Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Only the Good Spy Young : Gallagher Girls 4 by Ally Carter
Cammie spends junior year winter break in London with Bex and her super cool spy parents but the trip is anything but a vacation. Cammie is hiding from the mysterious Circle of Cavan who are trying to kidnap her. A surprising encounter with one of her trusted teachers changes everything. Now Cammie doesn't know who to trust or to believe but she's certain she can count on her friends. They decide to take matters into their own hands to solve the secrets of the Circle. With a little help from Zack, Cammie faces a life or death situation, learns a few things about the history of her allies and the Circle and finds that the answers aren't always easy to find or understand. The basic plot outline resembles Harry Potter which gives away some of the surprises, but not all. The adventure is still edge-of-your-seat breathtaking and I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. At least one of the plot twists came as a bit of a surprise and shock to me though I suspected something similar. This book is rather scarier than the previous ones as Cammie is now seriously in danger. There is a little bit of cutesy boy/girl stuff to provide relief from the tension and I like that. The book comes to a satisfying conclusion that doesn't leave me wanting more yet provides more questions to be answered in future books. This is another great adventure for the Gallagher Girls and a good, quick summer read.

The Incomparable Cassandra by Laura Paquet -- Regency Romance
Lady Cassandra Blythe is an Incomparable but she's also intelligent and a playwright, which is why she remains unwed at the advanced age of 24. She enjoys the social activities of London and her witty friends and isn't too concerned with finding a mate for herself. In contrast, her older brother has been happily wed for ten years to the lovely Elinor. Sadly, Elinor has been estranged from her only brother Benjamin Rowland, Earl of Winchfield, since her elopement with Cassandra's brother. Elinor has extended an olive branch to her brother and he has finally decided to come to London in search of a wife. Recently recovered from a broken heart, Benjamin Rowland, Earl of Winchfield is in search of a wife. The Earl's duties were thrust on him at a young age and he would like nothing better than to stay in the country and study ants, however, he is an Earl and knows his duty. He is in search of a quiet, biddable wife, certainly not an Incomparable like Lady Cassandra. At first Cassandra and Ben don't get along; he thinks she's sharp-tongued and she finds him boring and stuffy. As they come to know each other better, Cassandra and Ben learn that each has hidden qualities and deeper emotions than what is present on the surface. This is a quiet, sweet romance that is quite different from the typical Regency plot. It could be described as a reverse Pride and Prejudice with a dash of Emma. It's a refreshing change to read about a hero who is not a rake. At first, like Cassandra, I found Ben boring and too mild but the character development in this novel is so good that I learned to appreciate his good qualities just as Cassandra does. The plot develops nicely at a good pace to make the story realistic and a very good read. I enjoyed this one quite a lot.

The Rebellious Twin by Shirley Kennedy -- Regency Romance
Clarinda and Clarissa Capelle are identical twins. No one, not even their parents, can tell them apart, a fact which always surprises Clarinda because she and her sister are complete opposites in personality. Clarinda loves riding her horse astride at breakneck speed and caring for the horses on a neighboring estate with her best friend Sara Sophia, a girl of unknown heritage. Clarissa, on the other hand, is content to be identical to her sister and eager for them to marry a set of identical twins and live together for the rest of their lives. When Clarinda's parents discover her secret horse-related activities, they furiously threaten to sell her horse and send her to her grandfather's estate in north Wales if she doesn't behave and marry Lord Sufton, a bland, unintelligent man Clarinda despises. Clarinda would rather die than do any of those things but is willing to consider her options before making a decision. Meanwhile, Robert, Lord Stormont, Earl of Marsett wins Hollyridge Manor, the estate next to that of Lord Capelle's, in a lucky card game. As the elderly former owner returns home, he suffers a fatal heart attack, but not before blurting out to Clarissa (whom he thinks is Clarinda) that Sara Sophia has a secret past which will bring her untold riches and happiness. Providing Clarissa with a clue and a set of old keys, the old man dies without realizing he was speaking to the wrong twin. Selfish Clarissa decides to keep the secret to herself and solve the mystery and perhaps use it to her advantage. Clarinda, upset with her parents' decree, gallops out on her horse just as Robert and his dog are inspecting the estate. Robert's dog causes an accident which brings Clarinda and Robert together and the confirmed bachelor is instantly smitten and wants to help Clarinda. The lady is not so willing at first but can not ignore the strong chemistry between them. Her twin also can not ignore her sister's new feelings and sets out on a plot to destroy her sister and win the handsome Lord for herself. The plot is fairly predictable and almost Cinderellaesque. I found this book utterly painful to read because of the incredibly obvious foreshadowing. I stuck with it and still didn't like it. I find it hard to believe that parents would not be able to tell their twins apart and would treat their children in such a way. The Capelle family is utterly horrid and I wanted to rip Rissa's hair out. Clarinda isn't all together likable either. She meekly accepts her sister's torments without telling anyone, yet her sister routinely tattles on her. I like that Clarinda at least can hold her own with the odious overbearing Robert. Their romance is unbelievable and I do not believe he really loves her because if he did, he would not have reacted the way he did while Rissa was interfering. Sara Sophia's love story is more charming and interesting though she's too self-sacrificing for me to really be fond of her. This book has some subtle sensuality thrown in which makes the characters behave improperly and is entirely unnecessary and unbelievable at the moments the scenes occur. I would recommend skipping this one unless you have a desire to read EVERY book in the genre.

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