Friday, May 6, 2011

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week Part II . . . 

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis -- Middle Grades Historical Fiction/Fantasy

It's 1803 and 12-year-old Kat Stephenson, the youngest daughter of a country rector, has cut her hair, disguised herself as a boy and sneaks out of the house . . . only to be busted by her older sisters. Kat's whole reason for running away was to help her brother Charles avoid debtors prison and to keep eldest sister Elissa from making marrying an older man who was rumored to have killed his wife. Kat thinks that as a boy, she could make money in London to send home to help her family. Elissa, always willing to do the right thing, just doesn't understand! Neither does second sister Angeline. She has her own plan for avoiding a disastrous marriage for her sister and her plan does not involve Kat's help. It does, however, involve magic! Kat finds herself in disgrace with her sisters and her step-mama. Step-mama is always telling Kat to behave like a lady and forever complaining that Kat's mother was a disgrace to the family because she was a witch. Jealous of her sisters'  memories of their mother and Angeline's budding magical talent, Kat sneaks a peek at her late mother's magical artifacts, hidden away by disapproving step-mama, and discovers she has a secret magical destiny inherited from the mother she never knew. Elissa is pursued by both the wicked Sir Neville and his kind younger brother while Angeline finds an unwanted suitor of her own. Kat is determined to avoid her destiny as a mysterious Guardian and continues to stubbornly seek out a magical solution to her family's dilemmas, all in her own way.Kat is an irrepressible, incorrigible young heroine who will make you laugh with her crazy ideas. She really makes the reader want to befriend her to either join her on her adventures or keep her from carrying out her plans. The characters are a bit two-dimensional but I found the Stephenson sisters very likable and interesting, especially Angeline, the fiery tempered sister. The villain's motive could probably be easily figured out by an adult but I was too tired to really figure it out and I think a child in the target age will enjoy learning it the moment Kat puts all the clues together. This charming book is a good introduction to the Regency genre for younger readers and a good fun diversion for older readers as well. I look forward to reading more about Kat in the future!

Cut From the Same Cloth by Kathleen Baldwin -- Regency Romance
Valen, Lord St. Clare's father is dying and makes Valen promise to find a wife who will fill his heart. Easier said than done when Valen despises all the members of the ton for their snooty ways. His mother was common born and his noble grandfather made her life miserable. Valen gives his father a half-hearted promise and heads off to London to stay with his Aunt Honore. Lady Elizabeth Hampton is in London to find a rich husband. With her father and older brother missing in America and her twin brother not mature enough to save the family, Lady Elizabeth decides she must do the right thing and sacrifice herself to rescue the family finances. Elizabeth revels in creating eye-catching dresses out of beautiful, unusual silks. Her creations have caught the eyes of a few suitors, most notably Lord "Pointy-Nose-But-Has-Thirty-Thousand-a-Year" Horton, a would-be poet. Unfortunately, her unique style has also caught the attention of Lord St. Clare, who delights in creating lurid articles of clothing from the same cloth as Elizabeth's dresses. Lord St. Clare's jokes do not amuse Elizabeth and she takes delight in telling him off. He also happens to be her brother's old friend and when Lord St. Clare and Lady Almaeda invite the twins to stay at Lady Almaeda's, Elizabeth finds herself arguing a lot more with Lord St. Clare than she ever wanted to. Valen sees though Elizabeth's ploy. He also sees the spirited girl underneath the prim and proper young lady., but Valen vows he won't be caught in Elizabeth's schemes. He thinks he's safe because he isn't rich enough but if his Aunt Honore has anything to say about it, Valen and Elizabeth will be at the alter in no time at all. The story takes a dramatic turn and Valen has to prove to Elizabeth that he is not just a fashionable fribble and she must show him that she has a heart after all. This is an excellent, light, funny romance. Aunt Honore is my favorite character with her outrageous comments and carefully designed ploys to bring about a match between her favorite nephew and his friend's sister. The book had me laughing out loud in many places and balances the dramatic events with humor quite nicely. I could have done without the drama but it was necessary for the romance and character development. This is a nice reversal of the Pride and Prejudice plot and an original, refreshing plot which hasn't been used before. There is some brief, mild sensual language but mostly the book is kisses only and the sensuality is handled with humor and charm. Though it's not quite at the level of Georgette Heyer, I loved this book and highly recommend it for fans of the genre.

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