Monday, May 24, 2010

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

The Sable Quean (Redwall) by Brian Jacques -- Middle Grades Fantasy
The latest threat to the peaceful woodlanders of Mossflower comes from Vilaya, the dangerous Sable Quean who commands hordes of vermin called ravagers. Vilaya and the dangerous sable Zwilt the Shade are out to conquer Redwall Abbey. Vilaya has devised a plan to kidnap the Dibbuns and other woodland babes in order to blackmail her way into the Abbey. Meanwhile, Buckler Kordyne, the rebellious, restless young blademaster at Salamandatron, is advised by the great badger Lord Brang to go on an adventure to visit Redwall Abbey and Buck's brother and sister-in-law who live near Redwall. Buck brings along his pal, the always hungry, Subaltern Meliton Gubthorpe Digglethwaite. When Buck and Diggs set out on their journey, they have no idea of the adventure and experience that awaits them. Assisted by a crew of shrews, a traveling troupe of hedgehog actors and warriors of Redwall, Buck and Diggs vow to return the missing children and destroy the vermin. The vermin soon learn what it means to mess with Redwallers and their friends. The adventures continue in this latest tale from Redwall. The plot of this new story does not exactly follow the usual formula, so it kept me intrigued far into the night! I like the departure because I felt that the books were getting too formulaic and predictable. The story revisits Mossflower history and faithful fans will delight in figuring out the mystery ahead of the Redwallers and new fans will enjoy learning about the history of Mossflower for the first time. Jacques always excels at creating colorful characters that live on in the reader's memory even after the last page is finished. Though you know the Redwallers always win in the end, getting there is the fun part and this book is no exception. Another great yarn from Mr. Jacques!

A Scandalous Journey by Susannah Carleton -- Regency Romance
George Winterbrook, Lord Weymouth, wakes up to find himself in an unfamiliar place with his hands and feet bound. He doesn't know where he is or how he came to be there. He soon learns that he has been abducted by his friend's former wife, who wishes to coerce Weymouth into marrying her. George refuses to marry without love, but Lady Arabella is persistent and threatens George's young niece Isabelle if he doesn't comply. Beth Castleton also awakens in an unfamiliar location with a throbbing headache. Her maid, though kind, does not know how Beth came to be in Scotland nor for what purpose. Beth is led to the book room where she will be able to speak with her hostess and get some answers. There George encounters Beth reciting square roots to calm her nerves. He hopes she will help rescue him, but doubts she will because she was rather frosty towards him when last they met at his cousin's house party. Beth agrees to help rescue young Isabelle and if possible, George too. Plans go awry and the journey back to London is difficult and dangerous but George is determined to protect both his niece and the intrepid young lady who did not hesitate to help him. Once safely back in London, Beth dreads the coming Season. She feels like a curiosity because she is American and doesn't fit in because she prefers mathematics to gossip. Weymouth introduces Beth to his family and friends to help calm her nerves. The one thing that can mar Beth's happiness, is the knowledge that she traveled unescorted with Weymouth. Though she enjoys his company, Beth refuses to force George to marry her unless he loves her. They may not have a choice if Lady Arabella has her way. This is a rather unusual story. There is no exposition, the hero and heroine have already been introduced, and the plot picks up right away. Yet, I still felt the story was rather slow and I didn't really care what happened once the scandalous journey was over. The hero is a paragon. He's the exact opposite of a rake. He's a little too good to be true. I really liked Beth for being an intelligent and intrepid heroine but a little too prone to turn into a watering pot for lame reasons. If you're looking for something different and don't like rakish heroes, then try this one. It seems to be part of a series but background information is revealed throughout the story so those who have not read the previous books (like me) can enjoy this as a stand alone.

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