Category Archives: Romance

The Scarlet Pimpernel

By Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Copyright © 1905

The French aristocracy is headed to the guillotine at the end French Revolution and the only one willing to save them is the Scarlett Pimpernel.

After the French Revolution royalty and nobility are being sent to the guillotine daily, but no European country wants to step in and stop the madness. But there is one man who will risk his neck for these aristocrats and he is known only as the Scarlet Pimpernel.

At the beginning of the story the Scarlet Pimpernel has confounded the murdering French Revolutionaries at every turn sneaking condemned men, women, and children out of France and over to England right under their captors noses. So the French Republic Government sends it’s Chief Agent of the Committee of Public Safety on a mission to England to root out the identity of the Scarlett Pimpernel and to ensnare him on French soil to have him killed. This agent,  Citizen Chauvelin, enlists the aid of a former acquaintance, French expat, and high society darling of fashion Marguerite by black mailing her. Marguerite has no idea who the Scarlet Pimpernel is but she is mildly infatuated with him. When she does find out who he is she will fall madly in love with him, but will it be too late to save him?

The Scarlet Pimpernel is obviously a historical novel set in the 1790’s. While the story contains historical figures, it is obvious that the author was on the side of the Aristocracy and that history is not as much of a concern as is telling a good story. In that Orczy does a wonderful job. Though it really doesn’t come as much of a surprise who the Scarlett Pimpernel turns out to be it is still a great tale with mild intrigue, daring-do, and romance. Having read some of Alexander Dumas works, which center in and around this time period and which are generally long, highly-detailed stories, I found this book to be an extremely easy read in comparison and in general quite fun to read. This book was originally written for an adult audience, but today it translates very well as a classic for youth to read as well.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Adventure, Adventure, Classics, Classics, Europe, Historical, Historical, Romance, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

Stoner & Spaz

By Ron Koertge

Published by Candlewick Press

Copyright © 2002

The physically disabled and the mentally disabled meet and the fireworks fly in a book which is aiming a little too low for a suitable audience.

16 year-old Benjamin, the Spaz, has CP (Cerebral Palsy). He lives in the cocoon of his grandmother’s house studying old movies and feeling sorry for himself. One night at the Rialto Theater he runs into a classmate, colleen, a tough as nails Stoner, who bums a couple of bucks off of him. Ben knows he is being used, and he knows Colleen is bad news, but it has been so long since anyway has talked to him the way she does that he can’t help but feel drawn to her.  Each of them end up giving the other friendship and the listening ear that they desperately need. It is Ben who, trying to harness his passion for film, will learn how tough he really is.

“Stoner & Spaz” is a modern romantic tragedy for the teen set. What a preppy teen with a disability could have in common with the drug addicted girlfriend of a high school thug is hard to imagine, but breaking down stereotypes is very much part of what Koertge is trying to do in this book. He puts his storytelling ability and his knack for smart and realistic dialogue on display.

That being said, it is his realism that keeps me from recommending this book highly. This book is supposed to be aimed at teens 14-17, but the profanity and sexual overtones make this a book more suited for adults or at the very least teens 17 and up. I thoroughly believe that good fiction can help youths cope with life, so there are many teens that may be able to connect with the characters and situations in this book, but I don’t know that I would recommend this book for all teens.

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Filed under Addiction, Disease/Cancer, Drugs, Family, High School, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

The Son of Neptune

The Heroes of Olympus Book 2

By Rick Riordan

Published by Disney Hyperion

Copyright © 2011

Fans of the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will be happy to see that Percy Jackson is back. In book one of “The Heroes of Olympus” we were introduced to a Roman demigod named Jason Grace. He showed up at camp half-blood with amnesia and was selected by Juno to go on a quest, because once again the world of the God’s is in danger. Juno is up to her old tricks again, and she has given Percy amnesia and sent him on a cultural exchange to the Roman Camp, Camp Jupiter. He, along with two Roman demigods, will go on a quest to prove that the God’s really do need the demigods help in defeating their common foe.

The defeat of the Titans has angered their mother, Gaea. Gaea is the earth goddess, also known as mother earth, and she isn’t as friendly as her title makes her sound. She and her son, the giant Alcyoneus, have captured the gatekeeper of the dead, Thanatos, and now anyone that Gaea sees as useful is being freed from death and are wreaking havoc on the gods and demigods. Monsters just won’t stay dead no matter how many times they are killed, and they are being gathered together under the command of Gaea, Alcyoneus, and her other son the giant Polybotes.

This brings us to Percy’s quest. Thanatos must be freed so he can do his job and mighty Alcyoneus must be destroyed. There are problems though, Alcyoneus is keeping Thanatos in a land beyond the reach of the Gods; he is being kept in… Alaska! To make matters worse, Alcyoneus cannot be destroyed while he is in his own land.  Fortunately, Percy will have two demigods with him that will be more than up to the task. Even though Hazel and Frank are members of a cohort 5, a Roman military group at Camp Jupiter which seems to be reserved for losers, they have powers that will be more beneficial than anyone can know. They are the only ones who can possibly help bring Alcyoneus down.

I’m not going to give away who Frank and Hazel’s parents are or what powers they possess; that is half the fun of Riordan’s books. I will however reveal that Hazel has a very close connection to Alcyoneus, and that Frank has one of the coolest powers yet revealed in any of the Olympian/Olympus books due in part to his Chinese heritage.

There is nothing new in Riordan’s plots: A riddle describing a job that needs to be done along with the perils it will bring will be read, and three demigods will go on a quest to defeat some evil God/Titan/Giant/Monster/Etc. There will be battles and one or all of the three quest members will at some point have to make a difficult decision which will in the end help them defeat their foe.

As plain and simple as this may sound, Riordan continues to make it special because he always adds something new. For instance in this book he has delved a little deeper into Roman Myth. He has introduced a new camp and a new enemy. As with Camp Half Blood, the members of Camp Jupiter have gods for parents and they have different powers too. In addition Riordan has set this new quest in the Pacific Northwest; a place very much different from New York or San Francisco. If that wasn’t enough, he throws in the aforementioned Chinese ties and some Amazon action.  Riordan blends these things so effortlessly that you can’t help but be interested.

The Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series are not the most compelling books that I’ve ever read. But there is something to be said for the level of comfort he creates with the characters, while still giving us tons of action, and enough new material to suck us in. Now I’m ready to see how the prophecy unfolds in his next book:

“Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,

To storm or fire the world must fall.

An oath to keep with a final breath,

And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.”

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Filed under Adventure, Adventure, Fantasy, Fantasy, Friendship, Junior Fiction, Love/Romance, Myths & Legends, Myths and Legends, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

I AM NUMBER FOUR

By Pittacus Lore

Published by Harper

Copyright © 2010

Lorien was a peaceful and progressive planet. Hundreds of years ago the Loriens were faced with the choice of changing the way they treated their environment or face eventual extinction. They decided to change, and their planet healed. Lorien decided to bless some of its people with special powers which would enable them to continue protecting their planet, and so they did. They protected it right down to the day that the Mogadorians invaded in large number with soldiers and giant beasts.

The Mogadorians faced the same decision of saving their planet and decided to use it up and then take over another thriving planet. The Loriens fought valiantly but they were caught by surprised and were outnumbered. However, they did have a contingency plan. They rounded up nine children of the Guarde and put them on a ship bound for earth to await the day that they could return and restore Lorien to its former beauty. The Lorien elders knew that the Mogadorians would try to track down these children and kill them before they developed their powers, so they were given charms that would protect them. The elders could not make them invincible but they could slow down the Mogadorian trackers; they made it so that the children each had a number and they could only be killed in numerical order.

John Smith (a.k.a. Daniel Jones, a.k.a. …) has been on the run for the last 10 years. He and his guardian try to keep a low profile so they don’t have to move so often, but they have been moving nearly every 6 months. The Mogadorians have caught up with numbers one, two, and three. They are now coming after him; he is number four. The Mogadorians are getting more frantic now though, because John is now 15 and he is starting to get his powers. The time to stand up and fight is close.

“I am Number four” is a wildly exciting teen Sci-Fi/Romance novel. When you become John you feel the anxiousness that he feels. He is constantly looking over his shoulders and thinking ever so slowly about his actions. You can feel the pent up frustration when he becomes the target of the school bully. He knows he can end the harassment quickly, but not without having to move again. The romance, while it slows the book down a little, never gets too sappy and actually helps with the drama since he is interested in the ex-girlfriend of the aforementioned bully. In addition, the tension and suspense just build as you continue to wonder when and where the Mogadorians are going to catch up to John.  When they do finally catch up the action does not disappoint with glowing swords, corkscrew daggers, laser blasters, giant man eating animals, and 9 feet tall Mogadorian soldiers. It really seems like more than John can overcome by himself. Fortunately he won’t have to.

This book is awesome! It kind of reminds you of Superman except John is not unique; there are now five others like him out there. I don’t want to give too much away, but you are also going to love Bernie Kosar in this book. That’s all I’m saying.  I am definitely ready for book two in the series “The Power of Six.” (Age 13 and up)

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Filed under Abuse/Bullying, High School, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Young Adult Fiction

Glow

By Amy Kathleen Ryan

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

Copyright © 2011

The environmental condition of planet earth has gotten to be so bad that humans have all but given up on fixing their planet. Instead some scientists on earth organized an epic interstellar space mission to colonize a new planet with human life. They created two massive bio-dome like space ships that could be self sufficient indefinitely throughout what would be a trip of many decades.  These ships are called the Empyrean and the New Horizon.

Waverly and Kieran are the oldest girl and boy on this journey. Born on the Empyrean, they have never seen earth; they only know of it from their parents stories. Both youths know that in order to keep the Empyrean running and to one day populate New Earth it is their duty to marry and procreate as soon as possible. Fortunately for them they actually do love each other. However, before they can get married the captain of the New Horizon attacks the Empyrean kidnapping all of the girls, killing most of the adults, and damaging the ships reactor.  This unlikely event sets off a chain of events that will alter Waverly and Kieran’s lives and relationship in previously unimaginable ways.

“Glow” is an extremely deep science fiction/dystopian future novel that touches on issues of environmentalism, God, cults, secularism, love, fertility, and ethics. That all of these topics could be woven semi-seamlessly into a novel for young adults is an accomplishment in itself. Then of course to write a novel that is enthralling and suspenseful that includes such content is amazing. Due to its genre “Glow” is bound to be compared to the “Hunger Games,” and in that they both seem to have a philosophy and ethics bent to them the comparison is apt. However the settings are completely different and, though both stories are fueled by power struggles, the plots are very different. This book is exciting and thought provoking and I recommend this book for teens and adults (ages 15 and up).

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Filed under Dystopian Future, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction

MOCKINGJAY

By Suzanne Collins

Published by Scholastic Press

Copyright © 2010

Katniss Everdeen has survived, barely, her second stint in the Hunger Games thanks to a rescue operation carried out by the rebels and their Capitol spies. But all is not well. Not all of the games combatants were rescued. Among those left behind was Peeta who President Snow will now use to thwart the rebel cause and break Katniss.

Things aren’t well in District 13 either. However happy she is about being rescued, it was done with ulterior motives. Katniss finds that she has been saved so that she can be the face and voice of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. However, Katniss finds district 13 to be very strict and antiseptic and something about its leaders gives her an uneasy feeling. Will the leader of district 13, President Coin, still have a use for her when she has accomplished their goal? And will she be saving or destroying more lives? One thing is for sure; the rebellion is going to cause her grief on a level she has never known.

Mockingjay is at once different and similar the first two books in this series. In the first two books she is a captive of the Capitol and the Hunger Games. In Mockingjay she is safely inside District 13, but she is still a captive of the Games. Her life is now about taking down the Capitol the cruel creators of the Hunger Games, but she is still a captive in many ways trying to save Peeta, trying to keep District 13’s leaders happy, and trying to come to terms with all of the sorrow that has occurred since her first trip to the Hunger Games.

Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Finale is exquisite. Her ability to tale a tale that is filled with action, suspense, love, internal angst, and a philosophical and historical understanding of humans is spellbinding. I literally could not put this book, or any of the books, in this series down. The ending is so dramatic that I felt the pain and understood the necessity of Katniss’ actions. This series is just completely awesome. It has moved to the top of my YA Fiction list.

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Filed under Adventure, Community, Family, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Young Adult Fiction

Catching Fire

Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins

Published by Scholastic Press

Copyright © 2009

In the Second book of the Hunger Games series, Katniss and Peeta have come back victorious from the Hunger Games. She was hoping that life would be a little better from now on with the games behind her. However, she finds that the things she was forced to do and say in the arena to stay alive have alienated her from her best friend back home in district 12, and she’ll soon learn that those same actions in the arena have been viewed by the poor people of the districts and by the president of Panem as an act of rebellion. If she can’t prove to the public that what she did was out of her undying love for Peeta she is going to be in big trouble with President Snow. Will the president be able to quell the rebellion, or will his plan backfire and incite more anti-capitol sentiment?

Just when I thought that Suzanne Collins wasn’t going to be able to top the suspense and thrill of first book in this series, she goes and proves me wrong. I never saw the quarter quell coming, although it was alluded to in the first book. What we find is that the President has control of what the rules for the quarter quell are. (That is all I’m going to give away.) This isn’t the only shocker in “Catching Fire.” Katniss and Peeta are given freedom by their coaches to be themselves. The way they surprise and antagonize the Capitol and President Snow is beautiful. I found myself cheering them on and even laughing at their brazenness. If the first two books in this young adult series is any indication of how good the third will be, then I am in for a real treat.

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Filed under Community, Family, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Young Adult Fiction