Synopsis: Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She’s tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother’s noble family—especially now that the family’s wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It’s hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane’s burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family’s struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane’s stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.
When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate.
Review: The Stepsister’s Tale is a unique retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale. Told from the point of view of the older stepsister, Jane is the heroine of this story. Jane is a hardworking, caring young lady. And “Cinderella” is a spoiled brat of a child. Jane and her sister are from a noble family who are now poor and destitute. When their mother marries a wealthy widower, they think they’ll be able to turn things around. But he only has debts, and they’re worse off than ever with another mouth to feed and winter setting in.
Barrett’s twist on a familiar story is a believable tale with hints of how the story will eventually be skewed. Don’t expect a fairy godmother or magic, but plenty of drama, heartache, forgiveness, and (of course) a bit of romance. It’s a stirring and sweet story that I wont soon forget.
Synopsis: Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen-all of them-and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood-the blood of Olympus-in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.
Review: The Blood of Olympus is the fifth and final in the Heroes of Olympus series. The questing demigods have split up yet again to complete their plan to stop Gaia from rising in just a few days. Battling giants, stopping the Romans from attacking the Greeks, and finding a cure to bring back the dead are just a few of what they face. The characters are vivid and engaging. Leo is an easy favorite with his silly humor and genius inventions that always seem to save the day. And we get to learn more about Reyna’s dark background when she confides in a sympathetic Nico.
With plenty of surprises, mystery, action, magic, and humor – this finale doesn’t disappoint. This is truly a team series, instead of focusing on just Percy Jackson as the last series did. And I was surprised that I was okay with that after learning more of each of their fascinating stories and endearing personalities. I hope we don’t have to wait long for another offshoot series with at least some of these familiar characters. This climactic conclusion is an amazingly fast and fun read.
Synopsis: Struggling actress Esther Diamond, whose year got off to a rough start (what with incarceration, unemployment, and mystical death curses), finally catches a break when she lands an acting job.
She’s hired to reprise her guest role as prostitute Jilly C-Note on The Dirty Thirty, a TV crime drama about depravity and corruption in the New York Police Department. Esther’s ex-sometime boyfriend, NYPD’s Detective Connor Lopez, hates that show with undying passion — especially after Esther convinces her narcissistic co-star to shadow Lopez on the job, in order to add verisimilitude to his performance as a morally bankrupt cop.
But Esther’s fellow thespian is her best bet for keeping an eye on Lopez 24/7—and, more to the point, on Lopez’s new partner, Detective Quinn. Esther and her friend Max, a 350-year-old mage whose day job is protecting the city from Evil, suspect Quinn of being involved in the latest mystical mayhem to menace Manhattan…
Corpses suddenly aren’t staying quite as dead as they should.
Review: Picking up right after The Misfortune Cookie left off, the adventure begins right away as Esther and her friends investigate a recently deceased who briefly got up and walked. Quinn is their main suspect because of the strange reaction Nelli (Max’s canine familiar) had to him. And when strange things continue around him, they know something’s going on.
Abracadaver is the seventh installment in the Esther Diamond urban fantasy series. Though most of the previous novels are fairly standalone, this more of a direct sequel. Esther’s on again/off again relationship with Lopez is usually just in the “off again” stage. Though another man makes things a bit more confusing for Esther. The strength of this series is the characters. They are endearing, witty and fun. And the ridiculous situations Esther gets herself into are always a wild ride.
I look forward to these Esther Diamond releases every year. And I devour them in a day. I only wish they were longer. As the front cover says, this is one of my top favorite series – and are always a must-read. Each story is wholly unique and unforgettable. With loads of humor, magic, and mystery – this latest zombified installment is another winner.