Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not While I'm Around: "Demon" by Laura DeLuca

Without realizing it, the Recommender happened upon Laura DeLuca's Phantom right before the release of her 2nd novel to feature my new favorite fictional character, Lord Justyn Patko and his girlfriend, Rebecca Hope. So, putting all my other carefully lined up books aside for the moment, I had to see what the author had in store for these two in the new book.
When we last met them... Justyn and Becca had both been scouted for a college of the Performing Arts. Demon has them moving in together in an off-campus apartment complete with a welcoming basket of herbs and potions from Darlene (Justyn's amazing Mom) and a cockatiel. They are mad for each other, though Becca is a bit nervous about facing this new college experience. And well she might be... as among their classmates are the trio from hell, two arrogant male students, Chad and Scott and their resident diva, Livy, a goth enchantress who zeros in on Justyn as her perfect future boyfriend, particularly after he and she audition for and get the leads in the college drama club's production of Sweeney Todd, while Becca scores a role, but as Sweeney's insane lost wife.
There is drama on stage and off. Justyn is as charming and magnetic as he was in the first book. He vows to protect Becca from all harm, but can he?  Becca will undergo an ordeal that seems to change her...possibly forever. Not saying what, that is for you to find out in this engrossing follow-up. The Recommender is happy to recommend anything with our perfect leading man, Justyn... or shall we say LORD Justyn, in the storyline! I am now looking forward to the 3rd installment of the Dark Musicals series...especially after the sneak peek Ms. DeLuca gives us in the opening chapter!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

High School Musical: "Phantom" by Laura DeLuca

Rebecca Hope is a high school senior who feels invisible. She has two besties, Carmen and Debbie, and a passion for all things Phantom of the Opera, from the book to the musical to the movie. She knows all the words by heart and, like Christine, is an amazing singer, something nobody at school realizes, as she is shy and usually only comfortable singing in the confines of her shower. She has also harbored a secret crush on Tom Rittenhouse, handsome basketball star and surfer. Then, her high school drama dept. decides to put on Phantom of the Opera and Becca's friends push her into auditioning. How could she not?
Attending auditions, while the girls wait their turn, the boys try out. Tom steps up to sing the Phantom's solo number. The whole school assumes Tom will get the part. After all, he usually gets whatever he wants.
The drama coach calls out another name, one nobody knows... "Lord ... Justyn?" she questions...and a boy glides onto the stage. He is dressed in black. A goth boy. Carmen recognises him from a class, "That's Justyn Patko" she confides to Becca. He is a new student, recently moved to their town from Las Vegas. As he takes the stage and begins the song, Becca can't take her eyes off him. He is the Phantom, Erik, come to life.
Finally, after Wendy, the most popular girl in school tries out, it's Rebecca's turn. Nervously she begins and notices Justyn watching her in the shadows at the back of the auditorium. It gives her the courage to bring Christine to life for Justyn's Phantom. Suddenly, the audience, and Tom, see Becca differently, as a star in the making!
The cast is announced. Justyn and Becca get the leads, while Tom is to be Raoul and Wendy is relegated to Carlotta. They are NOT happy.
This is just the beginning of this wonderful story that captures the heart of the Phantom classic and combines it with the casting of these students who are bringing the musical to life while also reenacting the love story rivalry of Christine, Erik and Raoul, off stage. Plus, there is a murder mystery that seems to follow the lead of some of the fictional Phantom's threats. Who is behind them? You may be surprised...
The Recommender LOVED Justyn! He is such a real presence, someone smart, charming, witty, self-possessed and not afraid to be himself in a high school world that treats him snarkily. He also has some secrets of his own which will be revealed as his Phantom courts Christine, and he, Justyn, reaches out to Becca.
If you love the Phantom as much as I do, then don't miss this different take on our favorite characters! Last year, the Recommender had the pleasure of seeing Spaulding High School's (in Rochester, NH) production of Phantom of the Opera and it was phantastic! Really brilliantly done, with sets that creatively rivaled those on the Broadway stage and the students playing Phantom and Christine could easily have played them on Broadway as well, so I found this book particularly appealing!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Incredible Journey: Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon

Hawk Quest is an amazingly epic story of a group of  diverse individuals making a journey together. It's also a heck of an adventure where you, the reader, begin to feel you are making the trip with them! So much happens in this book that it's hard to condense it to a synopsis.
The story begins in 1072 around the time of the Norman conquests.
Our leading man is Vallon, a  Frankish soldier of fortune, who is making his way through a storm when he comes across a hut inhabited by a young Sicilian medical student named Hero and his dying master, Cosmos, an explorer and philosopher. Before he dies Cosmos entrusts to Hero a chest and papers including one for safe passage through tribal territories and a ransom note regarding a Norman knight, Walter, who is being held captive by the Turks. It is Hero's job, left to him by Cosmos, to deliver the news of the ransom to the prisoner's family. The ransom requested is for four gyrfalcons, a rare white falcon found only in Greenland . He persuades Vallon to be his protector  and so begins the journey for this unlikely team.
They reach Walter's family's castle where, eventually, his mother convinces Vallon and Hero to take on the job of finding and delivering the ransom. Among the intriguing characters we meet, who will join them, are Wayland, a young, mute falconer working for the captive knight's family and his wonderful, nameless dog, a huge, loyal being who can read his master's mind and do his bidding and who will win your heart with his bravery; Raoul, a German soldier working for the family who convinces Hero and Vallon he should come along, too, and Syth, a beautiful girl who Wayland (and his dog) rescues from her feral existence.
Dress warmly! because we will be traveling to Greenland, Russia and the Black Sea and on to Anatolia and many, many other places on the map with our adventurers on the often brutal hawk quest as we face off against vikings and nomads and soldiers (not to mention villainous step-brothers) while we try to reach our destination in time.
This book has everything you could want in an adventure and more as it is not set in some fantasy world but in a real time and place that the author brings vividly to life. Don't miss this one!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nice Book Site!

Recently book blogger Trish of Desktop retreat asked to highight a couple of the Recommender's designs on her lovely blog, so of course I was honored and thought I'd share a link to it: Desktop Retreat

Monday, March 11, 2013

Who Can You Trust? "The Innocent" by David Baldacci

Sometimes the Recommender has to spend a lot of time on the computer. Time that could be spent reading. So, what better option than having a great book read to me while I work and read by two excellent readers (Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy) via audio book. David Baldacci's The Innocent is an action packed, fast paced story with great characters. Will Robie is a US Government assassin sent around the globe to take out strategic targets. He's good at what he does, though it's not something he particularly loves. He's smart, quick and has managed to stay alive and get out of some pretty tight spots. He's also pretty hot! Both tough and sexy. One night he's sent on an assignment that just doesn't make sense to him. He holds back from taking out his intended victim, we won't say who, no spoilers here! His handler insists he act... but he pauses just long enough for someone else, a sniper, to act for him hitting the target in a shocking scene! Will takes off, needing time to figure out what the heck is going on.
Enter Julie Getty, a 14 year old smart and street savvy teen who has run away from a foster home only to witness a terrible crime, the murder of her parents, and is now on the run from whoever organized that hit. She and Robie end up as allies when he saves her life and becomes her protector, not that she feels she needs one, but somehow, Robie, though he doesn't quite understand it himself... feels that she does.
Will and Julie are really terrific characters. Julie tries to stay strong to avenge her parents yet she is also a vulnerable young girl. Will is still trying to figure out who is after him, what they want, and who he can trust. There is explosive action, tense, tense moments, a love interest and Will and Julie's intriguing relationship which makes this an action thriller with heart. I loved it and loved the audio (and the great cover which initially drew me to this title!) with those super readers who truly brought these and a whole other cast of characters to life. If you want to give yourself a this book, or check the audio book out at your library and lose yourself in this gripping drama!