Review: The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan

15th Oct 2014 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2014, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees BrennanThe Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy
Published by Random House
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
5 Stars

UNSPOKEN

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

UNTOLD

It's time to choose sides....

On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.

UNMADE

Powerful love comes with a price. Who will be the sacrifice?

Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

As coauthor with Cassandra Clare of the bestselling Bane Chronicles, Sarah Rees Brennan has mastered the art of the page-turner. This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.

 

The Lynburn Legacy has to be one of the best discoveries I’ve ever made. I can’t remember where I first heard about Unspoken but I was charmed by the illustrated cover and drawn in by the promise of Gothicness and romantic entanglements with imaginary boys. I even went to the library in the next county over to get it! What I didn’t expect was how hilarious it was, and how charming and heartbreaking it would be. Basically, Unspoken had fantastic voice and characters. I loved the setting, the plot, the dialogue, everything. Sarah Rees Brennan does a wonderful job of juxtaposing snark and humor with serious situations, a very real sort of reaction in my opinion. It’s also Gothic at heart; there’s spooky unease and magic in the air throughout the book. It’s very atmospheric and a good read for fall. The downside? SRB is the master of the gut punch cliffhanger! But luckily for you, dear readers, you can binge read to your heart’s content with all three books out now! Takes the sting away :)

Kami Glass is one of my favorite characters ever, in anything- she’s so REAL and spirited and hilarious. I love her sarcasm and her humor, how deeply she loves her family and her friends. She’s fascinating to me. And you know I love Jared, wounded and mean as he sometimes is. He’s not like other leads that can come off as a-holes. Yeah, Jared says and does things he shouldn’t but it never crossed that line for me. He was still thoughtful, confused, loyal Jared underneath the hurt (also swoooon!). Angela is more than the Mean Girl. Holly is more than the Air Head. Just great character arcs in general.

I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. One of the strengths of The Lynburn Legacy (of which there are many) is its relationships between characters. Familial, romantic, platonic- they all shine in different ways and all the characters have interesting relationships with each other, like a real group of people would. I love Kami and Angie’s friendship, opposites to the core but best friends all the same. I also find Rusty fascinating; it was nice to get a more in-depth view of him in Untold (Book 2) instead of the silliness he always projects.

One of my other favorite things about this series is all the parents! Parents everywhere! That’s SO rare in YA. Kami’s dad is really awesome- I always picture him like the dad from My Neighbor Totoro haha. But yeah, so much of the book revolves around moms and dads and their relationships (or lack thereof) with their kids. It adds nice layers to the story. I love that the action is mainly contained to the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale; it’s not a plan for world domination. I also loved how Kami dove into the archives and the history of the town to learn more about the Lynburns. I’m a big fan anytime the past directly affects the characters in the present.

The pacing in general is fantastic. Untold picks up right after Unspoken and Unmade picks up a couple months after Untold. Each book simmers with strangeness and tension but it’s non-stop action and uncovering mysteries and ROMANCE the whole time. Oh my god. The romance. For everyone. Love love love all that happened! All the confusion and the mixed up signals (which I usually hate) and the kissing oh my goddddd the swoony kissing. God. Just perfect.

I love the Gothic atmosphere of these books, the diversity (half-Asian heroines! Gay and bisexual characters!), the history, the magic, the mystery, the sleepy town, the ruthlessness, the characters. I love it all. I even adore the name of the series! And Unmade was the cherry on top. A practically perfect wrap up with so much humor and tears and darkness and light. I had a few quibbles but there are spoilerific and not enough to tarnish my overall impression. Such a brilliant trilogy that I wish more people read.

 

 

About Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah Rees Brennan was born and raised in Ireland by the sea, where her teachers valiantly tried to make her fluent in Irish (she wants you to know it’s not called Gaelic) but she chose to read books under her desk in class instead. The books most often found under her desk were Jane Austen, Margaret Mahy, Anthony Trollope, Robin McKinley and Diana Wynne Jones, and she still loves them all today.

After college she lived briefly in New York and somehow survived in spite of her habit of hitching lifts in fire engines. She began working on The Demon’s Lexicon while doing a Creative Writing MA and library work in Surrey, England. Since then she has returned to Ireland to write and use as a home base for future adventures. Her Irish is still woeful, but she feels the books under the desk were worth it.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan

1st Oct 2014 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2014, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowanMaid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
Series: Maids of Honor #2
Published by Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: August 26th 2014
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover | Source: Library
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

Beatrice Knowles is a Maid of Honor, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s secret protectors. Known for her uncanny ability to manipulate men’s hearts, Beatrice has proven herself to be a valuable asset in the Queen’s court—or so she thinks. It has been three weeks since the Maids thwarted a plot to overthrow the Queen, and Beatrice is preparing to wed her betrothed, Lord Cavanaugh. However, her plans come to a crashing halt as rumors of a brewing Scottish rebellion spread among the court.

Beatrice’s new assignment is to infiltrate the visiting Scottish delegation using her subtle arts in persuasion. The mission seems simple enough, until the Queen pairs Beatrice with the worst of the lot—Alasdair MacLeod. Beatrice cannot help but think that the Queen is purposefully setting her up for failure. But Alasdair could be the key to unlocking the truth about the rebellion….and her own heart. Caught in a web of ever-more-twisting lies, Beatrice must rise up among the Maids of Honor and prove what she’s known all along: In a court filled with deception and danger, love may be the deadliest weapon of all.

First off, if you love Tudor England, spies, strong female characters, romance, and/or action (or all of the above!) you have to start the Maids of Honor series. I absolutely loved MAID OF SECRETS when I read it last year and MAID OF DECEPTION is equally fantastic! Jennifer McGowan’s twitter bio reads “Young Adult Romance with swash and buckle” and I couldn’t agree more!

There are going to be five books total- one focusing on each girl in Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honor spy circle. Maid of Secrets focused on the newest member of the group, Meg Fellowes, and Maid of Deception focuses on Beatrice Knowles, a practiced member of the court trading in secrets and flirty smiles.

Beatrice was my least favorite girl in the first book and it is a mark of Jennifer McGowan’s writing how much I came to like and care for Beatrice in this installment! She is more than just a bratty, spoiled courtier and you begin to realize how much intelligence it takes to survive in the Queen’s court, and how much heart Beatrice has hiding underneath her layer of ice. The relationships with her fellow spies are much improved, and some of my favorite scenes were seeing her interactions with her father and with Alasdair at Marion Hall, her ancestral home. I also found Beatrice’s relationship with Elizabeth fascinating, full as it is with jealousy, contempt, and grudging respect.

My other favorite parts of the book: the political intrigue, the scenes at Marion Hall, including Beatrice’s father and the children, the depiction of Queen Elizabeth who is a great deal meaner and more vindictive than any other version I’ve seen (and thoroughly believable), and THE ROMANCE! Ohhh the romance!

Let’s just say I have a thing for literary Scots. Alasdair MacLeod is a hell of a lot of fun. He was introduced briefly in Maid of Secrets and takes front and center here. I love how he needles Beatrice because banter and “I hate you, no wait, I love you… but I still hate you a little” is kind of my favorite. They have great chemistry and he is a pretty fantastic character all on his own. Lots of depth and layers and pretty speeches. Let’s just say I swooned a time or two :)

The reason I knocked off half a star is because I felt the beginning of the book was a little slow and I had trouble remembering the characters’ personalities and what had happened in the first book. While each book focuses on a new girl, they are still sequels. The overarching storylines stretch across the books, so you definitely need to read in order even though each girl’s standalone story is primarily wrapped up. I think it’s one of those series that would benefit from back to back readings!

Once I got into the heart of the story and the interplay between the maids of honor themselves (which is great; I love the chemistry between the girls) it was an exciting read! And the ending is one of my favorites. Plus I can never resist anything set during Tudor-era England, especially with a fun twist. Can’t wait for MAID OF WONDER next summer; its leading lady is none other than the ethereal Sophia Dee!

Check out my review of Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor #1)!

 

 

About Jennifer McGowan

Jennifer McGowan was born in Ohio, grew up in Montana, and studied in Paris. She fell in love with the Elizabethan era as a college student and is now an unrepentant scholar of the period, happily splitting her time between the past and present. An RWA Golden Heart Award winner and multiple finalist, Jenn is the author of Maid of Deception, Maid of Secrets, and A Thief Before Christmas (a Maids of Honor short story). She lives in Ohio.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

3rd Sep 2014 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2014, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: All Lined Up by Cora CarmackAll Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #1
Published by William Morrow
Pub Date: May 13th 2014
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. All Lined Up was a super fun and sexy book that really is Friday Night Lights Goes to College! FNL is my favorite show of all time so I knew I had to read this book. Plus football season is just around the corner!

I liked Dallas a lot, she was strong and interesting and sometimes made stupid decisions. In other words, believable for a college freshman. Coach Cole was basically a sterner version of Coach Taylor in my head, which was delightful. I liked how their father daughter relationship grew and changed for the better. And Carson, ooooomg Carson! Dreamy as hell. Sweet, sarcastic, good with banter. I was picturing him with Matt Saracens’ personality and Chris Evans’ looks. Yum. He was a delight, as was his relationship with Dallas.

I love that it started fast and then crawled forward, a change of pace from most books. And those movie nights on the couch scenes! Torturous and exhilarating all at once, I could feel the nerves and crackling tension between the two. Let’s just say it made me squirm with familiarity! Oh college…

I thought Cora Carmack did an admirable job of making the alternating chapters sound different too. Characters are often hard to distinguish but Dallas and Carson had their own voices and I liked getting both sides of the story. It was refreshing. The football scenes were fantastic as well, definitely written by someone who knows the game! Overall All Lined Up was sexy, fun, and a fast read with a surprising amount of depth and heart (and flutters!!) My first foray into NA was a success!

 

 

About Cora Carmack

I’m Cora Carmack, a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. I’ve done a multitude of things in my life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theater), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). I enjoy placing my characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestseller… and a nerd (mostly the nerd part).

Represented by the fabulous Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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