title: When the Duke Returns
Author: Eloisa James
Published: 2008, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7.5/10

Fourth in the Desperate Duchess series – I always love Eloisa James for a solid, smart romance. Isidore was married by proxy to the Duke of Cosway when she was 12. She's been waiting for years now to meet him, as he explores Africa. He finally comes home and doesn't know quite what to make of his feisty wife. Very good read.

Title: The Other Boleyn Girl
Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: 2002, Simon & Schuster
Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 8/10

I've had this in my TBR for years. Twin read it a while ago and was enthralled, and I agree it is definitely one of those books that sucks you in and doesn't let you go until the end (even though you know pretty much what happens already). Mary Boleyn was sister to the famous Boleyn. She was a mistress of Henry VIII before Anne, and bore him two children. After she's set aside, she must help Anne insinuate herself into the king's affections and the English crown. Intensely readable, the book portrays Henry as the most spoiled man in all the world, and the English court as a ridiculous masquerade where everyone is focused on keeping this petulant man happy. Mary is a likable heroine, especially when compared to her bitchy sister.