Book Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red (The Ruby Red Trilogy, #1)

Title: Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy #1)
Author: Kerstin Gier
Genre: Young Adult, Time Travel, Paranormal, Historical
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: May 2012 (first published January 2009)
Pages: 324
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended – and rather eccentric – family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors’ peculiar history, she’s had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn’t been introduced to “the mysteries,” and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesly. It comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past.

She’s totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He’s obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she’s seen in any centrury . . .

My Review:

Gwen has always known that time travel is possible. Rare members of her family have been born with the time travelling gene allowing them to go back into the past. Her cousin Charlotte is one of the chosen few and has been training for her trips to the past since birth. But Gwen unexpectedly travels through time and isn’t ready for the pressures that being a time traveller brings. Her clothes are wrong, she can’t fence and languages aren’t her forte. Lucky for her that Gideon’s family also have the time travelling gene and whilst he may be unbearable – at least he knows Victorian era manners.

I’ve been excited about this book for a while and am glad that I finally took the plunge. As the first book in a series, Ruby Red does a brilliant job at laying the groundwork. Gwen is as new to the world of travelling though time as we are and its great learning about how the gene works as Gwen learns herself. There are some amazing characters from the best friend Lesly who is an expert at using the Internet, pop culture and has Gwen’s back no matter what to Gwen’s eccentric and possibly psychic Great Aunt Maddie. I was impressed with the wealth of detail regarding the difference between the past and present as well as some of the difficulties one might face if they were to go back in time. Another thing I loved was the insufferable Gideon – gorgeous yet obnoxious. It’s great to have a potential love interest that the heroine isn’t head over heels for the moment she meets him. There’s some bickering and frustration that I found to be fantastic.

There is a lot going on in this book and by the end a lot is still a mystery. Whilst it’s great at making me want to read the second book, Sapphire Blue, it meant that in terms of action, Ruby Red fell a little short. With all the descriptions and back story, there wasn’t a huge climax in terms of drama and activity in this first book. That said, and without having read the next book yet, Ruby Red is fantastic at laying the ground work. There’s so much happening – from Gwen’s inexplicable ability to talk to ghosts to a future hinted at though one of Gwen’s travels. It’s exciting and I loved being a part of the journey. The time travel is different from ones I’ve read before and I liked this particular take. The family mystery and quirky relatives are fascinating yet formidable.

Ruby Red was originally written in German and I wonder if perhaps that was a reason for why the novel read a little young for me. There were times when the book felt like it was more suitable for middle grade rather than young adult but it’s possible that some of the nuances were lost in translation.

I enjoyed this book and bought a copy of Sapphire Blue as soon as I finished Ruby Red! The main character, Gwen, is exciting, brave and intelligent. The banter with Gideon is a pleasure to read and there are so many secondary characters who are both mysterious and amusing. This was a great book to read and I liked the different take on time travel.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper

The Disgrace of Kitty Grey

Title: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey
Author: Mary Hooper
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 
Publication Date: June 2013
Pages: 288
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kitty has a comfortable life as a country milkmaid. She is well looked after by the family who live up at the great house, and she enjoys being courted by Will Villiers, the handsome river man. Then one day, Will vanishes

Kitty is heartbroken, and when sent to London on an errand she is determined to track down Will. But, alone and vulnerable in the vast city, Kitty’s fate is snatched out of her hands and she is plunged into a dizzying spiral of despair…

My Review:

Kitty Grey is happy with her life. She looks after five gorgeous milk cows, has plenty of free time and is in the start of a lovely romance with Will the Ferryman. But Will dreams of more than just living in Devonshire. He’s keen to go to London and earn his fortune so that he will be a man Kitty can be proud of.

When Kitty discovers Will is missing and all his belongings are gone too, she’s furious. When she gets given a chance to run an errand in London, Kitty is eager to go to the city and track Will down. But what greets her is nothing at all like she expected.

I had high hopes for The Disgrace of Kitty Grey. I’ve read some of Mary Hooper’s contemporary novels before but this is the first historical novel of hers that I read. It’s got a lot of charm. From the first few pages when Kitty gets asked to assist the young Misses in their quest to create a tableau vivant complete with live cows I knew it was going to be an entertaining novel. And it had some great points. I enjoyed the differences between modern life and the world Kitty lives in. There are some lovely contrasts of Kitty’s idyllic life in Devonshire and the world she experiences in the city of London.

Where this novel fell short for me was in the intensity of Kitty’s emotions. She has to face some tragic circumstances and throughout it all she never sheds a tear. I needed to feel more from Kitty in order to enjoy the story more. Another shortcoming of this novel was the incredible coincidences that occur – it made this story feel less realistic with just how impossible some of the situations were.

Beautifully researched, The Disgrace of Kitty Grey was a lovely book to read with a strong heroine but lacked a lot of emotion.

 

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for the review copy.

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Book Review: The Heiresses by Allison Rushby

Title: The Heiresses 
Author: Allison Rushby
Genre: Historical, New Adult
Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
Publication Date: May 2013
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In Allison Rushby’s Heiresses, three triplets–estranged since birth–are thrust together in glittering 1926 London to fight for their inheritance, only to learn they can’t trust anyone–least of all each other.

When three teenage girls, Thalia, Erato and Clio, are summoned to the excitement of fast-paced London–a frivolous, heady city full of bright young things–by Hestia, an aunt they never knew they had, they are shocked to learn they are triplets and the rightful heiresses to their deceased mother’s fortune. All they need to do is find a way to claim the fortune from their greedy half-brother, Charles. But with the odds stacked against them, coming together as sisters may be harder than they think.

My Review:

Thalia, Erato (also known as Ro) and Clio are triplets separated at birth who could not have lived more different lives. Thalia , a lively girl with a party spirit, lived with a busy family but isolated from loved ones. Ro is as scholarly as her adopted uncle and spent her days at boarding school broadening her mind. And then there’s Clio – the youngest – who grew up in meagre surroundings but never lacking for love.

These three girls are strangers in every way but blood and brought together by their Aunt Hestia upon their birth father’s death. A fortune being held from them, family secrets and the complicated business of growing up brings drama to them. Will they stand together or fall divided?

This book started its life as an e-serial – a five-part digital series of novellas. I think that’s such a cool concept. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other historical fiction aimed at the New Adult market. Because of its form there are mini cliff-hangers at the end of each novella which I liked – there is always something happening to keep my attention.

The girls themselves are so much fun to read for different reasons. Thalia is the belle of the upper society social set – giving the party girls of the day a run for their money. Clio is trying to find her feet in a world that is more dream (or nightmare) from her every day reality. And then there’s Ro – my personal favourite – who is so logical and measured but when faced with love, her common sense gets in the way. They are each charming in their own way and the best part of the novel for me as a reader was seeing how they each faced the same situations with such varied backgrounds.

The supporting characters and villains are fantastic at propping up the three sisters in their search for truth and family. Aunt Hestia is very interesting and I’d love to be able to read her back story (Allison – if you ever wrote a novella regarding Hestia I’d devour it in an instant!).

I recommend this book for fans of historical dramas like Downton Abbey. There’s scandal in a way that only books set in a past era can deliver as well as quirky yet charming characters and sinister villains.

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Thanks to Allison Rushby and Pan Macmillan for the review copy

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble| Book Depository| Pan Macmillan