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Cat Royal Series, 5 & 6: Black Heart of Jamaica and Cat’s Cradle

I was very lucky to get my hands on these copies of the Cat Royal mysteries, as they are only published in Great Britain. A few libraries in the United States have copies, and I was able to borrow them. I love this series because it’s just enough excitement, romance, action, historical fiction, and clean reading to be an awesome series, especially for middle grade readers. I confess, I’m not sure why these are not more popular? I love Cat Royal and her friends, and I especially love the fun fictional quotes in the beginning of the book from time-period famous contemporaries of Cat Royal. You can read my review about the first four books here.

n245213 Black Heart of Jamaica (Cat Royal, 5)

After her escapades being press-ganged into service aboard a ship in Her Majesty’s navy, Cat Royal finds herself in Philadelphia with virtually nothing to do. Intent upon making her own way, she and Pedro join a new group of players bound for the Caribbean. Upon their arrival in Jamaica, Pedro is not allowed to disembark to join the troupe as he is African and there is an uprising of slaves over on a neighboring island. Pedro, fortunate to be free, will not be treated well if he was allowed into Jamaica. Already fervent in his hatred of slavery, Pedro searches for any way to join the uprising. Meanwhile, our heroine must learn to be independent even without her faithful almost-brother. Though she was slated for minor parts in the rehearsed plays, she quickly is cast to the forefront in the leading ladies’ roles. Much to her surprise, she rediscovers her old mate, Billy, now turned into a ‘gentleman’ plantation owner and a great admirer of her skills as an actress. Delightful verbal sparring and banter ensue with the always dastardly Billy and the stubbornly righteous Cat, and Cat finds herself in a tangle when Billy gives her a slave. Billy makes it so Cat cannot free her, but neither can she refuse to keep her, as the girl will be put to harsh work. Cat reluctantly keeps her, but determines to do her best to outwit Billy. As a result, Pedro and Cat get in a huge fight, and Pedro disappears. Desperate to know whether he is alright, Cat abandons the theatre group to find him, and what follows is a very interesting adventure. The despicable Mr. Hawkins is back too, and he is out for revenge against Catherine.

cat Cat’s Cradle (Cat Royal, 6)

In this adventure, Cat heads up to Scotland to find out whether she has any remaining family after new information pops up in London that a woman was posing as Cat’s relative. Cat pretends to be a mill worker to get to know the Moirs, and as she does, she can’t help loving them. However, Mrs. Moir doesn’t like Cat at all. So, instead, with help from another local boy, Jamie, Cat journeys into the moors to find her younger half-brother, Rabbie, who is part of a group of rowdy, uncouth thieves. Once again, her daring lands her into a pot of hot water as the law comes after her and her association with Rabbie’s criminal band. Will Cat finally gain a real family or will the reputation of her half-brother’s relatives tarnish her own good standing?

Once again, fantastic adventures perfect for up and coming middle grade readers! A bit of romance, adventure, and a dose of hearty justice to boot.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Historical fiction, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Of Neptune (The Syrena Legacy, 3) by Anna Banks

Of-Neptune-Of-Poseidon-3-Anna-BanksOf Neptune

The final book in the Syrena Legacy trilogy, in Of Neptune, Emma and Galen have a great need for a vacation. Galen is still mourning the death of Rachel, his human friend/mother figure, and seems to need space from the kingdom and his brother Grom’s kingly pressures. They were already planning to head into the mountains, but Emma’s grandfather, King Antonis, asks her to visit a small town near Chattanooga, TN called Neptune. He doesn’t give her any more clues, and when Emma and Galen make a stop at a nearby lake, they get a very big surprise. They meet a Half-Breed boy named Reed who lives in Neptune, and the town is full of freshwater Syrena and Half-Breeds that live harmoniously with humans. All seems perfect and idyll in this little town, or is it? When Emma and Galen get in a fight over their future, Galen threatens to leave, storms out, and is kidnapped by Syrena thugs. While he figures out how to get out of this mess and back to Emma, all without endangering his brother, Emma is busy being romanced by Reed and seduced into advocating for Neptune’s rights with her grandfather and mother. Both Emma and Galen must deal with the pressures their society and customs place on their relationship and that realistically they might not have a future together. Can they bring a greater glory to Neptune or will their society be exposed and exploited by the human world?

This is a quick read, captivating if but for the brief moments of reading it, and satisfying to end the series (other books found here). Though the characters are certainly older, this emotionally seems to be more of interest to middle grade readers. Some conflicts, romance, and a happy ending. Fairly clean read, except for the few instances of violence/death. Even in the epilogue’s “mating ceremony”, things are basically G rated as it reads more like Ariel’s wedding ceremony to Eric in The Little Mermaid and definitely less suggestive than the honeymoon scenes in Breaking Dawn.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

8b4659348d64f3809ce0d425400fcfe3Rebel Belle

Another female superhero novel, this time taking place in the South among young ladies who must be the picture of southern hospitality and grace.

Harper Price is a perfectionist and everyone knows it, even her arch-rival David Stark, a school reporter. Harper was born to succeed and when she unsurprisingly wins Homecoming queen, what is she doing when she’s supposed to be on stage accepting a crown?

She’s killing her crazed history teacher, who’s wielding a large sword and trying to murder her, with her high-heel because he killed the janitor. Oh, and the janitor gave Harper some weird power before he died. Unfortunately for Harper, it means that she is now under a supernatural compulsion to protect David Stark since the history teacher and apparently other people are out to get him. She’s a Paladin, required to protect her Oracle until death. Harper can’t get over the irony of this newest life goal, and is upset at the wreck it is making of the rest of her life. How’s she supposed to be a perfectionist, save David and the earth from destruction, and still date!? Just when she thinks she has everything under control, she discovers she might have other feelings for David, too.

Compared with other books by Rachel Hawkins, I liked the Hex Hall series better, but Rebel Belle is entertaining if slow and murky to start. I found Harper to be a hard character to relate to (for all that I am also a perfectionist and have my own Southern roots), and just when the story was getting really good, it ended. Sometimes the plot moved very fast and sacrificed some characterization, with most of the characterization happening through the action scenes.

This is a pretty clean read, with all of the strong language masked by other word choices, and while there is romantic love interest and some talk of sexuality, no real other action in that area.

Guess we will see what happens in the next book!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Contemporary fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Angelfall and World After (Penryn and the End of Days) by Susan Ee

angelfall-by-susan-eeAngelfall

What if the angels of the apocalypse were the cause of the ruination of the earth? This is the world Penryn lives in, and when she decides to help an injured angel in an unfair fight, her wheelchair-bound younger sister is carried off in retribution. The hurt angel is the only thing left, and Penryn knows she cannot leave him in the street to be sliced up for black market angel parts. Penryn cares for him, but he is both enemy and bait to getting her sister back. Raffe, the angel, has just suffered the most humiliating thing of his life, as his wings were cut off and he is left at the hands of a human girl. Together, Penryn and Raffe discover that there are faces and emotions and hopes behind the enemy, and they will survive better together. Penryn journeys with Raffe to find and save her sister, and Raffe will do anything to get his wings back.

 

world-after_612x917World After

After the last book, Penryn’s little sister, Paige is not the same girl as before. She is now an impossibly strong little girl with strange monstrous features and appetites. To escape the persecution, Paige runs away, and Penryn is back to trying to find her, wrestling with her own ideas of monsters. Meanwhile, Raffe believes Penryn is dead, and is still trying to find his wings, now a part of the demon Belial, and through a surgical operation hijacked by political treachery, Raffe now wields a deadly pair of demonic bat wings. As Penryn searches for Paige, her life once again aligns with Raffe’s as they learn of a horrifying plot to destroy the world.

I feverishly devoured these books! Though they seem hard to grasp at the start, you can’t help but be quickly sucked in and worried about outcome of Penryn, Raffe, and Paige. There’s 5 books planned in the series and the 3rd one comes out in 2015. Fairly clean despite some gruesome ideas and strong language. Though you might think this series resembles the Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices with all the talk of angels, but so far, I haven’t read anything resembling this series. Even Laini  Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy is not similar, though of course, all these books borrow from a bit of the same angelic lore. While this post-apocalyptic series was great, it was no Divergent. Just below good enough to be a movie (perhaps because it’s just not filled with enough stuff, IMO, to make a film).

 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Dangerous by Shannon Hale

1369939042_6499_CR6 Dangerous

One of the best science fiction novels for teens since Ender’s Game. Maisie Danger could almost rival the superheroes of Marvel and DC. Shannon Hale’s new book is addictively epic and altogether a wonderful story about a smart girl who happened to be born with only one hand and, through a space program, gains otherworldly powers to save the world from alien annihilation.

When Maisie Danger fills out a sweepstakes application for a special astronaut camp, she doesn’t think she’s going to win, but reality sets in when a ton of blue cereal boxes show up at her door. Maisie leaves behind her best friend, Luther, and her parents to go to the astronaut camp. There, the winners are divided into “fireteams” and compete for the privilege of taking a trip to a meteor. There, Maisie, who scares most of the other kids because of her arm, meets Jonathan Ingalls Wilder, the son of a rich and powerful businessman who happens to be very shady. Maisie and Wilder begin to form a relationship, but when Maisie’s fireteam wins and Jonathan is selected for having the best individual score, things begin to fall apart. Life’s already confusing when Maisie and the rest travel into space, but things escalate when the fireteam handles these mysterious tokens. They embed themselves into them and suddenly Maisie, Wilder, Ruth, Mi-Sun, and Jacques become superhuman. Maisie has technological gifts, Ruth is strong as an ox, Mi-Sun can shoot blue pellets of metal, Jacques can create metal to form a human shield, and Wilder is the thinker and connects them all together for a purpose. However, having the tokens means new stresses on all of them, and Ruth is the first to break down. Though they all feel called for a purpose, to save the Earth from… something, Ruth’s deterioration causes a chain reaction that changes the fireteam and Maisie, forever.

From the first chapter, I knew I was going to LOVE this book, and it did not disappoint. Maisie is an excellent heroine as she is both strong, smart, and did not become a stereotyped version of herself just for romance. Young teens, older teens, and even adults will like this book!

YA Clean Read as this has no language, sexual situations, but does have a bit of mostly non-graphic violence.

 

 

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