Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Witches of East End
The Beauchamp Family Book # 1
by Melissa de la Cruz

Genre: Contemporary Romance | Fantasy

It’s the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Freya Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Haven and Gardiners Island. But Freya is drawn to Bran’s gorgeous but unreliable brother Killian, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla.

Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family—the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya’s irresistible cocktails. As more of the town’s residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women.

Fraught with love, small-town secrets, and witchcraft, Witches of East End will capture any reader who craves a page-turning, heart-stopping story of myth and magic from an author who knows how to deliver.

Witches of East End revolves around two sisters and their mother in a small coastal town. With a long, colorful & paranormal past, all the Beauchamp women currently settle for a mundane lifestyle within the community while silently mourning the loss of their powers. When tragedy strikes, the family chooses to take risks using their forbidden magic for good which in turn gives them each a new purpose in life. With the plot colliding between such movies scripts as "Thor" and "Practical Magic", these powerful witches/women created by de la Cruz discover joy, adventure, heart-ache, and inner strength in this new magical series.

While all the Beauchamp ladies are "neither old nor young", "their physical appearances [correspond] to their particular talents" (pg. 29) :

Freya, the young vibrant one, can pull off looking within the age ranges of 16-23 and has a passion of igniting passion and is often characterized as "the first blush of Love". She can easily brew concoctions for all types of romance, but internally struggles with her own upcoming marriage.

Ingrid, the strong silent type, works for the locally under-funded library and can appear "anywhere from 27-35" years old. Known as the "Keeper of the Hearth," she is mostly stubborn and strongly believes in the rules (especially regarding her job), but slowly lets down her rigid guard in more ways than one throughout the book.

Joanna, the wise mother, has the heart of a child but carries the features "of an older woman in her early sixties". She's been around for centuries and carries dark secrets from her daughter while anguishing over past losses.

I had high hopes for this book, eagerly anticipating the whole witch theme since I'm a fan of de la Cruz's Blue Blood series, but, sadly, this story was a let down. To me, it felt like it was all over the place, either in the present or past, either in this sisters head or a side characters and, honestly, I would expect that from a book later on in a well-rounded series, but not from the first story. In my opinion, the tale would have flowed better if the author would have stuck to one family member per book - it would have created more interesting character development, a richer in-depth setting, and helped the reader better grasp this new
Beauchamp world full of witchy powers. Yet, what the reader received at the end of page 323 was a jumble of short stories that felt more like an anthology than an actual novel.

Other than that, the story dragged immensely, but I'm still holding out that this series can turn itself around since it took reading the first three books chronologically of de la Cruz's popular vampire series to become a favorite on mine. These characters have promise, the current story did contain some nice twist/turns, and the plot (though slightly lacking right now) can really expand into many intriguing areas in the future - IF - the author would actually work on creating a tale meant more for an adult audience (since Witches of East End could easily fall into the 'advance' young adult category -- nothing too hot & heavy/ deadly & devious in this tale to cast it into an "R" rating) So, here's hoping that something 'wicked' cool comes from the Beauchamp women in Book #2!

I'd be tempted to taste Freya's new cocktail menu at the North Inn Bar :)

Dislikes: I wanted to get immersed in the story, but due to the plot being all over the place I was overwhelmed more often than not.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Stardust of Yesterday by Lynn Kurland

Stardust of Yesterday
by Lynn Kurland

Genre: Paranormal Romance / Time-Travel / Fantasy

Genevieve Buchanan inherited a castle – and a ghost to go along with it. But Kendrick de Piaget was no typical ghost. He was a handsome and infuriatingly arrogant thirteenth-century knight. At first he wanted to frighten Genevieve, though she was more charmed than scared by his ghostly tricks. But when his thoughts turned to wooing her instead, Genevieve had to face her greatest fear: falling in love.

Genevieve is content with her San Fransisco lifestyle: great job/reputation, lovely friends/home ... but everything changes when a lawyer comes to town to offer her an unknown inheritance. One would think being offered a castle and a beyond-full bank account as a blessing, but when Genevieve's long-term clients begin walking away and her employees unexpectedly begin to quit - she's finds this new home as a bittersweet surprise and her only escape. Trying to be ecstatic with her new change of life and continue her restoration work abroad, Genevieve is soon caught off guard that her new historical residence comes with a not-so-friendly ghost and that he doesn't want her in the castle at all. Yet, when Genevieve begins to bravely confront her ghostly roommate, Kendrick de Piaget, her feelings begin to change in more ways than she expected and soon her 'knightly' dreams become shockingly realistic.

There were times when I highly enjoyed this book and others when it really really slowed down for me. The protagonists did not really have much depth to them and there was hardly any real character development throughout, but the romance was a nice twist than other similar historical tales. It's an easy/cute ghost read, with a little suspense thrown in - but the overall plot was lacking finesse and didn't really build up enough for the story to finish well - thus the ending was pretty predictable and came more abruptly than I would have liked.

Overall, this is a fun beach read - nothing to heavy or complicated to enjoy while chilling in the sun! :) Romance is there, but nothing too steamy to distract from the story.

Likes: All Kendrick's ghostly friends really add to the tale since their great side-characters.

Dislikes: Genevieve has a very split personality: sometimes perky / sometimes lost or easily distracted - thus, I felt, she was all over the place.


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Switch by Lynsay Sands

The Switch
by Lynsay Sands

Genre: Historical Romance

When they first met Lord Jeremy William Radcliffe, Charlie and her twin sister, Elizabeth, were escaping from their uncle - taking turns acting the young gentleman to avoid detection. But Charlie couldn't help falling head over heels - and out of the window - for the handsome lord. Of course, that was only the beginning: Lord Radcliffe insisted on showing "him" and her lovely sister safely to London.

But how could he do that? With every touch, Radcliffe seemed unknowingly to incite indecent desires in Charlie, and his fraternal intent was certain to land her in a fine mess. Though it was a great game to play a boy, there was more fun in being female. And after one brush of his fiery lips when her guise was gone, Charlie swore to be nothing but his woman forevermore.

Two orphaned sisters are avoiding their uncle's marriage decision by masquerading as a traveling brother/sister group, but upon their night of escape, they are discovered by the earl of Radcliffe. Deciding to offer aid to some innocent-looking siblings on their first-trip to London, Lord Radcliffe takes this group under his wing and eventually finds himself romantically draw to one sibling in particular --- although sometimes drawn to the boy ("Charlie") and other times the girl ("Beth"), Radcliffe finds himself hilariously torn between his sexual desires toward the two --- who are actually Charlotte in disguise throughout the whole book.

This was a great, fun tale with wonderful characters and would be a fantastic summer read! The plot was intriguing and always kept you on edge to see what mischief the sisters would get into next and what new romantic fumbles would happen with the male leads. I was in the mood for a theme in regards to the 'Hero not knowing she's a woman' story and was immensely happy with The Switch. It was enjoyable to experience Radcliffe's awkwardness throughout the book in his feelings toward Charlotte in disguise. The sisters got along splendidly and the side characters didn't distract the reader away from the overall plot, but I did find Charlotte's (aka Charlie & Beth) attitude towards helping the less fortunate bittersweet ... she took caring to the extreme and I found it a bit annoying and not really realistic.

All in all, if your looking for a fun beach read that is both humorous and romantic - this would be a great candidate.

Likes: The sisters daring mannerism toward anything manly (ie. wanting to visit gambling hells and clubs, etc.)

Dislikes: I felt the story dragged here and there, but would pickup again after a few chapters.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

After my nice long vacation . . .