Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Recently, I was given the opportunity to preview the sequel to this story, so I decided I'd better take this one off of my "to be read" shelf so I have enough background when I read the sequel.

"Your daughter will be one of the most powerful we have ever seen in this family"... or not. Tamsin has lived most of her life feeling like a disappointment to her family. Predicted at birth to be one of the most powerful amongst them, she is the only one in a family without a Talent. When her Talent fails to manifest itself by age 8, the absolute latest anyone in the family has ever shown, she begins to feel like an outsider. To make matters worse, she has a perfect older sister in Rowena. So, when she is 17 and a mysterious stranger mistakes her for Rowena, she fails to correct him and determines that she will find a way to help the stranger despite her lack of Talent. Her long-lost childhood friend Gabriel is brought back into her life at just the right time to help Tamsin help the stranger. Unfortunately, the stranger is not who he appears to be and the story of an ancient feud between families comes to light. The stranger needs the real Rowena to help him change the past & only Tamsin can stop him.

I really like Tamsin. She is not a helpless female character and while she is without Talent, she is not without wit and resources. She is funny and smart, while still being a vulnerable, insecure teenaged girl. She is a pretty good role model for other girls, despite the smoking. She really begins to come into her self during this story and I am interested to see how she develops as a young woman in the stories to come. I am also interested in how her role in the family will change in the future, as well as her relationship with Gabriel.

I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading the next installment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Life From Scratch by Melissa Ford

This was a coming of age story; however, the main character doesn't come of age until she's 35. Rachel Goldman doesn't know what she wants. She's divorced her husband, left her job and has decided to learn how to cook. But this novel isn't really about any of those things--it's really about Rachel learning to be Rachel. Outside of the expectations of her uber-successful parents, Rachel has to figure out who she is and what she truly wants out of life.

Melissa Ford handles this brilliantly. She tells Rachel's story in a way that any woman can relate to her. She speaks to an entire generation of women who were raised to be 'successful' without really understanding that being successful needs to be defined by the individual and not by society at large. She also includes supporting characters that are each struggling to find their happiness within their own boundaries. Rachel's friends and family may appear to be happy to outsiders, but Ford provides each of them with their own struggles. Perhaps, in the promised sequel, we'll see a little more of the depths of the supporting characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed Life From Scratch and look forward to reading the sequel.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In the Company of Vampires

Katie McAllister revisits Fran & Ben from her previous works Got Fangs? & Circus of the Darned (both written under Katie Maxwell). This time, several years have passed & Fran is an adult making her own way in the world. She is determined to have her own life away from being Beloved to Ben, but her past catches up with her. She returns to GothFaire to find a missing mother, help Viking ghosts to banish a God and face her role as Beloved to Benedict who seems to have found a new love interest. Gone is the angst of teenaged Fran, or at least most of it, and this Fran is a little more mature and experienced. It's a more adult romance and a nice follow up to her previous YA writings. I honestly hope Katie McAllister visits with Fran & Benedict again because they are very likable characters and their adventures are excellent.

Wondrous Strange

Lesley Livingston's first installment in the series really captured my attention. Granted, the plot wasn't overly complicated and was a bit predictable, I enjoyed it nonetheless. Kelley, a young actress living in New York City, gets her big break when the actress playing Titania gets injured and can't do on. Once Kelley steps into the role of Titania, the parallels between her own life and the characters in the play start to develop. She meets Sonny, a changeling stolen from the cradle and raised in the realm of the fae. Together, they embark on a quest to find Kelley's true identity and save the human realm from the Wild Hunt. Livingston's story is well-written and highly entertaining. It is a great first installment and definitely has me interested in the next book, Darklight.