Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James

Title: An Inquiry Into Love and Death
Author: Simone St. James

Genre: Historical, Thriller, Paranormal

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
ISBN-10: 0451239253
ISBN-13: 978-0451239259
After her uncle Toby, a renowned ghost hunter, is killed in a fall off a cliff, Oxford student Jillian Leigh must rive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings. Almost immediately, unsettling incidents - a book left in a cold stove, a gate swinging open on its own - escalate into terrifying events that convince Jillian an angry spirit is trying to enter the house and is haunting the woods around Blood Moon Bay. If Toby discovered something sinister during his investigations, was his death no accident?

The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken leaves Jillian with more questions than answers - and with the added complication of a powerful mutual attraction. She suspects someone will do anything to hide the truth and begins to discover secrets that lie deep within Rothewell... and at the very heart of who she is.

Review:

This is one of those murder mysteries that keeps you guessing till the very end. I had my suspicions about everybody in Rothewell, much like the oh so fleetingly handsome Inspector Merriken, but I can't say I predicted any of the events that took place as the pieces of the puzzle were coming together.

In the early 1920s, outside London, in a small town known as Rothewell, a legendary ghost has haunted the people of the town for decades and has been known to cause quite the spook on travelers who decide to reside in Barrow House.

Jillian Leigh thought taking care of her eccentric Uncle's things after his untimely death would be an undoubtedly quick process. When she learned it would be quite the opposite, her ghost-hunting uncle soon became the least of her worries, because the circumstances in which he died came into question as the Scotland Yard Inspector seems to believe it was something more than a simple fall.

Of all things, the plot and the writing were the elements that attracted me most and hooked me from the very beginning. The plot itself was so different from the genre of books I usually read that I was amazed how well it was thoroughly executed. The thrill and suspense was flying off the pages and I was intrigued and mesmerized while scared out of my socks. The legend of Walking John had a history so dynamically crafted, I sympathized with him when I read the circumstances of his death. It was brilliant. Rothewell was teeming with ghosts yet it was described as such a beautifully haunting town that I got chills while I would have liked to see the defiant waves of Blood Moon Bay. The thrill of learning just pieces of what really occurred while Jillian's uncle Toby visited Rothewell added to the overall mystery and drama of what was later to be revealed and discovered.

The writing blew my breath away with the amount of detail the author added about World War I and its affect on England and its Royal Navy soldiers that seemed to occupy every corner of Rothewell. It was due to this solid background that the author was able to seamlessly incorporate so many different portrayals of the war yet combine them all to convey the impact it had on the men of the time.

Jillian was my undoubtedly favorite character because of her, as Drew Merriken calls it, her "infernal intelligence." She makes brilliant leaps with all the information that she collects and its impossible to not to able to see why she decided to attend Oxford, rather than become a married homebody like Mrs. Kates. It's also her reactions that made me admire her. She was able to confront the most challenging and trying of situations and figure out with a rational head what to do next. The insatiable Inspector Andrew Merriken seemed to be one of those "situations" as most love interests tend to be in books these days. His blunt demeanor took some adjusting to but I could understand his reasoning for suspecting everyone of everything. One of my favorite quotes by him has to be when he's explaining to Jillian why he is how he is, as he simply says, "But that is why you are you and I am me." True, it's a bit condescending in a I'm-a-cop-and-you're-a-civilian way, but it just sums up his character in a nutshell.

While I do admit that An Inquiry Into Love and Death is more of an Adult novel with crossover YA appeal, it does not stop me from forcing it upon my high school friends and demanding that they read it and discuss it with me. I'm just that giving.

A

Source: Publisher via Netgalley

LiLi

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Legacy of the Clockwork Key (The Secret Order, #1) by Kristin Bailey

Title: Legacy of the Clockwork Key
Author: Kristin Bailey
Series: The Secret Order, #1

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
ISBN-10: 1442440260
ISBN-13: 978-1442440265
A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.

When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key that only Meg can use—that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.

Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect—and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.

Review:

Legacy of the Clockwork Key is a fantastic introduction to a new magical and inventive series, but it is also a wondrous introduction to the genre of Steampunk for young adult readers.

Meg has just lost both her parents to a devastating fire that claimed their home and their fortune. She's left with nothing but is mysteriously taken in by a Lord Rathford who claims to have known her parents and is willing to give her a place to stay, but as a housemaid. Meg was not expecting the unusual and maddening condition the lord insists on keeping his house in, a moment frozen in time. All she has left to keep her sane is a pocket watch that was found in the remains of her family's ruin. Or what she believes to be a pocket watch.

Enter Will, the handsome Scottish tinker Lord Rathford keeps on hand. Meg soon finds that her momento is a master key that can unlock, not only many of her grandfather's inventive mechanisms, but also a secret society where men are judged solely on their vast creativity and ability to manipulate gears and cogs to make unbelievable creations.

It was the combination of plot, characters and writing that really captivated me and left me wanting every time I had to put the book down. The characters are so seamlessly introduced and so individually motivated, it made them so authentic and real; the protagonist especially. Margaret "Meg" Whitlock had her own flaws that were clearly evident and made all the more endearing because of her naive curiosity and fearless determination. She had her own arc of development in the book as did other main characters. Will is first seen just as the muscle as he's "dragged" along for the ride, but soon he's just as willing to protect Meg during the more life-threatening parts of their adventure. He easily criticizes Meg for her selfishness but fails to see his own flaws and insecurities. He confronts these flaws and it helps him realize that his lack of title isn't as difficult an obstacle to overcome as he believes it to be. Though Meg and Will made a good match as partners and love interests, Oliver and Lucinda were two of my favorite characters for their constant tension and shared history together.

The plot was unfathomably creative because even in my wildest dreams I could not have come up with some of the fantastic and terrifying adventures Meg and her crew have to face. The action as well as the lapses in between are the best parts of the book by far. It's impossible to predict the wild challenges that are set out for the cast of characters.

The writing is what makes the book stand out from others I've read that take place in late 18th century England. The descriptive setting as well as the appropriate English phrases easily placed me in the servants' kitchen with Meg and Mrs. Pratt, as well as in the moors looking down at the remains of Heverdon castle.

All these components make up the incredible and original book of Legacy of the Clockwork Key. It was a surprisingly quick read that piqued my interest till the unveiling of the repeatedly-stated dangerous Amusement that has everybody in the S.O.M.A. in hiding. The ending was nicely wrapped up and left enough room for more mysteries to be solved and delved into in the sequel, which I will pick up as soon as it's released.

A

Source: Publisher

LiLi